Murphy: Scholarship Program Offers Hope To Small Arkansas Town

Thursday, September 27, 2007 - by Judy Frank

When the Fortune 500 company his grandfather founded decided it wanted to improve the quality of life in the small town where it is headquartered, focusing on education just seemed natural, Charles "Chip" Murphy told Chattanooga Rotary Club members on Thursday.

The upshot: Murphy Oil committed $50 million to fund El Dorado Promise, a scholarship program for all public school students in El Dorado, AR. The company will spend $5 million annually for the next 10 years helping students afford to go to the colleges of their choice.



Already, the program has generated enthusiasm throughout the community, he noted. For example, one college senior -- after learning El Dorado Promise would help pay his way to any college, anywhere -- said he wished he had known about it sooner.

"If I'd known I had choices, I would have worked harder," the student confessed.

Based on how long they attended El Dorado schools, students can get as much as $6,200 per year to help pay their college tuitions.

"We've given a raise to everybody in the community who has children," he said.

The idea is not original, Mr. Murphy confessed. "We stole it" after reading an article about the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Promise in the Wall Street Journal, he said.

As the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in a completely rural area, he said, Murphy Oil designed El Dorado Promise to meet the needs of the South Arkansas residents it targets.

El Dorado peaked in population around 1921, he said. During recent years, the community has been losing its industrial base and has seen its number of residents decline.

Today, only about 4,400 students attend public school there.

Nevertheless, Murphy Oil officials, realizing the company "can make a difference in a town of this size," is committed to making El Dorado Promise a success, he said.

"We don't know yet how this will turn out," he said. "It may be that the only thing that will come of this is that the kids going to school in El Dorado will get to go to college.

"And that's fine," he added.

But he's hoping the program will have a positive impact on the entire community, not just the students it helps through school.

Currently, Arkansas ranks low on educational achievement and number of college graduates, he noted. With any luck, this program can help change that.

And along the way, he said, it could make it easier for Murphy Oil and other employers in the area to recruit new workers from outside the area.

A 1971 graduate of Baylor School, Mr. Murphy went on to obtain a degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

Following graduation, he worked as manager of the Ashley Plantation in Tallulah, LA, and oversaw a 5,200-acre row crop operation and participated in the formation of the Great River Grain Co.

Over the years, he has:

* Worked as manager of planning and development for Deltic Farm and Timber Co. in El Dorado, AR, where he managed land acquisition and budgeting for the 450,000-acre forest product company.

* Developed and implemented the master use plan for Chenal Properties, a 7,000-acre mixed-use real estate project in Little Rock, AR.

* Spent a decade in Warsaw, Poland, where he founded International Farms, a cross-breeding project intended to improve beef production in eastern Europe.

* Designed and developed Quail Ridge, a mixed-use development in suburban Wichita, KS, that was awarded the 1996 Public Improvement Award by the state of Kansas.

Today he serves as managing member of the Murphy Group; chairman of the board of ClearPointe Technology; chief operating officer of Amaterra, Jamaica; and vice president of Loutre Land and Timber Co. in El Dorado.

He is a member of the Baylor School board of trustees.


Dalton's CALEA Accreditation Renewed

At Tuesday morning’s monthly meeting of the Public Safety Commission, Dalton Police Chief Jason Parker officially announced that his department has officially been re-accredited by CALEA (the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc). The agency was officially informed of the re-accreditation earlier this month after a team of CALEA assessors performed an inspection ... (click for more)

Protecting Our First Amendment Rights Is Topic Of First Amendment Dinner At The Jewish Cultural Center

The Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga invites the Chattanooga community to its ninth annual First Amendment Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 North Terrace Road. "This event educates us about our First Amendment rights and honors local veterans for their service," organizers said. The keynote speaker will be Anti-Defamation ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Orders Walker County To Pay Erlanger $8,705,000, Plus Interest; Question Of Attorney Fees And Expenses To Go To Jury

Federal Judge Harold Murphy, in a 63-page ruling handed down Tuesday, ordered Walker County, Ga., to pay the Erlanger Health System $8,705,000, plus interest, on the Hutcheson Hospital debt. Judge Murphy, of Rome, Ga., said the question of attorney fees and expenses owed Erlanger by Walker County should be decided by a jury trial. Walker County and Catoosa County earlier agreed ... (click for more)

Pinkston Says Offer Was Made To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Him If Prosecution Of Detective Burns Was Dropped; Judge Greenholtz "Greatly Bothered" By Any Such Offer

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said at a hearing Tuesday that an offer was made to drop a lawsuit filed against him by Gatlinburg detective Rodney Burns if he would dismiss two perjury counts against Burns. The district attorney said he should not be disqualified from continuing to prosecute the case or else attorneys would begin suing him or the judge to get a new DA or trial ... (click for more)

Problems With The Proposed Apartments In Lookout Valley

I am deeply troubled at the way in which this proposal has been handled. The blatant disregard for the residents of Kelly's Ferry Road and the wishes of the Lookout Valley Area Plan (which was adopted by the city in 2003) by Chip Henderson and Tommy Austin amazes me. Yes, there was a meeting of the Lookout Valley Neighborhood association in August, but it wasn't on its normal ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ooltewah & The Bullies

During the week of Christmas I got an email from a longtime friend at the Knoxville News-Sentinel that laughingly wondered what kind of basketball do you people play (in Chattanooga?) It included sketchy details of the rape, and subsequent surgery, of an Ooltewah High School basketball player who had been assaulted by his own teammates at a Gatlinburg holiday tournament. Today ... (click for more)