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KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019

THE DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD, ONCE PLAGUED BY GANG ACTIVITY, IS AMID A REVIVAL, THANKS TO INCOMERS AND NOVEL CONSTRUCTION. NEW RESIDENTS SAY THEY WANT THE AREA TO REMAIN AS DIVERSE AS THE ARCHITECTURE. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK


2 MAY 2019

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MAY 2019 3


MAY 2019

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FEATURES

28 PETTAWAY PICKS UP An old neighborhood east of Main Street gets new architecture, new residents, new life. By Leslie Newell Peacock

35 BIG IDEAS FOR ARKANSAS

Big Homies for at-risk kids, a thermal pool for Hot Springs and a “growth mindset” for students are among Big Ideas put forth to make the world better. By Joyce Elliott, Stacey McAdoo, Arkansas Times staff and more

9 THE FRONT

Q&A: Steve Broadnax III The Inconsequential News Quiz: Don’t drill your nutsack edition. Orval: Confederate dunce The Big Picture: Bookmarks tell stories, too. The Month (Or So) That Was: A new police chief for Little Rock, the General Assembly goes home, a head Hog who likes to take his shirt off in celebration.

19 THE TO-DO LIST

"Native Gardens" at The Rep, Leon Bridges at The Amp, Bea Troxel at the Undercroft, Big Freedia at the Rev Room and more.

25 NEWS & POLITICS

Making tax returns public: Trump reign could trigger reform. ON THE COVER: The new Pettaway neighborhood home of Gregory Smith and Donald Johnson. Photo by Rett Peek. 4 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

By Ernest Dumas

52 CULTURE

KOKY radio has been dedicated to the black community since 1956. By Julia Thomas

Q&A: Catherine and Michael Fothergill of Ballet Arkansas Festivals: Margarita, Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud

64 TRAVEL

A trip through the mountains on the Talimena Scenic Byway. By Stephanie Smittle

78 HISTORY

A forgotten candidate for governor in 1962. By Ernest Dumas

88 CROSSWORD 90 THE OBSERVER Of turtles and mortality.


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THE FRONT Q&A

Steve H. Broadnax III Is Drawn to Untold Stories You’re a Little Rock native returning home to direct the play “Native Gardens” at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (performances through May 5). Your grandmother, Mary Louise Williams, brought you to shows here as a child. Does it feel like a full circle moment to come back and direct at The Rep? Absolutely. I grew up always hoping to be on this stage, to be a part of The Rep. The theater that I was exposed to came through here. Bob Hupp was the artistic director at the time. Even Cliff Baker was here in my younger years. … We’re not next door to New York. This was my exposure to professional theater, so now to come back as a director is a dream come true. It’s something that I’ve sought after, it’s something I’ve always inquired about, and to be asked to come back is a great honor. … And I was saddened to hear that The Rep went down for a minute, so to be a part of its continuation and its new season, again, I’m honored. How does your grandmother feel about your returning here to direct the play? Oh, she’s so proud. She just got inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame at [age] 92. She’s well, she lives by herself; she’s an artist, also. She was a musician and an educator. She’s encouraged me to create all my life and let me explore in anything that I wanted to do. She’s excited about the show. … She’s a part of Democratic Women, she’s been on the Quorum Court here in Arkansas, she worked on the Clinton campaign, she’s with the Democratic Party. She’s a master educator and activist. She’s on the Daisy Bates Museum Foundation board, she has an honorary doctorate at Philander Smith [College]. My grandmother is a big deal in town. As the head of MFA Acting at the School of Theatre at Penn State University, can you tell me about your role as an educator and a mentor? One of my favorite, proudest roles in life that I play is mentor. I always say it’s where I’m the strongest, because it’s education with a personal touch. When I was head of the theater program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, I was able to do that. Going to Penn State, I’m able to do that. Helping

upcoming young people, to keep them encouraged, to keep the possibilities high, and just to share whatever I have that I’ve gained over the years. And I’m still learning. I tell them I’m still learning. But I’m willing to help and usher new young artists, like Gabriel Peña who’s in [“Native Gardens”], he was one of the graduate students at Penn State. I always try, in every job I do, let it be in the production side, scenic, sound, lights, costume, props, or performance, to pull the people that I’m mentoring with me. I just think that’s the greatest learning lesson, when you can actually do it real time, at a professional level.

Name: Steve H. Broadnax III Birthplace: Little Rock Age: 42 Job: Head of MFA Acting, Associate Artistic Director for Outreach in the School of Theatre at Penn State University Hobbies: “Believe it or not, but I love roller coasters. Love them. Cedar Point in Ohio is the roller coaster capital of the world, so I’ve gone twice already, and I’m trying to plan a trip. I literally go online and research roller coasters and watch points of views of different new coasters. … It’s conquering fears, to me. To get in something that’s going to drop you 450 feet out of the air, I’m always fearful, but I always feel like I can conquer it.” Sign: Gemini

How does being an acting professor impact your abilities as a director? I’ve always thought of it as the trifecta: writing, directing, acting. I always wanted to be all three, and it’s like a triangle that I see that helps me in every aspect. The writer side of me understands script analysis, understands how story is built and structure, so when I’m directing something, I can help actors and writers understand. The director in me helps to illustrate or interpret story, or how story is seen. And the actor in me helps me to sit down with actors and go, OK, the mechanics of how to humanize that, the mechanics of the craft of that, that allows an actor to put that script into performance. I think they all work together. And I’m a Gemini. What sort of themes are you drawn to in the productions you direct? I am drawn to the untold stories. … I’m drawn to stories we don’t hear a lot of, stories of the subculture. People that have been muted, disenfranchised, inequality that happens against them. That could be stories of people of color, stories of women, stories of the LGBT community. All people who have not been heard, I want to give voice to, and for them to see themselves. I know what it’s like, to finally see your reflection, and go, wow. When I saw myself on stage, when I see myself on TV, it gives me permission. It just gives me permission. So I want to do that for other people. To say, if you see yourself — the good, the bad, the whole dimension — it will give you permission to achieve. — Rebekah Hall ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 9


THE FRONT

INCONSEQUENTIAL NEWS QUIZ

RESCUE 911 EDITION

PLAY AT HOME, WHILE NOT DRILLING YOUR NUTSACK. 1) In March, Charles Ferris, 50, of Rogers came to the emergency room with a painful bruise to his upper chest. According to police, what did Ferris tell ER personnel about how the bruise got there? A) “Never let a parakeet snort cocaine, man.” B) He’d chest-bumped his bro a little too hard when Duke lost to Michigan State. C) It was the result of a “Game of Thrones”themed dirt bike jousting tournament gone wrong. D) He said he had been paid to act as a bodyguard for a person he referred to as “the asset,” and, while wearing a bulletproof vest, had been shot by a mysterious man in a white suit.

5) Mitchell’s win was even more impressive given that in August 2018, he suffered an injury that many feared might end his career. What was the injury? A) Burns from a moonshine still explosion. B) He lost an eye during a tussle with an angry pig. C) Slipped into a coma after eating too many Texas Roadhouse yeast rolls. D) Lacking a tool belt during a home improvement project, he stuck a cordless drill down the front of his pants, accidently hit the trigger, and — as he put it in a social media post that included a gruesome photo of the bloodsoaked crotch of his boxer shorts — “I ripped my nutsack in half.”

2) After police talked to Ferris’ wife, a different story of how Ferris received the injury emerged. What, according to police, did she tell them? A) Ferris and his neighbor, Christopher Hicks, 36, were drinking on Ferris’ back deck when Ferris put on a bulletproof vest and told Hicks to shoot him in the chest. B) Hicks shot Ferris once in the chest with a .22 caliber rifle. C) Ferris, who his wife said was “pissed” about how much the shot hurt, had Hicks put on the vest, then Ferris “unloaded the [rifle’s] clip into Christopher’s back.” D) All of the above. Luckily, the vest worked, though both Hicks and Ferris were later arrested.

6) Speaking of bifurcated nutsacks, having run out of pressing issues to address, the Arkansas legislature passed a measure March 20 that takes aim at a certain foodstuff. Which food gets a thumbs down in what is now Act 501? A) Honey Bunches of Rationality. B) I Can’t Believe It Ain’t Squirrel Fat. C) Cranka-Cola. D) Cauliflower rice, minced cauliflower bits, which — in a move sure to delight the state’s rice lobby — state law now bans from being marketed as “rice.”

3) A Little Rock institution announced on April Fool’s Day it would close, but it was no joke. What’s closing? A) Jabbo’s Bait and Pets. B) Stop ’n’ Rob of Greater Little Rock. C) D-bags Without Borders. D) Cajun’s Wharf in Riverdale, which opened in 1975. 4) Featherweight mixed martial arts fighter Bryce “Thugnasty” Mitchell, a Texarkana native, gave a post-fight interview that quickly went viral after his March win over opponent Bobby Moffett in Nashville, Tenn. Which of the following were included? A) A triumphant request for his Papaw to call his Momma and tell her he was taking her out for steak (which he later clarified as a trip to Texas Roadhouse). B) Throwing shade at the haters who said he wasn’t supposed to be there because “Arkansas ain’t worth a piss.” C) A barbaric yawp for Reebok to make him some camo shorts. D) All of the above.

7) In March, CNN reported on the case of former Little Rock-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Brent Oxley, who was fired by ICE in May 2018. Why was Oxley reportedly fired? A) Didn’t follow ICE procedure when securing the doors of baby cages. B) His Inhuman Cruelty scores just weren’t up to snuff. C) He refused to wear his armband and brown shirt. D) An ICE investigation found he had forged his supervisor’s signature on arrest warrants for undocumented immigrants who had been jailed on unrelated charges, which allowed the immigrants to be put into deportation proceedings.

''Papaw call Mom ma and tell her we are taking her out for steak''

-COLA

A CRA N K

ANSWERS: D, D, D, D, D, D, D 10 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


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THE FRONT

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THE FRONT THE BIG PICTURE

EVERYTHING IS A BOOKMARK FLETCHER LIBRARY COLLECTS THE MISCELLANY LEFT BEHIND IN RETURNED LIBRARY BOOKS.

Archivists that they are, the librarians at Central Arkansas Library System’s Fletcher Library decided to make a “found items” collection out of the farrago of items that get left behind in returned library books, each used by the reader in a moment of haste (or resourcefulness) as a makeshift bookmark. Here’s a snapshot of a few things they discovered wedged in the creases, pressed up against the words of Nabokov, Wittgenstein and Thich Nhat Hanh.

C.

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G.

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H. 14 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

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PHOTOS BY BRIAN CHILSON


EXHIBIT A: Found June 23, 2018, in “Nabokov: Novels, 1969-1974.” For many of us, the words printed on this yellowing bookmark, “The World Can Be Amazing When You Are Slightly Strange,” serve as gentle encouragement to let our freak flags fly. It’s maybe not such fitting advice, though, for the protagonists in Nabokov’s “Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle,” a pair of pubescent cousins who develop a sexual affair and discover thereafter that they are actually brother and sister. EXHIBIT B: Found Feb. 23, 2018, in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations.” Frustrated by the weight of an actual Gibson Les Paul, a reader decides to test the mettle of Wittgenstein’s ideas about an object’s relationship to the word that describes it, banging out the chords to Eric Clapton’s “Beano” album on a cutout from Guitar World magazine. EXHIBIT C: Found in the library book drop, a tiny pencil in 16-1546 “Living Coral,” Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: living proof that if you wait long enough, whatever you’re wearing will come back into style. EXHIBIT D: This fine metallic Page Point from the Levenger company is the Swiss Army knife of book darts, doubling as both autoharp pick and covert shiv for when that hunk of muscle from Cell 1064 corners you in the prison library.

ART GROUP GALLERY • AT&T • BAR LOUIE • BASSETT HOME FURNISHINGS • BEEHIVE BELK • BEYOND COTTON II • BLAZE PIZZA • BONEFISH GRILL • CHICK-FIL-A CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL • CLIPS HAIR STUDIO •COBBLESTONE & VINE COMING HOME INTERIORS • EMPHATIC BY DEE ROCCO • FLEET FEET SPORTS/EASY RUNNER FORSYTHE’S • GIANT OF LITTLE ROCK BY SPOKES • THE GOOD FEET STORE • HOWSE HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER • IDEAL IMAGE • ISTANBUL MEDITERRANEAN • J. DUKE JUICY SEAFOOD • JUNE’S HALLMARK • JUST BLOW • LITTLE GREEK • KRISTIN TODD MERLE NORMAN • MR. HUI’S CHINESE RESTAURANT • NADEAU FURNITURE WITH A SOUL NEWK’S EATERY • NOOMA • PANERA BREAD • PIGTAILS & CREWCUTS • PINOT’S PALETTE POUT • POWDER & SMOKE • PURE BARRE • RESTORE CRYOTHERAPY • ROSE SPA SALON SCARLET • SCHICKEL’S CLEANERS • ROBERSON’S FINE JEWELRY • SANTO COYOTE SCARLET • SKY MODERN JAPANESE • SALON L • THE EVERYDAY CHEF  • THE FRESH MARKET THE GRIND COFFEE BISTRO • THE RIDGE WINE & SPIRITS • THE ROBUST OLIVE • THE TOGGERY UBREAKIFIX • UNIQUE THREADING SALON • UPS STORE • VANNESS • VESTA’S • WARREN’S SHOES

EXHIBIT E: Found Feb. 27, 2019, in Stephen King’s “Under the Dome.” Not to be outdone by those hacks at the “Mostly Murders” bookstore in Manchester, N.H., Kennebunk’s Stephen King Fan Club sets up shop a few counties over, reminding New Englanders once and for all from whence the King of Horror hails. EXHIBIT F: Found Jan. 17, 2018, in Daniel Lipkowitz’s “Lego Play Book.” Lego’s “King Castle Keep” model is designed to be the bustling epicenter of royal medieval life, in miniature — unless, of course, you have misplaced that gray 1-by-4-inch piece that makes the moat work. EXHIBIT G: “STOP! The Party is Here,” said these kids in real life, never. EXHIBIT H: Found May 16, 2018, in Carl Hiassen’s “Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear.” Yes, young graduate! Assume the worst — especially when it comes to negotiating with the company assigned to collect on your student loans. Or, like this roadrunner, outrun the bastards. EXHIBIT I: We don’t know where this slice of a Pat Benatar album was found, but William Boyd’s “Restless” seems a likely candidate, love being a battlefield and all. EXHIBIT J: Found July 12, 2018, in the Fletcher Library book drop, this garlicky recipe for deer repellent doubles as a base for Ina Garten’s Three-Layer Gumbo Cake. EXHIBIT K: Assuming that Costa Rica was one of the four “Mexican countries” to which "Fox & Friends" recently reported Trump would cut aid, this reader threw up her hands and abandoned all hope of ever getting back to San José to spend this 1,000 colones.

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THE FRONT THE MONTH (OR SO) THAT WAS

GOODBYE, ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE

HAIL TO THE CHIEF Little Rock has a new police chief. Keith Humphrey, formerly chief of the Norman, Okla., police department, replaced Kenton Buckner, who left the department after four years in November to become chief of police in Syracuse, N.Y. Mayor Frank Scott said he hired Humphrey because of his “focus on crime reduction through community policing” and his “understanding of cultural competency.” At his swearing-in ceremony April 15, Humphrey said, “I truly believe that Little Rock will be the safest city in the state, and not only the state, we will be one of the safest cities in America.”

HUTCHINSON INDICTED No, not that Hutchinson, but close: On April 11, former state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), the governor’s nephew, was charged with 12 counts of conspiracy, fraud, bribery and other alleged crimes related to payments he accepted from a Missouri-based nonprofit mental health provider while serving in the state legislature. Federal prosecutors say Hutchinson used his position to perform favors for the provider, Preferred Family Healthcare, which retained his services as a lawyer. Hutchinson’s own attorneys insist he did nothing wrong. The indictment also included charges against Tom and Bontiea Goss, the executives who ran the nonprofit. It’s only the latest chapter in a sprawling, yearslong federal investigation into public corruption in the Arkansas legislature. Four other former state lawmakers have been charged with wrongdoing related to Preferred Family Healthcare. 16 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

A DEADLY BLAST IN SOUTH ARKANSAS On March 27, a tanker truck transporting ammonium nitrate — the same chemical compound used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — blew up on U.S. Highway 278 west of Camden, leaving a crater in the road 15 feet deep. The State Police said the explosion was triggered after the truck’s brakes caught fire. The driver, Randall McDougal, 63, was killed while trying to extinguish the flames; several firefighters were also injured.

LEGISLATURE WRAPS UP On April 10, astrophysicists released the first-ever photo of a black hole, and the Arkansas legislature adjourned. Much of the 2019 session was all too predictable: Republicans passed a variety of tax breaks benefiting corporations and the rich while rallying around anti-abortion measures. Along with a road-funding proposal, legislators sent two constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot, both of which are insulting. The first is billed as a “term limits” proposal but would actually allow most lawmakers to serve more time in office. The second would make it harder for citizen-initiated ballot measures to gain traction. Perhaps the best moment of the session was the passage of a bill by Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) to let certain immigrant students — including DACA recipients — access in-state tuition rates, just like other kids graduating from Arkansas high schools. Lawmakers also showed compassion for DACA nursing students: A new law will allow them to become licensed in Arkansas. Unfortunately, these bright spots were dimmed somewhat by the last-minute passage of a bill by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch) banning “sanctuary” policies in Arkansas cities, a needless piece of legislation that targets unauthorized immigrants.

ANDERSON OUT, MUSSELMAN IN The University of Arkansas hired Eric Musselman as its new basketball coach, several weeks after firing Mike Anderson from the same position. Musselman, 54, had been the head coach at the University of Nevada for four years, leading the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2018. The UA signed him to a five-year deal worth $2.5 million per year, plus various bonuses (including $500,000 for winning a national title). Musselman brings with him NBA head coaching experience; a wife, Danyelle Sargent, who is a former “SportsCenter” anchor; and a penchant for taking his shirt off during celebrations.

MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENT STRUCK DOWN Last year, Arkansas became the first state in the country to require certain Medicaid beneficiaries to report job hours as a condition of keeping their health insurance. On March 27, a federal judge threw out the rule, saying the Trump administration hadn’t properly considered the coverage losses likely to result from the policy. In 2018, the state threw 18,000 people off Medicaid as a result of not reporting their hours. It would have terminated thousands more on April 1 had U.S. District Judge James Boasberg not issued his order. The Trump administration is appealing the decision, egged on by Governor Hutchinson. With a number of other red states eager to implement their own Medicaid work requirements, the case is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, at least, it’s now a little bit easier for poor people in Arkansas to keep their health coverage.


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the TO-DO list

By STEPHANIE SMITTLE, LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK, MOLLY MITCHELL, SYD HAYMAN and DANIEL FORD

LEON BRIDGES

MICK MANAGEMENT

WEDNESDAY 5/01. 7:30 P.M. WALMART AMP, ROGERS. $35-$70.

BIG FREEDIA

SATURDAY 5/18. 9 P.M. REV ROOM. $20. There are, as I see it, exactly two things that should calm your nerves about the state of America in 2019. The first is the assemblage of moxy and brilliance in the biographies of the 20 high school seniors who made the roster of the Arkansas Times’ Academic All-Stars this year, profiled in our April issue. The second is the fact that a queer black chorister from Louisiana’s Orleans Parish can grow up to be a bona fide It Girl of the creative scene, sowing frenetic revelry and sexual liberation through bounce music like a gender-fluid Johnny Appleseed. In the wake of Katrina’s destruction, Big Freedia became a de facto symbol of NOLA’s grit and verve, and her call-and-response anthems served as soundtrack for a community hungry to reclaim its own sense of place. God save the Queen Diva, and God help anyone who misses this springtime bounce bacchanale. SS

BIERSTADT, TWO WAYS: Valerie Hegarty's "Fallen Bierstadt," a comment on environmental degradation, joins the original 1871-73 painting in "Nature's Nation" at Crystal Bridges this summer.

