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Nevada County Picayune-Times - Prescott, AR
  • State panel stays alive

  • A former state senator has been re-appointed to a state commission that had the bulk of its funding raided in the 2013 legislative session and is currently on fiscal life support.
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  • A former state senator has been re-appointed to a state commission that had the bulk of its funding raided in the 2013 legislative session and is currently on fiscal life support.
    Former state senator Wayne Dowd, of Texarkana, was re-appointed March 6 to the Red River Commission by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe.
    Dowd's new term will expire in 2021, which may be longer than the commission has to live, he noted in an interview.
    The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission has kept us alive,” Dowd said. “We got the appropriation in the last legislative fiscal session that will pay our operating expenses, if the money was appropriated.”
    The new funds, Dowd said, were in an appropriation amendment sponsored by State Senator Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, but Dowd was uncertain in what category in the final Revenue Stabilization Act language.
    Our secretary talked to the budget people in Little Rock and got some explanation that the money may not have come in,” he said. “Actually, I've quit worrying about it.”
    Dowd said ANRC Director Randy Young has been helpful in keeping the RRC afloat, but it appears that the major project which the commission was developing is likely dead.
    I think the navigation study is off the table,” Dowd said. “Part of our mission is to create economic development for Southwest Arkansas, and the navigation study was intended to do that.”
    He said Hickey has opposed the idea of continuing the study because he sees no realistic development coming from it.
    Hickey lead the effort to redirect the $10 million in funds which the RRC had developed over time, and divided it in the General Improvement Fund legislation in 2013 between the Cossatot College of the University of Arkansas in DeQueen and the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope.
    UACCH, subsequently, used the funds to further develop its outreach campus in Texarkana.
    We're not going to get the money to do that study,” Dowd said. “We had a $5 million commitment toward that study and we were about $750,000 short; but, it just isn't going to happen.”
    Page 2 of 2 - According to the mission statement of the RCC, it was established, “...to develop infrastructure for international transportation, creating economic development in Southwest Arkansas, Northeast Texas, Southeast Oklahoma and Northwest Louisiana by the continuation of Red River Navigation from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Index, Arkansas.”

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