Faulkner County Leadership Institute tabs two for honors

By Tammy Keith Published October 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Eilish Palmer / Contributing Photographer

Brad Lacy, president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corp., stands with the site plan unveiled this month for Central Landing, a mixed-use development that will be built on the 151-acre current airport property once a new airport opens. He said the first phase of retail should open in November 2017. The Dan Nabholz Award will be presented to Lacy by the Faulkner County Leadership Institute at its Nov. 11 banquet in Conway.

— Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson of Conway was power-washing the sidewalks on the courthouse grounds Monday while other employees were off work for the Columbus Day holiday.

“It’s my release, and I enjoy it, working hands-on,” Dodson said.

He was hands-on March 29 when the Exxon Mobile pipeline burst in a Mayflower subdivision, spilling an estimated 210,000 gallons of crude oil. He and other officials worked to block the oil from reaching Lake Conway.

Dodson, 47, will be honored Nov. 11 with the Faulkner County Leadership Institute Leadership Award. It is given to a nongraduate of the program.

The Dan Nabholz Award, given to a graduate of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute, will be presented to Brad Lacy of Conway, president and CEO of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and Conway Development Corp.

Kathy Wyrick, special projects coordinator for the leadership institute, said the men are worthy recipients.

“They both are clear leaders in many areas,” she said.

“It is such an honor,” Dodson said. “FCLI is such a fixture here and such an impressive organization with so many impressive people.”

“I didn’t quiz them on it,” he said, but he believes he was nominated and selected for the award in part for his work during the Exxon oil spill.

Dodson is leader of the Mayflower Incident Unified Command, which was set up in response to the spill.

He said two-thirds of the affected areas are out of the emergency-response phase and in remediation.

The final third is the Northwoods subdivision, where the pipeline ruptured.

“We’re actively working to complete the response phase of that,” he said.

Exxon purchased two homes and destroyed them. The slabs and soil will be removed, he said, and the sites filled with uncontaminated soil.

“The neighborhood is still under emergency response, so it’s still under unified command,” he said.

He said an additional reason he may have been nominated for the award is “coming in and trying to soothe some of the political difficulties, … maybe help move past some things,” he said.

The Faulkner County Quorum Court chose Dodson to fill the position Jan. 31 after former County Judge Preston Scroggin resigned to become director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.

“For Allen, it’s everything,” Wyrick said. “He was born in Faulkner County; he grew up here. It’s a leadership award, and it’s not just the leadership from the last couple of months. He was in the Navy; he’s an attorney.

“Besides the huge projects that many are aware of, he has dedicated countless hours on evenings and weekends to improving the courthouse. He doesn’t do this for the recognition; he does it not only to save the county money but also to ensure our courthouse represents our area in the best way possible.”

Dodson is also overseeing construction of the Faulkner County Justice Building, an $11 million-plus project set to open by March.

The 75,000-square-foot facility will house seven courtrooms; offices for the five circuit judges and their staffs, and the prosecuting attorney and his staff; the hot-check and victims-services divisions; and the juvenile court organization.

The facility will also serve as an outpost for the county and circuit clerks. Dodson has said it will “modernize the court system.”

He was county attorney before he was named county judge. He is a member of the Conway Rotary Club, through which he attended the Jeff Farris Leadership Academy, a year-long commitment.

A commissioned officer in the Navy, he is on the board of directors for the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas and teaches Sunday School at Gold Creek Baptist Church.

Lacy, 41, a 1999 graduate of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute, was selected for the Dan Nabholz Award.

It is presented to a graduate of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute program who has exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities and dedication to the community.

“I was completely shocked. It’s all a little surreal to me,” Lacy said of the honor.

Lacy is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Lacy and the Conway Development Corp., in partnership with Jim Wilson & Associates of Alabama, plan to develop approximately 150 acres in Conway, the city’s current airport site. The pair submitted a bid of $6.1 million for the property.

An airport being constructed in the Lollie Bottoms is set to open in August, and the current airport will be decommissioned.

Lacy said the proposed development, which will be called Central Landing, will include major retail stores, restaurants, offices and multifamily properties.

He said the project will be “transformational” for the city.

The Conway City Council has approved building a $6 million, four-lane overpass from Elsinger Boulevard in the Conway Commons shopping center over Interstate 40 to the old airport property, tying into Bruce Street.

That project can’t start until the airport is relocated, but construction on the overpass is estimated to start in 2015. It will be paid for with a one-fourth-cent city sales tax for capital improvements.

Wyrick said although Lacy was integral in bringing Hewlett-Packard into Conway, his award represents much more.

“I think with Brad, obviously, it’s not one thing because he’s been involved in economic development for many years, and he took over the chamber in 2006,” Wyrick said. “It’s everything from the Meadows Technology Park to Hewlett-Packard and Central Landing, and everything he’s done for Conway and Faulkner County and even the state.”

Lacy said he couldn’t solely take credit for those accomplishments.

“I think the biggest accomplishment is probably one people don’t necessarily see, but they see the results of it. I know how to put together exceptional teams,” he said.

“Stuff people associate with me is putting together a team to make it happen, sometimes paid, sometimes volunteer.”

Lacy said many times it’s “figuring out where those talents lie.”

He was 27 and working for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in Little Rock in 1999, living in Conway and a member of the Faulkner County Leadership Institute class when he accepted the job as head of Conway Development Corp.

Dan Nabholz, of Conway, for whom the award is named, is a founder of the leadership institute.

Lacy is also a graduate of the Community Development Institute, the Economic Development Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management. He is a graduate of the Leadership Greater Little Rock Class of 2004.

The Faulkner County Leadership Institute annual Recognition and Graduation Banquet will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at the former Agora Special Events & Conference Center, 705 E. Siebenmorgen Road in Conway.

Advance-only tickets are $30 each and may be purchased at the office of Michelle Phillips, CPA, 306 Salem Road, Suite 101. Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted for ticket purchases. Tickets will not be sold at the door and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact Kathy Wyrick at fclialumni@gmail.com, call (501) 697-7577 or visit facebook.com/FCLIonline.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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