Monday night, March 20, Van Buren County Judge Roger Hooper gave his annual presentation at the Alread EH Club Building, an overview of the county’s work and answering questions. The main topic of discussion enveloped all of the road work in Van Buren County that had been done in the past six years during his time in office, as well as the envisaged road work projects planned for the future. The Highway Department provides many jobs for men and women in the Van Buren County area and they accomplish a great deal of work. With a county radius of over 800 miles, road work is a never-ending task, but the goals and organization were impressive.

“You have to have good infrastructure,” Hooper said.

In the past six years, they have covered 466.9 total miles of road, which includes new gravel, grading, chip and seal work, fixing seemingly-endless potholes, and creating new roads. This year, the department is ahead of schedule: Their target mileage per year is approximately to cover 60 miles, which they almost reached last year, having reached 57.4 miles. Upcoming projects include a few main roads in Alread, such as Dabney Road and Rex Road.

Hooper also covered a few other important topics, such as the building of the hospital, the Ozark Health Medical Center, the new Van Buren County Library and Global Foods. All of these have created jobs in Van Buren County. The hospital has helped many people in the last few years. The ability for many people to do their chemotherapy in Clinton instead of having to drive to Conway or Little Rock as often, for example, is a wonderful thing. The new library has seen many new people since they reopened their doors. Their attendance is reported to have gone up by 20 percent and the community room that they offer has been beneficial to many people in Van Buren County as well. The opening of the Global Foods Group branch in Clinton has created approximately 100 new jobs in this area and Judge Hooper said that they project that in five years to have as many as 225 employees. One of Global Foods clients is Cash Saver, the grocery store, and if you look at the Pick 6 items from a local store, you might see that it was distributed by Global Foods in Clinton, Ark.

This last year, in January of 2016, a nursing school program started at the Clinton Community Center. They began with three students but as of right now they are up to eight. This will help many young adults in the future and as time goes on, they are sure to see more growth.

Judge Hooper spoke about Van Buren County’s population growth and the population trends in the counties surrounding us. With more diverse jobs and steady improvements, Van Buren County has a good future ahead of it. The end of his presentation wrapped it up very well, saying, “Plan today for a better future tomorrow.”