Leader Blues

Friday, July 24, 2009

TOP STORY > >Planned sign saluting Allen is unveiled in Jacksonville

By CHRISTY HENDRICKS
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s Kris Allen committee unveiled plans Friday morning for the city’s proposed sign declaring Jacksonville “Boyhood Home of Kris Allen.”

The sign will replace the current “Welcome to Jacksonville” sign near the Hwy. 67/167 Main Street exit.

Allen’s grandfather, Charlie Wood, unveiled the sign.

“I’m just a proud granddaddy,” Wood said after the unveiling. “When he got into the top four, I told my friends I think he’s got it.”

Wood said he plans to attend tonight’s concert at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. “I have backstage privileges.”

“Jacksonville is where Kris was born and raised,” said committee member Roger Sundermeier Jr., vice president of marketing at First Arkansas Bank and Trust. “He’s one of a lot of great people who have come out of Jacksonville.”

Sundermeier handed the spotlight to Mayor Gary Fletcher, who took office July 1.

“I’m excited that I’m a new mayor and Kris is a new American Idol,” Fletcher said. “It’s a reminder that this is a new beginning … for Kris’ life.”

The mayor, who has known the Allen family for years, talked about Kris.

“He’s a man of character, a man I’ve known and watched grow up, too,” Fletcher said. “He’s a godly man.”

Fletcher said it “always feels good to see a good guy come out on top. He’s made us all proud.”

Fletcher said the city has a lot of projects in the future, including a new fire and police training center, adding that Jacksonville is “going to be a great city as we grow.”

Alderman Marshall Smith, an Allen family friend, said most of Allen’s family members were unable to attend Friday’s event because of scheduling conflicts.

“It is my privilege to represent the Allen family,” Smith said. “They are so happy that we’re doing this.”

Smith was Allen’s choir director when the Allen family attended First Freewill Baptist Church (now Crossroads Baptist) in Jacksonville.