Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.
This past week, my family celebrated the life of my uncle, Carlton Burnett. He passed away on Independence Day after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. As we reflected on the man and his life, I began to realize what a major impact he had on the development of Conway and Faulkner County.
Carlton was born and raised on a farm in Pleasant Valley, north of Conway. He and his brother worked hard with their father in clearing and farming the land. While still in high school, he built his first pond with an old Ford tractor. He loved working outdoors and his strong work ethic would serve him well the rest of his life.
After a brief stint doing factory work, Uncle Carlton worked for Nabholz Construction, helping with the general site work for the Titan II missile silos that were installed in the Central Arkansas area during the early 1960s. He then went to work for Bernard Nabholz.
From Nabholz as well as John McConnell, Carlton learned the ins and outs of road work, site work and utility work. Carlton considered Nabholz a great friend and mentor.
In 1973, Uncle Carlton started Jericho, Inc., a utility contracting company. One of his first big jobs was building eight underground lift stations at Holiday Island on Table Rock Lake in 1975. He started a second company, Central Boring in 1978 and by 1979 he was doing the street and utility work for subdivisions in the new town of Maumelle.
Carlton and Ronnie Mobley, a Morrilton contractor, started a third company, Landex (short for land excavation) Corporation, in 1985. This company focused on highway and heavy construction work for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department while Jericho, Inc. continued to focus on utility work. Later Carlton bought Mobley out so he could focus on building up his own businesses.
One of the larger projects Landex worked on in Faulkner County was the rebuilding of Highway 25 north of Lake Beaverfork and the replacement of the King’s Bridge that crosses the Cadron Creek. In the early 1980s, the roadbed was raised to lessen the prospect of flooding. The steel truss one-lane bridge was replaced with a two-lane concrete bridge.
In Conway, Landex Corporation was the general contractor for the construction of Dave Ward Drive from Interstate 40 to Tucker Creek. This project included the bridge over the railroad tracks and Highway 65. Landex also connected Hogan Road to the Old Morrilton Highway by blasting out Cadron Ridge.
In the 1990s, Carlton began to work with Conway developers, particularly Hal Crafton, in establishing new residential subdivisions to meet the high demand for housing at that time. In 1993, his company installed utilities and roads for four subdivisions and in 1994, another five or six more subdivisions.
In his spare time, Carlton worked on his farm. He raised cattle and had about 340 acres planted soybeans and rice each year. In 1992, he began to develop his own subdivisions. He subdivided 240 acres of the farm, installing the utilities and laying out roads for a restricted country estate called Summerhill Place.
He went on to develop many more subdivisions in the Greenbrier area, buying numerous pieces of farmland, cleared them and put in roads and utilities. Some of those subdivisions are Springbrook, Greystone, Pearson Place, Porter Field, McCabe Mountain, Shadow Valley, Oak Harbor and Crystal Cove. He also developed Cimarron Park, the industrial park just north of the 124 interchange.
There are numerous other examples of the impact Carlton had on the landscape of Faulkner County as well as the state of Arkansas. But he also had a major impact on people.
This was very evident at his visitation when over 600 people stood in line, many for over an hour, to pay their respects to this man who had touched their lives as he went about his work. Multiple stories were told of how he encouraged and helped so many. One lady told of how he gave them a place to live after their house burned.
A local firefighter related that when Uncle Carlton came to a house fire in the Wooster area, he would shake hands with the owner and give them a check for expenses to help them get back on their feet.
A life well lived is not without its challenges and tragedies. Carlton knew about losing everything in a fire because his own house once burned. He was compassionate, slow to anger and quick to forgive.
He helped his fellow man and helped make the world a better place for us all.