Gene Yarbrough

District 10 state House candidate Gene Yarbrough believes the development of lignite reserves could create an economic boon for South Arkansas.

While Drew County doesn’t have the lignite reserves that are in other areas of South Arkansas, people would be willing to drive 50 miles to a job if they can start out making $20 an hour, the Star City Democrat said at a speaking engagement in Monticello Monday night.

The state is believed to have at least 4 billion tons of proved lignite reserves, and possibly as much as 9 billion tons.

“We can’t sit on our laurels and say we can’t do this,” he said. “We can do it.”

As mayor of Star City for 20 years, Yarbrough said he has fought with Little Rock bureaucrats who are always saying something can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. “I speak a positive note,” he said. “I believe we can do better.”

Yarbrough says if elected he would be an economic ambassador for Southeast Arkansas.

“I’ll be your best cheerleader in Little Rock,” he said.

Yarbrough and Gary Meggs, a Republican candidate for another state House seat, spoke at a Southeast Arkansas Tea Party meeting in Monticello Monday night. The organization, which has about 800 members across Southeast Arkansas, invites candidates, regardless of their party, to speak at their monthly meetings.

Yarbrough faces Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb and Dorothy Hall, a Grant County cattle farmer and former assistant director of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, in the May Democratic Primary.

District 10 includes the Plantersville and Marion North Box 2 precincts, roughly 750 voters, in the northeast section of Drew County as well as portions of Cleveland, Lincoln, Grant and Jefferson counties.