Archives for January 2013

New Member — Ozark Opportunities, Inc.










The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome Ozark Opportunities, Inc. as it’s newest Chamber Member.

Ozark Opportunities, Inc.(“OOI”) was incorporated as a private, non-profit corporation under IRS code 501 (c) (3) in 1969. We are identified as a “Community Action Agency,” and provide services in a six county area in Arkansas: Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton, Searcy and Van Buren.

Our agency is governed by an 18-member board consisting of public officials and representatives of the private and low-income sectors. The mission of OOI is to partner with organizations, families, and individuals to provide services and empowerment opportunities for those with limited means to improve their quality of life.

Our Administrative office is located at 701 E. Prospect (P.O. Box 1400) in Harrison, Arkansas. We have an office in each county seat and 15 Head Start Centers (26 classes) throughout the six counties. The Weatherization Office is located in Marshall, Arkansas and affords the agency an equal distance to the furthest reaches of the service area. All of our programs require clients being certified as income-eligible. Guidelines vary from program to program.


Through the years, our agency has been involved or acted as the “Lead Agency” and/or secured funding for various projects and programs that were later spun off and/or operations assumed by other organizations. These include:


  • Creation of the Community Resource Group; Fayetteville, AR. to develop rural water & sewer systems in rural Arkansas counties in Northwest Arkansas. Now a multi-million dollar organization serving multiple states, their mission is “helping people build secure and sustainable futures by assisting small, rural communities in their work to solve water and wastewater problems, and by helping hardworking families realize the American dream of having a safe, secure place to call home.”
  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Harrison Arkansas.
  • Doctor-on-Retainer Program (Lead Agency for State-6 delegate Agencies).
  • VISTA Volunteer Program.
  • Feeder Pig Program (Seed program-similar to Heifer, International).
  • Rural Production and Marketing of Ozark Crafts Program.
  • Elderly Nutritional Feeding Program, precursor to Meals on Wheels.
  • Elderly Transportation Program.
  • Day Care Centers (Harrison & Clinton).
  • Before and After School Programs (Marshall & Clinton).
  • Grants for building Community Centers in Diamond City, Leslie, Harrison (RSVP Center) and Clinton.


  • Grants for local Volunteer Fire Departments.
  • Heavy Equipment Training Class-NAC (North Arkansas College).
  • WIC Program.
  • Fiscal Agent for TEA Coalitions for Marion and Searcy Counties.
  • Housing Preservation Grant Program.
  • Self-Help Housing Program.
  • Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) Preschool classrooms.
  • Operated Community Centers; two in each county.
  • Fan & Blanket Program for Elderly.
  • Holiday Food Baskets, Thanksgiving & Christmas.
  • Individual Development Account Program; matched savings accounts for education.
  • Emergency Medical, Vision, Dental Program(s).
  • Wear & Share; Clinton.
  • Garden Program.
  • Cannery available to the public.
  • Family Planning Program.
  • Emergency Food and Shelter (FEMA).


We currently operate the following programs:


  • Head Start Program (including the USDA-Child Care Food Program)
    • Backpack program
  • Weatherization Program (ARRA & DOE/LIHEAP & AWP)
  • Community Services(Community Service Block Grant Program-CSBG)
    • SUCCESS, Life Coaching
    • Information Seminars (Life skills)
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), USDA surplus foods (commodities)
  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
  • Volunteers in Action, volunteering opportunities for individuals 55 and older
  • Community Development, expanding and enriching communities thru new and/or expanded initiatives

Our current annual funding is approximately $6 million per year. Of this total; approximately 95% is Federal/State and 5% Local/Private. We have approximately 100 full time employees with an annual payroll of slightly over $2.5 million.  We have very dedicated staff all sharing a common goal of assisting low income people to improve their lives and the futures of their families and communities. Visit us on the web at:, or give them a call at 870-741-9406.    They have a downloadable and printable brochure which shows all that Ozark Opportunities has to offer that is located here.

Buffalo River Hiking Trail Completion Near

Buffalo River Trail Completion Now Somewhere In Sight

By Ken Smith

“Somewhere in sight”?  What does that mean?  It means a 28-mile stretch of the Buffalo River Trail that volunteers have been building here in Searcy County during the past seven years could get completed in 2013.  Like, sometime next year.


We don’t know exactly when.  Or where, or how, that can happen.  Next year the volunteers will be joined by the National Park Service’s (NPS) trail crew.  Volunteers will continue building trail through isolated country north of Morning Star, moving upriver.  The NPS crew will start at U.S. 65 and build trail downriver—toward the volunteers.


