Madison County isn’t a county full of high-rise offices or board rooms. There are some offices scattered throughout, mainly in the county seat of Huntsville – the law firms, the insurance agents – but by and large, Madison County is a county full of workers who like to get their hands dirty.

Whether it’s at any of the numerous mechanics, or the nursing staffs at Meadowview and Countryside or the logging companies or at Lew Thompson trucking or any of the other myriad small trade businesses – the welders and the contractors and the plumbers – Madison County is full of skilled laborers. It was those trades – the jobs that have to be done – that have kept Madison County alive through the economic recession of 2008, and that have kept Madison County a vital (though under-appreciated) part of the northwest Arkansas region.

Butterball and DuCommon are two of the major employers in Huntsville and Madison County (following only the Huntsville School District in terms of number of employees), but more than that, they’re a piece of our community. As a corporation, Butterball is a regular contributor to our local organizations (for an example of this, just look for the photos we run each year of Butterball officials presenting a check to the Huntsville Kiwanis Club for its annual Christmas shopping program).

It’s for those reasons that we decided to put a little bit of a brighter light on our skilled workers this week. You’ll see that section on pages 4B-7B, which feature profiles of some of our county’s hardest workers (and a little bit about the CTE facilities that are headed this way).

Unfortunately, those trade workers don’t always get the column inches in our newspaper. Our top priority is always the news, and when a person’s day-to-day job doesn’t see a lot of change to it (regardless of how important it is, such as the work our local plumbers and electricians do), it can be hard sometimes to find a fresh angle to give them the attention they need. We hope we did a little bit of that this week.

I look forward to seeing our industry here grow. I think it will as the CTE program kicks off, and the city’s industrial park finds a tenant. And I look forward to getting to write about that growth as it happens.

Shifting gears, I also want to commend the work of our staff here. As you saw on Page 1A, we brought back a pretty good number of awards from the Arkansas Press Association this year – that doesn’t happen without a good, hardworking staff, and I’m proud to say that we have that here. We don’t get everything right all the time, but we try our hardest to be your best source of local news, and, as always, if there’s anything more you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to email me with your ideas, suggestions, complaints and light threats at

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