City & County

County judge addresses bypass ‘rumors’, discourages ‘adversary’ discussion on sales tax

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

Clark County Judge Troy Tucker had plenty to say Monday during a Quorum Court meeting about social media rumors about the truck bypass planned for Arkadelphia.

“There was some criticism that came up from elected officials and [Arkadelphia] Mayor [Scott] Byrd concerning the bypass route had changed,” Tucker said in his report at the monthly Quorum Court meeting. “That’s not true, that’s not correct.”

Rumors apparently spread on Facebook that the bypass route around Arkadelphia had changed. “The bypass route as it was presented to the public is exactly the same as it was when it was presented,” Tucker reiterated. “It may be tweaked just a little bit here and there, but for the most part it is the exact same route as it was presented to the public.”

The route will continue along the present US Highway 67 and “come out on Red Hill Road just south” of a newly dug pond near Fairfield Inn & Suites, Tucker said. 

The judge also addressed rumors that the county had spent $8 million on the bypass project. Turning to Treasurer Karen Arnold, the judge asked, “Madam Treasurer, have we spent $8 million?”

“No,” Arnold replied.

Tucker agreed. “We have not,” he said. “There is $7,771,070.70 of the $8 million that was collected to the bonds still in the county coffers. It will be paid over when the Arkansas Department of Transportation requests a payment. 

“The money that has been spent out of there was for a temporary traffic signal that will be installed on Pine Street” at its intersection with Professional Park Drive. “That will be during the construction phase of Pine Street,” Tucker continued. “We did pay for that out of that [fund]. The good news there is that ArDOT will reimburse for that expenditure.”

Tucker admitted the course of the bypass route could be “tweaked” slightly, but only because of the surveying process.

He said the bypass is solely the endeavor of the state. “That’s their project,” he said, reminding justices of the peace that, years ago the City of Arkadelphia requested a truck bypass. “That didn’t happen [then],” he said. “When we thought Sun Paper was gonna actually come to Arkadelphia [ArDOT] moved [the bypass project] up a little bit, and it got moved up even further” with commitments from that project. “Your $8 million commitment moved that up further on their projects,” he said. 

The judge then scolded justices for being “adversary” in regard to the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County. “We don’t need to be adversary on our court or our city,” he said, most likely referring to pushback from justices on the 1/2-cent sales tax for economic development voters approved in a special election last summer. “I don’t think there’s a thing in the world wrong with asking questions,” Tucker said. “We need to. With this tax passed mistakes were made [in the past]. Things happened, but we have an opportunity here to correct that and move forward. 

“Think about what’s going on right now in this community,” he said, noting a 200-acre subdivision being developed, a new hotel on Red Hill Road, a Braums locating at the former location of Western Sizzlin, the “un-Lucky” Liquor store being relocated across Pine Street from its present location, a new shopping center being erected where Park Hill Baptist Church was razed last week, a new Peake Elementary School in the works (the plans for which, he said, were unveiled this past week [The Arkadelphian broke this news last month]), the rebuilding of Unique Barber Shop, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, a new Exxon station at 10th and Pine streets, and a new bridge spanning the Caddo River into Caddo Valley (with a multi-use trail attached). 

“I don’t think I have ever remembered a time when there’s been more things going on in Arkadelphia than right now,” Tucker said. 

“And there’s a lot of good things that’s fixing to happen. I wish,” he paused … “I really think within the next few days you’re going to be even more excited.” (Could it have something to do with this?) “Be part of the positive, just think positive. Be part of positive growth, and let’s don’t be adversary.”

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