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News Archive--August 2010

NEWS--WVNA Presents Certificate to Hot Springs Parks Department

The Hot Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department received recognition by the Neighborhood Association for the department's ongoing efforts to revitalize Whittington City Park. The park, which first opened in 1972, is the second oldest in the city and is located at the west end of the Valley. In response to concerns voiced by the Neighborhood Association, the Parks Department made resealing and repainting the park's basketball court a top priority--this despite the department's current tight budget.
The Hot Springs' Parks and Recreation Department recently completed repairs to the basketball court in Whittington City Park. Top,
the basketball court as it was in June 2009; bottom,
the same court as it is today after resealing and repainting.
Other recent improvements include placing covered trash cans in the park and addressing several maintenance issues. The Neighborhood Association has also been working with the Parks Department to develop several low-cost measures to enhance nighttime security. Finally, the Neighborhood Association has a partnered with the Parks Department to file a grant application to fund two additional improvements in the park: (1) new playground equipment and (2) new replacement bathrooms. While the grant is still under review and no funds have yet to be awarded, the Neighborhood Association remains cautiously optimistic.
"The park is used by Valley residents as well as people from all over the city," said WVNA President John Lewis. "It’s a little park that people really enjoy. And on behalf of the Neighborhood Association, we want to thank all the hardworking people in the Parks Department for taking an interest in our small park. Everyone in the neighborhood is grateful for their efforts to preserve and improve this wonderful community amenity." To read our press release regarding the presentation of the Association's Certificate of Appreciation, click here.
- Posted 8/26/10 by MT

NEWS--Association Letter Published in Newspaper

In September 2009, the Hot Springs Board of Directors awarded Garland County Habitat for Humanity $45,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant funds to build affordable housing. However the City Directors added a stipulation that the funds could not be used in the Whittington Valley. 
At that time, many Valley residents were concerned that Habitat's plans for nine additional houses in the Valley (in addition to the thirty-nine Habitat house already in place or under construction in the Valley) could lead to an over-saturation of low-cost, starter homes in a neighborhood struggling to retain its unique historic identity.
Over the past eleven months, Habitat and the Neighborhood Association have been working to forge a productive partnership, balancing Habitat's goal of providing affordable housing with the Neighborhood Association’s desire to retain the Valley’s distinctive ambiance.
At the August meeting of the membership, a motion was made to ask the Hot Springs City Directors to remove the restriction against Habitat using the previously appropriated CDBG funds in the Whittington Valley. The consensus of the membership was that Habitat had listened to the community’s concerns and had modified their plans accordingly, limiting their future construction in the Valley to just six additional houses.
Our letter of support for Habitat's plans in the Valley appears in today's Hot Springs Sentinel-Record under the "Letters to the Editor."  To see our letter, click here (note: the letter is 335 KB and is in PDF format; it may take a minute or longer to download and will open in a new window).
- Posted 8/15/10 by MT

NEWS--Groundbreaking at the Arkansas Math and Science School

This past Tuesday, August 3, 2010, dignitaries, city officials and students braved sweltering temperatures to celebrate construction of new residence dorms at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. Located in our own Whittington Valley, the state's only public residential high school specializes in educating gifted and talented Arkansas students as well as training and supporting public school teachers statewide. At the ground-breaking ceremony, the school’s students expressed enthusiasm for the new dorms by cheering loudly when B. Alan Sugg, University of Arkansas System President, asked the students whether the new dorms were needed.
Arkansas Math & Science School students presently reside in the building shown above, an old hospital which has been coverted into student dorms. However, because of the the building's poor condition, new student dorms are being built. The old building will eventually be razed.
Currently the school's students are housed in a converted 83-year-old former hospital. Unfortunately, the old building is plague with roof leaks, mold issues and asbestos. Consequently the school has been forced to reduce its enrollment. Normally the school would house 250 students; but it can only accept 235 students because of the limited amount of safe student-housing available in the old building.
The new dorms are being built on a hill behind the old hospital building. Plans call for eventually adding a library, kitchen, dinning hall, student union and nurse’s office to the site; however construction is being done in phases as funds become available. For now the focus is on constructing new dorms for the school’s students; the other facilities will be added later. The new dorms are scheduled to be completed in time for the fall 2012 school term.
Construction on the $15 million project started a month ago, with the groundbreaking ceremony taking place while construction continued on another part of the site. The noise from the nearby rumbling equipment did not dampen enthusiasm at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe praised the school as a "...showplace of the smartest kids we've got." Beebe added that "I’m proud of the kids, faculty and staff, and the legacy of ASMSA. Everyone involved in the school, the city, the chamber of commerce, and faculty and staff, work hard for the kids who attend school here. So, students, I have a challenge for you. You have an obligation, wherever it’s feasible, to come back to your state and give back now. We need you here to contribute to our society." Janet, Hugo, Director of the school, commented that "ASMSA brings a lot of money into Hot Springs, so the economic impact of the school alone is phenomenal. ASMSA contributes $9 million to the community each year, and I think this project could be the start of something good for this part of town."
- Posted 8/4/10 by MT
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