I am writing this letter to you on August 15. So far this summer, it has been hot and humid, with an abundance of rainfall. Some areas in Van Buren County are 10 to 15 inches of rainfall above normal for this year.
This has allowed the farmer to have an abundance of grass and hay for their animals. Plus, it kept yards and road banks green through the summer. I thank God for that, and this is sure better than the summer of 2012.
Update on YTD Figures for Road Plan
Annual Plan YTD
Tons of Gravel 125,000 tons 100,000 tons (or 5,300 loads)
Miles of 4” gravel
and drainage improvement 46.6 miles 30.0 miles
Asphalt overly 4.1 miles 2.7 miles
Chip & Seal Overlay 13.2 miles 5.7 miles
New Chip & Seal 14.8 miles 3.5 miles
Total Road Improvement for 2016: 40.9 miles
Past 5-years and 7 month figures are:
Tons of Gravel 815,000 tons (or 42,900 loads)
Mileage of 4” gravel 259.6 miles
Asphalt Overlay 72.6 miles
Chip & Seal Overlay 63.2 miles
New Chip & Seal 43.5 miles
Total Road Improvement: 438.9 miles
Chip & Seal operation is underway and probably will continue through October with the amount of rain we are getting.
Earlier this year the Van Buren County Library opened the new libraries in Clinton and Damascus. The attendance at Clinton increased 24% and in Damascus 21% over the same period last year. The Library reported the summer reading program this year had 3 times the amount of students compared to last year.
One of the responsibilities of County government is to run a transfer station for solid waste and coordinate the recycling effort for the Van Buren County area. We have just completed the fiscal year July, 2015 through June, 2016. The department reported 8,493 tons of solid waste transferred to the Morrilton landfill, 367 tons of recycled materials sold and 4,468 tires (passenger care tires) collected.
The transfer station employs 6 full-time employees and 1 part-time. There are 4 independent contractors and a city contractor for solid waste, which employes approximately 20 employees.
Some Economic Happenings in the County
1.About two weeks ago, Southwestern Energy (SWN) executives informed me that they would be starting 1-drill rig on September 1, 2016 in the Fayetteville Shale area. And they also had 30 wells that had been drilled but not fracked. They were going to do those wells starting immediately. They also reported that they were starting 2 drill rigs in Pennsylvania and 2 drill rigs in West Virginia. At that time, they had hired about 50 employees from the Fayetteville Shale area for the drilling rigs.
The price of natural gas has changed from an early 2016 low of $1.75 MCF and is now in the $2.50 – $2.80 range. They also said reserves were dropping and 2017 future pricing was in $3 MCF range.
I hope this trend in improving prices continues.
2.Also, I was at the Cattlemen’s meeting on August 8 and they reported prices were up about $10-$15 per hundredweight. It was reported both the sale barns at Damascus and Clinton are having good sale numbers.
I had Danny Griffin, Agricultural Extension Agent, give me the amount of cattle and calves in Van Buren County and the six surrounding counties. (this is 2012 data)
COUNTY COW & CALF POPULATION COUNTY RANK
Van Buren 18,736 34th
Faulkner 30,168 21st
Conway 37,436 12th
Pope 29,870 24th
Searcy 22,954 31st
Stone 28,414 27th
Cleburne 34,276 15th
3.New Home Construction and remodeling seems to be picking up in our area.
Recently Ozark Resort Homes announced a $5,000,000 private investment project called Osage Point Townhomes. The project is a single family residential construction project. Osage Point Townhomes will be a 20 unit townhome development consisting of 10 buildings with 2 units per building. This project is the most aggressive residential project in Fairfield Bay, in the last 25 years. The owner of Ozark Resort Townhomes are Wayne Harlon and Mike Lester. I am also aware of at least 4 more new houses in the County.
4.Real Estate Sales Increase over 2015 numbers:
Real Estate sales in Van Buren County through the second quarter of 2016 were on the rise. The number of properties sold rose 25% over the same time period of 2015. The average price rose 9% and the number of days on the market dropped 23%. According to the Nation Associaton of Realtors, existing home sales rose in June for the fourth consecutive month, nationwide. Boosted by increased sales to first-time buyers, there was a 22% increase in overall sales of existing homes which is in line with the trend seen in Van Buren County.
*(Source: Fairfield Bay News, Wednesday, August 10, 2016)
5.The Fairfield Bay Mayor reported that tourist related dollars were up almost 20% in June, 2016 versus June, 2015.
6.Department of Labor statistics for January 2015; January 2016, and June 2016.
Date Labor Force Employed % of Unemployment
January 2015 6375 5825 8.7%
January 2016 6525 6075 7.1%
June 2016 6650 6200 6.9% (preliminary)
7.In my talk with Ozark Health, they report that the amount of out-patient prodedures continues to grow.
8.Some upcoming events are:
Now – September 4, National Chuck Wagon Races, at Eoff Ranch – Clinton.
September 3 – BayFest – Fairfield Bay Mall Area
August 31 – September 3 11th Annual Cowboy Catfish Supper – Clinton Senior Center
September 3 – Rock Skippin Contest 9 a.m. Fairfield Bay Marina
September 9 – 11 – “Love the Lake and River” weekend Clean-up – Fairfield Bay Marina
September 10 – Community Flag Football – 3 p.m. Clinton Football Field
September 12 – 17 – Van Buren County Fair – Van Buren County Fairgrounds.
September 16 – Taco Salad Dinner – Alread School Cafeteria
September 17 – Paddle Battle – 10 a.m. Fairfield Bay Marina
September 17 – “Leg it for the Library” – Choctaw Park
September 17 – Chimes Hog Roast Dinner Chimes School and Fire Department
September 24 ACRD Concert – Alread School
October 1 Annual Chili Cook-Off – 11 a.m. Historic Downtown Clinton
October 1 Candidate Forum – 5 p.m. – Alread EH Club
October 8 Alzheimers Stroll 8 a.m. Archey Fork Park – Clinton
October 8 Mickey Gilley – Clinton High School Auditorium
October 14-15 – Octoberfest Fairfield Bay Village Mall
October 15 – 2016 Buddy Walk – Archey Fork Park – Clinton
October (Date to be Announced) Scotland Yard Sale
As you can see, September and October are always busy in Van Buren County. Please participate in as many of the events as possible.
Until next time, thanks and God Bless!