By: Seth McKinzie
The Tuesday Couch Session will be a regular piece for LL to get thoughts off his chest and spark some lively conversation.
A few years back, LL published a piece (on the old website) stating the opinion that Gravette, the town and school, could be poised to become a place much like Greenwood down in Sebastian County. In 2016, Greenwood’s population was just under 10,000 residents.
Now, before readers get all huffy saying that Gravette will never get there LL wants to point out there are still almost 900 people a MONTH moving to Benton County. The spill of folks moving westward is already evident. One just has to drive on Highway 72 to see all the subdivisions currently being built.
Why is this important? Gravette is growing. Gravette has been growing. Gravette Schools has been blessed with leadership that had the foresight to get the current high school built, then the football stadium and track, followed by the softball and baseball fields, and now the soon-to-be basketball arena (not to mention the voters who approved various tax measures for construction projects). There have been other projects around the district such as additions and improvements to the middle school, upper elementary, and Glenn Duffy Elementary. It has been an exciting time to be connected to Gravette Public Schools over the course of the last dozen years or so.
The athletic programs have all had their share of successes in this time frame as well, and LL does not believe that to be a coincidence. Sure talent is cyclical, but one cannot deny the possibility families are making decisions about where to settle in Benton County based on athletics success and athletics facilities to go along with academic offerings. The Lions and Lady Lions have really great places to play.
On a plane a few years ago a fellow passenger asked LL the usual “where are you from?” question. When “Gravette” was mentioned this person said “Oh, I’ve been there. It’s a great town. Your facilities at the high school are amazing”. Guess what? That person actually had never BEEN in town, meaning never on Main Street, or down Highway 59. No, this person had only turned right on Lion Drive, parked at the high school, and walked in to watch his child play volleyball. That brief time, however, gave that person the impression Gravette is a place people want to be.
LL believes in the next 10 years Gravette, as a town, will experience quite a bit of growth. If the district enrolls 20 new students a year for 10 years that is a pretty sizeable jump (by the way, LL does not know the average new student enrollment…this is just for the purposes of this article). Of course, one has to figure in the average number of students leaving the district too. So let’s just say the town of Gravette (city limits) population grows to 6000 by 2029, roughly doubling the size of the population. Three thousand new residents could bring a lot of new students. A lot of new students mean a need for more space. New students mean more participation numbers in all the sports (along with demand for additional athletic offerings).
Will Gravette be prepared? Is Gravette already prepared? Only time will tell. If the last few years are any indication, everything seems to be headed in a positive direction.
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