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Growing Pains

Ashton Pruitt firestation greenbrier new beginnings park taxes

Taxes. Yep, no one likes to pay them. I get it. I don't either. No one does.

BUT this is the thing, you can't have nice things if you don't pay and work hard for them.

I like nice things. I work hard to have them. I want others to have and enjoy nice things.

5 years ago when I launched my store in Clinton (yeah, I married a boy from there LOL) I really was excited to have the luxury of going to The Archy Fork Park. This 40+ acre park nestled in the heart of Clinton along the Archy Fork is truly something to be proud of. After work I would lace up my shoes and head off to the trails. It was a beautiful sight... I would look over to my right and see a grandpa fishing with his little ones on the bank of the stocked pond. I would run a little further, I'd see a Grandmother pushing her grandchild on the swings. I'd pass a young mom rocking her jogging stroller with her infant. Down the track I would see a youth Football team using the green space to practice. As I would make the bend, I'd see kids in the butterfly sanctuary reading signage about the unique butterflies and plants that are special to the area. There were teens playing Frisbee golf and basketball. My favorite thing to witness were the adults playing rec softball... trash talking how they were going to demolish the other teams. Its quite inspiring watching these 50 year old ladies step up to the plate and knocking it over the fence.

I have friends who have utilized the park for benefit 5Ks and events for others dealing with cancer. The Clinton Buddy Walk is one of the biggest events held there, bringing hundreds of families out to spread awareness about Down syndrome.  Church groups have utilized the gazebo for concerts. Families have used the park for family reunions. The Chamber utilizes the park for a "community tree lighting." I could go on and on about the wonderful uses of their green space but I don't have to. All of these events bring revenue to their town. Gas stations, restaurants, retail locations, all benefit from folks stopping in and their town has an opportunity to flourish. While running, I would think... "Gosh, I wish Greenbrier had a park of this size that was really done the right way; all amenities in one spot that would bring the community together." I admit, I have been jealous that we didn't have anything this grand and of this stature.

(Here we are at the Archy Fork Park on a beautiful Sunday last spring.)

It truly was a beautiful sight that had a unique way of bringing the community together.

After that first year at my store and some growing pains, I excitedly moved my store to Greenbrier (and my husband's booming business to Damascus) and had a child. With working at the radio station, managing my store and child It has made it harder to enjoy the park like I used to. But, I still make the trip. Its worth it to me to do something unheard of... GO OUTSIDE and SMELL THE FRESH AIR.

Yesterday I nervously (which is really weird I was nervous because I literally get paid to talk everyday on the radio I have no idea why I was so nervous) encouraged folks to vote YES on ALL THREE measures for the city during the town hall meeting. See, I am PROUD to call Greenbrier my home. I pride myself in the fact that little Myleigh-Pearl will be a 5th generation Greenbrier Panther. I tell everyone. I have a LOT invested in this town, as well as my family and I want nothing more than life here to continue to get even better.

With all of that said, it is easy to see why I fully support the tax. I want folks... in the community I love... to have this luxury. I am very thankful for the remarkable people who have worked tirelessly looking for and writing grants for our town. I am thankful that others see the benefits from having something so grand that will bring added revenue and quality of life to our area.

As far as security of the parks, other areas that have parks that are similar... this has not been an issue. They don't "lock it up at night." They simply dim the lights, post signage and have a patrol car monitor periodically throughout the night. Stop fear mongering among social media that this park is going to create a hunger games type situation. That is ridiculous.

This tax also helps something else that is a need. An upgrade for our beloved volunteer fire department.

Now I honestly could care less about the politics of the fire department. Based on social media from an outsider looking in... there are several that are upset  over things that have been said/done. I don't care. It is none of my business to what has been done behind closed doors nor do I honestly care. Have I mentioned that I don't care? Put your feelings aside. What I do care about...

Back in January, my mother's home burned down.

Who came to the rescue? The Greenbrier Volunteer Fire Department.

Luckily, my fabulous Step Dad woke up and smelled the smoke at 3 AM. Robert got everyone out of the house, they made it out safe. While the house was a total loss, the Greenbrier Volunteer Fire Dept. were brave beyond words and went inside that burning home to save my sisters belongings. They saved items that were seen among the blaze. They went inside to save things that were from my brother that passed. I can't even type the words without tearing up because my heart is full of so much gratitude toward their bravery. While they were trying to save our home, it was cold, it was nasty outside. It didn't matter. They were there. THANK YOU does not even begin to describe it.

