County working to include “all communities” in planning for totality

From Region 8 News at Six
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:47 PM CDT
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SHARP COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - While many are preparing for the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, one Northeast Arkansas county is working to ensure all its communities are ready.

The Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce recently formed its Solar Eclipse Planning Committee that will work on the logistics surrounding Sharp County and totality.

The committee is composed of those with different backgrounds across the county.

“We made sure to include people from throughout the industry standpoint so that we didn’t forget the needs of anyone throughout this process,” said Committee Chair Hazelle Whited.

The committee has been hard at work trying to figure out how many the area should expect.

“When we looked at communities that were close to us in 2017, so Perryville, Missouri, they were a community of 8,000 people who had about 20,000 show up in their community,” Whited explained.

After comparing numbers to similar communities, Whited expects thousands to flock to the area.

“Conservatively, maybe the 20,000 mark might be a little high, but let’s plan for that. Then if we have less, we have a better experience,” Whited said.

To ensure everyone benefits from the April 8 solar eclipse, Whited said communities in the county looking at hosting events surrounding the eclipse should contact the committee.

“There’s a couple of ways. Call the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce. The second way, go to Facebook and type in 2024 Eclipse Sharp County, and it will pull up a group page that has been developed.”

Whited stressed the area needs to be prepared, as Sharp County is in the direct path, and the eclipse will happen, ready or not.

“It’s going to happen whether or not we plan for this. The takeaway really is people are going to come. Eclipse chasers want to be on the centerline,” Whited added.

Committee planning meetings are open to the public. For more information, visit the committee’s Facebook page.