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Miller County, Ark., leaders look to breathe new life into idle park

“The majority of the people I’ve spoken to have no idea this park is out here”
Representatives of Texarkana, Texas-based Opportunities Inc. toured Alex Smith County Park on...
Representatives of Texarkana, Texas-based Opportunities Inc. toured Alex Smith County Park on June 25. The park, which is about 11 miles south of Texarkana, Ark., has sat idle for decades. [Source: Alex Smith County Park]
Updated: Jun. 25, 2019 at 3:37 PM CDT
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MILLER COUNTY, Ark. (KSLA) - Leaders in Miller County, Ark., are working improve a county park that has laid idle for more than 55 years.

They are hoping to begin work before the end of the year pending approval of a major grant from the state of Arkansas.

Representatives of Texarkana, Texas-based Opportunities Inc. toured Alex Smith County Park on...
Representatives of Texarkana, Texas-based Opportunities Inc. toured Alex Smith County Park on June 25. The park, which is about 11 miles south of Texarkana, Ark., has sat idle for decades. [Source: Alex Smith County Park]

Representatives of Opportunities Inc. in Texarkana got a brief tour Tuesday of Alex Smith County Park in southern Miller County. The park is about 11 miles south of Texarkana on Arkansas Highway 237.

“The majority of the people I’ve spoken to have no idea this park is out here,” said Ken Laymon, of Opportunities Inc.

Now Miller County leaders are taking steps to change that perception. They plan to apply for a $500,000 grant to improve Smith Park.

Deryl Jones, who chairs the Southern Miller County Rural Development Authority, said that the park was donated to the county in 1962 and that the most recent major improvements to the area were made 30 years ago.

“It will be the first phase on what we want to do on the park," Jones said of the latest plans. "It will redo the restrooms, make the pavilions we have now wheelchair accessible and will make pads for the RVs.”

Recreation is one of the selling points that businesses ask about when locating in a new area, Jones added, so improvements to the 320-acre park should prove to be a recruitment tool.

If approved, the $500,000 matching grant would come from Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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