March 8, 2017 Edition

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Stacy Hurst (from left), director of the Arkansas Department of Heritage, visits with State Sen. Blake Johnson, State Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, Lawrence County Historical Society President Lloyd Clark and Powhatan Historic State Park Superintendent Kristyn Watts during a reception at the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives on Friday.
Submitted Photo ~ Aaron Andrews

NEARA marks six years
at Powhatan facility

The Lawrence County Historical Society and Powhatan Historic State Park hosted a reception on Friday to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives facility.

Lloyd Clark, LCHS president, said the reception was a great success, offering his appreciation to those who provided food and helped organize the event.

Tours were offered of the NEARA facility, and refreshments were served in the park's Powhatan Male and Female Academy, located next door.

Elected officials attending included State Sen. Blake Johnson, State Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, Powhatan Mayor David Foley, Black Rock Mayor Bonnie Ragsdale and Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp.

"We also had others from nearby counties representing their historical societies, and several members of the Board of Directors for Friends of the Arkansas State Archives organization also made the journey from across the state to support us," Clark said.

Also among attendees were representatives of the Arkansas State Archives and the Department of Arkansas Heritage, including DAH Director Stacy Hurst.

Meeting held about facility

At the conclusion of Friday's reception, several interested parties met with DAH Director Hurst regarding the future of the facility and the need for a full-time position that has not been filled due to a funding freeze.

Meridith McFadden, who was promoted to archival manager in November, has been the lone employee at NEARA since that time. Clark said the hope of the LCHS is that the money could be unfrozen and the position filled.

Following Friday's meeting, though, it was agreed to try to staff the facility with qualified part-time help. Hurst told those in attendance that they would advertise for the positions immediately.

"She asked us to give her a couple of months to try this approach," Clark said.

He said part-time employees can only work 79 hours per month, so it will take at least three part-time workers to ensure there are two people at the facility at all times.

"We appreciate Ms. Hurst's willingness to meet with us and her concern for Ms. McFadden's security and ability to accomplish NEARA's mission and work off the huge backlog of work," Clark said. "Our aim is to inventory, analyze, catalog, enter material into the proper databases and make this information available to the public and consequently increase daily use at the NEARA."

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