December 16, 2015 Edition

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Intermodal's Wayne
Gearhart resigns

Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority Executive Director Wayne Gearhart (left) visits with Nathan Davis of Congressman John Boozman's office following Thursday's Intermodal meeting in Pocahontas. Gearhart announced his resignation as executive director during the meeting.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Gretchen Hunt

Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority Executive Director Wayne Gearhart announced his resignation from that position to the Intermodal Board of Directors on Thursday.

A reception for Gearhart, whose resignation will be effective Dec. 31, will be held Friday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Richard Gaines Technology Center Conference Room on the Black River Technical College campus in Pocahontas.

Gearhart, who has been with the authority since its inception in 2008, said the decision was not one he took lightly.

"It has been an incredibly rewarding experience, heightened by my association with so many outstanding partners who care deeply about this region," he said. "The experience has been an honor and we have made progress."

Gearhart stressed that he hopes the authority's participants will continue to work together for the prosperity of the area.

"As I look back over the years at the various projects, the one thing that we can all be proud of is how we have banded together in a regional effort for economic development," he said.

NEARIFA Board Chair Scott Trammel credited Gearhart and Milton Smith of Walnut Ridge for pushing for the intermodal's creation.

"I want to thank you for your service and how you've worked so hard to accomplish what we have," Trammel told Gearhart.

Smith quickly chimed in, "Wayne initiated all of this, I just thought it was a good idea and got on the bus. He has worked hard for low pay with stellar results."

Trammel emphasized that keeping a regional concept when moving forward will be key, stating that when seeking support from state agencies it is important to develop as a region, not as individual communities.

Following Gearhart's announcement, discussion was held regarding the direction the authority should take in the future. The consensus from board members and elected officials in attendance was to keep the NEARIFA in place.

Smith pointed out that to hire a new executive director, would require additional funds.

"We are not going to be able to hire anyone for what Wayne's been doing it for," he said.

An estimated salary would be approximately $50,000, which is currently the authority's total income from counties and cities, with five participants paying $10,000 each.

The possibility of increasing the dues or recruiting additional participants was discussed. Because budgets have already been set for 2016 and there will not be an immediate hire, the board voted to leave the dues at $10,000 at this time.

The executive committee, with input from the mayors and county judges, will begin work toward hiring a new director, including setting policies, responsibilities and requirements.

In other business, the board:

voted to retain Alex Bigger as acting attorney for the authority as needed to amend bylaws and provide legal counsel during the transition.

voted to enter into a contract with Spring Designs in Pocahontas to redesign the NEARIFA website, as well as maintain it. Taking out a two-year maintenance contract made the total cost $3,300.

took Gearhart's recommendation to increase the salary of administrative assistant Deonne Donner from $500 a month to $1,000 a month. The change will be effective in January.

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