Works Progress Administration, known as the WPA was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings, streets, bridges, roads and numerous other projects.
Marion and Crittenden County greatly benefited from this agency and the many projects done here through the years of 1935-1943.
Some of the streets to be improved with cement bound macadam or cut black asphalt, which would include curbing and drainage, included: East and West Depot, East and West Elm; North and South College, East and West Carlisle, North and South Walker.
Other projects submitted and approved were to construct recreational center at Shady Grove, Ky, (new gymnasium) $2,027.00, Training work centers for women at Marion, $7,782.20, to construct playground at Frances Consolidated School, Frances, Ky., $2,269.00, (Frances also got a new gymnasium) Construct playground at Mattoon Consolidated School grounds, $1,5469.00.
Dec. 13, 1935. The rock crusher began operation at the Alexander-Hopsons quarry, Shady Grove, crushing rock for the use of W.P.A. in the paving and curbing of the various streets in the city previously designated for these improvements. The first of the rock so delivered will be placed for use around the court Square in order that this paving and curbing may be completed at once and after this to the other streets so named.
In March of 1936 the Press tells us that the work of preparing the streets around the Court Square for paving is rapidly progressing since the moderation of the weather. The remainder of the sewage has been completed and preparations are now under way for the laying of the curbs.
Another important road project that was completed in October of 1938 was the Dycusburg-Kuttawa road. The bridge connecting Lyon and Crittenden counties was opened last week. With the completion a direct route to Lyon County is now open to citizens of the Dycusburg area.
We know they helped with the building of several bridges in the county. In 2013 the Fiscal Court authorized the replacement of the bridge on the Bells Mines Road. Prior to the demolition of this bridge it was noticed that this foundation stone indicated the WPA had constructed the original structure in 1939. The stone was removed and preserved for historical purposes. This historical stone was presented to the Crittenden County Historical Museum in Oct. 2023 to be kept and preserved.
Perhaps one of the last large projects completed by the WPA was the demolition of the old Marion Grade and High School building and replacing it with a beautiful new building in 1938.
This is why it is such a shame and disgrace for us to have let this beautiful and historical building sit and slowly fall into ruin, a ruin so bad that they say it is beyond any kind of repair now, due to the expense.