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Watson honored by economics group

Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson was joined by Gov. Mike Beebe and others on Tuesday as they were honored by the Arkansas Economic Developers on Tuesday at a luncheon in Little Rock.

Watson hadn’t received the award when he spoke to the Monitor early Tuesday morning.

“Well, they asked me to be there, so I knew I was getting something,” Watson said and added that he was “surprised” by the recognition.

Watson received the 2014 Volunteer of the Year and a release listed why.

“Watson is extremely supportive of economic development in Maumelle and Central Arkansas,” the release stated. “His background as a Planning Commissioner and Volunteer firefighter in Maumelle has proven invaluable. Through Mayor Watson’s support and cooperation with the Governor’s Office and [the Arkansas Economic Development Commission], Kimberly Clark Corp and Molex Inc have both received state support for expansions, Champs Boulevard was expanded to three lanes, and Dillard’s chose Maumelle for their Internet distribution center. Watson’s passion for Maumelle goes beyond the duties of his office. After storms, [he] is active in the neighborhoods, removing damaged trees and assisting residents with issues that are not covered by city services. In addition, he participates with Love Truth Cares Ministries and travels to Honduras once a year to help build schools and other buildings in remote areas.”

The release also noted his work on Maumelle Boulevard.

“The adaptive traffic signals,” Watson said, “are what we are trying to get down. They would be interactive and recognize traffic, so they could signal ahead to the next light that it needed to stay green to allow for the cars.”

Currently the lights are timed, so at normal traffic flow and in theory, a driver could hit all green lights but that’s a relatively rare occurrence on the Boulevard.

“The problem is that we’re using 60s technology in the 21st century,” Watson said.

Mark Young, President/CEO of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce was named Outstanding Economic Developer and The Maria Haley Lifetime Leadership for Economic Development was presented to Beebe.

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