February 20, 2007 -- Posted at 5:00 a.m. CST
Independence Co. -- Our Community Spotlight focuses on Independence Co. A county with unique qualities and a hometown atmosphere.
"The city is so friendly. I've never met a nicer bunch of people than what you'll find here in Independence County. They just go out of their way to extend a hand to help you when you're in need." Sheriff Keith Bowers went on to say, "We think it's the best place in the world to live."
The county is made up of many rural towns, Cord, Charlotte, Newark, Magness, Oil Trough, Pleasant Plains, Cushman, Sulphur Rock, and at the center, what most people call the 'hub', is Batesville.
"Anything that happens in the area, usually happens right here in the city. It's what people call town. And why not, we are at the foot of the Ozarks, we're right here on the White River, there's so much here to focus on," says Mayor Rick Elembaugh.
The county offers a chance for higher education with two colleges located in Batesville. Lyon College, rich in history and well known for their Scottish Festivals is one of the top schools in the South. And UACCB, a community college that has grown tremendously.
"We are giving those a chance to excell that never thought about going to college. Our campus is big enough to meet many educational needs, but the hearts and minds of our faculty are even bigger. The students here say out in the real world, they are just as prepared, if not more, than any other student. And there's quality in that." Interim Chancelor, Deborah Frazier continued to share with us the growth of UACCB.
"We are focusing efforts on a new Nursing Building. Our program here has grown and the need for nurses is out there. We are able to give them the hands-on experience they need to be prepared in the field. We want to be able to further develop our facilities to further educate in this field."
The county is full of History and landmarks. Historic Downtown Batesville, the second oldest city in Arkansas, is a must see. But there's more... see the power plant in Newark, see a cattle auction at the StockYards in Charlotte, take a drive out of town to see the Spring Mill in Cushman. Or head up Ramsey Mountain to see the Mark Martin Museum.
Mark got his start in Batesville, and now the area has grown into a racing community.
"Everywhere you go, you see race shops up and down the road. It's unreal the amount of people here that love racing. And I think we can credit most of that to Mark."
But an issue that affected most of the county was the consolidation of the small schools.
Ann Webb, Superintendant at Cedar Ridge School District said the transition went better than originally thought.
"I think it's went well. When you put kids together, they are fine, they just mesh. The people who have lived here will always be kangaroos in their heart, and the people from Charlotte will always be Indians at heart. But together we can be Cedar Ridge Timberwolves."