Leader Blues

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

TOP STORY > >Sherwood to vote on annexing neighbor

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

“We are the alternative,” Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman keeps telling the people of Gravel Ridge as the annexation vote looms closer.

The question that Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents will be voting on Tuesday is whether or not Gravel Ridge should become part of Sherwood.

But what the vote will really decide is whether Gravel Ridge residents get to vote again April 1 or do they become part of Jacksonville. Early voting started Monday and ends Friday in Sherwood. Early voting ends Monday at the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Jacksonville, which also wants the 2,500-acre rural community of 3,500, voted, along with Gravel Ridge residents on whether or not the community should become part of Jacksonville back on Feb. 5. About 75 percent of Jacksonville residents said yes, along with about 30 percent from Gravel Ridge, which together worked out to a majority vote for annexation.

But because Sherwood also wants the community, Gravel Ridge was not taken in by Jacksonville after that vote. Jacksonville must wait.

Now if Tuesday’s vote shows a majority saying yes to coming into Sherwood, then just Gravel Ridge residents will vote April 1 to decide which city they want to join.

If the majority vote on Tuesday is against coming into Sherwood, then the community would be-come part of Jacksonville.
Hillman naturally feels Sher-wood is the better fit. “I just think Sherwood and Gravel Ridge have a lot in common,” she said.

“Sherwood is a great place and Gravel Ridge would be a great addition.”

Hillman said Sherwood is committed to providing the same services to the residents of Gravel Ridge as those that are available to current Sherwood residents, including police, fire, ambulance, weekly trash pickup, which also includes bulk items picked up on a weekly basis that are not considered household garbage.

Sherwood Police Chief Kel Nicholson has said that his patrol units had already received maps of the areas and were studying the street locations.

“Once Gravel Ridge becomes part of Sherwood it would take about a week for the 911 calls to be switched to Sherwood, but during that time, calls would go to the county and it’ll take them just a few seconds to send it to us,” the chief said.

He explained that Gravel Ridge would be designated a patrol district and would have at least five officers assigned.

“We would have Gravel Ridge covered 24/7.”

He said that Sherwood police would share the sheriff’s substation on Highway 107.

Fire Chief Frank Hill also said that the community would not lose its fire station by becoming part of Sherwood. “We would strengthen it by adding three fulltime paid positions out here.”

Hill said he and the Gravel Ridge chief had already met numerous times and felt there would be no problems in the two departments working together.

Hillman said if Gravel Ridge comes into Sherwood, that community would see lower property taxes as well as a lower sales tax.
Currently the millage and sales tax rates are higher in Jacksonville than in Sherwood and Gravel Ridge, Hillman said. The property millage rate is the same in Sherwood as Gravel Ridge. “This will mean no increase on property tax bills,” she said.

But residents will see an in-crease on prepared foods as Sherwood, like Jacksonville, has a hamburger tax that is currently not charged in Gravel Ridge.

Doris Anderson, a former mayoral candidate, said, “Put us down for annexation. It’s vital that Sherwood residents get out and vote yes to give Gravel Ridge a choice.”

Her husband Mike said Sher-wood and Gravel Ridge have a natural tie with Hwy. 107 and Brockington Road.

“Gravel Ridge traffic comes through Sherwood. They are a part of our daily lives. If Gravel Ridge was part of Sherwood, then they would have a big say about the roads that they use,” he said.

Sherwood and Gravel Ridge residents may vote early from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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. through Friday and again Monday.

Voting sites for Tuesday’s election 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 Road, Sherwood.

Sylvan Hills Community Church, 8019 Hwy. 107, Sher-wood.

Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive, Sherwood.

First Baptist Church of Sherwood, 701 Country Club.

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.

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