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New Washington County Emergency Operations Center, Walmart AMP's record ticket sales


New Washington County Emergency Operations Center

Washington County Department of Emergency Management has received additional funding to build a new Emergency Operations Center. Last month, Washington County Quorum Court voted to approve $4.8 million to build the $8.1 million center. The quorum court previously approved $1 million to design the new 11,000-square-foot facility. The remaining $2.5 million will be paid out of the county general fund reserve in lieu of federal grants.

John Luther is the long-time director of Washington County Emergency Management. He said the new center will be built on the south campus of the Washington County Government facility.

It was very satisfying to know that the Quorum Court certainly agrees that the county needs an emergency operation center," Luther said. "We will benefit from it that's where our offices will be that's where we'll be able to work day in and day out, but it's really not built for us, it's built for us to work from to actually serve all the county, so I was very thankful that they felt like that was the priority.”

The county emergency center has relocated several times over the past twenty years. It currently operates out of a state fire academy training facility in Lincoln. The new county emergency center will have an “uninterruptable” power supply and secure communications. It will also be built to FEMA requirements to withstand natural disasters. 

“So what we've got is basically a two-part facility connected by what I've called somewhat of a vestibule between the two, the hardened facility where the actual emergency operations center is, and then the very small enclosed breezeway that connects us to additional offices training room which can also be our briefing room. It's a two-part property," Luther said. "The main portion is certainly hardened to withstand, as you said, hopefully, anything that we might face related to severe weather or any other threats that might come.”

In 2009, Washington County Emergency Operations responded to a record ice storm and polar vortex that crippled the region for weeks, as well as devastating tornado and extreme flood events. Luther says this is the perfect time to build it.

“And so we see this as an opportunity not only to have an emergency operations center to serve Washington County but to also potentially serve our neighbors around us.”

Luther said the new Washington County Emergency Operations Center is tentatively expected to host a ribbon cutting in the spring of 2025.

Walmart AMP's record ticket sales

The Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers posted record-high ticket sales in 2023, more than 15% higher than in 2022. In an interview with our partner Talk Business & Politics, AMP’s public relations director, Jennifer Wilson, said the transition to digital tickets allowed them to better track their audience, which gives them a more accurate picture of their audience. The year’s highest-attended show was Lana Del Rey, which was one of 16 shows that sold more than 10,000 tickets.

More than a dozen shows have already been scheduled at the AMP in 2024, including the recently announced tour of Sarah McLachlan. She will be in northwest Arkansas on July 2 with special guest Feist. The tour is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of McLachlan’s triple platinum record Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

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Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for <i>Ozarks at Large.</i>
Kyle Kellams is KUAF's news director and host of Ozarks at Large.
Matthew Moore is a reporter and producer for Ozarks at Large.
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