Posted on February 15, 2018
By Kaitlyn Rigdon
The El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly Economic Outlook Luncheon provided the platform for Union County elected officials and Murphy Arts District representatives to update the chamber members on their progress.
The luncheon, which took place Wednesday at the Griffin Music Hall, began with El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash talking about the progress the city has made in the past six months.
“The real shining jewel is that we opened this bad boy up,” Hash said, referring to the Murphy Arts District. “I think we have a roaring good time down here.”
Hash also mentioned the Candlewood Suites completion on Junction City Road and the construction of the Marriott Fairfield Inn on North West Avenue behind McDonald’s. The Marriott Fairfield Inn will “probably add 250 new rooms to El Dorado,” he said.
There are also improvements being made to Highway 82 and Hillsboro.
“You might not know it, but there’s something going on there almost daily,” Hash said. “We’ve had a wonderful six months. Our industries are doing well and if we could just get some asphalt, we can get started doing streets again.”
Alderwoman Van Page of Huttig updated the chamber on accomplishments of the Huttig community. Currently, one of the biggest projects is digging a new well, which will provide two to cover the city. They are also replacing all of the pipes and water meters in the city, Page said.
There have also been street repairs because of street grants the city has received.
Also, there has been a training program implemented for their EMT’s “to make sure we keep a good constant flow of people who are certified to take care of our ambulance service,” Page said.
Plus, improvements are being made to the North Side Park.
“You are probably thinking that these are such minute projects, but when you come from a small town like Huttig, these things are well perceived,” Page said.
Allen Simmons, mayor of Junction City, talked about the accomplishments the city has made in the past 20 months, including establishing their own police department. They have hired a police chief, who added two part-time officers to
the force. They have also purchased a second patrol car.
The city was granted an Arkansas Highway Department street grant to resurface Elm Street, 1st Street and a portion of Poplar Street.
“This work was done in June of 2017 … and later in October, the city allocated $256,000, which had accumulated from our 1-cent sales tax,” Simmons said.
They were able to resurface North Pine Street, a portion of North Palm Street and more.
“We are proud of this accomplishment and our citizens are happy to see their tax dollars at work,” Simmons said.
They have recently applied for another street grant to resurface more roads in Junction City.
Mayor of Norphlet Jim Crotty spoke and announced his decision to refile for mayor.
Crotty also mentioned that Norphlet is hosting the state triple A baseball and softball tournament, which is estimated to brings in about 1,000 people each day over a two-day period, he said.
Crotty said the city is still working on the MacMillan plant.
“I met with a group this week and they are still going to spend $10 million to get the oil out of the dirt,” he said.
Crotty also mentioned volunteerism and getting everyone to work together.
“We’ve got to teach our younger generation that it’s not about if you’ve got money, we need people’s characters,” he said. “If we want to keep our place clean and desirable, we all have to pitch in.
“If we’d all dedicate ourselves to be more persistent in helping our families, churches, towns and communities, this will be the greatest place we will ever have,” he said.
Pamela Dawkins, assistant to the mayor of Strong, spoke on the latest accomplishments in the city.
The street department paved four streets that are now completed, she said. They also purchased new Christmas lights for the light poles on Highway 82 inside city limits.
The city also purchased and placed new pumps for the wells to help maintain the distribution system.
They recently completed renovations to city hall and the conference center, including paving the conference center’s parking lot.
Future projects for Strong include more renovations to the community center and opening a new fitness center. The city also hopes to complete a new apartment complex for current and future residents.
Dean Storey spoke on behalf of Union County.
“Union County is under good management,” Storey said. “As soon as the weather clears up, we will be able to get things going again.”
Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or krigdon@ eldoradonews.com .