A Special Place: The Pine Bluff Story


>>CENTURIES BEFORE THE ARRIVAL OF THE WHITE MAN, QUAPAW INDIANS LIVED ALONG THE BANKS OF A GREAT RIVER. THESE NATIVE AMERICANS WERE ESPECIALLY FOND OF THE RICH TERRAIN SURROUNDING A SERIES OF EVERGREEN BLUFFS LOCATED AT A BEND OF THE RIVER. TODAY WE KNOW THIS SPOT AS PINE BLUFF, ONE OF THE MOST SPECIAL PLACES IN A STATE NOW A CENTURY AND A HALF OLD. UUáj>>IN THE EARLY 18 20S THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF THE ARKANSAS TERRITORY WERE BEGINNING TO SETTLE THE DENSE HARDWOOD REGIONS WE HAVE THE OF THE MISSISSIPPI. THE MOVEMENT OF WHITE SETTLERS SPELLED THE END FOR THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE OUR STATE ITS NAME. IN 1824 THE QUAPAW AGREED TO LEAVE THEIR FINAL ENCAMPMENT JUST EAST OF THE PINE BLUFFS MIGRATING WESTWARD INTO TEXAS. EIGHT YEARS LATER, IN 1832, FOUR YEARS BEFORE STATEHOOD, LAND WAS PURCHASED AND SURVEYED FOR THE CITY OF PINE BLUFF. 40 BLOCKS OF LAND WERE OFFERED FOR SALE IN THE ARKANSAS GAZETTE AND WITHIN A FEW SHORT YEARS, THE TOWN CONSIST CONSISTENTED OF DOS OF LOG CABINS. ONE OF THOSE EARLY HOMESTEADERS WAS A MAN NAMED DEXTER HARDING WHOSE HISTORIC HOME STILL STANDS AS A MONUMENT TO THE PEOPLE WHO LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR THIS COMMUNITY. SAW DUST FROM HARDING’S SAW MILL WAS PILED IN A SHALLOW LAKE NORTH OF HIS HOME, MAKING A BRIDGE THAT LINKED THE NORTH AND SOUTH PARTS OF TOWN. ON A SITE WHERE THE TOWN’S CIVIC CENTER NOW STANDS.>>DEXTER HARDING WAS VERY SIGNIFICANT TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PINE BLUFF BECAUSE HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO ESTABLISH A SAW MILL AND IN TURN SAUD MOST OF THE LUMBER THAT SERVED MOST OF THE FIRST PINE BLUFF.>>JANE WATSON RUNS A TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER INSIDE DEXTER HARDING’S RESTORED LOG HOME.>>HE IS UNIQUE IN THE FACT HE WAS AN ARTISAN, VERY FINE ARTIST AND PORTRAIT PAINTER HIMSELF. HE WAS VERY TALENTED IN THE MUSICAL ARTS AND HE WAS NOT THE USUAL CARPET BAGGER THAT SETTLED SOME OF THESE CITIES IN ARKANSAS, HE WAS A VERY REFINED, CULL TOURED GENTLEMEN.>>PINE BLUFF GREW STEADILY IN THE EARLY DAYS. STEAM BOATS BROUGHT MORE AND MORISSETTE LETTERS UPSTREAM BUT IN THE 1860S, THIS SAME RIVER BECAME THE OHIO FOR MILITARY FORCES OF THE NORTH AND SOUTH. IN 1863, UNION TROOPS TOOK CONTROL OF TOWNS. IN OCTOBER OF THAT YEAR, REMEMBER FORCES FIRED ON THE CITY IN A FUTURELE EFFORT TO DRIVE OUT THE FED RALS OOPS.>>ACCORDING TO DAVID PURDUE, THE JEFFERSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE WAS AT THE CENTER OF THE BATTLE AND BARELY SURVIVED THE FIREWORKS..>>JEFFERSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE WAS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE BATTLE, IT WAS BEHIND THE COULD THE COTTON BALES AND THEY COULD ONLY SHOOT AT THE COURTHOUSE ITSELF AND WE BELIEVE THAT A LOT OF ARTILLERY WAS DIRECTED TOWARD IT, ALL STREETS LEADING TO THE COURTHOUSE WERE MANNED WITH ARTILLERY AND SHARPSHOOTERS AND IT BECAME A VERY DEADLY CONTEST OF ARTILLERY AND SHARP SHOOTERS. I WOULD MENTION I HAVE A RELIC HERE OF THE BATTLE