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April 14, 2020
By Tracy CourageU of A System Division of Agriculture
(465 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK — The recommendations from a study of Arkansas’ rural infrastructure conducted
by students from the Clinton School and the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will be released April 21, through a
The loss of businesses and declining populations in rural areas make it difficult
for many towns and counties to finance much-needed infrastructure investments. Through
surveys and interviews with local officials, the students sought to determine and
prioritize rural infrastructure challenges across the state while compiling appropriate
ways to respond to these challenges.
In January, the team sent an online survey to mayors, quorum court members, and county
judges in 20 Arkansas counties, seeking their input on infrastructure needs and challenges.
The 20 counties were Boone, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Crittenden, Dallas, Hot Spring,
Independence, Johnson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Monroe, Newton, Nevada, Prairie, Searcy,
Sevier, Union, Van Buren, and Woodruff.
Team members include Marlie Ball of Gravette, Drew Coker of Russellville, Brock Hyland
of Waco, Texas and J. Dillon Pitts of Pearl, Mississippi. The students worked closely
with project supervisor Julianne Dunn, an economic development instructor for the
Division of Agriculture’s Community, Professional, and Economic Development unit.
Dunn is also a 2010 Clinton School graduate.
“Rural infrastructure impacts citizens’ lives every day, from the roads they drive
on to the water they drink,” Dunn said. “The purpose of this research study was to
improve quality of life and foster economic and community development in rural Arkansas
by identifying specific infrastructure challenges and recommending evidence-based
responses for local and county governments to undertake.”
Local officials who completed the survey and agreed to be interviewed then discussed
in greater detail the infrastructure needs in their areas. The Clinton School students
also interviewed officials from the Cooperative Extension Service offices in the surveyed
“Getting input from local officials was great,” Coker said. “They offered unique perspectives
and a technical understanding of what was happening. They were extremely knowledgeable
of the specific problems and fixes that were needed. Many of them had already thought
about different funding mechanisms.”
Based on findings from the surveys and interviews, the team researched national practices
for rural infrastructure maintenance and development. The team will focus on recommendations
for solid waste, drinking water, wastewater and recycling systems, and will offer
suggestions for different funding mechanisms.
“We have looked at a number of different national programs and organizations,” Coker
said. “One is the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, which is a group
of economists that work on community economics and rural development. We have also
looked at programs in surrounding states, as well as utilized the U.S. Department
of Agriculture’s Rural Development mission area resources and past Extension publications.”
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media contact:Tracy CourageDirector, Communications ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org