The April 25 purchase of a pickup truck valued at $64,786 by Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, which was the source of considerable contention at the June 22 Quorum Court meeting, is still the source of discussion throughout the county a week later.

The April 25 purchase of a pickup truck valued at $64,786 by Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, which was the source of considerable contention at the June 22 Quorum Court meeting, is still the source of discussion throughout the county a week later.
Morse himself pointed out this week that previous County Judge Wallace Martin had purchased the truck that he inherited when he took office for $36,036 plus $1,060 for a bed cover in 2013. “And, it had a list price of $43,000,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
In a previous interview with the Hope Star, Morse maintained that the price that was eventually paid for the new truck after trade in was $36,611 plus $1,611 for a bed cover and mats.  Documentation on the sale examined by the Hope Star through a Freedom of Information Request confirmed Morse’s statements.
Still, Hope resident James King, who read about the truck in the June 23 edition of the Hope Star, called the purchase “extravagant” and “unnecessary,” echoing similar words expressed by the Justices last Thursday night.
“Why does he need a luxury truck to do his job?” he asked, “I think he should return it for something less expensive and get some of the county’s money back.”
Another Hope resident, Sheila Young, said she didn’t care if the county paid $36,036, “It was a $65,000 truck. That is more than most people’s houses. If it came out of his own pocket, that Judge would have looked for something a bit more cheap.”
Matt West, however, appeared to have no trouble with the issue, when on the Hope Star’s Facebook link, he said “Craziest bunch of mess I've ever heard. Was a law broke? Was there an over budget purchase? No! Was there a bunch of whining? Ding ding ding! Yes!”
West continued, saying “Ride in style Haskell Morse! Everyone else in the famous words of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson — ‘Know your role and shut your mouth!!!’”
Justice Cherry Stewart also maintained after the meeting that she had still no issue with the truck saying that Morse paid $36,000 for a $65,000 truck, and she was “Glad he bought it here locally. We need to keep all the money here we can. Not spend it up in Little Rock.”
Morse said Tuesday afternoon that he felt it was time to move on, and that he had no problem with the Justices questioning the purchase.
“It is good and healthy to have some checks and balances.  That is what it is all about,” he said.
The fallout resulted in a motion from Justice Ed Darling being passed that all vehicle and major machine purchases be approved by the Quorum Court, regardless of whether they were previously budgeted or not.
Morse said “Several other counties are already doing the same things or something similar with regards to that kind of oversight. When certain purchases need to be made, we may just have to call a special meeting when the need arises.”