Leon Bridges didn’t live a day in the 1960s. He’s only 29. It’s clear, though, that his sounds are in and of that era — full-on soul nostalgia, with chords and crooning that consistently draw comparisons to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Those refreshingly old-school vibes found on his first album, 2015’s “Coming Home,” earned him a Grammy nod for Best R&B Album and later catapulted him to household name-level, with hits on the 2015 film “Concussion” and the HBO series “Big Little Lies.” But it seems he’s had it with the comparisons. As he told Esquire magazine last year, “I’m more than retro soul music.” In 2018, the Fort Worth native dropped his second studio album, “Good Thing,” in which Bridges toys with more contemporary moments. With soul ever the foundation, Bridges’ sophomore project boasts a gutsier sound, but one “Coming Home” fans can still sway their hips to. U.K. pop singer Jess Glynn, widely known for her feature on Cambridge dance outfit Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be,” joins Bridges for this tour. Tickets are available at waltonartscenter.org/amp. SH

‘NATURE’S NATION: American Art and Environment’

SATURDAY 5/25 OPENING. CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, BENTONVILLE. FREE TO MEMBERS, $12 ADULTS.

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND GUILD AND GREYSHKUL, N.Y. PHOTO BY BROOKLYN MUSEUM.

As we ponder the ways in which we are destroying the beauty of nature and human habitat, the exhibition opening May 25 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art should give us a little background in America's regard for and interaction with the environment for the past 300 years. “Nature’s Nation,” curated by the Princeton University Art Museum, will feature paintings, photographs and installations, from Alfred Bierstadt’s 1871-73 painting of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite to Valerie Hegarty’s 2007 “Fallen Bierstadt,” a burned and melting copy of the painting on foam core and paper mache. The 100 works of art in the

show were pulled from 70 collections and include pieces by 19th century artists Charles Willson Peale, John James Audubon and Thomas Moran; 20th century artists Frank Lloyd Wright, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Ana Mendieta; and contemporary artists Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Kent Monkman, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Alexis Rockman, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Walton Ford, and the artists’ collective Postcommodity. A member preview is 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, May 24. The show runs through Sept. 9. For $16, nonmembers can get tickets to both “Nature’s Nation” and a show opening in June, “Color Field.” LNP ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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the TO-DO list ‘NATIVE GARDENS’

THROUGH SATURDAY 5/5. ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE. Celebrated Latina playwright Karen Zacarías’ comedy “Native Gardens” may appeal to you if you are interested in witty cultural commentary, art that critics call “woke,” Latinx art or eavesdropping on neighborhood dramas on Nextdoor. Here, bad fences make bad neighbors, and a dubious property line calls into question the ownership of a prize-winning flowerbed. Zacarías, one of the most produced playwrights in the U.S., is also founder of the Young Playwrights’ Theater — hailed as one of the best arts education programs in the U.S. — and was selected to receive the 2019 Lee Reynolds Award that recognizes women in theater who “help to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural or political change.” MM

PATRICK MCKELVEY: By Patrick McFarlin.

BEA TROXEL

FRIDAY 5/3. 6 P.M. THE UNDERCROFT, CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 509 SCOTT ST. $10. Nashville, Tenn., native Bea Troxel’s “The Way That It Feels” is a tender little universe of an album: delicate without being saccharine, lovely without losing its element of surprise. “Talc,” for one, is enough to permanently restore faith in the power of an arresting, dead simple bridge. Just when the song’s sweeping guitar arpeggios and pillowy harmonies have your ear under their spell, Troxel takes a hard left, blurting out the question the song’s narrator has been meticulously avoiding: “Love, do you have use for me?” Titles like “Delta” and “Whiskey and Wine,” not to mention Troxel’s inimitable vocal mannerisms, bind the record to a Southern landscape, but if it’s a “Southern” record, it’s unpredictably so — Southern in the way, say, that Adia Victoria’s music is “the blues.” In that way, file this one between Bonnie Montgomery’s “Forever” and Melissa Carper/Rebecca Patek’s “Brand New Old-Time Songs.” For this intimate listening room concert in the basement of a 180-year old church, Troxel is joined by Hannah Dorfman on cello and Austin Gray on guitar. SS

‘FIFTY YEARS OF MCFARLIN OIL’

FRIDAY 5/10, 2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT. 5-8 P.M. BOBBY L. ROBERTS LIBRARY OF ARKANSAS HISTORY AND ART. Patrick McFarlin is an expat Arkansas artist whose travels took him west to New Mexico and California and whose talents took him farther, into pop sculpture; “manic- expressionist” painting; landscape; sometimes naive, sometimes neo-Munchean portraiture; surreal narrative. He’s back in Arkansas with a “lifetime of work,” as he puts it, in an exhibition in Concordia Hall at the Roberts Library (formerly the Arkansas Studies Institute) May 10-Aug. 23. McFarlin, who shared a studio with abstract expressionist Sammy Peters in the 1980s and now lives in Santa Fe, N.M., says in the artist’s statement he’s prepared for the exhibition that he’s “pulled a deep tangle of history and memory thick as Delta kudzu through New Mexico to the Bay Area, then back to New Mexico, juggling the light and dark along the way.” His detour habit has taken him today to the serious, comic “circus on the streets.” Also at the Butler Center: The volume “Picture It Painted — Fifty Years of McFarlin Oil,” 275 images of McFarlin’s work and essays by art writers. LNP

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ARKANSAS TIMES

ALLIE HORICK


ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: MAHLER’S ‘SYMPHONY NO. 5’ SATURDAY 5/4, 7:30 P.M.; SUNDAY 5/5, 3 P.M. ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL. $16-$68.

This is the big one. Mahler’s Fifth not only contains the composer’s most famous passage, but marks a sharp shift for the late-Romantic conductor — one from the world of song and folk melody to pathos and cinematic drama. Never one content to orchestrate a singular emotion or experience, Mahler, with "Symphony No. 5," scrambles to capture the entirety of the human condition, starting with a single trumpet voice for a funeral march in that most treacherous of key signatures — C-sharp minor — and exploding into a colossal tempest. In an interview with NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” powerhouse conductor Marin Alsop says of conducting the piece: “It’s almost like being sucked into a vortex. It’s a trancelike experience.” So, too, I imagine it will be for audiences, one of Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s last under Maestro Philip Mann’s baton. Fitting it is, too, that one of Mann’s longtime collaborators, Michael Fine, adds his voice to this concert, premiering his “Concerto for Oboe Section” with ASO oboists Leanna Renfro, Lorraine Duso Kitts and Beth Wheeler in the spotlight. SS

DAVID GILMORE

MONDAY 5/13. 7:30 P.M. THE JOINT THEATER & COFFEEHOUSE. $30. In case you missed it, seven-string guru Ted Ludwig is curating a new jazz series at what may very well be the best listening room in town: The Joint in historic downtown Argenta. David Gilmore’s widely considered a risk-taker and a chameleon in the jazz world, ever at the service of the song, whether he’s trading licks with Wayne Shorter (Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Weather Report) or backing revered contraltos like Cassandra Wilson or Mavis Staples. Gilmore’s solo work mingles musical philosophies; he's just as likely to base a rhythm on an Indian raga as on the Pythagorean theorem. So when your search engine brings up a list of Pink Floyd tunes and asks you “Did you mean David Gilmour?” give it a “No, I did not, thankyouverymuch,” and dig into this Massachusetts native’s motley catalog. Tickets are available at jazzatthejoint. org. SS

ADVENTURELAND, COUCH JACKETS

THURSDAY 5/9. 9 P.M. WHITE WATER TAVERN. BRIAN CHILSON

DOUBLE BILL: Affable hooks and infectious physicality prevail at the White Water Tavern May 9 with sets from Adventureland (above) and Couch Jackets (below).

Enough comparisons are made between these two particular bands already; it’s only natural they should share a bill. The pairing isn’t so much about the fact that they sound alike, either. They don’t — save, perhaps, for a shared affinity toward multiple intra-song time signature changes. It’s that the two groups are, to borrow a term from Adventureland’s self-description, similarly “good-natured.” Adventureland, with its affable game of musical chairs and effortless synchronicity, operates here as the sugar to Couch Jackets’ strange brew, one that surprises the ear as much as it does the eye, thanks to an abundance of collective energy and physicality. Bera Bera shares the bill. SS

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the TO-DO list

MATTHEW MURPHY

‘THE SOUND OF MUSIC’ JANELLE MONDANARO/ VIRGINIA OSBORNE

OPERA IN THE ROCK: ‘MADAMA BUTTERFLY’ FRIDAY 5/17, 6 P.M.; SUNDAY 5/19, 8 P.M. ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE. $20-$65.

Without a riveting soprano, you do not have a “Madama Butterfly.” With one like Francesca Mondanaro at the top of your cast list, your “Madama Butterfly” will ruin the eyeliner and wreck the psyches of your audience members in one fell swoop. (That swoop has a name, actually — “Un bel di vedremo.” Second act. Can’t miss it.) Puccini’s title role is demanding enough to be considered a rite of passage for singers, and Mondanaro is beautifully equipped for it, with a leviathan of a dramatic soprano voice and a technique that draws upon the Italian Swedish singing school, the same school of thought that gave us Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad. For Opera in the Rock’s performance of the tragedy set in Nagasaki, Japan, Mondanaro will be joined by Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey, Theodor Carlson and Tania Kelley, a 15-year-old making her operatic debut. David Ward — a basso buffo with a marvelous eye for painting a picture on stage — directs, and pianist Gio Antipolo serves as orchestra. Get tickets at oitr.org. SS

FRIDAY 5/24-SUNDAY 5/26. 7:30 P.M. FRI.-SAT., 2 P.M. SAT.-SUN. ROBINSON PERFORMANCE HALL. $33-$87. The hills of Little Rock will be alive with the sounds of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, which somehow combines the cutesy origin story of a nun-turned-stepmother-led family band with the decidedly less cute rise of Nazis in 1930s Austria. The story of Sister Maria and the Von Trapp family has been captivating audiences in various forms for over 50 years and shows no signs of stopping. Carrie Underwood starred in a 2013 live version of the musical for NBC. Ariana Grande’s 2019 hit “7 Rings” interpolates a melody from the musical’s “My Favorite Things.” The plot for the musical is beautifully absurd: a nun kicked out of her convent for being too fun becomes governess to a military officer/widower and his gaggle of children, eventually melting his icy heart and using the family’s impressive musical abilities to pull the wool over the Third Reich’s eyes and skip town. I once played the role of the eldest Von Trapp son, Friedrich, in my church’s version of this musical and my lederhosen broke on stage, a nightmarish scenario from which I have never fully recovered. This touring version, in addition to showstoppers like “Do Re Mi,” “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss,” is likely to have sturdier lederhosen. DF

AFRICA DAY FEST

SATURDAY 5/25. 11 A.M.-6 P.M. BERNICE GARDEN, SOUTH MAIN STREET. The third annual Africa Day Fest on South Main is a chance to discover and celebrate the diverse spectrum of African cultures, including authentic African cuisine from Kontiki African Restaurant, live music, dancing, a drum circle and a fashion show displaying the stunning signature colors, patterns and silhouettes of traditional and contemporary African fashion. This year’s fashion show features Liberian-born designer and stylist

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Korto Momolu, Tanzanian fashion designer Missy Temeke and Little Rock native fashion designer Freddie Reynolds. Africa Day Fest is free and kid-friendly. “Since I came to [the] United States,” Africa Day Fest founder Benito Lubazibwa told us, “I have realized many people in this country have misconceptions about Africa, and I am using the festival as a way to educate and transform the way people think about Africa.” MM


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MAY 2019 23


PRESENTS

F ro m th A r k a n e p ubli s he r sas M a d e m s of a g a z in e

SPONSORED BY

Come shop more than 125 Arkansas artisans and craftspeople!

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Saturday, May 18, 2019 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock Tickets at the door: $5

Stop by the Smithwork’s Vodka Lounge to enjoy a sample of Blake Shelton’s signature cocktail, the Smithworks Lemonade.

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ARKANSAS TIMES

ArkansasMadeArkansasProudMarket


NEWS & POLITICS

Sunshine and Taxes WHEN THE PUBLIC EVENTUALLY LEARNS HOW LITTLE TRUMP HAS PAID IN INCOME TAX, IT COULD SPUR TAX TRANSPARENCY AND SIMPLIFICATION. By ERNEST DUMAS

S

ince it is now Donald Trump’s government, America may not know all there is to know about his taxes until his power vanishes upon his return to private life. He let the Russia investigators and the Justice Department know that trying to expose his tax manipulations to the voting public was the one thing that would get them fired. Even his most diehard supporters at least suspect the reason. The businessman Trump stiffed his employees and contractors, stiffed his customers, stiffed the students who enrolled in his fake college, stiffed the banks that loaned him money and stiffed his business partners, so why would he not stiff the government and the multitudes who do meet their citizenship obligations? The New York Times got its hands on a trove of family business and tax records and won a Pulitzer Prize this month for explaining, at least partly, how Trump and his father and siblings did it. A millionaire by the time he was 8, thanks to his father’s trust fund, Trump as an adult engaged in a number of schemes to avoid taxes on the profits earned through the family real-estate ventures. He, a

Like the Pentagon Papers, everything will one day become public, and we should hope that the Trump reign will be fresh enough that it will trigger real tax reform.

brother and a sister, with their parents’ help, set up a sham corporation to disguise gifts from the parents, which in the president’s case amounted to at least $413 million in today’s dollars. A Trump lawyer said Donald had delegated those matters to relatives and accountants, so he was not responsible for anything that was amiss. If congressional committees get their hands on a few of his recent tax returns the documents will show how little in taxes, if any, he paid, although not the shams of the 1980s, ’90s and the first decade of the new century, when he was going bankrupt, shifting obligations and starting to sell the Trump name and brand in America and around the world. He can’t be prosecuted now for ancient frauds. But, like the Pentagon Papers, everything will one day become public, and we should hope that the Trump reign will be fresh enough that it will trigger real tax reform, the kind that the vast majority of Americans want. Recent editorials and letters in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette cry for tax simplification, but with no reference to the Trump taxes. You may remember the great Reagan tax reform of 1986, known as TEFRA, the largest peacetime


BRIAN CHILSON

TOWER UP.

TAX DEADBEAT: Last year, state Rep. Mickey Gates (R-Hot Springs) was charged with six felony counts for failing to pay state taxes, but was re-elected nonetheless. He goes to trial in July.

Leasing information: Bill Pendergist, SIOR 425 W. Capitol Ave., Suite 300 Little Rock | 501.375.3200

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ARKANSAS TIMES

tax increase history, which closed some big tax loopholes, including the one that benefited the Trump family. Trump testified before Congress in 1991 and got it restored. The president’s lawyers and his treasury secretary raise the claim of privacy rights, although that constitutional protection is supposed to shield people from an intrusive government — not the government itself from an inquisitive citizenry. In the case of the president, federal law specifically empowers Congress to get his tax returns and has for 90 years. No judicial mandate provides such protections for the president, although the Trump Supreme Court could create them. Since the Nixon presidency, every major presidential candidate except Trump has divulged his tax returns, although Mitt Romney in 2012 picked out only two years’ returns to share with the public that showed him paying some taxes. When Lincoln’s Congress first enacted an income tax in 1861 to pay for reclaiming the South, as a way of enforcing compliance it ordered that everyone’s taxes be a matter of public record. Even then, they knew there would be cheaters. Congress revived the practice in 1923 and 1924, again to enforce compliance by exposing misers and tax cheats. “Secrecy is of the greatest aid to corruption,” said Sen. Robert Howell, a Nebraska Republican. Newspapers jumped on the numbers. John D. Rockefeller Jr., our own Winthrop’s daddy, paid more than $7 million while J.P. Morgan Jr. paid only $98,643. Calvin Coolidge’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, thought individual tax reports might subject very rich men like Morgan to schemers and told Congress to seal the records again. The rich and corporations now wield far too much power to expect Congress to restore such openness, but enough public knowledge of the abuse might improve transparency and lead to the tax simplification and fairness that polls show nearly all Americans want. Finland and Norway release the income

and tax figures for every individual and business each year, reports that are always eagerly anticipated. Everyone can see the income and tax liabilities of everyone else, including their employers and their leaders. It has led to overwhelming compliance and perhaps to something else. Finland and Norway rank No. 1 and 2 in the world in happiness, according to an annual United Nations analysis based partly on global Gallup polling. Finland is considered the most stable country in the world, based on average prosperity levels, and also the safest and best governed. Is it mere coincidence that the knowledge that everyone else is paying his or her share of taxes leads to confidence, stability and, yes, happiness? The IRS issued a study in 2016 estimating that in the three years of 2008-2010 Americans underpaid their taxes by an average of $458 billion. That would have eliminated the budget deficit in 2016. Since then, it has gotten worse. Congress and Trump slashed the IRS’ compliance appropriation so that tax avoidance is easier and safer. The celebrated federal tax reduction of 16 months ago was supposed to make it better, but made it worse. Trump saw to it that it protected his tax advantages. Releasing his tax returns might prove that he was lying when he said the law made him pay more. We could stand much more transparency and compliance in Arkansas, too. The state revenue department will tell you, privately, that noncompliance is massive. We had the example of state Rep. Mickey Gates of Hot Springs, who was discovered last year to have avoided filing federal and state income returns or paying taxes for many years and now faces a felony trial in federal court. Gates is a Republican, so he easily won re-election anyway. Property-tax records are publicly accessible, so why not income taxes? Who could object, as long as personal information like Social Security numbers was screened? Unless, like the president of the United States, you have something to hide.


A neighborhood is now known more for its architecture than its gangs. BY LESLIE NEWELL PEACOCK

T

he Pettaway neighborhood, tucked between Scott Street on the west, Interstate 30 on the east, 15th Street on the north and Roosevelt Road on the south, is an architecture catalog in lifesized 3D. New brick Georgian-style homes and ultra-modern houses framed in Corten steel and corrugated metal mingle with turn-of-the-century cottages and homes created from multiple shipping containers joined into a single unit. There’s even a “tiny house,” a 270-square-foot home behind a wooden farm fence. The eclectic nature of the neighborhood bordering the Mansion/MacArthur Park historic districts gleefully shouts, “We don’t need to follow no stinking design rules!” There was a time, some 30 years ago, when the Pettaway neighborhood shouted something more along the lines of “Stay out!” But

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no longer. Today, it’s a place in which new residents are finding community, a neighborhood a future homeowner calls “fun and funky.” It is also increasingly integrated, with an influx of mostly middle-class white families lured by the newly hip South Main business district known as SoMa. Residents and developers are conscious of the threat of gentrification, that their investment will alter the affordability of living there, but are saying they’re determined to keep Pettaway pluralistic. Pettaway was once known more for a notorious street gang from the 1990s than its eclectic architecture. The 21st Street Posse adopted its name from a thoroughfare that bisects the neighborhood; a house on the street figured in the 1994 HBO feature “Gang War: Bangin’ in Little Rock.” The neighborhood, once referred to as East Broadway (an inadequate name in a geograph-

ical sense since it is east of Main Street), was blighted with empty lots, flood-prone areas and absentee ownership. Yet longtime residents, tired of living in fear and amid drug deals, would not give in to the gangs: In 1994, they created a neighborhood association, dumped the East Broadway tag and adopted Pettaway as the area's name. The name honors influential mid-20th century Baptist minister Dr. Charles Pettaway, who lived on East 21st Street; the city acquired land from his estate in 1970 to create Pettaway Park on 21st and 22nd streets between Commerce and Bragg streets. Two years after the neighborhood association formed, the city built the East Little Rock Alert Center at 500 E. 21st St. across the street from the park, establishing a resource for the neighborhood and a meeting space for its association.


RETT PEEK

THE 1600 BLOCK OF ROCK: New architecture and new families join older homes and longtime residents in Pettaway.

