To the outside world, Newport is just another small town on the map of Arkansas. But to the residents of this small town, as a part of this rural county, Newport is our world. Newport is home to people’s achievements, failures, heartaches and hope for the future.
As Newport reflects on 2017, it is impossible not to feel sadness and continued mourning for decades. The tragic death of Detective Patrick Weatherford left behind a young widow, a young son, and a police force trying to gut through the grief, as well as maintain order, protecting and serving. Death has a finality that leaves a forever hole in the hearts of loved ones. Newport is not the only town suffering. This wonderful nation has fallen into extreme despair through undeniable lack of value for human life. The one thing that is certain, Newport survives.
Mayor David Stewart took time to sit and talk about the positive things happening in the community. The Veteran’s Memorial was completed this year and dedicated with record numbers in attendance. The New Vision class took on projects such as sidewalk cleanup, with help from the residents of New Life. Also, the Gazebo downtown is a nice contribution to the empty lot on Front Street.
The Recycling Center remains a huge success. The center is manned with female inmates from Arkansas Department of Corrections. The paper shredders run all day. The ladies can either do the task or anyone is allowed to use the temperature controlled space themselves. It is important to note that documents are not left overnight for security reasons, therefore the center will not take more than can be disposed of in one day.
Newport hosts three major events per year. In February, the annual art show, which features artist from all over Arkansas and surrounding states, draws a wonderful crowd. In June, Portfest changed location to downtown and was enjoyable for the entire family. In October, Newport celebrates Depot Days. The new amphitheater on Front Street hosts various entertainers and is a wonderful way to usher in Fall.
The City of Newport tore down and cleaned up 31 dilapidated buildings, homes, and lots. The lots become property of the city and are available for purchase. Secondly, the city now picks up all trash including articles that do not fit in bags. City notification is not necessary, but is appreciated when miscellaneous articles need picked up. The Leaf Vacuum is a wonderful contribution to the lives of residents. No longer is it necessary to bag leaves. Now, leaves can be racked to the edge of the street and the city has a vacuum.
Summer means the anticipation of mosquitoes. Most residents remember a time when those pesky biters were much worse, but today are a slightly smaller annoyance. The city now has a system which includes traps in various locations within city limits to monitor the amounts of mosquitos. The trucks, six in all, spray in accordance with the numbers. The window to spray each evening is limited to about two hours, therefore that number of trucks are important for optimal coverage. Interesting to know, the spray is an all-natural product containing the oil of the chrysanthemum flower and the fog is a result of mineral oil. “A person could literally put it on their food and be safe,” states Mayor David Stewart.
There are many good things happening in Newport. It takes the right perspective, unending hope, unwavering faith and lots of hard work by everyone. This community is great!