CLARKSVILLE, Arkansas — Clarksville leaders have approved the potential purchase of 20 acres of land in hopes of luring the new state veterans' home to the area.
The Southwest Times Record reported Monday (http://bit.ly/19vQIOt ) that Clarksville is one of 20 locations under consideration for the home, which is expected to create 100 to 125 jobs with an annual payroll of about $3 million.
The state is searching for a new location for a veterans home after the previous facility in Little Rock closed because of health and building inspection violations. This year, the Legislature approved $7.5 million for a new facility and the federal government is providing a $14 million match.
"We submitted our application to be considered a month ago and are far enough in the process to know that we might be able to get it," Clarksville Mayor Billy Helms said. "The location is 20 acres and is a quarter of a mile from the hospital. It would be the perfect spot for the home."
The Clarksville City Council recently approved a potential $160,000 purchase for the privately owned land on East Poplar Street.
Travis Stephens, CEO and economic development officer with the Clarksville Johnson County Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the projected cost of construction would be $22 million, with a $4 million annual operating budget. Stephens said Clarksville would be responsible only for the land donation, utility improvements and road access.
"I feel very strongly we have a very competitive site," he said. "One of the unique things about this is we did a calculation of where veterans around the state live and six counties in this region — Washington, Benton, Sebastian, Pulaski, Saline and Garland — that's where the core of them live, and Clarksville is dead center of all of that. That obviously gives us a competitive edge and is one of the key drivers for our bid."
Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Kelly Ferguson said once all the submitted locations have been verified and inspected, a selection committee will narrow the field to make a selection. A meeting will be held in Little Rock on Dec. 17 to begin the selection process.
Ferguson said she expects a final decision will be made by Dec. 31.
Information from: Southwest Times Record, http://www.swtimes.com/