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Since that time, Pettaway has begun to breathe again. Gang activity has abated. The Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corp. added 19 homes to the area between 2003 and 2013. More than a dozen homes have been built in the past six years and at least eight houses are under construction from Daisy Gatson Bates Drive on the north to the 1900 block of Cumberland on the south. Much of the block bordered by 20th and 21st streets north and south and Rock and Commerce streets east and west has been prepared for development by a corporation named Lorax, named after the titular character in Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book. He’s the one who says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –––––––––––––––––––– When this reporter mentioned the 21st Street Posse to Denise Jones Ennett, 41, who lives at Bragg and 16th streets, she gave out a loud laugh and exclaimed “Ah, my God!” It had been years since she’d heard mention of the gang, though it was because of it that her parents made her walk straight from school to her home — the very house she lives in today — every day. Eventually, her parents, fed up with vandalism and break-ins, moved west of Main to Gaines Street and leased the house on East 16th. After a move and marriage in Oklahoma City, Ennett returned to Little Rock in 2010 with her husband, Cecil, and rented the house on East 16th Street from her parents. In 2016, the Ennetts bought the home and embarked on a restoration project. The slate-blue Colonial Revival home, built in 1907 by Gustave Kleinschmidt, is now on the National Historic Register. Kleinschmidt not only built his house, but 32 others in the neighborhood, creating — contemporaneous with the southward expansion of businesses on Main Street — a working-class neighborhood in the previously only lightly settled area. Only six of the homes Kleinschmidt built remain; the rest fell victim to Interstates 30 and 630, fires, dereliction and the disastrous 1999 tornado that heavily damaged 55 homes east of Broadway, 27 of them beyond repair. In 2010, Denise Ennett said, much of Pettaway “looked like somebody just forgot about it. There were a lot of empty lots. It was just, like, forgotten.” But the Pettaway area was very much on the mind of the nonprofit downtown CDC, which was founded by area residents in 1992 to increase access to housing, promote economic development and work against neighborhood deterioration: As the Pettaway Neighborhood Association was being formed, the CDC opened the Mahlon Martin apartments, 45 units in rehabbed buildings at 1917-1923 S. Main St. Between 2002 and 2013, the downtown 30 MAY 2019

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PHOTOS BY BRIAN CHILSON

CDC built or remodeled 15 affordable and four market-rate homes. It worked with the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, federal HOME grants and local banks to offer homes to first-time home-buyers. The new homes included traditional styles as well as three contemporary-style modular homes designed by fourth- and fifth-year students in the University of Arkansas School of Architecture’s Design Build program. In 2012, the downtown CDC built the city’s first two container homes, residences created from shipping containers and promising excellent insulation and storm protection. The modular homes — including a cantilever dwelling whose second floor extends several feet over the ground floor — weren’t Pettaway’s first contemporary residences. Page Wilson of Paul Page Dwellings had begun

building metal-framed homes in 2006, including five on South Rock Street and two on East 15th Street. In a recent interview, downtown CDC chairman Adam Fogleman called Wilson the “unsung hero” of the Pettaway area. “Page Wilson kind of led the charge in a lot of ways,” Fogleman said, “shedding light on what was possible.” Since 2006, Wilson has built or been associated with 17 new homes in the area, working with a number of designers, including Herron Horton Architects Inc. and gus design coop’s David Anderson. –––––––––––––––––––– In 2014, a new builder arrived on the scene. Mike Orndorff, the Lorax LLC incorporator, and his wife, Alexandra Marshall, built a home at 609 E. 16th St.


NEW NEIGHBORS, NEW HOUSES, NEW RESTORATION: Alexandra Marshall and Mike Orndorff (from left), Denise and Cecil Ennett (middle) and Jessica and Clayton Keith all live within a few doors of each other. Orndorff built both his home and the Keiths'; the Ennetts renovated their historic home.

“We loved the Hillcrest area,” Orndoff, 36, said, but “our budget was $170,000 and the cheapest lot we could find was $170,000.” Their lot in Pettaway, like many lots then on the market in Pettaway, was vacant. It cost $15,000. They bought it after meeting downtown residents at a Quapaw Quarter Garden Club fiesta. That the house next door, at 613 E. 16 St. — the home of Kwadjo Boaitey and Karama Neal, a market-rate rehab by the downtown CDC — had been redone and the Ennetts were beginning their renovations of their home at 621 E. 16th “gave us some confidence,” Orndorff said. Orndorff, who’d built homes in Saline County, began to tackle properties downtown. He built one at the southeast corner of East 16th Street and Park Lane, and sold it through Facebook. Then he built three more, includ-

ing two in the 1900 block of Scott Street. But the Capital Zoning District Commission shut down the Scott Street projects — the street falls in the Governor’s Mansion District and required CZDC permits. “I was a little naive as to what I was getting into,” Orndorff said. Then, once he completed the houses, he couldn’t sell them. His $60,000 trackhoe was stolen from the building site on Scott Street. It was traumatic, and Orndorff and Marshall said they had to “re-evaluate.” “But we were determined. It was just headwinds,” Orndorff said. The wind has since started blowing the builder’s way. Three houses he built on Cumberland Street in 2018 — including one he built for the downtown CDC — sold before they were completed. “It was almost like a tipping point,” Alexandra Marshall said. “The

dominoes started to fall.” Orndorff has now built 16 houses and is building four more in the Pettaway area, ranging in price from $99,000 to $285,000. The smallest is “The Tiny Home” Airbnb the Orndorff-Marshall family owns at 1615 Park Lane; the largest are two-story traditional homes going up catercornered from his own on East 16th. He will vary from the traditional design he calls “Hillcrest style” for a house he’s building at the northwest corner of East 17th Street and Bragg streets. It will be a modern house with a steeply sloping roof fitted with solar panels. “It’s going to have a ‘she shed,’ too,” he said during a tour of the neighborhood he gave to a reporter. A new brick wall at the corner of 17th and Bragg is inset — as are all Orndorff constructions — with engraved concrete signs. A sign ARKANSASTIMES.COM

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MAKING SURE THERE ARE AMENITIES — LIKE A NEW LAUNDROMAT — ‘THAT THE MARKET’S NOT GOING TO TAKE CARE OF’ TO BENEFIT LOW- AND MODERATEINCOME RESIDENTS IS IMPORTANT, TOO.

MORE NEIGHBORS: Karama Neal and Kwadjo Boiatey and their daughter, Ayoka (above), live on 16th Street across from CDC chairman Adam Fogleman and his wife, Jill, and baby boy, Jude (below). The Neal-Boiatey house was a CDC renovation; the Foglemans' house, at Bragg and 16th streets, was built by Mike Orndorff.

near the corner says, “Welcome to Pettaway,” and is followed by the Lorax quote about caring. Farther down the street an inset says, “Always do what you are afraid to do. — Ralph Waldo Emerson.” A year ago, Orndorff sent a Facebook message to this reporter about what he called the “Pettaway Baby Boom.” Three children have been born within just a few houses of one another on East 16th Street: Mike and Alex have a 9-month-old son, Boden; Adam and Jill Fogleman, who are moving into their second Pettaway home, across from the Ennetts on Bragg and 16th, have a 1-year-old son, Jude; and Jessica and Clayton Keith, who live at 1514 Park, around the corner from the Orndorff-Marshall family, have a 1-year-old daughter, Lucy Kate. Nothing says neighborhood like children. And, Denise Ennett added, nothing says neighborhood like houses. Orndorff has purchased 13 more lots in Pettaway; he hopes to start construction on three more houses before the end of the year. ––––––––––––––––––––

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ARKANSAS TIMES

Orndorff continues to have problems with theft — he had a trailer stolen from a construction site recently. A wheelbarrow stolen from the Foglemans down the street was used to cart off some of Orndorff’s tools. But property theft, he, Denise Ennett and others pointed out, occurs in every neighborhood. “You do see people driving slowly down the street, looking,” Ennett said. But one of those people may have been this reporter, who began a slow tour of the neighborhood starting at Daisy Gatson Bates Drive and Rock Street. (Daisy Bates, previously 14th Street, is in the MacArthur Park Historic District, so it’s not officially Pettaway, but it, too, is seeing new construction: a 2,453-square-foot new Craftsman was built in 2018 at 401 Daisy Bates and a second is under construction next door.) The 1400 block of Rock Street (which is in the Central City Overlay district and requires city planning oversight on construction) is a good example of the Pettaway look: At 1410 Rock, a 3,200-squarefoot house built in 1904 has been remodeled by Tim Hankins Construction; he’s asking $400,000 for the property, which includes a guest house. Hankins said it was the blossoming of SoMa and its “hipsters” that prompted him to begin working south of I-630. Next door, at 1414 Rock and 1418 Rock, are two slender contemporaries built more than 100 years after the 1904 house by Paul Page Dwellings (Page Wilson). Dave O’Brien, an artist, interventional radiologist and one of the founders of bike polo in Little Rock, has lived for a couple of years at 1611 Rock St. in a house designed by Herron Horton Architects and built by Paul Page Dwellings. The lot had been cleared after the 1999 tornado. O’Brien moved to Pettaway from Stifft Station; he was attracted to the neighborhood because it was outside the historic districts and he could build what he wanted, he said. His next-door neighbors,


John and Caroline Gairhan, bought their lot — also left vacant by the tornado — two years ago; Mike Orndorff was the builder for their 3,417-square-foot brick home, which features solar panels, completed in 2018. The Gairhans, who moved to Little Rock from Cabot, wanted to live “where we could walk to dinner, be closer to medical stuff,” John Gairhan, who is chief information officer for a tech startup, said. He ticked off other close-by establishments that served neighborhood needs: Edwards Food Giant, Walgreens … Loblolly Creamery. The Gairhans, who have two Springer Spaniel puppies, also like the fact that there is a veterinarian in SoMa. “It was just a ton of people moving in here, all different types of people,” Gairhan said, and the couple decided it was right for them. One of their puppies, Ruthie, is named for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, perhaps an indication of where the former Cabot residents fall on the progressive scale. –––––––––––––––––––– It was new business on Main Street that prompted Gustave Kleinschmidt to start residential construction in the neighborhood at the turn of the century. Twenty-first century development in Pettaway owes its new life to the rejuvenation of South Main, as well. Community Bakery at 12th and Main has provided the gluten for the street in more ways than one: It moved from North Little Rock to the 1400 block of Main Street in 1952 and it's been in steady operation since. (Owner Joe Fox bought the bakery in 1983). Midtown Billiards brought people to the street in the 1970s; Pyramid Art, Books and Custom Framing (now on Wright Avenue) opened in the late 1980s. When Anita Davis bought half the 1400 block of Main in 2006, SoMa’s revitalization took off like a rocket. She created the Bernice Garden, which features changing sculpture and hosts farmer’s and vintage goods markets. Every storefront on the street has been transformed: Regina’s Place Adult Movies, La Changes and Lenderman Paint Co. in the 1300 block of Main are gone; M2 Gallery, the Oxford American magazine, South on Main and Raduno restaurants and Sweet Home Furnishings are there now. The Carpet Giant (and its beloved giant Viking) in the 1400 block is history; Nayles Medical Clinic, the Bernice Garden, Boulevard Bread Co., Moxy Mercantile, Loblolly and The Green Corner Store line the street now. The Sweden Creme drive-in has given way to The Root Cafe at 1500 Main; next door is Davis’ iconoclastic Esse Purse Museum. Valerie Wingert opened South Main Creative at 1600 Main three years ago, and since then, she said, “I’ve met so many wonderful friends who live in the neighborhood, and they say, ‘Yes, we need you here.’ ” She and her husband, Steve Evans, are moving from midtown to a house they’re building at 1907 Cumberland St., just a few blocks away.

–––––––––––––––––––– Also new to the neighborhood: A mixeduse development under construction on the west side of the 1400 block of Main across from Loblolly Creamery and The Green Corner Store will feature apartments and retail spaces. A block north on Scott Street, the Villa Vues at SoMa, across from the 1881 Villa Marre residence, will make 35 apartments available soon. Rents at the two new residential projects will be at a level that only middle-class folk will be able to afford, which raises the spectre of gentrification, even if it’s slightly removed from the heart of Pettaway. The Main Street project has already greatly inconvenienced residents who can’t afford or don’t have the room for washers and dryers: It razed the only local laundromat. Gentrification can mean the rejuvenation of a dying neighborhood with the infusion of new capital. But it has deleterious effects: As property values increase because of new home building, rents can go up. Property owners of lesser means may be tempted to sell their lots and move elsewhere. With the exception of the Villa Vues, what’s happening in Pettaway now is infill: New construction is on vacant lots, rather than clearing away old homes purchased cheaply to make way for new, more expensive properties. But Pettaway residents and developers — including Fogleman, who in anticipation of future development has bought lots south of East 21st Street — are wary. They don’t want outside developers to swoop in and drive up the cost of living in Pettaway. They don’t want to see streets lined with cookie-cutter homes, and they don’t want longtime residents tempted to sell their lots. When a man told Orndorff he might sell his property to take advantage of the new interest in the neighborhood, Orndorff said he told him, “No, no, no, you need to stay.” Gentrification is not a word Wingert would apply to Pettaway: “That’s not what’s happening. It’s infill, families moving in and choosing to be there because they love diversity.” Valarie Abrams, who bought one of Little Rock’s first container homes, at 421 E. 21st St., and is the neighborhood association’s treasurer, thinks what’s happening in Pettaway “is all for the good.” The neighborhood association meetings “are getting bigger and bigger,” she said. The new residents are “younger and full of ideas and excited for the future and progressive.” Still, Orndorff acknowledged that though his renters (he rents houses he builds unless they sell immediately) include African-American and Hispanic families, all but one of the houses he’s sold have been to middle-class white families. In 2012, more than 45 percent of Pettaway residents were low-income; in 2010, 75 percent of the population of Pettaway was black.

–––––––––––––––––––– Fogleman, who is also a lawyer in the Pulaski County Judge’s Office, said the downtown CDC is committed to seeing Pettaway retain its economic and cultural diversity. The nonprofit’s 11-member board, which includes residents and former residents of the neighborhood, decided in a recent “introspective” meeting that it needed to address gentrification with affordable housing “to maintain economic inclusion,” Fogleman said. The nonprofit doesn’t have a pot of money from which to develop homes. In the early part of the aughts, the city provided block grants to help the CDC build and sell homes, and there was some private investment. Some properties brought in a small amount of money; others came up short. “It’s been mostly a wash,” CDC board member Joe Fox said. In 2012, using a Community Development Block Grant and National Endowment for the Humanities funds, the University of Arkansas Community Design Center designed a master plan for the neighborhood and South Main. The “Pettaway Neighborhood Revitalization: Manual for a Complete Neighborhood” suggested such things as a “pocket neighborhood” on DLRCDC-owned adjacent lots facing Rock Street between 17th and 19th streets and a “housing court” that would slow traffic on the 17th Street thoroughfare. It envisioned a “hydric greenway” in a low area between Cumberland and Rock that would channel runoff into a landscaped stream, and a “Bragg Green Street” that would turn the empty lots north of East 14th Street into an arboretum and line Bragg, where Rockefeller Elementary School is located, with trees. The CDC owns 12 undeveloped lots (some of them 25 feet wide, designed for shotgun homes). They are a mix of purchased lots and lots donated to the nonprofit by the state Land Commissioner because of property tax forfeiture. About half of the lots fall in the area proposed by the CDC for a pocket neighborhood. The CDC has obtained quiet title on the lots, but getting title insurance on donated lots takes time and Fogleman said the pocket neighborhood, in whatever form it takes, is at least three years off. CDC board member Jay Barth said the nonprofit’s role goes beyond maintaining demographic diversity. Making sure there are amenities — like a new laundromat — “that the market’s not going to take care of ” to benefit low- and moderate-income residents is important, too. Meanwhile, Fogleman is worried that outside investors could buy and build in Pettaway “instead of partnering with local builders who have their heart and soul on the ground in the neighborhood. … I don’t have a problem with builders making money, but I want them to be sympathetic to what’s there.” ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 33


Non-Profit Recipient: ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE

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AN ARKANSAS TIMES EVENT


Ways to make the state a better place.

In a near annual tradition, the Arkansas Times recently solicited suggestions from thinking people — from experts to the creative-minded — on how to improve life in Arkansas. We present their ideas here. We hope you find them as inspirational as we do. If any especially strike a chord with you, help make them happen. Many are works in progress; those that aren’t could be with the right collection of advocates.

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 35


CHUCK CAMPBELL: PUT ARKANSAS (BIKING) ON THE MAP

T

LIZ CHRISMAN

hanks to a schoolteacher from Russellville, bike-packers and other cyclists can follow a 1,200-mile trail that will take them from the Ozarks to the Ouachitas. It was in 2015 in Banff, Alberta, Canada, that cyclist Chuck Campbell got the big idea to lay out and map a trail in Arkansas. Campbell and cycling buddy Mike Dicken were eating pizza and looking at route maps created by Adventure Cycling before they were to set off on the rugged Tour Divide, from Canada to New Mexico. “It looked to me like Arkansas was the only state that didn’t have any miles in the Adventure Cycling map system,” Campbell said (though it turned out he was wrong about that. At the time, there was no map for routes in Maryland.) He and Dicken talked for days about the idea as they pedaled the Continental Divide. When Campbell returned to Arkansas he called Montana-based cartographer (and magazine publisher) Adventure Cycling and spoke to Carla Majernik, director of maps and routing, about the idea. “Her response was warmer than I thought it would be,” Campbell said. She told him to mark out his idea on a highway map and send it to Adventure Cycling. He did, and the nonprofit told him “they thought this looks cool. It might be a good idea,” he said. Then one of Adventure Cycling’s employees who happened to be traveling to Missis36 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

sippi decided to make a stop in Arkansas and ride part of the route with Campbell. “He was just sold immediately,” Campbell said. After that visit to Arkansas, Adventure Cycling put the ride on its blog to see if there was interest in the Ozarks/Ouachita route. There, the company’s Travis Switzer wrote, “You can’t really blame a bunch of Montana cartographers for our initial skepticism of placing the words ‘mountain bike’ and ‘Arkansas’ in the same sentence. … Boy, were we wrong.” “It blew up,” Campbell said. “Next thing I know, these people are trying to friend me on Facebook.” One was Joe Jacobs, marketing manager for Arkansas State Parks. Another was Gary Vernon of Bella Vista, a program officer with the Walton Family Foundation, a significant player in bike trail development in Northwest Arkansas and Hot Springs. The Walton Foundation was so taken with the idea that it made a grant of $100,000 to the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, a new entity formed to support the agency, to hire someone to do the mapping for Adventure Cycling. That someone was Campbell. Campbell, who teaches environmental science at Russellville High School, said Adventure Cycling was apologetic about the pay. “I thought, crap, they’re going to pay me?” he said. Equipped with a GPS unit that also recorded his commentary on route landmarks and

dropped a pin to mark the landmark, Campbell spent the summers of 2017 and 2018 driving the route, which includes gravel, road and paved bike trails. Campbell completed 400 miles in 2017. At Majernik’s suggestion, he added in a cutoff loop from Dardanelle over Petit Jean Mountain to Conway. There are two more loops, both single track, west of Hot Springs. The route includes “only ... two places that have a high pucker factor,” Campbell said: the bridge at Dardanelle and a narrow section on the road around Roland. Adventure Cycling will launch the High Country Trail map, which is a two-map set, on May 1. The first official ride on the route is set for June 8: The High Country Race will kick off at sunrise at the Clinton Presidential Center Park Bridge and take riders on 1,000-mile ride north to the state’s border with Missouri and back to in Little Rock. Get more information at facebook.com/ArHCrace. Maps of the route may be purchased in waterproof paper form or through an app. Adventure Cycling will also sell GPS information for cyclists’ Garmin devices, Alex Strickland of Adventure Cycling said. Ellee Thalheimer of Portland, Ore., a freelance writer and the daughter of Chainwheel owner Bruce Thalheimer, will ride and write about the trail this summer for Adventure Cycling. — Leslie Newell Peacock


