NEAT Signature Gathering Process Begins Soon After Two Corrections

SEPTEMBER 15, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:30pm

JONESBORO, AR - Transit authority members and volunteers have 10 days from today to get at least 3,500 signatures. However, there is one step that was forgotten the first time that has to be taken before they can pound the pavement all over again in search of signatures of support. Steve Ewart blames himself for

"I accept total responsibility for not having done that," admitted Ewart.

Each petition was insufficient, because it didn't contain a legal review. The second problem: a paragraph wasn't included. It's important because it certifies each signature is by someone who says they are a registered voter. Then, it must be signed by the county clerk, judge, Justice of the Peace or notary, and certified with the county seal.

The legal review has to be performed before the petition drive can begin again. Donnie Kissinger is a concerned citizen who is interested in helping.

"I'm thinking about the senior citizens. I'm looking at other cities, I've been to other cities that have a system and it is really helpful, and once again, I think it's something that Jonesboro needs," explained Kissinger.

He offered ways to streamline the process of gathering signatures for the second time. Two suggestion he has are to set up tables at the Northeast Arkansas District Fair and at this weekend's ASU football game. More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the game. It's also Family Day weekend on campus.

Jake Hampton, ASU Student Government Association President, added, "We'll have the opportunity to utilize the student government office, the student union, and we will also have the opportunity to utilize the student tailgate."

Steve Ewart will talk with county attorney Mike Walden about the next steps to take. Board members may have to have an official vote before any steps can be taken.

Member Cecil Province said, "I don't want to see this thing stop now. I think we need to go the full course."

Volunteers and most N.E.A.T. members are willing to do whatever it takes to get a transit system on the November ballot.

"This petition drive has told me once again, showed me even more clearly, how broad the support, how deep the support, how many people at least want the people to have a vote on this particular issue, added Ewart.

Members of the Northeast Arkansas Transit Authority will meet Monday for a regularly scheduled meeting. Steve Ewart will update them on the progress of the collection of signatures. Those petitions that include the proper signatures of authenticity and the notary seals are due in Nancy Nelms' office by September 28th at 5:00p.m.