On a fine sunny day in late summer, a prison work gang is busy clearing litter from the grounds around Dyess City Hall in the heart of town, providing a portentous sign. This settlement of just a few hundred, created during the Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal project, is the childhood home to that well-known advocate of the incarcerated, country music legend Johnny Cash.
The figurative relevance of the low-risk prisoners (guilty of minor crimes), who are frequent visitors according to the Dyess mayor, runs deep. Under the guidance of Arkansas State University, fund-raising and restoration is well under way in the settlement with the ultimate goal of returning rundown Dyess to some of its former glory – this time as a tourist attraction. One of the centerpieces, and almost certainly the biggest draw, is set to be Cash’s boyhood home, a farmstead on the edge of town.
Read more at The Christian Science Monitor.