Friday, February 11, 2011

TOP STORY > >Sherwood passes Jacksonville

By RiCk kron
Leader staff writer

Sherwood has overtaken Jacksonville in population, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

This was done through Sher-wood gaining residents, in particular more than 3,000 people when it annexed Gravel Ridge two years ago, and with Jacksonville losing residents.

Meanwhile, Cabot jumped 55 percent, Ward moved up 60 percent and Austin more than tripled its population. Beebe is up almost 50 percent. Lonoke is down slightly.

Jacksonville’s 2010 count of 28,364 is less than it had in 2000 (29,916) and less than its 1990 population of 29,101.

Overall, Jacksonville’s population fell about 5 percent over the past 10 years.

Sherwood’s new count is 29,523, up about 8,000 from its 2000 population count of 21,511, a gain of about 35 percent.

Each person a city counts is worth about $1,000 to $1,500 annually, according to census officials.

For Jacksonville that means a 10-year loss of more than $15 million. On the other hand, Sherwood will see federal funding increase about $80 million over the next decade.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher doesn’t think the figures are right. “I’ve got questions. We’ve had steady construction for 10 years. I don’t think everyone was counted. I want to check on if all the base personnel were counted,” he said.

“Once we get some questions answered, we’ll decide if we are going to contest the count,” the mayor said.

He added that if the figures are accurate, it’s proof that “the condition of our schools are killing us.”

Sherwood’s Mayor Virginia Hillman is ecstatic about the news. “We’re now the 14th largest city in the state,” she said.

The mayor actually suspected the number of residents to be higher than reported. “We really thought we were going to break the 30,000 mark and Metroplan has us estimated at 31,000,” she said.

Hillman credits a lot of people, businesses and organizations that pushed the importance of the census in March and April last year for the solid numbers.

Sherwood had already figured on the increased population and planned its 2011 budget accordingly.

Cabot also made great strides in growth, going from 15,261 in 2000 to 23,776 in 2010, a gain of almost 55 percent.

Austin, which back in 2005 was a small community of just 605 people, now, according to the U.S. Census, boosts a population of 2,038.

Ward has gone from 2,580 in 2000 to 4,067 in 2010, for about a 60 percent increase.

Beebe has also done well, growing about 48 percent over the decade. The city went from 4,930 in 2000 to 7,315 in 2010.

Besides Jacksonville, Lonoke was the only other city to lose ground, dipping by 42 residents. Its 2010 population is 4,245, but back in 2000 it was 4,287.

Breaking the census data down further:

Of Austin’s 2038 residents, 1,919 are white, 69 are Hispanic, 40 are black, eight are Asian, and seven are Native American.

Of Beebe’s 7,315 residents, 6,544 are white, 425 are black, 192 are Hispanic, 70 are Native American and 31 are Asian.

Of Cabot’s 23,775 residents, 22,137 are white, 983 are Hispanic, 374 are black, 351 are Asian and 131 are Native American.

Of Jacksonville’s 28,364 residents, 16,364 are white, 9,272 are black, 1,890 are Hispanic, 597 are Asian and 169 are Native American.

Of Lonoke’s 4,245 residents, 3,008 are white, 1,075 are black, 142 are Hispanic, 16 are Asian and seven are Native American.

Of Sherwood’s 29,523 residents, 22,232 are white, 5,464 are black, 1,181 are Hispanic, 464 are Asian and 155 are Native American.

Of  Ward’s 4,067 residents, 3,821 are white, 125 Hispanic, 49 are Native American, 44 are black and 23 are Asian.