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story.lead_photo.caption Janelle Jessen/Herald-Leader Officials from Simmons Foods, the city and Tailwaggers broke ground on a new dog park on the west end of Bob Henry Park on Monday morning.

Officials from Simmons Foods, the city and Tailwaggers broke ground on the Tails and Trails Dog Park on Wednesday morning.

The new park will be built on the west end of Bob Henry Park and will include fenced areas for large and small dogs, a fenced area with an agility course, a sidewalk, a pavilion with seating for people and dog watering stations.

City board members approved a bid of $163,233 for the construction of the dog park and accepted a grant from Simmons Foods in the same amount at their May 1 meeting. In December, the city received a $50,000 matching grant from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Outdoor Recreation Grants Program for the construction of the fence around the dog park. The city is responsible for paying the remaining $48,926 in fencing costs.

The project is expected to be completed by late summer and a grand opening is planned for October, according to Renae Sasnett, who was a driving force behind the project.

"Tails and Trails Dog Park will be a great addition to the city of Siloam Springs," said Mayor John Turner. "You can just add it to the long list of quality of life amenities for our residents. Siloam Springs is truly blessed to have something for everyone, from the kayak park to mountain bike trails to great shopping, wonderful restaurants, lovely parks to enjoy, miles of walking trails, the family aquatic center, a farmers market, a great public library and now we can add to that list, dog park."

Turner said the dog park would not be possible without Simmons Foods.

"Simmons continues to invest in our community and for that we are truly blessed and thankful," he said. "Public, private partnerships are a vital part of a robust community and we couldn't ask for better partners than Mark and Todd Simmons."

The park will give dogs a fenced area place to play off-leash, said Mark Simmons, chairman of Simmons Foods.

"We're trying to make all of Siloam Springs very family friendly," he said.

Sasnett, who serves as an executive assistant to Simmons chief financial officer, approached Mark Simmons in 2015 about the need for a dog park in Siloam Springs. She worked with Ken Kraft to come up with a proposal, and the Simmons employees reached out to the city, the animal shelter and Tailwaggers to create a plan for the park.

Sasnett said her German Shepherd, Sampson, helped her realize that Siloam Springs needed a dog park. She explained that while she was training Sampson, she had to drive to Fayetteville or Bella Vista to give him an area that he could run off leash and socialize with other dogs.

"I'm elated that this is actually coming to fruition," she said. "It's just an amazing feeling to see, of course the supporters of (the dog park) and of course Mark, being my biggest supporter."

Simmons said that while his company is most well-known for producing chicken, it is also the largest private label producer of dog food in North America. The company worked with Sam Walton to start Walmart's Ol'Roy brand of dog food in the 1980s, and now does contract manufacturing for companies such as Blue Buffalo, Nestle brands, Mars brands, and private labels for big box retailers and grocery stores.

In Siloam Springs, Simmons has converted its plant No. 1 to a treat plant, which is currently producing 9 million pounds of treats a year, Simmons said. The company also has dog food plants in Emporia, Kan., Pennsauken, N.J., and Toronto, Canada, he said.

"We're kind of the best kept secret," he said.

General News on 05/09/2018

Print Headline: City breaks ground on dog park

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