On this episode, we travel back to the 3Cs region to hear from Murriel Wiley as she explores the importance of community parks in rural Arkansas. From sports tournaments and live concerts to 4th of July celebrations, the Nashville city park in Howard county Arkansas is a gathering place that is a lifeblood for the community which in turn helps small businesses. In this interview with Director Mark Dale, CREATE BRIDGES explores the park's top-notch facilities that spark life and nurture tourism in this small town.
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Come join us, explore the impact of small business here in rural Arkansas.
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What challenges would you face? Who can help you meet those challenges? How do you get in touch with others like you?
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This is Create Bridges, Arkansas. And we invite you to come cross these bridges with us.
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We're back with another episode of the Create Bridges podcast series, Arkansas Small Business, Big Rural Impact.
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Im UA Castot Media director Lauren Hinton. And we appreciate your listening.
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Today, we're sitting down with Murriel Wiley, program coordinator for the three CS region and Mark Dale,
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director of the Nashville Parks and Recreation Department. Today's episode is a focus on tourism attractions in a small town,
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and we're chatting about how facility supply a source of entertainment and activity for communities.
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Mark, would you go ahead and give us some background about the facilities at the Nashville Parks and
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Recreation has to offer and just talk to us about the planning process of getting the parks funded.
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OK, so that goes back a long ways. The Nashville City Park was initially formed through a city ordinance in 1948,
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that prior to that a group of individuals that had formed a parcel of land and formed,
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a Park in 48, In 48 fhe city came in and said that we will.
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We will approve an ordinance to fund the city park in and bring it in is so that the city funds.
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And so that ordinance is actually never changed.
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since 1948, the parks yearly budget. Was 20 thousand dollars. And so that's how much they had.
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We couldn't even get started. We could run the lights on that.
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So what do you fast-Forward from 1948 to 1970.
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Seventy Seven. Seventy six. Seventy seven. The Park Commission really did us all in the city of Nashville.
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Huge, huge favor. And what they did was they found the land that is currently the City park.
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And they said we want to buy this land and we want to buy with the intention of making it nashville City park.
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So we moved them from where they initially were in 1948 to where we are today.
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And that was, in my opinion, the wisest move that any park commission has made since.
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OK, because guide us to our location, our current location at that time.
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In 77, they started construction essentially of 1 softball field.
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I'm sorry. That's one thing. Two. That's two softball fields in the next year.
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They built the set of bathrooms with a set of attachted concession stands. So we really started well around the early 80s.
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And that's as far back as I can remember. I moved to Nashville in 1980. We had built a baseball diamond and a tee ball field.
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Well, you move to the 90s and Dolly Henry. was the records.
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Dolly was really good at searching out funding for the park.
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What value was she grew apart exponentially. She bought more property.
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She built a large stage in the office that we have now.
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They built several pavilions. Things were just really going good.
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We were blessed throughout the late 90s and to have Senator Jim Hill who was from Nashville.
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Senator Hill was the number one senator always up the Hill.
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He was the head of funding for some time through the gift program.
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G.I.F money that the governors used to send out to senators, to states.
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We were able to buy the land where we have what's known as the Jim Hill, Socer fields.
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And so that through the late 90s completes the property that we have now, with the exception of one other thing.
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There was a family donated some land and we created what's known as the Ronnie walking trails and improved surface,
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one half mile walking trail nature that was built through the donation of the land and the one\eight cents sales tax, the Arkansas game.
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So that's completely debarked to where we are now as far as facilities at Current Park.
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We also have a stellite park. A lot of people don't realize that we are actually in charge of.
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A lot of people, it's the total income. It's down south from the town is you're going out toward Mamoth Springs down twenty seven.
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On the right hand side is known as town is actually twenty acre complex with a half mile walk through and apathy.
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So that's the that is top park property and it's maintained by the Park, although we're a hundred and twenty.
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That's a lot to maintain that seat. Half office. You guys have 5 softball fields, four baseball fields, tee ball.
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You've mentioned three play grounds, two soccer fields, a skate park, the walking trails.
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Volleyball court for capabilities in areas. You have a meeting in social rooms, camp sites.
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The outdoor canvern stage. The nature area. and five tennis courts, 2, 2 ennis courts.
