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Old 02-18-2008, 07:55 PM
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
10 posts, read 58,231 times
Reputation: 14


If its not known in the few posts Ive been involved in, Im "Pro-NWA" because of my personal interests and overall bias. I also immediately noted that NWA is not on your list. Ive been in every location on your list, so, while observing your list, I pick Hot Springs as we (well, my parents) have a condo there on Lake Hamilton for personal reasons of our next favorite place to live. It has its entertaining lifestyles, but is limited in other aspects.

Thats my 1 cent...not 2.
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Old 02-19-2008, 12:10 AM
Location: Roswell, GA
697 posts, read 3,019,964 times
Reputation: 509
Just to establish my credentials for making the comments I'm about to make, I've lived in Augusta, Des Arc, Clarendon, Jasper, Harrison, Fayetteville, Harrisburg, Bentonville, Bella Vista, Rogers, Conway, and Little Rock (in that order), all within the first 22 years of my life, after which I moved to Atlanta where I've been the last 22 years. My parents have been in Rogers since I moved to Atlanta, my sister's lived as an adult in Nashville, Stuttgart, and for the last 10 years or so in the Russellville/Pottsville area; my grandparents lived in Woodruff County (Augusta and McCrory -- maternal grandmother still alive and kicking at 97 in McCrory). I have living relatives in Tupelo, Tuckerman, Warren, Hot Springs, and Little Rock. I went to college in Conway, and spent large amounts of time in Jonesboro during my late high school/college years. Despite having been out of Arkansas for two decades, I've continued to visit family at least a couple of times a year throughout.

