Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson visited the southern part of his state early this week to participate in the El Dorado Promise Signing Day, where hundreds of El Dorado High seniors don purple graduation gowns and purple baseball caps and sign a “letter of intent” to attend their college of choice. And the governor praised the community, recognized its 90-percent business occupancy and called the Promise the foundation for all the City’s recent success. “El Dorado is the biggest comeback story in Arkansas,” he said.
The El Dorado Promise — through the generosity of the Murphy Oil Company — funds up to 100 percent of tuition and the recipients can attend any accredited two- or four-year institution in the United States. The Class of 2015, which has now had about 300 “signers,” will be heading to at least 35 different colleges and universities, including out-of-state options like Baylor, Carnegie-Mellon, LSU, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M.
So impressed was Governor Hutchinson, he had First Lady Susan Hutchinson fill in for his weekly address and she began with this:
As executive director of Main Street El Dorado, Mark Givens, fields a lot of calls from people asking about his town. He’s happy to talk.
He tells them about the El Dorado Promise scholarships; the revitalization of Main Street; the plans for a one-of-a-kind arts-and-entertainment district; the new Murphy Oil headquarters; the music festival; and the upcoming renovation of the Municipal Auditorium.
Hearing all that, some folks are skeptical. After all, El Dorado is a small town in south Arkansas built on a 1920s oil boom. So Mark keeps a file of internet links about all the progress and sends them to the skeptics. Otherwise, he says, “they think I’m making all this up.”
Sometimes the truth is better than fiction.