December 14, 2011 Edition

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Governor Mike Beebe (center) spoke at the grand opening Friday of the Northeast Arkansas Water Authority's new water treatment plant. With him are Walnut Ridge Alderman Ed Lawson (left) and L.J. Bryant, director of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce. They were visiting about Lawson's son, Derek, who is a running back for the Arkansas State University Red Wolves.

Gov. joins ceremony to
mark opening of plant

John Bland

Friday was a day of celebration and recognition as ceremonies marked the grand opening for the Northeast Arkansas Water Authority's new water treatment plant.

The date marked the culmination of a project that was first considered in late 1998, when a group decided this plant was needed for Lawrence County.

As a surprise to the water authority's president, A. J. Henry Jr. of Walnut Ridge, the water treatment plant was named in his honor. The announcement was made with the unveiling of the building's nameplate.

Governor Mike Beebe spoke at the ceremony and praised the planners, who come from various communities, the county and other agencies, for their cooperation. "All of you that have had a hand in this deserve a hand," he said.

"This plant was built with the idea of growth and prosperity ... that will hopefully come along," said Beebe. The governor noted that Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman and mayors from the county have been to his office. "They are looking for growth."

Beebe also praised them for their foresight, noting that the groundwater supply is under continuous stress and having a source such as the Spring River will improve the quality and quantity for the long-term. "The quality is going to be better," he added.

A number of other dignitaries spoke at the ceremony. Some of them were Senator Robert Thompson of Paragould, State Rep. James Ratliff, Matt Dunn of Crist Engineers and Randy Young, executive director of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.

Young said, "The key that stood out to me was the level of cooperation from all the entities. You don't see that every day."

The $13,050,000 project took almost 12 years to complete. The plant began delivering water on Nov. 21, when it was connected to Portia. Walnut Ridge and Hoxie were connected Nov. 22, and the Lawrence County Regional Water District, Alicia and Sedgwick were connected last week.

The plant is located near Black Rock, just across the Spring River bridge in Randolph County. It draws water the Spring River, just below the point where Eleven Point River flows into the Spring River.

Joseph Jansen of Pocahontas, plant manager, and Matt Dunn of Crist Engineering shared several facts about the plant.

  • The Health Department has approved the plant to handle a capacity of three million gallons of water per day.

  • The plant contains two treatment "trains" and contains a 300,000-plus gallon clear well tank.

  • Some 1,400 gallons a minute are currently running through the plant.

  • The plant's three intake pumps at the river are each capable of pumping 1,400 gallons a minute.

  • The plant has a capacity to pump 2,000 to 2,500 a minute of treated water out of the plant.

Members of the authority's board listed on the building's nameplate include A.J. Henry Jr. - president, John Allen, Bob Boyd, Stanley Debow, Greg Duckworth, Robert Hicks, Gary Little - treasurer, Gary Light, Joy Richardson, William Staudt, James Taylor and Sybil Taylor.

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