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we got it all. We'll get it on. Hopefully more junior sports to come.
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I'll tell you all about it as well. So I want to know what role that each of these facilities we just mentioned.
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What role does it play in the nashville community and to the residents when they come through the park system there at the facilities?
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Well, yeah, so we are. So one of the things that I tried to do and I'll tell you,
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I will never be fully successful and I know this, but I try to serve everybody in our community.
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We have something be it from the little kids that come to play tee ball or come to play soccer.
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Be it somebody that just wants to say, hey, look, all I want to do is be at nature or Somebody that says hi.
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I'd just like to come and walk. But, you know, I like to photograph.
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We try to buy all of these things for anybody.
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I mean, I people come to me with ideas. I never say that's a horrible idea.
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Get him off. You wont ever hear me say that, what I will use is, Let's explore it.
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Let's see if there's any other answers. Let's see how we get our funding. Let's go from there.
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And a lot of things that blossom throughout the years from just basic conversations of somebody saying, you know, I need a place to do this or that.
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And it's worked out. So we tried it. We tried to we try to cater to everybody.
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We have the Pavillions. I can't tell you the number of birthday parties that have been held at a convention at the Pavilion's weddings.
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We've actually I know with two females this year that because of Covid,
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we actually had to allow the people to have funerals at the pavilion, you know, say, look, this is a space, it's open.
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And so, you know, so they serve, just the pavillions alone this year.
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Absolutely. Especially this year, just in a place, you know, people just need a place, you know,
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and maybe not necessarily indoors or what have you, but they'll need somewhere again.
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Some of pavilions were really great. You've got the playground equipment.
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I mean, you know everything from toddlers or say a 12 year old.
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who just want to swing there. So jungle gym or whatever. We've got all of that anyway.
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And we're trying to serve, you know, kids there where she got the sports in.
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And I don't mean to put sports on the back end, but sports always handles itself so well.
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You've got an established softball community in Nashville that just really thrives.
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And we'll have anywhere from six to eight tournaments in one weekend in the summer.
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And when we do those, we've tried to grow that to a point that it really there's there's there's a dual goal there.
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Number one, we want to provide a place to have a good a good tournament that teams want to come to.
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But we also want facility people want. And I mean, we've seen tournaments that literally the world double the population of the city on a Saturday.
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Well, my goal is yes. lets have a good tournament but lets also
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So let's get these people in town because we're like in the penalty box and they buy ice, a bomb.
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They go to Wal-Mart. They go there. They're here and they're going to spend.
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And so it's good for the community. And one of my jobs is not only at the city park, but it's starting with the community of Nashvile.
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So he needs to serve our people that have got businesses. We want people coming here and eating in our restaurants.
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We want people coming here and using our health care providers and just, you know, using our in our community and our facilities.
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And if we had to entice them to do that, I say Hey Nashville City Park welcomes you.
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We want to have all these things for you, then thats what we will do.
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And so that's amazing. Let me really took the next question.
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I have them on that show. No decision point.
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And it really shows the way that there is an economic impact that helps nashville.
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Oh, by all means. And that's a goal.
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I mean, in terms of we look for things like if we say ok, this is a weekend that we don't have a softball tournament.
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So that's what I call a dead weekend. And there's no need to have a dead weekend.
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So what we came up with and what we say about this kind of goes back to how you serve people in your community.
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Well, not everybody softball, not everybody's baseball. So there's other things.
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So we came up with a couple years ago, we said, let's try a yard sale in the park.
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Because there are some people like me that live way out in the counrty and i have a yardsale.
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Nobody is coming because i live in the middle of nowhere. So we set up a deal.
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We said, hey, you know, we'll give you booth space. comes, see your wares in the park.
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We said that we were wildly successful when we had those. And in a.
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Now, granted, it may not bring in the crowd that softball tournament would.
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But, you know, you've brought in 300 people. Well, again, those three people are going to go eat lunch.
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You know, they've been exposed to your community. And that's what you're after you know, you you might bring somebody human goes.
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We've never been to this town. Turns out to be a good little town, you know, going back up to something else.
