The Biden administration announced last month an investment of almost $42.5 billion to expand high-speed internet nationwide with a focus on rural and underserved areas. Arkansas will get more than $1 billion of that, an investment that Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders rightly termed “transformational.” She added: “This … unlocks a world of potential for businesses, schools, and everyday Arkansans.”
It has become commonplace to observe that high-speed internet has become almost as essential to daily living as electricity and clean drinking water. But access to clean water remains the touchstone of civilization, and these days, Helena-West Helena doesn’t have enough of it, thanks to at least 100 leaks in the city’s 100-year-old water system. Although the state has approved an emergency loan of up to $100,000 to help Helena-West Helena fix the immediate leaks, the general manager of the water department estimates that a total of $645,000 is needed to repair the system.
Perhaps the state, whose general revenue surplus hit $1.2 billion in fiscal 2023 — its second-largest on record — could see its way to helping out the community even more, with, of course, the right safeguards in place. Surely no one wants to see Helena-West Helena’s citizens experience the crisis faced by those in Jackson, Mississippi, last summer, a debacle that drew national attention.