Our Open Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 PM in the Garland County Library Auditorium                             Our Guest Speakers are typically experts in their fields or elected officials        



GGGG Meetings


The Garland Good Government Group meets twice each month.  Our open meetings are now held on the second Thursday of each month.  Our business meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month in Room "B" at the Garland County Library at 1427 Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs, AR.  Most meetings begin at 5:30 PM and end at 7:30 PM.  Special called meetings are occasionally held and are noticed by e-mail to members only.

Town Hall City Issues Meeting

March 2015

 George Pritchett speaks on Public Commentary at city board meetings                 Dr. Jack Sternberg TEA Party updates


                Tom Wilkins on Downtown issues                                                Mayor Carney updates on DC trip


                JP Matt McKee and Bud West updates from Water Committee                  Bob Driggers Water Supply update


            Russ Thomas on available options


Public Safety Appreciation Meeting

February 2015



                     Emcee Tom Wilkins                                              Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick


Chief Deputy Mark Chamberlain (detention)                             Chief Deputy Jason Lawrence (administration)          


District Judge David Switzer





GGGG Guests at our Annual "Kickoff" Meeting

This was a FUN meeting - everyone does look HAPPY - don't they?


  Hot Springs City Manager, David Watkins                                        THV11 News Anchor, Craig O'Neill



Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney                                       Garland County Judge Rick Davis

Local CBS News Anchor, Craig O'Neill was the featured speaker at the GGGG's annual kickoff meeting.  He took advantage of the event by interviewing some of the area officials in attendance.  On-camera interviews with the mayor, city manager, and county judge were conducted.  The interviews, entertainment by Craig O'Neill, and a question and answer session with the city manager and county judge can be viewed by clicking here.


GGGG "Citizens of Year," Keith and Sherry Merritt

GGGG Vice President, Dr. Blake Robertson, gestures after awarding "GGGG Citizens of the Month" Plaque to Keith and Sherry Merritt.

At right, Mayor Ruth Carney Speaks to CBS reporter Lisa Hutson about the city of Hot Springs recognition of the Merritts.

District Judge David Switzer delivers an informative and educational presentation on volunteerism, heroism, and innovative new court programs plus a few words about problems with the current jail.


The September meeting of the GGGG was likely the best meeting held this year.  It began by recognizing and awarding Keith and Sherry Merritt with the GGGG's "Citizens of the Month" award.  A description of why the Merritts were selected for this honor included Dr. Robertson explaining how the Merrits came to the aid of a female police officer who had just been attacked by a male.  The male suspect had the rather small police officer in a "choke hold," telling her he was going to kill her, and was in the process of removing her pistol from it's holster when the Merritts literally tackled the perpetrator.  Excerpts from the police officer's report were read and the audio from the 911 call and police radios were played.  There was little doubt from the depictions that the Merrits saved the life of one of Hot Springs' police officers.  Mayor Carney and County Judge Rick Davis also informed the group of recognition of the Merritts by the city and county.  District Judge David Switzer delivered a fantastic speech about various subjects including new projects the court has implemented, the importance of those who get involved in their communities, and problems the court faces daily due to overcrowding of the existing jail.  Several members commented that Judge Switzer is always the best possible speaker due to his entertaining presentation methods.  The meeting was ended with a report from County Judge Rick Davis as to his recommendations for saving tax money by consolidating the current five 911 systems into a single system.  Everyone was shocked to learn that the five separate systems were costing over $145,000 annually ($400+ daily).


GGGG Endorses New County Jail after Presentation by Officials - August 2011


Tom Wilkins, Moderator, explains jail panel format. Panel members (from left) are Lance Hudnell - Hot Springs City Manager, Larry Sanders - County Sheriff, Rick Davis - County Judge, and Bud West - Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee Chair.


