I join others in being excited and hopeful about good things and positive developments taking place in Lawrence County. I will attempt to mention several of them.
- The potential of peanut farming in Lawrence County has gotten considerable attention in recent months. Walter Rice, a farmer from College Station, Tenn., successfully produced a peanut crop in the area last year. A retired consultant for a peanut company recently met with local farmers to discuss peanut production, and peanut shelling and processing companies have shown interest in the county's farmland for peanut production.
- Early this month, work began on a new women's residence hall at Williams Baptist College. The residence hall will house 43 female students. It is expected to cost $1.75 million and is scheduled to be completed before the start of the fall semester in August. Enrollment surged at WBC's Walnut Ridge campus last fall, and the dorm population jumped 13 percent, leaving the four-year, liberal arts college near capacity on its student housing.
- On Feb. 3, the Lawrence County School District officially broke ground on a major construction project for the Walnut Ridge School campus. The $4.6 million project includes a new science, fine arts and P.E./field house complex. Construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete.
- Work continues to progress on the Northeast Arkansas Regional Water Authority's water treatment plant on Highway 361 near Black Rock. A.J. Henry of the authority recently said that the new water system, which draws water from the Spring River, should be supplying water to the county in early August. Piping for the system has already been laid. The project cost is over $10 million.
- Work on a new elementary classroom addition began in January at the Sloan-Hendrix School campus in Imboden. Hoxie School officials are also making plans for a construction project on their campus.
- The dedication and grand opening ceremony for the new Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NEARA) at Powhatan, an $809,107 project, is planned for March 3. A similar facility in southwest Arkansas draws 1,000 researchers annually, so this new facility is expected to do likewise.
- The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee's efforts to establish two Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67 projects continue at a fast pace. The projects include The Beatles "Abbey Road" metal sculpture and a guitar plaza or walk. The Beatles monument will commemorate their September 1964 visit to the Walnut Ridge Airport, while the guitar plaza will feature musicians who performed
along the Rock 'n' Roll Highway.
- The Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority continues working on efforts to locate a railroad tie and pellet plant in Lawrence County, as well as on other projects.
I imagine I have left some important developments off this list, but you will agree, some exciting projects are taking place in Lawrence County.