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Just came to mind we've really done a lot of this year. A lot. I mean,
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I want to say seven or eight of them because of the situation weve been in
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with the Covid and the blessing that we have was with several different outlets,
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most especially when I mentioned Tyson Foods. Tyson is getting just one point and said, hey, we want to do a food distribution.
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Can we use the park? And we did. And we essentially shut this entire town that they gave away 30 tons of chicken to our community.
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through the nashville park, I was amazed that this is all, you know, backed up traffic nearly a lot.
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I mean, you know, it was 30 tons of chicken. I mean, you know, so that's what the city heart means to people in this community
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One thing I'm always sure to tell people is this about the nashville city park, because I got a lot of people that listen when the park is great.
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And as I say, I fully agree. We are blessed.
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But it's not because of me. It's. It was here when I got here. I just happened to be carrying the torch.
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Now, anything Delt with. It's associated with. I'm going to mindfully.
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Fully buying or. I'm not buying at all. And I'm volume to the park.
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I mean, I love the Nashvile City Park because I think it does have the capability to serve everybody.
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I think it is the crown jewel of our community. I think it is the heart of our community.
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At some point, if you live in Nashville, you're gonna have a a situation that's going to bring you to the park.
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Maybe if the sports car shows that you have made a food drives that have taken place.
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You know, the things I already mentioned, the chamber comes out every year and does stand up for America.
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It's highly successful during the 4th of July.
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You know, the Peach Blossom Fest. We've really tried to grow it out there and hopefully we'll grow it even more.
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That's another thing I get really excited about. Golden Gate.
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My favorite event. That is my favorite event of the entire park.
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I hate that we missed. Was that the one for the senors? Yes.
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serves those 55 and over. Lawrence, help me with that.
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I mean, you know, he's MC'd it for me. It is probably without without a doubt, the funnest day in the park from me, isn't it?
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Yes. I love that event. Shoutout. Oh, yes. I love that event.
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he past couple of years, we've brought in an Elvis impersonator whose great.
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We've got a group called Shake, Rattle and Roll that has done it. I mean, they're at their a staple.
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You know, with the Golden Gathering they do oldies music.
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And it's fun day on and group. You don't get any complaints.
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It's just it's just fun. And I've missed it. So. So there you go.
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I mean, you know, you've got everything from your four year old toddler to how ever old you are, we're going to have at some point something to start,
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you know, now i see you guys, you have something for everybody in a variety of capacities
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Right. But you also have to partner with some maybe your Chamber of Commerce and the
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City of Nashville gets involved more they otherwise would because the partners do so much.
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What about small businesses and all the chamber? All are really to make this.
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And that's how anybody and everybody. I'll take it from the smallest little thing.
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If you drive throught the park, you'll notice I have got lamp post, decrotive park style lamp posts, businesses buy banners, and it's got their business name on it.
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So that would be the simplest form. It's a business that I want to be involved.
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I think you've got all your sports things.
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I mean, I'm continually going to our businesses and I try to be very appreciative and thankful when they do.
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But, you know, I'll tell you how supportive is of our Nashville park and of area use or just really any of that, I mean.
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Well, yeah. You sports boxes. But there are businesses that I'll walk in and I'll say I'll tell you what
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I'll make and I'll use an example once I know mine is mark owns stars,
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its a family resturant i town when I go in and talk to him. And I go, Mark, I need to talk to you.
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He goes wherever sporting events is it put me down. He doesnt even ask.
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I'm in the know that could be repeated. I can't tell you how many times we are.
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We are so blessed with with business owners. Even now that we're talking places.
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That had to shut down because of the covid. Even now they're saying if we can help on that let me know.
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I mean, it's heart warming when you get a man like that and you know theyve dug deep into savings.
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So, yeah. Yeah. Like to ask you about that, actually. How much covid has impacted the Nashville Park?
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Very much so. Very much so. Essentially wiped out all spring sports.
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We had what I consider to be probably the best baseball program, nearly 400 kids signed up.
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We have a wildly successful baseball program, you know, and it was really fixing to hit.
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And it's going to. I mean, it was going to be great. We were going to be playing every night of the week.
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except for Sunday and Wednesday. we're talking early until dark. We had a system and then covid hit.
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And it wiped us out, it wiped out softball. It wiped out any idea of having a fall soccer league.
