Editor’s Note: Each week in the month of July, Crossett’s mayoral candidates will each answer a question about an issue that has been posed by one of the other candidates. By participating in the print forum, the candidates get a chance to discuss issues that they think should be a priority while giving the public a chance to understand how they will approach leading the city. The answers are presented as written by the candidates. Candidate Crystal Marshall submitted this week’s question.
Question: Commitment to the community is vital for public servants to be effective. How have you personally demonstrated your commitment to our community and what have you done to show your support for Crossett over the last five years?
My commitment to Crossett goes much further back than the last five years. I do believe that public servants must be committed and available to be effective for their community. As my hometown of Crossett has experienced job losses and economic downturns, I have worked in various capacities in other towns around the country to provide a living for my family. Even when I was working out of town, I was available to help here in Crossett.
I lived here as much as possible and I missed the area when I was away, it’s my home. I am glad to have returned full-time and look forward to seeing what the future holds for Crossett.
As a native of Crossett, a father of six, and owner of Cosby’s Greenhouse and Garden Center I am committed to Crossett.
I am available to help with more than just landscaping and yard work for the residents of this community. I’m often called on to help with advice, counseling, and consulting. Having a diverse background, I get a wide variety of requests. I have numerous elderly who depend on me when they need a hand and I volunteer my time to help and enjoy being of service.
As a father, I’m active with the schools and available to help with events. With four children enrolled in the Crossett school system, I think it’s important to support their activities and help. I plant flowers and trees with the different classes and encourage the children to grow their knowledge of plants. Learning life processes helps children gain an understanding of the relationships between plants, bees, our earth and the impact that people have. Kids learn about more than math and English and it’s a reward that lasts and grows with them, helping them become better community members.
As a business owner who landscapes and sells plants, trees, and shrubs, I am honored to help beautify our community. I donate many of my services. I proudly sponsor our area groups. I donate products, trees, plants, and gift certificates to every fund raiser, auction, or event that I am asked to help sponsor.
I donate flowers for the Chamber of Commerce and am proud to be a supporting member. Cosby’s Greenhouse has been active and involved with the community for 40 plus years and I recently purchased our family business, further investing in the future of Crossett.
I’ve worked with Mayor Scott McCormick on many projects. We discussed planting trees on vacant lots, close to the alley way to allow fruit to be harvested and provide trees for future homeowners should the lot be developed. Upkeep was a concern. A Community Orchard with a garden area would make it easier to care for the fruit trees. The maintenance and upkeep would be easier keeping them together. This became a reality this year. I donated many fruit trees and berry bushes to start the Community Orchard and I hope to see this project grow.
The Covid pandemic caught many people off guard and resulted in limited availability of staple products. Gardens and produce were on people’s minds. Finances kept many from raising a garden. I helped by donating vegetable plants, seeds, and garden supplies to several families, so they were able to grow a garden. I distributed through recommendations of Phoenix Youth and Family services, produce and dairy boxes provided by The Farmers to Families program as well as helping with food distribution through The First United Methodist Church.
I look forward to serving you as Mayor and will work hard to better our Community.
On any given day, you will see me with a shovel, hedge clippers, trash bag and gator gripper, clipboard and calendar, Sunday School planner and Bible, lifeguard whistle and buoy, and the list goes on...because I do what it takes to enhance Crossett. This is my commitment. One linked to drive, energy, action, compassion, community, faith and love. And this commitment cannot be measured in something as limiting as year increments.
Since Crossett offers everything that bigger cities cannot or do not, (familiarity, trust, morals, compassion), I feel obligated to do whatever is in my abilities to make sure she exists tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow and so on. Crossett is a vital part of the moral backbone to our country. Yes, little bitty Crossett IS that important.
Since moving back in 2017 I have done more than three year’s worth of work, even more than most people here (in key positions mind you) have done in five years, for Crossett, and I will not stop no matter the outcome of this election. Because my passion and fighting spirit for Crossett is not just some campaign game.
I have substituted in our elementary and pre-k schools, taught Sunday School to First United Methodist Church youth, managed the Crossett City Pool, started and continued a weekly litter patrol along Main, Cedar and MLK, created an outlet for our arts community through the monthly Crafters Fair at the Crossett Farmers Market and our ongoing “Paint the Town” event that started with storm drains and is moving into wall murals, helped clean up Centennial Park, created a massive revenue building tradition with the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Block Party, brought attention to the Clemmie Wimberly and Casey Jones Athletic Park and got it cleaned up then planted the seeds to get wiffle ball and kickball tournaments there, done work to get us on the “Delta to the Timbers SouthEast Arkansas Barn Quilt Trail, formed a board to oversee and do fundraising efforts and repairs at our Historical Crossett Municipal Auditorium, brought more life to the Wiggins Cabin Festival by organizing and executing the Weenie Dog Races and getting the award winning UAM Lumberjack Team to come perform, helped Friends of the Crossett Community build membership and raise money for a splash pad, joined Destination: Ashley (a tourism group dedicated to attracting people to our region), hosted Teen Night at the Crossett City Pool that, should COVID mandates allow, will happen for a second year and that will evolve to add Tween Night this year. Partnered with a group in the Pine Bluff area who plan to start a YouTube channel showcasing ads that welcome people to our corner of the world.
