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Curbside recycling

is implemented

January 2010

Texarkana, Texas, started a curbside recycling pickup, and the participation was more than anyone dared hope. David Orr, quality and sustainability coordinator, said 64 percent of Texas-side residents recycled in the program's first week, compared to just 4 percent during the same time in 2009.

"The average weekly collection in 2009 was 5.2 tons a week. The week of Jan. 4 through 8, 2010, 32.7 tons of recyclables were collected," he said.

The 628-percent jump just includes recyclable material sent away for processing and does not include green waste collected for compost by Texarkana Water Utilities.

"As you can imagine we are very excited with the results so far," Orr said then.

Vicki Melde, communications manager for Texarkana, Texas, said Brian Conditt, Waste Management's regional manager, was been very complimentary of local efforts.

"He's been told that when the Texarkana, Texas, recycle load hits the floor at the sorting center in Shreveport, the workers immediately know where it has come from due to the low contaminate rate," she said then. "Not only are Texarkana residents recycling, they are taking that bit of extra effort to do so correctly."



  •  Tony Alamo was ordered in early January 2010 to pay $2.5 million to five victims who testified during his July 2009 criminal trial in Texarkana that they were forced to wed their pastor when they were children. The following month, he was moved to a maximum security U.S. penitentiary in Tuscon, Ariz.


  •  The lease was ending between the city of Hope, Ark., and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house FEMA trailers just outside the city. About 19,000 trailers purchased by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were stored at the Hope, Ark., Municipal Airport.


  •  In mid-April, acclaimed author, activist and storyteller Dr. Maya Angelou spoke to a sold out crowd at Northeast Texas Community College. She shared stories about her childhood growing up in Stamps, Ark.


n Sonja Hubbard, Texarkana-based E-Z Mart's convenience stores then-chief executive officer, was the first woman inducted into the Convenience Industry Hall of Fame in November.


n The birthplace of former President Bill Clinton was designated a National Historic site in mid-December. The deed was transferred to the federal government to allow for management by the National Park Service.

President Clinton comes home


April 2011

For the first time in more than a decade, Bill Clinton came home.

The 42nd president returned to his birthplace to rechristen his boyhood home as the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home.

Clinton was joined on stage by then-U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott; Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar; and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis in the sunlit courtyard adjoining the white clapboard home where he was raised.

Calling his ascent from small-town Arkansas to Washington, D.C., a "symbol of a story that many millions of Americans have lived on their own," he spoke about the values he learned growing up in Hope.

"The worst mistake you could make when I was a kid was to think you were better than anyone else," he said.

It took several years for the federal government to get on board with the preservation efforts.

Legislation designating the house as a National Historic Site was twice shepherded through the U.S. House of Representatives by Ross, only to die in the Senate.

The third try was more successful. With a stroke of President Barack Obama's pen, the house became the National Park Service's 394th site and its 33rd presidential site.


Fire ravages dry, brittle region

September 2011

A long dry spell coupled with high heat and gusty winds turned the Texarkana area into flash points throughout the summer. It was one of the region's hottest and driest summers in decades, with multiple weeks of triple-digit temperatures and a dearth of rain.

Cass County was designated as one of Texas' worst wildfire-stricken areas after the Bear Creek fire. The 12-day blaze, which burned between Sept. 4 and 16, incinerated more than 41,000 acres and destroyed about 100 homes in Cass and Marion counties. The wildfire also charred about 17.3 million cubic feet of timber valued at nearly $8.8 million and potentially worth up to $159 million in forest products. Such production could have spawned $349 million in economic activity for East Texas, according to Texas Forestry Service records release in October of that year.

With wind gusts up to 25 mph, sparks from the initial Bear Creek fire gave birth to other fires that eventually merged to create an inferno. Families packed what groceries and clothes they could carry as they fled their homes and farms. Multiple fire departments from as far away as Abilene, Texas, came to the area's aid.

Churches in the affected areas set up shelters and refreshment stations as homeowners and neighbors joined firefighters and took up garden hoses to battle blazes inching closer to houses.


  •  In early summer of 2012, the Salvation Army Family Store moved to 420 Walton Drive, in Texarkana, Texas, from its longtime location on New Boston Road. The move upped the profile of the store which put it in a high traffic location. Another advantage is that the Salvation Army bought the building where it moved instead of renting as it had in the past.


  •  Albert Pike reopened parts of its recreational area in May 2012. The park was closed after a flash flood in June 2010 killed 20 people. The reopened areas allowed public access for picnicking and swimming.


Summer 2013

  •  Texarkana won a competition pitched by Benjamin Moore called Paint What Matters. As a contest winner, our city received paint products and supplies needed for facades, porches, railings, shutters and other exterior building trim slated for upgrades in specified areas of downtown.



  •  Throughout the year, 2014 proved that the passing of time apparently isn't going to kill interest in Texarkana's infamous Phantom Killings. A new movie, a new book and a local symposium on the five mysterious 1946 local slayings refreshed and revived local and regional interests in the cases. "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" made a return in contemporary film form.


  •  The Paint What Matters program kicked off downtown in March 2014, with 50 buildings to be painted in 20 days. Paint What Matters' plan was to recoat more than 50 downtown historic buildings—most of them vacant. The project's aim was to ultimately make both sides of the cities' historic downtown commercial district a more attractive business magnet.


  •  Opportunities Inc. celebrated the opening of its Dorothy Sue Patterson Therapy Center in March 2014 with people from the community who helped make the center a reality. The center, which took more than a year to complete and cost about $400,000, provides expanded space for speech and occupational therapy.