BRIAN CHILSON

I

t’s been almost a year since I was named the Teacher of the Year for the Little Rock School District and roughly seven months since being named the Teacher of the Year for Arkansas. Soon, I’ll step out of the classroom for a year to assume that position. In theory, I’ve had close to 9,000 hours to think about my “big idea” to improve education in Arkansas and what I would like to shine a light on, using an amplified teacher voice. “Pick one issue,” they’ve said. “Think of, then share, one message — one thing you’re passionate about and focus on that.” But that’s extremely difficult for someone who lives in her head and who knows intimately the dangers of and damage caused by singular stories. I grew up in a single-parent household. The neighborhood that I affectionately remember is now often described as “south of 630” by outsiders, a phrase usually said with disdain. And although I am in no way ashamed of who I am or where I come from, when people who don’t “know know” me introduce me, those singular story buzzwords they use make me cringe. I get it. I am the typical feel-good story that people like to share. It usually goes a little something like this: “Stacey James McAdoo, born to parents from the projects, whose father was a high school dropout, who was murdered by the time she started grade school, has been defying the odds for more than four decades. An average student in high school, who paid for college out-of-pocket while working full time, she now serves as an inspiration to many at-risk youth. She is currently an AVID and Communication instructor in an urban school district where she spends most of her day teaching students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.” Insert gagging sound here. While I am the person described in the text above, I’m so much more. I care deeply about many, many things. Life experiences, losses and first-hand exposure to blatant racism and social injustices have never afforded me the luxury to care about just one thing in the education world. I’m passionate about addressing inequities in education, including but not limited to school funding, zoning, access to curriculum and resources, and the distribution of teacher course loads, duties, assignments and salaries. I’m passionate about teacher recruitment and retention — especially as it relates to the need for more blacks and other educators of color in core subjects

and advanced placement classes, as well as leadership positions. I’m passionate about providing wraparound services for students and teachers, putting more counselors (not cops) in school, and removing gatekeepers, policymakers and lobbyists from education, who, as Ice Cube said, “either don’t know, don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.” Revisiting high school graduation requirements, revamping course offerings and re-examining our policies and procedures for implicit biases are also things continuously at the forefront of my mind. I even passionately care about being treated like the licensed professional that I am and protecting the sacredness of my limited time. I’m passionate about eliminating from the teaching profession punitive tasks and anything I’m required to do, if “no” is the answer to my question of, “If I don’t do this, am I hurting my students?” As a classroom teacher, I pride myself not on the statistical data and test scores of my students, but rather on the relationships built, the connections made and the art of reflective practice. Before I can take students up Bloom’s ladder of learning goals or help them develop what teachers call a “growth mindset” that promotes positive thinking about what they can accomplish, their human needs must be addressed. Every single thing I do in the classroom is done with the goal of getting my students closer to their self-actualization and realizing the greatness that was already inside them long before they ever met me. I often use my passions and poetry as a connector to help remove barriers so that they can see themselves more clearly. So, if a singular story must be told or only ONE big idea or message shared, let it be that. But the truth is that something as complex as education requires many, many big ideas, first acknowledged and then executed well.

MANY BIG IDEAS FOR EDUCATION By Stacey James McAdoo

Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year (affectionately referred to as 2019 ATOY), is a 16-year oral communication instructor, AVID coordinator and sponsor of the spoken word collective Writeous Poets from Little Rock. She teaches at Little Rock Central High School where she is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap. Her journey can be followed at stillstacey.com or via @2019ATOY on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 37


BRIAN CHILSON

I CREATE A STUDENT DIPLOMATIC CORPS By Joyce Elliott

38 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

n the mid-1980s, I read Myra MacPherson’s book “Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation.” I am one of the haunted, for this was my generation. For some reason, perhaps willful denial, I silently wondered why I knew several young men who fought in Vietnam; two of the gentlest of those souls lost their lives to the war or its after-effects. MacPherson helped me understand: “By the mid-sixties the racial and class inequities of the Vietnam War were scandalous. General S.L.A. Marshall … commented ‘In the average rifle company, the strength was 50 percent composed of Negroes, Southwestern Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guamanians, Nisei, so on. But the real cross-section of American youth? Almost never.’ ” MacPherson also wrote that in 1965, “blacks accounted for 24 percent of all Army combat deaths.” It seems a trite realization now, but it was not until I read “Long Time Passing” that I finally took the time to think out loud about why I knew so many who went to Vietnam. They disproportionally came from “my world” of color, poverty and geographic disadvantage. It is with this backdrop that I propose the following Big Idea: As a country, we have long and rightfully respected the presence of Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at the high school level. But the changing world demands an emphasis on diplomacy as a balance. Unwittingly, we tend to teach/socialize our students to seek resolution to world-stage conflicts disproportionately through military action. Even though they are often misinformed, students are uninhibitedly conversant about the role of the military. On the other hand, they are all but unilaterally unarmed when it comes to diplomatic considerations — a situation that can be remedied through the high school curriculum, followed by further postsecondary study. The lack of balance is striking, for so much is demanded of our military men and women and their families without a commensurate expectation from diplomatic efforts. The other lack of balance is who makes up the United States’ diplomatic corps. Overwhelmingly, they do not reflect the men, and now women, who make up our military corps. This must change. A great incubator for that change is to start in a school where the stu-

dent body will predominantly be made up of black and brown students, many of whom will reflect the economic status of the men and women who served in Vietnam. I propose that the Little Rock School District’s new Southwest High School should have a concentration on preparing graduates for careers in diplomacy through a Diplomatic Officers Training Corps, just as students at Parkview and Central high schools have access to ROTC, which prepares them for jobs/ careers in the military. There will be a major difference, however: The methods of diplomacy will permeate daily practices and interactions beginning in feeder elementary and middle schools as principals, teachers, other staff and students learn and implement skills of diplomacy. Whether or not a student chooses to pursue a career in diplomacy, the skills learned and practiced will serve them for a lifetime. At Southwest High School, the curriculum will be complemented by courses and other resources specific to diplomacy. Several AP courses are apropos. Among them are microeconomics, macroeconomics, environmental science, world languages, comparative government and politics, human geography, U.S. government and politics, art history and statistics. Students will take a world language beginning as early as feasible in elementary school and will be introduced to the wonders of art and science. There are several possible resources and partnerships available to help create a worldclass DOTC curriculum. Among them may be UA Little Rock’s international studies department, Philander Smith College’s Institute of Justice and the Clinton School of Public Services. Other resources are immediately available through the State Department’s U.S. Diplomacy Center, whose mission is to inform and engage students, teachers and others involved in international education about diplomacy and the work of the State Department. The Diplomacy Center’s mission also supports the mission to explain why diplomacy matters and to inspire future leaders. A DOTC would help fuel that inspiration and help lead to a world worthy of being inherited by future generations. Joyce Elliott is a Democratic state senator representing District 31 and a former schoolteacher.


Their victory did not come easily. Incumbent private ISPs will never allow municipal fiber in without a fight. In 2008, less than a day before Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board was to discuss a $227 million bond allowing it to build its own cable network, a lawsuit was filed by Comcast in an attempt to stop a vote. It was dismissed and the bond was approved. A nearly identical lawsuit filed by a group that included Comcast alleged “the EPB venture [was] an illegal cross-subsidy of ratepayer funds.” This lawsuit, too, was dismissed. The delays, however, allowed Comcast time to lock more small businesses into long-term contracts and make hasty investments in their infrastructure. A 2012 study on the project by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance noted that “this was likely the first time Chattanooga was ever prioritized over Atlanta for such upgrades, and it happened as a direct response to the threat of competition.” Chattanooga’s mayor, Andy Berke, played an integral role as matchmaker and liaison to various nonprofits, philanthropists and tech-advocacy players, championing the idea of inexpensive, world-class internet access for Chattanoogans. In a 2016 interview with Techdirt, Berke said the project had led to “an explosion of growth” in the tech sector that in turn brought in new restaurants, nightlife and other businesses downtown. “It changed our conceptions of who we are and what is possible,” the mayor said. Chattanooga’s “Gig City” now offers 10 gigabit speeds to its business customers and services over 100,000 accounts. It is just one of dozens of successful projects of its kind across the country. Surprisingly, municipal fiber isn’t a new idea for Pulaski County. In 1998, the city commissioned a feasibility study for a 1,800-mile fiber network that would’ve brought broadband to over 150,000 homes in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Maumelle and Jacksonville. The project was estimated to cost over $50 million, but Little Rock’s population density provided for more than 65 homes per mile of fiber, enough to justify the project’s cost. Comcast did its own study at the time, which found these numbers to be overly optimistic. ThenVice Mayor Michael Keck said in response, “I would expect them to be critical of anything that we put forward.” But technology moves fast. A study from the late ’90s would do little to inform a modern solution. The administration of new Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott should follow Chattanooga’s lead and commission a new feasibility study. If Little Rock is to be a part of some Southern/Plains technical renaissance, we must consider building a cutting edge communications platform not beholden to out-ofstate shareholders.

BRIAN CHILSON

T

o set itself apart in a burgeoning regional tech-startup ecosystem, Little Rock should invest in a citywide gigabit fiber network and provide internet access to its citizens as a public utility. Through projects like the Venture Center and the Tech Park, Little Rock has attempted to brand itself as a magnet for startups and web-based businesses. But the city’s advocacy for online entrepreneurship is hamstrung by low broadband speeds and high costs due to a lack of competition among internet service providers in the metro area. Comcast and AT&T have enjoyed a near-duopoly for over a decade. Consumers pay the price in notoriously bad customer support, overpriced plans, high fees and forced bundling of unwanted services. Businesses and residents are gouged for molasses-like download speeds compared to other cities, and some places near the city limits do not have access to broadband at all. Private corporations are beholden to their shareholders’ demands for profit and growth and have little impetus to invest in areas with low population density or improve infrastructure for contracted customers. Until recently, a state law prevented cities from building their own fiber networks. But thanks to legislation recently signed by the governor, Act 198, a network belonging to the citizens of Little Rock is looking more possible. The new law will allow a government entity to apply for grants or loans to “deploy broadband service in underserved areas.” A fast, reliable — and affordable — city-owned gigabit connection, unburdened by the inefficiencies imposed by monolithic corporations, could revolutionize the way we live and do business in Little Rock. Higher-income citizens willing to pay extra for faster speeds could help subsidize cheap or free connections for lower-income and rural areas. Startups would be more willing to set up in small spaces downtown and allow their employees to work remotely — a model that Little Rock web development agency Few has recently been touting — if they knew they’d have a solid connection to the office. A publicly owned fiber network would provide a framework for smarter traffic lights, faster connections for schools, rock-solid infrastructure for emergency services, and data collection for informed decision-making on a citywide scale. As far-fetched as this sounds in “small government” territory, a city in Tennessee that looks a lot like ours did it almost a decade ago. Chattanooga’s and Little Rock’s populations and demographics are very similar, they’re both situated on rivers and they both have downtowns undergoing rejuvenation. Ten years ago, Chattanooga’s ISP market resembled Little Rock’s, but through federal grants, a concerted effort by several groups — both public and private — and some key legal victories, the city was able to start offering municipally owned, democratically controlled gigabit internet connections. In late spring of 2010, subscriptions were at 8,500. Less than a year later, they’d ballooned to over 25,000.

MUNICIPAL FIBER FOR LITTLE ROCK By Jordan Little

Jordan Little is the director of digital strategy at the Arkansas Times and has over 12 years of experience building things on the web. He has taught web design and front-end development at UA Little Rock and has freelanced for dozens of businesses across the state, large and small. ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 39


NOVO STUDIO

'CHINKYPIN' TRIO: Al Knox, Steve Chyrchel and Roland Goicoechea.

AL KNOX AND STEVE CHYRCHEL: BRING BACK THE CHINQUAPINS

40 MAY 2019

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f you are lucky, you might come across an Ozark chinquapin oak in a sunny spot up in Northwest Arkansas. If you are extra lucky, it might have sweet nuts nestled in its bur-covered seed cases, which bear a slight resemblance to tiny green porcupines. Lucky because the same fungal blight that wiped out the American chestnut also largely took out its cousin, the chinquapin (Castenea ozarkensis), in the 1950s. That same tree you find might also succumb in time. But just as biologists are working to bring back Longfellow’s spreading tree, so, too, is the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation, which has been working with staff at Hobbs State Park, encompassing parts of Madison, Benton and Carroll counties, to breed a blight-resistant “chinkypin.” Hobbs’ chinquapin project germinated 17 years ago, when trail maintenance supervisor Al Knox found a tree in Van Winkle Hollow in the park. Knox’s third-person essay of his discovery can be found on the Ozark Chinquapin Foundation’s website (ozarkchinquapinmembership.org): “Wooah! His face almost smashed into a cluster of green and brown spiny burs on a low-hanging tree limb. … He got a flash of joy! ‘That’s a chinkypin bur! … I haven’t seen one of them in over 50 years!’ ” Knox, now in his mid-80s, began to hunt for more of the trees, and Hobbs ranger Steve Chyrchel, too, got the chinquapin bug. Knox “was telling me about how delicious the seeds were and how the kids would play a game called hully-gully,” a guessing game about how many nuts were hidden in a player’s hand, Chyrchel said. They began supplying the Chinquapin Foundation, which is headquartered in Missouri, with nuts from the Hobbs trees. “After a number of years of us giving [the foundation] seeds, they contacted us and said, ‘Would you like to try some cross-pollination?’ ” Chyrchel said. “We had no idea what we were doing, so we said yes.” They would use the park’s tree found by Knox. Cross-pollination involves taking pollen from trees that have not yet shown signs of blight and dusting the pistels — the female parts — of other seemingly healthy chinquapins. “It’s hard to kill off an entire species,” Chyrchel said. “So even though the majority died, every once in a while you find one that is not affected by the blight. And we are finding these trees and getting nuts off the trees.” In 2011, Chyrchel pollinated 50 pis-

tels on the Hobbs chinquapin with pollen gathered from chinquapins found in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri and put paper bags over the pollinated parts to keep other unwanted pollen off the pistels. “We ended up with 32 viable seeds,” Chyrchel said, and sent them off to the foundation. Only one of the seeds successfully produced a tree, the ranger said, “but it survived, and that tree is 8 years old and they got 2,700 seeds off that tree last fall.” Now, Chyrchel is growing trees on a 2-acre test plot at Hobbs. The park planted 50 trees in 2014. After the first year, half died. But repeating the back-crossing, the park continues to plant trees, and is now getting help from students in the environmental club at Rogers High School, who take measurements, note if bugs are eating leaves, make sure there is water and perform other tasks. There are 40 trees growing now, some as tall as 8 feet. But chinquapins can grow to 10 or 15 feet before succumbing to the fungal spores that cause blight. Still, with repeat back-pollination, Chyrchel believes a blight-resistant seed can be developed and the Ozarks can once again become home to a healthy populatoin of the tree. Chyrchel, Knox and former Hobbs volunteer coordinator Roland Goicoechea are working on a management plan for the chinquapin project. Knox said the Ozark chinquapin was once a reliable food source to animals when late frosts hurt acorn production: The chinquapin flowers in late May and early June, sending up white spikes, after the threat of frost has passed. Restoring the chinquapin to the Ozarks would benefit wildlife and the health of the forest. Because of its rot resistance, the chinquapin was used for fences and railroad ties. The tree is so rot resistant, UA Fayetteville geoscientist Dr. Frederick Paillet said, that you can still find fallen chinquapins in the woods, dead for more than 50 years. “You could cut boards from some of these trees,” Paillet said. Paillet’s study of chinquapins concerned climate differences and the role of the tree in the forests of the Ozarks. For years, Paillet said, the chinquapin was the Rodney Dangerfield of trees (“I don’t get no respect” was the comedian’s line). Finally, there are efforts to save it. But, Paillet said, it’s going to take years of work and the input of geneticists — the way the American chestnut is coming back — to bring the “chinkypin” back to the Ozarks. — Leslie Newell Peacock


BRIAN CHILSON

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bipartisan caucus for the arts in the Arkansas legislature: Can it be? It can, and it is, thanks to the efforts of Arkansans for the Arts, a nonprofit that has used research to show that economic prosperity and the arts — all the arts, including writing, floral design, fashion — go hand in hand. You don’t need research to see that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has been a huge shot in the arm to Northwest Arkansas. But it doesn’t hurt that Arkansans for the Arts, founded in 2014 in an effort not to become the last state in the union to have a grassroots arts advocacy organization, can offer up data gathered by the national Americans for the Arts to show that arts education improves student graduation rates and that the arts industry brings in new jobs and tourist dollars. For its first three years, Arkansans for the Arts took part in a study partially funded by the Windgate Charitable Foundation on arts advocacy and the impact of the arts on education in 10 states. Once that was done, Garbo Hearne, chairman of the board of the nonprofit, said, “We realized we needed to get on top of our game of advocating, to be a force … for the creative economy and the arts in Arkansas.” Hearne, who has seen firsthand how the arts can help transform a community with her gallery, Hearne Fine Arts at 1001 Wright Ave., saw that Tennessee’s arts advocacy nonprofit was forming a legislative arts caucus. So Arkansans for the Arts called on the “drum major for the arts” in Arkansas schools: State Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock). They presented her with the numbers: The arts industry in Arkansas has had an economic impact of $2.7 billion and created 34,000 jobs, according to a 2015 analysis. As good as those figures are, the job total doesn’t include part-time work, so it underrepresents the total impact, Arkansans for the Arts says. Elliott was convinced, and the caucus was formed. “The beauty of this caucus is it’s bipartisan,” Hearne said. The 17 members of the caucus — 10 Republicans and seven Democrats — represent the Arkansas Arts Council’s eight districts. Republican members are Sen. Scott

Flippo of Mountain Home, Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers, Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, Rep. Craig Christiansen of Bald Knob, Sen. Ron Caldwell of Wynne, Sen. Mat Pitsch of Fort Smith, Rep. Sarah Capp of Ozark, Sen. Breanne Davis of Russellville, Rep. Les Warren of Hot Springs and Rep. Carol Dalby of Texarkana. Democrats include Elliott, Rep. Monte Hodges of Blytheville, Rep. Deborah Ferguson of West Memphis, Rep. Reginald Murdock of Marianna, Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville, Sen. Eddie Cheatham of Magnolia and Rep. Vivian Flowers of Pine Bluff. Arkansas’s record of arts funding is less than stellar; Arkansans for the Arts hopes to convince the legislature that investing in the arts will grow the economy and keep our native creative people in Arkansas. The nonprofit has ideas: A 1 percent construction set-aside for art for public building projects, as Ohio has done. Support for cultural arts districts that offer affordable space for housing and studios. License plate sales to support arts in the schools. At the caucus’ meeting in March, this big idea was floated: Giving the arts a seat at the table, literally, at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. Arkansans for the Arts is working with students, too: The University of Central Arkansas in Conway has formed an arts advocacy organization under the guidance of art professor and Associate Dean Gayle Seymour, Hearne said. Students will learn how to lobby: “They’re going to know what the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] is, what the Mid-America Arts [Alliance], the Arts Council, [ask] where does the money go? And how to interact with legislators,” Hearne said. That will train a new generation to urge policymakers to see the arts as good for the state and not a luxury. Soprano “Beverly Sills said art is the signature of your civilization,” Hearne said. “When everyone is gone, your art will tell your story.” Arkansans for the Arts is a member-supported organization. To join and learn more about advocacy and the creative economy, go to arkansansforthearts.org. — Leslie Newell Peacock

GARBO HEARNE OF ARKANSANS FOR THE ARTS: PROMOTE THE CREATIVE ECONOMY

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A A THERMAL POOL FOR HOT SPRINGS

