Court­house lights to get safety up­grade thanks to $21K grant

Texarkana Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Williamson

Im­prove­ments in tech­nol­ogy will help re­duce costs and im­prove the safety of lights dec­o­rat­ing the his­toric Lit­tle River County Court­house in down­town Ash­down, Ark.

The court­house, built in 1907, is the crown jewel of Ash­down’s Christ­mas tree light­ing pro­gram.

Lit­tle River County of­fi­cials de­cided to change the ex­ist­ing elec­tric bulbs to LED lights to im­prove safety and ef­fi­ciency, Lit­tle River County Judge Mike Cran­ford said.

The LED lights will re­place the bulbs used to out­line the court­house.

The tra­di­tional lights have been used since 1992 when the court­house was out­lined in hol­i­day lights.

“The lights were be­com­ing brit­tle and a haz­ard. The ex­ist­ing bulbs were caus­ing heat in the wooden ar­eas of the court­house. We were wor­ried about fires,” Cran­ford said.

The com­mu­nity ad­vi­sory team dis­cussed po­ten­tial changes in the lights, and with “tech­nol­ogy be­ing what it is, we de­cided to make a

change,” Cran­ford said.

Re­search was con­ducted by the Dom­tar com­mu­nity ad­vi­sory team, and the de­ci­sion was made to adopt LED tech­nol­ogy. LEDs use only about 10 per­cent of the en­ergy an in­can­des­cent lamp re­quires.

“We spent most of the sum­mer seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about the new prod­ucts and to the peo­ple who had the skills to im­ple­ment the new prod­ucts,” he said.

The com­mit­tee con­tacted Tex­oma Land­scape and Gar­den Cen­ter in Du­rant.

“Tex­oma made a few trips down here and looked at the court­house and old pho­tos to get an idea,” Cran­ford said.

“They made a pro­posal, and we took it to the Ash­down com­mu­nity auc­tion com­mit­tee. The com­mu­nity auc­tion com­mit­tee hosts the an­nual com­mu­nity auc­tion to raise money for com­mu­nity projects,” Cran­ford said.

The com­mit­tee agreed and do­nated a grant of $21,000 to pay for the project. Lit­tle River County will pay some of the equip­ment rental costs, Cran­ford said.

The county will pay for the lease of equip­ment and sur­plus.

Cur­rently it costs about $500 a month to pro­vide elec­tric­ity to dec­o­rate the court­house dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son from Thanks­giv­ing to New Year’s Day.

The LED lights will re­duce the costs from $500 a month to about $300 a month.

The Arkansas His­toric Preser­va­tion Pro­gram rec­og­nizes the two-story build­ing as ar­chi­tec­turally and his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant as one of the most im­pres­sive county court­houses in Arkansas and as the most prom­i­nent struc­ture in Lit­tle River County, ac­cord­ing to the Arkansas En­cy­clo­pe­dia.

The court­house was added to the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places on Sept. 26, 1976.

Two his­tor­i­cal mark­ers stand at op­po­site ends of the con­crete walk­way cut­ting through the lawn. The first de­tails the county seat’s move to Ash­down. The other lists Lit­tle River County as the home of Gov. Jeff Davis, de­scrib­ing him as one of Arkansas’ most col­or­ful per­son­al­i­ties. A war me­mo­rial is on the grounds, ded­i­cated to veter­ans who served from Lit­tle River County in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Viet­nam War.

A time cap­sule is also on the grounds in a red brick box that matches the court­house. Ded­i­cated as part of the cel­e­bra­tions sur­round­ing the sesqui­cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary of Arkansas’ state­hood, it was sealed on April 26, 1986, and is slated to be opened in an­other 150 years, on April 26, 2136. The court­house’s cen­ten­nial an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on April 18, 2007, in­cluded an ad­dress by Gov. Mike Beebe.

Staff file photo by Curt Young­blood

■ A crowd gath­ers Nov. 27, 2013, at the Lit­tle River County Court­house in Ash­down, Ark., to watch the light­ing of the Christ­mas lights.

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