Judges, mayors meet
Poinsett County Judge Bill Craft presided over the last Intergovernmental Cooperative Council meeting Tuesday, which was hosted by Marked Tree Mayor Lawrence Ashlock. This was the last meeting for Craft and Trumann Mayor Jack Coggins, who both said farewell to the group. The county judge and mayors meet quarterly to discuss issues that affect Poinsett County and Northeast Arkansas.
Craft gave an update on the prospect of the Toyota plant locating in Crittenden County. Poinsett County has been asked to participate in the recruiting effort by raising $22,000 over the next three years. Craft said that an estimated 30,000 jobs could be created in a 60-mile radius if Marion is chosen as the location. Area cities and counties have been asked to pledge the funds based on population. Craft showed the percentages of the population per town, with 37 percent living in unincorporated areas. Trumann's population is 26.0 percent of the total, with Marked Tree following with 10.9 percent.
"This is only a gentlemen's agreement," Craft explained, "the money won't be paid unless the plant comes to Marion."
Craft also reported that phases one through three have been completed in the County Courthouse renovation project. Phase four includes a new heating and air conditioning system. Craft said the county had approximately $390,000 appropriated for the project that came from sales tax collections. However, Craft explained that the money could not be spent because a pending lawsuit claims the county over collected on the sales tax before being removed. This issue will have to be settled before phase four can be completed.
Lepanto Mayor Dale Dunlap said that the filming of John Grisham's "A Painted House" in Lepanto has attracted lots of attention. "I'm surprised at the number of people who just come through Lepanto because they have heard about the movie," said Dunlap. He also reported that the town now has a new tobacco store, and a new restaurant will be opening soon.
Marked Tree Mayor Lawrence Ashlock updated the group on Bill's Fresh Market, the city's new grocery store, which should open on March 1, 2003.
Trumann Mayor Jack Coggins told the group that Trumann is only recently recovering from the hailstorm that devastated the city almost six months ago. The City of Trumann had 24 vehicles damaged in the storm in addition to damage to city buildings. "We just received our insurance money this month," said Coggins.
Coggins gave an update on Baldwin Piano and Delta Wood Products, which were purchased by the Gibson Guitar Company, and both companies appear to be doing well. Coggins said that Trumann is also working on their recreational facility.
City Clerk Helen Barr represented Waldenburg for Mayor William Wood who was unable to attend the meeting. Barr reported that the bid on Waldenburg's sewer project came in just under $400,000, which was lower than expected. A Marion company will begin the project that will pipe sewage five miles to Weiner. Barr added that the city was awarded a grant of $478,000 for the project.
In the absence of Harrisburg Mayor Buzzy Faulkner, Judge Craft asked Modern News publisher Charles Nix to comment on the economic news of the city. Nix, who serves as chamber president, said the city had just created a public facilities board that will oversee the construction and lease of a building for the Crowley's Ridge Educational Cooperative. Nix said that the co-op employs approximately 75 people.
The next meeting of the Intergovernmental Council will be set after elections.