February 5, 2014 Edition

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NEARIFA allocates
funds for prospect


Dalton Sullivan
Star Herald

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority (NEARIFA) has joined together with the city of Pocahontas, Randolph County and Clay County in allocating money to help raise $500,000 needed in order to meet a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) grant of $225,000 that will be used to help procure a production facility for Randolph County.

At their meeting in Pocahontas, the NEARIFA board members unanimously approved providing up to $100,000 for the project.

NEARIFA Director Wayne Gearhart, who has been working with the prospect for the better part of six months, said he anticipated an official announcement in Little Rock within the next few weeks.

"This company (Peco) was at the Clay County Quorum Court meeting earlier, and answered numerous questions about the proposed facilities in Pocahontas and Corning," Gearhart said.

Gearhart said the company was still looking to clear up a few remaining issues before making an announcement and added it was his understanding the company had begun exercising options with landowners in order to procure the land needed.

While Gearhart said everything was looking good for a completed deal in the near future, he cautioned, "a deal is not done until it is signed."

NEARIFA Board Treasurer Milton Smith of Walnut Ridge said the $100,000 allocated would have the same contingencies any contribution made by the AEDC would have, whereby if something would happen and the facility was not built, the NEARIFA would get their investment back.

Several board members and other guests at the meeting made comments relating to the $100,000 investment following the vote. Nathan Davis with Sen. John Boozman's office and Rebekah Bryant with Congressman Rick Crawford's office praised the NEARIFA and the three counties for working together in making this prospect look like it will become a reality.

NEARIFA Chair Scott Trammel thanked the city and county governments for their faith in the NEARIFA, and for seeing the advantage of regionalism.

Randolph County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tim Scott echoed Trammel's remarks, adding he believes this is just the beginning. "There are some positive things going on in our three counties," Scott said, "and I believe they are a direct result of the forthcoming announcement."

Board member John Thomison of Lawrence County added, "We knew it would be a long haul, and it is gratifying to see hard work pay off. I'm proud to be a part of it."

In other business, Corning Mayor Dewayne Phelan added the Missouri Department of Transportation met and one of the items they talked about was extending Highway 67 to the Arkansas state line.

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