OF PINE BLUFF AND THIS CANNON BALL IS A SIX STANDARD CANNON BALL THAT APPARENTLY HIT THE ROOF OF THE COURTHOUSE AND USE EITHER THE COPPER FLASHING OR THE ROOF WAS ALL OF COPPER AND IT — THE SHELL DID NOT EXPLODE AND CARRIED INTO THE GROUND WITH A PIECE OF THIS COPPER STILL ON IT. WHEN A CREW RECOVERED THE CANNON BALL, IT WAS STILL LOADED AND I UNLOADED THE CANNON BALL AND IT’S NOW ON DISPLAY AT THE JEFFERSON COUNTY COURTHOUSE. IN THE YEARS FOLLOWING THE CIVIL WAR, THE IRON HORSE BEGAN RIDING WRITING A NEW CHAPTER IN THE COLORFUL HISTORY OF THIS CITY. THE LITTLE ROCK, PINE BLUFF AND NEW ORLEANS RAILROAD WAS COMPLETED IN 1873. ACCORDING TO HOSE TERRY YAN JAMES LESLIE, THE RIVER WAS REPLACED BY THE RAIL AS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF TRANSPORTATION. IN FACT WITHIN THREE DAYS’ TIME YOU COULD BE IN NEW ORLEANS AND THAT WAS FANTASTIC IN THOSE DAYS.>>MOSH A CENTURY HAS PASSED AND RAILROADS REMAIN A VITAL COULD GO IN THE ECONOMIC MAKEUP OF PINE BLUFF. PASSENGER TRAINS HAVE BEEN REPLACED BYTHEFREIGHT INDUSTRY. BUT HERE A BIT OF THE TOWN RAILROAD HISTORY IS BEING RESURRECTED TO JOIN THE PRESENT. THE 89, A SUPER CHARGED STEAM-FIRED ENGINE IS BEING RENOVATED TO SERVE AS A LIVING REMINDER OF A BY GONE ERA.>>I HAVE A DEEP INTEREST IN PRESERVING SOMETHING THAT WILL NEVER BE AVAILABLE AGAIN IN MY LIFETIME AND NOT IN THE FUTURE GENERATIONS’ LIFE TIMES, TO SEE WHAT A ACTUAL STEAM LOCK MOTIVE ACTUALLY WAS AND LOOKED LIKE.>>JOE McCULLOCH IS AMONG A GROUP OF LOCAL RAILROAD PWUVS WHO HAVE BEEN WORKING SIX DAYS A WEEK FOR OVER TWO YEARS TO GET THIS 44-YEAR-OLD IRON HORSEBACK IN WORKING ORDER.>>THIS IS THE LAST LOCOMOTIVE OF ITS CLASS IN THE WORLD, IT’S BEEN ON THE COTTON BELT AND WAS GIVEN TO THE CITY OF PINE BLUFF IN 1955 AND IT SET OUT IN OAKLAND PARK AND WAS VANDALIZED AND THE ELEMENTS GOT TO IT SO WE COULDN’T STAND IT ANY LONGER SO WE HAD TO TRY TO GET IT BACK IN AND RESTORE IT. THIS IS OUR PRESENT POSITION ON IT NOW, AS YOU CAN SEE, IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK LIKE A LOCOMOTIVE AGAIN.>>OKAY. THIS IS A EMBLEM AND ORIGINALLY IT WAS STEEL. WE HAD IT PUT BACK IN BRASS. LOOKED BETTER ON THE BLACK.>>NOW THAT THE TRAIN IS RESTORED, THE MEN WHO HAVE LABORED OVER THIS PROJECT ARE HOPING TO CONVINCE THE COTTON BELT RAILROAD TO FIRE UP THE ENGINE AND RUN THE TRAIN ON OCCASIONAL EXCURSION TRIPS.>>THIS PARTICULAR LOCOMOTIVE WAS BUILT WHERE IT SAYS IN HERE, 1942 AND IT’S ONE OF TEN BUILT IN THE STATE AND AS FAR AS I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DETERMINE IT’S THE ONLY RAILROAD IN THE STATE THAT BUILT THEIR LOCOMOTIVES IN THEIR HOME SHOPS AND BACK IN 1942, IT WAS — IT PROVIDED JOBS FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE IN PINE BLUFF.