The quality of life in a town is key to a town’s success, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said Thursday during his “State of the City” address sponsored by the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce. Perrin said the city demolished 50 dilapidated homes in the past year, while working to rehabilitate at least a dozen homes for families in need.
The city spent $95,000 last year on helping to rehabilitate homes, including winterization, replacing roofs as well as replacing bathrooms, Perrin said. Another group, called Build Up Jonesboro, is made up of local churches, Perrin said.
“We have a loving, benevolent community,” Perrin said. “If there is a genuine need out there, people are willing to help.”
Perrin said he also plans to travel to Washington D.C., Feb. 9-11 to visit with federal housing officials. He said he plans to seek more funding for the program or “ask where we can find the money.”
Perrin spoke to about 200 people at the Cooper Alumni Center at Arkansas State University. The speech Thursday was the 3rd annual event. In his remarks, Perrin said the city saw several internal and external changes in 2015.
“2015 was a year of change,” Perrin said, noting the loss of several key administration officials including former finance director Ben Barylske and communications director Fritz Gisler among others.
Perrin said the change will likely continue in 2016, noting the opening of Interstate 555 in March, an osteopathy school at ASU, a pair of convention center projects and a $130 million expansion at St. Bernard’s Medical Center.
Perrin said an $18 million project to build an overpass at Highland Drive and Nettleton Avenue will go out for bid in August 2016. Officials have pushed for the idea for years, because of trains blocking a key intersection that connects the east and west sides of town. Perrin said the city’s share of the project will be about $3 million, with federal, state, city and railroad finding covering the cost. The city’s crime rate dropped 14% in 2015, while the city has implemented a community oriented policing strategy and a citizens police academy, Perrin said.
Jonesboro has also approved nearly $85 million in building permits in the past year, Perrin said. The Jonesboro Planning Department has processed plans for 28 subdivisions to be built in the city, Perrin said.
“That is not 28 homes, that’s 28 subdivisions,” Perrin said.
Another plan calls for completing or starting work on multiple transportation projects, Perrin said. A $1.47 million contract to extend Parker Road with Washington Avenue, near U.S. 63, will start later this year, with construction ending by March 2017. Work on a turn bay extension at Red Wolf and Alumni Road, near ASU, will start next month; while phase 2 of a 3.2 mile walking trail at Craighead Forest Park will be done by the end of the year.
The appointment of Alec Farmer of Jonesboro last year to the Arkansas Highway Commission will help with the projects and others, Perrin said, noting Farmer is the first Jonesboro-area commissioner to serve in at least 25 years.