So let's take your list and break it down into clusters of similar places:
  • Little Rock/North Little Rock: the LR metro area is essentially a typical small southern city, with nothing in particular to recommend it. It's quite possible to make a perfectly happy life for yourself there, assuming you can make do without the cultural amenities of a larger city, or are willing to travel to satisfy that jones when it kicks in. There are quaintish historical areas in town (Hillcrest and Pulaski Heights) as well as newer affluent suburbs on the west side. There's a passable university, decent medical facilities, minor league professional baseball, and good proximity to a vast range of outdoor activities. You'll find nearly all the major national chain retailers and restaurants, as well as a certain number of interesting local businesses. There are also badly deteriorated economically depressed areas with significant amounts of crime and violence, but in general one can avoid those problems. Overall, I can't think of anything you could express an interest in that would make me say "Little Rock's the place for you", but if you find yourself there and don't have to be in a major city, you could manage quite well. North Little Rock is really just an extension of LR; a couple of decades ago, you might have considered much of it a nicer alternative to LR, but it hasn't aged particularly well, and the money has picked up and moved to west LR or out of Arkansas completely.
  • Sherwood/Jacksonville: Sherwood's essentially a place to keep NLR and Jacksonville from bumping into each other, but it does have Shotgun Dan's Pizza. Jacksonville is part LR-metro suburb, and part military town (Little Rock Air Force Base is located in Jacksonville). Neither ever appealed much to me, and there's not much positive or negative to say about either. Jacksonville has a lot more national chain restaurants at the US 67/167 exits near the air base than it used to, and on my last trip through I noticed that a certain number of strip joints have popped up in that area also.
  • Conway: I have a certain affection for Conway, as I spent my college years there. It has grown and changed a lot since the early 1980s, though its essential character isn't that different. It's a college town -- besides my alma mater, Hendrix College, there's the University of Central Arkansas and Central Baptist College. Hendrix has received a fair amount of positive national notice over the last couple of decades, both as a "hidden gem" in articles/books about good values in higher education and for its current plans to build an "academic village" following New Urbanist principles in the area between Harkrider Avenue and I-40 east of the campus. UCA has grown dramatically in that time also and has developed a well-respected honors program and enhanced its academic offerings substantially. Acxiom Corporation was founded and located there until it moved to Little Rock -- according to the city's web site, it still employs over 1800 people in Conway and is the largest employer -- Snap-On, Kimberly Clark, Virco, Rock-Tenn, and a few other manufacturers have facilities there. Conway's essentially a big small town (around 55K, according to the latest numbers), with a few more amenities than you might expect by virtue of being home to three colleges. And with the booming West Little Rock area only a bit over half an hour away, there's not much that's not available to you in Conway. Faulkner County is dry, if that's a concern one way or the other; Friday afternoon booze runs to Morgan (just across the county line in Pulaski, toward Little Rock) or Morrilton (just across the other county line, in Conway County) are a staple of student life in Conway.
  • West Memphis/Blytheville/Wynne: Eastern Arkansas towns that, generally speaking, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. West Memphis is basically one big truck stop, with a greyhound racing track for entertainment. Blytheville had little enough to recommend it (other, perhaps, than John Grisham's favorite bookstore: That Bookstore in Blytheville)when the air force base was still open -- since it closed in the mid 90s, the story's been pretty grim -- population is down to about 16K from a peak of about 24K in 1970, and when your major local industry in an American town in 2008 is a steel mill, you've got problems. Wynne is by far the smallest of these three, and actually has less to recommend it than the others. It's not even on a major freeway to allow you to get away quickly, though if you're looking for a classic Southern meat-and-vegetables-all-you-can-eat buffet, you can do worse than Kelley's.
  • Newport/Clarendon/Stuttgart: I was actually born at the hospital in Newport, and though I never actually lived there, most of my father's family has been in Independence/Jackson/Woodruff counties for over 150 years. My dad graduated from Newport High School (though he actually lived in Weldon). Was just through there last August, and I honestly can't think of any reason for anyone to want to move there -- like a lot of other places on your list, it's dying by slow degrees. After a flurry of post-WWII industrial development in the 1950s, it has been on the decline ever since. Population-wise, it's about the same size as Wynne -- roughly 7000, and getting smaller every day.
    I lived in Clarendon from 1968 to 1975, and have extremely fond memories of it -- I knew every inch of that town, and could still draw you a pretty accurate map from memory. I consider myself fortunate in many ways to have been a kid there in an era when parents didn't worry if you left the house in the morning, were gone all day on your own, and only came home for supper. I also consider myself extremely fortunate to have left when I did. When I came back through to visit old friends in later years, I found that black and white kids who'd played together without a thought in elementary school became mortal enemies by the time they reached high school. It's tiny even in comparison to the other places on your list -- less than 2000 now, and never bigger than about 2500 (in the 1920s, before the 1927 flood, and again about 1970). No economic activity to speak of other than agriculture -- and not even big enough to have a Wal-Mart. I generally drive through Clarendon when we're visiting in Arkansas, and it's a bit sadder and deader each time. Fishing and duck hunting are great, though, if you're into that. Likewise for Stuttgart (the Rice and Duck Capital of the World, so it says) -- it's bigger than Clarendon or even Newport, but like them is getting smaller, albeit more slowly -- around 9000 now, down from about 11,000 at its late-20th-century peak. Riceland Foods is based there, as is Producers Rice Mill, and Lennox Industries has a large factory there. Used to have to drive over to Stuttgart to the doctor for my frequent throat infections when I was a kid, which seemed like a trip to the big city compared to Clarendon. My sister lived their for a bit in the early 1990s, when her husband was working for Lennox, and didn't enjoy it much.
    All six of the towns I've mentioned in these two sections will be pretty tough for a newcomer with no local connections to fit into -- there won't be active hostility or anything like that, but the families of the people who're there have generally been there for several generations, and everyone already has their circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances established. No matter how long you're there, you'll always be an outsider to some extent, even if you do manage to make friends.
  • Hot Springs is a fascinating place in many ways -- much more diverse history and a tradition of being a spa/resort/hideout for folks from all over the country make it in many ways the least like Arkansas of any place in Arkansas. It's still essentially a tourist town, though one whose glory days ended at least 50 years ago. Great location for outdoor activities, with the mountains, two lakes, and lots of other stuff nearby. Plenty of retirees these days, so if you're in a service or health care field there's likely to be ample opportunities. Little Rock's around an hour away, for the big city stuff that Hot Springs doesn't have. The town itself has several annual music festivals, a well-regarded documentary film festival, and numerous other cultural events and venues, though there are no institutions of higher learning to speak of. Oaklawn Park, a Hot Springs Fixture for over 100 years, remains one of the top thoroughbred horse racing venues in the country. An outsider would have less trouble fitting in here than anyplace on your list except Little Rock/NLR/Jacksonville.

The others on your list I don't really know well enough to have a useful opinion about -- England's not that much different from Clarendon, but is much closer to Little Rock at least, and seems to be a bit livelier for that. Hope, Malvern, Camden, Warren, Monticello, Magnolia, and Crossett are all southern Arkansas towns of about 10K people without much to distinguish them, other than the University of Arkansas/Monticello (you know where), the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, etc. Crossett's the smallest, at barely over 6000 people. Malvern touts itself as the Brick Capital of the World on the basis of the three Acme Brick factories located there (Acme also has plants in Ft. Smith, Jonesboro, and Clarksville, as well as 16 others throughout the U.S.). Hope's famous for watermelons, Bill Clinton, Mike Huckabee, several Clinton Administration officials, Klipsch speakers, and for the Southwest Proving Grounds (now the Hope Municipal Airport), which when it opened during WWII had the third-longest runway in the U.S. The airport also achieved a certain notoriety in the aftermath of the problems with FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina, as a storage depot for thousands of travel trailers and mobile homes purchased by FEMA but never delivered to storm victims. Texarkana might as well be in Texas (as indeed about half of it is).