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So we we were hit as hard as most all municipal parks are.
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But how do you rebound? Well, you press forward, there's there's not a lot you can do.
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So you you know, you can't. We have tried things.
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We've tried to have like this, like our Christmas parade that we're doing with the Chamber of Commerce.
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Normally we have a traditional Christmas parade with people gather and the floats come through this year.
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We'll do a reversal where the floats stay stationary and the people drive through.
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So you just have to look at what you do normally and say, how can I fix this, you know?
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And it unfortunately is just going to be a loss, you know, and we're ready for spring.
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I've spoke with the people who do our tournaments, our softball tournaments.
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And we've we've set dates and we're gearing up for next year, and that's all it.
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Look, look ahead. and dont look behind. that's great advice. And that that leads me to one of the last questions I want to ask you before we wrap things up.
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We talked about this a little bit before, but as far as other small towns,
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you guys said probably are without a doubt the best park in southwest Arkansas, arguably other area of the state.
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How do other small towns. Take a look at what Nashville has done and then emulate that success.
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It's it's you know, part of me would say it's easy but it's not easy.
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But you you would come up with a formula in my opinion, say, where are we at today?
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Where do we hope to be five years from now? Where do we hope to be 10 years down?
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And you don't try to get ten years down the road overnight. You say, oh, this year we will take.
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The facilities we have, let's say you park has 2 ball fields.
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OK. That's all we're doing. 2 ball fields Well, you say alright what do we have this year.
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What do we absolutely need to get through this year? That will be that will benefit.
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us down the road. Think we might see about replacing some fencing, replacing some light posts.
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That way we progress. You know, we would move forward, or do you want to look forward and go alright how much space do we have to expand?
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You know, is there a property that ajoins to us that we can grow? You know, so you need to come up with your plan.
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I would say find those in your communities. Don't if you're not already a municipal.
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Organization are part of that municipality, become one, speak with your local city government,
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governments say, hey, we were like to form a parks department. If you are down that's small, you're going to head up.
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So you'd thought you get your point in place and you'd you would just work your plan to grow a little bit every year.
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You know what an invaluable resource to Nashville City Park is, the Arkansas Parks and Tourism.
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One thing that I'll make it known, because it's widely known, is you can apply for 50 50 matching grants through the Arkansas state parks and tourism.
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And I believe the cap is two hundred thousand dollars for instance.
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This next coming Grant cycle in twenty twenty one,
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Nashville City Park intends to apply for a 50 50 matching grant through Arkansas state parks and tourism.
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We're going to join agreement With this school system here, nashville.
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Use are our facilities. And so they'll pay if we can build a set of.
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Tennis court for 2 hundred thousand dollars. The state would pay 100 thousand, we would pay 50 thousand.
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The school would pay 50 thousand. And so you look at your here.
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Well, I'll tell you this number. When you look at your availabilty, you know your availabilty of that grant money.
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That that's that's that's wonderful. And, you know, they've do small grants too.
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I know the city of McCaskill over here. It's a very small village community going to towards prescot from nashville their for what's known as a fun park.
00:20:02,030 --> 00:20:07,850
And they have fun park. So now give you enough money to build maybe a small playground or something.
00:20:07,850 --> 00:20:17,600
So if you are a real small park and you need that that type of funding, that's availble again Arkansas parks, tourism is a wonderful meal.
00:20:17,600 --> 00:20:25,220
But it doesn't have to be a two hundred thousand dollar tennis court project that we've done every light pole in the city park.
00:20:25,220 --> 00:20:30,260
It's been done through this grant so. We've changed them all to Metal light pole.
00:20:30,260 --> 00:20:34,210
So what I'm saying is, if you are a smaller park, you want to grow.
00:20:34,210 --> 00:20:41,070
A number one thing is to get a long term plan. The second part of it is decide how you started.
00:20:41,070 --> 00:20:46,800
You'd be like, what happened? Yeah. You know, if all you can do is say this year,
00:20:46,800 --> 00:20:54,420
we can what we can get two pallets of dirt or whatever it takes to get our Enfield's work, if that's all we got.
00:20:54,420 --> 00:20:58,840
But you move forward, always be moving forward, always be progressing.
