(Editor's Note: Each year, Arkansas Business partners with the Arkansas Municipal League to present the Trendsetter City awards, which recognize exceptional initiatives underway in municipalities across the state. Large, medium and small-sized cities were honored in six categories: Education & Workforce Development; Environmental & Green Management Practices; Infrastructure & Water; Public Safety; Tourism Development & Creative Culture; and Wellness & Fitness. Below is one winner's story. For more, click here.)
Tourism Development/Creative Culture
Honorable Mention • Under 5,000
Marshall embraced the past in order to enhance its future.
The new Buffalo River Historic Jail and Museum is planned as a tourist information center where visitors and new residents will be able to learn about all that the area has to offer. The center is also designed to share the history of the land with the people that live in the Buffalo River watershed.
Mayor: Kevin J. Elliott
This first-of-its-kind project is a response to expressed community interest in promoting new business and opportunities for Marshall’s residents. Marshall takes pride in itself and, though a small community (1,616), it is constantly looking for opportunities to grow.
As the seat of Searcy County, Marshall has many neighboring small towns that could also benefit from the Buffalo River Historic Jail and Museum. Visitors to the museum will be able to pick up literature on local features like the Richland Wilderness Area in Witt Springs, the Buffalo River near St. Joe as well as antique shopping and dining in Leslie.
The project is the brainchild of a Searcy County Chamber of Commerce member who went the extra mile to apply for grants and enlist help to take the museum from the idea stage and make it a reality.
Searcy County has leased this building to the chamber of commerce free of charge. In return, the chamber will pay all utilities. Staff includes chamber members and the museum’s support group of volunteers.
The two-story jail building will feature exhibits and galleries on the Civil War and post-Reconstruction, early 1900s business and cultural development, lawmen and the frontier spirit, a first people’s gallery, legacy gallery and visitor information.
Marshall’s Kenda Drive-in is the only year-round, operating drive-in theater in Arkansas.
Work was set to wrap up in early December. The county and city governments, chamber of commerce, Master Gardeners, museum support group and Daughters of Hope and Transformation volunteers all played a major role in bringing the museum project to life.
The concerted volunteer effort helped Marshall avoid spending any city funds on the museum restoration, which was supported solely through grants and local effort.