Walnut Ridge/Hoxie page aims to educate

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – Presenting facts without fear-mongering is what a new Facebook page aims to do, regarding the potential for consolidation between Walnut Ridge and Hoxie.

Walnut Ridge Hoxie Consolidation Facts is the name of the new page. The page, aimed at presenting facts about consolidating the twin cities of Lawrence County, discusses various questions, concerns and issues related to consolidation.

The page was created by Walnut Ridge Alderman Jon Walter, who chaired a recent committee which ultimately recommended a vote on solidating the two towns. After NEA Report published a story on the committee, Walter said many of the social media comments contained misinformation and his group wanted to combat that.

“One of the shares from your original story had over 400 comments in just a day, and we realized reading some that there was some misinformation,” Walter told NEA Report. “Our committee thought it would be good to start the page and try to release a few facts that we’ve been studying. Start a dialog, answer as many questions as we can.”

One post discusses how currently, Walnut Ridge is the 17th “first class city” (over 2,500 people) in NEA. Hoxie is 24th. However, combining both would make Walnut Ridge-Hoxie* the 11th largest city in NEA.

Another post discusses how wards might be made up, whether in a four-ward or five-ward scenario, and how Hoxie would be represented on the consolidated council. The post says a four-ward breakdown would give Hoxie one full ward, Walnut Ridge two, and the remainder would presumably be split.

Additionally, there is discussion of the phrase “hostile takeover,” a quote coined by exacerbated Hoxie Mayor Lanny Tinker, who accused the Walnut Ridge leadership of attempting to “takeover” Hoxie without discussing the matter with Tinker beforehand.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp stated this was not the case and the two had, at Tinker’s prompting, discussed consolidation from the moment Snapp was elected. Tinker later told NEA Report he didn’t recall that conversation. He did remember, “a brief conversation sometime in mid-16, but I stated very specifically Hoxie would know our stability by late 2018 and I wanted no publicity until late 2018.”

“How did that work out?” Tinker asked. “He called me after he formed a committee and announced at their council meeting on TV before he called me.”

Despite the personal disagreements between mayors, the plan for the consolidation page is to follow the lead of Joe Friday from Dragnet – “just the facts.”

“We will try to put something up each day,” Walter said.

*Walnut Ridge-Hoxie is a presumed name for the combined cities. The actual name would be decided on by vote at the same time as the consolidation vote.  

By Stan Morris | Twitter | e-mail | Facebook

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