Friday, September 02, 2016

TOP STORY >> Issue 3 is seen helping Lonoke

Leader staff writer

“Somewhere between here and Little Rock” would be the perfect spot for a big auto plant or another large industry, Randy Zook told about 35 Lonoke Chamber of Commerce members who had gathered for Thursday’s regular meeting.

Zook, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas president and CEO, was talking about the potential economic benefits of Issue 3.

It will appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election ballot.

He said his organization is in favor of it, which allows the state to possibly attract more and larger industries by “removing the limitation on the principal amount of General Obligation Bond that may be issued under Amendment 82.”

In other words, bonds currently issued by the state are limited to 5 percent of its total revenue and this would remove that cap, he said.

Basically, he said it would give the state a fighting chance when it came to attracting large industries like the Toyota plant at Blue Springs, Miss.

“We weren’t equipped to complete,” he said. At one point, the state tried to entice Toyota to consider Arkansas as a location in the late 2000s.

Issue 3 is also known as Jobs for Arkansas.

“It would allow the state and local governments to step up to the plate,” Zook said.

State Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke), who was at the meeting, said, “I agree with everything Randy said. Ourstate has a great opportunity for economic development.”

She said the state is ideally situated in the country’s center with easy assess to interstate, rail, air and river transport.

However, she said, “The state has to be cautious when issuing bonds. Only 6 percent of our (Arkansas tax) income comes from corporations, so it needs to be a great enough return to impact our bottom line,” Bennett said.

Chamber co-director Adam Starks said, “It’s a cause I believe. It has its negatives and positives, but the positives outweigh the negatives.”

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said, “There is a problem that needs to be resolved,” but at this point, he said he has not studied the matter and isn’t ready to endorse or reject it.

There’s also something in Issue 3 for local municipalities.

Cities could hire chambers of commerce for services related to economic development, and through bonds approved by local voters, cities would be allowed to borrow money for economic development, Zook said.

Chamber co-director Bill Ryker said, “Zook did a good job of explaining Issue 3,” and he supports all aspects of it.

“I feel like it would be a win-win situation for all communities, and I don’t think it put smaller communities at a disadvantage,” Ryker said.

The measure could help Lonoke better attract potential employers.

Starks said the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will meet next week, possibly Wednesday, to decide whether to support or reject Issue 3.


Zook also talked about other issues that would be appearing on the ballot. His organization had no position on Issue 1, which would extend elected county official terms from two to four years.

Bennett, who was part of the House’s State Agency Committee that brought the issue to the House floor, strongly supports it and said, “I think it’s a great idea.”

However, Zook’s association supports Issue 2, which would extend the Arkansas governor’s power beyond the state’s boundaries, meaning he would retain his authority even when out of state.

Prior to modern communication, Zook said this limitation was needed but often misused by certain individuals who suddenly took control of the state, but Arkansas needs to update this amendment.

“It’s long overdue,” he said.

His association opposes Issue 4, an amendment that limits lawyers’ contingency fees and non-economic damages in medical laws; and Issue 6 and 7, both designed to legalize medical marijuana.

They take no stand on Issue 5 that allows casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties.

Starks introduced Lt. Col. Walter (Wally) Lesinski, chamber liaison from the Little Rock Air Force Base.

The next Lonoke chamber luncheon will be at noon Thursday, Oct. 6.


Lonoke will host a 9/11 ceremony in memory of the 2,996 people who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

In honor of the 15th anniversary, the city will hold a 9/11 ceremony at noon at Memorial Flag Plaza, adjacent to the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce at 102 Front St.

It will include the Lonoke High School Band, members of the Lonoke Junior Army ROTC, the Little Rock Air Force Base Honor Guard, Lt. Col. Walter Lesinski will attend and David Hixson, assistant band director at Lonoke Middle School, will play taps.


KickStart Lonoke has launched a key phase in the process of developing a strategic five-year action plan for Lonoke.

Lonoke’s residents are encouraged to take their online survey. Their voices are crucial in an effort to identify the top priorities for economic growth so please take a moment to fill out the survey, said organizer Ryan Biles.

An online community survey is available at…/lonoke-launches-co…/.


Deborah Swayne Moore, Lonoke County Library System director, said the William F. Foster Public Library at England will be offering its patrons a new sub-genre of books called Steampunk.

Basically, it’s the Victorian period meets science fiction, Moore said.

The machinery highlighted in the book is more often powered by steam than by modern technologies.

Steampunk has also influenced fashion, and Moore said, in the spirit of the genre, the England branch will be hosting a Steampunk-themed teen dress-up event around Halloween. She encourages all Steampunk fans to stay tuned for more information about the upcoming event.