All of these efforts made possible by my God given gift of empowering people to step forward and do the work it takes to raise a town’s morale and then push forward into increasing community pride and eventually into welcoming newcomers to come enjoy what WE have done.
To minimize my efforts into a five year span, even though I have only been back home for three, would put a limit on them and my efforts are absolutely limitless.
The thinking behind them has evolved from one driven by a narrow definition of success linked to things like revenue to one driven by an all encompassing definition that says if it affects Crossett neighbors positively it is worth it. If we make ourselves wholesomely happy at home, everything else will fall into place.
Community involvement is important, not only because it shows a person’s commitment, but also because it’s an excellent way to connect with our town. My passion and dedication to our city began long before my decision to run for mayor.
With five years of commitment, Junior Auxiliary was my springboard into the community, paving the way for me to pay-it-forward by helping with Angel-Tree and other “giving back” activities.
I began attending city council meetings regularly to learn more about our home-town, and my quest to become an informed citizen continued as a member of the existing council approached me to run for an opening position. My desire to learn more and help our community motivated me to run.
As a newly elected councilperson it was extremely important that I learn about the responsibilities of the position. This led me to spend time with each department to learn more about what they do. By participating in a ride-along with the police, donning turnout gear, participating in smokehouse training with firefighters, taking a tour with the public works director, and regularly working with our deputy clerk/treasurer to educate myself in municipal finances; I began to become in tune with the citizens as well as city workers. I read our municipal codebook and committed to all training available at a state level, becoming a certified municipal official through the Arkansas Municipal League with over 40 hours of training. Knowledge is power and being a public official is a huge responsibility.
The more involved I became in city affairs, the more dedicated I became to identify small needs — like the bathrooms in the park — and do what was needed to see that our citizens had functioning facilities. Additionally, I helped a resident establish a disc golf course at no cost to our tax payers.
I learned of funds the late Representative Lampkin secured for the EC Youth Center that had gone forgotten. I discovered the entire area was in desperate need of repairs. Together with a team from the youth center, we were able to install new playground equipment, fencing, pavilion, and repair a safety issue in the building where a beam had fallen. There is still work to be done, but now we can see gatherings in a safe building, children playing, or enjoying a party at the pavilion.
I eagerly joined the team working to restore the city pool, as their council rep and a volunteer. After years of work, the pool is open again; I look forward to future projects as Crossett works towards expansions around the pool and tennis area.
My commitment also expands to our schools, as my fourth-grade twins have been Eagles since Kindergarten. I served at the hospitality tents and painted signs for the football playoffs; but our Eagle spirit carries on even after the last touchdown. I worked to organize a send off for the Lady Eagle basketball team who went on to represent Crossett in the post-season.
My school involvement list is long and includes everything from CLC-PTO President to bookfair cashier. I go wherever I am needed most.
Even when the task isn’t considered “fun,” I remain dedicated. A great example would be the necessity of rewriting our personnel handbook to get us in legal compliance. Together with a team of our department heads and accountant, we spent many hours tackling these issues head on.
Whether it’s dedicating my hours to help the city solve issues, working at the food pantry, volunteering in church by serving on their finance committee, volunteering at project graduation or Special Olympics, supporting the Level Up mentor group, or simply cheering for our sports teams, I believe participating is important.
As mayor, my commitment to lead by example is at the forefront. I want my passion for our community and positivity to be contagious.
My involvement with the community has been an extremely rewarding blessing allowing me to meet and work with so many of our wonderful people. Maybe we’ve worked together on a project, but if not, I know there will be many opportunities for us to team up for our community in the future.
I hope that you will reach out (870-415-0014) with any questions, concerns or ideas that you have because I truly believe that Together We Can!
This week’s question asks how vital commitment is to the community for a public servant and how each candidate has personally demonstrated that commitment in the last five years. I think it is crucial to note that each of the five candidates has shown true commitment by even throwing their hat in the ring of this mayoral election discussion. To each of you, I tip that hat. Each candidate has a different knack or ability to shine and I think we all want a better Crossett.
How we get there is certainly a different path.
Personally, mine goes much further back than five years. I have been a long time resident and have made Crossett my home for longer than most of the other candidates. I have been promoting our town since 1989, when I came to work for Georgia Pacific. One of my first endeavors was to promote people into management positions and then to look outward to entice people from other areas to come to our town for work and a new life. I have always wanted Crossett to shine, for personal reasons, but also wanted a great place for others that were relocating, to get excited about Crossett as well.
I was elected to the Crossett City Council, Ward 2, Position 2 in November 2018. My two-year term started in January 2019. I have been a very dedicated public servant. If you have ever attended a city council meeting, you are probably already aware of the fact that I am the person that will ask questions and the one that will challenge the outcome for the sake of the citizens of Crossett. I have served on the Crossett Sewer Commission Committee as co-chair with Mr. Spainhour. This was not an easy task to push the issue of our sewer system, but Crossett voted to pass the tax that was much needed to resolve this issue and will help us grow the industrial park with business expansion. I have served on the Parks and Recreation Committee as the City Council’s representative and was involved in the revamp of the Crossett City Pool. This has taken many citizens and all of our commitment to get where we are today with these projects. The pool is such an asset to our children in the community. My family has certainly enjoyed many days at the pool. As your city councilman, I have raised the awareness of the depilated homes in our city. I certainly pushed this issue until we finally started removing these properties. There are many more that need to be addressed. As your mayor, this is something I am passionate about to bring pride back to our town and to get these places removed and cleaned up.
