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A Community Assessment of 71601

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kokoro85
Words 2677
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A Community Assessment of 71601
Kiona Okoro
Arkansas State University

Pine Bluff, Arkansas is the second oldest city in Arkansas. It is also the largest city and county seat of Jefferson County. The city of Pine Bluff was founded by Europeans on a high bank of the Arkansas River heavily forested with tall pine trees. The high ground furnished settlers a safe haven from annual flooding. Joseph Bonne, a fur trader and trapper of French and Quapaw ancestry, settled on this bluff in 1819. In 1829, Thomas Phillips claimed a half section of land where Pine Bluff is located. Jefferson County was established by the Territorial Legislature, November 2, 1829 and began functioning as a county April 19, 1830 (Wikipedia, 2014).

The city prospered due to cotton production in 1860 and had one of the largest slave populations in the state. The city was devastated by the Great Flood of 1927 and the severe drought of 1930. The Army built the Pine Bluff arsenal and Grider Field in 1945. Major construction projects during the 1960s and 1970s were Jefferson Hospital (now Jefferson Regional Medical Center), a Federal Building, the Pine Bluff Convention Center complex including The Royal Arkansas Hotel & Suites, Pine Bluff Regional Park, two industrial parks and several large churches. In the late 1980s, The Pines, the first large, enclosed shopping center, was constructed on the east side of the city. The mall attracted increased shopping traffic from southeast Arkansas. The most important construction project of the 1990s was the completion of a southern bypass, designated part of Interstate 530. Carl Redus became the first African American mayor in the city's history in 2005. On November 6, 2012, Debe Hollingsworth was elected to be the next mayor of Pine Bluff, winning 49% of the vote (Wikipedia, 2014).

