As the new decade rolls in, city officials in both Crossett and Hamburg are trying to roll new things in with it.
City officials in both cities say they really want to focus on creating more to do and bringing people to the area, especially after the Georgia Pacific layoffs of recent months.
Crossett Deputy Clerk Lisa Gulledge said that the sales tax for the city of Crossett fell a few thousand dollars in October as compared to prior years. Peggy Akers with Hamburg said the sales tax there is the same if not more and that they have not seen a decrease as of yet.
“We are going to do all we can to keep from making cuts, but we expect (our income) to drop and we have no way of predicting how much,” Gulledge said.
Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick said when the council passed the budget for 2020, there needed to be plenty of room to make adjustments as needed, but he didn’t want to make any unnecessary cuts.
“Crossett has seen tough times before and we know we will see them again, but Crossett has a way of getting through the hard times and so I know it can be done,” he said.
Crossett city councilwoman Crystal Marshall said the council is being extremely cautious with the way funds are being spent, but she is optimistic that Crossett is going to be okay.
“Crossett is a strong community with deep roots and storms may come, but our commitment to our community is a bond that cannot be broken,” Marshall said. “As long as we continue to work together there is no obstacle we cannot overcome and I believe great things are yet to come,” Marshall said.
City officials are encouraging people to shop local and participate in local events as much as they can.
“I think it’s important that we support each other and work together,” McCormick said.
The year will start off with a flag raising ceremony on Jan. 2 and a city-wide cleanup on Jan. 4. The American flag on Main Street had to be taken down for the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, but the flag will be returned to its post on Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. The city-wide cleanup will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park.
The month of January will end with what some locals call “banquet” season at the end of January and early February as several are already on the calendar.
The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hamburg Area Chamber of Commerce banquets are both at the end of January.
The Boys and Girls Club annual fundraiser banquet, the Ashley County Go Red banquet and the National Wildlife Turkey Federation banquets are all scheduled for February. More information on all of these banquets will be released in the coming weeks.
The Crossett Chamber of Commerce will partner with Keep Arkansas Beautiful in March for another city-wide cleanup day. Crossett Chamber Director Mandy White said that this will be the chamber’s second year to host the event.
The end of April will see Hamburg’s 50th World Famous Armadillo Festival, which Hamburg Chamber Director Georganna Cossey said is going to be bigger and better than ever.
“I hope that next time we talk I am able to give you specific details, but we have big plans for entertainment and a lot of really exciting new things in store,” Cossey said. “It’s our 50th so it’s going to be big,” she said.
The Armadillo Festival will roll over into May making the first weekend of May a big celebration in Hamburg. May will end with the Crossett Riding Club’s annual PRCA Rodeo. 2020 will be the Riding Club’s 72nd annual rodeo and the club’s second time to host it in May.
The opening date hasn’t been set in stone yet, but this will be Crossett’s first full summer with the new swimming pool and pool manager Sara Hollimon said she is working to fill the calendar with several events.
“We haven’t had a full season with it yet and we plan to have a lot of events there,” Marshall said. She also said the city is working to host a special Olympics event at the city pool as well.
Hollimon has also been working for several months and will continue to work on an event that will feature bicyclers from all over. Hollimon said the event, Tour De Pines, has the potential to attract more than a hundred cyclers and their guests to the area.
In June, the Crossett Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Buddy Bass Tournament, which is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Fisherman from across southeast Arkansas and northeast Louisiana travel to Crossett to fish for a chance to win big prizes. Last year the Crossett chamber gave away more than $15,000 in prizes.
Additionally, the monthly Farmer’s Market event will continue at the market each month.
Marshall said the city is also working with the state to bring in the Double-up Food Bucks program, which will allow vendors to accept food stamps. Marshall said the city would have more information to release on that soon.
The Crossett Library also hosts events weekly such as Lego days and poetry slams.
Marshall also said the city is working to revive the old City Auditorium. The complete plans are not available yet, but Marshall said hosting dueling pianos and other entertainers have been in the conversations.
Hollimon also plans to give away an award at the end of each month to a resident who loves Crossett. The award will be named after the legendary Janice Clark, who Hollimon said was known for her love of Crossett and dedication to the community.
Hollimon said she wants to encourage others to support the town and recognize those who go above and beyond for the community.
White said the Crossett Chamber would continue focusing on ways to improve the way Crossett does business and will continue their quarterly networking meetings.
The next meeting will be in February and White was still working on the final details.
The members typically have a breakfast or lunch gathering, which allows for business owners to come together to share ideas and discuss moving Crossett forward.
“We want to do everything we can to help our members and this networking breakfast has proved to be very useful in not only bringing businesses together, but helping business owners brainstorm and share ideas,” White said.
“Crossett businesses and the Crossett community have a lot to look forward to in 2020,” White said.