Ever feel like you’re having to take the world on all by yourself? Everything is your responsibility and no one is there to help you shoulder the load.
Wonder if towns ever feel that way? Well, if so, Garner shouldn’t have to worry. Turns out, there are three towns in the United States called Garner. Our Garner is the largest of the three, by a good bit, but the other two Garners – one in Iowa, the other in Arkansas – sound like interesting places to hang your hat, too. Perhaps you might even find one of them to be an interesting vacation destination, just for comparison sake.
So if you’re a feeling a bit like you’re carrying too much of the load, here’s a little primer on Garner, Ark. Next week we’ll take a closer look at Garner, Iowa.
Garner, Ark., with a population of just 284 souls, is the smallest of the three Garners. It lies about 45 minutes northeast of Little Rock and about 30 minutes north of a road we are all familiar with – Interstate 40 – pretty much in the center in the state.
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Small as it is, Garner, Ark. has its own government. Mayor Dorothy Hanner, who was a commissioner in the town for 28 years, was appointed to the top spot last summer when the sitting mayor moved outside the town limits. She says people in Garner, Ark. have many of the same concerns people in Garner, N.C. have. They want government to keep the potholes repaired. They want their government to take care of drainage problems when it rains. The Arkansas town doesn’t have its own police department. Instead, they rely on the White County Sheriff’s Department when a law enforcement need crops up. Otherwise, Hanner says, people are pretty laid back there.
Garner, Ark. isn’t exactly a retail hub, Hanner explains. “The freeway doesn’t run through town. It runs about a quarter mile outside of town, so that kind of takes care of that,” Hanner said. In other words, traffic jams in the Arkansas town exist only in people’s imaginations. It also means there’s not much call for local businesses. “We don’t even have a Quick-Mart or anything like that,” Hanner told me.
But it’s not like there’s nothing to do in Garner, Ark. The town has a park. It’s called Aunt Sadie’s Fun Park. It sits next to the town hall and there’s playground equipment there and a pavilion. Every five years, townspeople throw a party to celebrate the town’s anniversary. The next five-year anniversary comes around next year. Though the town wasn’t incorporated until 1971, the area was first settled in the 1850s. A post office has operated in Garner, Ark. since 1889.
And if parks and playground equipment aren’t your thing, there’s a community center. And next to that, there’s a gymnasium built in 1920 that used to be part of the school there in Garner, Ark. The school’s gone now – students have to go to nearby Beebe (population 6,000) to attend classes – but the gym remains a central part of the community.
The town of Searcy is a little ways up Highway 367 from Garner. It’s the county seat and people sometimes go there to shop or eat, but Garner folks have other options. “If you’re going to go do any serious shopping, you go to Little Rock,” Hanner said. In that way, Garner, Ark. might not be all that different than Garner, N.C.