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t the former Majestic Hotel site in Hot Springs, community nonprofit Fifty for the Future hopes to provide visitors to the national park with an answer to a persistent question: Where are the hot springs? According to the Hot Springs National Park website, approximately 700,000 gallons of hot spring water are collected each day in the park’s water reservoir, but the waters only emerge through a fault at the base of Hot Springs Mountain's western slope. Aside from several bathhouses and a few fountains in downtown Hot Springs, the namesake waters are hidden from the city’s landscape. Fifty for the Future’s vision for the Majestic site is a cascading series of thermal pools complete with a changing facility, picnic areas and access to neighboring nature trails. According to Clay Farrar, chair of Fifty for the Future’s Majestic Thermal Pool Redevelopment Committee, the nonprofit hopes the proposed pools would remedy the lack of accessible hot spring water by providing tourists and residents the opportunity to enjoy thermal pools year-round. While the organization will not fund the project, Farrar said it hopes a developer will “come along and take interest in it.” Founded in 1988, Fifty for the Future has over 100 members that work to raise funds for community progress, Farrar said. The nonprofit has been involved in the construction of the Hot Springs Convention Center, the Bank OZK Arena and the Exchange Street Parking Plaza. A 1992 feasibility study found there to be “very positive prospects” for a thermal pool complex, permitting its proper design, on Whittington Avenue, Farrar said. That should apply as well to the 5-acre Majestic Hotel property, which the city acquired after the hotel caught fire in February 2014. The city recently hosted two public planning sessions to narrow ideas and proposals for the site. Kansas State University’s Targeted Assistance to Brownfields program helped with the

planning sessions. The KSU program provides free technical assistance to communities with redevelopment efforts on former industrial or commercial sites where future use could be impacted by environmental contamination. Students at the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design will compile visual renderings of the ideas into a report to be presented to the city, which will form the basis for a request for proposals by the Hot Springs Board of Directors, according to the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record. “After the Majestic fire, and with the city now having the property available, we decided to push once again for a series of small cascading pools,” Farrar said. “The idea being that we weren’t sure what else was going to come along for the site, so we wanted to plant that flag as more of a conceptual thing.” In a video produced by Fifty for the Future and written and edited by 61 Celsius, a Hot Springs advertising agency, aerial footage of downtown Hot Springs smoothly transitions into peaceful shots of the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools in New Zealand, which Farrar said the nonprofit’s proposed thermal pools would resemble. Farrar was quick to caution that the proposed complex would not be a “municipal” pool, but rather one that would require a $30-$40 admission fee and could potentially be surrounded by food courts, an outdoor concert arena and retail stores. Farrar said the thermal pools complex meets the four “guiding values” issued by the Hot Springs Board of Directors for the redevelopment of the Majestic site, principles that are outlined in the nonprofit’s brochure on the project: “Enhance economic opportunities; Improve the local quality of life and enhance the visitor experience; Celebrate the natural wonder of our thermal water” and “Respect the arts, culture, and history of Hot Springs.” — Rebekah Hall


ald first enrolled at Pulaski Tech in 2009, he said, he was “on the wrong side of the law.” Ten years later, he’s finishing up a double major in psychology and criminal justice at UA Little Rock and plans to pursue his doctorate. “It’s just, like, paying it forward, so to speak. … If I had had a Big Homie behind me when I was their age, I would have been a college graduate, Ph.D., straight and narrow. But I didn’t,” Fitzgerald said. Moody sees the Big Homies as a team of first responders. “They might be out in the neighborhood talking to somebody, or they broke up a fight, or they took somebody to school, took somebody to GED [classes],” he said. “It’s just on-call, 24/7.” They reach out to parents, teachers, parole officers and others. Most of all, they’re simply there for kids, emotionally and materially. They often connect young people with job opportunities, aided by the deep network of community contacts Moody and Montgomery have cultivated over the years. Big Homies are paid a stipend of about $500 a month, Moody said. At one time, the program received a small grant from the city, but funding now comes entirely from individuals who believe in the concept. Moody prefers it that way. Decades of working with big organizations have left him weary of the constraints that come with grants. “I don’t really fit into the programs, because that wears me out. … They can’t spend money unless you jump through hoops,” he said. It’s an unconventional structure, but Moody says the urgency of the problem demands creative thinking. “At some point, the dying has to trump some stuff,” he said. His goal now is to secure buy-in from others. “Folks who are … sitting at home, saying, ‘It’s too much, it’s overwhelming’ ... you can partner with somebody who’s willing to go places you’re not willing to go and support what they do,” he said. “The big picture is a Big Homie on every corner, and he’s backed by 50 or 100 people that believe in him, and every time he goes out and tries to fix a problem, he’s got a community of support behind him.” Big Homies provide an invaluable service, Moody argues, and he wants Little Rock residents to conceive of the project as such. “I want them to think in terms of buying a cup of coffee or getting the grass cut or hiring a plumber,” he said, rather than making a charitable donation. “Take David, for example,” he said. “He’ll spend the day making minimum wage doing demolition work, which, I’m sure that’s valuable to somebody — tearing down buildings. But by the same token, if you could take that eight hours and put him on the block where he knows all these people? He knows who the people are who are breaking in houses in the community. He could say, ‘Hey man, come spend some time with me.’ Is that worth $8 an hour? If it could keep your house from getting broken into, I’d imagine [so].” — Benjamin Hardy

BRIAN CHILSON

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or 25 years, Kareem Moody has been steering young people in Little Rock away from violence and crime. He did gang intervention work for Little Rock city government in the ’90s; spent a decade as program director at P.A.R.K. (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a Southwest Little Rock nonprofit focused on after-school education; and ran a program for at-risk students at Pulaski Technical College. In 2013, then-FBI Director James Comey recognized Moody’s two decades of service with a Director’s Community Leadership Award. But when Moody looks at the city today, he still sees an emergency in progress. Though his efforts may have changed hundreds of young lives, he’s seen countless others lost to the prison system or murdered. Now, he believes he’s found a solution. “Everybody knows that there’s a problem, but nobody knows what to do,” he said recently. “They’re afraid of it. But to me, I’m seeing it clearer and clearer.” Moody, 46, calls his vision “The Big Homie Project.” With the help of longtime fellow activist Marcus Montgomery, he’s assembled a small, trusted cadre of Little Rock natives with deep roots in those neighborhoods hit hardest by poverty, neglect and crime. The effort began evolving about two years ago, an outgrowth of the two men’s work with adult students at Pulaski Tech. Like other intervention programs, the goal of the Big Homie Project is to reach kids who are slipping through the cracks. The difference is in the interventionists. The “Big Homies” recruited by Moody aren’t white-collar professionals with backgrounds in counseling. They’re “skilled street specialists,” as Moody describes them, who are uniquely able to guide young people away from making deadly mistakes. Many have had their own encounters with the criminal justice system at some point in the past; all have had friends, neighbors and family fall victim to gun violence. “A Big Homie is not a social worker. He doesn’t have a degree. He just has a heart for it,” Moody said. “The kid is right there in his neighborhood … it might be his nephew. It might be his son. They might be the children of friends or family who are incarcerated or dead. … So it just makes sense that he would plug in.” David Patrick, 45, is one of the five men who form the core of the program, each of whom typically works with five to 10 youths. “I feel the uniqueness of our project is that we’ve been there,” Patrick said. We grew up in that same environment. We went to bed hungry, so we know the pressures that they’re under. We know the hurdles that they gotta jump.” Armaad Fitzgerald, 38, another Big Homie, first met Moody and Montgomery through Pulaski Tech’s Network for Student Success, a U.S. Department of Education-funded program aimed at keeping at-risk African-American men in college. Moody was the director of the program from 2009 to 2016. When Fitzger-

KAREEM MOODY: THE BIG HOMIE PROJECT

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LOVE where you LIVE. LOVE where you WORK.

At Northwest Health, we are actively seeking

compassionate, dedicated and experienced RNs in several areas of specialty. Openings available in the following specialties:

Emergency Department • Intensive Care Unit • Medical Surgical Unit • Labor & Delivery • Behavioral Health

Northwest Arkansas has something for everyone! Check out NorthwestArkansas.org/major-events/ or WaltonArtsCenter.org/tickets/calendar/ to plan your trip.

Come interview with us during one of these special events, and dinner and your hotel stay (1 night) are on us! Make arrangements or learn more today by calling us at (479) 757-4435. Explore opportunities at NorthwestHealth.com/career-opportunities We are an Equal Opportunity Employer 44 MAY 2019

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Positions are available at all five of our hospitals in Northwest Arkansas. To learn more about our outstanding, nationally recognized services and to see what makes us unique, visit NorthwestHealth.com

We offer:

• Student loan repayment • Clinical Advancement Program with bonus payments from $1,000 to $2,000 per year • Tuition reimbursement

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Northwest’s collaboration with Mayo Clinic as a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network provides access to an array of clinical resources to enhance locally provided care. The network consists of a group of independent health systems that work closely with Mayo Clinic to improve the delivery of health care and better serve their patients and communities. Northwest Health Physicians’ Specialty Hospital • 3873 Parkview Dr. • Fayetteville, AR Northwest Medical Center – Springdale • 609 West Maple Ave. • Springdale, AR Northwest Medical Center – Bentonville • 3000 Medical Center Parkway • Bentonville, AR Siloam Springs Regional Hospital • 603 North Progress Ave. • Siloam Springs, AR Willow Creek Women’s Hospital • 4301 Greathouse Springs Rd. • Johnson, AR


MAY IS NURSES APPRECIATION MONTH! We want to remind you of the great importance nurses hold in our lives in Arkansas. According to the 2017 State of the Nursing Workforce in Arkansas report from the Arkansas Center for Nursing Inc., Arkansas averaged 12.6 registered nurses (RNs) per 1,000 people in rural counties and 13 RNs per 1,000 people in urban areas. This is ahead of the national average of about 9 RNs per 1,000 people, but there are still challenges to be met. In all, 23 counties in Arkansas are under the national average for nurses, with the least representations coming in Johnson County, at just 5.4 RNs per 1,000 Arkansans.

THANK A NURSE AND TELL THEM HOW MUCH THEY ARE APPRECIATED.

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MAY 2019 45


THIS NURSE IS REVOLUTIONIZING THE MENTAL HEALTH INDUSTRY Two academic degrees, success as an anesthesia provider, and a 22-year career in the Army Reserves would be impressive for any nurse to accomplish in his lifetime. Add to that resume the title of CEO and founder of the nation’s leading company in mental health innovation and you’ve got Brian Mears, CRNA. His mission is to provide health care that treats the whole person: body, mind and spirit. As a nurse anesthetist (CRNA), Brian has spent much of his career studying and treating pain, from hospital operating rooms to the front lines of combat. He has an unrelenting drive to identify and treat the root causes of Brian Mears, CRNA pain instead of simply masking its symptoms. “The human experience is only optimized when we are healthy mentally, physically and spiritually,” he says. Brian is a life-long learner and has amassed a wide knowledge base, which he eagerly shares with any willing listener. He is passionate about educating people about methods for reducing medication intake and establishing a natural balance in their bodies. In 2014 Brian discovered anesthesia-based practices to treat mental illness and he decided to bring ketamine infusion therapy to Little Rock. The results were exhilarating. Patients consistently reported dramatic and rapid improvements in their depression and anxiety. Brian knew he needed to expand in order to reach more people. He created Alleviant Health Centers, a network of interdisciplinary, holistic psychiatric clinics. A year and a half after first opening its doors, Alleviant Health Centers has four national locations and dozens of staff members. Brian sums up the company’s vision this way: “We believe it is our responsibility to share our clinical environments and knowledge to everyone burdened with conditions we know how to treat.”

3528'72%( SMRHS If caring for people is your passion, consider joining the team at Saint Mary’s. Our drive to offer compassionate care with excellence touches the lives of those we serve each day here in beautiful Russellville, the heart of the Arkansas River Valley.  COMPETITIVE WAGES & BENEFITS  SIGN-ON BONUS IN CRITICAL NEED AREAS*  SHARED GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE  EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE *TO APPLY, RN’S MUST BE CURRENTLY LICENSED IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS, WITH NO RESTRICTIONS.

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For More Info: saintmarysregional.com | 479.964.5654 46 MAY 2019

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NORTHWEST HEALTH Northwest Health is one of the largest health networks in Northwest Arkansas with five hospitals, six urgent care centers, and numerous affiliated clinics and outpatient centers. The system has 487 beds, a combined active medical staff of more than 540 physicians and 2,200 employees working together to provide quality health care for the region. Northwest Health is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, a select group of independent health systems that work closely with the Mayo Clinic to improve the delivery of health care and better serve their patients and their communities. Northwest Medical Center-Springdale is a 222-bed acute care facility serving the greater Springdale community for over 50 years. The hospital was the first in Northwest Arkansas to offer open-heart surgery as well as minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery. Bariatric surgery, behavioral health services, and acute inpatient physical rehabilitation are among the hospital’s specialties in addition to trauma and cardiovascular care. Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville is a 128-bed acute care facility serving the community for more than 70 years. In addition to

comprehensive cardiac care and orthopedic services, The Family Birth Place was the first in the state to introduce low-intervention birthing suites. Willow Creek Women's Hospital is a 64-bed full-service facility dedicated solely to women's health needs, from obstetrics to a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The hospital was the first in Arkansas to earn prestigious international recognition as a baby-friendly designated birth facility. Northwest Health Physicians’ Specialty Hospital is a 20-bed facility with five operating rooms and one special procedure room. The official medical provider of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Northwest Health Physicians' Specialty Hospital is owned in part by physicians. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a 42-bed facility with inpatient, outpatient and emergency services as well as medical, surgical and intensive care services. Along with the facilities in Bentonville and Springdale, they are a vital part of the AR SAVES program, helping provide life-saving emergency care for stroke patients in the region. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

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UAMS At UAMS we recognize that growth is integral to life, from the tiniest premature delivery to the most advanced of geriatric patients. It’s also important for those who provide the care. Our competent and compassionate nurses are at the very center of our patient- and family-centeredcare environment. As the state’s only academic medical center, UAMS provides unique opportunities for its 1,700 nurses by supporting low nurse-to-patient ratios, professional growth opportunities and leadership roles. As our nurses advance on our clinical ladder, we encourage them to find the right balance that works for them and their families. In addition to offering competitive salaries, UAMS provides generous and separate benefit

and holiday accounts, up to a 50 percent tuition discount and matches employee retirement contributions up to 10 percent. Additionally, employees and their families qualify for up to a 40 percent tuition discount at the University of Arkansas campuses across the state to advance their academic careers and grow as learners. We are looking for cardiovascular operating room as well as neuro ICU and neurosciences nurses to join our UAMS family. Qualified nurses may earn up to a $12,000 sign-on bonus with the right experience. We invite you to come join our team and grow with us! Visit nurses.uams.edu or contact 501-6865691, ext. 1.

SAINT MARY’S REGIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM Saint Mary’s Regional Health System is anchored by a 170-bed, Joint Commission-accredited acute care hospital where trust, teamwork and technology come together to provide outstanding quality care for those living in the River Valley Region and beyond. The hospital houses a 24/7 emergency department with a Level III trauma designation, two state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization labs, an impressive diagnostic imaging center and a regional cancer center. Other services include a birthing center, rehabilitation therapies, surgical services and an adult behavioral health unit. The system also boasts one of the state’s largest multispecialty physician clinics — Millard-Henry Clinic, with offices in Russellville, Dover and Atkins — along with Cardiology Associates, Saint Mary’s Outpatient Therapy Center, Saint Mary’s Sleep Disorder Center and Saint Mary’s Wellness Fitness Center. For more information, call 479-968-2841 or visit saintmarysregional.com and facebook.com/saintmarysregional.

WHITE RIVER HEALTH White River Health System is focused on providing an environment where patients choose to receive care, employees desire to work, and family and visitors feel welcome. WRHS provides health care services that people need close to home, including emergency care, primary care and specialty care. WRHS is a not-for-profit health care system with facilities in communities across the region. WRHS has two hospitals; White River Medical Center in Batesville, a 224-bed regional referral center and flagship facility for the system; and Stone County Medical Center in Mountain View, a 25-bed critical access hospital. WRHS also has a satellite emergency room at the WRMC Medical Complex in Cherokee village. Additionally, the system has rural health clinics and Senior Life Centers in multiple counties. WRHS has a number of providers specializing in breast care,

cardiology, electrophysiology, general surgery, gynecology, headache medicine, internal medicine, neurology, obstetrics, oncology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, pain management, pediatrics, psychiatry, pulmonology, rheumatology, sleep medicine, sports medicine, urology and wound care. With over 1,800 employees, WRHS is a leading employer in North Central Arkansas. The system relies on passionate employees with a variety of skills to fulfill the responsibility of our hospitals, outpatient care centers, clinics, and Senior Life Centers. WRHS strives to make each employee and physician feel valued, hopeful and secure. For more information about the facilities, providers and services, visit www.whiteriverhealthsystem.com or White River Health System on Facebook.

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ARKANSAS CENTER FOR NURSING, INC.

of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing” report. The ACN was established to promote a culture of health for the citizens of Arkansas by advancing nursing education, practice, leadership and workforce development. Basically, we collect workforce data on nurses in the state, then we use that data to identify ways to better equip and empower our nurses to impact the health of Arkansas.

Ashley Davis, MNSc, RN, PhD(c) Executive Director Arkansas Center for Nursing, Inc.

Are you a part of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing ? No. We work very closely with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and receive grant funds from the State Board, but we are a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, governed by a board of directors. Arkansas is very fortunate and often envied by many other states because our nursing organizations in the state are very supportive of each other and often work together to accomplished goals. This is very rare in other states. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Arkansas Nurses Association have been integral in creating a culture where all nursing organizations have a seat at the table and are expected to encourage and support one another.