As bad as it was to see our zoo closed, we then allowed it to turn into a disaster area. I began pushing to get this area cleaned up so that we could restore some sort of normalcy to our citizens and business owners in that area. We just can’t let our properties get this bad before we decide to act. A council member should not have to bring it up numerous times before finally getting something done. I also worked with the Louisiana Purchase Garden and Zoo Director in an effort to donate our bird sanctuaries and cages to this prestigious establishment as opposed to scraping them and sending them to the landfill. We are finally getting the very basic things done that should be daily expectations.
My family has always been committed to Crossett and has shown support financially and physically. My candidacy will come with more than my personal effort. It will also come with spousal support that is involved in our community as well. My wife, Dianna, has been involved in many aspects of Crossett also. She is currently serving her second term as a board member of the Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce and is the past president of Crossett Junior Auxiliary. We have always been very actively involved in community projects, fundraisers and cleaning up Crossett.
As a business owner, we have been proud to attend banquet after banquet, buying those sponsor tables and showing the support for our community. We have been a member of the Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce for years. We have shown our support numerous times at the Buddy Bass Tournaments, Christmas in Crossett, Rodeo Round-up, and whatever current project the Chamber is involved in.
Last year Premier Realty Group brought back the Crossett Yard of the Month and added Business Yard of the Month. I am enormously proud of this and enjoy highlighting the citizens and businesses in our community that work so hard to make a difference with the appearance of Crossett.
My family and I have always utilized Crossett’s family arenas. Whether it be bowling, the park, the pool, hunting, fishing, our ball parks or school system. True commitment is being involved in our community, whether it be coaching baseball and basketball with the children or racing soap box derby cars with the Boy Scouts. Being ingrained in our community is the true commitment. I have always enjoyed what Crossett had to offer but, like many, am not happy with the path we have taken. This is why I decided not to set back any longer and joined the council. As your mayor, I will move Crossett forward and work hard on rebuilding the trust and pride that we have lost. Please remember, it’s not about me, it’s about US!
The question posed to the Candidates for this week is a little confusing. The person asking the question and the other three candidates all know my wife and I moved back to Crossett in May 2018 after a 16-year absence. We sold our home here in November 2002 and completed our move to Ruston, La., at that time. Two years later we moved to Houston, Texas, after Sandy’s father passed away and became the caregivers of her mother for the next 14 years.
Add to this the fact I still had a business in Cypress, Texas, that only ended this past March. I traveled each Monday to Houston and back on Friday to run my business, so the question, “what have you done for the City lately” will come up rather short for me. So, let’s go back to the Roaring 90’s!
Our family moved to Crossett on Dec. 7, 1989 as I became the pastor of the First Baptist Church on Main Street. Sandy would later teach at both Anderson Elementary and Daniel Middle Schools. Our son and daughter both graduated from Crossett High School in 2000 and 2002. We attended a lot of sporting events, dance recitals and other community events during those years. But if it’s a list of “what have you done for me lately,” let me give you a list.
* I was an active member of what was then a robust Ministerial Alliance.
* I filmed the varsity football games when Ed Johnson was the head coach, not because I wanted to miss being in the stands with my wife, but because I liked Ed and wanted to help him. Billy Gammel, Steve Sanders and Dennis Maxwell would drive with me to all the away games. Billy was the statistician, Steve worked for the Ashley News Observer and Dennis, of course, did the radio play-by-play.
* Our church started feeding all the teachers and staff of the Crossett Public Schools on the first day of their pre-school meetings. This began in 1995 with the high school only, then we branched out to the entire district the next year. Barbara Gates was the superintendent at that time and was a member of our church. During the 90’s we determined that 23 percent of all the School District employees were members of First Baptist. Mrs. Gates knew well that I was a strong supporter of her and the Crossett Public Schools.
* I was the pastor for two of our mayors, Bill Finch and Scott McCormick.
* Quite a few of the Crossett Police and Firefighters came to our Church. Some were members, but many others attended quite often.
* One might say my greatest accomplishment as far as the city was concerned is that I promoted the town to all the new people who moved here and visited our church. I was and am a big advocate for Crossett since having grown up in a small town and lived in several others.
Crossett is to me the best place we’ve ever lived. I have great memories of the people I pastored, the friends I made on the golf course, the families I ministered to through tragedy and heartache and the many business owners I came to love and appreciate over those years.
We can focus so much on “what have you done” and miss the greatest question of all which is, “what can you do if you become mayor.” The only promise I will make to the citizens of Crossett is that I will work hard and listen even harder. I’ve been working since the age of 12 and will continue working until Jesus takes me home. For Him and for you, I will give all I have.