Mayor wants party for PB’s 175th anniversary

Pine Bluff is nearing the 175th anniversary of its Jan. 8, 1839, incorporation as a city, and Mayor Debe Hollingsworth would like to mark the occasion with a big party — well, actually a citywide ball that would commemorate the past by focusing on the future.

“I’ve been thinking about the best way we could celebrate becoming 175 years old,” Hollingsworth said Friday, “and I figure we need a ball with which we could raise money to help enhance our future. I want to see a fund with which we can reward our children for academic achievement at all levels and establish some scholarships to Southeast Arkansas College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. And I want us to also spotlight our outstanding teachers.

“I’ve said before that the three keys to a better future for our city are education, education, education,” she said. “I’ll elaborate on that and say that education is the key to us celebrating a 200th anniversary in 2039 and a 500th anniversary in 2339. We need to dedicate ourselves to ensuring a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren by honoring the sacrifices and achievements of our past residents.”

Hollingsworth said she intends to help put together a “175 committee” over the next few weeks so that planning can get under way.

“I realize we’re only about six months away from the anniversary date, so we need to get busy with preparations,” she said, adding that the celebration may not be held on the actual anniversary date, as Jan. 8 will be on a Wednesday. “We may have several activities with different dates. We can get that all figured out and start moving on it.”

Hollingsworth said she is hopeful that the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum, Pine Bluff Historic District Commission and local history groups, schools, businesses, industries and individuals will “get on board” in the effort and also initiate strategies on 2039’s bicentennial celebration.

The mayor said such events provide an “excellent opportunity” for the city to “make positive news” and “show its pride.”

“We’ve heard enough about our shrinking population and other problems,” she said. “This will be a chance for us to show everyone that we’ve got a proud past and we’re working hard to ensure a bright future and become a bigger and even better city in which to live, work and play “

White Hall will also experience a milestone next year, as July 27 will be the 50th anniversary of the city’s incorporation. Mayor Noel Foster is considering how the event might be marked.

Jefferson County will turn 185 years old in 2014. It was established Nov. 2, 1829.