What is the Arkansas Center for Nursing, Inc? The Arkansas Center for Nursing was started by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2011 in response to the recommendations that were published in the Institute

How is your mission different from the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Arkansas Nurses Association? The Arkansas Center for Nursing’s mission is very different from the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and the Arkansas Nurses Association. The State

Board’s mission is to be a regulatory body that protects the public by setting standards for licensure for nursing in the state. Their focus is advocating for the citizens of Arkansas. The Arkansas Nurses Association’s mission is to partner with and advocate for the nurses in the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas Center for Nursing’s primary mission is to ensure that Arkansas is well equipped to improve the health of its citizens. Our focus is on meeting the health care needs of the state. The ACN works toward that mission by collecting workforce data on all nurses in Arkansas. We look at the demographics of our nursing workforce, the capacity of our nursing programs to produce the future nursing workforce, and the nursing needs of the health care organizations throughout the state. We then use that data to drive the programs that we offer whose aim is to empower and equip our current and future nursing workforce to meet the health care needs of our state. Does Arkansas have a nursing shortage? This is probably the question that I get asked most often. The short answer is, we don’t know. The important truth is that we know (anecdotally) that we probably do and that it will get worse before it gets better. The ACN is working hard to collect accurate workforce demand data from all health care entities in the state. We also work in collaboration with a national organization, the National Forum for Nursing Workforce Centers, to develop a standardized data set that

June 2019 Arkansas Times Best Doctors in Arkansas. An annual peer to peer review conducted by Best Doctors in America©

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ARKANSAS TIMES


could be used to model and predict what the future demands of our nursing workforce will be in order to work toward meeting that future need. There are several entities that collect nursing data from hospitals and other health care organizations in our state; however, most of that data does not provide us with the numbers we need to accurately predict the current and future needs in nursing. We saw the effects of using data that was not sufficient for modeling in the 2016 report, published by HRSA, which made the claim that many of the states in our nation had too many nurses rather than a shortage. This led to several states pulling funds from nursing programs and unfortunately, the data, and therefore the prediction, had multiple flaws. Thus, the ACN is working hard to collect accurate data to be able to predict our needs in Arkansas and correctly answer the question, “Do we have a nursing shortage?� Arkansas is one of only a few states that collect robust data on our current nursing workforce as well as our nursing education programs. This is only made possible because of the collaborative efforts between the ACN and the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. What types of programs or services do you provide? In working toward our mission to empower and equip our current and future nursing workforce, we offer several different leadership training programs. Our 40 Nurse Leaders Under 40 award program is probably the most well-

known of our leadership programs. We began this award program in 2015 to acknowledge and celebrate young nurse leaders throughout our state. Each year we take nominations from all over the state for this recognition. Over the past two years, we have seen roughly 100-plus nominations each year. We score the nominations and select the top 40 nurse leaders under the age of 40 and recognize them in a big celebration held each spring. In addition to our recognition of young leaders, we also offer a two-day training intensive in collaboration with Missouri and Tennessee called Nurses on Boards. This training teaches nurses how to use their nursing knowledge and skills to gain positions on non-nursing boards and commissions. Some of the board positions that we have seen our nurses gain have been on local school boards, city planning commissions, and national governmental boards, such as the National Federal Reserve. We teach nurses that they bring a unique perspective to these boards and can have huge impacts on the health of communities by their involvement in these types of decisions. A couple of examples of health impacts that we have seen as a result have been 1) programs brought into school districts to teach about childhood trauma, 2) lighting added to local walking trails, 3) parks with walking trails built through negotiations with businesses seeking permission to build within a city, and 4) fresh fruit being sold at local ball parks. We also have a BSN Young Leaders program that we hold with local nursing students en-

we

rolled in baccalaureate programs. This training pairs the BSN student with a mentor in the area of their interest (education, research, patient care, etc.). The student and mentor work on a project to improve a process or outcome that they have identified. The purpose of this program is to train nurses, before they have a license, how to lead change and improve healthcare. Do you have to be a nurse to join? No. You do not have to be a nurse to join our organization. In fact, we find tremendous value in partnering with people from other industries who can bring a fresh perspective to some of the issues and challenges that we face in nursing. We offer individual memberships as well as organizational memberships for organizations who are looking to partner with the ACN. How much does it cost to join? Individual membership is free. There are three tiers to the organizational memberships, and each offers the opportunity for organizations to name a representative who may run for a position on our board of directors. This is a great opportunity for these organizations to join forces with the ACN and help drive the future work of our organization. You can find all of our membership information, as well as information regarding all of our programs and workforce reports, on our website, www. arcenterfornursing.org.

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THE 2019 LIST OF HONOREES INCLUDES:

ARKANSAS CENTER FOR NURSING, INC. NAMES 2019 ARKANSAS ‘40 NURSE LEADERS UNDER 40’ RECIPIENTS Forty Arkansas nurses have been named to the Arkansas Center for Nursing’s 2019 “40 Under 40” list, which honors emerging young nurse leaders in the state. The Arkansas Center for Nursing’s mission is to promote a culture of health for the citizens of Arkansas by advancing nursing education, practice, leadership and workforce development. The 40 Nurse Leaders Under 40 recognition is intended to identify, celebrate, and encourage exemplary dedication and leadership in the nursing profession. Recipients were selected through a highly competitive nomination process which focused on their commitment to excellence, service and outreach within their community, leadership qualities, and contributions to the advancement of the nursing profession. The 40 honorees will be recognized in a special ceremony on April 30th, 2019 at the Benton Event Center in Benton.

THE ARKANSAS CENTER FOR NURSING WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE THE 2019 40 NURSE LEADERS UNDER 40 RECIPIENTS. For more information about the programs offered through the Arkansas Center for Nursing, Inc, please visit our website at arcenterfornursing.org.

50 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

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MAY 2019 51


CULTURE

PHOTOS BY BRIAN CHILSON

‘THE BADDEST SOUND IN TOWN’: KOKY Program Director Mark Dylan (below) started shadowing at the station in 1978, following in the footsteps of Al Bell (right), who cut his teeth at KOKY before becoming a Stax Records producer.

“D

J Paul” Webber is not a morning person. But for the past 17 years, weekend mornings have hummed by to the soundtrack of his spontaneously queued playlists for Blues Saturdays and Smooth Jazz Sundays on KOKY-FM, 102.1. As long as he can remember, the sounds of jazz and blues — “People relate to blues because it tells a lot of stories,” Webber told this reporter — have bookended weeks for KOKY listeners. Webber reports to the studio with an arsenal of CDs. He’s collected them over years of Friday paychecks, chipped away at by subsequent trips to local record stores. As the minutes of Webber’s show tick by, those albums get spread across his broadcasting table. Every song he plays gets written down into a notebook Webber maintains of his own accord, scribbled in chronological order from the top of the radio hour. If listeners come calling about the name of a song, he reasons, he wants to be able to give them a title, and to remember what’s come before. In 1956, you could tune in to 1440 AM — what listeners called the “ebony spot on your dial” — to hear KOKY, referred to then as “The People’s Station,” broadcasting just blocks away from Central High School. Some years later, in the late 1970s, programming moved to 1250 AM, and the radio’s catch phrase became “the Sound of the City.”

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ARKANSAS TIMES

Today, some of Little Rock’s oldest urban sounds emanate from a room in West Little Rock just off of Chenal Parkway. Yellow banners on the wall bear KOKY’s curly lettered logo and a descriptor that accurately distills its past: “legendary.” With an ebb and flow between frequencies and forms in its 63 years, KOKY is a time capsule of black voices against the backdrop of Little Rock history. “[KOKY] has changed with the times, but it hasn’t left its roots,” Webber said. “It’s still there.” KOKY did disappear for a number of years in the 1980s after its call letters were bought and used by a Sherwood gospel station. So when Citadel Broadcasting decided in the ’90s to revive its Urban Adult Contemporary presence on a new frequency, longtime radio presence and director of programming at Cumulus Little Rock “Broadway” Joe Booker said he felt that the KOKY letters “would be perfect” as a marker everybody knew and loved. He was adamant about finding where the letters were being used and resorted to lots of digging, with the help of a lawyer, to trace them. Eventually, those discarded call letters were found, unclaimed, in a so-called “dead letters” file, abandoned and forgotten after the gospel station went off the air. KOKY formally returned to 102.1 FM when Citadel purchased the rights to the call letters and

revived them from their place among the discarded. KOKY began airing again on New Year’s Day 1998, a revival marking both a slight deviation from its AM past and a kind of homecoming. Now, KOKY carries forward its legacy as Arkansas’s first radio dedicated to all-black programming and an Urban Heritage station, broadcasting as a city-grade station with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 4,100 watts. Ask folks who came of age from the late ’50s to the ’90s in Little Rock about KOKY, and memories flow. A recent Facebook post in the group “Remember in Little Rock” by KOKY Program Assistant Kimberly Armstrong-Smith received 82 comments with nuggets of history. “Super soul brotherhood. The baddest sound in town,” wrote one user. Another user commented that they “grew up on the blues on KOKY,” while another person says they viewed it as “our only real radio.” An old slogan, as remembered by one listener, went: “Everything’s okee-dokee at KOKY.” Commenters say, too, that tuning in was a balancing act in and of itself: “You had to get the line just right on your radio dial to prevent static.” KOKY celebrated its legacy at a Central Arkansas Library System/Arkansas Sounds event Feb. 22, bringing together DJs from its earliest days, former program hosts, devot-


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54 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

BRIAN CHILSON

On Display April 27 - October 27

REVIVED FROM THE ARCHIVES: After KOKY’s hiatus, “Broadway Joe” Booker tracked down the original call letters for the station’s rebirth on New Year’s Day in 1998.

ed listeners and current personalities. Eight people sat shoulder to shoulder on the stage at CALS Ron Robinson Theater, where they paid tribute to mentors, beloved radio voices and their memories — some long buried — of lifetimes passed listening to and working at KOKY in its different iterations. An infamous Easter broadcast story in which eggs, hidden the night before at MacArthur Park, were all stolen, was shared with great laughter and affection, and the echo from attendees was one of recognition. “To see what was able to happen with KOKY, at that event, it kinda shows that to say that people don’t care about the past is not right,” Booker said. “People do care.” KOKY served as a beacon for black listeners from its beginning in 1956, establishing itself as a source for music, updates and community that African Americans in Little Rock — and across the state — couldn’t get anywhere else, particularly in the limited media landscape for black listeners in the mid-20th century. KOKY joined a slew of other race radio stations in the South, following in the footsteps of the country’s first black-oriented radio station, WDIA, founded in Memphis in 1947. Amid the turbulence and racial tension of the civil rights movement, KOKY was a bastion of black voices that catered to its listeners as a resource for safety and community care. As KOKY Program Director Mark Dylan, who began shadowing at the station as a teenager in 1978, put it, the station in its early days could be described as a “peace whisperer,” a medium that kept the black community calm

and together during trying times: “Radio in those days was not a corporate venture like it is now. You got into neighborhoods, you hugged babies and you kissed wives and you did a whole lot of things that you really don’t do nowadays.” On radios in many black homes throughout the South, DJs and hosts used code words to communicate about where listeners could find reliable car rides, share locations of demonstrations or warn listeners about police blockades. “KOKY kind of gave us that voice, so to speak,” Webber said, “when we couldn’t necessarily vent for ourselves. But KOKY could vent for us.” KOKY was a hotbed for both musical and on-air talent, too. As a Central High School student, Al Bell cut his teeth as a DJ before going on to become an executive and producer at Stax Records during one of its most celebrated periods. In the early days, the station had a tall window pane where curious listeners on the outside could watch DJs working records on the turntables. People would gather to dance in front of the glass, recalls KOKY Religious Director Deacon Alvin White in an interview for the 2016 documentary, “The Legendary Sound of the City,” “and it was just great.” Back then, KOKY also had programs for youth listeners. The station’s first female DJ, Little Rock school teacher and poet Tillie Ingram Bogard Smith, hosted a show called “TIB’s #TwilightTime for Children,” back when KOKY was on 1440 AM.


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PHOTOS BY BRIAN CHILSON

SONTA JEAN, 'KOKY QUEEN': Jean has "cried together, prayed together" with her listeners.

KOKY also distinguished itself by showing up for its audience. Though it was originally a commercial station, the station was much more characterized by its nature as a momand-pop radio venture and responded to its community’s need as a megaphone for collective help, helping listeners find rides to school or the polls and running food drives or clothing drives. At some points, KOKY paid people’s bills and bought houses, former program director Larry O’Jay said. When Martin Luther King Jr. came to Little Rock in April 1963 — just four months before the March on Washington and the delivery of his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” — most churches weren’t interested in hosting him. But White said that he and others at KOKY “built it up big” and supported MLK’s speech at the First Missionary Baptist Church on Gaines Street. Years later, after King’s assassination in 1968, the station chartered three buses to take people to the memorial service in Memphis. Today, KOKY persists in its longtime role of programming around the collective ears of its primary listeners, riding out shifts in ownership and the massive consolidation that flowed from deregulation in 1996 to continue doing in large part what it’s always done: queue up R&B, gospel, jazz — and now, hip hop — via radio personalities whose voices reach much farther than their shows. “I know if you walk into any black business, they’re going to have either KOKY or Praise [102.5 FM] on,” said Carmen 56 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

Bradford, urban web content manager at Cumulus Little Rock who made the “The Legendary Sound of the City” documentary in 2016. “I think KOKY is like the backdrop of most black people’s lives. If you go to a barbecue, KOKY is playing. Any barbecue, church event, it’s going to be in the background, because it’s our music.” Annual KOKY-led events such as the statewide, often multimonth Jammers Power 92 charity basketball team games, live broadcasts and interviews with community members at the Watershed Social Hospital in December, and two-day fundraisers for children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — which raised $17,000 in two days — carry on in the same spirit today. KOKY continues to provide a space for community members to call in and speak, particularly on the weekly Thursday morning talk show program with Booker. Generally, three guests appear on each show and are curated around a particular theme, booked about one month in advance. On March 28, for example, Booker hosted guests from the North Little Rock School District to discuss school choice from the perspective of current students. For Booker, this open-ended discussion format is the epitome of radio, aligned with three rules he keeps in mind: “Radio should entertain, inform and encourage you to be involved in your community.” When Sonta Jean “The KOKY Queen” makes an entrance on the airwaves at 9 a.m. each weekday, she can rely on a call

from Bobby Prescott, who took up KOKY as his go-to station in 2005 after relocating to Little Rock in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Fourteen years have passed, and she’s eaten his gumbo and he’s been to her church. She’s appeared in another listener’s wedding. “We have cried together, prayed together on the radio,” Jean said. “That’s a trip, too, because it’s amazing what people will reveal in a call to the radio [host]. Sometimes they just want to talk.” Jean endured two operations in 2016 after suffering a brain aneurysm in June of that year, and she cites her community of listeners as an aid on her recovery. “Some of these people really become your family. It feels like family,” Jean said. “I feel like I’m working for my sisters, and brothers, and aunts. You get what you give and I love music. I truly love what I do.” Toward the end of his shift during our visit, “DJ Paul” leafed through his CDs. That day, he’d selected Marvin Gaye as the artist of the day in recognition of the anniversary of his death the next day, April 1 — a day that Webber says he’ll never forget. He chose to play a few songs by Gaye every hour, and received a call from a listener about a Gaye tune she’d like to hear. In the meantime, albums accumulated on his desk. He returned his headphones to his ears and leaned in toward the mic. “It’s a beautiful thing. You’re doing something that you love to do,” Webber said. “There’s so much music out there. You’ll never be able to play everything.”


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For Catherine and Michael Fothergill, ballet is both art and business. By Stephanie Smittle

The leaps Catherine and Michael Fothergill took onstage as dancers with the Alabama Ballet were, undoubtedly, a bit more rehearsed than the one they took in the summer of 2017. That year, following the departure of Ballet Arkansas Artistic Director Michael Bearden and Artistic Associate Laura Hood Babcock, the Fothergills bid adieu to Alabama and placed all their bets on a small but fiercely devoted group of dancers here in Little Rock. Since then, the Fothergills have overseen everything from pliés to public relations. I caught up with them during their preparations for “Forte,” a mixed repertory performance in May that’s bound to play a reel of strikingly varied highlights of what the human body can do. What’s the biggest misconception about ballet? That it is for a specific audience. Ballet, and dance as a whole, can impact every pocket of individuals who exist. We use our bodies to empower, inspire, incite and compel all sorts of things. We tell stories that are relevant to all, and bring beauty and joy to our audiences in the process.

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ARKANSAS TIMES

Anyone who isn’t following the Ballet Arkansas Instagram account might be missing out on the degree to which your dancers are invested in the company’s ethos. They’re not just hired hands. They tell their personal stories. They put on aprons and pour wine at your fundraisers. They do Instagram takeovers. Can you talk a little about running a company that’s relatively small, and what that means in terms of your group work dynamic? We want our dancers to feel like they are part owners of the organization. They are the primary presenters of the product, and they are the ambassadors of all we do. Our admin team wears many hats, and so do the dancers. We want

them to dip their toes into diverse fields such as marketing, PR, business administration and learn as much as they can about the way an arts organization works from the inside out. This not only helps them to see how large a part of the organization they are, but it also prepares them for future transitions. Do you aspire to grow the number of dancers, and what does it take to make that happen? We hope to increase the number of dancers from 14 to 25 over consecutive seasons. First and foremost, this takes funding and requires consistent support from the communities we support. Any arts organization that is growing is inevitably taking more risks. These are the times when we need support the most. Your mixed repertory program in May involves, among other things, a collaboration with acclaimed pianist Drew Mays, a contemporary work by Ma Cong and a world premiere by Michael Fothergill. Can you explain a little about what a mixed repertory program is, and why a program like this might be a good chance to get acquainted with Ballet Arkansas? Each piece on the program is entirely different and brings different vantage points to the profession. If you like contemporary dance, you’ll see two contemporary offerings on the bill. Like classical? You’ll see the full second act of “Swan Lake” and Balanchine’s famed “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.” There’s something for every audience, not to mention the beautiful accompaniment from a world renowned pianist. Ballet Arkansas will perform “Forte” at 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday, May 3-5, at UA Pulaski Tech’s Center for the Humanities and Arts (CHARTS); get tickets at balletarkansas.org. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.


HOPE IS HERE Q

A psychiatric and behavioral health professional from Rivendell answers your questions

: My husband is a very proud man

he won’t consider professional help when I

people of all ages to help them to confront

who works incredibly hard. Two years

suggest that to him. I’m not sure where to

pain and to heal from loss. We also provide a

ago, we inherited his family’s small

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however, he’s drinking alcohol regularly

A

substance abuse detox program that allows

family farm after his father passed away.

: First, we understand you’re having to

our patients to form healthier ways to cope

deal with an incredibly difficult situation

with their negative feelings as opposed to

and want to encourage you in reaching

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out. Seeing a loved one dealing with such

Rivendell’s mission to show compassion, give

which causes him to sleep late each morning.

issues all the while trying to maintain the

validation, and help our patients begin the

When he’s drinking, he’s verbally abusive

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to me, and, when I confront him about it,

difficult. Those we think of as the strongest

to loved ones of our patients so that they

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also support themselves and their loved one

a joke. I’ve had to hire part-time help to

candid and honest conversation (or a friend

once treatment is complete. Before a patient

finish the farming work, unbeknownst to

or relative having a conversation) is often the

leaves the hospital, our goal is to schedule

my husband. I’m also sheltering our two

first step many need in seeking help. Your

the patient an appointment with a licensed

pre-teen children from him when he drinks,

husband is most likely dealing with multiple

therapist in outpatient as well to continue

often sending them to my sister-in-law’s

issues. Grieving the death of a parent is of-

counseling. Rivendell is here to provide a

home down the road. With his personality

ten hard no matter a person’s age and must

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CULTURE

SHOP LOCAL

AT ARKANSAS MADE-ARKANSAS PROUD MAY 18 AT WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM. By STEPHEN KOCH

W

hat is culture if not artisans making their craft for public consumption? If so, the Arkansas Times’ annual Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud event at War Memorial Stadium finds itself at the very confluence of commerce and culture. Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud showcases those who create Arkansas goods. Now entering its third year, the event is earning its own place in the cultural fabric. The date for this year’s festival is May 18 — and if that seems later than usual this year to you, you’re right. The first two fests were held in April, according to Rick Tilley of Arkansas Parks and Tourism, which co-sponsors the event with the Times. However, Tilley explained, “April is wet.” While the inaugural event was by all accounts beautiful, rain last year forced a move into the stadium’s concourse. While War Memorial’s concourse is “a wonderful thing,” and “a great plan B,” he said, “this event was designed to be on the field.” Gates open at 10 a.m.; the event ends at 5 p.m. The artisans represented at Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud are wonderfully diverse in geography and medium. From Alpena to Pine Bluff, from Sage to Story and beyond, you’ll find dog treats, quilts, salsa, leather work and more. “There’s accomplished visual artists, knife makers, some outstanding pottery work, jewelry makers,” Tilley said of the gamut of Arkansas makers represented. And don’t forget the “Proud” part of Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud: “The community of artists in Arkansas is very social — this is a time for them to get together and see one another, and also to show off and check out each other’s work as well.” Some Arkansas artisans returning this year, Tilley said, are Berryville’s Oddbowlz Ceramics, Arkadelphia’s Silverwear by Linda, Johnson’s Woodworx Workshop and Batesville’s Inspiration Point. 60 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

FLYING PIG: Casey Martin will have his cigar box guitars for sale at Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud.

