On Monday, the new Cleburne County Court Building received a celebrated dedication. Over 100 people packed the room to watch the dedication ceremony. County Judge Brenda Hunt opened the ceremony by acknowledging prior County Judge Claude Dill and his exhaustive efforts in getting the project started and seeing it through to its completion.
An opening prayer led by Wetzel Stark praised American commitment to justice and was followed by the Presentation of Colors by the American Legion Color Guard. The Heber Springs High School Brass Band played the National Anthem for the crowd and Mr. Julian Cameron, accompanied by the Heber Springs Storm soccer team lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Judge Mike Irwin introduced keynote speaker Governor Mike Beebe. Beebe reflected on his experiences in the old court building in regards to the 1980s Chastain case, which resulted in the largest settlement verdict in the history of Arkansas to that date. Beebe praised the new facility and said “No one deserves credit for this more than the citizens of Cleburne County.” He praised Cleburne County as being one of the few places in Arkansas that kept a strong sense of community and its residents for their ability to come together and provide for the needs of their community. Beebe praised Cleburne County’sefforts as the “perfect example of self governance” and tied it in with praise for American democracy by saying “This is the greatest form of self-government on this planet. The United States is still the greatest experiment in democracy in the history of mankind.” He told the citizens of Cleburne County “You are a warm and loving people” and that the community’s resolve to come together and provide the new facility for the people of the county “is a celebration of who you are”.
After Beebe’s dedication speech, Retired Arkansas State Police Officer R.L. Dunaway, assisted by Sheriff Marty Moss, unveiled a memorial plaque in honor of Thomas Smith. Smith “had a great deal of love for Heber Springs and Cleburne County”, said Dunaway.
The ceremony ended with an official ribbon cutting by Governor Beebe, surrounded by officials and residents that helped make the new court building possible.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden, Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, Mayor Jackie McPherson and the Heber Springs City Council, Josh Miller, Jim Jackson, Fairfield Bay Mayor Paul Wellenberger and councilperson Sharon Luxon, Senator John Boozman representative Tim Rippey, Heber Police Chief Bobby Walker, Sheriff Marty Moss, County Judge Brenda Hunt, and the Cleburne County Quorum Court.