HOPE — Gov. Asa Hutchinson made a midday swing through Hope on Tuesday afternoon, both doing some old-fashioned hand-shaking in downtown and speaking at the dedication of a new District Veterans Service Office at the Arkansas Workforce Center.


A crowd estimated at 150 persons braved what turned out to be midday temperatures of 86 degrees in no shade for the dedication of the office. In addition to the speech from Hutchinson, the hometown crowd was introduced to the new District 8 Veterans Service Officer James Williams, who currently resides in Warren.


The new office was touted as the last of eight new Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs district offices set to open before 2020. In his remarks, Hutchinson joked, “We got it done a bit early.”


The ADVA is a state agency dedicated to veterans’ services, operating separately and apart from the federal agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, but its goal is to assist state veterans in accessing services, like health care and family benefits.


Hutchinson said the new district office was part of the department’s first strategic plan, which he said was implemented two years ago in June 2015.


The new Hope District Office will serve 10 southwestern Arkansas counties, including Sevier, Howard, Pike, Clark, Little River, Hempstead, Nevada, Miller, Lafayette and Columbia.


Williams is a retired Army veteran, serving for 20 years active duty, and has served in the Army National Guard. In his speech, he talked briefly about his 14 years of classroom teaching experience, which he felt would enable him to effectively serve the region’s veteran population.