I care that the Volunteer Fire Dept gets a much needed station upgrade. I care that they get a kitchen, a housing area, a shower and laundry room. I care that they get bigger bays to house all equipment. I care that they get equipment upgrades. I care that they eventually have a full time paid staff. It has to start somewhere so why not start here?

Looking at the math:

It is roughly 50 cents for every $100 dollars spent in town.

Currently our sales tax total rates work like this for those who don't know:

6.5% (state)

0.5% (county) By the way, Faulkner is tied with 3 other counties for lowest in the state

2% (town) Again, Greenbrier's current sales tax rate is 2% Making our total 9%.

Other nearby towns total sales tax: Vilonia 9.5%, Conway 9.125 (excluding food and beverage... this total is more) Cabot 9.5%, Jacksonville 9.5%, Clinton 9.5%, Morrilton 9.25%.

If all three measures pass, it would make Greenbrier's sales tax 9.5%.

Yes, I said three. There are three options on the ballot. YES on the FIRE STATION. YES on the PARK. YES on the maintenance.

On the far left of the ballot you'll see 0.125% for the general maintenance of these entities. This is a must. Once the bonds have been paid off, they will disappear. These taxes are only temporary. With more foot traffic to the park and the new eating establishments coming to town, folks supporting and shopping LOCAL (here of course) these bonds will be paid off and gone.

These young families moving to our area are not saying "Well, I don't want to live there! The sales tax is out of this world!" No. They are moving here because of our awesome school system. Although these growing pains are hard to talk about these much needed changes are exciting and I am proud to support all three measures on the ballot. I have been to two town hall meetings so far and  while you could sometimes cut the tension with a knife (more so on social media...keyboard warriors for some reason don't like to show up to meetings) some things I have noticed:

1. A lot of people have been working hard for years on these plans.

2. A lot of people care about the sense of community and this town flourishing.

3. Our town is growing at a rapid speed.

4. If you actually educate yourself and put your feelings and politics aside it is amazing to see the bigger picture here. 

As my new friend, Jason Bollinger said in the town hall meeting last night and post on social media:

"Combined these two projects will be paid for by a sales tax increase of less than 10 cents a day for the average family. (50 cents for every $100 spent in the city limits) That's less than a 1 minute phone call per day in the 90's!

Ignoring the intangible benefits to the community and looking at this from a purely financial standpoint you have to ask yourself. "When we are able to have a full time fire crew will that decrease the rates of my insurance?" (not possible in the current station) and "When we have one of the nicest parks in all of Faulkner Co in our backyard will that increase property values?" The answer is obviously "yes" to both of these and it will be substantially more than 10 cents a day ($36.5 per year.)

So, essentially our community will have both of these wonderful things at no real cost (in the big picture) to any of it citizens. Seems like a no-brainer to me! Let's keep the GREEN in GREENBRIER."

 

I couldn't have said it better myself. Green in Greenbrier. Green space, money, etc. Folks this isn't a competition fire station vs. park... this isn't something for us to fight about which project is more important. This is an opportunity for us get new, exciting much needed things for our booming town. Why not support both with a bang!? Vote YES on all measures and as I said in the meeting, if you need a ride to vote I'll take you personally! AND DON'T FORGET TO SHOP LOCAL so we can pay for these nice things! Early voting is underway at the City Events Center 8 AM-4:30 PM through Monday, February 12th. Election Day is Tuesday February 13th.

Need further info? Check out the Citizens for Future of Greenbrier Facebook page.



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Ashton Pruitt

Ashton Snowden Pruitt, native of Greenbrier graduated from Arkansas State University in 2009, with her Radio Television Broadcast Journalism degree. You can hear her on the radio from 3-7 PM on My Country Y107 and on 105.7 The Bull 10-3 PM. She is married to auctioneer Lane Pruitt, and also owns Pruitt's Mid State Stockyards in Damascus. Ashton owns Southern Savvy, a women and children's boutique in Greenbrier and Southern Belle Media specializing in wedding and commercial videography, and voice overs. On top of all of these duties, her favorite job is being a mommy to her one and only sweet girl Myleigh-Pearl! In her spare time she loves traveling, blogging, watching Hoda and Kathie Lee, eating "Joes Pizza," driving with the top down in the Jeep, going to the lake, pageants, karaoke, and drinking lots of coffee. Ashton is currently the Miss Greenbrier Pageant Director, Brierfest Youth Talent Show Director and volunteer for the Faulkner County Youth Talent Show and Pageants. She is Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce board member, and volunteer for The American Cancer Society. She is a big supporter of folks shopping local (wherever you shop) and empowering women!


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