It's the beginning of the week and if you're like me you may need a little inspiration. It's awesome that you can find that pick me up in some of the most unlikely places or people. I'd like for you to meet Haley Milligan from Buffalo Island. Haley is making a difference in the world. Haley turned 9 recently and like a lot of 9 year old girls she had a birthday party. But unlike most other children she did not ask for gifts for herself, instead she asked for toys so they could be sent to an orphanage in Guatemala. But this isn't the first time Haley has done something like this. When she turned 8, she asked for school supplies for a school in Uganda. Haley is doing her part to make this a Better Region 8, and a better world. Thank you Haley. You are truly doing this work from your heart, and we could all take a lesson from Haley by thinking less of ourselves and thinking more about others. That will make this A Better Region 8.
The sentencing for former Democratic Representative Hudson Hallum is in the headlines this week. Hallum pled guilty and was convicted of conspiracy to commit election fraud late last year. Hallum, his father and two campaign workers were caught up in this scandal. Prosecutors said Hallum bribed voters and used absentee ballots to commit fraud in the 2011 election for his seat. Hallum resigned days after pleading guilty. I guess I just don't understand what drives a person who takes up the mantra of serving the public to then deceive the public. If you are going to run for office, don't you just want to win fair and square? I applaud prosecutors who pursued these charges. The people who live in the district Hallum served deserve better. Holding our public servants accountable always makes this a Better Region 8.
There are silent heroes in our midst. That's what I thought of last week when I heard about the untimely death of Jonesboro resident Warren H. Moore. Moore drowned in Gulf Shores trying to save a woman who was caught in a rip current in the ocean. I listened as Moore's former pastor, Jimmy Young of Nettleton Church of Christ, shared his memories about this amazing man. He said Moore was a quiet, humble man who was well respected and highly thought of. Young said Moore was a gem of a person, a great family man and cared so much for his wife and children. Young said Moore taught him that meekness was a real treasure. And he was not surprised that Moore laid down his life to save someone else. In this day and time when so many of us are focused on ourselves and our own problems, Moore's act of selflessness really made me take a look at my own life. My hope is you will as well. Maybe we should spend more time paying attention to the humble in our midst. I suspect if we did that we would make this A Better Region 8.
If you live in Jonesboro or visit Jonesboro, you've probably had the chance to drive down Caraway Road and see the big open spot where the Indian Mall used to stand. It was sad to see the mall come down, but it had to be done. An empty complex like that was a huge invitation for blight. Now that it's gone, it's time to make some progress on Caraway. You no doubt have heard Kroger is planning on building a marketplace and fuel station at this location. This week, the Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved the plan for the construction, and while there are still a few things to work out like how to deal with the increased traffic, I feel confident our city officials can get those issues resolved quickly. As more businesses have migrated to Stadium Boulevard, Caraway Road has started to be a less desirable shopping destination. I believe this addition to Caraway is exactly what is needed to help one of the busiest corridors thrive once again. Clearing the way for this addition will make this A Better Jonesboro and A Better Region 8.
Incredible job growth has landed the City of Jonesboro on a prestigious list. Forbes Magazine has ranked Jonesboro as one of the top 10 small cities for jobs in 2013. That's quite an honor considering how many small cities make up the fabric of our country. Local leaders point to a wide economic base for this recognition. Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce President Mark Young highlights all the sectors where we excel: healthcare, education, retail, agriculture, industrial and construction. In addition, people from 11 counties come to Jonesboro for jobs. It's easy to see Jonesboro is a growing part of Region 8. All you have to do is drive down a street like Stadium or Highway 49 and see multiple areas of construction. That construction means jobs and that will help us lead the nation in job growth. We must all do our part to keep our community on this growth pattern by supporting local businesses. Continuing the job growth trend will help make this A Better Region 8.
Just when I think random acts of kindness don't happen the way they used to, I hear about a special thing that happened in Region 8 this past Mother's Day Weekend. Sky Williams is one of the Assistant Managers at the Sonic Restaurant in Paragould near Greene County Tech. On Mother's Day weekend, a woman who lives in El Dorado, Arkansas which is 300 miles away from Paragould, called Sonic and talked with Sky, asking if she could buy a Sonic meal for her mom and would Sky deliver it. Sky was working that day and not able to leave, but asked if she could do it the next day and the woman said that would be wonderful and offered Sky her credit card information. Sky told her that was ok that she would take care of it. Without mentioning this to anyone, Sky went to Sonic on her day off, bought the Sonic meal with her own money and delivered the hamburger to the woman's mother. No one knew, until the woman wrote a letter to the editor at the local paper. When I talked with Sky, she said my mother lives away too and I would have wanted someone to do the same for my mom. Sky Williams, you are a special young woman and I am so proud of what you did to make this mother's special day even more special. Sky, you make this A Better Region 8.
I have the opportunity to visit with Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin from time to time and there is one thing I can tell Mayor Perrin is super passionate about and that's improving our roads. He's focused on making our roads safer and easier to travel. With that in mind, I want to alert you to a survey that is underway right now and you can be a part of it. The Survey is a study of the potential benefits of extending Parker Road from the present endpoint near Straw Floor Road to Washington Avenue. According to the survey, the benefits could offer reduced congestion on Southwest Drive/Main Street especially during the peak hours, reduced crash exposure along Southwest Drive and allow US-63 to handle longer distance trips as intended among other things. In order to gather this information, the city of Jonesboro needs you to respond to this survey by June 15th. You can fill the survey out by logging on to kait8 dot com. Click on Community at the top of the page and then click on A Better Region 8 to link to the survey. Voicing your opinion on this survey will help make this A Better Region 8. https://www.jonesboro.org/Engineer/Documents/Parker%20Road%20Extension%20SurveySend.pdf
Fill out the survey on the screen then click the submit button at the bottom of the document (Internet Explorer or Chrome browsers required)
Public officials are often criticized for either not doing enough or doing too much, but this time around I can applaud one of our public servants for getting it right. Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington announced he would not file charges against Tiffany Smith. You may remember Smith is the mom who was arrested after leaving her children home alone to work the third shift at her job. While she left her 11-year-old in charge, police and the Department of Human Services said he was too young to care for his siblings. Ellington said two things weighed heavily in making the decision. First, he understood if Smith had been convicted in the case, she would be fired. Second, D-H-S will continue to work with the family. I believe this is the best outcome in a difficult situation. It was terrific to see Smith on Region 8 News smiling and thankful for this development in her case and for the support of new friends she has made since all this happened. Thank you to everyone who reached out to Smith and offered help. Helping the right people in a tight spot makes this A Better Region 8.