BY MELANIE WADE –
Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison was recently selected to represent not just the county, but the state of Arkansas, at the annual National Association of Counties Conference & Exposition held in Columbus, Ohio. Ellison serves as an officer on the Board of the Arkansas Association of Counties (AAC), as Secretary. Each year, he explained, one officer from the state is selected to attend the conference. Ellison was honored to attend as Arkansas’ representative.
Ellison’s trip to the five-day conference was paid for by the Arkansas Association of Counties, which is an organization made up of officials from each of the state’s 75 counties, including County Judges, Sheriffs, County Clerks, etc. The National Conference provides an opportunity for attendees to hear ideas from others around the country that may be implemented into one’s own region. Ellison said there are many rural communities out there similar to Polk County and many counties that also contain large amounts of federal land and timberlands. “It is very beneficial and they had very good speakers,” said Ellison. He said the best of the sessions he attended focused on how to get employs engaged.
Ellison took a trip last year on behalf of AAC was able to speak with legislators and their staff about important topics such as PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) and Secure Rural Schools. Asked if he feels he is able to help make an impact in those instances, Ellison smiled and said, “We got PILT.”
“I believe it is important that rural counties across the nation have a voice in policy decisions that affect all of us. I am honored that our state association has enough confidence to select me, and pay my travel expenses, to represent Arkansas, at the weekend conference. It was a very good educational opportunity that broadened my view of possibilities here at home.”