About 50 people heard an update on the Clark County Strategic Plan at Hickingbotham Hall Tuesday.
A co-chair from each CCSP subcommittee spoke about 2008-2009 accomplishments and upcoming plans.
CCSP Chair Dr. Wesley Kluck reported that 26 action goals have been completed since the 2008 meeting, and that 49 goals are being worked on.
Tom Calhoon, co-chair of the housing subcommittee, gave his report.
He said the Gardens, the retirement subdivision located at North 26th Street, is now home to several residents.
He said South Arkansas Community Development has started the Somersett subdivision in western Arkadelphia “despite roadblocks” of laying utilities there. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held June 18 for the building of the subdivision’s first house, and three other properties may be sold.
A housing needs and feasibility has been done, and he said the results showed that Amity needs affordable housing in the form of apartments for single families. Gurdon has plenty of units, but that many landlords need to invest in upkeep of their properties. There is also a need for medical clinic expansion and a nursing home in or near the city. While Caddo Valley has plenty of residential areas available, people do not know about it because it is not marketed. The entrances to Arkadelphia need to be made more attractive. “People come here to go to the universities, but they don’t stay here,” he said. There is neither a severe shortage nor a great surplus of housing, but there is not a lot of development in the city limits.
Bill Wright, co-chair of the economic development subcommittee, said “a lot has been accomplished” in the field of economic development in the county. He said a unified entity has been established, and “a lot of players have come together and agreed” on how it operates. Three chambers of commerce work together with the Clark County Industrial Council and the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County to fuel the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance. “It is functioning very well at this time,” Wright said.
An industry-type analysis is being done, as Del Boyette has been hired to find out what industries fit the county. Wright said the No. 1 natural resource in the region is wood products, and a number of different surveys have been done. One survey is about to be done to find out if wood fiber could be manufactured in the county.
The EDCCC Web site, he said, will be up and running this month after seven months. “A lot of hard work and energy has gone into this Web site,” he said. After several firms competed to develop the site, the EDCCC hired Cranford Johnson Robinson Wood of Little Rock “months before” Paul Harvel was hired to head the EDCCC. Wright commended Kluck for his work with securing the site, adding that the project landed about $40,000 under budget.
Planners are working with the local FEMA director to plan work on a fire training center in the industrial park. Wright said bids are out now for the construction of the facility, and that the county has completed the ground work.
The 24-hour Child Care Center, he said, is a “major issue” in recruiting industries because it is “perhaps the only one in the state.”
Livability is another factor that is being studied. “What it boils down to is, what is there to do?” he said. The purchase and renovation of the Royal Theatre is a project the City of Arkadelphia has taken on. “It will make the livability factor better for all of us,” he said.
He reported that EDCCC staff is still working on securing additional sites for industrial use. “A lot of work is being undertaken by volunteers and EDCCC staff.”
Dr. Lewis Shepherd, co-chair of the education subcommittee, said it has been an “extremely busy year. We are beginning to see the fruits of labor.” He said leaders are putting together a “futuristic approach” to complete goals. He said Henderson State University has partnered with Arkadelphia Schools to provide a Preparatory Academy. Forty students are enrolled in the program, which is ongoing.
The Child Care Center, he said, is equipped to handle 120 children, and enrollment is now up to 28. He said there may be more clients enrolled this summer as students from HSU and OBU will be graduating soon.
The What’s Next education forum was held in late 2008, providing information for 75 high school students looking into either college or a vocation. The event, held at OBU, will be held at Henderson this year.
Shepherd also reported that an apprenticeship firm on Sixth Street is working with high school students to match their goals with their aptitudes. So far, 20 students from Gurdon and Arkadelphia are using the firm.
He said six summer camps are scheduled for football, art and other academic areas, and scholarships will be available for each camp.
One person in attendance noted that enrollment has dropped in the Arkadelphia school system, and asked, “What’s the prognosis?”
