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On November 1, 2017 Judge Dennis Thornton presided over the first Hot Spring County
Conversations Meeting at the College of the Ouachitas (COTO).
The purpose of the meeting was twofold; to identify the needs of the county and local
community leaders About 130 persons of all ages from around the county attended.
Sponsors of the HSC Conversations meetings included; UCA Community and Economic Development
Institute (UCA CDI), Entergy, COTO, West Central Planning and Development District,
Malvern Chamber of Commerce and the Hot Spring County Economic Development Corporation
and the State of Arkansas Economic Development Commission. UCA CDI was instrumental
in the planning and execution of the meeting and collection and analysis of data.
Attendees discussed county needs and completed a Community Survey Form. The survey
asked for identification of key priorities for the future of HSC, the five most important
topics for the county, words that best describe HSC, community representation and
participant profiles (community, age, profession, etc.).
Groups reported some of their answers to the whole meeting.
The same survey form was then opened to the entire county for on-line participation
for a two-week period. A total of 205 survey responses from 25 different county communities were obtained from the meeting and the on-line participation.
Judge Thornton challenged the attendees to help move the county forward by providing
ideas and leadership and described the HSC Conversations Process. One more county-wide
meeting was announced for February 7, 2018. The information gathered from both county-wide
meetings will provide data and help develop a structure for community meetings to
be held in each of the 5 county school districts.
Along the way, local and county leaders would identify and develop mechanisms for
bringing accomplishing projects.
The ultimate goal is a long range, county-wide development plan that makes Hot Spring
County an attractive place to live and work.
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Judge Dennis Thornton announced today that Hot Spring County has been chosen by the
University of Arkansas Center for Community and Economic Development to host an AmeriCorps
Vista member to build upon the work of the Hot Spring County Conversations effort.
The Vista member will assist the Judge and County Volunteers to promote the execution
and reporting of the County Strategic Plan.
This program is open to anyone over the age of 18 and the VISTAs are given a living
allowance stipend and education award for their year of service provided by the program.
The County will not incur any costs for this full-time placement which will be provided
through UCA. Currently, the position will run from May 2020 through May 2021.
According to Judge Thornton, “This position will report directly to me and the Facilitators
of Hot Spring County Conversations. We are very excited to have this UCA Vista to
serve as an organizer and driver of the county-wide efforts of County Conversations
and Strategic Plan Activities. We look forward to hearing from those interested in
this important work.”
Vistas can be college students taking a gap year or members of the community. Interested
parties can go learn more about the position and apply at https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=94006&fromSearch=true
Contact HSC Judge Dennis Thornton for more information- 501-332-2261
View the completed Strategic Plan HSCC 10 Year Strategic Plan.
Who took the survey?The majority of survey takers represented the communities of Bismarck, Glen Rose and
Malvern, but fourteen other communities also responded. Most of the respondents were
between the ages of 37 and 65 and were either business professionals, elected officials,
or retirees, indicating significant diversity in the participant demographics. About
123 individuals indicated an interest in volunteering as a community leader. Bismarck
had the highest number of participants with 55, followed closely by Malvern with 51,
and Glen Rose with 40.
UCA CDI compiled the data from all of the surveys and priorities voiced by county
citizens were: Education & Workforce Development, followed closely by Job Creation,
Youth & Family Activities & Services, also highly ranked was Entrepreneurship/Small
Business Development, Housing & Real Estate, Parks & Recreation, and Public Safety.
Bismarck participants ranked Education & Workforce Development the highest, closely
followed by Public Safety.
Bismarck participants also described the Bismarck Community with the following key
Glen Rose participants ranked Education & Workforce Development and Job Creation as
their highest priorities.
Magnet Cove Participants ranked Downtown Development, Education & Workforce Development,
Established Industry, and Leadership Development the highest.
Malvern Participants ranked Housing & Real Estate as the most important, followed
by Education & Workforce Development.
Ouachita participants ranked Education & Workforce Development as the most important,
followed by Agriculture and Value Added Products.
The second HSC Conversations meeting was held on February 7th, 2018 at COTO. About
100 people were in attendance. Amy Whitehead of UCA CDI reported the results on the
survey from the November 1st meeting. Judge Dennis Thornton, Sheriff Mike Cash, Mason
Robinson (COTO Workforce Development) and Rick McClure (Hot Spring County EDC) updated
attendees on ongoing initiatives in Hot Spring County.
Photo: Participants of Hot Spring County Conversations Discuss Local Issues
The Top 10 Priorities were grouped into five main topics- Job Creation, Recreational
& Family Activities, Public Health & Safety, Education & Workforce, Housing & Real
Estate and Downtown Development.
Those present were divided into groups. Each group was asked to “reflect” on actions
that might moving the county toward success in each of these areas. Group facilitators
recorded ideas on flip charts and each person recorded ideas in writing on “Reflections
Sheets”. Once again, UCA CDI recorded and analyzed all of the information gathered.
Many terrific ideas were produced. Select the Heading below to see the combined
ideas from the county Meeting. The number beside each idea represents the frequency
of that particular response.