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Community Guide

Culture  |  Climate  |  Economy  |  History

Culture

Arkansas State University Museum

The Arkansas State University Museum, which interprets the rich history of the Crowley's Ridge Region and the Lower Mississippi River Valley, is accredited by the American Association of Museums. It is one of four accredited museums in the state. The ASU Museum is located in the west wing of the library and museum complex in the heart of the ASU campus.

The permanent exhibits include fossils, minerals, antiques, toys, military collections, glass collections and remnants from the pre-historic era. The Museum also features a variety of temporary and special exhibits during the year. One of the most popular permanent exhibits is "Old Town Arkansas", illustrating a variety of "Main Street" shops from the early 20th century.

Self-guided tour books are available. Hours for the Museum are 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (except campus holidays). All exhibits are open to the public and admission is free.

The Forum

The Forum, Jonesboro’s beautifully restored civic auditorium, hosts concerts, plays, seminars, pageants, town meetings, business meetings, religious services, film showings and weddings.

The Foundation of Arts for Northeast Arkansas, Inc., serves as an umbrella group to coordinate funding and provide business management for affiliated cultural and entertainment activities in Jonesboro.

Divisions within the Foundation include art, dance, theater, The Showtime Series and the International Film Series.

Convocation Center

The Convocation Center, completed in 1987, has the versatility to host events ranging from small lectures to conventions, concerts, sporting events, trade shows, rodeos and other activities. The center seats up to 11,500 people for concerts and 10,529 for basketball games.

In addition to Arkansas State University athletics, special events have included the Ice Capades, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Lippizaner stallions and many others.

Features include one of the largest telescopic seating configurations in the world; meeting rooms and banquet facilities for groups up to 600 people (more than 1,000 on the arena floor); a lecture hall with seating for 281 and audiovisual facilities, a portable stage and sound facilities in the arena; and parking for 1,300 vehicles.

The Fowler Performing Arts Center

The 78,000 square-foot Fowler Center is the newest addition to the ASU campus. It features a concert hall, drama stage, experimental theatre, teaching gallery and a grand lobby.

ASU Fine Arts Center Gallery

The Fine Arts Center Art Gallery, operated by the Department of Art, presents a regularly changing schedule of art exhibitions. These exhibitions include the work of artists from around the nation, the work of faculty and students of Arkansas State University, and selections from a distinguished and growing permanent collection. The gallery is open to students and the public from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Group tours are also available. Admission is free.

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Climate

Climate is moderate, with temperatures normally ranging from 41 degrees to 80 degrees. Average annual precipitation totals approximately 50 inches of rainfall and six inches of snowfall. Relative humidity is 80 percent in the summer and 60 percent in the winter. The growing season averages 225 to 260 days.

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Economy

Jonesboro is one of the state's most dynamically developing centers, growing in areas of industry, retail and medicine. As a hub of agricultural production, Jonesboro has delta cotton land to the east and rice and soybean fields to the southwest. Jonesboro is the home of Riceland Foods, the largest rice mill in the world.

Several large industries help to support our growing community. Among these include: Hytrol Conveyor Company, Kraft Foods - Post Division, ASE-DELI Products,Thomas & Betts, Frito Lay and Haworth.

In March 2000, Jonesboro MSA had a 3.7 percent unemployment rate as compared to 4.7 percent for the state of Arkansas and 4.1 percent of the United States unemployment rate.

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History

The Founding of Craighead County

Late in the year 1858, it had become apparent to many members of the Arkansas General Assembly that there needed to be further divisions of the existing large counties in order to govern and administer them better.

The main proponent of the move to establish another county in Northeast Arkansas was Sen. William A. Jones who was the representative from Poinsett and St. Francis Counties. Senator Thomas B. Craighead, however representing Crittenden and Mississippi counties, was stubbornly opposed to the idea since the proposed new county would include alluvial land, which had been providing a lucrative source of revenue to some of his constituents in Mississippi County.

Senator Jones introduced the bill calling for creation of a new county from land in Mississippi, Greene and Poinsett counties. Each time an attempt was made to move it up on the senate calendar Senator Craighead prevented it.

A master of political strategy, Jones waited until Craighead was absent from the senate chamber to call for a final vote on the measure.

With their leader gone, the opposing forces were unable to swing the vote in their favor, and the bill passed, much to the consternation of Craighead when he found out.

In a spirit of goodwill, however, Jones moved that the new county be named after the senator who had been most opposed to its creation. Thus, Craighead County came into being on February 19, 1859.

Soon afterwards, the county seat was named Jonesboro in honor of the legislator who had worked so successfully on behalf of the new county.

        Excerpts from The Story of Craighead County by Charles A. Stuck

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The Founding of Jonesboro

Soon after the creation of Craighead County on February 19, 1859 a location in the center of the county was sought for the new county seat, Jonesboro.

The actual site was selected after Fergus Snoddy offered to give 15 acres. J.N. Burk, County Surveyor chose the location of the plot because there was a sort of opening in the forest at that point. A site for the county courthouse was selected as the center of the town.

The choice for the location received some opposition from area hunters. It was one of the best deer crossings in this section of the country, during the winter thousands of ducks roosted in the swampy ground east of the present Water & Light plant, the banks of Lost Creek (a little north of that point) were excellent feeding grounds for wild turkey and bear had been killed there. It was felt to build a small and probably temporary town was to destroy, for all time, one of the good hunting grounds in the area.

Progress prevailed and the underbrush was cleared. The town site was laid out by surveyor Burk, creating a large center plot to be used for a courthouse. Ninety-two town lots were then laid out around the center plot. The fifteen acres were bounded by Monroe Avenue on the north, Church Street on the east, Jefferson Avenue on the south, and Madison Street on the west.

Jonesboro was first incorporated shortly after it was founded and Aden Lynch was elected the first Mayor, but interest in a formal government did not seem to appeal to the citizens. The first charter of incorporation was allowed to lapse. A second try was made and it also failed to interest the citizens. In 1882 with the prospects of a railroad coming through the town, a number of prominent citizens agreed that it should become an incorporated town with necessary instruments of government. The third charter was granted and M.A. Adair was elected Mayor in 1883.

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