Each new year often brings with it plans for a fresh start or positive changes.
Community leaders are no different when it comes to setting goals for the coming year to continue building on the previous year's successes.
Mayor Pat McCabe listed a variety of goals he hopes to see the community achieve in the new year, including completing the vision of repurposing the Majestic Hotel site, which the city owns. On Nov. 15, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of remediation at the site. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality presented the city with a certificate of completion that guarantees the property is free of contaminants, which allows it to be redeveloped without apprehensions about environmental liabilities.
McCabe said he also hopes the city will come to a positive resolution in securing Lake DeGray as a future water source for the area, seek opportunities for continued improvement in public transportation, improve area roads and infrastructure, and continue to develop "quality of place" for the area.
Eric Jackson, senior vice president of Oaklawn Racing & Gaming and commissioner for the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission, said he also hopes Hot Springs can identify and rally around the best use of the Majestic Hotel property in 2019.
"It is our gateway to downtown, the soul of our community," he said. "Whatever ultimately goes there needs to be outstanding."
Along similar lines, Jackson said he hopes 2019 brings "great construction weather" for both the new exhibit hall at Mid-America Science Museum, which is scheduled for completion by Labor Day, and for the $100 million expansion at Oaklawn, "which will attract thousands of additional visitors and create hundreds of new jobs for our community."
He also said he hopes to see the old St. Joseph's Hospital razed as "it's a promise we made 25 years ago and something that is going to truly enhance one of our finest assets in Hot Springs -- the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts."
Jackson said he hopes to see McCabe and incoming County Judge Darryl Mahoney "develop a mutually beneficial working relationship."
"They are both outstanding gentlemen, and our community has always benefited the most when we work together the best," he said.
National Park College President John Hogan said that, looking back on 2018, he sees it as a year in which a strong foundation was laid for the greater Hot Springs area.
"I just can't help but feel optimism and encouragement by the number and magnitude of developments throughout the community," he said. "There are significant downtown developments that represent only the beginning for Bathhouse Row. Several school districts are involved with construction projects which will lead to improved learning opportunities for county students. National Park College is also in the midst of building both literally and figuratively with the goal of providing even more for our students in 2019."
For NPC, 2018 brought about finalized construction plans for a new front entrance and Student Commons facility, which will be the flagship of campus and the first visible representative of the college's landscape.
"It represents NPC's character as a college -- that we put students first. Construction on this facility is expected to conclude before August 2019," he said.
In addition, the construction of a new Marine Technology lab facility will enable the expansion of several campus programs, and the construction of residence halls, if it comes to fruition, he said, will offer housing to students beginning in the fall 2020 semester.
The college also has plans to add to its extracurricular opportunities, and perhaps more significant, he said, expand its degree programs.
"This includes ambitious plans to implement a permanent university center through which students can earn their bachelor's and other advanced degrees from partnering institutions," Hogan said, adding the new facilities on campus will allow for increased classroom space to facilitate this initiative.
"We are striving to do our part to make our community better," he said. "I am personally very grateful for all of the support we receive from the community. We are blessed with an outstanding faculty and staff who move these objectives forward."
The college's next-door neighbor, Mid-America Science Museum, will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2019. Diane LaFollette, its executive director, said "our resolution is to have a fantastic year remembering and commemorating all the remarkable people and events that helped to make the museum a success."
Hot Springs Police Chief Jason Stachey said each year he sits down with his command staff to discuss the previous year's accomplishments and plan out his department's goals for the coming year. Then, he sends these goals out to the entire Hot Springs Police Department so everyone is on the same page.
"Speaking from the larger big picture, we want to continue our proactive enforcement strategy," he said.
Stachey said that, first and foremost, reducing crime in the community is always a goal of HSPD, and this is done through special operations teaming up with the department's own drug task force as well as other agencies.
Second would be switching the department over to the Arkansas Wireless Information Network communication system as well as the enhancement of the communication center.
"We also will continue with the teen and citizens police academies," Stachey said. "That increases our communication with citizens so they have a better understanding of what we do every day."
Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick said he's looking forward to 2019 and has every reason to believe it will be a great year. While he said he typically doesn't make resolutions, he is a goal-oriented person and has similar goals for his department and promoting the safety of residents and visitors to the county.
"The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on progress made, or not made -- both personally and professionally -- and make adjustments," he said. "My goals for the Garland County Sheriff's Department continue to be that we provide the residents of and visitors to Garland County with the best possible service, that we perform our duties professionally and competently, that we make sound decisions in stressful situations and especially that all the deputies remain safe.
"My goal for Garland County as a whole is that we all work together for its betterment and that we do this in a respectful way despite our differences."
County Judge Rick Davis chose in February not to seek re-election, and as outgoing county judge, he said he has been extremely busy trying to wind things down and has not had time to think about 2019 resolutions or expectations on a personal level. However, he said he does have some thoughts as a private citizen on what he would like to see happen in the years to come for the community.
"I would like to see better open communications between city and county government," he said. "We should be working together for the best interest of the taxpayer of Garland County, which includes Hot Springs, and not the best interest of one government entity or the other. We both supply services to the residents of this community."
Davis said he would also like to see continued progress with road and bridge infrastructure, and public health and safety.
"We have only scratched the surface of what really needs to be completed," he said. "I truly believe that a good solid infrastructure along with quality of life are critical to economic development growth and prosperity in any community. We have a lot to offer in Garland County and Hot Springs. Let's keep our community grounded with good projects for future progress."
The outgoing official said he would also like to see efforts placed on producing good job opportunities for the citizens of Garland County and Hot Springs.
"We have always been a tourist retirement destination which is great, but we also need to be more diversified with job opportunities," he said.
Joyce Whitfield, executive director of the Hot Springs Area Community Foundation, summed up the collective group's hopes for the community, keeping her thoughts short and sweet.
"My hope for Hot Springs and Garland County for 2019 is for continued progress in working together for improvements to the quality of life offered to our current citizens, along with more new folks who relocate to our area," she said.
Local on 01/01/2019
Print Headline: Leaders outline goals, hopes for Garland County in 2019