Here's a look at the latest developments.
Five Lane Highway
Construction crews have braved the summer heat, and begun paving lanes for the widening of Highway 62-412 and Highway 167 to five lanes through the city of Ash Flat. Despite traffic delays, most motorists have been patient through the long construction zone, and very few accidents have occurred in the area.
Dustin Treadway, Assistant Resident Engineer with the District 5 office of the Arkansas Highway Department, reports the project is about 75 percent complete. Workers are currently completing curb, gutters and sidewalks, as well as paving the north end of the expansion.
The $4.5 million road widening project began in the fall of 2010, with the city of Ash Flat moving utilities and obtaining right of ways. An environmental impact statement was submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, which gave final approval for the project to be bid.
Joe Trantham, District 5 construction engineer, said at a June 2009 public meeting that the widening project is needed for safety purposes on the busy highway, and to accommodate future growth. The AHTD took public opinion surveys and public meeting feedback from area residents into consideration before beginning the 1.1-mile expansion project.
The expansion will widen Highway 62 through Ash Flat to five lanes, including a middle turning lane. The project begins near the intersection of Highway 354 and ends at the intersection of Highway 62/412, which recently opened improved entrance and exit ramps.
Treadway said the project is on schedule and expected to be completed in October.
Mark Martin GMC
At the intersection of Highway 62-412 and Highway 167, Mark Martin GMC, Oldsmobile has been scurrying to open its new state of the art dealership, expecting high traffic counts in that area to bring in customers.
While the impressive dealership building is completed, the parking lot still must be paved before vehicles can be moved in.
Carol Smithee, administrative assistant at Mark Martin, said the new location is slated for opening in early August.
Sales Manager Vic Davidson said the dealership will serve all GMC, Buick and Chevrolet needs, but will concentrate on its GMC and Buick lines.
Mark Martin GMC will still carry also carry an extensive line of pre-owned vehicles.
The new dealership will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and offer a full service department.
Ash Flat Fire
After months of problems obtaining funding and a suitable location, crews are finally working on site preparation for the new Ash Flat Fire Department headquarters building.
The Fire Department will be located behind the Sonic Drive-in on Goodwin Cove, providing a new home where the department can more effectively serve the community.
Delays finally ended in June when the city passed a $635,000 bond issue to finance the project. The city awarded the bid to Noacon, Incorporated to construct the building for $402,041. After adding upgrades to the building -- incluing a concrete pad, interior finish work, a sprinkler system in the truck bays and brick veneer to dress up the metal building -- the additional $84,696.72 raised the total cost to $486,727.72.
Mayor Danny Traw said at the June City Council meeting, the project should be completed by late fall.
The new facility will offer firefighters' living quarters, office and storage space, and a training area, as well as truck bays and an area for filling tanks.
Highland City Park
The City of Highland has been working with architects, construction crews and its own street department workers to help complete the city's new park near Lake Mirandy in Highland.
Although there have been a few problems along the way, the park is moving toward completion. With a picnic pavillion, basketball court and a state of the art playground area for children, area residents are sure to enjoy the beautiful addition to the area.
The playground equipment and underlayment were completed last week, and the roof over the picnic pavillion is in. The lakeside park will offer ample parking and be handicapped assessible.
July 14 marked a happy day for Cave City area consumers, as Dollar General's new store opened its doors on North Main Street.
The new store features wider aisles and more space for merchandise, including a line of frozen and refrigerated food products.
Since it does a large volume of business, the previous store was often crowded. Early shoppers to the new store called it a big improvement.
Dollar General District Manager Jerry Gifford said the new building, with over 8,000 square feet, is the largest the chain operates, with the exception of its Market Stores located in California and the midwest, which feature produce and more grocery items.
The Cave City location has ample parking, and opened with expanded hours -- 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily.
Cave City has seen additional retail development in recent months, and the Bank of Cave City is making good progress on its new banking facility under construction on Main Street.