Jonesboro mayor delivers State of the City address

by George Jared ([email protected]) 2,638 views 

Crime will be one of the top challenges for elected officials in Northeast Arkansas during the coming years, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Copenhaver told Talk Business & Politics. Copenhaver gave his annual State of the city address Wednesday (March 8) at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.

Crime statistics in the region’s largest city have remained relatively stable during the last 10 years, but there is a national movement underway to curb criminal activities, Copenhaver said. One tool the city has utilized is strategically-placed cameras. There are more than 600 public safety cameras that have been put into place and dozens more are on the way.

The cameras are monitored through the city’s Crime Center which is housed at City Hall and the Jonesboro Police Department. Other cities such as Trumann have installed these cameras and they are monitored through the Jonesboro Crime Center, Copenhaver said.

The cameras help identify potential suspects, glean information about vehicle wrecks and other public safety events and help city leaders learn about patterns and problems that need to be worked around, he said. The ultimate goal by next year is to have a Crime Center in its own building and not spread between the police department and City Hall.

“We have a proactive plan for the city of Jonesboro. I always want everyone in the city to feel safe,” the mayor said.

Another change during the last year has been the high-speed internet expansion in the city by Ritter Communications. It has invested more than $45 million to expand services and it has been a net positive for citizens and business leaders, the mayor added.

One metric that virtually all communities have to address – quality of life – has been a top priority for Copenhaver since he took office, he said. More than $6 million will be spent in the city’s parks and a new park will be opened during the next year. A new swimming pool will be opened and a revamped YMCA will be opened, too.

Arkansas State University has committed $900,000 to a pedestrian walkway to connect the college campus with Downtown Jonesboro. A new sports complex is also slated to open in the next year.

There are more than $100 million in highway projects tapped for the Jonesboro area in the coming years. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department recently broke ground on an eastern bypass that connects to Arkansas 18. The $60 million project will take more than 1,000 workdays to complete, but it’s a vital project to help alleviate traffic congestion in a growing city, the mayor said.

One event that city officials are eagerly anticipating is the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The annual event will be held in Jonesboro in 2024. It’s the first time the event has been held in Northeast Arkansas’ hub city since 1998.

During the next year, the city will have a multitude of projects that will be the mayor’s primary focus.

“I think we’ve got multiple things going on, on many different fronts … it’s about starting projects and finishing them,” he said.

The annual luncheon had a record turnout, Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Mark Young told TB&P. More than 600 attendees were at the event that was held at the Red Wolf Convention Center at the Embassy Suites.