At the August GGGG business meeting which followed a presentation by the above distinguished panel, the GGGG unanimously endorsed both ballot issues for the October 12 special election.  The two issues are 1) to approve a temporary 5/8 of 1% tax to fund the capital expense of building a new Garland County Detention Facility and 2) to approve a permanent 3/8 of 1% tax to pay operating and maintenance expenses for the new jail.  The press release was made on August 19 and was well covered by the local newspaper, The Sentinel RecordClick here for more photos.


GGGG Hosts Indonesian Officials, US State Department - June 2011 Meeting

  State Department Officials Shawn Callanan & Djoko Santoso with guests                     County Judge Rick Davis welcomes International visitors


    Indonesian Guests Watae, Hafen, Gusman, Putra, Masfuk, Cholil                      County Judge Rick Davis answers questions from International visitors

   Circuit Judge Lynn Williams stops by for brief visit and answers questions            Group shares a light moment through State Department interpreters


 State Department & Indonesian Journalist Interview               We present a PowerPoint explaining what Good Government means to the GGGG


The GGGG was once again honored to host the U.S. State Department, the Arkansas Council for International Visitors (Dr. Walter Nunn, Director), and specials guests from Indonesia during a special June 2011 meeting. The US Department of State's International Visitor Program sponsored the project titled, "PROMOTING GOOD GOVERNANCE AND DECENTRALIZATION."  Indonesia is a huge country which is wider than the USA (east to west) and consists of thousands of islands. It is the world's largest predominately Muslim country with a true democracy. However, the most recent election was the first election allowing the public an opportunity to vote for a person as president rather than voting only for a political party. Honored guests above included Salifullh Yusuf Cholil, Vice Governor of East Java Provincial Government; Yocie Gusman, Board Chair of Prosperous Justice Party; Rafael Hafen, Coordinator of R&D for Foker NGO Cooperation; Fnu Masfuk, Regent of Lamongan; Taufiq Hidayat Putra, Regional and Urban Planner with the Ministry of National Development Planning; and Canny Franky Deddy Watae, Director of Development with Radio Bahana Arauna.  The bios for all of our honored guests can be seen by clicking here.

GGGG Hosts Panel on Crime, New Jail, Public Safety - May 2011 Meeting

 Robertson, Judge Davis, Sheriff Sanders, Gallas, Chief Flory, Chair West                           Bob Driggers introduces moderator Glenn Gallas


         Moderator Glenn Gallas                                 Hot Springs' New Police Chief David Flory                                            County Judge Rick Davis


Panel takes questions from audience on crime, jail    Dr. Blake Robertson        Sheriff Sanders takes question from Gallas


GGGG Hosts Speakers on Current City and County Issues


Bruce Cozart, State Representative District 24 speaks. Garland County Republican Chairman, Alan Clark informs group as to election procedures.

Newly elected City Director, Karen Garcia informs group of her vision and work for City Directors. Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee Chair, Bud West and jail committee member, Dr. Blake Robertson give status report on their work to design and build a new county jail.

Bob Driggers reports on city shenanigans, audits, crime, police chief search, etc.  Brian White and Ted Burhenn announce the new GGGG radio program.


State Senate Candidates Spoke at Our Pre-Election Meeting

Rep. Gene Shelby                                  Rep. Bill Sample


City and County Candidates Spoke at Our September Meeting

                       Several Candidates Arrived Early                             Emcee Dick Antoine Explains Format for Candidates


   Dr. Blake Robertson, City 5           Karen Garcia, City 4          Rick Saunders, Judge   Tim Stockdale, Co Treasurer


         George Prichett, JP 5             Rick Davis, Co Judge    Terry Smith, Co Treasurer    Tommy Thompson, Co Assessor


          Vicki Rima, Circuit Clerk       Ruth Carney, Hot Springs Mayor      Glenn Gallas, City 4           Dick Antoine, K Garcia


Sorry we don't have photos of all speakers due to technical glitches. If you have photos, send them to us

Click here to see more about this meeting on an independent blog-spot



Speaking at our August 2010 Meeting

City and County Officials Spoke to GGGG about Crime in Hot Springs

Hot Springs City Manager Lance Hudnell informs  GGGG members and guests of the city's search for a new police chief. Mr. Hudnell also hands out survey forms so that citizens can express their views on what qualifications the new chief should have.

