The Saline Courier Weekend
Bauxite business owners breaking ground
Land clearing in the heart of Bauxite along Highway 183 has stirred the curiosity of passers-by in recent days.
From 1901 until 1982 when it was destroyed by fire, this area was home of the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Depot. For 81 years, the depot was a popular landmark for the community. Business partners, Eddie Jones and Rob Thompson, are the new owners of the property.
At the urging of their wives, Cheryl and Cindy, Jones and Thompson saw the opportunity to bring small businesses not only to Bauxite but the growing population surrounding this area.
Jones and Thompson are excited about plans to construct a replica of the old depot in the same location where it once stood. The planned building will house a locally owned and operated convenience store. It will not be a chain store as are so many others in this area.
Plans are for the convenience store to have a pavilion extended on the back of the building to offer customers a place to relax and visit with friends. It may also be reserved for private events.
Jones and Thompson revealed plans to build a minimall beside the depot convenience store. The mall will have eighteen 1,000-1,200 square foot rental units to house a variety of vendors. Jones and Thompson are looking to offer a farmer’s market with fresh vegetables and fruits, fast food vendors, a coffee and donut shop, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and a variety of other business for the convenience of shoppers.
The replica of the depot and the mall will have outside structural similarities to match the nearby Bauxite Community Hall, keeping the “old town” look as much as possible. Memorabilia and photographs of early Bauxite will be displayed throughout the depot.
After the land is cleared and all plans are finalized, construction will begin, hopefully, this coming fall with completion in late 2023 or early 2024 for the convenience store and mall opening. Interested vendors may contact Eddie Jones at 501-840-2299 or Rob Thompson at 501-303-7839 for further details regarding rental space.
After the excitement of sharing plans for the old depot and mall area, as Mayor of Bauxite, Jones further elaborated on other upcoming changes in the Town of Bauxite.
A large mural to be painted on the north wall of the
Bauxite Fire Department building has been in the works for some months now. Well
known local artist, Diane Roberts, has been commissioned to mastermind the mural layout and painting on the three panels of the building that faces Highway 183. Roberts is in the process of completing first phase of the preliminary layout of the three panels. The painting of the mural will began as soon as final approval is confirmed and weather conditions allow.
Historical buildings of early Bauxite, plus other landmarks of the area will be depicted in the mural, as well as miners with hard hats and picks and shovels used by the workers in the bauxite mines.
Jones stated that work has already begun on construction of a clock tower for the Town of Bauxite. The tower will be located on the roof of the Bauxite Fire Department located at the intersection of Highway 183 and Stanley Drive across the street from the Bauxite City Hall.
A large cast iron town bell, similar to the Liberty Bell, will be mounted in the center section of the tower.
A lighted digital message screen above the bell will be monitored with appropriate happenings in the community. At the top of the tower a large clock will be visible to passersby.
Plans are also being finalized to build an extension on the back of the Bauxite Fire Department. This extension will allow the fire trucks drivethrough access of the building for easy response in emergency situations.
Mayor Jones stated that future plans are to build a substation for the Bauxite Fire Department just east of the entrance to Parkway Trails subdivision on West Sardis Road. This project should be completed later this year or in early 2024.
The Town of Bauxite is growing in population. New homes are sold and occupied as quickly as they can be completed. The Bauxite School District student population has increased every year for the past several school terms. Present enrollment is 1,609 for the 2023 school year.
All of Saline County is growing with several new businesses opening regularly.
Bauxite seems to be keeping pace with the growth as well. The growth figures have further encouraged Jones and Thompson’s plans for a convenience store and mini-mall in Bauxite.
Bauxite is on the rise and again creating more Miner Memories, and some of them are not so minor.