00:20:58,840 --> 00:21:03,990
And you know it comes. You know, don't be afraid to ask for funding.
00:21:03,990 --> 00:21:11,550
I mean, you know, your corporate partners, Tyson Foods is invaluable to the Nashville City Park,husqvarna has been invaluable.
00:21:11,550 --> 00:21:17,750
Some of your your local businesses are great futrell marine, York Gary Chevrolet.
00:21:17,750 --> 00:21:21,720
These places, The city park. Yeah, we're funding municipally very.
00:21:21,720 --> 00:21:28,290
You see, Madison, but your donations from your private industry is just a it's a godsend.
00:21:28,290 --> 00:21:38,790
I mean, I had one private industry pay for one of our score boards this year that just it wouldn't have happened if we wanted to.
00:21:38,790 --> 00:21:42,670
I mean, you know, so don't be afraid to go talk to people in community.
00:21:42,670 --> 00:21:46,960
It isn't some skin in the game, it gives them some involvement. I love it now.
00:21:46,960 --> 00:21:53,720
Now you will feel this one as if they don't have a you know, if they say, hey, they'll find some way to build some others,
00:21:53,720 --> 00:21:59,810
then by all means name complex after me, you know, but your local communities are great.
00:21:59,810 --> 00:22:06,810
But that's it. Get a plan. Just work. Yeah. Since you guys are such a phenomenal tourist destination in the city of Nashville,
00:22:06,810 --> 00:22:12,810
what plans you have for the future to maintain your status and keep growth?
00:22:12,810 --> 00:22:19,710
So, you know, we would like to see maybe more camp areas. And when I mean by camp areas , are places where people can park their RVS
00:22:19,710 --> 00:22:25,800
We've got some now, but we'd like to get more, you know, get better you know, we we always want to get better.
00:22:25,800 --> 00:22:31,230
And our hope there would be that they would come and stay with us in the nashville city park.
00:22:31,230 --> 00:22:37,500
they take a day and we go to the diamond mine in Murfreesboro or they go to all Washington historic State Park or Grand Prairie.
00:22:37,500 --> 00:22:42,630
Just just right outside of nashville here. Just great location concrete bottoms.
00:22:42,630 --> 00:22:47,370
De queen lake, you know, lake reece?
00:22:47,370 --> 00:22:56,580
I mean, we've got all kinds of this here in southwest Arkansas, and we'd love to have you stay with us in City Park.
00:22:56,580 --> 00:23:02,960
So that would be a long term news to maybe get in more and more camping out.
00:23:02,960 --> 00:23:08,940
You know, something that's kind of what motivated and I don't know that we'll ever see it, but I would like to see a rec center.
00:23:08,940 --> 00:23:14,190
I don't see the city of Nashville have a rec center at the park or somewhere
00:23:14,190 --> 00:23:18,750
within the city might be maintained by the part that can offer things such as,
00:23:18,750 --> 00:23:27,030
you know, indoor volleyball. They can offer, you know, indoor walking during inclement weather, maybe some after school functions.
00:23:27,030 --> 00:23:33,010
Maybe these people like if we get like, say, exercising what would work out and stuff.
00:23:33,010 --> 00:23:37,950
So if somebody comes with their RV and they say they want to blow off some steam and pump the iron.
00:23:37,950 --> 00:23:47,280
We've got to take right now, in my mind, if you need something like that, you have a split schedule or it stayed open, up until 9 or 10 o'clock.
00:23:47,280 --> 00:23:55,080
So that's something that I'd like to see long term as far as growing the city park.
00:23:55,080 --> 00:24:01,340
You know, you. There's so many little things I mean, I'd like to see.
00:24:01,340 --> 00:24:09,400
We've got an area that is consider how wetland I mean, the Game and fish are not really going to be designated wetlands.
00:24:09,400 --> 00:24:15,110
But this maybe. Build the dam, only make it a water source.
00:24:15,110 --> 00:24:18,310
A water source for people to fish and that sort of thing.
00:24:18,310 --> 00:24:27,510
So, you know, we've we've got plans to maybe expand for a couple more ballfields in the future.
00:24:27,510 --> 00:24:31,430
Again, youth sports grows. It has grown so much.