Acting Hot Springs Police Chief Mike McCormick spoke to the group about changes and progress now being made at the police department. Garland County Sheriff Larry Sanders brought the group up to date on progress of the proposed new county jail.

Speaking at our April 2010 Meetings

State and County Candidates Spoke at Our Forums April 8 & 15


Moderator Tom Wilkins (Apr 15)                          State Senate Candidates: Dr. Gene Shelby and Q. Byrum Hurst        


 County Judge Candidate Rick Saunders, Assessor Candidates Brenda Short and Shelly Waddle, JP Candidate Jorge Garcia

County Treasurer Candidates Terry Smith, Tim Stockdale            Circuit Clerk Candidates Vicki Rima, Joy Pensinger


Moderator Dick Antoine (Apr 8)


County Treasurer Candidate Jo West Taylor      Gary West and Bill Wavering, candidates for JP position no. 9


Speaking at our March 2010 Meeting

Glenn Gallus, Tea Party Leader

Candidate for U.S. Congress

Glenn Gallus provided us with the patriotic speech he recently gave to a nationwide audience of TEA Party members via closed circuit.  He also announced his formal entry into the upcoming race for U.S. Congress.



Speaking at our February Meeting

Graham F. Sloan, Executive Director

Arkansas State Ethics Commission

Director Sloan presented a timely PowerPoint presentation on political action committees (PACs) and provided a schedule of useful training information to over a dozen candidates for public office in our area which will include such items as fundraising, reporting requirements, etc. 




City Director Peggy Maruthur selected as GGGG 2009 "Public Servant of the Year"

Click here for television story

GGGG Executive Vice President, Dr. Blake Robertson presents  City Director Peggy Maruthur with a certificate and plaque honoring her as GGGG's Public Servant of the Year for 2009.  The award is presented annually to the public servant that receives the most votes for best representing the public interest. Actions throughout the year consistent with the GGGG mission statement are also considered.  In addition to representing the public interest, other criteria include transparency, ethical values, openness, and accountability.  Congratulations Director Maruthur.  Keep up the good work.


District Judge David Switzer spoke at the January 2010 GGGG Meeting

The GGGG was honored to have District Judge David Switzer as our guest speaker for the January 14th meeting.  Judge Switzer has implemented several cutting edge ideas in prevention, intervention, and treatment (PIT) programs, use of electronic media, monitoring of violators, and various other changes which are will likely be implemented by other courts across Arkansas.  The judge again proved to be an extremely entertaining speaker and was greatly appreciated by all those in attendance..


GGGG Hosts U.S. State Dept and International Journalists

The GGGG hosted the U.S. State Department and International Journalists from Malaysia, Singapore, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong at the Garland County Library Auditorium. We were also honored to have County Judge Larry Williams, National Park Superintendent Josie Fernandez, Representative Bill Sample, five representatives from the Hot Springs School District including board president Bob Freeman, Tea Party Chairman Glen Gallus, and many others. Our International visitors paid us the ultimate compliment when they said, "of all the many places we have visited in the United States, you have made us feel the most welcome." It was obvious that our visitors enjoyed their visit and we certainly did enjoy having them here. See story and photos on the "News" page or click here.


Our September Meeting was somewhat different because we hosted the U.S. State Department and six International Visitors from Nicaragua.  The visitors were all winners of the democratically elected mayors representing the largest cities in Nicaragua.  After celebrating their landslide victories for over a week, President Daniel Ortega declared that a recount was in order for those mayor's races.  After thousands of ballots were discarded (later found in trash cans), Ortega declared other winners as mayors for those cities.  Turns out these winning (now losing) candidates aren't going to go away quietly.  In fact, they told us they are going back to Nicaragua and start a "Watchdog" group like the Garland Good Government Group.  We were honored that they would use us as a model to form their own group.  Best of luck to all of you.

