April 21, 2010 Edition

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Society looking forward
to return of documents

Tammy Franks (left) of Hoxie visits with Lloyd Clark, president of the Lawrence County Historical Society, at the quarterly meeting of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Lawrence County Meeting Room. Clark spoke to members about the historical society's activities, as well as progress on the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives facility.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt

Lloyd Clark, president of the Lawrence County Historical Society, spoke to members of the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday during the chamber's quarterly meeting at the Lawrence County Meeting Room in Walnut Ridge.

The historical society has been in existence since the 1960s and has been involved in renovation projects, as well as preservation of historical documents.

Clark said when the county seats were consolidated in the 1960s, many records were abandoned at Powhatan. The society rescued the documents, and they were stored in the Powhatan Courthouse, which is now part of a state park.

"When they began renovation of the courthouse, the records had to be put in storage," Clark said.

The records are at Arkansas State University awaiting return to Powhatan. That return is close, now, as construction is underway on a new Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives facility, to be located at Powhatan.

The 3,965-square-foot facility will include an archival vault, a processing room and a research and reading room. The estimated cost of the facility is over $805,000.

Construction began a little over two weeks ago, and contractors have 270 days to complete the project. The Arkansas History Commission has approved the funding of two staff members, an archival manager and an assistant. Clark said he expects there to be volunteer docents from the historical society, as well.

Clark has been involved in the society since he returned to the area in 1992 after retiring from the Army.

"I knew I wanted to be a teacher and wanted to be involved in the community," he said. "I lived by the park (at Powhatan), so I joined the society. I was elected the new president and have been president ever since. I've enjoyed it."

Clark said the society has done a lot of great things, including overseeing the restoration of the Male and Female Academy at Powhatan.

The society is now planning for the 200th birthday of Lawrence County, which will be marked in 2015.

"We are in the initial steps of planning a big commemoration," Clark said. "We are planning to invite people from all 31 counties in Arkansas and the eight in Missouri that were formed from the original Lawrence County."

Clark also shared information about the society's publications. The society has a book titled "Mother of Counties" available, and also publishes a quarterly journal.

He said this year's journals are focusing on Civil War stories to mark the 150th anniversary of the war. Clark shared that Arkansas had the fourth largest number of engagements in the Civil War of all the states that seceded, including a battle at Smithville.

Clark closed by emphasizing to Chamber members that the new archives facility, as well as existing attractions at both Powhatan and Lake Charles state parks are a benefit to the county.

"Our two state parks bring in a considerable amount of money," he said. "We will see an increase in visitors to the county with the opening of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives facility."

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