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Hospital groundbreaking tomorrow

Special ceremony at Welcome Center for new Baptist facility

It’s an early step but it’s an important one that, for most Crittenden County residents, can’t get here soon enough.

An official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Baptist Hospital is set for tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. While the new Baptist Memorial Health Care, a new $25 million, 50,000square-foot facility with 20 beds, will be located north of Interstate 55 between 7th Street and Hwy. 77 North, the groundbreaking will be just a shade to the east, at the neighboring Arkansas Welcome Center.

“We’re going to have the ceremony inside and then anybody who wants to go over to the actual site we will have a bus to take them over,” said County Judge Woody Wheeless.

The new hospital will fill the void left when Crittenden Regional Hospital declared bankruptcy and closed in August 2014.

Baptist is the largest health care provider in the region with over 2,000 beds.

The cost to build the new hospital is being supported by a one cent sales tax which voter approved that will generate $30 million over the next five years.

Crittenden County and Baptist had hoped to break ground in July, but were forced to delay it until a construction agency manager is selected.

Under Arkansas law the hospital will have to be built using an agency construction management method as opposed to a construction manager at risk method, which is a fee based service where the construction manager acts in the interests of the owner (Baptist) during each stage of the project.

The ceremony is open to the public, and Judge Wheeless wants everyone to come out and get an early look at where their new major health care provider will be located.

“This will be a big event,” he said. “I want to see the public come out and be a part of it.”

By Mark Randall