May 13, 2015 Edition

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JPs support committee's
strategic plan

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Lawrence County Quorum Court voted to support the Lawrence County reNEW East Arkansas steering committee in its adoption of an economic development strategic plan through the East Arkansas Planning and Development District.

In the fall of 2011, The East Arkansas Planning and Development District partnered with the 12 counties in its region and several other entities to apply for funding from U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create a 20-year Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp said the county strategic plan focuses on a unified effort between the county and its cities to develop and compete with larger surrounding cities.

As part of reNEW East Arkansas, Lawrence County has access to an asset inventory, land use and transportation scenario plans, housing analysis and the regional plan for sustainable development, amongst other benefits.

Snapp said by being part of this effort, the county will have greater access to grants for economic growth through EAPDD.

Also at the meeting, the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce recommended the county apply for a Blue & You Foundation grant through Blue Cross Blue Shield. The $150,000 grant, if awarded, would be used in the final stages of the Rails to Trails project.

The Chamber will prepare the grant, which will be administered through the county. President of the Chamber Board Fran Cavenaugh said the final stage of the project includes adding benches and exercise stations along the trail, as well as blocking off all accesses to prevent vehicles from entering the trail while allowing bicycles and pedestrians to pass.

The court voted to proceed in the grant application.

In other business,

Justice Junior Briner said the Sheriff's Department Budget will need to be amended to make up for a lack of revenue in the Jail Fund. The court and Sheriff Jeff Yates discussed possible reasons for the shortage, including overstaffing, less tickets being written and payment plans on tickets preventing revenue from coming in as quickly. County Judge Dale Freeman said more long-term plans to save money and increase revenue have to be developed. "Shifting money around is not the solution."

Freeman appointed Bill Wilcoxson to finish the late Keith Brand's term on the Lawrence Health Services Board. He also reappointed Seb Spades for a seven-year term.

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