Public Works Director Barbara Richard Retires after 33 years of Service

As a former securities investor and owner of a lumberyard, now retired Pulaski County Public Works Director Barbara Richard is no stranger to difficult and complex projects.

However, during the Great Inflation of the 1970s, the lumberyard closed making life even more complex. Richard held a few office positions, even becoming a decorator for JC Penney, which she loved.

Following her brief time with the department store, Richard found her way to Pulaski County Public Works in 1984.

She began as an administrative assistant in the sanitation department, followed by a promotion to sanitation assistant director in 1991. She moved up the ranks becoming a purchasing attendant for road and bridge to assistant director and director in 2001.

As director of Road and Bridge and a woman, she recalls how difficult it was.

“When I was promoted, I required the supervisors to take classes and become educated in new technology,” she said. “The ‘old guard’ made it clear that they were not interested in changing the way things were done.”

One day she overheard them talking and told them that if they were going to continue to talk bad about her that she would pipe in classical music all day, every day. They all laughed, needless to say, the chatter ceased.

Some of her best memories are of the former Public Works Director, Sherman Smith who passed away in 2014.

“Sherman was a classic jokester,” she said. “I remember returning from vacation, to find that he removed the face of the wall clock and replaced it with a picture of himself. He even placed stickers on the back of the former County Judge’s car that read “I Love Sherman Smith,” she laughed. “He drove around like that until someone showed him.”

When Smith got sick, it was hard to watch him grow sicker. She said he refused to give up and worked every day until he was unable to work.

After he passed away, Richard was appointed to acting director of Public Works, where she managed a workforce of approximately 150 and a budget of $27 million.

As a woman who led a predominately-male workforce, her advice to other women would be to use “your brain not your heart.”

“Base your decisions on logic rather than emotion and always be fair,” she said. “Do not show preference to either gender, it’s about who can do the job.”

She said overall, it takes being a multitasker and understanding that the f-word [funding] will be a major factor in planning.

“Funding depends on who’s in office [D.C.] and how much funding is in the Federal Transportation Bill each year,” she said. “The Pulaski County Public Works is in competition with other public works departments in Central Arkansas that also have great projects”.

During her tenure as Road and Bridge Director and Public Works Director, Richard managed hundreds of projects that total more than $100 million including the Two Rivers Bridge, Two Rivers Park—and the Big Dam Bridge.

“The Big Dam Bridge was the best project and the most complicated project,” she said. “Until we received the first vote of confidence from Metroplan we didn’t think it was going to happen. We had to obtain approval from the Corp of Engineers who was apprehensive about building a bridge over a dam. We also discovered there was an historical African American burial site that had the potential to shut the project down.”

Richard and Smith managed to collaborate with several agencies to complete the bridge including the City of Little Rock, City of North Little Rock, Federal Highway Department, U.S. Coast Guard and the Arkansas Department of Transportation. At completion, the Big Dam Bridge, including the decorative lights was a $13 million project.

With the many projects under her belt, she does have a few things that she feels have been left undone.

“If there was anything I wish I could have completed or started, it would be to build another bridge across the Arkansas River at David D. Terry Lock Dam and to see the completion of the Southwest Trail,” she said. “The Southwest Trail is going to be an amazing project once complete.”

In her 33 years of service to Pulaski County, she said she’s made friendships that will last a lifetime and plans to remain connected to those friendships. In retirement, she has no plans to slow down any time soon. Richard plans to travel, consult, spend time with her son and grandson and try her hand at real estate investing—“just for fun.”

College Station Sports Complex Ribbon Cutting Ceremony – July 4

Pulaski County and the Progressive League of College Station will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new sports complex Wednesday, July 4 at 9 a.m. at 5816 Frazier Pike/Sloane Drive.

It has been 21 years since a tornado ripped through College Station, claimed lives and destroyed multiple homes and the ballpark. Since 1997, the championship-winning youth baseball team has been without adequate facilities for games and practice.

The team will now host games in a five-acre complex that includes a regulation-size baseball field, complete with dugouts, bullpens, perimeter fencing, bleachers, asphalt parking lot, landscaping and irrigation. The seating capacity is approximately 100.

“The community is really excited to open the new sports complex,” said Dexter Doyne, Progressive League member. “This will reinvigorate our community and hopefully engage local businesses especially in the Little Rock Port.”

The new construction project was made possible through fundraising efforts and federal grants that totaled approximately $400,000. The progressive league is in phase 2 of fundraising to build a concession stand, a scoreboard, restrooms and ball field lighting.

Image of College Station Sports Complex

Marche Community Town Hall Set for June 19

Residents of the Marche Community and surrounding areas are encouraged to attend our second town hall meeting, Tuesday, June 19 at 6 pm at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School. Speakers included Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde and public works representatives. For more information call 501-340-8305. See you there!

