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Mountain Home, AR
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The mission of the Vada Sheid Community Development Center is to Educate, Enlighten & Entertain!

The grand opening of the Vada Sheid Community Development Center was held on September 9, 2010. Hundreds gathered for the event to hear remarks by retired U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers and Governor Mike Beebe and performances by Jonathan Story, the Mountain Home High School Jazz Band, the Spokesmen Quartet and the Twin Lakes Choral Society. An evening performance by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra filled the auditorium. Known locally as The Sheid, the opening of this significant building on the ASUMH campus honored its defined mission of educating, enlightening and entertaining. 

This multi-purpose, LEED-certified two-story facility is 67,000 square feet. The community center features: the Ed Coulter Performing Arts Center with a capacity of 824 or 1,600, the McClure Convention Center that can seat up to 500 or be divided into smaller meeting rooms, the Dale Bumpers Great Hall, First Security Amphitheatre, Haley Family Conference Room and the Ozarks Regional Arts Council Conference Room. Other popular spaces include the Trout Center and Art Gallery. Still to be installed, once funding is available, is the Switzer Culinary Center.  

The Sheid is named for Vada Webb Sheid, the first woman to serve both in the Arkansas Senate and the House of Representatives. Sheid was born August 19, 1916 in Izard County, Arkansas. As a young girl growing up in rural Arkansas, she accompanied her father to local political picnics and debates. Even then, her interest in politics attracted attention. “What office are you running for?” adults would tease. Sheid grew up to become a legend in Arkansas politics. She became one of the most influential politicians in Arkansas. With her father’s encouragement, she ran as a Democrat for Baxter County treasurer in 1958 but lost. In 1960, Sheid ran again and won. She served as Baxter County treasurer through 1965.

In 1966, Sheid was elected state representative for District 5 (Baxter and Fulton counties) and became one of four women who served in the legislature during the 1967–68 term. In 1976, Sheid was elected to the District 20 state Senate seat representing Baxter, Marion, Boone, Searcy, and Newton counties. She was the first woman in the Senate who did not succeed a late husband and was the first woman to serve in both houses. Mrs. Sheid constantly worked to make life better for constituents in her district. If she thought something ought to be done, nothing stopped her until she accomplished it. She spent much of her career working for better highways and rivaled governors with her influence with the Arkansas Highway Department. Her many achievements included the construction of the twin bridges across Lake Norfork in the Arkansas Ozarks and sponsorship of the legislation to establish kindergartens and community colleges in Arkansas. A trailblazer for women in government and politics, she left an indelible impression on those she encountered. She championed causes for the people in her district and wasn’t afraid to challenge prominent political figures in Little Rock and Washington, D.C. to achieve her goals.

In 1994, Sheid worked to get funding approved to establish a viable college in Mountain Home. Because Mountain Home had never received any funding for higher education, $1.2 million was granted to purchase land where the ASUMH campus resides now. This critical seed money got the ball rolling and led to many area residents supporting the development of the college in Mountain Home.

After a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s, Sheid died on February 11, 2008, at home. She is buried in Roller Memorial Gardens in Mountain Home.