Some vendors announce their missions in their names, like Rozman Wood Design of Cabot, Twisted Candles of Pine Bluff and Wildt Leather of Benton. Others, like Sawmill Gap Mercantile of Leslie and the Green Corner Store of Little Rock, announce that their names can’t cover all the goods they offer. Still others require further study: Ambyr & Onyx of Fayetteville? Cosmetic and personal care items. Good Acres Life of Huntsville? Vegan/organic balms. LKD Design of Little Rock? Furniture. “If you live in Arkansas and make things, you are probably here,” Tilley said. Brewer Mountain Crafter’s Marjorie Carlton is coming down off the mountain with her daughter from, yes, Brewer Mountain in Cleburne County to show off their wood furniture, hand-painted signs and wild-scented sand-filled hot pads and car air fresheners. Into crafting since 1988, this will be Carlton’s first Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud festival. Julie Duvall of Conway’s The Cottage At Sunny Gap sold her handmade soaps for the first time at last year’s event, where she befriended a vendor who had a contract with the state Department of Agriculture. Tipped to an opportunity by that friend, Duvall bid on a state contract and won. It dramatically increased her soap sales. Casey Marshall of Flying Pig Guitars of Little Rock has attended the fest before, but it’s his first time to attend as an Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud vendor. After buying a cigar box guitar and “falling in love with them,” Marshall got into making cigar box guitars himself in early 2018, and launched his brand — which includes an actual, literal cattle brand of the Flying Pig logo burned onto each guitar neck. “I needed a hobby,” he added — “building is my ‘me time.’ ” Marshall also makes canjos — one-stringed instruments made out of cans and marketed

to kids — and bed-pan guitars that we’re certain are fully cleaned before transformation. As for the unique name of his business, after Marshall had built his first dozen guitars — which, by his own admission, weren’t very good — his wife asked him if he was going to sell them. “When pigs fly,” he answered. The state has its own unique food and drink heritage as well, with a future that’s being written now. Arkansas consumers have come to appreciate the value in keeping it local, knowing their food sources — and even knowing their farmers. Returning Arkansas food purveyors to the festival include Malvern’s Gerri’s Jams and Jellies, Mablevale’s Pratt Family Salsa and the blissful-sounding Lake in the Willows Apiary in Scott. But there are equally tantalizing names from elsewhere: Ruthie Mountain Smoked Peppers in Sage; War Eagle Mill in Hindsville; Subiaco Abbey in Logan County. Izard County’s Ruthie Mountain Smoked Peppers hickory cold smokes its different varieties of peppers. It all started with Randy and Katie Crumby trying to preserve their peppers beyond growing season. Following was years of experimentation both in choosing the proper smoke flavor and the variety of peppers. Originally, they sold their smoked dried peppers whole, but found they had to show folks how to grind them. “Next thing you know, we’re doing the whole process,” Randy said, laughing. There’s no salt — or anything — added to any of the five different types of Ruthie Mountain Smoked Peppers — or any other ingredient beyond the pepper. “This is our third year; we’ve attended every one,” Randy said. “We get to meet our fellow Arkansas makers and the public. I always say if I can meet the person, and take the cap off the pepper jar, we’re already halfway there. This festival means a lot.”


“I think [the Arkansas Times] is important because it not only keeps me up with the news that’s going on, it provides commentary on that news that I don’t see in other places. It also helps me know where I want to go eat, where I want to go shop, what movies I want to see… As somebody who makes decisions that affect our city, it’s wonderful information to have.” – Kathy Webb, Executive Director of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Little Rock City Board Member

ARKANSAS TIMES READERS ARE LEADERS.

ADVERTISE TO THEM! Call Phyllis Britton Director of Advertising 501-375-2985 Phyllis@arktimes.com

201 East Markham, Suite 200 | Downtown Little Rock arkansastimes.com | 501-375-2985 ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 61


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62 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

hat says spring like salt, lime juice and tequila? Come savor the season with salsa moves and swill at the third annual Arkansas Times Margarita Festival, presented by Milagro Tequila, 6-9 p.m. Thursday, May 2, on the field of War Memorial Stadium. Central Arkansas’s top bartenders will be on hand slinging their unique takes on the classic cocktail. Each festivalgoer will get a punchcard on which they can vote for their favorite margarita. A winner will be crowned at the end of the evening. Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Buy them in advance at centralarkansastickets.com. Don’t dawdle; previous events have sold out. The competitors include Little Rock’s Atlas Bar, Colonial Wine & Spirits, DoubleTree's Bridges Restaurant and Lounge, Dos Rocas

Beer & Tacos, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor, Prospect Sports Bar and Grill and Samantha’s Taproom & Wood Grill. From Hot Springs, the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, Bleu Monkey Grill, Capo’s Tacos, The Ohio Club, Silks Bar & Grill at Oaklawn, the Starlite Club, Taco Mama and Turner Bartending are sending their mix masters. Most of our competitors were still finalizing their plans for the event when we checked in with them, but we did hear word of three twists on the classic: spicy, strawberry and blackberry. Taco Mama, La Terraza and the Rock Brick Oven Pizza Truck will be selling food. Club 27 and Little Rock Salsa will keep the party dancing with salsa and Jimmy Buffett music. Orion Federal Credit Union is a sponsor. Collins, Collins, & Ray P.A. is the wristband sponsor.


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TRAVEL

Take to the Talimena SOAK UP SPRING IN THE OUACHITA MOUNTAINS. By STEPHANIE SMITTLE

64 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


PHOTO COURTESY SHANE BEVEL/OKLAHOMA TOURISM

“A visitor standing upon one of the many majestic peaks in the area of the proposed park is thrilled by a panoramic view that cannot be had elsewhere in the South Central States. With cheeks flushed by the invigorating mountain breezes, the mountain climber is rewarded by an inspiring view of countless and nameless peaks, mountain groups, dense forests, and inviting valleys, all merging into the distant horizon. … Fed by crystal springs and like so much molten silver these streams flow, their turbulent courses unappreciated and rarely visited.” — Osro Cobb, c. 1926, quoted in “Osro Cobb of Arkansas: Memories of Historical Significance,” 1990.

S 'COUNTLESS AND NAMELESS PEAKS': The 54-mile Talimena Scenic Byway meanders through the Winding Stair Mountains, with more than 20 scenic vistas and a network of trails.

outheast Oklahoma is a strange land. There are no centers of commerce, and what’s there bespeaks an unlikely mix of identities. On the 7-mile stretch between Talimena State Park and Talihina, Okla., for example, you’ll spot an oversized church sign urging drivers to “Worry Less Pray More,” a Kiamichi Valley War Memorial tribute to U.S. veterans and a business by the name of “Canna Bliss Rx,” a fragrant establishment that popped up near the Ouachita Trail’s head, riding the wave that followed last year’s approval of Oklahoma’s comparatively libertine medicinal marijuana laws. Moments away, on the Talimena Scenic Byway at Panorama Vista — 2,260 feet above sea level — the gales howl high and fierce. At this elevation, towering white oaks are reduced to bonsai-like proportions, punishingly pruned by wind and ice storms. Other vegetation acts as a visual compass; since the Ouachita ridgelines, atypically, run east to west, their slopes foster dramatically different sets of trees: hardwoods and paw paw trees on the north, serviceberry and shortleaf pines on the south. It’s a terrain of extremes, capable of showing you the better part of an entire county in a valley below, but equally as capable of shrouding you in dense droplets of opaque white mist, obscuring visibility a few feet in either direction. And, as state Rep. Cobb stated in the late 1920s, the Ouachitas are a gem hidden in plain sight for nearby Oklahomans and Arkansans, still rather “underappreciated and rarely visited” in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere in the American landscape. ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 65


FILL THE COOLER AND THE GAS TANK: Amenities between Central Arkansas and Mile Zero of the Ouachita Trail at Talimena State Park are few and far between. Stock up on deli delights from Burl's Country Smokehouse (above); make a reservation to spend the night at The Rock House in Talihina (below).

MAKE YOUR WAY TO MILE ZERO The fastest way from Central Arkansas to the western end of the Talimena Scenic Byway is, fortunately, also a picturesque one, particularly once you pass Royal (Garland County). You can skip the big box trip and fill up the cooler with smoked cheese and cold cuts from Burl’s Country Smokehouse (10176 Albert Pike Road, Royal, Ark., 501-991-3875), a roadside smokehouse made up to resemble a sort of hillbilly theme park, selling moonshine jelly, house-made sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls the size of a dinner plate. (You can reach Talihina this way, via Interstate 30 and U.S. Highway 270, or you could venture up Interstate 40 to Alma, down to Fort Smith and through Pocola and Poteau, Okla., toward Talihina on state Highway 112 and U.S. Highway 271.) Whatever your approach, you’ll see signs pointing you to Talimena State Park (50884 U.S. Highway 271, Talihina, Okla., 918-567-2052, travelok.com/ state-parks/7645), at the center of which is a tree bearing a sign that reads “Mile Zero.” An alluring trail straight ahead marks an entry to the stunning, formidable Ouachita Trail — a 225-mile route that crosses the length of the Ouachita Mountain range and ends at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Set up a campsite here at one of the drive-in tent sites, or hole up at the Hootie Creek House in town (202 First St., Talihina, Okla., 918-567-5388, hootiecreekhouse.com), a cozy six-room inn inside a historic brick building with a courtyard and sitting room. HANG IN OUTLAW COUNTRY, OR HAIL THE HEAVENER RUNESTONE Venture about 45 minutes northeast of Talihina to the San Bois Mountains, where a former Jesse James/Belle Starr hideout called Robbers Cave State Park (4575 N.W. 1024th Ave., Wilburton, Okla., 918-465-2565, travelok.com/state-parks/6415) offers a swimming beach and pool, sandstone cliffs for rappelling and 8,246 acres of caves, lakes and trails to explore. Robbers Cave rents yurts, campsites, cabins, a lake hut and rooms at its Belle Starr View Lodge. Or, head northwest of Talihina to the 55-acre Heavener Runestone Park (18365 Runestone Road, Heavener, Okla., 918-653-2241, heavenerrunestonepark.com) and take the trail down to the huge vertical sandstone slab with runic inscriptions based in Viking-era Scandinavian grammar structures, the origins of which have catalyzed arguments among linguists and scholars since the stone was discovered in the 1830s.

PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE

66 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

DINE AT THE ROCK HOUSE Four nights a week, Sam and Tami Balzanna of Talihina fire up their commercial-grade kitchen equipment to serve hand-cut steaks, Maryland crab cakes and generous pasta platters in a remodeled Prohibition-era rock home that sits at the exact center of their 283-acre property. The Rock House (52060 Blackjack Ridge Drive, Talihina, Okla., 918567-3577, therockhouse.us) is situated in the middle of the Kiamichi Mountains Range and Potato Hills, so diners can see for miles through the surrounding horse pastures


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PHOTO COURESTY SHANE BEVEL/OKLAHOMA TOURISM

TALIHINA TO QUEEN WILHELMINA: Take your coffee at Pam's Hateful Hussy Diner (left), and in the morning check out the scenery and then cap your day with a hike to Lover's Leap (bottom left) at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, where a decomissioned locomotive sits across the byway from the nine-level Wonder House (two at bottom right).

PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE

68 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


while the Oklahoma wind howls through the rock columns on the front porch. Reservations are required. JOIN THE COFFEE CLUB AT PAM’S HATEFUL HUSSY DINER People rise early in Talihina, and most of the weekday crowd at Pam’s Hateful Hussy Diner (304 Dallas St., Talihina, Okla., 918567-2051) will have moved on to their daily business by 8 a.m., but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for eggs and hash browns for breakfast, or for the frybread “Indian Tacos,” or the locally beloved homestyle lunch buffet on Fridays and Sundays. The name, YouTube videos report, was gifted to Pam by a customer and thereafter embraced as a brand, right down to the custom coffee mugs. HOP THE BYWAY VISTAS Most of the vistas along the Talimena Scenic Byway are marked by both road signs and tan-colored plaques interpreting the history and geology of the vista. The first views — at Old Military Road, Potato Hill, Holson Valley and Panorama Vista — come in quick succession of one another, offering to the patient traveler a chance to get into the rhythm of stopping often and absorbing what’s around her. It’s like a real-life version of the hilly Hot Wheels track you’d have built as a kid — that is, if your toy budget accounted for millions of tiny model pine trees. This is neither highway driving nor city driving. Embrace it. There’s not a lackluster vista to be found, but don’t miss the Panorama Vista — a flat, sky-scraping lookout seemingly invented for the camera function that shares its name. PICNIC AND PITSTOP ON CEDAR LAKE Just north of the byway, there’s an 86-acre lake, surrounded by a network of short nature trails (including a scenic 3-mile hike around the lake perimeter) and equipped with a boat ramp, fishing piers and a swimming area. Cedar Lake is stocked with largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill to clean and grill for a picnic lunch if you brought along a rod and tackle box. If you got an early start and are looking for a more rigorous day hike (or a leisurely overnight hike, for that matter), the trailhead for Horsethief Springs Trail is in the picnic area; the 11-mile loop crosses several streams on the way up Winding Stair Mountain and joins up with the mighty Ouachita Trail before circling back down the northern face of the peak to Cedar Lake. IT’S GOOD TO BE QUEEN (WILHELMINA) Named by Dutch investors after their matriarch, Queen Wilhelmina State Park (3877 state Highway 88, Mena, Ark., 479-394-2863) appears to the eastward traveler just after crossing the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line, towering and ambassadorial on the hillside. The “Castle in the Sky” lodge, built in 1898 and rebuilt twice since then, sits on the apex of Arkansas’s second highest peak and has 38 rooms and a restaurant. A 1.5-mile miniature railroad runs between the campground and the lodge between Memorial Day and Labor

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EL ZÓCALO IMMIGRANT RESOURCE CENTER Invites You to Our 4th Annual Tacos & Tianguis Authentic Latin American Food & Crafts Market Saturday, May 11th • 6-9pm Bernice Garden 1401 Main St, Little Rock Sponsored by

William Waddell • Dos Rocas Beer and Tacos Support is provided, in part, by the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Loren Long, one of the country’s premier illustrators, is coming to Little Rock to discuss and sign his new book If I Was the Sunshine. May 2, 6:00 p.m. at

Preorder your copy today. LITTLE ROCK’S INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE! Open 10 AM - 6 PM Monday - Saturday, 12-5 PM Sunday 5920 R St, Little Rock • 501-663-9198 • www.wordsworthbookstore.com ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 69


Day. In the event the byway overlooks left you wanting more, the quick 1.3-mile loop trail out to Lover’s Leap and back rewards the hiker with another sprawling view of the rolling Ouachitas. Don’t miss one of the guided tours of the “Wonder House,” an architectural oddity constructed in 1931 that houses nine levels in what appears, from the outside, to be a modest two-story rock domicile. MANGIA IN MENA If the lodge restaurant doesn’t trip your trigger for dinner, there are a couple of places open in the evening in downtown Mena: Branding Iron BBQ & Steak House (623 Sherwood Ave., Mena, Ark., 479-437-3240) serves up fried green tomatoes and potato-and-brisket soup with aged Black Angus steaks and whole racks of ribs. Or, if you’ve landed in Mena on a weekday, duck into Suzy Q’s Sweet Creams & Coffee (601 Mena St., Mena, Ark., 479-216-6770), a charming boutique storefront in the historic downtown district that pairs after-dinner delights like affogato, hand pies and old-fashioned banana splits with vintage tabletop board games.

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70 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

PAY HOMAGE TO ARKANSAS’S COMEDY PIONEERS On your drive down winding Rich Mountain (and out of the clouds), you’ll pass through the rolling farmland in the towns of Ink and Yocana into Pine Ridge, home of the Lum and Abner Jot ’Em Down Store (4562 State Highway 88 W., Pine Ridge, Ark., 870362-4442). Inside the walls of the 1909 building — which doubles as the community’s official post office — you can get lost in a trove of artifacts detailing the careers of Chester Lauck and Norris Goff, the comedy duo who broadcast over 5,000 radio shows under their adopted hillbilly monikers, Columbus “Lum” Edwards and Abner Peabody. The real gem here, though, is Kathryn Moore Stucker, the museum owner/curator and Pine Ridge historian who stewards the shop, who unquestionably knows more about Lum and Abner history than anyone else on Earth. Should you need sustenance before that eastward stretch, stop in to the Skyline Cafe (618 Mena St., Mena, Ark., 479-394-5152) and grab some eggs with kielbasa at one of Arkansas’s oldest diners. Bring cash; Skyline does not accept credit/debit cards. DINE AT THE DAIRYETTE Business hours at the Dairyette (717 U.S. Highway 270, Mount Ida, Ark., 870-867-2312) often mean the square footage of the dairy bar equals less than the square footage taken up by the cars and trucks huddled around it. A limeade or a milkshake should be at the top of your to-do list, and the cheeseburger is quintessential drive-in fare. CRUISE CRYSTAL COUNTRY This slice of Montgomery County is situated atop massive quartz deposits, and amateur miners can pay a daily or hourly fee to hack away at exposed hillsides in search of geological treasure at a handful of crystal


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art exhibitions

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CALS RON ROBINSON THEATER

THE BOOKSTORE AT LIBRARY SQUARE

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DOORS OPEN 7 PM | SHOWS START 8 PM

the cate brotherS band FRI | MAY 10 | $25

CALS RON ROBINSON THEATER

the color PurPle (PG-13) THU | MAY 7 | $5

THE GALLERIES AT LIBRARY SQUARE

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Part to Whole: the MakinG of art, the artiSt, and the artiStS’ GrouP

This two-time Grammy-winning Americana icon has recorded more than 30 albums. His newest is From Another World.

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Arkansas’s biggest hip-hop artist is making a stop on her Help Wanted tour. This event is for ages 18 & up only.

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WED | MAY 22 | $10 ADVANCE/$15 DAY OF SHOW

Tues. - Fri. 11-6 • Sat. 11-3 and by appointment 5815 Kavanaugh Blvd • Little Rock, AR 72207 501-664-0030 • www.boswellmourot.com

DOORS OPEN 6 PM | MOVIES START 7 PM

Arkansas legends Earl and Ernie Cate will perform the biggest hits and most beloved songs from their five-decade career.

THE GALLERIES AT LIBRARY SQUARE

Fine Art from local, regional and international artists for the emerging and established collector.

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Made in aMerica: VintaGe filM PoSterS froM the ron robinSon collection

SAT | MAY 11 | $20

BOSWELL MOUROT FINE ART

citizen kane (PG) TUE | MAY 14 | $5

butch caSSidy & the Sundance kid (PG) TUE | MAY 21 | $5

THU | MAY 23 | $5

TUE | MAY 28 | $5

FRI | MAY 31 | $5

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Library Square is located at 100 Rock Street

ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 71


GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE CLOUDS: After descending Rich Mountain, you'll pass by the Lum and Abner Jot ‘Em Down Store (proprietor Kathyrn Moore Stucker, below; store, middle left), the Dairyette in Mount Ida (top left) and the Shangri-La Resort on Lake Ouachita, rendered by painter Debra Callaway in an homage titled "Closing Time" (bottom right).

PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE SMITTLE 72 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES


Pine Ridge is home to the Lum and Abner Jot ’Em Down Store, where artifacts detail the comedic radio history of Chester Lauck and Norris Goff.

Wardrobe ready? Walk in to Wicks.

5924 R Street, Little Rock 501.664.3062 • www.mrwicks.com

mines open to the public. Must-haves for a day dig: old clothes, gloves, water, sunscreen and a digging tool commensurate to the size crystal you hope to haul home (shovel, crowbar, screwdriver). Popular mines include the Jim Coleman Rock Shop & Crystal Mine (5837 state Highway 7 N., Jessieville, Ark.), Wegner Crystal Mines (82 Wegner Crystal Ranch Road, Mount Ida, Ark., 870-867-2309) and the Coleman Miller Mountain Mine (358 Bighole Road, Jessieville, Ark., 501-984-5257). Paying a visit to the website of the mine of your choice could spare you an idle wait; quartz farmers are people of routine and often have set departure times for the journey from their rock shop to their tucked-away mines. PULL UP A BARSTOOL AT THE SHANGRI-LA This mid-century marina’s roots lie in the days when Americans first fell in love with the idea of the family automobile — and with road tripping. Boathouse decor adorns the cafe at Shangri-La Resort (987 Shangri La Road, Mount Ida, Ark., 870-867-2011) where, for 50 years, owner Varine Carr has been stocking the pie cooler with delights like coconut creme, butterscotch, lemon, cherry and chocolate pies worth pairing with a cup of coffee or packing up for a mid-float snack. COOL OFF IN LAKE OUACHITA Arkansas’s largest lake (after Bull Shoals, that is, which we share with Missouri) is the stuff of fairytales: 40,000 acres of dense forest with epic mountain biking along the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, destination striped bass fishing, boat/kayak rentals and around 200 islands to explore. The lake’s 16-mile GeoFloat Trail, marked by yellow buoys, gives motorboaters a tour past the quartz-veined Zebra Rock, natural beaches and cliffside rock formations whose waves and curves detail millions of years of geological history.

