June 4, 2008 Edition

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WR named ADN city

John Bland
Publisher

Walnut Ridge is one of eight cities that have joined the Arkansas Downtown Network (ADN) of communities dedicated to revitalizing historic commercial areas, Main Street Arkansas Director Cary Tyson has announced.

Main Street Arkansas is a program area of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

"Walnut Ridge impressed us with its commitment to keeping its downtown area as an important component of community life," Tyson said. "We are excited about this opportunity to work with these cities as they seek to preserve their historic commercial cores."

Also joining the Arkansas Downtown Network are Sheridan, Morrilton, Rector, Siloam Springs, Crawfordsville, Jonesboro and DeWitt.

"ADN membership will provide these cities with an opportunity for downtown professionals to share solutions to common downtown issues," Tyson said.

Among the services and benefits ADN cities receive are access to Main Street Arkansas' quarterly trainings, organizational assistance, limited technical assistance from Main Street staff members and access to the Main Street resource center.

Main Street Arkansas provides technical assistance and design services to help create economic development in the state's downtown areas. The Main Street approach focuses on four areas: design, economic restructuring, organization and promotion.

Committees forming

The Walnut Ridge organization met Thursday evening and adopted the official name Downtown Walnut Ridge, reported Lorra Whitmire, an organizer of the effort.

The original steering committee has disbanded, and the organization is now in the process of forming transition teams, she added. Chairing the teams are as follows:

Anyone interested in serving on these committees can contact Whitmire or the committee chairs.

Whitmire said upcoming efforts will include: establishing a website at www.downtownwalnutridge.org, obtaining 501 C3 status so donations are tax deductible and then forming a board of directors.

The next meeting of Downtown Walnut Ridge will be held Thursday, June 12, at 6 p.m. in the Lawrence County Meeting Room. All interested people are invited to attend.

The Downtown Walnut Ridge group is also planning to make a presentation at the next quarterly meeting of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. Cathy Harthorn and others will give the presentation that they made to Main Street Arkansas when applying to join the Arkansas Downtown Network. A date for this meeting has not been set.

Cities currently involved in Main Street's Arkansas Downtown Network are Pine Bluff, Heber Springs, Fort Smith and Eureka Springs. Cities currently involved in the more comprehensive Main Street Arkansas program are Batesville, Blytheville, Dumas, El Dorado, Hardy, Harrison, Helena, Little Rock's South Main Street (SoMa), North Little Rock (Argenta), Osceola, Ozark, Paragould, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Texarkana and West Memphis.

Other sponsors of the Main Street Arkansas program are the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

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