Commissioner of State Lands

State of Arkansas


Press Releases
Evansville Donation
Evansville area residents will have a new emergency and education resource soon, thanks to a joint effort of Evansville Fire Prevention and the Commissioner of State Lands Office.

Commissioner John Thurston recently finalized a land donation to the prevention service. The lot, located off Caswell Lane and Hail Mountain Road, will be used for multiple purposes.

“This project has the potential to be a valuable resource for the people of Evansville,” Thurston said. “I was honored to be part of it by providing land through our public use land donation program, and I hope the local folks will get involved.”

Dennis Greenoe, chief of the fire prevention program, said the service has applied for grants to renovate the structure on the lot. Built in the late 1930s, it was vandalized in recent years and needs extensive repairs, including new electrical wiring and drywall.

The first phase of rehabilitating the property is the outside. “We’re using it to demonstrate the proper fire clearance around a house,” Greenoe said, by establishing the landscaping recommended by firewise programs. “We can show people diagrams, but it helps to have a visual and actually see what the yard should look like, and how little it can cost.”

Greenoe said he hopes the entire community will get involved, both in implementing firewise landscaping at their homes and in assisting the restoration project which will begin after the yard is rehabilitated.

The building includes a garage, which will be converted to office space for the fire prevention program. The remaining space, a one-bedroom, one-bath home with full kitchen and living areas, will offer temporary housing for people displaced by fires or other natural disasters.

When it’s not in use as a shelter, Greenoe said, the house will be available for meetings and community events. The lot is already fenced (albeit in need of a few repairs), so children could safely enjoy a birthday party at the backyard picnic tables, he said.

He plans to have the projected completed next spring. “We worked a couple of days, but the heat is pretty dangerous, and it has been so dry that we didn’t want to run saws,” he said. “We’ll do some work days after the weather cools.”

Besides the land donation, the fire prevention service has received a $500 grant from Wal-Mart in nearby Stillwell, Oklahoma. State Farm Insurance presented them with a $500 reward for Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

They have applied for other grants and are setting up a GoFundMe account. Greenoe said they’re also planning local fundraisers for later in the year.

The project will cost about $10,000, he said. “The electrical system was ripped out of the walls, so we have to replace that and replace the walls.”

The prevention service will post information about work days and fundraisers on their Facebook page (@EvansvilleFirePrevention) as those events are scheduled.

“Although I will conclude my term as land commissioner before this project is completed, I’m proud that we were able to assist with it,” Thurston said. “The Public and Homestead Land Donation Program has been an important part of our office that lets us help local communities, and I encourage other communities to explore how they can benefit from it.”
Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston Elected WSLCA Vice President
LITTLE ROCK, AR— Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston has been elected as vice president of the Western States Land Commissioners Association (WSLCA) at their recent summer conference in Omaha, Nebraska.

Created in 1949, WSLCA represents 23 western states that collectively manage over 440 million acres of public and school trust land, surface and subsurface mineral rights properties and submerged lake, river and coastal acreage. The members meet two times per year to share information about public land management and resource development strategies, to learn from experts in relevant fields and to further the organization’s established goals and objectives.

After being elected to this role, Commissioner Thurston expressed gratitude toward his colleagues, “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the leadership team of this dedicated organization. I look forward to working with them on the issues and objectives that are important to our mission.”

Arkansas will host the winter conference for the WLSCA in Little Rock from January 12-16, 2014. To learn more about WSLCA, please visit their website at www.wslca.org and to learn more about the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands office, visit www.cosl.org
Commissioner of State Lands Garners National Support for Inland Waterway Infrastructure

LITTLE ROCK, AR—During the 2012 Summer meeting of the Western States Land Commissioner’s Association (WSLCA), Commissioner John Thurston introduced a resolution encouraging Congress and the Administration to support the nation’s inland waterways.

 

Commissioner Thurston says, “Arkansans know the importance of waterway infrastructure; we often take river transportation for granted, but most of the 23 member states of WSLCA do not have navigable waterways. Still, the members recognize that they too benefit from the waterways through cost efficient and environmentally friendly transportation of goods and commodities.”

