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FAYETTEVILLE -- The Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts for information it wants about the distribution of money to districts from the sale of specialty license plates.

The lawsuit, filed in Washington County Circuit Court, contends the conservation district in Washington County requested documents used by the state association to calculate its payment of $4,080 from the sale of the plates.

No documents were received, according to the lawsuit. Follow-up requests were unsuccessful, according to the lawsuit. Ultimately, the association's director refused to release the documents, saying they may contain personal information on people who bought the plates, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends a circuit judge in 2016 ordered the association to respond to any future valid FOIA requests made by the Washington County district.

"The delay in responding and the ultimate failure to respond is not only arrogant, but a complete thumbing of the law and of the order from Judge Doug Martin issued in 2016," Joey McCutchen, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said in an email.

The lawsuit seeks an order directing the association to promptly release the requested documents, with any personal information redacted, if determined necessary by a judge.

Conservation districts are political subdivisions of the state. Their specific responsibility is the management of soil and water resources. The idea behind their formation is to keep decision making on soil and water conservation matters at the local level. Each district is governed by a board of five directors who serve without pay.

The state association's mission is to assist the conservation districts, according to its website.

NW News on 12/15/2018

Print Headline: Conservation District files FOIA complaint for documents

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