Construction of new school threatens historic sidewalk in Arkansas

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EARLE, Ark. — Construction is moving full-speed ahead in Earle, Arkansas on a new elementary school. The $7 million building is expected to be ready in July.

If you visit the school, you’ll see that the names of every Earle High School graduate from 1923 to 1985 was etched into the sidewalk outside of the historic building.

Arthur Maples’ name is among them. He graduated in 1979. “We just paid our dollar, and they got somebody else to come in and do the writing of the names in,” he said.

But lately Maples has found it harder to find his name.

The sidewalk stretched in front of the new Earle Elementary School that’s currently under construction. There’s concern that some of the concrete slabs may be damaged beyond repair.

“My family personally has six names inscribed on the stones,” Robert Campbell, a 1981 Earle High School graduate, said.

Campbell is spearheading an effort to save as many of the concrete sections as possible. He says he was shocked to find out construction of the new elementary school would mean destruction of what’s called the “senior sidewalk.”

“There are a lot of really important names and ‘senior walkway’ slabs for a lot of people who came through the Earle High School system.”

He says construction crews have been careful to avoid damaging the sidewalk, but it’s clear that portions have been torn up to install water and sewer lines.

Campbell hopes as many concrete sections as possible can be removed and placed on the front lawn of the old high school, which is on the national register of historic places.

Campbell says he is compiling a roster of names in hopes of re-creating the sidewalk.

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