The resolution was adopted unanimously and became an official position of the organization upon adoption. “I would like to thank my fellow commissioners for helping us express to Congress and the Administration that waterways are regional in nature and benefit us all.”

Also at the meeting, Commissioner Thurston was selected to chair a special committee to examine the association’s membership dues.

 

Arkansas has long been involved in WSLCA, with several previous Commissioners serving as President of the organization. WSLCA was founded in 1949 in response to a need for more coordinated management of federal and state lands. Membership is open to any entity that manages or has title to surface or submerged public lands. Together the 23 member states manage over 447 million acres of land, mineral rights and submerged lands.

Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston Reminds You to Pay Your Property Taxes
LITTLE ROCK, AR—Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston would like to remind you to pay your property taxes by the October 15th deadline. Property taxes help fund public schools, libraries and emergency services that are essential to your county. Failure to pay your taxes on time will result in added costs. “These taxes are vital to the counties across this state. Without your tax dollars our communities will suffer,” says Commissioner Thurston. Additionally, if taxes are not paid within the following year your real property taxes may be certified to the Commissioner of State Lands office for collection. Since October 15th falls on a Saturday, tax payers should contact their county collector’s office to find out what the last day to pay will be. If your taxes are delinquent and have been certified to the Commissioner of State Lands office, we will accept payments through October 17th. Please contact us at 501-683-3053 for additional information on delinquent real property taxes.
 
Commissioner of State Lands Office Now Accepting Credit / Debit Card Payments
LITTLE ROCK, AR—Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston is pleased to announce that his office is now accepting credit and debit cards as a form of payment for delinquent property taxes. Right now this service is limited to walk-in customers only with long-term plans to expand it to mail-in, telephone and online payments. “Our customers have been asking for this option for a long time and I am happy to finally be able to offer them the convenience of paying with their debit or credit cards,” says Commissioner Thurston. Other payment options include: cash, check, certified check and money order. Customers may access their delinquent tax information on our website (www.cosl.org), or call our office at 501-683-3053, to learn how to begin the payment process.
 

Original Louisiana Purchase Plat Maps Now Available for Viewing on Commissioner of State Lands Website

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston has announced that the original Louisiana Purchase Plat Maps are now available for viewing on the office website, www.cosl.org.  These maps date back to 1815 and are not only an invaluable source of information but are a beautiful representation of early American cartography.  Commissioner Thurston is proud to have these documents as the latest addition to the online historical archives available to the public.  “Our office is committed to preserving and showcasing the history of the Arkansas General Land Office and the work done by the early surveyors of the State,” said Thurston.

Interested Arkansans may visit the Commissioner of State Lands website (www.cosl.org) to learn more about the history of Arkansas land or contact the office at 501-324-9422 | Fax: 501-324-9424 for further information.

 

Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston Begins His Term with Fresh Ideas for the Future

LITTLE ROCK, AR—Newly-elected Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston has already begun implementing changes and improvements to the office. “My vision for the future of the land office includes raising the public’s awareness of the history, purpose and functions of the office, as well as ensuring that these functions are carried out in the most timely and cost-effective ways,” said Thurston.

            The office has already introduced a new website design with not only an updated look but with additional features aimed at keeping the public informed about the Commissioner and the office.  One of these new features is a series of web videos explaining the process that a tax delinquent parcel goes through from the time it is received until it is either redeemed by the owner or sold at public auction.  Over the coming months the Commissioner will also be adding pages dedicated to community initiatives and education.

            Commissioner Thurston is also committed to the preservation and display of historic documents and books that the land office holds.  Currently the original General Land Office plat maps, stemming from the land survey that began in 1815, are being cleaned and restored so that they are preserved for years to come.  The future plans for these documents, and others held by the land office, are to display them in a safe environment along with stories from Arkansas’s past so that the public may view and learn about these treasures that have been stored for many years.

              Interested Arkansans may visit the Commissioner of State Lands website (www.cosl.org) to learn about the changes taking place or contact the office at 501-324-9422 | Fax: 501-324-9424 for further information.

© 2017 Commissioner of State Lands