>>WHILE THE RAIL INDUSTRY HAS LONG BEEN AN ECONOMIC ASSET TO THIS COMMUNITY, FOR MANY YEARS TRAINS HAVE ALSO BEEN CURSED BY LOCAL RESIDENTS. TWO SETS OF TRACK SLICE THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN, CAUSING LENGTHY TRAFFIC JAMS. THERE IS NO WAY AROUND THE TRACKS AND FRUSTRATED MOTORISTS DOLLARS HAVE NO OPTION EXCEPT TO WAIT TILL THE CABOOSE ROLES BY. FINALLY AFTER YEARS OF PLANNING, THIS SITUATION IS ABOUT TO IMPROVE. THE MISSOURI PACIFIC AND COTTON BELT TRACKS PREVIOUSLY A BLOCK APART ARE BEING PLACED SIDE-BY-SIDE AND CONSTRUCT SHOWN WILL SOON BEGIN ON AN OVERPASS, THE FIRST OF THREE PROPOSED BRIDGES OVER THE RAILS. NEARLY $6 MILLION OF FEDERAL FUNDING HAS BEEN OBTAINED TO PAY THE COST. THE CARS OF TODAY ARE A FAR CRY FROM THE TIN LIZZIEES THAT SPUTTERED AROUND JEFFERSON COUNTY IN THE BEGINNING PART OF THIS CENTURY. EARLY-DAY AUTOMOBILEORS FOUND IT DIFFICULT TO DRIVE ON THE DIRT ROADS BUILT FOR HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES SO IN 1913 THE COUNTY APPROVED A ROAD TAX THAT BUILT THE FIRST CONCRETE HIGHWAY IN ARKANSAS. THE THOROUGHFARE STRETCHED FOR 22 MILES FROM PINE BLUFF TOWARD LITTLE ROCK AND COST $1 A FOOT TO BUILD, EARNING THE NICKNAME DOLLARWAY. FARMERS ALONG THE ROUTE CLAIMED THE HIGHWAY WAS HARD ON THE FEET OF THEIR HORSES. BUT MOSTLY, THEY WERE ANGRY AT PAYING THE ROAD TAX. NEVERTHELESS, THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB WOULD SHIFT THEIR CARS IN HERE ON FLAT CARS AND RUN UP AND DOWN THE ROAD FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS FOR SOMETHING TO DO BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER CONCRETE ROAD OF THAT LENGTH AROUND.>>DURING THE EARLY DAYS OF WORLD WAR II, THE UNITED STATES ARMY OPENED A MILITARY ARSENAL AT PINE BLUFF TO PRODUCE BOMBS FOR THE ALLIED CAUSE. UNLIKE MANY WARTIME PLANTS THE ARSENAL WAS NOT ABANDONED AFTER THE WAR. TODAY THE ARSENAL SERVICE THE LOCAL COMMUNITY AS A MAJOR EMPLOYER, WITH THE WORK FORCE OF OVER 1400 CIVILIANS AND AN ANNUAL PAYROLL OF $30 MILLION. DEWEY SPENCER IS THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER FOR THE ARSENAL.>>THE ARSENAL SAW LEAN YEARS IN BETWEEN THE TIMES OF WAR, WORLD WAR II AND KOREA THERE WAS LEAN TIMES, PRODUCTION PICKED UP AGAIN IN THE KOREAN ERA AND TOWARDS THE END OF THE ’50S WAS RELAXED A LITTLE. WE NOW HAVE A MULTIMISSION INSTALLATION HERE INVOLVING TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING OF NEW ITEMS, THE STORAGE OF CHEMICAL MUNITIONS AND THE TESTING OF HE EQUIPMENT, FILTERS AND THINGS FOR DEFENSIVE APPARATUS AND AN OVERALL MILITARY MISSION INVOLVING CIVILIANS AND MILITARY PERSONNEL. ♪ ♪ PINE BLUFF IS ON THE RIM OF ARKANSAS’S MOST PRODUCTIVE COMMERCIAL FOREST REGION AND THIS SPELLS JOBS FOR THE COMMUNITY. AGRICULTURE IS THE OLDEST AND STILL ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WAYS OF MAKING A LIVING IN THIS AREA. FARMING IS A 58 MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR BUSINESS HERE AND JEFFERSON COUNTY IS AMONG THE TOP THREE IN ARKANSAS IN THE PRODUCTION OF RICE, SOY BEANS AND COTTON. SOME OF THE PLANTERS AROUND HERE OWN SMALL FARMS AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE BEEN PLOWING THIS FERTILE LAND FOR GENERATIONS. THERE ARE ALSO A NUMBER OF CORPORATE FARMERS IN THE COUNTY WHO TILL THOUSAND OF ACRES OF CROPLAND.>>THIS MAN WORKS WITH EVERY CLASS OF FARMER IN HIS JOB. IT IS HIS OPINION THAT AS LONG AS THERE IS GROUND TO PLOW, AGRICULTURE WILL REMAIN AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF PINE BLUFF’S ECONOMY.