Ray resigns as Justice of the Peace after residential relocation takes him out of current districtby J.D. Bailey on 02/01/21
An address change by a sitting Columbia County justice of the peace is set to leave the county one quorum court representative shy of a full 11 -- at least temporarily.
On Monday, Jason Ray of Magnolia, who has served as the District 11 Justice of the Peace since 2019, announced his resignation from the quorum court due to an upcoming residential relocation that will take him out of his current district. Ray’s resignation will go into effect on Wednesday.
“It is with regret that I must resign my position as Justice of the Peace,” he said in his resignation letter issued to Columbia County Judge Denny Foster. “This is effective as of Feb. 3."
Ray, who also serves as a vice president at Farmers Bank and Trust in Magnolia, was first elected as Justice of the Peace District 11 in 2018. He is just over a month into his new term.
In his resignation letter, Ray also thanked his constituents.
"It has been an honor to represent the people of Columbia County,” he wrote. " ...Thank you and God bless."
Ray was set to serve as a justice of the peace at least through 2022. His district is located in the northern portion of Magnolia. It encompasses the eastern campus of Southern Arkansas University, as well as residential areas stretching from Goode Circle in the north to E. Greene and N. Dudney in the southern part of the district. Its western boundary splits SAU’s campus, while its eastern border follows the Hwy. 79 Bypass N. in Magnolia. District 11 is roughly 1.5 miles by 2 miles in area.
The Chaffin Lane resident is set to move into a more rural location outside of his current district.
“Moving out into the country was just something that we couldn’t pass up,” he said.
In his farewell address to the quorum court on Monday, Ray thanked his fellow justices of the peace for their kindness over his 23-month span in the county government.
“It has been a pleasure being a part of this [court],” he said. “I truly appreciate everybody.”
A resolution was passed Monday officially declaring a vacancy on the quorum court. Upon its unanimous passage, Ray’s fellow JPs gave him a round of applause for his service.
The process now begins to fill the void left by Ray's resignation. An interim justice of the peace will be tapped to finish out the remaining 23 months left on Ray’s 2-year term. Columbia County Judge Denny Foster said Monday that he has 10 days to submit the resignation paperwork to the state. Once notified of the vacancy, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will appoint Ray’s replacement to represent District 11.
Foster added that he hoped a new justice of the peace would be in place by March, but he had no control over the replacement timetable.
In other Columbia County Quorum Court News:
- An appropriation ordinance was passed to transfer funds within the county’s operating budget. The transfers mostly included funds to cover health insurance matches, salaries, overtime, and worker’s compensation costs. The amounts ranged from $49.70 within the county treasurer’s office to $3,069.96 within the county assessor’s office.