The 71603 zip code of Pine Bluff, Arkansas consist of college students and a high rate of crime and poverty. The area occupies a total of 110.0 square miles with a population density of 159 people per square mile. Driving through the area, you would be met with areas of poverty but also up kept neighborhoods. Dollarway Road is a historic road that runs through the area. The road signifies Arkansas’s early twentieth-century efforts at road building for automobiles. The Dollarway Road was also the longest continuous concrete pavement in the United States when complete, and it marked the first use of reinforced concrete for bridge construction in Arkansas. Tradition holds that the road was called Dollarway because it cost one dollar per linear foot to construct. The final cost was closer to $1.36 per foot. The section of the road in Jefferson County, near Redfield, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and the nomination expanded in 1999. At that time, the road was visible and was called Reynolds Road (Stager, 2013). As of 2014, the population is approximately 17,250. Since 2000, it has had a population growth of -16.14 percent (Sperling's Best Places, 2014). The population is primarily African-American, younger, and mostly single. Females account for approximately 9,200 and males approximately 9,000 (Neighborhood Link, Inc., 1997-2014). African Americans predominately make up the area with a population of approximately 15,000 while Caucasians compose of roughly 2,000 (City-Data, 2003-2013). The median age of the population is 29 years of age. The median age of females is 31 and 27 years of age of males. Of the total population, 48.8% have never been married, 26.5% are married, and 13.1% are divorced (City-Data, 2003-2013). Single parent households predominately make up the area. Out of the 2,748 single-parent households, 2,378 are women as head of household. For populations, twenty-five years and older in the 71601 area, eighty percent have graduated from high school. Those with bachelor's degree is 15.7%, and only 3.8% hold graduate or professional degrees. The unemployment rate in the 71601 area is 10.10 percent (U.S. Avg. is 6.30%). The most popular occupation for males in the 71601 zip code is service occupations followed closely by professional, and construction and maintenance. For women, sales and office occupations are most common (City Melt, 2014). Recent job growth is negative, and jobs have decreased by 1.26 percent. Compared to the rest of the country, the cost of living is 24.50% lower than the U.S. average (Sperling's Best Places, 2014). In 2011, 36.8% of resident's income was below the poverty level, and 19.7% was below 50% of the poverty level (City-Data, 2003-2013). The median household income here is $22,349 which is considerably below the national average of $ 56,604 (Neighborhood Link, Inc., 1997-2014). The homes in the 71601 zip code are mainly detached single-family dwellings and apartments. In 2011, there were approximately 7,610 houses with a median average of $61,100. House age is above average with 1,891 built during the 1960s. The average house consists of three or fewer bedrooms. The average cost of rent in the community is between $250 and $500 per month. Housing units lacking complete plumbing facilities is 13.6% and 16.2% lack complete kitchen facilities. Approximately 1.028 people live in college dormitories including college quarters off campus. The average household size consists of two persons. There are over 2,500 nonfamily households in the community (City-Data, 2003-2013). Many of the homes in the neighborhood are debilitated and run down. Government assistance housing is available in the community and near the university. Nicer homes are located in cul-de-sacs near the university as well. In 1888, the first sanitary sewer system in Pine Bluff was built to combat an epidemic outbreak. Yellow fever, typhoid fever and cholera ran rampant through many southern communities during the late 1800's. Today, Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility has 39 sewer districts and 450 miles of collection lines. Each drainage area had its own disposal facility. These treatment plants serve five separate districts and one housing project (Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility, 2010). Waste Management is the provider of residential solid waste collection and disposal for the residents of Pine Bluff. Approximately 81% of the residents drive a car alone to work. Pine Bluff transit is also available for those without transportation, but only about 1% makes use of the service. Parks in zip code 71601 include: Oakland Park, Hutson Park, Belmont Park, Trulock Public Use Area, Townsend Park, Lake Pine Bluff Park, Poplar Street Park, Sainte Marie Public Use Area, and Brump Bayou Park (City-Data, 2003-2013). Townsend Park’s history began in 1937, when the president of Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), the state’s public institution of higher learning for African Americans, donated one hundred acres of land to the state as a park for area’s African American community (Pickhardt, 2009). There are three fire stations within the area, and the Pine Bluff police department serves the 71603 area with Jeff Hubanks serving as the interim chief of police. There were 32 registered sex offenders living in 71601 zip code as of November 09, 2014. The ratio of the number of residents in zip code 71601 to the number of sex offenders is 549 to 1 (City-Data, 2003-2013). School expenditures per pupil in the area is $11,972 versus $12, 435 in the United States (Sperling's Best Places, 2014). The neighborhood consists of Pine Bluff school district. There are plans in the work to move the Dollarway school district from the 71602 district to 71601 due to revenue expenses that the city of Pine Bluff is not receiving. Dollarway School District Number 2 of Jefferson County is located just north of Pine Bluff. At the time of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision, this small district included a little piece of northwest Pine Bluff, but for the most part consisted of the area between the city limits and the Arkansas River to the north. The school district gets it name from Dollarway road, which ran from Pulaski County to Pine Bluff and bisected the urban portion of the district. The Missouri Pacific Railroad ran almost parallel, several hundred yards to the east of the road. During the 1950s, the district operated three schools. Dollarway elementary and Hardin elementary school received white students; Townsend Park received the black students. For much of its first forty years of operation, Dollarway only offered instruction up to the eighth grade. The district sent white students wishing to continue their education to Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel, or White Hall High Schools, while black high school students attended Merrill High School in Pine Bluff (Pickhardt, 2009). Bobbie Davis, a student at Merrill High, said being at Merrill was normal because as blacks it was all we knew (B.Davis, personal communication, November 