>>THE YOUNGER FARMERS THAT ARE TAKING OVER FROM THEIR DADS WHO ARE RETIRING, THEY ARE BECOMING MORE ACTIVE, I THINK THE AVERAGE AGE IS PROBABLY GETTING YOUNGER IN JEFFERSON COUNTY IT MAY NOT NECESSARILY BE NATIONWIDE THAT WAY, BUT IN JEFFERSON COUNTY WE HAVE A LOT OF YOUNG FARMERS BEING ACTIVE, BECOMING MORE ACTIV.>>MANY OF THE HAR ARE VESTED CROPS GROWN IN THIS PART OF ARKANSAS ARE SHIPPED TO MARKET FROM PINE BLUFF BY RAIL AND RIVER BARGE. THIS CITY IS ONE OF THE FEW INLAND TOWNS IN THE NATION OFFERING WATER TRANSPORTATION TO PORTS BOTH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC. BUILT ALONG A FLAT WATER HARBOR THAT ONCE WAS A MAIN CHANNEL OF THE ARKANSAS RIVER, THE PORT OF PINE BLUFF OFFERS FACILITIES THAT INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR WALLY GARINGE RECHLT MAINTAINS ARE SECOND TO NONE ANYWHERE.>>I THINK THE LEADERSHIP IN THIS COMMUNITY THROUGH THE YEARS CAN REALLY BE PRAISED AND PRAISED TO THE HIGHEST STARTING BACK IN THE 60s WHEN THE PEOPLE HAD THE VISION TO FIRST SEE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ARKANSAS RIVER TO ARKANSAS AND TO THE COMMUNITY AND THEN AGGRESSIVELY GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT DEVELOPING THE FINEST INLAND WATERWAY PORT PERIOD BAR NONE. WE HAVE A HARBOR INDUSTRIAL DISTRICT CREATED BY THE PINE BLUFF JEFFERSON COUNTY PORT AUTHORITY FOR THE COMMUNITY. THAT AREA HAS SOME 400 ACRES WHICH HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED AS FLOOD-FREE INDUSTRIAL SITES AND THESE ARE SITES UPON WHICH WE HOPE TO ATTRACT INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS THAT NEEDS WATER TRANSPORTATION, RAIL TRANSPORTATION, TRUCK TRANSPORTATION AND EVEN PIPELINE TRANSPORTATION.>>COMMUNITY LEADERS SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP THE PORT WHEN THE GOVERNMENT APPROVED AND FUNDED THE MCCLELLAN-KERR NAVIGATION SYSTEM WHICH WAS COMPLETED IN THE LATE 1960s. TODAY THE ARKANSAS RIVER IS BIG BUSINESS FOR PINE BLUFF.>>BUT FOR A LONG TIME, THIS SAME WATERWAY WAS A FEARED DEVIL OF NATURE KNOWN FOR AN UNPREDICTABLE HABIT OF OVERFLOWING ITS BANKS. IN 1908 FLOOD WATERS THREATENED TO WASH THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE INTO THE RIVER. AN UNKNOWN GROUP OF LOCAL MEN TOOK MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS AND DYNAMITED THE CHANNEL TO ALLOW THE BRUNT OF THE FLOOD TO MISS THE CITY, THUS SAVING THE COURTHOUSE. BUT IN 1927, PINE BLUFF WAS HIT BY A FLOOD SO SEVERE, IT WAS DEEMED THE GREATEST NATURAL DISASTER IN ARKANSAS HISTORY. THOUSANDS OF ACRES OF LAND, SHE LEFT FARMS RUINED, ANIMALS DROWNED, HOUSES GONE.>>IT’S HARD TO PAINT A WORD PICTURE OF THE SITUATION THAT EXISTED AT THAT TIME. IT’S BEYOND YOUR IMAGINATION. YOU HAD TO HAVE SEEN IT TO REALLY APPRECIATE WHAT TOOK PLACE AT THAT TIME. WHAT HAPPENED CAUSING THAT CONDITION, THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER WAS AT FLOOD STAGE THAT PARTICULAR TIME AND THE ARKANSAS RIVER, WHICH TRIBUTARY OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, WAS ALSO AT FOOD STAGE AND WHEN THE WATERS MET, THERE WAS NO PLACE FOR IT TO GO AND CONSEQUENTLY IT JUST I THINK I HEARD THEM SAY IT, IT ACTUALLY FLOWED BACKWARDS.