Despite a tumultuous beginning, the Arkansas Department of Corrections North Central Unit in Calico Rock has become an important part of this community over the past 20 years.
"It was not overly embraced to begin with," said Dina Tyler, assistant to the director of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. "There was a lot of concern on the part of the public."
Back in 1990, area residents organized protests against the prison, with many expressing fear over potential escapees and decreased property values.
"After the doors opened, it didn't take long for people to change their minds," said Gary Teague, accreditation specialist at the unit, who previously worked as Calico Rock's recorder/treasurer.
Prison officials stress that the facility strives to be a good neighbor to the community. Employees at the prison come from a wide area, including Izard, Baxter, Stone, Fulton, Marion and Sharp counties according to Warden David White.
"We're here now, we've been here, and I think we're one of the best neighbors in Izard County and the area," said White.
The facility currently employs 179 people and has the capacity to hold 580 inmates. In January, the Arkansas Board of Corrections approved a 100-bed expansion project which should be completed within two years. The prison's last expansion was in 1997 when 200 beds were added.
According to officials, this latest expansion should bring 15 more jobs to the facility. "It helps the community tremendously, especially in jobs and the expansion bringing more jobs," said Benny Magness, chairman of the Arkansas Board of Corrections.