Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Arkansawyer

Helena-West Helena

Recommended Posts

I must say, I hate the fact that it won't be called Helena. It was one of the oldest cities in Arkansas, incorporated in 1833, and has a lot of history. I think the merger is a good thing, but the city should have kept the name of its oldest part. Obviously West Helena (which had actually outgrown Helena) was just an offshoot.

Anyway, on December 31 the merger between Helena and West Helena became official. The struggling Delta community is hoping that this move will help turn around the depressed local economy partly by making the city stand out more to prospective businesses. In the story that the Democrat-Gazette had it as on the front page of the January 1 issue, it said that in 1950 Phillips County had a population of 46,254, but was estimated in 2004 to be just 24,309. That's amazing that the county has shrunk to almost half of its former size, and it also shows how important Helena was to be so large in 1950. Once one of Arkansas' most important cities, it's hardly a blip in the news now. The article also mentioned that 32 percent of Phillips County residents live below the poverty line.

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think its a good thing that its happening...honestly I wish it would happen more often and that there would be less little towns. With more little towns tax payers are paying more for the same thing. In NWA for example, you have all the large cities then you have cities like Tontitown, cave springs, lowell, centerton, elm springs....etc. I think the larger cities and smaller cities should merge into one city. Tontitown for example uses everything of springdales..fire, school, utilities etc. same goes for centerton and bentonville. We need less small cities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think they need to adopt a new name...or just call it Helena...Helena-West Helena is just the dumbest thing I've ever heard. That's like Little Rock and North Little Rock combining and the new name being Little Rock-North Little Rock. Just plain idiocy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder though if this is really going to help or merely slow down the city's spiral downward. With the exception of Jonesboro and the Marion area is there anywhere in eastern Arkansas were prospects are looking good? This area of the state seems to be facing the same problems as a city often mentioned, Pine Bluff. This area of the state has been losing population for a couple of decades at least. if anything it almost sounds like the process is becoming worse. I thought I heard in 2005 that some of the counties bordering the Mississippi River had lost rather large amounts of population even since the 2000 census. And it's not just the fact that they're losing population. They're losing much of their upper and middle classes. Once kids graduate high school and go off to college how many of them going back? I haven't been to Helena but I have heard some about it's history. It's just odd to see such a shift. This area of the state was the powerhouse for such a long time. Now it's seen as the weakest part of the state and it seems to keep shriveling up. I also wonder if the change in agriculture and the family farm has also contributed some of the woes to this area of the state. I'm disappointed I didn't see this story in the northwest edition of the Ark Dem-Gaz. I would have liked to have seen it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As long as the King Biscuit Blues Festival still goes on, I'll be happy.

A company out of Memphis bought the festival and is most likely moving it to Memphis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A company out of Memphis bought the festival and is most likely moving it to Memphis.

What?

Are you kidding me!!!

That's a tradition that's make Helena have such great culture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A company out of Memphis bought the festival and is most likely moving it to Memphis.

Crap, I hadn't heard about that. I can't believe they'd sell it off like that. I mean I know that the city is having problems but it almost seems a crime to sell it off like that. I really hope they don't end up moving it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Crap, I hadn't heard about that. I can't believe they'd sell it off like that. I mean I know that the city is having problems but it almost seems a crime to sell it off like that. I really hope they don't end up moving it.

I didn't even think of the Economic Impact it would have on Helena-West Helena. Many companies rely on this festival for business to keep up through the year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The festival isn't moving, but may not be able to survive...here's the story.

http://www.kthv.com/search/results.aspx?storyid=21408

Thanks for the info Tim. At least that clears up the situation a little more. Although I think it sucks that the company wants to be paid to use the name now after all the free publicity it's gotten from the situation in the first place. Aren't companies supposed to pay to have their name used for publicity not the other way around?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. I think the merger is a good thing - it consolidates the tax base and gives the area more clout as well as leads to less infighting between the two cities for projects and funding.

2. I agree the city should just be called Helena. I assure you though if LR and NLR ever merge NLR won't just drop its name, there are generations of rivalry there.

3. The Mississippi used to be Arkansas' center of wealth and influence. As the river died the towns along it did as well. West Memphis was lucky enough to have two interstates cross there and be located in a major metro. Helena at least has a US Highway and a river bridge. A lot of cities just dried up. Arkansas City had 15,000 people back when that was a huge number and had an opera house and a downtown that would make all but a couple of today's Arkansas cities jealous. When it came time to build bridges and highways it was stuck at a dead end along the river without a bridge, though, and now most people can't tell you where Arkansas City is located.

