13 finalists announced for Fort Smith’s top jobs, Parrot Island visits down, bicentennial logo revealed

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 210 views 

Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken has announced the names of the finalists for the city’s three open department head positions. Out of 82 applicants, the city has narrowed it down to 13 picks — six for chief of police, four for human resources director, and three for utilities director.

Biographical information for the candidates was not available at Tuesday’s (Aug. 9) study session, but Talk Business & Politics has since submitted a request and will provide more detailed information on each candidate upon receipt.

The finalist names are included below. Each will interview with a committee chosen by Geffken, who will make the final selection for each position.


• Police Chief (chose from 33 total applicants)
Nathaniel Clark
Mark Hallum
Frank Johnson
Philip Kwasinski
Jeff Matthews
Keith McPheeters

• HR Director (chose from 39 total applicants)
Evan Breedlove
Don Jenkins
Jim Lowery
Naomi Roundtree

• Utilities Director (chose from 10 total applicants)
Carol Blommel Johnson
Francisco Martinez
David Terrill

Talk Business & Politics has asked for biographical info on the finalist candidates, and will update this story or post another story when that info is received.

Prior to Geffken’s reveal on Tuesday, the Fort Smith Board of Directors received the 2016 in-season report on Parrot Island Water Park from Richard Coleman of American Resort Management (ARM).

While Coleman said that the Park is on track to have positive cash flow to carry off-season expenses and contribute to the reserve funds for expansion, there was a “slight decrease” in overall visitation through July 31 of 1.5% less than the same time frame for 2015.

Overall visitation dipped from 92,121 in 2015 to 91,734 for the current period.

The Park received more than 200 survey responses from guests with 89% saying they were satisfied overall, 88% voicing a positive experience with guest service, and 91% approving of the Park’s cleanliness. The Park is currently ranked No. 5 of 24 Fort Smith attractions on Trip Advisor and boasts a 4.1 rating on Google (out of 5.0).

A complete financial picture of the 2016 season will be presented to the Fort Smith Board of Directors and Sebastian County Quorum Court — the two public bodies that partnered to fund the $12 million project — sometime in late September or early October, Coleman said. Talk Business & Politics’ previous coverage of Parrot Island financials is available here.

Lastly, the study session revealed a new logo and website for 2018’s Fort Smith Bicentennial Celebration, which will be a yearlong effort comprised of multiple events. Each quarter will follow a specific theme with the first quarter focusing on Arts and Culture; the second on Fort Smith’s past; the third on “homecoming” and tourism; and the fourth on Fort Smith’s future.

200FSMlogoThe logo was created in conjunction with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith’s (UAFS) creative design class. Three options were selected and shaped into the final logo from 15 student submissions, according to Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders.

Details are available through GoFortSmithAr.com with more announcements to come over the next 16 months.

Fort Smith was founded on Dec. 25, 1817 as a military post and named for General Thomas Adams Smith, who had commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment. Smith — headquartered near St. Louis, Mo., at that time — had ordered Army topographical engineer Stephen H. Long to find a site along the Arkansas River for a fort. He never visited the area that bears his name.