New fire station
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday at West 32nd Avenue and Beech Street for construction of Pine Bluff’s first new fire station in more than three decades.
The modern, three-bay fire station, scheduled to be operational in January 2014, will be more than a structure of steel, bricks and mortar. The building represents a corner the city has turned for the betterment of all residents.
The new Fire Station No. 3 is being financed with revenues from the five-eighths of a cent sales tax approved by voters in 2011, replacing a nearby single-bay station built in 1956 at West 30th Avenue and Ash Street.
Our firemen respond to fire and medical emergencies to protect the lives and property of our residents, making significant contributions to safety and security of the city’s residents. (Many would have seen them in action much of the day Friday when they were responding to a house fire in town.)
A few residents can remember when the central fire station on State Street, just south of Barraque, was housed in what was once a stable for horses that pulled beer delivery wagons.
The men and women who face danger daily while protecting our citizens deserve upgraded facilities that can accommodate new firefighting trucks and other equipment. All of which will create a safer Pine Bluff.
Pine Bluff marked another milestone Wednesday with the dedication of two of the eight phases of Lake Saracen Walking Trail, which link Regional Park and Saracen Landing to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The Lake Saracen Walking Trail once completed will include more than five miles of asphalt and concrete for use by walkers, joggers and bicyclists. Much of it will be visible from the Martha Mitchell Expressway and serve to polish our municipal image.
The first phase, which was dedicated three years ago, is used every day by walkers and others.
The next four phases involve the Game and Fish Commission paving a parking lot and constructing a new boat ramp behind the UAPB chancellor’s home, widening of University Drive by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, construction of a second bayou crossing, a 300-foot fishing pier for the handicapped and wildlife observation area at the rear of the old George Washington Carver School.
The eighth and final phase of the walking trail will begin at the pier, turn south on Linden, then east on Pullen to return to Saracen Landing. Once the last link is finished, the trail will cover five miles for walkers and bicyclists.
The city will utilize sales tax revenues and a 50-50 matching state grant to build a 3,600 square foot splash park at the west edge of Lake Saracen, construct a new playground structure and replace an obsolete playground.
As noted during the dedication ceremony, it has been a “persistence of the spirit” involving city, county and state governments working together.
Medal of Honor
Retired Army Col. James Lamar Stone, one of just 21 Arkansas-born Medal of Honor recipients and the only Jefferson County native to have been awarded the nation’s highest decoration for war-time valor, died Nov. 9 at his home in Arlington, Texas.
Stone was recognized for his Korean War heroics during the night of Nov. 21-22, 1951, as a 28-year-old lieutenant leading a 48-man unit that came under attack by hundreds of Chinese massed to capture a hill near Sokkogae, South Korea.
Stone’s force successfully fought off six charges by the Chinese during a three-hour period, but finally succumbed to the overwhelming onslaught in hand-to-hand combat. Stone was shot twice in a leg and once in the neck. Half of his platoon died and most survivors were wounded.
The Pine Bluff native and six other Americans were captured. He endured 22 months in a prisoner of war camp before being freed in September 1953 in a prisoner exchange.