Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Anniversaries worth noting

We salute First Electric Cooperative, which this week, along with North Metro Medical Center, celebrates a significant anniversary.

For First Electric Cooperative, which is marking 75 years of rural electrification and the progress which followed, the occasion requires mention of its huge contribution to the area’s development. The cooperative’s expansive efforts to provide electricity to much of our community’s rural confines cannot be measured without noting its contribution to almost all aspects of local life from simple family living, to farming, schools and industrial and commercial enterprises. The cooperative’s expansion of electrical services led to commercial and residential development of central Arkansas counties, including north Pulaski, White, Lonoke and Prairie.

The cooperative should also be praised for sustaining the notion of “cooperative” and for giving back a significant portion of its profits each year not only to its shareholders but also to worthy institutions within its service area with its Operation Round-Up made possible by customers who round up their payment to the nearest dollar. Among those recipients that have received community grants over the years are the Boys and Girls Club of Jacksonville, Fishnet Missions, Cabot Community Alliance, Antioch Fire Department, Ward Public Library, CS&Z Volunteer Fire Department and the Little Rock Air Force Base Historical Society.

First Electric also distributes capital credits each year to the cooperatives’ members or customers. This year’s refund came to nearly $4 million and represented the members’ share of the remaining revenue after the cost of operation.

The cooperative’s response in emergencies is also commendable. Local emergencies, such as storm-related power outages, are dealt with as quickly as possible and the cooperative also responds to storm-related outages outside its local area. Of memory are the cooperative’s response to Hurricane Katrina related outages in south Mississippi and Louisiana and to the more recent tornado outbreak in Oklahoma and Missouri, not to mention last year’s devastating storm in Joplin, Mo.

Notification to the public in local outages is timely, and officials are always responsive out of normal working hours.

Where would central Arkansas be without the cooperative? That’s a question we can only ponder.

North Metro Medical Center, on the other hand, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is an institution that once thrived as a city-owned hospital when there were few hospitals within a four-county area. That changed and so did North Metro’s balance sheet.

Its recent acquisition by Allegiance Health Systems and its promise to deliver up-to-date, quality health care could be a trailblazer in reviving Jacksonville’s economic development.

North Metro Medical Center was originally named Rebsamen Medical Center and was founded by Kenneth Pat Wilson, who formed a board of prominent businessmen to run a city-owned hospital. It was the visionary Wilson who led the group that worked to secure land for Little Rock Air Force Base 60 years ago. They knew the area would grow as a result and that quality health care would be a priority for military families and the community. As the landscape for health care changed running a hospital became a rigorous proposition, which most cities are no longer prepared to manage.

Allegiance’s acquisition of the hospital seems to be a good fit for the area and along with nearby Jacksonville Medical Clinic, will provide the type of care the community needs, quality emergency, medical, surgical and cardiac care, rehabilitation facilities and top-notch diagnostic capabilities. A recent partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital for expert radiological imaging diagnosis can only bode well for the future, providing oversight by the experts.

North Metro is also becoming known for its wound-healing center, a state-of-the-art sleep center, laboratory and medical imaging departments, inpatient geriatric psychiatry, orthopedic surgery, a new surgical inpatient and medical inpatient units in addition to recently reopened cardiac-catheterization and interventional-radiology labs.

The Leader is also marking a significant anniversary of 25 years serving four counties in needed news and advertising services. Local news is all important today and about the only place to find serious news about local government, crime and events is right here in your local newspaper.

The Leader has striven for 25 years to provide our local readers with news they need to understand their communities, schools and businesses.The Leader has also striven to provide advertising that satisfies the needs of our communities’ residents from groceries to pharmaceuticals to vehicles and car care. We know that a well-rounded newspaper not only satisfies the need for local news but also for local products and where to find the best prices.

A recent study by the PEW institute on journalism pointed out that most adults receive their local news, serious news, from their local newspapers.

Help us to continue to provide you with the local news, advertising and commentary you need.

Congratulations to all concerned.