Welcome to West Memphis!
A& P gets nod to put greeting sign atop levee
The West Memphis Advertising and Promotion Commission is about to put some new funds from the tourism tax to work. St.
Francis Levee District CEO Rob Rash gave commissioners the nod for city welcome signs atop the levee during the April A& P meeting.
The signs will be set facing traffic inbound to West Memphis along both Interstate 40 and Interstate 55 on the levee, according to the plans discussed. The verbal agreement was long hoped for by the A& P.
“We want to revisit the possibilities of a couple of signs that meet your criteria on top of the levee,” said Director of Tourism Jim Jackson.
“We are all in, absolutely,” replied Rash. “We will get a permit with the Army Corps of Engineers which is not a problem. The footing is fine in it makes it easier to get it passed through the Corps. The sign is fine and we will get those details worked out.
We want to be good neighbors.”
The design details previously discussed centered on a special kind of foundation for the signs. A spread foot foundation stands above the original grade and was specified to preserve strength integrity by preventing penetration into the levee.
According to the commissioners representing tourism, hospitality and restaurants, many travelers patronizing their businesses fail to realize they are in Arkansas or that West Memphis is not a portion of the Bluff City. The new electronic signs will not only serve to better orient travelers but also light the way announcing certain special events in the city.
City electricity is close at hand on the levee near each interstate. Commissioners then turned attention to the kind of sign.
“We want a sign suitable to be easily seen at 65 miles an hour,” said Jackson. “It won’t be big like a billboard, but it won’t be a speck. It will say welcome to West Memphis.
Rash was willing to be flexible on the signs’ specs. “If you look at and see it in ‘real size’ and it needs to be bigger, we can work that out, too,” said Rash.
“They will be one-sided and have a little bit of an angle to face the Interstate,” said Jackson.
Lighting the sign was discussed. Solar power had been considered but Rash pointed out overhead power.
“We have it right there at our shop on I-55 and it crosses the levee to go to the weigh station on I-40.”
Jackson also brought up upgrading the welcome sign in the triangle in front of Walgreens on Missouri to a digital sign.
“We want it to be a welcome sign and maybe announce A& P sponsored events,” said Jackson.
“You’ve seen the billboards in Memphis that look like really nice photographs. It’s like a TV monitor that can be remotely changed for an emergency or an Amber Alert.”
“We need to build a policy for certain announcements, but these signs will help us out a lot,” said Councilman James Pulliaum. “People come across the bridge and get turned around — first thing they are going to see is our sign that they are in West Memphis.”
“The atmosphere is right to get it done now,” said Mayor Bill Johnson.
“This will be a huge step forward,” said Councilwoman Ramona Taylor to Rash. “It will be marvelous if you would work with us.
We have been looking forward to this for 22 years.”
By John Rech