BY JACLYN ROSE AND MELANIE BUCK –
Mena Mayor George McKee is looking forward to a big year in 2015, improving the city with projects and purchases. One of the biggest projects will be a new road from Geyer Drive to Highway 71 North. The road will be placed between Sun Country Inn and Mena Ford and will extend to the west side of Holly Harshman Elementary. The new road will help with congestion, mainly from school traffic.
Accepting bids for the much anticipated streetscape project is also on the Mayor’s list of priorities for 2015. Funding for the project is from state grants and the amount spent will depend on the amount received. The Mayor hopes to install new lighting and finish the faux brick pavers and sidewalks from Maple Street to Highway 71 on Mena Street, which is being funded with a grant from the Highway Department. The streetscape project is something that has been in the works for several years, however, as the Mayor pointed out, there’s only so much money to spend.
The downtown arts district is blossoming and members of the district are applying for grants to help enhance streetscape features that are already in place.
Among items expected to be purchased in the new year are a new fire truck for Mena Fire Department, which is to be paid for with cash. They have a total of 5 engines now. Mena Police Department will receive a new police car and the city will get a new dump truck as well. Hopes to build a restroom facility and storage area at the soccer fields in Aubrey Tapley Park were also conveyed by the Mayor.
Mayor McKee said he is constantly working on bringing jobs to Mena, such as small manufacturing and retail, and say there are good prospects all the time.
McKee also said Mena is one of the few cities that sales tax is up every year. He commended citizens saying he is “very proud of their conscious effort to buy locally. We have to work hard to stay self-sufficient and that’s what keeps us going.”