The Conway Kiwanis Club approved new and returning board members in its meeting on Wednesday, voting in six new members and Patrick Lewis as Kiwanis Club vice president. Lewis is slated to become president of the club in October of 2022.

Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker updated the board on the state of the county, including its COVID-19 response, issues the county is facing and projects preparing to get underway.

Baker said the county had 230 active cases of COVID-19 and that wearing a mask was essential to stop the spread. He said he is frequently asked how long the state of heightened concern for the virus will last.

“We’ll have to have a vaccine,” Baker said. “[It could be] 18 to 24 months down the road before we’re back to a sense of normalcy.”

Baker also said the Conway Human Development Center had 92 active cases of COVID-19 with eight recoveries.

In additional COVID-19 related business, Baker said hotels in the county had significant hits in business over the past few months and expressed concerns that the county fair would have to be cancelled.

Baker said Faulkner County is having a successful response to the 2020 Census, ranking first in the state in county response so far, with 65.5 percent of the county responding.

He added that his goal is to reach a 75 percent response rate and encouraged club members to get the word out about the census and its importance in determining funding allocation.

Vilonia, Greenbrier and Wooster have had the strongest response rates for the census, Baker said, with 72 percent of the cities responding.

Baker also said the county had to begin thinking about expanding its jail as the county continues to grow. Despite a decrease in inmate population during the pandemic, Baker said the jail faced long-term issues regarding overcrowding.

In other business, Baker said the county’s sales tax revenue was up 8 percent through June compared to last year. He also noted the county was preparing to begin repairs on the county’s levee.

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