January 18, 2016 Edition

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Snapp states he's for
WR/Hoxie consolidation

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp said in his state of the city address, which was presented at Monday night's city council meeting, that he is hopeful for another consolidation in 2017.

While not elaborating further at the meeting, Snapp later said he is positive that a Walnut Ridge and Hoxie consolidation would attract businesses, provide better jobs and create a more stable infrastructure for both towns.

Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker, however, said he finds it inappropriate that Snapp has made up his mind that this is the best possible outcome for the cities, especially as Snapp has not formally addressed the Hoxie council or the city of Hoxie prior to his claims.

"It's disappointing for him to make those kind of statements without consulting Hoxie at all," Tinker said.

The Hoxie mayor added that this feels more like Walnut Ridge moving to annex Hoxie rather than a mutual effort to consolidate.

While no petitions have been recorded with the county clerk's office at this time, an effort has been made by a Walnut Ridge committee to research and assess what the outcomes of a consolidation would be.

Snapp said he expects no definite answer from the committee, nor was the committee formed to recommend for or against a consolidation. However, after finalizing the consolidation with College City, Snapp said they know how the law works and see the benefits of consolidation more than ever.

A consolidation is something that has been talked about for generations yet it has never been brought to a vote, Snapp said.

"It's going to be a lot of work if that's what the people decide," Snapp said. "We go to church together, we go to work together, we go to ball games together. Why would we not work together as a single community?”

Snapp also noted times when the division of the two cities has hindered new industry in the past and said he has encountered business owners who have been put off by the economic structure of the two cities.

With a combined population of 8,200, a consolidated city would attract businesses the two cities can't attract on their own, according to Snapp. He added that a consolidation would not affect the schools and said there are many Hoxie students who live in Walnut Ridge and vice versa, further showing the cities' integration.

County Clerk Tina Stowers said a petition would require 97 Hoxie signatures and 220 Walnut Ridge signatures before it could be ratified and put to a vote.

Tinker said he wouldn't have further comment until after consulting with the Hoxie City Council.

Snapp said the cities can survive separately, but a consolidated city could thrive.

"This is a matter of what’s best for the community for years to come."

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