  •  After three years in the making, dogs on both sides of the state line have something to howl about. PetSafe officials, who sponsored the Bark for Your Park contest in 2012 and 2013, returned for the official opening at dog parks in both Texarkanas in April 2014. Scores of eager four-leggers scampered throughout the spacious 2-acre playgrounds of the Texas-side's Kylee Sullivan Dog Park inside Spring Lake Park and the Arkansas-side's JefFURson Dog Park, just south of Arkansas High School.


  •  A grand opening for the east portion of Bringle Lake Park was held in August 2014 to welcome citizens to a new place to walk, bike, jog, picnic and play.


  •  History was made in Texarkana when Ruth Penney-Bell was elected the first female mayor on either side of the state line in November 2014. Penney-Bell shortly after being elected said she hoped it was her message that helped win over the voters.


Excluding droughts, Texarkana, Texas, is no longer dry

November 2014

Voters in Texarkana, Texas, turned down the sale of beer and wine two times before, but this time voters approved the sale of these items within the city. Super 1 Foods on Richmond Road was the first to complete the process in mid-December and began selling on Dec. 18. Since then, this retail landscape has changed dramatically.

On the same day Texarkana said yes, Wake Village voters said no.

In Texarkana, results showed 4,086 voters approved the measure while 3,392 voted against it. It was the third try since 2006 to allow package beer and wine sales.

"We are very pleased with the results and we saw that the voters have spoken," said Derrick McGary, campaign treasure for the It's Our Time Texarkana, Texas Committee.

McGary attributed this success to Nash's successful November 2013 vote for beer and wine sales.

"I think the people in our city were able to see the success Nash had and Texas-side wanted the same," he said. "They saw that crime didn't go up in Nash and littering didn't go up—the only thing that went up for Nash was sale tax receipts and Texas-side wants that to happen."

McGary said the extra taxes realized from beer and wine sales tax revenue would be able to help the city fund improvements for public safety, roads, parks and city services.

Neither measure allowed for liquor or package stores.

Texarkana United for All and Texarkana Strong organized campaigns against the proposal.

Issac Pitre, chairman of Texarkana Strong, said "We felt like the people who didn't want beer and wine sales in the city needed a voice and we were their voice."

Wake Village residents voted was 783 for and 829 against.

Nash legalized the sale of beer and wine the previous November and stores were allowed to begin selling at year's end.

Nash City Administrator Doug Bowers the sale of beer and wine has had a tremendous effect on sales taxes in the town of about 3,000 with a six-month average increase of almost 55 percent.

Many believe Nash voters giving the go ahead is what rekindled interest in Texarkana putting the measure on the ballot a third time.



  •  In June 2015, Gov. Asa Hutchinson visited Garland City to assess the damage caused by the Red River flood and learn more about the levees. Hutchinson said he had sent a signed letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the flood—particularly in Little River, Miller and Lafayette counties.
  •  In August, the Budweiser Clydesdales visited Texarkana to present the Big Jake trophy—a 20-pound statue of a Clydesdale—to employees of Eagle Distributing. The trophy was presented in honor of Eagle Distributing earning the Ambassador title, which is the highest level to be achieved within the Anheuser-Busch Co. The Clydedales were on display for a Celebration of Excellence Parade in downtown Texarkana that drew a huge crowd.



  •  In September, after operating at least 85 years at 315 Pine Street, the Texarkana Gazette moved to the Landmark building at 101 East Broad St.
  •  Walmart announced plans to open an employee training academy in Texarkana, Texas, as part of a large scale effort to improve employees' job skills and pay.



  •  About 1,000 temporary and contract workers were laid off from Red River Army Depot, which is located west of Texarkana, between Hooks and New Boston, Texas. In March, RRAD announced its first round of layoffs for the calendar year, claiming 600 jobs because of decreasing workload requirements. In August, the union objected to the summer layoffs, which affected government, contract and term employees.


  •  In August, the City of Texarkana, Texas, annexed six pieces of Bowie County property, despite the objections of many who lived in them. The annexation process, which began in May, became heated when some residents made it clear that they did not want to become part of the city. They were concerned that expenses such as city and school district property taxes, the cost of connecting to city water and sewer services, and city permits would be prohibitive. Also, some common rural activities—raising livestock, selling produce and burning brush—would become illegal or highly regulated, which in turn could eliminate resident's sources of income. In the end, however, the City Council voted to annex six of the original seven proposed territories,.


  •  In a move to acquire more room, Church on the Rock purchased the old Gander Mountain building in 2018 at 2301 University Ave. in Texarkana, Texas. The project, which is estimated to take between nine and 12 months to complete, was in the church's future plans for about three years and would increase its space from 32,000-square-feet to 66,000, according to Pastor John Miller. Once the purchase of the Gander Mountain building was finalized, the church's property at 1601 Mall Drive would go up for sale. Church on the Rock began as New Life Community Church on Martin Luther King Boulevard in 1976 and moved to its Mall Drive location in 1985.


  •  The Agent Barry Live United Bowl, an annual college football bowl game played between two of the top teams at the NCAA Division II level and began in 2013, received the support of Dean and LuCretia Barry and Barry Insurance as sponsors for another year. Dean Barry said he and his wife love the game and that it was LuCretia who suggested sponsoring the game another year. Allen Brown, chairman of Agent Barry Live United Bowl, announced the couple wanted to keep it going for another year. During the event, bowl campaign members presented a $12,000 check to the United Way of Greater Texarkana.