ARKADELPHIA—Clark County has received a $70,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Services to help fund a regional emergency and fire training center, State Senator Percy Malone and Phil Baldwin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Southern Bancorp, announced today.
The $70,000 Community Enhancement Grant will be combined with local funding sources to finance the facility. Clark County in applying for the state grant noted that the county lacked appropriate space to conduct training sessions for emergency responders. Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin in October 2008.

The Clark County Office of Emergency Management has acquired $450,000 worth of training equipment and the Clark County Fire Association owns an extensive library of training materials; however, due to limited space, the equipment and training materials are not fully utilized. The Clark County Office of Emergency Management and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management will provide instructors for state-required training free of charge to participants. More than 200 emergency responders in Clark County and approximately 500 responders located within a 50 mile radius of Clark County will utilize the trainings.

Construction of the facility will help address needs identified in the Clark County Strategic Plan, a public-private, comprehensive community development initiative unveiled in October 2007 that was developed by more than 500 Clark County residents during an 18-month planning process.

In 2007, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 362, which requires firefighters to “maintain a minimum of 24 hours per year of certifiable training.” The training center will help firefighters meet this mandated requirement by offering at least 25 annual trainings with capacity to accommodate 60 trainees per session.

“This grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Services will help provide Clark County with the critical resources necessary to fulfill this important state training requirement,” Senator Malone said. “Most significantly, the training center will enhance the safety and security of thousands of residents of Clark County and south Arkansas.”

“The public-private partnership that will make this much-needed training facility a reality reflects the vision behind the Clark County Strategic Plan,” Baldwin said. “We thank Senator Malone and all the other elected officials, individuals and organizations who helped develop this successful proposal.”

Individuals and organizations involved in developing the proposal were Senator Malone; State Representative Johnnie Roebuck; Jim Burns, Director of the Clark County Office of Emergency Services; the Clark County Quorum Court; Clark County Judge Ron Daniell; the Clark County Fire Association; Baptist Medical Technicians; the Clark County Strategic Plan; Clark County Industrial Council; and representatives of Southern Bancorp and its affiliated nonprofit, Southern Financial Partners.

The Clark County Strategic Plan is modeled after the successful Delta Bridge Project in Phillips County, which was spearheaded by Arkadelphia-based Southern Bancorp and its family of companies.

More information on the Clark County Strategic Plan is available at www.clarkcountyplan.org

A PDF of the full 47-page Strategic Plan document is available online at www.clarkcountyplan.org/documents/CCSPFINALDOCUMENT.pdf