Thursday, December 31, 2015

EDITORIAL >> New Year’s resolutions

Happy New Year to our readers and the communities The Leader covers. May 2016 be fortunate and filled with blessings, good health and sustenance. We’ve been reflecting on the big stories that kept us occupied in 2015 so we thought we’d offer a few New Year’s resolutions and goals for our hometowns.


May the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District succeed in having voters approve a much needed property tax increase on Feb. 9 that will build a $60 million high school near Main Street and Hwy. 67/167. It will also pay for repairs to several other schools that the Pulaski County Special School District neglected to maintain for decades.

We hope that the new school district’s board members and administrators will report good news every month about how they are improving schools and academic programs.

We hope they will also work to improve ties with the community, parents and teachers and avoid the ugly divisions that plagued PCSSD for too long. They are charged with rebuilding everything PCSSD destroyed.

May the Jacksonville City Council discover ways to reinvigorate the economic prospects of the city, improve its roads and community events. Also, we hope to hear soon that building will start on a planned medical complex near North Metro Medical Center. Residents may suspect that the announcement for that project, made during a heated mayoral race, was premature and has since died on the vine.

In the new year, we want to see North Metro Medical Center, along with its owner Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, La., improve its management problems and rededicate itself to the communities it serves: Jacksonville, Cabot and Little Rock Air Force Base. The bad news cannot go on much longer for the troubled medical center.


We hope Cabot in 2016 has much success with its array of projects financed with a bond issue that’s funded by a sales tax. Thanks to forward-thinking residents, Cabot will offer some of the best parks, community centers and ball fields in central Arkansas.

The sales tax also paid for Cabot’s new library and is improving street drainage and road projects like a new Hwy. 67/167 interchange that will improve traffic and access to the heart of town.

Planning and zoning meetings were heated at times as angry residents turned out to criticize planned real estate projects. State Rep. Tim Lemons, who is also an engineer, has been hired by developers to get city approval for more than a few endeavors that were unpopular with his constituents.

Here’s hoping for a few building projects that all of Cabot can enjoy, or at least some that won’t upset the neighbors.


We hope Sherwood’s plan to build a new library on a sprawling 14-acre site near Sylvan Hills Middle School off Hwy. 107 goes well. If done right, Sherwood could be home to the best branch in the Central Arkansas Library System.

The project’s planners should strive to outdo the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center in Little Rock, which is likely the best of its kind in the country.

Sherwood has the opportunity to do something innovative and great for its community.


We hope that Lonoke city officials in 2016 can solve the mystery of where 40 percent of its water supply is being lost every month. Some improvements seem to be taking place. In November, the city’s water loss was only 4.7 million gallons, but that’s still too wasteful to put up with.


Lonoke County’s second largest city, Ward, should have an excellent New Year despite losing its library after state budget cuts hit the Lonoke-Prairie Regional Library System and competition from Cabot’s new state-of-the-art library rendered the small and out-of-date Ward branch obsolete. The city has a lot to look forward to and the library’s closure is not a warning of things to come.


May Austin’s planned independent census show that the little community isn’t so little anymore and earn it some much needed state and federal turnback money to continue on its path toward growth. Its plan to expand and remodel city hall should also make progress in 2016.


Another city on the cusp of big growth, Beebe is poised to attract new businesses and balance its finances so it can build a community center and restore its historic downtown buildings, perhaps joining prestigious Main Street Arkansas cities.

There’s more work to be done for all of our communities, and we hope to report on them in every edition of The Leader. Ring in the good year with family and friends, and may we all meet our goals this coming year. Happy 2016.