January 17, 2007 Edition

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Children's Shelter receives
property for building

Judy Turnbull (left), children's shelter board president, and Milton Smith, board member, discuss the donation by members of Smith's family of over five acres of land to the shelter.

John Bland

The effort to establish a temporary emergency children's shelter in Lawrence County has received a substantial boost with the donation of over five acres of land in Walnut Ridge. Descendents of the Neil and Imogene Sloan and Earl and Polly Sloan families have deeded the land to the shelter.

The property, which formerly housed the Sloan cotton gin, is located on Southwest Sixth Street, between Elm and Pine Streets, and bordered by the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad spur designated for the Rails to Trails project.

Judy Turnbull, president of the Children's Shelter Board, said the property is in a good, central location, close to the courthouse, law enforcement agencies and the hospital.

The acreage has been donated by the following owners: Erin Marie Sloan, Earl B. Sloan Jr. Testamentary Trust, Sara Sloan Heckle, Maney Heckle, Sloan "Muffin" Swindle, Sara Raney Howell, David Howell, Sloan Raney, Lance Raney and Shirley Raney.

Milton Smith, member of the shelter board and whose mother is Sara Sloan Heckle, brought up the possibility of the land donation in July of 2006, Turnbull said. "It took a few months for Milton to contact everyone and a lot of coordination on his part to get these deed's signed," she added.

"What better way to use the land and serve the community than with something constructive like this," said Sara Raney Howell of Jonesboro. "Our grandfathers, Milton's and mine, would think this is absolutely wonderful."

Turnbull said the next steps are to meet with a grant writer and then find out construction requirements to license a facility for a children's shelter. After that, they will be ready to meet with an architect.

Turnbull and Smith said the property should allow ample space for the shelter, parking, as well as lots that could be sold for additional revenue. "It's going to work out real well," Turnbull added. Tentative plans are to start out with a small shelter, consisting of four to six bedrooms, she added.

Over $30,000 raised in 2006

Over $30,000 has been raised for the shelter through the efforts of many individuals and fund-raisers in 2006. "People are so very, very generous," said Turnbull. Her husband, Lee, added, "The community is very supportive here."

Another boost to the shelter effort also came in late December. Volunteers conducted a phone-a-thon between Christmas and New Year's that has produced $5,605 in paid contributions. This allowed the shelter to be eligible to receive a $2,500 matching grant through Kathy Fears of Modern Woodmen of America Insurance in Newport.

Turnbull named several other accomplishments that occurred in 2006.

"The new year brings hope that surrounding counties will join the citizens of Lawrence County with awareness and support for the shelter. Although the shelter will be built in Walnut Ridge, displaced children will be accepted from surrounding counties," she added.

Donations can be sent directly to the fund: The Children's Shelter Fund Account, First National Bank, P.O. Box 509, Walnut Ridge, AR 72476.

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