Governor bestows 'ACE' designation upon Eureka Springs

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

EUREKA SPRINGS -- The official Arkansas Community of Excellence (ACE) Certification Ceremony for Eureka Springs was held Thursday at Harding Spring. Governor Mike Huckabee made the presentation to Mayor Kathy Harrison, before a crowd of local citizens and dignitaries.

Harrison said she was very pleased to accept this official Arkansas Community of Excellence certification for her community. "The ACE program has worked really well for Eureka Springs," the mayor said. "In the three years we have been working through ACE, the citizens have had many successes, all achieved by working together to guide our town in the direction stated in our Vision Statement. Our ACE program has created an open, organized channel of communication between city commissions, departments, citizens and organizations that did not exist before. This process allows us to put aside our differences and move forward in a positive direction to bring more economic wealth to Eureka Springs while enhancing the quality of life that makes this such a special place to live, work and thrive."

The ACE concept was brought to Eureka Springs by the Community Development Partnership in 2002. The ACE process actually began in Summer 2003, under direction of Mayor Harrison, who appointed Glenna Booth as the ACE Coordinator. The community completed all the certification requirements in November 2004 and has seven continuously active ACE Action Teams. Those teams are:

* Community Beautification, chaired by Johnice Cross, with Georgette Garner serving as the ACE liaison. This group is also the Beautification Committee of the Community Development Partnership of Western Carroll County. Their recent accomplishments include the Plaque Project in which 39 bronze plaques detailing many aspects of Eureka Springs' history have been placed throughout town; exploring the placement of a trash sub-compactor downtown; and many other beautification projects such as flower plantings, litter removals and housepainting for elderly residents.

* Business & Industry, chaired by Jack Moyer, is also the Economic Development Committee for the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce. They have a number of projects underway such as the fish grow-out facility and recreational hub at Beaver Lake, incentive packages for new and expanding businesses; response materials and strategy for industry inquiries; relocation information on website.

* Recreation, chaired by Bruce Levine, is also the Eureka Springs Parks & Recreation Commission. Their ACE activities include ongoing work for a master trail network, improvements for Harmon Park, including a skatepark, and new playground and Lake Leatherwood enhancements.

* Technology, chaired by Mila Powell, incorporates the Eureka Springs High School EAST Lab. Their most recent contribution is the new Carroll County Community Technology Center, where students serve as teachers to help raise digital literacy by offering a growing array of basic computer skills.

* Tourism, chaired by Lynn Berry, is a team that has moved from a general tourism outlook to that of a more specific area focus. They spearheaded the 125th Eureka Springs Birthday Celebration in 2004. Currently they are focused on Eureka Springs' participation in the national America in Bloom competition and in hosting this organization's annual conference here in Eureka Springs in September.

* Transportation, chaired by Lamont Richie, has several projects they will be pursuing once the U.S. highway enhancement funding process begins. Meanwhile, they have hosted "thank you" events for the Arkansas Highway Department for the Planer Hill Walkway and the passing lanes on Ark. Hwy. 23 South. They also worked with AHTD on a study for U.S. Hwy. 62 West improvements and are now seeking funding for this work.

* Arts & Cultural, chaired by Glenna Booth. This ACE team has evolved to the Mayor's Task Force to Develop and Promote the Arts & Cultural Heritage Assets of Eureka Springs. This group has two active committees:

* Arts & Cultural District Committee, chaired by Sandy Wright, is working to revitalize North Main Street and Grand Avenue as a creative industry zone featuring art live/work spaces and making full use of the non-profit arts venues already located here. Eureka Springs was given a Your Town Rural Design Workshop grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This is to host a three-day event bringing together local citizens and national experts to create design options for the Arts & Cultural District. Other grants have been received for this area. An ACE Energy Grant from Arkansas Department of Economic Development will be used to install solar lighting on one of this area's features -- The ARTery outdoor art gallery. Also, a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council will be used for a collaborative project restoring the historic Centennial Mural and the next season of The ARTery, plus workshops for young muralists.

* Marketing Committee, chaired by Jack Moyer, is working to quantify the arts and cultural heritage assets and their economic impact, then increase both this impact and general knowledge of its importance. Eureka Springs also received a Preserve America grant specifically for cultural heritage tourism projects. This $63,000 grant will be used for these activities.

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