First in a series of interviews with the candidates.
The News submitted questions to incumbent mayor Bob Spear of Horseshoe Bend and his challenger, Robert L. Brown. Following are their responses:
News: As mayor how will you accomplish bringing industry to Horseshoe Bend?
Brown:We should bring some high tech jobs into the area. We should work with Ozarka College in developing the nurses program and the medical technology program to help bolster our medical facilities. We need to work hand-in-hand with the area hospitals and ambulance services. I would like to see them add an EMT program to their curriculum. All of these things would greatly increase the quality of life in our area. We also have recreational facilities that should be used to attract the tourist industry. Horseshoe Bend was built on these amenities: riding stables, lakes, swimming pools, public beaches, riverside campgrounds, and one of the nicest golf courses in the tri-state region. Our golf course has some of the finest fairways available and I think our chamber of commerce should use these things in bringing people in the Ozark Gateway. Tourism is the number two industry in the state of Arkansas and we should revitalize every asset we have in order to bring people into our city and our area. I would use the multi-talented work force that we have in our senior citizens; they are educated, reliable and available.
Spear: As your mayor the past four years we have tried to promote light industry. We have an industrial committee along with the Horseshoe Bend Chamber of Commerce that is working very hard letting potential employers know that we have an eager labor market and would welcome them to Horseshoe Bend.
News: Are there a lack of medical facilities in Horseshoe Bend since it has been labeled a retirement community and, if so, how do you propose to rectify this?
Brown: As for the lack of medical facilities in the area, in order to support 911, the hospitals and the ambulance services, I think that our city government should work together to provide emergency services. Our police officers should not only deal with criminal emergencies, but they should be able to deal with medical emergencies as well, and should escort ambulances that often get lost. We should have at least two emergency trauma centers in the area. Our fire departments should provide ambulance services. The people who ride in the ambulance should be trained as EMTs so they could deal with the needs of a population whose average age is 65.
Spear: Compared to other small towns I feel we are fairly well covered. We have a great paramedic service and, unless you have a larger population than we do, a hospital would be out of the question.
News: If the sales tax on food items is repealed, how will this affect the city and how will the city compensate for the loss of revenue?
Brown: If the sales tax is repealed, cooperating with other communities is the only way that this can be compensated for at this time. We will have to share facilities, information and technology. Our city is a city of volunteers and, with or without the sales tax, we will pull it together.
Spear: If Amendment 3 (repeal of the sales and use tax on food items) is on the ballot and if voted in by the people of Arkansas, it would have a large impact on our general fund. We would have to make adjustments by reducing some services and I would work together with the city council to ensure that those reductions would have the least possible impact on the city.
News: As mayor what kind of progress will you look toward for the city in the next four years?
Brown: I would like to see us restore the promises made when this city received 1,500 acres of recreational facilities. We should restore our campgrounds and riding stables, have greater access to public lakes and beaches. We should use the facilities we have available such as the club house, and we need real recreational facilities for our young people. And yes, we will have walking trails where we can take advantage of the natural beauty in the state of Arkansas. Our city will cooperate with other government agencies in the tri-county area. There are so many facilities available to use that we don't hear about.
Spear: Progress in a small town plays a very important role. I feel that slow but steady growth is what all small towns are looking for -- more new homes, more shopping and light industry which would allow our young population to work at home.