Friday, February 01, 2013

TOP STORY >> Sherwood mayor hails jobs growth

Leader staff writer

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman touted several accomplishments of 2012 in her state of the city address at Monday night’s council meeting.

She said, “We are experiencing new growth and new business development. Our city continues to grow and expand.”

In January 2012, the city and the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce paired up to hire economic development director Kelly Coughlin.

Coughlin helped Custom Air-craft Cabinets, a woodworking and upholstery manufacturer that supplies private and corporate aircraft companies globally, move from North Little Rock to the old National Home Center in Sherwood.

The expansion was announced in August. CAC held a grand-opening ceremony Wednesday.

The company is adding 150 jobs at $15 to $20 an hour, and it invested $5.9 million in the move. CAC, which was founded in North Little Rock in 1989, employs more than 290 people.

Also, under Coughlin’s tenure, Buffalo Wild Wings built a new restaurant on Silver Creek Drive off Warden Road. It opened for business in December.

Buffalo Wild Wings is the largest sports bar chain in the country, according to franchise owner Steve Howard.

The restaurant brought 120 jobs to the area.

Other new businesses that came to Sherwood in 2012 include the Kum and Go gas station at 3400 E. Kiehl Ave., Mapco gas station at 10340 Hwy. 107 and McDonald’s at 9053 Hwy. 107.

The mayor said, “It has proven very beneficial to have a business development contact to assist new businesses.”

Hillman then spoke about the Parks and Recreation Department, noting the soccer club has almost doubled in size. It hosted 216 games this year.

She said, “The Greens at North Hills experienced its best year,” but didn’t go into details.

More than 10,000 cars visited the Christmas displays at the Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights. The art room at the Duran Youth Center was remodeled with a $10,000 Central Arkansas Planning and Development District grant.

Hillman was pleased that the Sherwood Animal Shelter placed 97 percent of adoptable animals with new families.

The shelter received two grants. The first will allow it to provide every adopted animal with a collar and ID tag. The other grant will help fund spaying and neutering services.

The mayor said the senior center had another successful year. One of the highlights was that 10,000 meals were delivered to elderly residents by Meals on Wheels.

Hillman praised the computer service department, which developed, maintained and enhanced several in-house written applications.

She deemed the redesign and launch of the city’s website as one of many achievements.

Hillman mentioned the employee Health & Fitness Fair, which 190 workers and 19 vendors attended. Free flu shots were offered and 95 of the city employees took advantage of the opportunity.

The Arkansas Municipal League helped Sherwood start the health and wellness program for employees. The program gives every city worker a free pass to work out at the Bill Harmon Recreation Center.

Employees who go at least 12 times per month in a six-month period earn a day off. The first six-month period ended in November and 14 employees received the extra day off.

Hillman said the district court dealt with more than 23,700 cases and contributed $2,526,684 to the general fund.She added that Sherwood experienced a nine percent decrease in property crimes and a 26 percent decrease in crimes against people/violent crimes.

The mayor reminded the council that curbside recycling was implemented in 2012. The program has an 80 percent participation rate.

Hillman said the amount of building permits increased. The value of the permits was up to $42,781,030 compared to $23,751,750 in 2011.

The mayor noted that the state Highway Department also resurfaced East Kiehl Avenue.

Hillman said all manholes have been visually inspected and all of the collection system was tested with smoke or close circuit televising.

The mayor concluded, “2013 has the promise of new business growth as well as more residential development.”

She said the half-cent sales tax on gas that Arkansas voters approved will help the city with street improvements this year. Engineering work is under way for improvements to Maryland Avenue and a new traffic signal is planned for Kiehl Avenue and Oakbrooke Street.