Harrison wins Arkansas Shine Award
The City of Harrison has won its first Arkansas Shine Award from the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB) for outstanding environmental and community improvement efforts. KAB representatives presented the award to city officials today at a reception at Harrison’s Durand Center.
The Arkansas Shine Awards program recognizes communities that are making significant strides in providing programs and instituting policies to create sustainable communities. Harrison is one of six statewide recipients of the fourth annual Arkansas Shine Awards.
“Harrison is blessed with scenic natural surroundings and a picturesque downtown area. As the ‘Gateway to the Buffalo River’ and a convenient stop along travelers’ route to Branson, we have considerable opportunity and responsibility to preserve this beauty for residents and visitors,” wrote Mayor Jeff Crockett in Harrison’s Arkansas Shine Awards entry. “Expanded community partnerships, in addition to the city’s renewed dedication to community greening, have helped our city set higher standards and develop new attractions.”
Harrison’s award entry highlighted the efforts of one community initiative, the Central Organization for Revitalization and Enhancement (C.O.R.E.). This 100 percent volunteer organization works to engage community members to revitalize Harrison’s cultural, historical, social and entrepreneurial enterprises. Through concentrated efforts to preserve Harrison’s historic downtown business district and encourage tourism with various city festivals and events, C.O.R.E. has been successful in improving residents’ quality of life and attracting visitors and economic development.
“C.O.R.E. is a program that Harrison can really boast about,” Crockett wrote. “With the help of former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, this organization had mobilized our community to work together to make Harrison a thriving, sustainable urban environment. I feel the continued success of our ‘Friday on the Square’ events, weekend festivals and Farmers Market is evidence of C.O.R.E.’s achievements.”
Another unique community improvement effort featured in Harrison’s Shine Award entry is the development of the Harrison Skate Park, adjacent to the city’s Riverfront Park. Created in response to concerns about area teens’ use of an abandoned parking lot as a makeshift skate park, the Harrison Skate Park was developed with grant funding secured through the efforts of the Harrison City Council.
In partnership with area businesses and Shotcrete Skate Parks Inc., the city council and Harrison residents established a much safer skate park with well-constructed obstacles, barricades and ramps for local skateboarders to use. In addition to improving skater safety, the skate park has enhanced the appearance of the downtown area, attracted skateboarding meets and competitions, and helped the local economy.
“The City Council’s unique problem-solving has really created an excellent attraction for Harrison,” Crockett wrote in the awards entry. “Even businesses and residents who initially questioned whether this skate park was a worthwhile effort have been won over. Overhauling that dilapidated area has improved the appearance of our city, given our youth a unique gathering place and spurred community members to expand efforts to refurbish our downtown area.”
“KAB is eager to recognize the well-rounded efforts by communities – such as Harrison – all across the state and their commitment to civic improvement,” said Robert Phelps, director of KAB. “It takes dedicated leaders and volunteers in many organizations to keep towns clean and green, from litter prevention to recycling programs to beautification and community development.”
Arkansas Shine Awards entrants were evaluated and ranked using performance standards for 1) creating environmental initiatives to reduce litter, encourage recycling and enhance natural beauty; 2) positively impacting economic development; 3) developing public-private partnerships to accomplish goals; 4) securing project funding; and 5) attempting to enforce litter laws and city ordinances for property upkeep. One Arkansas Shine Award winner was named in each of several population categories, and a statewide Superstar Award was presented to one community that has already won two or more Shine Awards.