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From the Stuttgart Daily Leader
By Shea Higgerson

Posted Feb. 26, 2016 at 12:19 PM

Stuttgart High School (SHS) and DeWitt High School (DHS) students are working on a pilot project as part of the EAST Initiative in partnership with Communities Unlimited to develop programs for sustainable economic development.
Robyn Lane of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas and Tami Hornbeck, community facilitator for Communities Unlimited, were on hand Thursday at SHS to help students with the program. SHS students are working on developing a map of Stuttgart’s water system and DHS students are working on a biodiesel project.
“EAST students have some of the skill sets that can be useful in community development,” Lane said.
Tommy Lawson, director of Stuttgart Municipal Waterworks, was also on hand to help SHS students with the mapping of the Stuttgart water system. He said the map the students are developing would eventually help waterworks employees find water valves easier and will also help the Stuttgart Fire Department know how much water each plug will put out.
“We hope this goes well…it can provide some really significant long-term impacts,” Lane said.
SHS students will develop a web-mapping app that shows information about the water infrastructure, so workers won’t have to rely on a paper map and can locate things immediately on a mobile device.
Communities Unlimited will be able to provide EAST students with internships, so they’ll be able to provide the type of services they’re learning in class.
“We see this as a way to develop those skills and open students’ eyes to career opportunities,” Lane said.
DHS students are working on collecting local feedstock, such as used vegetable oil and oilseeds for crops, to produce biofuel, which is being processed in DeWitt. Instead of throwing away used vegetable oil from homes or restaurants or shipping out, they hope to capitalize on the value of it by turning it into biofuel.
The City of DeWitt is using it in their equipment and they hope to expand its use and promote recycling of feedstock throughout the county and to local schools and farmers. It will help circulate wealth within the community and help create jobs, according to Hornbeck.
“We want to be able to take these strategies to other communities to be able to implement them,” Hornbeck said.
DHS is working on placing more recycling containers for oil and encouraging more people to participate. The city recycling center in DeWitt and ARCO Feed and Supply in DeWitt currently have areas to recycle used vegetable oil — and it must be vegetable oil.
Communities Unlimited works on helping communities become more sustainable and self-sufficient and EAST students partnering with the company are getting real-world experience and learning how to create sustainable communities. This project is expected to last over several semesters or years, according to EAST instructor Jonathan Watson, but the students eventually hope to present their plans at a city council meeting.