00:24:31,430 --> 00:24:38,310
It's such a big part of the power. There are days you find yourself even as big in a park as you find yourself.
00:24:38,310 --> 00:24:47,700
bursting at the seems, though, you know, we just again, we're always looking we're always open to suggestion.
00:24:47,700 --> 00:24:52,020
You know, again, if somebody comes to us and I say, hey, what about this?
00:24:52,020 --> 00:24:58,320
We don't. We don't have an edge. And that's not going to work the way we want to see if we can expand on that.
00:24:58,320 --> 00:25:03,220
So that's how we look at the city park. Like I said, one step at a time.
00:25:03,220 --> 00:25:06,800
That's right. With a projector. Yes, that's exactly right.
00:25:06,800 --> 00:25:11,640
And for anyone that is really listening and want to know, hey, let's check out the Nashville City Park.
00:25:11,640 --> 00:25:16,650
Yeah. Online is there a phone number? How can we get into. You should always get in touch with us at the park office.
00:25:16,650 --> 00:25:21,960
area code eight seven zero eight four five seven four zero five.
00:25:21,960 --> 00:25:27,330
Biggest source now. There is a Nashville Arkansas Web page.
00:25:27,330 --> 00:25:33,390
I dont administer it. I do know we're a tab on there and they can link over to us.
00:25:33,390 --> 00:25:42,400
I would say, our best platform on the Internet? Is our Facebook, social media, nashville parks and Recreation.
00:25:42,400 --> 00:25:47,190
It's it's where I puy all the information for upcoming events is.
00:25:47,190 --> 00:25:53,370
You know, it's got several thousand followers and it's it's kind of our main source here.
00:25:53,370 --> 00:25:57,920
We are facing. Ed, thanks so much for your time.
00:25:57,920 --> 00:26:04,640
I really appreciate the spotlight that you have put on the importance of the park and tourism and jobs.
00:26:04,640 --> 00:26:09,510
you guys bring to this town. Yes, we will. We welcome those that are passing through.
00:26:09,510 --> 00:26:13,170
We want yall to come see the city park. Anything else you like.
00:26:13,170 --> 00:26:17,570
This is now. It's a great place to be.
00:26:17,570 --> 00:26:24,020
I can tell you this. If you come to Nashville city park, you don't have a good experience, huh?
00:26:24,020 --> 00:26:29,870
Let me know. Let me know what went wrong. Because I mean, it's just a peaceful place to me.
00:26:29,870 --> 00:26:35,120
I don't say this because I work here. I say this because I actually believe it.
00:26:35,120 --> 00:26:45,890
It's just a wonderful park. The people that I'm telling you about that back in the early 40s and in the 70s, that progresses to where we're at.
00:26:45,890 --> 00:26:50,340
And so the 90s, those are the guys really got us to where we're in now on.
00:26:50,340 --> 00:26:56,780
I'm just they're maintaining currently and I'm as big a fan of our city park as anybody.
00:26:56,780 --> 00:27:01,930
I love. And that's why it's it's always working. It's hard to complain.
00:27:01,930 --> 00:27:05,770
Work in a park. So a great place to be.
00:27:05,770 --> 00:27:10,400
And I will add. Welcome you to come and join us. Thank you again.
00:27:10,400 --> 00:27:15,890
Such a tough place. Thank you all for listing the create bridges podcasts you reached.
00:27:15,890 --> 00:27:26,180
Arkansas small business, big rural Internet. That's a wrap on today's episode, Parks and Recreation in a small town, Murriel Wiley and Mark Day.
00:27:26,180 --> 00:27:30,620
I'm Lauren Hinton. And we appreciate you joining us.
00:27:30,620 --> 00:27:37,390
For more information about this or any Create Bridges podcast or more about Create Bridges, Arkansas visit.
00:27:37,390 --> 00:27:46,190
uaex.edu\createbridges. The Create Bridges Arkansas podcast is made possible by Wal-Mart Grant to the University of Arkansas System,
00:27:46,190 --> 00:27:51,170
Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, Community, Professional and Economic Development Unit.
00:27:51,170 --> 00:28:04,715
And with the cooperation of Spring River Innovation Hub and White River Now productions.