Central Arkansas RC&D Area
Counties Served: Faulkner, Garland, Hot Spring, Lonoke,
Monroe, Perry, Phillips, Prairie, Pulaski, & Saline
Project HighlightsCamp Ouachita National Historic District
Construction plans have been completed and are under review for the first contract in the renovation of Camp Ouachita National Historic District. Located in Perry County, Camp Ouachita was the first Girl Scout Camp constructed in Arkansas. Camp Ouachita is also the only surviving Girl Scout Camp in the United States constructed by the WPA and CCC. Camp Ouachita is also on the National Register of Historic Places and was also the first project in Arkansas identified by the Department of Interior as a Save Americas Treasurers Project. To date the Central AR. RC&D Council has raised nearly $900,000 for renovations. Donations include $400,000 from the Arkansas Highway Dept., $100,000 from the Arkansas Dept. of Economic Development, $375,000 from Save Americas Treasurers, $25,000 from the AR. Forestry Commission, and $2,500 in private donations. Renovations of Camp Ouachita has been planned in four phases. This first contract will complete most of phase I. Senator Blanche Lincoln has secured an additional $1.7 million for the completion of phase I, and all of phase II. The first contract should be awarded within the next 90 days.
Phillips County Community Improvement Project
This project consist of storm water drainage in four low-income areas in Phillips County. Senator Dale Bumpers secured $2.8 million during his last year in office for the Central AR. RC&D Council to complete this project. To date contracts have been completed in Zachary, Lakeview, and West Helena. The contract in Marvell should be completed within the next 60 days. The Council, through contractual savings of $500,000, was able to expand the project area to include additional areas within West Helena and Lakeview, and include areas in the cities of Elaine and Lexa. Contract documents are being prepared for these new areas with the bid opening scheduled for early November. Once completed this project will have provided storm water benefits to nearly 600 low-income families in Phillips County. Funding for this project came through USDA-Rural Development with NRCS providing the engineering technical assistance.
Louis and Joe Smith Bookmobile
The Central Arkansas RC&D Council secured a grant for $60,000 from Behavior Health Services in Forrest City to help purchase and operate the Louis and Joe Smith Bookmobile. Mr. & Mrs. Smith left Monroe County $250,000 to create a bookmobile. Through Central AR. RC&D, Behavior Health Services donated an additional $60,000 for the bookmobile.
Delta Resource Information Center
This project is an effort by the Central AR. RC&D Council to focus more on the delta region of Arkansas. The Center is located at 515 Columbia in Helena. The building, historically referred to as the Allin House, was purchased by the Council to serve as the Delta Resource Information Center. The Council used $30,000 of its own funds and received a donation of $80,000 from Ernest and Kathy Cunningham to purchase the building. The Allin House was built in 1856, and used by Union forces during the Civil War, as quarters for its commanders. The Allin House was purchased in 1900 by the grandparents of John Allin, who writes for the Democrat Gazette. In fact John Allin was raised in this home.
Once the home was purchased the Council began major renovations. USDA-Rural Development provided grants to the Council in excess of $220,000 for renovations. The State Department of Rural Services also provided $9,000 for renovations. Renovations are complete and the Center conducted its grand opening on May 28th. Senator Blanche Lincoln along with local and federal dignitaries was present for the opening.
The DRIC will be multi-functional in nature. A few of the immediate services provided include:
1. Accepting moderate and low-income housing applications for USDA-Rural Development.
2. Providing free computer training to employees of local businesses.
3. Researching the possibility of value-added business for the area.
4. Serve as the operations center of the Council in its delta initiatives.
5. Serve as a local contact point for state agencies that do not have a local presence in the delta.
6. Disperse loan applications for the Small Business Administration.
7. Eventually serve as a grant research center for local people.
The DRIC is also providing leadership and coordination in an effort to locate a National Training Center in Phillips County. The Center is applying for its own non-profit status and will eventually serve the same counties being serviced by the newly created Delta Regional Authority.
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