The County Road Department is off to a fast start in 2013. Following is this years goals followed by the last 12 weeks YTD totals:

Tons of gravel — 160,000 tons, 46,722 tons

4"+ gravel/drainage improvement completed — 61.0 miles, 12.0 miles

Asphalt overlay, 4.0 miles

Chip ans Seal overlay 27.5 miles

Total feet of culverts 5,000 ft., 1,211 ft.

Chip and seal overlay and preparation work will begin on July 29, 2013.

The bridge has been completed on Round Springs Road off of Highway 9 West. A new box culvert was installed on Linn Creek Road off of Highway 110.

On Feb. 20, 2013, an announcement was made that Global Food Group was purchasing the former Volex building to renovate the building into a food manufacturing and freezer facility.

The estimated time line to renovate the building and start production is:

1) Two to three months to complete legal work, loan application, developing plans, and selecting construction contractors.

2) Four to five months, after initial planning stage, to renovate plant by:

A. Building a 30,000 square foot, below zero, freezer, by installing racks, walls, and refrigerator system, in the freezer.

B. Building a 10,000+ square foot manufacturing area with walls, 40 degree rooms and equipment.

C. Installing walls and refrigeration in dock area

3) Estimate start-up of production is to be in the fall. Starting with at least 50 employees and expanding to 225 employees within five years.

Some facts about Global Foods:

1) It is a subsidiary of Global Performance Group out of Cabot, Ark.

2) Global has sales and headquarters in Cabot, and a branch sales office in Memphis. They also lease a manufacturing plant in Georgia.

3) Products made and sold by Global Foods are retail sandwiches, quesadillas, tortillas, and burritoes. They will also package control brands of products such as chicken tenders, all types of potato products, southern vegetables, breads, rolls, and biscuits.

4) Global Foods customers are Associated Grocers, Super Value, Harps and Food Giant.

5) A selection of "Pick Five" products, made or packaged by Global Foods are now available in the freezer section at the Thriftway store in Clinton.

I believe that Global Foods will be a good community partner. I believe that with this partnership, our community will prosper.

Some local realtors tell me that sales of existing homes are picking up. I am seeing a few new homes under construction and remodeling beginning.

I understand that the home mortgage interest rate continues to be at near historical lows.

I see several new businesses opening up. Help support your local Van Buren County businesses and tell all of your "out of county" family and friends to visit our county in 2013 and check out our lake, beauty and businesses.

Recently, I signed a proclamation in commemorative of the 100-year anniversary of the Arkansas Department of Health. During those 100 years the average life span increased by 30 years from approximately 50 in 1913 to approximately 80 in 2013.

They feel that 25 of those 30 years was attributed to measures promoted by the Department of Health, such as:

1) Control of contagious disease

2) Immunization of children and adults

3) Preventing infant deaths by providing good prenatal care to expectant mothers

4) Assuring safer food and drinking water

5) Promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes

6) Better dental and oral health with fluoridating drinking water

The Department of Health can help answer your questions concerning health-related issues at 745-2483. Ozark Health Foundation can help answer questions concerning lifestyle behavior programs at 745-7004 Ext. 120, speak to Sara Bates. Regina Chaney at the Van Buren County Extension Office can provide information concerning health, nutrition, and exercise activities at 745-7117.

Van Buren County has an Early Weather Warning Alert System called Code Red. In the past year we have increased the number of households that have signed up from 1,500 to 2,400.

If you would like to sign up, call 745-3911 or 884-6004 and ask to sign up for Code Red Weather Alert. This service is at no cost to the residents.

Thank you and may God richly bless you and your family.

Roger Hooper

Van Buren County Judge