4. King Biscuit is pure Arkansas history and culture. It almost died a couple of years ago and shouldn't be allowed to - we need to support it with state money if need be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Several Years back...either in the late 80's or early 90's...I remember something coming up about changing the name of NLR. People were saying it needed a new name to affirm its identity, separate of Little Rock. I remember seeing signs about it on the I-30 bridge, but I don't know if they were in support of it or not. Seems like I remember Jackson being one of the possibilities thrown out...but not for sure on that. Of course, Argenta was a possibility...I know that's what it used to be, but it just doesn't sound right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Several Years back...either in the late 80's or early 90's...I remember something coming up about changing the name of NLR. People were saying it needed a new name to affirm its identity, separate of Little Rock. I remember seeing signs about it on the I-30 bridge, but I don't know if they were in support of it or not. Seems like I remember Jackson being one of the possibilities thrown out...but not for sure on that. Of course, Argenta was a possibility...I know that's what it used to be, but it just doesn't sound right.

I always like Argenta, it has more style and history to it than NLR.

Of course, so does "Dogtown" but I don't think they like that nickname much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've lived in Phillips County, near Helena, for almost 35 years now and have watched it slowly decline. The major reason I see for this decline in population is the lack of industry and jobs in the delta. It will continue to decline due to the number of the population living on government subsidies. It simply does not pay for them to work. No labor force, no industries or businesses interested in locating here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, nice to see you liveinthedelta!!

It is quite unfortunate about the Helena area and it's decline. I remember going through the downtown of Helena one time, and I was suprised to see such a historical city. I like the nice musuem they have in the downtown, it is very nice. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't been there but Helena is a very historical city. I really need to make a trip over there sometime when I'm visiting family in Pine Bluff. Perhaps livinthedelta can give me some ideas of what are 'must see' areas of the city. I'm curious how much has Helena's population shrunk while you've been living over there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the welcome :) . I don't know the numbers Mith242, but you can tell by the "For Sale" signs as you drive through from West Helena to Helena and by the number of surburban type communities that have sprung up, in a westerly direction, outside of the city limits. Many have just given up and moved to other areas of the state.

I also hate the name change because Helena is the historical, old, river town and West Helena was simply a spill-over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, almost forgot! "Must see" the old, antibellum houses, a few have been restored and made into bed and breakfasts. A visit to the River Park, across the levee, so you can greet old man river up close is nice. The Sonny Boy Blues Museum, Delta Cultural Center, and the Phillips County Museum connected to the library are also great places to visit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the welcome :) . I don't know the numbers Mith242, but you can tell by the "For Sale" signs as you drive through from West Helena to Helena and by the number of surburban type communities that have sprung up, in a westerly direction, outside of the city limits. Many have just given up and moved to other areas of the state.

I also hate the name change because Helena is the historical, old, river town and West Helena was simply a spill-over.

Yeah aside from people in West Helena I don't think many in Arkansas like the name change.

Oh, almost forgot! "Must see" the old, antibellum houses, a few have been restored and made into bed and breakfasts. A visit to the River Park, across the levee, so you can greet old man river up close is nice. The Sonny Boy Blues Museum, Delta Cultural Center, and the Phillips County Museum connected to the library are also great places to visit.

Thanks for the info. It's also great to hear there's some museums to visit also. Not sure when I'll visit but I would like to at some point. I've heard a lot historical references to Helena. Is the city easy to get around in?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah aside from people in West Helena I don't think many in Arkansas like the name change.

Thanks for the info. It's also great to hear there's some museums to visit also. Not sure when I'll visit but I would like to at some point. I've heard a lot historical references to Helena. Is the city easy to get around in?

Very easy to get around in. The Mississippi River is it's east boundary and Crowley's Ridge is in the middle so there's not much to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, almost forgot! "Must see" the old, antibellum houses, a few have been restored and made into bed and breakfasts. A visit to the River Park, across the levee, so you can greet old man river up close is nice. The Sonny Boy Blues Museum, Delta Cultural Center, and the Phillips County Museum connected to the library are also great places to visit.

I've been to the Soy Boy Blues Museum and Delta Cultural Center. Both are excellent facilities. :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been to the Soy Boy Blues Museum and Delta Cultural Center. Both are excellent facilities. :thumbsup:

Yeah sounds like there's more there than I woulf have thought. I'm going to visit family sometime in February but I had already made plans to try to see some of Little Rock. But I'll certainly add Helena to the list next time I'm there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.