1, 2014). The population then was roughly fifty percent black and fifty percent white. The community was separated by the highway and the railroad. The white population lived to the west of the Dollarway Road, and the black population lived east of the railroad tracks. Integration of the school district began September 25th, 1960, but it took eleven years to fully integrate the school district. In 2007, Dollarway student body was 92% black (Pickhardt, 2009). Also located in the zip code area is the University of Pine Bluff, a historically black college. The school opened its door in 1875 with seven students under the name, Branch Normal College. It was operated separately as part of a compromise to get a college for blacks students as the state maintained racial segregation well into the 20th century. In June 1882, after seven years, Corbin reported with great pride that "The first colored student that ever graduated and received a college degree in the State was graduated from Branch Normal College (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 2014). In 1927, the school severed its ties with the University of Arkansas and became Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College. It moved to its current campus location in 1929. In 1957, a young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed students at the commencement program for Arkansas AM&N College Nearly 50 years later, the college re-joined what is now the University of Arkansas System. As a full-fledged campus with graduate study departments, it gained its current name and university status in the process. The campus was coined the “Flagship of the Delta” and offers the state’s only comprehensive aquaculture program (Wilkipedia, 2014). Crime runs rampant in the area most related due the high rate of unemployment and low median income. The violent crime, on a scale from 1 (low crime) to 100, is 86. This scale is composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The property crime is 68 is out of 100. Property crime includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. The object of the theft-type offenses is the taking of money or property, but there is no force or threat of force against the victims (Sperling's Best Places, 2014). Despite the high crime rates, churches are numerous in the community. Churches in zip code 71601 include: Wattensaw Church, Wheeler Chapel, Belmont Church, Bethel Church, Morning Star Church, Jefferson Church, Lakeside Chapel, Mount Calvary Baptist Church, and Mulberry Grove Church just to name a few (City-Data, 2003-2013). The homicide rate is 20 compared to 8 in Arkansas (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2014). The most common means of communication are that of cell phones and smart phones. The Pine Bluff Commercial is the primary source of news in and has been around 130 years. The newspaper has a Facebook page as well as the online edition to attract all age groups. Pine Bluff Cable is the cable company for the area and provides cable as well as Internet service. Jefferson County ranks 53 out of 75 on health outcomes compared to Pulaski County ranking of 21. Forty percent of residents are obese, that is having a BMI greater than or equal to 30. Only 33% report obesity in Pulaski County. There are 1,317 cases of sexually transmitted infections in the county while Pulaski only has 793. The top two leading causes of death in Jefferson County are heart disease and cancer which rank 25 and 32 in the state (Arkansas Department of Health, 2008). Lisa Miller, school nurse at Robert Morehead, reports the description of the population at her worksite is 80% female -20% male. Seventy percent are African American and 30% Caucasians. Approximately 40% of the employees are overweight or obese compared to Jefferson County rate of 38%. Overweight & Obesity increase the risk of diabetes and hypertension and other preventable diseases. Approximately 20% of the staff are diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes (L. Miller, personal communication, October 24th, 2014). Robert F. Morehead Middle School is one of the nine school districts that was selected to have a wellness center in the facility by the Arkansas Department of Health. The center was designed to provide quality health programs and services to students, staff and families.
The center works under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention model. Coordinated School Health (CSH) is a systematic approach that is community-driven and eliminates gaps in services. There are 8 components of the model and includes: health services, mental health and social services, nutrition, physical activity, school staff wellness, health education, healthy school environment, and family/community involvement. The center provides a fitness room, Zumba classes, and a healthy eating program to name a few. Mrs. Miller explains that the community lacks the access to fresh and healthy food and that many residents are not making use of the wellness center.
Program Objectives: I. At the beginning of the year 2015, participation at the school-based wellness center will increase by 20%. II. At the beginning of the year 2015, the school-based wellness center will implement a weight loss challenge to all staff with weekly weigh-ins and monetary incentives. III. To grow a community garden by December 31st, 2014 to increase the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables within the community.


Arkansas Department of Health. (2008). 2008 Health Disparities Report. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from Arkansas Department of Health: www.healthy.arkansas/health-disparities/2008.pdf
City Melt. (2014). Zip Code 71601 Complete Analysis. Retrieved November 3, 2014, from City :
City-Data. (2003-2013). 71601 Zip Code Detailed Profile. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. (2014). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps:
Neighborhood Link, Inc. (1997-2014). Neighborhood Link. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from 71601 Zip Code Profile:
Pickhardt, J. (2009, December 1). We don’t intend to have a story: Integration in the Dollarway school district. Arkansas Historical Quarterly , 357-387.
Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility. (2010). About Us. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility:
Sperling's Best Places. (2014). Best place to live in Pine Bluff (zip 71601), Arkansas. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from Sperling's Best Places:
Stager, C. (2013, July 19). Dollarway Road. Retrieved November 2, 2014, from The encyclopedia of Arkansas history and culture:
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. (2014). About UAPB: Historical Overview. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from
Wikipedia. (2014, October 9). Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from Wikipedia:,_Arkansas
Wilkipedia. (2014, September 29). University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Retrieved October 28, 2014, from Wilkipedia:

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