Jackson County Residents Disagree With People Magazine Article - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Newport -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Jackson County Residents Disagree With People Magazine Article

February 16, 2004 -- Posted at 4:42 p.m. CST

NEWPORT -- Last week, K8 news first told you about an article in People magazine that focused on drug fighting efforts by authorities in Jackson county.

Now that the magazine has been on shelves for more than a week, folks in Newport say you shouldn't believe everything you read.

"We went to Wal-Mart and they said they sold out in a couple of hours," said one Newport citizen.

It's the talk of the town....last week's edition of People magazine featured a story about the problems in Arkansas caused by the drug methamphetamine ...and it spotlighted Jackson County.

"I didn't realize that the meth problem was that bad in Jackson County. I knew in other counties it was, but Jackson county is a smaller county compared to others and I'm sure that the statistics are probably right," said Larry George.

But city officials say don't believe everything you read...

Mayor David Stewart was upset about some of the statistics in the article.

"To say that 30 percent of Jackson county has a drug addiction or a drug problem, I just don't think that's correct," said Stewart.

Newport's mayor says the magazine concentrated solely on the drug problems, and failed to mention positive aspects of the community.

"I don't think that we got really a fair shake with People magazine and there are many positive things that are going on in Newport and Jackson county and that was not brought out in it," said Stewart.

The mayor said he was interviewed by a reporter from the magazine, but none of his comments about the town were used in the article...and he says he wasn't the only one.

"I know of several others that were talked to and gave interviews and none of that was quoted in the article," said Stewart.

Folks in Jackson county say they feel like they've been misrepresented.

"I mean it makes our town look bad and there are other towns that look just as bad I think," said a Jackson County resident.

"I just think it was a little misrepresented," agreed another resident.

Russell Harris works as the director of the Economic Development Commission for Newport agrees.

"The article sighted the fact that you have a crystal methamphetamine problem in several states. from Florida to the mid-west and I think in Newport we certainly have some of that but it's not unlike other communities," said Harris, "I think the story is what we are doing as a community to improve ourselves."

The mayor says the city is engaged in several community development projects and has been working to improve economic growth.

"I feel like we've gone a long way as far as changing the attitudes of people in our area and things are looking up and things are looking real good. Do we have a drug problem in Jackson county? Yes we probably do, like many other towns our size. Is it any worse--no I don't think it is and are we doing things positively to try to correct those problems and combat them? certainly we are," said Mayor Stewart.

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