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RIVER VALLEY NOTEBOOK: Cross to seek 2nd county judge term | Work progressing on new T-hangars | Airport gets grant from rescue fund

by Jeannie Roberts | November 7, 2021 at 2:42 a.m.

Cross to seek 2nd county judge term

Ben Cross, county judge of Pope County, announced that he will seek reelection to a second term.

"It has been a privilege to serve the citizens of Pope County and I would be honored to serve another term in a role that has oversaw the complete modernization and transformation of county government," Cross said in a news release. "In what has been a unique and collaborative effort among all county elected officials, we have collectively assimilated a 'team' approach to solving problems and providing more efficient services to our residents."

During his first term of office, Cross saw everything from a historic 500-year flood, multiple natural disasters to the covid-19 pandemic.

Cross also acknowledged the difficult task of handling a casino issue that sharply divided the county's residents.

"In assuming a constitutional office, one must act on constitutional issues, regardless of personal sentiment," Cross said. "My wife and I both opposed a casino in Pope County, but my position mandates certain requirements that I must legally honor, and I upheld that requirement by selecting a vendor who would provide the most economic benefit to our county, while proving they would be the most professional business partner to the community."

Cross spent 30 years in law enforcement, retiring as assistant troop commander for the Arkansas State Police. He also served three consecutive terms on the Pope County Quorum Court.

Cross is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Desert Sabre during the Persian Gulf War.

Work progressing on new T-hangars

The foundation work on the new T-hangar projection is nearly complete, Conway Regional Airport Director Jack Bell announced.

The building has been delivered and should be erected after the foundation is complete. The project is still set for a late November completion date.

All of the additional spaces have been reserved. The waiting list is at 41.

Progress is also being made on the maintenance hangar project, Bell said. The building slab has been laid, and the parking lot is under construction.

The building should arrive in mid-December, and the project is targeted for completion in mid- to late February.

Airport gets grant from rescue fund

The Conway Regional Airport was recently awarded a $59,000 grant from the Airport Rescue Grant fund.

The money will be used for operations, personnel, debt service, janitorial services and sanitizing areas.

Conway Corp gets 2 national awards

Conway Corp's marketing/communications department was recently recognized with two awards by the American Public Power Association during the recent Excellence in Public Power Communications Awards ceremony.

Conway Corp received the Award of Excellence in the print/digital category for its 2020 annual report titled, "Powering Through Together." The report, with production led by marketing/communications manager Beth Jimmerson, was designed to demonstrate the ways Conway Corp took care of the community during the challenges of 2020.

The video category saw the company honored with the Award of Merit for its "Always On" video series. The three-video series highlights the company's commitment to serving Conway. Conway Corp marketing staff worked with advertising agency Eric, Rob and Isaac to produce the campaign.

Retired general to speak at Tech

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Gary W. Johnston will be the featured speaker at the 2021 Arkansas Tech University College of Business Fall Ethics Conference on Wednesday.

Johnston will speak at noon in the Doc Bryan Student Services Center Lecture Hall at 1605 Coliseum Drive in Russellville.

Admission will be free and open to the public; face coverings are required. The speech can be viewed online at

Johnston received his bachelor of science degree in business from Arkansas Tech in 1987. He completed the U.S. Army ROTC program there and was commissioned as an officer. His career spanned more than 34 years.

Johnston was inducted into Arkansas Tech's Hall of Distinction in May 2019.

Johnston took part in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Joint Endeavor, Enduring Freedom and Freedom's Sentinel.

McPhate receives promotion at bank

First Community Bank recently announced that Janet McPhate was promoted to assistant vice president branch manager at the bank's downtown Conway location.

With 31 years of banking experience, McPhate will be responsible for overseeing the operations at the branch while managing resources and the staff as well as customer engagement.

"I am thrilled to join a strong community bank with such a focus on its customers and people," McPhate said. "The bank is growing and investing in the Conway community and planting roots to be a community banking partner for generations to come."

McPhate earned her associate of arts degree in administrative services from the University of Central Arkansas. She is also a graduate of the Arkansas Institute of Banking.

$200,606 raised for Tech projects

Signature Weekend of Giving 2021, a fundraising effort led by the Arkansas Tech University Division of Advancement for the Arkansas Tech University Foundation, raised $200,606.08 in support of student access and student success during homecoming weekend.

Alumni, parents, faculty and staff members, students and friends of the institution made 690 gifts in support of such causes as the Fight On Fund, various colleges, scholarships and extracurricular activities.

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