       Mayor Bush welcomes guests from Nicaragua                      GGGG was host to local and International Officials


Reporting on the recently concluded legislative session of the Arkansas General Assembly

Speaking at our May 2009 meeting was                        

  Representative Gene Shelby


Kudos to Dr. Gene - He was GREAT

Click here to see the press release for our March speakers 

Speaking at our February 2009 meeting was                    

Sheriff Larry Sanders                Justice Ray Owen, Jr.                     Justice Bud West                           Capt. Mel Steed                

Garland County Sheriff              Finance Committee Chair            Public Health & Safety Chair       Garland County Chief Jailer 


Click here to see the press release for our February speaker

Speaking at our February 2009 meeting was

Dr. Charles Hathaway

Dr. Hathaway is Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and chaired the public safety task force which provided comprehensive information relative to making communities safe.  Refer to the report below for more information.

Past and Future Meeting Speakers:

Speakers for Open Meetings:

August 2007 - Hot Springs Police Chief Bobby Southard

September 2007 - District Judge Lynn Williams

October 2007 - Garland County Sheriff Larry Sanders

November 2007 - Garland County Judge Larry Williams

December 2007 - Charles Gangluff, Public Safety Consultant to State and Federal Officials  [Click here for his website]

January 2008 - Circuit Court Judge David Switzer

February 2008 - Steve Arrison, Chair - Arkansas Parks & Tourism and Executive Director of Hot Springs A & P Commission

February 2008 - Special Meeting at HS Transportation Plaza - Kent Myers, Hot Springs City Manager

March 2008 - Josie Fernandez, Superintendent of Hot Springs National Park

April 2008 - Jo West Taylor, Garland County Treasurer

May 2008 - State Senators and Representatives in a Panel Format

June 2008 - Debate Challenge plus Major General Bill Lefler, Chair - Arkansas Tobacco Settlement Commission

July 2008 - Life Story of Josie Fernandez, Superintendent of Hot Springs National Park

August 2008 - Discussion on Jail Tax and other items on the special election

September 2008 - Circuit Judge Switzer and Public Safety election analysis

October 2008 - County Judge and Sheriff plus Formation of Public Safety Advisory Committee

November 2008 - Election Day, no meeting

December 2008 - Citizens Public Safety Advisory Committee

January 2009 - Lance Hudnell, new City Manager of Hot Springs

February 2009 - Dr. Charles E. Hathaway, Chancellor UALR and Chairman Pulaski County Public Safety Task Force

March 2009 - Justices Bud West and Ray Owen Jr plus Sheriff Larry Sanders and Chief Jailer Mel Steed

April 2009 - Garland County Public Safety Advisory Committee

May 2009 - State Representative Gene Shelby

June 2009 - State Representative Bill Sample

July 2009 - Dedicated to Jail Planning and Programs

August 2009 - PowerPoint Presentation on City Water Planning

September 2009 -  Water Issues Roundtable

October 2009 - U.S. State Department and International Visitors (6 Nicaraguan mayors)

November 3 (Tuesday), 2009 - U.S. State Department and International Visitors (Asian Journalists)

December 10, 2009 - Holiday Party

January 2010 - District Judge David Switzer, Presentation of GGGG "Public Servant of the Year" Award

February 2010 - Graham Sloan, Arkansas State Ethics Commission Executive Director

March 2010 - Glenn Gallus, Garland County Tea Party Chair

April - State and County Candidate Forums hosted by Dick Antoine (Apr 8), Tom Wilkins (Apr 15)

May 2010 - Federal Candidate Forum



From our February 12, 2009 Garland Good Government Group meeting:

