As he did in May 2017, one year later Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was back in Hope for a mid-afternoon visit on Friday and right back on Smith Road off Highway 29 North.

As he did in May 2017, one year later Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was back in Hope for a mid-afternoon visit on Friday and right back on Smith Road off Highway 29 North.
This time, Hutchinson was in town to transfer the deed of the state-owned Arkansas Migrant Center over to Hempstead County.  Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, on hand for the transfer ceremony, said county will repurpose the 72-room facility into a "Juvenile Behavior Center" for young people.
The State of Arkansas had not used the facility since 2013, and the buildings and nine-acre property around it, has essentially been closed since then. When Hutchinson was last in Hope, and on the same grounds, he had dedicated the new District Veterans Service office at the Arkansas Workforce Center across the property.
This time, Hutchinson said, “If the county can utilize this property and have a plan for it, then we are doing the right thing in transferring this property. It is the effective utilization of state resources. And, there is a great need for community based juvenile services so they do not have to travel hundreds of miles away.”
Prior to the formal ceremony, Hutchinson and Morse toured a couple of the rooms as Morse explained the concept.
Both Morse and Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton, in separate statements, said that Hempstead County spends close to $100,000 a year transporting juveniles to facilities in faraway places like Batesville or Mansfield.
“If we can keep our juveniles from becoming better criminals and teach them and give them the education they need right here, then I think Hempstead County and the state of Arkansas will be a better place,” Singleton said during his speech.
Over the past five years, Hempstead County has had the highest rate per capita of juvenile incarceration in the State of Arkansas. The existing Hempstead County Detention Center is a dedicated housing lockup for adults, and not juvenile offenders.
A crowd estimated at 150 persons, including judges, law enforcement officers, county officers, and Chamber of Commerce officials, turned out for the formal ceremony, which was held under the center’s Pavilion as it had rained earlier in the day.
State Senator Larry Teague and State Representative Danny Watson were also present at the ceremony, which also featured a speech by First Baptist Church Pastor Daniel Bramlett. Bramlett announced a concurrent faith-based effort called the “Banner Hope Center” on the adjacent property behind the Migrant Center.
Bramlett, who sat next to Hutchinson and Morse behind the podium, said “Hope is a broken place. While we are very excited about many positive changes we see in our city, I am here today to speak to the reality that we have a good distance left to go.”
“For years we turned a blind eye to the broken state of our town. We feel the symptoms of its brokenness all of the time. We can see the darkness that has overtaken many of our neighborhoods. Our school employees will quickly tell you about the vast segment of parents who are almost completely disengaged from the lives and decisions of their children,” he said.
Bramlett said the The Banner Hope Center will work in conjunction with the Hempstead County and the proposed new “Juvenile Behavioral Center” in every way possible.