Well, 2014 is past and we are now two months into 2015. I wanted to give you a review of 2014 and update on plans and upcoming events.
The first item to report on is the four-year Road Improvement Plan totals from 2011 through 2014:
2011 thru 2013 2014 totals 4-year Total
Tons of gravel: 472,000 130,000 602,000
Miles of 4” gravel/ 161.4 32.6 193.8
Asphalt Overlay 43.2 18.6 61.8
Chip & Seal Overlay 46.0 4.5 50.5
New Chip & Seal 12.0 14.3 26.3
Total Improved Miles 262.6 70.0 332.4
Starting in 2013, we set our goals to add approximately 15 miles of new Chip & Seal roads annually, budget permitting. So in 10 years we would have 150 miles of new Chip & Seal and in 20 years, 300 miles. The County road system has a total of 1,300 miles. We presently have 200 miles of paved roads and 1,100 miles of gravel.
Recently, I read an article in a trade magazine about Sevier County Tennessee (County where Dollywood is located) they started a program in 1991 of adding annually to their paved road system. They have added nearly 600 miles to their system.
Both Van Buren County, Arkansas and Sevier County, Tennessee have their own paving equipment and the personnel to do the paving, thus reducing cost of construction.
The Road Department’s long term annual goals are:
1.Spread 125,000 tons of gravel
2.Replace or repair 3-4 Bridges
3.Add approximately 15 miles of new chip & seal
2015 Plans are for 80 miles of Road Improvement.
I believe the Nation’s, the State’s, and Van Buren County’s economy is beginning to show signs of positive improvement. Listed below are the Economic Development’s highlights in 2014. Plus, some optimistic signs or events for 2015.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – 2014
1.Highway 65 project in Clinton, to be completed in 2015.
2.Cash Saver purchases Thriftway.
3.Global Food starts production in May.
4.Fairfield Bay Conference Center has full year of operation with 100+ events.
5.Tourism seems to be very positive for 2014 – with actual dollars and count to be updated April 2015. In 2013 Tourism dollars were up 4%.
6.Sales Tax dollars up 3.5% after discounting for rebates.
7.A 6% increase gas wells – 87 new for 2014.
8.70 miles of County Road improvements.
9.Solid Waste Tonnage volume up 1.7%.
10.Recycling volume up 18%.
11.Tire recycling up 9%.
12.Clinton Chamber reports: 30 additional businesses, 22 ribbon cuttings and 11 New Business Members.
13.Hospital completes out-patient room addition.
14.Unemployment: July 2010 – 11.7% / August 2014 – 6.5%.
15.Four new or remodeled bridges.
Employed Labor Force
July, 2010 6,525 7,225
November, 2014 6,725 7,150
ECONOMIC OUTLOOK – 2015
1.Petroleum prices @ 6-year low.
2.Scheduled road mileage improvement – 80 miles.
3.Scheduled bridge improvement – 4.
4.Continued expansion of recycling efforts.
5.Hospital to add building for Home Health and Medical Office facilities.
6.Gas Companies projects to drill 375 – 400 wells in Fayettville Shale counties.
7.Construction begins on Highway 65 – 4 lanes plus turn lane from Damascus to north of Bee Branch.
8.New Livestock Auction in Damascus. Grand opening schedule Equipment Sale – March 21 /Livestock Auction – March 23
9.New Dollar General Store in Bee Branch.
10.Library to start construction in February.
11.Working with UACCM on LPN nursing program to begin in January, 2016.
12.Continue efforts to promote tourism in the area.
13.Global Food expanding product line and cold storage.
14.Continue to work with Quorum Court, City Mayors and Officials, Hospital and local Banking Community to promote economic status of Van Buren County.
Recently, two events occurred in Van Buren County which makes me very proud of our Community. The events were the 7th Annual First Responder Awards Dinner and the “Homecoming Ceremony” and Funeral of Cpl. C.G. Bolden.
It is so important for a Community to come together, to honor the veterans and their families, law enforcement officers, firefighters, rescue squad and EMTs and to show our respect for the freedom and services we enjoy.
I would like to thank the citizens for their response to these events. A Thank You to all and may GOD BLESS!