The biggest hope for Sharp County seems to be unanimous among attendees and elected officials who recently attended a series of Rural Economic Development meetings in various Sharp County cities. Topping the chart was always the extreme need for a hospital in the area. This wish may be closer to becoming a reality, thanks, in part to a new foundation in the Sharp County area.
Liberty Bank of Highland was the site of a private meeting July 28 of members of the newly formed Sharp County Hospital Foundation, Inc. and mayors from Highland, Hardy and Cherokee Village, as well as Sharp County Judge Larry Brown and other public officials.
The non-profit foundation was organized by Bob Evins and C.E. Dagget and was incorporated with the Arkansas Secretary of State July 20. These men and others in their group recognize the urgent need for a hospital in the area and are attempting to bring one to the county.
Daggett said the group invited area mayors to a presentation by "an administrator of a very successful hospital in a town of similar size to towns in Sharp County." Evins said the presentation was simply to inform the group of the ways in which this respective hospital had became successful.
Dagget said one of the group members Laurence Bronson, is an architect and provided a detailed proposed rendering of the possible facility.
Following a Friday afternoon meeting, the group issued the following press release to Areawide Media by Ron Rhodes.
"A group of local citizens have formed an organization named Sharp County Hospital Foundation, Inc.
"The group considers themselves a 'steering committee' with the mission of building a hospital in Sharp County. The foundation has begun the job of gathering support from the people of Sharp County primarily in the areas of Ash Flat, Hardy, Highland and Cherokee Village."
"A spokesperson for the steering committee states, 'We know that a hospital is a critical element in thegrowth of these communities and more important to the health and welfare of our citizens.' We encourage anyone interested to visit www.sharpcountyhospital.com to sign up for updates and information."
Evins said that although he is very hopeful for the project, he wants to stress that it is still in the planning, research and development phase. He does not want the public to have premature hopes until the project has progressed further to a more viable phase. He said the public and press will be made aware of updates and progress on the foundation's Web site.
Phyllis Kates, spokesperson for the group said, "We are all very dedicated to this and we want to see it go."
According to certified economic development specialist, Frankie Gilliam, with the Arkansas Delta Center at Jonesboro, in order for any area to move forward economically, it is vital they have some type of health care facility. Planning and foresight from this group may be the answer to many residents' health care concerns in the area.
Because Cherokee Village is a retirement area, the need for an immediate health care option is vital to keep these residents from moving to other areas where they can be closer to hospitals.