>>EMMET SANDERS’S GROCERY BUSINESS WAS NEARLY WIPED OUT BY THE ’27 FLOOD. THE HOR OF THIS SPURRED SANDERS TO WORK FOR PARTS OF FIVE DECADES TRYING TO CONVINCE CONGRESS TO APPROVE MONEY TO CONTROL THE RIVER. SANDERS HEADED AN ARKANSAS DELEGATION THAT MADE REPEATED TRIPS TO WASHINGTON, TRYING TO OBTAIN THE $1.4 BILLION NEEDED TO FUND THE PROJECT. FINALLY IN THE EARLY 1960s, HIS EFFORTS PAID OFF.>>I THINK WE ACCOMPLISHED IT JUST BY HARASSMENT, I THINK WE WORE THEM DOWN. WE WERE IN THIS PARTICULAR HEARING BEFORE A HOUSE COMMITTEE AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, ONE OF THE REPRESENTATIVES JUST THIS ARE YOU UP HIS ARMS AND EXPLODED AND SAYS THANK GOD THERE’S JUST ONE ARKANSAS RIVER!>>IN 1972, ARKANSAS A M & M COLLEGE MERGED WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS SYSTEM AND WAS RENAMED THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT PINE BLUFF. THE MERGER JOINED THE STATE’S TWO OLD DEFENDANT PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING, FOUNDED AS BRANCH NORMAL COLLEGE IN 1875 THIS STATE-SPORTED LAND GRAND INSTITUTION WAS PRIMARILY ESTABLISHED FOR BLACK STUDENTS WHO IN THOSE DAYS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO MANY ATTEND MANY COLLEGE DOLLARS ACROSS THE SOUTH. THE STUDENT POPULATION ON THIS CAMPUS IS STILL 80% BLACK, ALTHOUGH WHITE AND BLACK ENROLLMENT ARE ON THE INCREASE. A NUMBER OF STUDENTS CHOOSE TO ATTEND THIS UNIVERSITY BECAUSE IT WAS THE COLLEGE WHERE THEIR PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS EARNED THEIR DEGREES. A UAPB GRADUATE, DR. LAWRENCE DAVIS JR. IS DEAN OF THE DIVISION OF ARTS AND SCIENCES. HIS ROOTS AND FEELINGS FOR THE CAMPUS RUN DEEP. HIS FATHER WAS SCHOOL PRESIDENT FOR OVER 30 YEARS AND HIS SON WILL SOON ENROLL AS A FRESHMAN.>>WELL, I THINK THAT NOT ONLY HAS THIS INSTITUTION BEEN AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN BLACK HERITAGE BUT AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS. YOU MUST REALIZE A MAJORITY OF THE BLACK PROFESSIONALS IN ARKANSAS ARE GRADUATES OF THIS INSTITUTION AND I THINK THAT HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THIS INSTITUTION AT ARKANSAS, ARKANSAS WOULD NOT HAVE PROGRESSED AS FAR AS IT HAS BUT I THINK THIS INSTITUTION IS MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER BEFORE BECAUSE IT HAS A GREATER POPULATION TO SERVE.>>IN THE 1970s, PINE BLUFF APPROVED CONSTRUCTION OF A $MINE MILLION CONVENTION CENTER WHICH INCLUDED AN 8500-SEAT ARENA AND A 2,000-SEAT AUDITORIUM. CRITICS CLAIMED THE TOWN WAS NOT BIG ENOUGH TO SUPPORT SUCH A LAVISH FACILITY AND DURING THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF OPERATION THE CENTER WAS PLAGUED BY FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. BUT FEARS THE COMPLEX WOULD BECOME A GIANT WHITE ELEPHANT PROVED UNFOUNDED. TODAY THE CENTER HOSTS NEARLY 600 EVENTS A YEAR, THE ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS PLAY SEVERAL HOME BASKETBALL GAMES HERE EACH SEASON AND IT’S THE SITE OF THE KING COTTON CLASSIC, ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS IN THE COUNTRY. IN THE PAST THE CONVENTION CENTER HAS HOUSED CIRCUSES, CONCERTS AND TWICE HAS HOSTED THE NATIONAL BASS MASTERS CLASSIC FISHING TOURNAMENT.