So sometime next year we hope, NPS crew and volunteers will meet up.  The guys (gals, too) can drive the Golden Spike.  The trail will be complete.


The entire trail is located within the Buffalo National River’s park boundary and is called the Buffalo River Trail.  Officially it’s the Buffalo River Hiking Trail (though part of it will be open for horseback travel).  Also it’s an eastward extension for a long trail—the Ozark Highlands Trail—that from U.S. 65 goes 180 miles farther west.  When the new segment in Searcy County is completed, a hiker will be able to hike from Lake Fort Smith State Park all the way to the Highway 14 Bridge in Marion County.


The 28-mile trail segment currently being built will go down the south side of the BuffaloRiver from Highway 65 to Highway 14.  There will be public access to the trail at the two highways and along the trail segment where it crosses the Zack Ridge, Red Bluff, South Maumee, and Spring Creek Roads.


Thus the trail is in five parts or segments, from one of these roads to the next.  No segment is longer than about six miles.  At each road a public trailhead will have parking space and direction signs.  Almost everywhere else the trail is located past private property that surrounds the park, with no public access.


The trail is like a little highway, 24 inches wide, very often going across steep hill sides.  But the trail itself is designed to avoid any grades steeper than 10%.  (That means no more than ten feet up in a hundred feet of trail).  Thus it’s designed to make it easier for us old folks.  And it’s easier to get to many nice back-country places along the Buffalo.


For those who want big scenery, there are 24 overlook areas where the trail goes across the tops of high bluffs, providing wide views of the river and surrounding hills.  There are good side trips.  River gravel bars (fish, swim, camp).  Historic sites (the old M&NA railroad), and Red Bluff (not red, but impressive).


There are natural curiosities such as Rattlesnake Rock and The Dog’s Head.  Nature’s interest is everywhere—in the trees, rock formations, wildflowers, wild animals, and much more.  The new trail will be easy to find and use.  It can appeal to many kinds of folks—trail-strollers, trail-hikers, trail-runners, and backpackers.  Enjoying the trail should be young folks, retirees, and those in between, as well as nature lovers, ladies bird watching, kids curious about everything, and locals hiking to new hunting and fishing spots.


Almost the entire new 28-mile trail segment lies within Searcy County.  The last quarter mile of the trail to the highway 14 bridge is in MarionCounty.  It’s one more thing that can make SearcyCounty attractive to visitors and provide a positive economic impact locally.


The trail, combined with the county’s other attractions—including historic Gilbert, historic Leslie, floating the Buffalo River, exploring Richland, enjoying scenery everywhere—can help put Searcy County on the “to do” list for people who come and rent cabins, buy fishing tackle, and eat in restaurants.  These visitors, then, would not be quickie pass-through tourists.  They would be people seeking escape from city noise and clutter.  Visitors from Dallas, Memphis, and St. Louis.  Yes, SearcyCounty can be well positioned to offer escape.


If visitors find that escape, peace and quiet here, they’ll want to come back and stay longer.  Having the trail here can give them one more reason.


Ken Smith, Coordinator of volunteer work on the trail


See more pictures of the Trail work and beautiful sights along the trail below.



All Things Chocolate Roll Contest Winners Named

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The Greater Searcy County Chamber of Commerce recently held the “All Things Chocolate Roll” contest.    The submissions of stories and photos for the contest are going to be used to in the Chocolate Roll book that the Chamber is in the process of assembling.   Several written and photographic entries were received by the deadline date of January 8th, and the winners were judged by the Chocolate Roll Committee on January 10th.

The winning Photography entry “Serving Chocolate Rolls” was submitted by Shirley Patterson of Marshall, and is shown above.   We’ll post several more of the Photography Entries in the gallery below.

There are 3 winners in the written story category.  Placing for the 3 prizes will be announced at the 2nd Annual Chocolate Roll Festival on March 16.   The 3 winners, in no particular order are,  Edna Mae Wells, with her story titled “Chocolate Rolls For Christmas”.  Georgia Mae Brown Long for her story titled, “The Chocolate Roll Goes to College”.  Dana Treat for her story titled, “Love at First Bite”.    Prizes of $100 for first place, $50 for 2nd place and $25 for first place will be awarded at the Chocolate Roll Festival.

Everyone needs to practice and get their best Chocolate Roll Recipe ready for the contest on March 16!!!

New Member – ReWorx

ReWorx is a new retail pilot program of Friendship Community Care, Inc.  This project is used to provide employment and training opportunities for adults in Friendship’s Adult Day Programs.   Reworx is located at 2278 North Highway 65 in Marshall, in the Mini-mall.  Contact them today at 870-448-3984 or check out their Facebook Page.