Though no one representing Arkadelphia Schools was present, Shepherd answered the question, citing a “shift of population” as the problem. He said Camden-Fairview schools have lost over 2,000 students over the past 15 years. He also said home-schooling is an issue. Centerpoint Superintendent Lewis Diggs noted that of the 1,100 students in his district, 41 are home-schooled. This, Shepherd and Lewis said, causes districts to lose thousands of dollars in state and federal aid.
Greg Stubblefield, co-chair of the health care subcommittee, said the Arkansas Saves program, which is a collaboration between Baptist Health Medical Center-Arkadelphia and the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, is available for stroke prevention. Using live video streaming technology, doctors at BHMCA can communicate with doctors at UAMS to determine whether or not to use “clot-busting” medication on patients at risk of having a stroke.
Stubblefield said a 16 slice CT scanner is also available at the hospital for faster radiological images, allowing a faster diagnosis for patients.
By July, nuclear medicine in the form of radioactive isotopes will be available for patients who need X-rays taken.
Another technology that has become available at the hospital is digital mammography for breast imaging, giving doctors a more detailed look to detect any signs of breast cancer.
BHMCA is also staffing additional doctors, he said. Beginning Oct. 1, Dr. Mike Carozza will be on staff as an OBGYN. Carozza chose to stay in Arkadelphia after graduating from OBU, Stubblefield said. “He recruited us instead of us recruiting him.”
Also, Dr. Seth Hollenback will be on staff as a urologist by the summer of 2011.
A reception was recently held, Stubblefield said, for about 50 Henderson and Ouachita nursing students to talk about keeping nurses and medical students in the county after they have received all of their medical training.
The Clark County Charitable Health Service has received its 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and will be located in an office at 1301 N. 10th St. During the month of May, those involved in the service plan to refurbish the office space, develop a pamphlet that describes the services offered and train medical professionals who will be volunteering their services. Stubblefield said the clinic should be open by late June.
It was also reported by a member of the audience that an ambulance service in Amity has been operating since December, and has responded to 40 calls since.
Billy Tarpley and Carrie Roberson, co-chairs of the leadership subcommittee, spoke about leadership.
Roberson said a Boys and Girls Club, which “arose as a priority early on” for the subcommittee, is almost up and running. She reported that up to 18 people have shown interest in participating, and that Arkadelphia Schools has offered a place for the club to meet on the Goza Middle School campus. Max Brown is said to lead the effort on heading the club.
Tarpley spoke about Leadership Clark County, in which 24 residents in the county meet once a month for a course on local education, history, legislation and economy. The group also attended a session in the General Assembly, and hosted a private dinner for Gov. Mike Beebe.
Leadership Clark County is set up “to create new leaders,” Tarpley said. “It’s not the same old faces.” A commencement ceremony will be held for the first class in June.
Fred Phillips, co-chair of the tourism subcommittee, wrapped up the annual meeting talking about quality of life. “Tourism is part of” quality of life, he said.
A visitor’s center, to be located in Caddo Valley, will be named the Diamond Valley Visitor and Information Center. Phillips thanked Southern Bancorp for donating the Caddo Valley branch for the facility. Bids for revamping the facility are being advertised.
The center will be staffed daily, with a visitor’s information center on one side and a business information center on the other.
Phillips reported that a gap study is being performed to find out what retail and commercial real estate could be marketed in the area.
He also gave an update on a trail system at DeGray Lake. A grant has been awarded to lay out the first phase of eight miles, he said. Construction on the natural trails is expected to begin later this year. “We’re in the process of writing a grant for Phase II,” he said. A continuous, 25-mile loop should be the end product of the trail system.
He talked about the Caddo Nation and communications taking place to locate a museum on the Ouachita River bluff in Arkadelphia, noting the project is still in its “nebulous” stages.
Kluck said a a county-wide survey is gathering data about high-speed Internet. So far, nearly 250 people have completed the survey. Kluck said he hopes to have at least 1,000 responses. Copies of the survey will be distributed to several points in the county, and an online version can be filled out at www.clarkcountyplan.org by clicking on the broadband Internet access survey link.