Leader Blues

Friday, February 08, 2008

TOP STORY > >How they voted on annexing neighbor

Leader staff writer

Seventy five percent of Jacksonville residents who voted Tuesday favored bringing Gravel Ridge into the city.
“We are excited about those numbers,” said Mayor Tommy Swaim.

About 30 percent of the Gravel Ridge residents also voted for the annexation, bringing the totals to 3,319 votes, or 66 percent for the annexation, and 1,733 votes, or 34 percent against annexation.

“Now we’ve got to get to work to convince those other Gravel Ridge voters that we are best for them,” said Alderman Kenny Elliott.

The total includes early voting which had 598 ballots for annexation to 191 against. Absentee ballots also favored annexation, 28 to 16.

The mayor said the election commission told him that there were still a few absentee ballots out that the commission was waiting on before certifying the results.

The election commission said voting went pretty smoothly across the area, but there were complaints from some voters who were not allowed to cast an annexation vote. Also severe storms moving through central Arkansas zapped the power to the election commission offices and vote tallying could not be completed until early Wednesday.

The approval vote does not automatically put Gravel Ridge into Jacksonville city limits, as Sherwood also wants the rural community of about 3,500.

Sherwood has set its vote on the issue for March 11. Only Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents will be allowed to vote in that election on the question of whether or not Gravel Ridge should become part of Sherwood.

If they vote yes as they did in Jacksonville this week, then a third election will be held April 1 for just Gravel Ridge voters. In that election, the residents will have to choose between Jacksonville and Sherwood.

Of the 13 precincts voting on the issue in Tuesday’s election, only three opposed the annexation, but all three of those were in Gravel Ridge.

First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge had the most voters on the annexation issue out of the 13 precincts and was the most adamant against the idea. Of the 935 votes cast, 594, or 63 percent, were against annexation, while 341, or 36 percent, were for it.

At the Kellogg Valley voting site, 195 residents voted on the issue and only 19, or 10 percent, favored the idea of annexation.
At Sylvan Hills Methodist Church, the voting was substantially less, but much closer. Just 21 people voted on the issue, with 11 of them against annexation and 10 for it.

In Jacksonville, First Baptist Church had the most voters, with 686 residents casting ballots. Of those, 561, or 82 percent, were for annexation, while 125, or 18 percent, were against.

The Chapel Hill site had fewer voters, but a slightly higher percentage favored annexation. Of 627 votes cast, 524, or 84 percent, were for annexation, while 103, or 16 percent, were against it.

At the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, 635 residents cast votes, with 456, or 72 percent, going for annexation, and 179, or 28 percent, against the idea.

Those voting at the St. Jude’s site, favored annexation 360 to 97, or 79 percent to 21 percent.

Just over 490 people voted at the Jacksonville Community Center, with 348, or 71 percent, wanting Gravel Ridge to be part of the city, and 143, or 29 percent, against the idea.

Voters at McArthur Baptist Church went for annexation, 203 to 91, or 69 percent to 31 percent. Berea Baptist voters also approved annexation by nearly a two-to-one vote, 160 to 84.

At Harris Elementary and Indianhead Lakes Baptist Church, the vote totals were much less, but the percentage still favored annexation.

At Harris, 70 residents voted, with 48, or 69 percent, favoring annexation, and 22, or 31 percent, against.
Just 22 votes were cast at Indianhead, with 12 ballots in favor of and 10 against annexation.