Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TOP STORY >> A&P helps firing range

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Com-mission last week voted to provide up to $130,000 to help pay for the shooting range that will open next spring on Graham Road.

Chairman Mike Houchen said, “We’re giving it a crutch to get it over the hump. I’ve been told that any profits will be used to service the debt before they are used for other things. And I know we’re going to have a return from it. This is a real opportunity to do what we’ve been charged to do.”

Commissioner Jim Hurley said, “This is one of the biggest draws we can have in Jacksonville.”

The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation is providing $1.5 million for the project, while Jacksonville will spend $625,000 over the next five years. Three anonymous donors have given $150,000.

A few of the commissioners asked Mayor Gary Fletcher about annexing the part of the range that is outside city limits. They were concerned about the legality of providing funding if the whole site isn’t in Jacksonville.

Fletcher said he is working with Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin on that issue. City Attorney Robert Bamburg said the whole site would be annexed before it opens.

The Parks and Recreation Department will run the day-to-day operations of the range, according to maintenance manager Kevin House.

He will be the range manager until two full-time employees are hired.

House said the department would also add a few part-time and seasonal positions.

He said the range would be open five days a week.

The Game and Fish Com-mission staff will manage the range during tournaments.

The mayor thanked the commission for its contribution. He said, “This is happening pretty quick.”

He added that this would be something for parents and children to do together.

In other business:

• The commission was informed that revenue has been flat this year. They have a $93,000 surplus because September expenditures were less than the revenue that came in.

Houchen said other cities, North Little Rock specifically, have experienced significant losses.

“We’re holding our own and doing a lot better than communities around us,” he said.

Houchen also reminded the commissioners that the revenue remained the same even though Kentucky Fried Chicken on North First Street and McDonald’s on Main Street closed. McDonald’s has reopened at its new building on Main Street.

• The commissioners were told that 2,000 out of the 6 million people who saw their ad while searching on Facebook clicked on the ad to go to Jacksonville’s website.

Commissioner Jim Hurley said, “That sounds like a small number.”

Sells Agency account executive Kristen Burgeis, who works for the public relations firm that was hired by the city, said, “Of all the Facebook campaigns I’ve done, this is excelling the most.”

She explained that many people won’t click on it because they are looking for a different Jacksonville in another state or it could pop up with other search terms such as “military.”