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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S BLACK


at Monticello. “It’s kind of a long ways from what I’m doing now, but it does help in my dealings with the Forestry Service,” he said. “I under- stand how they operate a little more than some people might.” After college, Black worked for a couple of different consulting firms before taking a job at a sawmill in Union County. When he moved back home in 1986, he went to work for the Arkansas For- estry Commission as a county ranger charged with helping nonin- dustrial private landowners manage their forestlands. He worked for his father on the farm for about a year before wag- ing a successful campaign for county treasurer in 1994. Black al- ready knew a bit about campaigning. As a boy he had knocked on doors with his father. Still, his father was ready with advice. “He told me, ‘Remember who you talk to,’” Black said, explain- ing that he would come home from a day of campaigning but not be able to tell his father the names of the people he had encountered. “He also said that when you get elected to office, you quit having opinions,” Black said. “Tat’s been real hard for me. I want to tell people what I think about certain issues, and sometimes you have to bite your tongue when you’re in this business.”


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hat hasn’t stopped Black from taking leadership positions in organizations poised to keep federal funds flowing into rural


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counties like Montgomery County. He serves on the National Asso- ciation of Counties’ (NACo) Public Lands Committee, which meets twice a year. He also regularly attends NACo’s legislative conference in Washington, D.C., where he and other county elected officials from around the country lobby legislators for vital funding. Black said that the Arkansas delegation has been supportive of his


efforts. Te challenge, he said, is appealing to legislators from states unfamiliar with the complexities of a rural county with so much federal land. “Only 14 other counties in Arkansas have federal land or receive


these Secure Rural School payments, so it’s hard to make some of them understand why this is so important to us,” he said. “It’s the same way in the United States. Te bulk of the federal land is in the western states, so it’s hard to convince people from other parts of the country . . . that this is not just a western problem.” Tough his affiliation with NACo takes him away from home on occasion, Black said he feels honored to be able to lobby on that level for Montgomery County. “Some people may not think that the trips to Washington are


important or that the national conference isn’t important. Tat million and half we get from the Secure Rural Schools or that $500,000 we get from PILT, that’s why I go. To keep that money flowing,” Black said.


COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2014


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