Leader Blues

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TOP STORY > >Telemarketer ends Sherwood calls

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

A telemarketing blitz that hit Sherwood residents Friday seems to have stopped as quickly as it started.

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said she got the first “negative” call on annexing Gravel Ridge about 11:30 a.m., and the last call around 3 p.m. Hillman figures the word got out quickly that the city was not happy with the survey and was working rapidly to find out who was behind it.

“The questions were all very negative,” said Hillman, “and kept putting Sherwood in a bad light in regards to the annexation.”

The city, along with Gravel Ridge, votes on annexation March 11, and early voting starts Tuesday.

The company making the phone calls was ARM Services—Automated Research and Marketing—in Tulsa.

The firm’s president, Steve Baker, said he could not talk specifics about the survey or his client, but promised to ask his client to call The Leader. At press time, the paper had not received a call.

“These calls had to have cost somebody a lot of money,” Hillman said.

One flier, produced by ARM Services, said typical fees included technical setup at $500 minimum, plus $75 an hour. Outbound calling was $25 per hour.

The telemarketers questioned whether or not Sherwood residents would vote for annexing Gravel Ridge, a 2,500-acre rural community of about 3,500 people on the northern edge of Sherwood, if they considered the cost of the city to fund street repairs and that taxes would be raised.

“Everything they said was not true,” Hillman said. “We’ve been very upfront with Gravel Ridge residents and our residents about what will happen.”

Both Sherwood and Jacksonville want Gravel Ridge.

Jacksonville and Gravel Ridge residents voted Feb. 5 on the annexation, and in that vote, the majority said yes, annex Gravel Ridge into Jacksonville.

If the Sherwood and Gravel Ridge voters say yes to bringing the community into Sherwood, then a third election, set for April 1, will decide whether Gravel Ridge goes to Sherwood or to Jacksonville.

But, if the Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents say no to annexation, the community belongs to Jacksonville.

Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents may cast their early votes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday at Sherwood’s senior center, or at the Pulaski County clerk’s office in Little Rock from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and Monday,
March 10. Voting sites for the March 11 annexation issue include:

Kellogg Valley Baptist Church 9516 Bamboo Lane, North Little Rock

Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church, 9921 Sylvan Hills Hwy., Sherwood.

First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge, 14322 Hwy. 107.

Brockington Road Church of the Nazarene, 9860 Brockington Rd., Sherwood

Sylvan Hills Community Church, 8019 Hwy. 107, Sherwood

Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive, Sherwood

First Baptist Church of Sherwood, 701 Country Club, Sherwood

Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church, 7351 Warden Road, Sherwood

Indianhead Lake Baptist Church, 8601 Indianhead Drive, Sherwood

Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church, 7351 Warden Road, Sherwood

Sherwood Youth Center, 508 Sherwood Ave., Sherwood

Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.