CLARENDON, Ark. - The town of Clarendon has fallen on tough times, and asking for a tax increase is never easy.
But, with the school district being the largest employer in the area, the superintendent believes the investment would circulate and ultimately help everyone.
"This is it," Kendrick Hudson says.
"This is the home of the Clarendon Lions."
Hudson has spent the last 14 years in this gym.
"As you see our gym is old," Hudson says.
"It's almost to the point where it's embarrassing to ask other teams to come play here because they have new facilities."
On Tuesday, Clarendon residents will cast their vote to help pay for a new athletic facility. The $5 million gym would be paid for through a millage increase. Property owners with a home worth $100,000 would see an increase of 70 dollars a year.
It's a tax superintendent Lee Vent believes is an investment in the community, as well as the school.
"The local school system can have close to 60 percent impact on the local economic activity in the community," Vent says.
And, activity is what the city needs.
In the last census, Clarendon lost 2.5 percent of its population.
"We were the biggest loser in the entire state of Arkansas," Vent says.
Vent has been a part of school district consolidations in the past, and he says with the dwindling enrollment, Clarendon-Holly Grove could see another.
"One not need travel very far to see the devestating effects losing a school has on a community," Vent says.
"You lose your school, you lose your town."
So he wants the distict to be ready with the best facilities and the ability to host tournaments and activities that could boost the local economy.
"We are the economic engine that drives the car," Vent says.
And while this almost 70- year old gym has a history, Hudson has his eyes on the future.
"A gym that size and looking that great would be very very nice in this community," Hudson says.
If this millage vote passes, the athletic facility would be built and ready by Christmas of 2018.
Two buildings would be demolished to make room on the high school campus, and the current gym would become a community facility.
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