searcy

Searcy, Arkansas

Searcy (local pronunciation: SUR see) is the largest city and county seat of White County, Arkansas, United States. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 20,663. It is the principal city of the Searcy, AR Micropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of White County. Like Searcy County, the city takes its name from Richard Searcy, a judge for the Superior Court of the Arkansas Territory.

Mike Beebe, Arkansas' current governor and former state Attorney General (2003-2007), lived and worked in Searcy several years, both in private law practice (1972-1982) and while representing the area in the Arkansas State Senate (1982-2002). His wife, Ginger, is a native of Searcy. The Beebe-Capps Expressway, a notable thoroughfare in Searcy, is named after Mike Beebe and his fellow lawmaker, John Paul Capps, both of whom engineered the funds and political willpower to complete its construction.

Searcy is the home of Harding University, a private college affiliated with the Churches of Christ and the state's largest private university. Harding College (its original name) moved to Searcy from Morrilton, Arkansas in 1934, having bought the campus of the defunct Galloway College, a Methodist college for women.

Regional ice cream producer and distributor Yarnell Ice Cream Co. has its headquarters in the city's downtown area.

History

According to Dr. Raymond Muncy's Searcy, Arkansas: A Frontier Town Grows up with America, Israel Moore, who had traveled west from Philadelphia, was in charge of laying out Searcy's original streets, and "he proceeded to name the major streets of Searcy for those of downtown Old Philadelphia near Independence Hall; Race, Arch, Market, Vine, Spring, and the tree-honoring streets of Cherry, Spruce, Locust and Pine." In 1957, Searcy named Moore Street after this 19th-century founder.

Perhaps coincidentally, Spring Street (along with downtown Searcy's Spring Park) also suggests some reference to earlier days of settlement in the Searcy area, when the community was known as White Sulphur Springs. As early as 1834, local springs with purported therapeutic properties initially drew visitors to the area, similar to the popular attraction to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

During the American Civil War, the Battle of Whitney's Lane was fought near Searcy, though the exact site is disputed. Searcy Landing, on the Little Red River, is the final resting place for some unfortunate Yankee soldiers.

On August 9, 1965, 53 contract workers were killed in a fire in the Titan missile silo outside of Searcy, in one the largest industrial accidents in US history. You may see the site in this video as it is in 2008 over 40 years after the disaster at this link

Despite losing many factory jobs, Searcy has recently experienced an economic revitalization, driven in large part by the leasing of much of the area's mineral rights by natural gas companies. Some residents, however, have noted concerns about the environmental impact of these extensive drilling projects (Hambrick "Natural State No More").

Education

Searcy is served by two public school districts. Searcy Public Schools — including Searcy High School, three elementary schools and middle and junior high campuses — serve all but the far eastern portion of the city. That portion of the city is within the Riverview School District — a consolidation of districts serving Kensett, Griffithville, Judsonia, and surrounding communities in southeastern White County extending to West Point and Georgetown. Previously, the Riverview portion of Searcy was part of the Kensett school district; Riverview High School was built in eastern Searcy following the consolidation.

Founded in 1924, Harding University, a private Christian university affiliated with the Church of Christ, has its main campus in Searcy. Harding moved in 1934 from Morrilton to Searcy, where the university has evolved and expanded to include more than 200 acres and offers more than 90 majors in 10 undergraduate degrees, 13 preprofessional programs, and 12 graduate programs. At nearly 6,500 students, Harding University is the largest private university in Arkansas.

Harding Academy is a K-12 college preparatory school in Searcy enrolling more than 600 students. Harding University oversees the school, which resides adjacent to its campus.

Arkansas State University Searcy, formerly operating as Foothills Technical Institute, is a technical campus of nearby Arkansas State University Beebe offering several two-year programs. In order to create drilling jobs for the benefit of the local populace, ASU-Searcy has partnered with the natural gas industry that is currently exploiting local natural resources (Willems).

  • Searcy Public Schools
    • Searcy High School
    • Ahlf Junior High School
    • Southwest Middle School
    • McRae Elementary
    • Sidney Deener Elementary
    • Westside Elementary
  • Riverview Public Schools
    • Riverview High School
  • Morris School for Boys
  • Liberty Christian School (K - 8)

Geography

Searcy is located at (35.247043, -91.733706).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38.3 km²), of which, 14.7 square miles (38.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.54%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 18,928 people, 6,822 households, and 4,495 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,287.4 people per square mile (497.2/km²). There were 7,405 housing units at an average density of 503.6/sq mi (194.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.24% White, 6.60% Black or African American, 0.31% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.09% from other races, and 1.25% from two or more races. 2.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,822 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 19.7% under the age of 18, 23.4% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,321, and the median income for a family was $41,334. Males had a median income of $32,445 versus $21,142 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,553. About 11.7% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.1% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

References

  • Hambrick, Pat. "Natural State No More." 1 Sept. 2007. The Daily Citizen (Searcy). Online Edition. accessed 2 Sept. 2007.
  • Muncy, Raymond Lee. Searcy, Arkansas: A Frontier Town Grows up with America. Harding Press: Searcy, 1976.
  • Willems, Jack. "Drill Training Program Coming to ASU-Searcy." 19 Dec. 2007. The Daily Citizen (Searcy). Online Edition accessed 20 Dec. 2007.

See also The Daily Citizen (Searcy), the local newspaper.

External links

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