- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (AP) - Two Lawrence County towns are considering merging to save on municipal services and increase population.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1lfDQZJ ) reported Monday that the mayors of Walnut Ridge and College City say the time is right for a merger. The towns discussed joining together in 2012, but talks failed.

Officials plan to collect signatures calling for an election to determine if residents want the two towns to merge. Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp says he anticipates an election to be held in early spring.

College City, where Williams Baptist College is located, is bordered by Walnut Ridge on three sides, and it relies on Walnut Ridge for fire, sewer, mosquito control and water services. The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office provides police protection.

“The cities are already meshed with each other. There is a great deal College City cannot do for itself,” Rhoads said.

Walnut Ridge’s mayor says merging would give the new town a population of over 5,000 people, which would be a good selling point when recruiting new businesses. Walnut Ridge has a population of 4,890. College City has a population of 490.

According to Snapp, College City has no income base and there is a duplication of services for both towns.

Williams Baptist College President Tom Jones says he is in favor of the merger and the college will not be affected by the change since the school is so much a part of Walnut Ridge already. Jones also noted that the school fixes the roads that go through campus that don’t actually belong to the institution.

“The bottom line is that our insurance ratings would improve if we merged and there may be more state grants for roads,” Jones said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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