>>HOLD ON TO YOUR JOCKEY SHORTS, BROTHER! 1815. HE’S THE LEADER, FOLKS. THERE IT IS.>>KARL ST. CLAIRE SERVICE AS BOTH THE CONVENTION CENTER AND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE DIRECTOR. IN HIS VIEW, PINE BLUFF HAS REACHED BENEFITS FROM THIS COMPLEX WORTH A GREAT DEAL MORE THAN THE MONEY INVESTED TO CONSTRUCT THE BUILDING TEN YEARS AGO.>>WE PROBABLY HAVE MORE PINE BLUFF EVENTS IN THIS CONVENTION CENTER THAN YOU WOULD FIND IN OTHER CITIES TO THEIR CONVENTION CENTERS. WE DO SOME REGIONAL BUSINESS, A SMALL AMOUNT OF NATIONAL BUSINESS BUT PRIMARILY WE ARE A COMMUNITY CONVENTION CENTER AND SERVING OUR COMMUNITY I THINK VERY WELL.>>LOCAL RESIDENTS AND CITY OFFICIALS SCOFF AT SURVEYS LIKE THE RAND-McNALLY ALMANAC THAT LIFTED PINE BLUFF AS NEXT-TO-LAST IN ITS RANKING OF OVER 300 U.S. CITIES. THEY POINT INSTEAD TO A REDUCTION IN CRIME AND THE EXCELLENT HUNTING AND FISHING OPPORTUNITIES SURROUNDING THIS COMMUNITY. THEY BOAST OF THE REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, 470-BED HOSPITAL OFFERING THE LATEST IN PATIENT CARE FOR TREATMENT OF HEART DISEASE, CANCER AND STROKE. THEY TALK IN GLOWING TERMS ABOUT HOW THEIR TOWN SERVICE AS THE INDUSTRIAL, CULTURAL, EDUCATIONAL AND FINANCIAL CENTER FOR THE ENTIRE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE.>>WHAT YOU NEED TO TALK TO ME ABOUT IS TELL ME THINGS THAT ARE GOING ON.>>ONE OF PINE BLUFF’S MOST PROMINENT CITIZENS AND AMBASSADORS IS ATTORNEY LEWIS RAMSAY, A RETIRED BANK EXECUTIVE WHO HAS SERVED ON MANY OF THE STATE’S MOST INFLUENTIAL DECISION-MAKE MAING BOARDS. HE SAYS HE CHOSE TO MAKE PINE BLUFF HIS HOME AND BUSINESS BASE BECAUSE OF THE SPIRIT AND PERSONALITIES OF THE PEOPLE THAT INHABIT THIS TOWN.>>WHAT PINE BLUFF HAS ALWAYS BEEN IS THE KIND OF TOWN I WANTED TO LIVE IN. SO MANY GOOD THINGS HERE, THE SIZE OF THE COMMUNITY IS A GOOD THING FOR ME, 60,000 ROUGHLY, YOU KNOW PEOPLE IN TOWN, YET YOU ARE A PART OF EVERYTHING THAT GOES ON OR YOU YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF IT. IT HAS PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING THAT A LARGER CITY HAS, WE LOOK AT THE CONVENTION CENTER IN PINE BLUFF, YOU THINK OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN HERE, PERFORMERS THAT HAVE BEEN HERE IN PINE BLUFF AND THAT’S HARD TO BEAT. PRACTICALLY ANY LARGE CITY LIKE DALLAS OR ST. LOUIS OR WHEREVER IT MAY BE, I THINK WE COULD MATCH THAT VERY EASILY AND THEN THE FACT THAT WE HAVE A GOOD EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM, I LOOK AT OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM AND IT’S EXCELLENT, WONDERFUL. I LOOK AT OUR HOSPITAL AND THAT’S HARD TO BEAT. WE HAVE ALMOST 500 ROOMS AND A HOSPITAL THAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT KIND OF CARE. WE HAVE ALL THE OTHER THINGS LIKE PORT, TRANSPORTATION, WE’RE NEAR TO LITTLE ROCK IF WE ARE — OUR SISTER CITY IF WE NEED TO BE IN THE CAPITOL FOR ANYTHING, WE’RE THERE.

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