Newport officials have sent in an application to a 22 person task force, created by the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs, hoping Newport will be chosen as the next destination for a new veterans home.
The task force was created to replace an old facility in Little Rock that was closed last summer after failing building and code inspections. If chosen as the site for the new home, according to NEDC Executive Director Jon Chadwell, Newport would gain 250 good paying jobs and there would be room for 150 residents in the facility. Minimum requirements for the new home include being located on a minimum of 20 acres (which they would like to be donated), easy public access and proximity to health care and medical facilities. "So we put together an application for the home that includes the former Newport Hospital site," said Chadwell. "Harris Hospital will donate the 20 acres that's right there, with or with out the building." Chadwell says they treated the opportunity like any other kind of industry that was going to come in create 250 jobs and went to their incentive guide and were willing to offer 1.25 million dollars as incentive to build the structure here. As far as the design of the facility the task force is still discussing but so far the idea of several cottages, like in Rison, has been discussed as they feel that it would encourage a more family or home type atmosphere as opposed to the typical hospital type environment for veterans. According to Chadwell, nearly 40 others counties submitted their applications and the task force will be looking to trim that down to about three or five within the next month. Chadwell says that if the facility is built here it will offer several nursing jobs, physical therapist, doctors and things of that nature and would be a perfect fit for our community. "They will have jobs where it will be easy for people who graduate form Newport or Tuckerman to go to ASU-Newport or ASU-Jonesboro and get their nursing degree and qualify for a job that will pay well and offer good benefits," Said Chadwell." "We can retain some of our younger people and give them the opportunity to get a good job."