Shortly after taking office in 1999 as Springdale’s mayor, Jerre Van Hoose recognized some potential problems down the line with the city Planning Commission.
It wasn’t a problem with individuals; it was the expiration dates on their terms.
Van Hoose saw that as many as four of the nine commissioners had the same term expiration date, something he feared one day could leave a growing city with an inexperienced Planning Commission.
Van Hoose said the problem occurred almost a quarter-century ago when the “stagger” in the expiration dates was lost. So he decided to restructure the commission this year, with a variety of moves.
For starters, he shortened term limits from six years to just four. And he altered the terms of two of the three newly appointed commissioners, giving them just one-year terms their first year.
“I set that up so that the maximum we are ever going to have leave at the same time will be two people,” Van Hoose said. “I wanted to maintain a new stream of folks with some experience on the commission. If that many had left at the same time, well, that certainly would not have been a good deal.”
While Springdale lost more than 70 years of combined service to the commission with the departure of Jerry Clark (32 years, five months), Jay Penix (25 years, seven months) and Nettie Everett (14 years, nine months), Van Hoose made sure the new commissioners would not be token players filling out the vacancies.
George Brooks was appointed to a four-year term, while Dr. Dwight Duckworth and Michael West Sr. both were given one-year terms.
Brooks is a native of Springdale and resides in one of the town’s older districts. Duckworth, a dentist, moved to the area within the last decade and has been very involved in the community. And West is a native of Lincoln who retired recently and moved to Springdale.
West spent 42 years with Fayetteville-based Standard Register, working at the company’s Fort Smith; Lancaster, Pa.; Reno, Nev.; and Roanoke, Va., plants along the way.
“When you recognize the fact that with the growth the city has had over the last 20 years or so, 15,000 to 20,000 people weren’t raised here,” Van Hoose said. “These [new commissioners] bring experiences and observations from other cities.”
West said relocating to Springdale excited him and his family for numerous reasons.
“I moved to Springdale because of the city and the progress it’s made and what it has to contribute,” West said. “I took interest in the city itself, and I thought since I was retired and in good health, I would see what I could contribute.
“Springdale has such a good bunch of managers. It’s being run very well. It’s progressing tremendously. This town has a lot to offer for the family, and that was of great interest for us since we have two sons and grandchildren here.”
West cited the Tyson Sports Complex, the aquatic park and the Jones Center for Families as some of the family-oriented attractions to Springdale. He also praised the city’s school system.
As for upcoming projects that are of great interest to West and other members of the commission, two of the biggest are the proposed bypass and the millage vote coming in March.
“I know the bypass is one thing we’ve really needed for this community,” West said. “Knowing this is going to happen is exciting. And it will be interesting to see what happens with the bond issue for the schools. Those are two major things that could create more businesses and may even increase our industry. We already have low unemployment.”