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Clark County Plan: 2006 Highlights
The year 2006 began in Clark County with a burn ban and sales tax refunds and ended with a cooperative effort of county residents to plan for growth and development.
In January, residents of Arkadelphia applied for refunds of excess sales tax collected by the city for projects at the Youth Sports Complex. The city continued to collect the tax months after the amount needed for a bond issue had been reached, and more than $300,000 was refunded to citizens. The remainder of the $1.3 million excess was designated to be used to complete the facilities at the complex.
A longtime justice of the peace died in January after being injured in a motorcycle accident. John Howard was riding his motorcycle Dec. 29, 2005, and was struck by a car. He suffered broken ribs and scrapes and bruises. He later had a heart attack and lapsed into a coma. Howard, 76, died Jan. 8 at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock.
Other events in January included the announcements of political candidates in the county, and the resignation of Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, president of Ouachita Baptist University, who was named president of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
Caddo Valley hired a new police chief in January. David Thomason, former chief of police at Rockport, was hired by Mayor Alan Dillavou and confirmed by the city council.
A Gurdon man was found dead in his home Jan. 25. Thurman Bailey, 79, died of a heart attack allegedly caused by being bound by someone who robbed his home. The homicide has not been solved.
In February, Arkadelphia and Clark County received nationwide attention when a county resident’s chicken was resuscitated by the owner’s sister. Boo Boo the exotic chicken and her rescuer, Marian Morris were flown to California and appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.
Arkadelphia also received national attention when CMT’s Ultimate Coyote competition made a stop at Thrio’s Coffee House downtown. The competition for dancing bartenders was one of the many reality shows on television during the year.
The Dixon Manufacturing building on Clinton Street burned on Feb. 5. A fire in 2005 destroyed the Bee Hive resale shop, damaged the Honeycomb Restaurant and caused smoke damage to Martha Dixon’s uniform manufacturing facility and to Dawson’s Educational Cooperative. Both businesses on Clinton Street re-opened after the Bee Hive fire, but the fire at Dixon’s proved too much. Dixon closed up shop and cleared the site for a parking lot.
A storm in March brought heavy rains and strong winds to the county, resulting in damaged trees and downed power lines. Severe weather advisories were issued, but no injuries were reported.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department announced the purchase of land in Gum Springs to relocate the department’s maintenance office. The facility will replace the one now located on Highways 51 and 26 on the western edge of Arkadelphia.
Arkadelphia School superintendent Dr. Tony Prothro announced he was leaving Arkadelphia to take the superintendent’s job at Benton. He was replaced in April by Dr. Stan Miller, who came to Arkadelphia from Pearl, Miss.
Pharmacy Care of Arkansas, a nursing home pharmacy based in Arkadelphia, went high-tech in April with the installation of a robot to help fill prescriptions. The robot is controlled by two computers and places medications in bubble packets for use in nursing homes.
Dr. Rex Horne was selected as the new president of Ouachita Baptist University in April. He was formerly pastor of Immanual Baptist Church in Little Rock.
The first of what was projected to be a year-long series of planning meetings was held in May. The Clark County Strategic Planning Committee began meeting to create a plan for industrial and economic development in the county.
Arkadelphia High School was recognized by Newsweek magazine as one of the top schools among the 15,000 public high schools in the country.
In the May primary election, Blake Batson was elected Clark County prosecutor and David Turner was elected sheriff. Neither faced opponents in the general election in November, and will take office Jan. 1.
In June, the Arkadelphia Board of Directors closed part of Third Street to truck traffic, because of complaints about the noise of the traffic in a residential neighborhood. The board also approved an ordinance defining dangerous dogs and outlined complaint procedures for citizens.
Former county Judge Randall Mathis took over the helm of the Clark County Industrial Commission after former director Aaron Stewart resigned to take a job with the Arkansas Department of Economic Development.
Arkadelphia also received a grant from Southern Bancorp to clean up unsightly properties in town. Buildings at several sites have been demolished and the property cleaned under the program.
Clark County justices of the peace decided the best way to fund the construction of a new jail was through a sales tax. Plans to expand the current jail were shelved in June and new suggestions were considered.
Longtime Siftings Herald editor Steve Fellers left the newspaper in June to go to work at Henderson State University. Former reporter and editor Dan Marsh returned to Arkadelphia in July and took over as editor of the newspaper.