Hope at least some of that's useful to you. If you have specific questions about any of the places mentioned, fire away.
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:44 AM
Location: Hot Springs, AR
5,612 posts, read 15,110,658 times
Reputation: 3787
Default Thank You

Ravensack, Sam and everyone who's given me great information,

Thank you so much. I'll have more questions, I'm sure. But I've got a great start.

Thanks again.

Chenyn (shannon)
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Old 02-19-2008, 10:49 AM
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 18,264,452 times
Reputation: 7740
Great answer, rackensack - thanks for the contribution!
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Old 03-04-2008, 10:32 AM
8 posts, read 31,088 times
Reputation: 15
Moderator cut: edit North Little Rock has aged well and has a very small town feel to it. Always has ...always will.

The downtown is coming back, new neighborhoods are popping, and old old ones are coming back. It is obvious that you have a fixation on Northwest Ark.

NLR has culture and a small town feel. You don't get that everyday.

Scott Kaufman

Last edited by Sam I Am; 03-04-2008 at 10:38 AM.. Reason: please debate the idea, not the poster...and please don't speak badly of the people of a certain area of the state
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:42 PM
9,618 posts, read 27,330,094 times
Reputation: 5382
I think maybe some of the people posting are seeing NLR through the lenses of someone who hasn't been there in a while. Yes, some of NLR is kinda sketchy, but a lot of it is very nice, and the downtown area is becomingly increasingly active/vital.
But I'm partial to Hot Springs. It's such an odd place, I mean that in a good way...they seem to embrace oddballs there( and maybe because I am pretty odd I felt pretty welcome there.) Hot Springs is very pretty, both the surrounding hillsides (Ouachita Mountains) , the lakes, and the historic downtown area, which exudes kind of a "faded elegance", beautiful old buildings.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:41 PM
8 posts, read 31,088 times
Reputation: 15
Well I have lived in North Little Rock (NLR) my entire life. I have seen in decline in the 70's but ever since the late 80's it has had a strong pulse and rebound.

Sure NLR is not Hot Springs. Different culture entirely. NLR has a community neighborhood appeal.

It is worth checking out in my opinion. I am biased but objective.

NLR also has a great mayor that can secure grants and finances.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:44 PM
7 posts, read 35,789 times
Reputation: 16
So CESpeed, can fayetteville you revise your list fayetteville yet? Additions fayetteville or subtractions? I retire from the Navy and chose NWA fayetteville and compared fayetteville to the rest of the many states (Cali-Bay Area included) I've lived in and the fayetteville many many countries I have been stationed in, NWA fayetteville is hands down the best. fayetteville fayetteville
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Old 04-14-2008, 06:19 PM
90 posts, read 249,866 times
Reputation: 95
I grew up in Hot Springs. It is a beautiful town with lots of interesting features and things to do. You have lots of access to lakes, parks, hiking, and restaurants. I think it is a better town to visit than to live in. For the size of the town, the traffic is ridiculous. Their "city planning" is a joke. I don't know what you do, but most of the jobs are in the service industry. The school system is interesting as well. There are 3 school districts in a pretty small area. I got an excellent education from the one I attended, though. It is a very unique community.

My parents now live in Malvern. In my opinion, it isn't much of a town. It is about 20 minutes from Hot Springs and about 35, 40 from Little Rock. While the land is very pretty, I'd strictly prefer either Hot Springs or Little Rock to Malvern.

I also went to college in Conway at Hendrix (hi, rackensack) and am moving back to be a professor there. It is a nice town to have a family in, but nothing stands out to me as special about it. Maybe I'll change my mind after moving back there as an adult.
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Old 04-14-2008, 06:51 PM
90 posts, read 249,866 times
Reputation: 95
I didn't notice that the original poster seems to have decided where to move (what is what I get for trying to do anything while my kids are still awake!). I know a lot about Hot Springs and the surrounding areas (my parents live on 13 beautiful acres on the side of a mountain), so if you have any questions about it as you prepare to move, I'd be happy to help.
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