UALR Chancellor Emeritus and Pulaski County Public Safety Task Force Chair,

Dr. Charles Hathaway was our guest speaker

Dr. Charles E. Hathaway, retired UALR Chancellor, headed a group of criminologists, sociologists and educators who performed an extensive study on what is needed to make communities safe from crime.  Although the study was originally performed for Pulaski County, the aspects he shared with the Garland County audience apply here as well.  The audience was comprised of not only GGGG members but most Garland County Elected officials were also present.  Dr. Hathaway was quite candid in his report including discussing how politics can interfere with getting a jail built.  He said that our area is fortunate that the cities and county work together better than in Pulaski County.  He also noted that we are much ahead due to having our public safety experts preparing to attend the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections training in Colorado and through public meetings.  He noted that our crowd was much larger than the public forums he spoke to in Pulaski County.

Dr. Hathaway proved to be extremely knowledgeable plus being an excellent speaker.  We were all very appreciative that Dr. Hathaway and his wife traveled to Hot Springs solely for the benefit of our citizens.  Thank you Dr. Hathaway, you have helped get us started in the right direction toward building an appropriately sized and sited jail with the proper programs to improve the public safety of our entire area.

For those who did not have an opportunity to attend or want more information, you can see the entire plan at  http://www.ualr.edu/publicsafetystudy

From the minutes of our May 6, 2008 Garland Good Government Group meeting: State Senators and Representatives were our guest speakers. 

The open meeting at the library was a "meet and greet" your State Senators and Representatives type meeting with six of our area legislators in a panel format.  Each guest gave a four or five minute opening statement telling the public what they had accomplished or hope to accomplish on our behalf and informed us what committees, boards, commissions, or agencies they serve on and in what capacity.  These fine folks then indulged us by graciously answering questions from the public.  Questions ran the gamut from the city's problem with the National Park Service to illegal aliens, from school efficiency, abstinence policies, and school consolidation to term limits, taxes and tax credits, undesirable night clubs, drinking hours, city annexations, auditing of the A&P, recycling, and attorney general opinions.  The panel was even asked if they were sorry now that they reduced the grocery tax.  Surprisingly, no one asked a question concerning the proposed new statewide lottery.

The audience agreed that our area is fortunate to have this particular group representing us because they were all articulate, knowledgeable, and expressed a sincere desire to represent their constituents.  It was also nice to learn that his group was accustomed to working together and each seemed to know the expertise of their fellow legislators.

A rather brief business meeting was held off premises following the open meeting.  Brief reports were provided concerning proposed actions of the Hot Springs city board and the Home Show where GGGG had a booth last weekend.  It remains obvious that the public is strongly behind our efforts to recall director Weatherford and the Mayor.  Again, more new members signed up. We are continuing our work to develop a "plan for Hot Springs."  Thanks again to all of our individual members who worked so hard in ensure that the citizens of Hot Springs had their RIGHT TO VOTE restored. Continue to watch this website because we are still working to accommodate our growing ranks.  Our momentum remains amazing.  Come join us. WE ARE STILL ON A ROLL.

Our July 1 Meeting: Hot Springs Transportation Plaza

Our Guest Speaker - Josie Fernandez

Colonel Josie Fernandez, Superintendent - Hot Springs National Park



Colonel Fernandez was dressed in "civvies" for her presentation to the Garland Good Government Group because her speech had nothing to do with her position as an Air Force Colonel or as Superintendent of the Hot Springs National Park.  In keeping with the Fourth of July meeting theme, her presentation was on patriotism and what it means to be an American.  Josie actually also became a United States citizen on the Fourth of July. Those members and guests who were fortunate enough to hear her presentation were obviously moved by both her speech and her appreciation of being an American citizen.  Her talk certainly reminded us all of how we can become complacent and forget how thankful we should be to be citizens of this great country.  Thanks Josie for a most inspiring presentation.

The public is welcome at all open and business meetings.


Garland Good Government Group | PO Box 21324 | Hot Springs, AR 71903
Phone: (501) 617-4777
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