Pocahontas native hopes to float tourism dollars into county

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - One man in Randolph County said he has just what they need to float more tourism dollars in to the county.

"We have five rivers and we're not doing anything on them," Pocahontas native Mikey Johnson told Region 8 News.

Johnson hopes to soon change that though.

Johnson said kick-starting tourism on the Black River started with him just trying to create more synergy between the city and Black River Technical College but he ran into some difficulties.

"I couldn't find any grants or anything to help make that happen and then David and Natasha Harris of Springdale, Arkansas found out about what I was trying to do and accomplish," Johnson said.

So to help, the donated a 64-foot paddleboat to the City of Pocahontas.

"That puts us $150,000 ahead of where we would have been!"

Then, local legislators chipped in with grant money and donations to transport the paddleboat to town and the city donated a piece of riverfront property for Johnson to keep the boat on.

"Now we gotta get the boat where it needs to be to help get it on the river," Johnson said.

The restoration will be up to BRTC students.

Once it's on the river, Johnson said he plans on getting businesses all over Pocahontas involved.

"We can do excursions on it later on, we can cater food to it, it's going to work as a living museum and talk about the history of the Black River in our community."

It's all in an effort to boost interest, tourism and the economy of Pocahontas and Randolph County.

"We can keep our dollars local, our money local and it's something we can take and incorporate some of this history of the county with this. We can go up to Powhatan, we can go to Old Davidsonville State Park," Johnson said. "Everything's coming together. We're gonna make some things happen in Pocahontas and it's gonna be exciting for the community."

Johnson left to pick up the boat Thursday evening. He hopes to have it in Pocahontas Saturday around noon.

Johnson told Region 8 News they're still looking for donations to off-set costs to the colleges and the match grants they'll be using to build a dock for the paddleboat.

You can donate to the Randolph County Historical Corporation through the First National Bank or contact Johnson at 870-378-7166.

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