Pulaski Inter-District Used Tire Program Job Opening – Illegal Dumps Control Officer

The Pulaski Inter-District Used Tire Program is looking for an IDCO (Illegal Dumps Control Officer) to manage and eradicate illegal dumping in Pulaski County and waste tire illegal dumping in a nine-county area of central Arkansas. The Pulaski Inter-District is headquartered in downtown Little Rock and serves other regional solid waste management districts in the central Arkansas area.

Assignment will be considered an Independent Contractor and not eligible for benefits. Candidate will be required to sign a terms of service agreement.

Qualifications for this assignment include the following:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or equivalent work experience
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Good computer and math skills
  • A team player
  • Environmental interest
  • A professional appearance
  • A good driving record
  • Preferred knowledge of laws, statutes, regulations, ordinances and violations pertaining to solid waste management and illegal dumping
  • Ability to complete designated mandatory training for IDCOs
  • Ability to conduct on-site investigation of areas affected by illegal dumping
  • Starting fee: $40,000 – $45,000

Please submit all resumes to Desi Ledbetter at desi.ledbetter@regionalrecycling.org

Deadline for resumes to be received is June 8, 2018 at 4:30pm.

We are an equal opportunity employer.

Pulaski County Regional Recycling & Waste Reduction District

300 South Spring Street, Suite 200

Little Rock, AR 72201

501.340.8787

www.regionalrecycling.org

Pulaski County Offices Closed in Observance of Memorial Day

Pulaski County offices are closed on Monday in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday. Garbage routes will run one day late.

Public Notice: PCYS Arkansas Department of Education Application

Pulaski County Youth Services, in partnership with the North Little Rock School District and New Hope Baptist Church, will make an application to the Arkansas Department of Education for a 21st Century Community Learning Center.

The application will be made available for review after May 28, 2018 at the Administrative Offices of Pulaski County Youth Services, 201 S. Broadway Suite 220. Little Rock, AR 72201. Specific questions should be addressed to: Ms. Jamie Scott, Executive Director of Pulaski County Youth Services.

Pulaski County Housing Agency Notice

The Pulaski County Housing Agency will accept 150 requests for placement on their Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program waiting list on Thursday, April 19 @ 8 a.m.  at the Hall of Industry Annex on the State Fair Grounds.

World War I Memorial Tree Dedication, Friday at Camp Robinson

Pulaski County in partnership with the Arkansas National Guard will host a WWI Memorial Tree Dedication, Friday, April 6 at noon. The dedication will be held at the Post Chapel, building 3300, at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in North Little Rock.

According to the Arkansas WWI Centennial website, “through a partnership of the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee and the Arkansas Forestry Commission, Arkansans were urged to plant trees in 2017 and 2018 to remember the 71,862 Arkansans who served during the Great War, including the 2,183 who died while in service. The goal to have a memorial tree in each of Arkansas’s 75 counties by the time the commemoration concludes at the end of 2018 was achieved on March 22, 2018.”

The Arkansas Forestry Commission provided the trees for the Centennial Commemoration including the inaugural tree at the Old State House Museum in September 2017 and MacArthur Park in February.

“The Commemoration Committee has achieved and will exceed their goal as more organizations become aware of the project and its significance,” said Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde. “It is a wonderful idea and a great project to honor those who served in the Great War. And what better place to plant a memorial tree than Camp Robinson that serves as headquarters to the Arkansas National Guard and served as a training facility during World War I.”

Dedication speakers include Major General Mark H. Berry; Camp Robinson Chaplin, Major Jeremy Miller; and Post Commander of American Legion Post 74, R.D. Kinsey.

Identification is required to enter Camp Robinson; guests are encouraged to arrive early to obtain a visitor’s pass.

For more information, contact Cozetta Jones at cjones@pulaskicounty.net or 501-340-8523.

Camp Robinson

Camp Pike (now Camp Robinson) was established June 1917 to train soldiers for WWI.  The City of Little Rock purchased 3,000 acres and gave them to the U.S. government and leased 10,000 acres to get Camp Pike in Arkansas.  The Construction Quartermaster was MAJ John Fordyce, an Arkansan.  The first soldiers arrived on Post for training on 5 September 1917. 

 At its peak, Camp Pike was home to 54,463 soldiers.  In 1918, Camp Pike was hit hard by the Influenza Epidemic, with several hundred losing their lives to the outbreak.  After the war, Camp Pike served as home to the 3rd Infantry Division and the Camp Pike College, a joint effort between the 3rd ID and the Knights of Columbus to prepare soldiers for return to civilian life.  In 1922, the U.S. licensed the 6,000 acres (the original 3,000 plus 3,000 the Army had purchased) to the state for use as a training facility for the Arkansas National Guard.

 Camp Pike was renamed Camp Joesph T. Robinson in 1938 after the death of Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator Joseph T. Robinson.

 View “Arkansas and the Great War” produced by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

Training exercises at the Citizens Training Camp in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). The caption indicates that one of the observers was then-governor Thomas McRae. Photo courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture via James McDaniel.

Free mulch giveaway this Friday and Saturday

Pulaski County will host a FREE mulch giveaway Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the Old Smoky Hollow building at 3200 S Woodrow St in Little Rock.