Boone and Newton Counties, Arkansas

July 2014

Boone and Newton Counties occupy more than 1,400 square miles of northwestern Arkansas, from the northern slopes of the Ozark Mountains to the Missouri border. Almost a quarter of the population lives in Harrison—a city of about 12,000 in Boone County—but most people live in small towns or are scattered throughout the rural, mountainous region.

Here, there is a real sense of community pride and connectedness. Roots in Boone and Newton Counties run generations deep for many families, and daily life revolves around children’s activities in school, church, scouting, sports and 4-H programs. More recently, and in part due to the success of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Ozarks partnership, a renewed awareness and use of the vast hiking and trails system in Newton County has been achieved. Capitalizing on these strengths, local leaders have been working for more than a decade to address childhood obesity and other health issues. Harrison, in particular, has been a model for the region.

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Ozarks community partnership was born when NAPHE, the North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education, received a Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities grant in 2009. Due to the strong relationships between NAPHE, the local Hometown Health Coalitions in Boone and Newton Counties, and many other key partners, Healthy Kids, Healthy Ozarks has made great strides in improving the quality of life in both counties.

Project Coordinator Cindy Miller is encouraged by the progress that the reinvigorated Mayors Council on Trails has made, which helped the city secure state funding for completion of a critical section of the trails system in downtown Harrison. “A connected trails and sidewalk system would provide freedom for all types of commuters to travel safely throughout our beautiful city. Furthermore, a trails system will boost the local economy by attracting new business and industry and encouraging increased community interaction among residents and visitors to our area.” Miller feels that great strides have been made in the last four years and that grant funding enabled the Healthy Kids, Healthy Ozarks partnership to make noticeable progress in a relatively short period of time.

Key Accomplishments

  • New and improved sidewalks and pedestrian crossings in downtown Harrison.
  • Annual walk-to-school days and two Safe Routes to School grants from the Arkansas Highway Department.
  • New bike lanes and improved pedestrian crossings on Main Street in downtown Harrison, which are also calming traffic.
  • Recognition by the Harrison City Council of the “Mayor’s Council on Trails,” through which the city gained $60,000 in state funding to complete a section of the Dry Jordan trail.
  • A network of new community gardens in four different locations across the city.
  • New and improved farmers’ markets, which provide fresh, local, affordable produce to Boone and Newton County residents.
  • A unique partnership between the Ozark National Forest, the Buffalo National River and the Jasper School District promotes hiking and outdoor activity for
    teens in Newton County.
  • Private fundraising to purchase playground and exercise equipment for installation in a local park along Lake Harrison.