A day after three Pine Bluff City Council members remarked on their upcoming quest to repeal a Jan. 6-approved resolution allotting $175,000 for an image enhancement campaign, a trio of aldermen supporting the study stated their collective case.

A day after three Pine Bluff City Council members remarked on their upcoming quest to repeal a Jan. 6-approved resolution allotting $175,000 for an image enhancement campaign, a trio of aldermen supporting the study stated their collective case.


"Whatever it takes to create a new energy in Pine Bluff, we have to do it in 2014," Alderman Steven Mays said. "This is the time that we need to take action to move from the bottom to the top of the list among Arkansas cities. It’s time for us to work together, put Pine Bluff on track and showcase our city, making certain that people know what we’ve got to offer."


Mays said Pine Bluff’s generally unfavorable perception is "unfair and unrealistic."


"Our image across the state and nation isn’t reflective of so much of the great elements and great people that we know exist here," he said. "We need a solution. We need to renew from within. If an image campaign would create a positive tone for our city, we need to get busy with it. We need to be working together to move our city forward for ourselves, but especially for our young people."


Mays said he didn’t envision an image crusade as a tool of advancement, but he has appreciation for the idea.


"This is Mayor (Debe) Hollingsworth’s vision," he said. "I have some visions of my own, and I know how important they are to me. In my time as an alderman, I’ve learned to work and reason with others in helping to make their visions come true. I think this is a vision that could bring about a lot of good results."


Alderman Wayne Easterly said he would oppose the proposed repeal at Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. council session.


"I can’t be for that at all," he said. "We’ve got to do something to get to where we should and can be, to break this negative cycle that has been keeping us from reaching our potential. We’ve got to break down this negative perception and turn it all around into positives. I have no doubt that we can do it, but we’ve got to start the process somewhere. If we do nothing, nothing’s going to happen. Just wishing for something isn’t enough — we’ve got to make it happen, and I think the campaign is a step in the right direction."


The co-sponsors of the repeal resolution — Alderwoman Thelma Walker and Aldermen Glen Brown and George Stepps — cast the lone nays in the Jan. 6 vote on the campaign. Joining Easterly and Mays in voting for the appropriation’s approval were Aldermen Charles Boyd, Bill Brumett and Lloyd Holcomb Jr.


Brown, Stepps and Walker argue that The Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Economic Development Tax Board already promote the city, but Easterly said those interests function differently than would a promotional campaign group.


"The alliance and the chamber and the tax board primarily promote industries and businesses and seek to bring in new job opportunities," he said. "But there’s no current effort on our general image."


Brumett, the senior council member, said the image campaign wasn’t just a recent thought.


"Mayor Hollingsworth and I had discussions soon after she was elected (in November 2012) about working to educate people on the good things in our community," he said. "We never intended to put up billboards or come out with a new, glitzy logo. We want to remind people that there is more to Pine Bluff than just the stories about crime and unemployment."


Brumett said he and the mayor agreed that before a campaign occurred, some internal city government issues needed to be addressed. He thinks the city is experiencing a new "quality of life" because of successful strategies in reducing crime.


"We’re making progress, but there’s still more work to be done," he said, adding that an image campaign would aid in "enhancing the positives and dispelling incorrect perceptions.


"We have so many good people here and great things to enjoy and show off to visitors," Brumett continued. "Sure we have some issues, but I can assure you that there are a lot of people just like me — we’re Pine Bluff proud. This city has a rich history of 175 years, and I think we ought to be exploring ways that our future can be even stronger than our past."