Location in White County and the state of Arkansas
|• Total||4.3 sq mi (11.2 km2)|
|• Land||4.3 sq mi (11.2 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||246 ft (75 m)|
|• Density||1,146.5/sq mi (440.2/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0081843|
Beebe, Arkansas is a city in White County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 7,315 at the 2010 census, making it the second most populous in the county. The city is home to a branch campus of Jonesboro-based Arkansas State University.
It was named for Roswell Beebe, a railroad executive responsible for bringing the rail line that runs through the city. Beebe was incorporated in 1875.
As of the census of 2010, there were 7,315 people, 1,930 households, and 1,397 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,142.1 people per square mile (440.6/km²). There were 2,115 housing units at an average density of 490.0 per square mile (189.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.87% White, 5.86% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. 1.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,930 households out of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.6% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,252, and the median income for a family was $41,307. Males had a median income of $31,143 versus $20,881 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,989. About 6.6% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.0% of those under age 18 and 17.0% of those age 65 or over.
The city's education corridor is among the most prominent aspects in Beebe, with the city's public schools grouped in an extensive campus situated across the street from Arkansas State University Beebe. Significant additions have been made to the campus since January 1999, when a powerful tornado destroyed nearly complete new school buildings and historic residential areas surrounding the downtown area. The public school district grew in 2004 when schools from nearby McRae were consolidated into the district, which today serves most of southwestern and south-central White County — proceeding westward to El Paso, eastward to Garner, and to other communities in between. Beebe's district also includes the headquarters of a four-county educational service cooperative named for noted former U.S. Representative Wilbur Mills, and located on the city's Main Street.
Public education is supported by the Beebe School District consisting of:
- Beebe High School (9-12)
- Beebe Junior High School (7-8)
- Beebe Middle School (5-6)
- Beebe Elementary School (1-4)
- Badger Elementary (2-4)
- Beebe Early Childhood School (KG-1)
- Badger Academy (7-12 alternative school)
Privately run day care and preschool services are also available in Beebe. In addition, Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in eastern Beebe provides religious-based K-12 and post-secondary education.
Founded as the Junior Agricultural School of Central Arkansas in 1927, Arkansas State University Beebe's campus has evolved and grown to become a center for long-distance learning and technical trade programs in central Arkansas. The school has been affiliated with the Arkansas State University System since 1955. State Hall, the campus' administration building constructed in 1949, is among both the oldest buildings on the campus and in Beebe's educational community. In the fall of 2005, ASU-Beebe had the second highest enrollment among Arkansas's two-year colleges and universities, trailing only Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock. ASU-Beebe today is the parent campus to branch campuses in Searcy (at the former Foothills Vocational-Technical Institute) and Heber Springs, and an educational center inside Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.
Beebe is served by three main U.S. highways, US 64, US 67, and US 167. US 64 connects Beebe with the growing city of Conway, located 35 miles (56 km) west of Beebe. From Conway, US 64 meets I-40, which provides access to Fort Smith. U.S. 67/167 is a four-lane freeway that connects Beebe with Little Rock to the southwest and with Searcy, Newport, and Arkansas Highway 226 between Cash and Swifton (near Jonesboro) to the northeast. At Exit 28, US 64 joins US 67/167 as it goes northeast to Bald Knob where it branches off of US 67 and goes east to Wynne and eventually West Memphis in eastern Arkansas. Additionally, U.S. Route 67B starts from just east of US 67/US 167 at Exit 28 and goes east into downtown Beebe and then north from downtown Beebe back to US 64/US 67/US 167 as it is a concurrent highway with Arkansas Highway 31 (North Main Street). Beebe is also served by Arkansas Highway 367 (DeWitt Henry Drive), which is a former alignment of US 67 prior to the building of the US 67/US 167 freeway. Just outside the city limits of Beebe, the rural areas are served by Highway 321, Highway 267, and Highway 13. Just like many towns in central and north central Arkansas, Beebe was formed near a railroad and the Union Pacific railroad tracks traverse through the south and east portions of town. The city of Searcy has the nearest airport, as the Searcy Regional Airport is located 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Beebe. Little Rock National Airport is located approximately 35 miles (56 km) southwest of Beebe on the east side of the city of Little Rock.
Allegations of discriminatory behavior by city government based on religion
A recent article published by the New York Times explores the case of Bertram Dahl, the Pagan High Priest of Seekers Temple, and his family, who recently moved their church to Beebe. Dahl claims that city officials, led by mayor Mike Robertson, engaged in an intentional and discriminatory campaign of harassment and selective enforcement of local laws based on religious grounds.
If in fact the city discriminated against the church solely because they practice Paganism, this would violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees all individuals the right to practice their religion without government interference, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects against the selective or unequal application of a law, particularly as it relates to a protected class.
Dahl says this harassment is being carried out for Mayor Mike Robertson by not only the City but also by the Pentecostal Lighthouse Church across the street from Seekers Temple and by resident John Hays, who owns the empty lot next to Seekers Temple as well as the local Shelter Insurance.
Repeated blackbird death incidents
Beebe made international news in early January 2011 following the death of more than 3,000 red-winged blackbirds and European starlings over the community. Arkansas state wildlife authorities first received reports on December 31, 2010, shortly before midnight. Further investigation revealed the birds fell over a one-mile (1.6 km) area of Beebe, with no other dead birds found outside that concentrated zone. The birds showed signs of physical trauma, leading one ornithologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to speculate the blackbirds might have been killed by lightning, high-altitude hail or possibly even fireworks. The birds were sent to laboratories in Georgia and Wisconsin for necropsies and to determine the cause of death. On January 5, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confirmed that the incident was caused by a resident setting off professional-grade fireworks, startling the birds into a panic flight.
On New Year's Eve 2011, a few hours before entering into 2012, blackbirds again were reported to be falling to the ground in Beebe. Several hundred had plunged to their deaths according to the local television station KATV which also reported that its radar had shown a "large mass" over the town. A later report estimated the count as high as 5,000 dead birds.
- Howard B. Gist, Sr., attorney in Alexandria, Louisiana, president of the Louisiana Bar Association 1946-1947, member of the Red River, Atchafalaya, and Bayou Boeuf Levee District, born in Beebe in 1882
- John Russell Payton, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from District 64; an automobile dealer in Beebe
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Fausset, Richard. "Pagan High Priest Finds Few Believers Inside an Arkansas City Hall" (56,577). New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- [dead link]
- Time. January 3, 2011 http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/03/why-did-thousands-of-birds-drop-dead-in-the-arkansas-sky/. Missing or empty
- Weise, Elizabeth (January 5, 2011). "Fireworks likely cause of massive Ark. bird kill". USA Today.
- "Dead blackbirds fall again in Arkansas town". Boston Globe. AP. December 31, 2011. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Keneally, Meghan (January 1, 2012). "First sign of an apocalyptic year to come? Thousands of blackbirds fall to their death in Arkansas town for second New Year's Eve in a row". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Henry E. Chambers, History of Louisiana, Vol. 2 (Chicago and New York City: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925), p. 247
- "John Russell Payton, R-64". arkansashouse.org. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Beebe city government website
- Beebe Chamber of Commerce, Beebe Chamber of Commerce
- The Beebe News, city newspaper
- Beebe (White County), Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture