NEARA finally opens it's doors - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

NEARA finally opens it's doors

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

POWHATAN, AR (KAIT) - It was a "historical" ribbon cutting in old Powhatan Thursday. The doors opened at the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives, or "NEARA." The building will house historic Lawrence County records and other documents and books from this part of the state.

"Today we celebrate those successes for many who have worked so long and so hard to preserve Lawrence County's history, an important part of Arkansas and Missouri history." Said Gregg Butts, the Director of the Arkansas State Parks Commission,  who led the list of speakers at NEARA's opening.

Many of the documents now located at NEARA used to be stored on the ASU campus. Lisa Perry, who will manage the facility, said the historical records, many of them over a hundred years old, are in an excellent place. The 4 Thousand square foot building contains a vault, computers and microfilm readers. The facility is open to anyone with the caveat that you can look but you can't take out.

Perry, "This building is as good as it gets, the collapsible shelving that we have, the fire suppression system we have, just the structure itself it is absolutely state of the art."

Dr. Wendy Richter, the Director of the Arkansas History Commission said the collection will always be expanding. "Please bear with us as we sort what we have and add more materials to our collection."

Giving full credit to the Lawrence County Historical Society for getting the building located in Powhatan, Richard Davies, the Executive Director of Parks and Tourism says historical preservation is more than just having custody.

Davies, "This is giving people an opportunity to see those records, to study them. Giving historians the opportunity to get to them."

Once the ribbon was cut the crowd moved inside to inspect the facility and get a rare behind the steel door peek inside the safe. Many volumes of information were stacked on the shelves, many dating back into the 1800's some predate the state and Lawrence County being a county.

Inside NEARA Lloyd Clark the President of the Lawrence County Historical Society said he was looking forward to getting to the Justice of the Peace journals.

Clark, "Court proceedings, they held court. Everything from dollar seventeen lawsuits to murder cases in those journals."

There are 3 archives in the state, 1 in the Southwest at Washington State Park, the main archive in Little Rock and now NEARA. Lawrence County is called the "Mother of Counties" because it was established in 1815 before the state was a state.

No historical collection would be complete without a little modern history. The building will house a time capsule. Steve Saunders says they are asking for schools and everyone to contribute. Saunders said there is one easy way to partake: send a post card.

Saunders, "Your favorite quote on there, you could put a little sketch or drawing if you wanted to. Or you could say whatever you wanted to your great, great grandchildren a hundred years from now." Make sure you put your name somewhere on the card.

The address to mail the postcards to is: NEARA TIME CAPSULE  P.O. BOX 93 POWHATAN, AR  72458

Even KAIT will be represented in the capsule for historians to look at. We have added a DVD with the stories about NEARA when it was a grassy field and a blueprint.

Wonder what our great, great grandchildren will watch it on.

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