The city of Benton is one step closer to having a new welcome sign.

Benton Mayor Tom Farmer announced earlier this year that the city plans to create a new sign welcoming visitors.The mural will be created on the retaining wall at Exit 117 near the Econo Lodge hotel.

“On our Welcome-to-Benton wall, which is presently painted white with intentions to have ‘Welcome to Benton Home of the Panthers’ on the wall in maroon, should be completed by the end of this month,” Farmer said.

Volunteers gathered in June to begin the process by whitewashing the wall and covering the faded paintball sign that has been in place for years.

Farmer also added that an additional volunteer group will begin the creative process this month.

“We will have a volunteer group, hopefully paint on Saturday, July 20, around 8 a.m.,” Farmer said. “To dress the wall up, we will also be painting the rail above it black.”

In the early planning stages of the project, students from Benton High School would be creating and applying the design, but during the May city council meeting, Farmer said that was no longer the case and that local business people would be in charge of the creative aspects of the project.

The A&P Commission approved $4,000 to be given to the city for the sign. The rent for the wall is estimated at $3,600 per year with the remaining $400 to go toward paint and supplies.

In May, the council approved a resolution allowing the city to enter into a lease agreement with Johnny McMahan, who owns the retaining wall.

“We hope to have (the sign) completed by the 21st of this month, if weather permits,” Farmer said.

Volunteers are still needed to help with the project. If you would like to be a part of the projects, call Tina Coston at 501-776-5905.

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