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story.lead_photo.caption Janelle Jessen/Siloam Sunday The SIloam Springs Civitans Club presented their first annual Servant Heart Award to the special education teachers and paraprofessionals in the Siloam Springs School District during Thursday's school board meeting. The club also presented teachers and paraprofessionals with sonic gift cards. Doris Henderson, Civitan member and retired SSSD special education director, explained that April is Civitan awareness month and Civitan president Jerry Cavness read a proclamation honoring the special education teachers. Pictured, from left, are Cavness; Henderson; Shawna Ascencio-Porter, SSSD special education director; Samantha Gutierrez, assistant special education director; Civitan Dixie Shoptaw; and Civitan Steve Thomas. Civitan is an international group that supports people with disabilities and families of people with disabilities.

The Siloam Springs School District is purchasing an 11-acre tract of land next to the rodeo grounds after the sale of the rodeo grounds fell through earlier this year.

School board members voted on Thursday evening to purchase an approximately 11-acre piece of property from a private party for the possible development of a new sports complex.

The property, which adjoins the high school parking lot to the south and the rodeo grounds to the east, was owned by "Wilden Revocable Trust, John R. Elrod Revocable Trust," according to the real estate contract. The purchase price is set at $40,000 an acre or approximately $440,000 depending on the final survey.

The school district began negotiations with the city to purchase the rodeo grounds in October, and the project has been in the works for nearly a decade. However, the city has a 100 year contract to provide facilities for the Siloam Springs Riding Club and city board members decided the cost of rebuilding the rodeo facilities on city owned property located near South Arkansas Highway 59 was too high.

Last fall, the city budgeted $800,000 to build the new rodeo grounds, but estimates for the project came in at $1.4 million leaving a $600,000 shortfall. The school originally offered $35,000 per acre for an 11-acre portion of the rodeo grounds, but upped their offer to $40,000 an acre in March. City administrator Phillip Patterson responded that he was grateful for the offer but the additional $55,000 was not enough to close the gap.

After it became obvious the deal with the city wasn't going to happen, the school district went back and looked at land just east of the rodeo grounds, according to Assistant Superintendent Jody Wiggins.

"We are thrilled to purchase this land for $40,000 an acre, which was our last offer to the city for the rodeo grounds," Superintendent Ken Ramey said. "Mr. Wiggins has been very thorough and very instrumental in following up and working with a local realtor here in town."

Wiggins said the land will be used for the "possible development of a new sports complex." He said the land potentially has enough space for a baseball field, a softball field and tennis courts.

He explained to board members that he is not exactly sure what the final acreage is going to be. In the negotiation, the owners said they would like to keep the 360-foot strip of land along Cheri Whitlock Avenue. When the piece of land is measured, it will be somewhere between 11 and 13 acres, Wiggins said.

Ramey called the purchase a win-win for the school district and the property owners.

"I'm pretty excited to be able to capture that piece of land by the high school parking lot area," he said.

General News on 04/15/2018

Print Headline: School purchases land next to rodeo grounds

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