July 13, 2011 Edition

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New office for district court open

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

Expenses for establishing a new office for the district court clerk were approved at Monday night's Quorum Court meeting.

A total of $2,006.24, including $1,594 for new desks, was approved, with funds to be taken from the district court budget.

The new office is located just off Main Street in Walnut Ridge on Northwest Third Street. The office is fully functional at this time.

Justices were also introduced to two individuals who were recently hired into positions to serve the needs of Lawrence County residents.

Ashley Durden is the new family and consumer sciences agent of the University of Arkansas Extension Service. She will work with Extension Homemaker Clubs, as well as offer educational programs to county residents, focusing on areas such as health and nutrition, finances and family relationships. She will also have some 4-H youth responsibilities. L.J. Bryant, the new director of economic development for the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, was also introduced.

"We found there was no one person to field inquiries that came into the county regarding potential businesses," said Mike Montgomery, chairman of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, who introduced Bryant to the court. "We needed one individual (that was not a volunteer) to pursue and direct all business developments so the businesses in Lawrence County, both those already established and potential, can be supported and expand."

Bryant said he welcomes ideas and suggestions.

"As I visit with the county leaders, I am impressed by the open and co-operative spirit of the people of Lawrence County," he said. County Judge Dale Freeman discussed efforts to expand industry in the area. He said one obstacle is not knowing exactly what can and cannot be done within the airport safety zone.

"Although we have the best industrial park in the state, we are severely limited by Federal Aviation Administration guidelines as to the usage of the buildings within 500 feet around the runway," he said. "Airport buildings close to the runway are rentable and have utilities but also have a height limitation, as well as low-inhabitant restrictions."

He said buildings located in that zone might not be the best spot for industries wanting to locate in the industrial park.

"The Airport Commission has been extremely cooperative; there is just only so much they can do," Freeman said.

Freeman told justices he is driving an average of 3,000 miles monthly as part of his efforts to influence industries to locate in Lawrence County.

"I told you guys when I got elected I was going to concentrate on economic development and I'd be running up the gas bill trying to get jobs in Lawrence County."

Freeman told justices that FEMA is evaluating one last road in Lawrence County that was washed out by the flood.

"The road has a 30-foot drop," he said. "I want to get it fixed for the farmers who utilize it, but if we don't get money from FEMA I don't yet see how we can fix it."

Freeman also mentioned that there were sales of over $293,000 in lottery tickets in Lawrence County in the month of June.

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