Rhea Drug Store

A traditional Pharmacy with Eclectic Gifts Serving Little Rock since 1922

2801 Kavanaugh Little Rock 501.663.4131 ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 73


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ARKANSAS TIMES


WHAT'S HAPPENING IN HOT SPRINGS! MAY 2019

SPONSORED BY OAKLAWN RACING CASINO RESORT AND VISIT HOT SPRINGS

MAY 26

MEMORIAL DAY FIREWORKS ON LAKE HAMILTON

Highway 7 south bridge at dark. The annual display celebrates the start of the summer season in Hot Springs. The fireworks will be shot from the middle of Lake Hamilton from barges located on the east side of state Highway 7 at the first Highway 7 bridge opposite the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The fireworks will be synched with music this year on radio station 97.5-FM, US97. Visit Hot Springs will sponsor the free show. Those who want to watch the Memorial Day display from the water are urged to keep a safe distance from the launching area and keep watch for fellow boaters. In case of rain, the fireworks will be rescheduled for Monday evening, May 27.

Bring the family!

MUSIC TO YOUR EARS

MAY 12

THE 12TH ANNUAL MOTHER’S DAY BELL CHOIR CONCERT

The Ringers of Hope bell choir from Ouachita Hills Academy in Amity will present a Special Mother’s Day concert. This 12th annual performance in the Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens will conclude the choir's 18th touring season and will include a special section just for kids with stories and music. Bring the whole family and treat your mother to an afternoon of beautiful bell music. Concerts in Anthony Chapel are free and open to the public. For more information call 501-262-9300.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE AT OAKLAWN POP’S LOUNGE: Thursday May 2: Friday May 3-4: Sunday May 5: Every Wednesday: Every Thursday: Every Friday:

Rocky Jones, 5-9 p.m. Susan Erwin, 5-9 p.m. Jacob Flores, 5-9 p.m. Karaoke, 8-11 p.m. Trivia, 7-9 p.m. Beer Pong, 6-9 p.m.

SILKS BAR & GRILL: May 3: Aaron Owens, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. May 4: Dylan Earl, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. May 10 & 12: Wesley Pruitt, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. May 17- 18: Brent Frazier Band, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. May 24-25: Arkansauce, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. May 31-June 1: Brandon Butler Band, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

LIVE MUSIC IN MAY AT ROLANDO’S

May 2: Jeff Hartzell May 17: Rick Mckean May 3: Rick Mckean May 18: Aaron Balentine May 4: Aaron Balentine May 23: Jeff Hartzell May 9: Aaron Balentine May 24: Aaron Balentine May 10: Jeff Hartzell May 25: Rick Mckean May 11: Rick Mckean May 30: Aaron Balentine May 16: Jeff Hartzell May 31: Jeff Hartzell 210 Central Ave., 501-318-6054.

APRIL 26-MAY 5

ARTS IN THE PARK

The Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliances’ Arts & The Park 2019, presented by Arvest Bank, runs through May 5 in Downtown Hot Springs National Park. The festival will showcase the talent of local and visual artists from Arkansas and surrounding states, as well as musicians, dancers, poets, jewelers, potters, performers, authors, glass makers, sculptors and more. Art lovers can indulge in great food, have fun with activities for children, and take part in the always popular Chalk Walk. The after-hours Gallery Walk on Friday, May 3, will feature artist demonstrations at downtown galleries, artist workshops for all ages, poetry readings, concerts and more. Art lovers can visit the studios of participating artists during the Studio Tours event to be held Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5.

JUNE 2

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RUNNING OF THE TUBS

Join us for Hot Springs’ Steuart Pennington’s World Championship Running of the Tubs bathtub races along world famous Bathhouse Row in the downtown historic district. Teams will compete starting at 9 a.m. June 1. Spectators are encouraged to bring water balloons and super soakers! Presented by The Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium. For more information call 501-321-2227.

A SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION ARKANSASTIMES.COM

MAY 2019 75


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HISTORY

COX’S ARMY A FORGOTTEN CANDIDATE AND THE 1962 ARKANSAS GOVERNOR’S RACE. PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY CENTRAL ARKANSAS LIBRARY SYSTEM'S BUTLER CENTER FOR ARKANSAS STUDIES

By ERNEST DUMAS

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Gov. Orval Faubus in Clinton in 1962.

I

n May, Butler Center Books will publish “The Education of Ernie Dumas: Chronicles of a Political Mind,” a political memoir from the longtime Arkansas Times columnist and former Arkansas Gazette editorial writer who has been reporting on Arkansas leaders since 1954, when Orval Faubus won his first gubernatorial election, defeating incumbent Gov. Francis Cherry. The book provides an often deeply personal insider’s reflection on the politicians who shaped the modern history of the state: Cherry, Faubus, Winthrop Rockefeller, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, John McClellan, J. William Fulbright, Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker and others. The following is an excerpt from Dumas' book.

78 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

For a while, in the winter of 1961-62, amid his fourth two-year term in office, Gov. Orval Faubus toyed with the idea of retirement, or at least a respite from politics and the unrelenting anxieties of governing, which are particularly vexing when you have no one, not even a family member, with whom you care to share your misgivings, regrets, or apprehensions. He had had some health problems, traceable to stress, and it was clear that in 1962 he would have serious opponents for the first time since 1954. He dreaded one in particular, Sid McMath, the former governor who, along with Harry S. Truman, had been his earliest hero. Both Faubus and McMath had served as officers in some of the worst fighting in World War II, Faubus in the Battle of the Bulge and other European campaigns and McMath in the Pacific. After the war, both joined the “GI Revolt,” a political reform movement that peaked in the first elections

after the war, in 1946 and 1948. McMath was elected prosecuting attorney in Garland County in 1946, but the Madison County voters who had twice elected Faubus to the office of circuit clerk before the war rejected him for the office of county judge in 1946, in favor of a Republican who had not gone to war. Faubus acquired the local weekly, the Madison County Record, and his columns cheered McMath, the Marine hero from Hot Springs. When McMath was elected governor in 1948, he appointed the young man from Greasy Creek to the state Highway Commission, brought him into his office as executive secretary, and then made him the highway director. McMath would lament in 1962 that his big highway program had built the first paved road into Madison County and let Orval out. McMath’s mere entry into a race against him was a reproof of Faubus’ desertion of the progressive movement, and a defeat at


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the hands of his old mentor would be especially bitter. McMath had counseled the White House and Justice Department in September 1957 about how to enforce the law without sending federal soldiers, which he thought would be too reminiscent of the Civil War. During the campaign, Faubus would accuse him of complicity in the “forced integration” of Central High and predicted that McMath would use force to integrate other Arkansas schools. But McMath was not the only serious prospect. Congressman Dale Alford — who with the silent help of the governor had defeated Brooks Hays in a write-in campaign in 1958, after Hays had tried to broker a compromise between Faubus and President Eisenhower in 1957 — had to run for something. Arkansas lost a seat in the House of Representatives after the 1960 census, and the legislature’s reapportionment of the state into four districts threw Alford into a district with U.S. Rep. Wilbur D. Mills. Alford knew he couldn’t beat Mills; besides, Mills had persuaded House Democrats to accept Alford, who had opposed a Democratic nominee, and to include him in the seniority ranks. W.R. “Witt” Stephens, the president of Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company and the most powerful man in the state, worried that Alford might take on his man, U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, who Stephens feared was vulnerable to a glib segregationist like Alford. Stephens sent his political agent, an insurance broker named Jack Gardner, to Alford with a message: It was pretty certain that Faubus would not run, and with Stephens’ support Alford could walk into the governor’s office. Alford jumped into the race. Privately, Stephens, like Faubus, had no use for the unctuous eye doctor and figured that Faubus, if he did run again, would take him out easily. “Somebody said Dale Alford is like unto a wasp,” Stephens confided. “He is bigger when he is first hatched than he’ll ever be again.” Jim Johnson tried to persuade Alford that Witt Stephens would never support him, but Alford decided the race was his best political option. Faubus did, indeed, announce that he would not run again, but after a spell he realized how miserable and useless he would feel out of office. His wife, Alta, sensed it and told him to run again. They ginned up a draft-Faubus movement, and he accepted the draft. Marvin Melton, a big (literally) Jonesboro farmer and businessman who was president of the state Chamber of Commerce, got into the race and told McMath that if McMath got into a runoff with Faubus he would endorse McMath and together they would finally end

the Faubus reign. Witt Stephens would take care of that, too. As journalist Roy Reed recounted, Stephens knew that Melton had once helped start an insurance company by buying stock at $1 a share and then had sold the stock for $15 a share. It sounded crooked. Those were the freewheeling days when anyone could start an insurance company in Arkansas with no real capital. Stephens tipped a newspaper reporter, who asked Melton about the stock. Melton decided to get out of the race. Five years later, Melton climbed into his single-engine Beechcraft to fly to Dallas and was never seen again. The field of Faubus foes eventually included Kenneth C. Coffelt, a loudmouthed trial lawyer who fancied himself to be the second coming of Huey P. Long; Vernon H. Whitten, a soft-spoken man who set out to fill the dignified-businessman slot in the field; and David A. Cox, a one-eyed rice farmer from the town of Weiner in Poinsett County, who rarely made the news but when he did inspired headlines like “Weiner Farmer Claims …” Arkansawyers again got to see the most impressive politician in the state’s history, though fleetingly. It had been 10 years since McMath, two years out of the governor’s office, almost upset the state’s senior senator, John L. McClellan, in a farfetched comeback campaign after the “McMath highway scandal” in 1952 had cost him a third term. At an unusually fit 60 years old and soon to be promoted to brigadier general in the Marine Corps, McMath cut a fine figure on the stump with his trademark blue suit, red tie and brimmed white hat. McMath nearly sprinted down sidewalks shaking hands, and he


vaulted over balustrades in bank lobbies to meet secretaries, clerks and bank executives. He was the best orator Arkansawyers had ever heard, unless they happened to have caught one of William Jennings Bryan’s declamations in 1899 or 1910. But unlike other super-politicians like Bill Clinton, McMath couldn’t remember people’s names, calling women on his staff “Sweetheart” and the like. I traveled with him for three weeks — until Faubus’ Selective Service director instructed Margaret Black, who ran the draft office in Union County, to put me at the top of the September draft and I left the campaign and the paper to head to Fort Polk, La., for infantry training. McMath always called me “Eddie,” despite an aide’s murmuring to him from time to time that it was Ernie. But personal campaigning and rallies were fading in importance, because television and radio gave most people about all the intimacy with politicians they coveted. McMath didn’t have money for much of a media campaign. He made a short film in which he attacked Faubus’ control of all the regulatory mechanisms of government, which were used to enrich his big supporters, like Witt Stephens. McMath pointed to a giant blowup of a menacing, cigar-chomping Stephens, who 15 years earlier had been his own biggest supporter. If your gold standard for a politician was high-mindedness, unflinching honesty, or mere individuality, then your candidate in the primary was David A. Cox. All the memorable utterances from that campaign and most others fell from the parched lips of the sunburned farmer, a rail-thin man who usually wore a starched white shirt and black trousers from which the long end of his belt drooped eight or nine inches, which suggested that sometime in the distant past he had shed many pounds but had never invested in a shorter belt. Cox had lost an eye, several fingers and part of an ear as a youngster when he tried, as he explained it, to crawl through a barbed-wire fence with a loaded shotgun. While no reporters were around, Cox showed up at the Capitol and paid his filing fee for the Democratic primary. Secretary of State Nancy Hall gave him a biographical form to fill out, which helped reporters identify who the candidates were, their ages and something about their backgrounds. She said Cox told her he didn’t want any publicity, so there was nothing on the form but his name and the town Weiner. We couldn’t find him and that is about all that appeared in the papers. A couple of weeks later, Bill Shelton, the Arkansas Gazette city editor, told me that a guy named Dave Cox had called and asked for the location of the office of Amis Guthridge, the head of the Capital Citizens’ Council, the white-supremacy group that had fought school integration through the 1950s. Shelton asked him if he was the candidate for governor. He was. Cox told him he was going to go over to Guthridge’s place and “clean that sonofabitch’s plow.” The previous day I had covered a news conference at the Greyhound bus station on

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Broadway, where Guthridge and a couple of other Citizens Council members put two African-American women and their 23 children on a bus with tickets to get them to Hyannis Port, Mass., where President John F. Kennedy had a family compound. The Citizens Councils in Arkansas and other Southern states that summer put poor black people on buses with a few dollars and shipped them to Hyannis Port — the famous Reverse Freedom Rides of that year. Guthridge made a grinning little speech in which he said he was sure the Kennedys would see to it that “these fine people” were given a good life up there. I drove over to Guthridge’s shabby little law office on West Markham Street just as

“I guarantee you,” Cox replied, “they would mix without incident if the courts said so.” As he barged out, Cox said to me, “I’m a humanitarian and I wouldn’t give a blind man the wrong directions.” Pointing at Guthridge, he said, “I think he would.” A week or so later, I drove up to Weiner on a Saturday for Cox’s kickoff fish fry, which was to be in a small park beside the Union Pacific railroad track. He had a couple of tubs of fresh catfish sitting in the June sun, but the two men he had hired to fry them didn’t show up — bought off by Orval Faubus, Cox guessed. The handful of hungry townspeople walked away. Amid bursts of cursing, Cox began to gather up a lot of liquor bottles to tote back

‘If God didn't create us all integrated, who did?’ — Dave Cox to Amis Guthridge, head of the white supremacist Capital Citizens Council. Cox spun into the gravel parking lot in his red Chevrolet Impala, on which he had strapped a sign saying “Dave Cox for Governor.” He stormed into Guthridge’s tiny office, where two black men were seated. Cox offered one of them a cigarette, which he declined. “Hell,” Cox said, “we might be riding on the same bus.” Guthridge came out of his cramped office and Cox accused him of “inhumanity, injustice and insulting the people of Arkansas.” Guthridge took him inside his private office and tried to close the door. They argued for 40 minutes. Cox demanded to know what the Capital Citizens’ Council stood for, and Guthridge demanded Cox’s position on integration. Cox launched into a long spiel that ended, “If God didn’t create us all integrated, who did?” Guthridge had no answer. Cox wanted to know if Guthridge, as a lawyer, thought it was a just thing to do to put two poor women with their huge families on a bus for a New England town without telling them what was likely to be in store for them. Guthridge asked him what the people of Weiner would do if the government said they had to integrate.

82 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

across the railroad to his car and asked for my help. He stumbled and fell while crossing the tracks and most of his whiskey drained between the crossties. We picked up the unbroken bottles and the fish and got them into his car. After he drove away, the town’s mayor sauntered over and talked about Cox. Dave is an expert farmer, maybe the best around, the mayor said, but he would go off to Memphis and get drunk for days at a time and his house was just a mess. Shaking his head ruefully, the mayor said you could walk into Cox’s living room and he’d be sitting on the floor working on a tractor engine right there, with oily parts all over the rug. One of the first appearances of the candidates was at the convention of the Arkansas Press Association at Fort Smith. After their brief talks, the five candidates who were present fielded a few questions from the newspaper folks, and a high school senior — there, no doubt, with an editor parent — asked the candidates what advice they had for a person who was graduating and going out into the world. Each of them got up and gave some variation of the standard spiel: Arkansas is a state with rich opportunities, great colleges,

good industries and abundant natural resources; you could build a wall around the state and it would be self-sufficient. Cox, slouched deeply in a chair on the flank, was last. He strode to the lectern, pulled up his britches, leaned into the microphone, and said: “I’d tell ’em, ‘She’s a low-wage state. Git out and git out fast!’ ” He went back and flopped into his chair. It was a standard for honesty that I would never see matched. Shelton assigned three reporters to follow the three main candidates — Faubus, McMath and Alford — for the final three weeks of the campaign, and each of us was supposed to drop off now and then and see what the three also-rans were doing so that we might write profiles of them for the Sunday paper before the primary. I caught Cox at one event and arranged to travel with him the morning after the Mount Nebo Chicken Fry, an annual political event sponsored by the Arkansas Poultry Federation. I left my car near the Gazette building that day and traveled to Mount Nebo with a Gazette photographer. Cox caused some murmuring in the crowd at that event by cursing several times and by declaiming, “I aim to live to see the day when we’ve got a Negro president,” although I believe he used the cruder adjective. Before dawn the next morning, I met Cox at the nearby Old South restaurant at Russellville for breakfast and the two of us took off in his Impala. He had attached speakers on top of it. It was a fruitless morning. We would park on the square at cities along the Arkansas River — Russellville, Clarksville, Booneville, Ozark — and he would get into an argument with the first oldtimer he encountered, declare it a Faubus county, and move on. In Fort Smith, we stopped for a hamburger and a beer. Like the rest of the day, lunch lapsed into a monologue about Faubus, the racist culture of the state, and the special interests’ control of the state government. The little people didn’t have a chance, didn’t know it and didn’t care. And he kept downing beers. In the late afternoon, spotting the bus station down the block, I told Cox I had to get back to Little Rock and caught a bus. Arriving back in Little Rock about midnight, I walked into the Gazette city room. The night editor said they were wondering where the hell I was, and he showed me an Associated Press story from Springdale. Cox had been arrested there earlier in the evening for being drunk in a public place. People complained that he was playing popular band music — Guy Lombardo, I believe — over his loudspeakers in a residential neighborhood and trying to make a speech. He spent the night in the Springdale jail in a cell with three snoring drunks. He couldn’t make bond the next morning because he had only $4, which included a lucky $2 bill that he didn’t want to give up. He tried to offer his glass eye as collateral, but the police wouldn’t take it. They finally


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ARKANSAS TIMES

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MCMATH: Faubus dreaded his old mentor as a gubernatorial opponent, but beat him in 1962.

raised the small bond from policemen and inmate trusties and let him go. The municipal judge declared the bond forfeited when Cox didn’t show up for his court appearance. Cox told a Springdale reporter that he was sick of Arkansas and was taking his campaign outside the state. He drove to Harrison, where Faubus had appeared on a Highway Department goodwill tour to show off his highway improvements. “Give me a quart of whiskey and a crop-dusting plane and I’ll do the same,” Cox said. He declared that he had seen all he wanted to see of the mountains and hill people. “From now on, I’m going to stay in east Arkansas, and Crowley’s Ridge will be the highest hill I’m going to get on.” He headed for eastern Arkansas and home. That was Friday. Saturday, Cox was arrested east of Crowley’s Ridge in the county-seat town of Harrisburg, 16 miles east of his home, for brandishing a gun in public and disturbing the peace. He had a pistol in the doorway of the town’s bank. Cox offered a plausible excuse for his behavior and the municipal judge dismissed the charges. For the Gazette’s profile before the election I asked Cox why he had run if he knew at the outset that he had no chance of winning. “It’s worth $10,000, or whatever I’m spending,” he said, “just to be able to tell

my granddaughters, when they read in the history books about what the governor did at Little Rock, that I did my best to get him out. I didn’t just vote against him; I ran against him. It’s just a shot in the dark, but you can’t tell what will happen in Arkansas politics, if you can get your votes counted.” Faubus received 209,000 votes, a majority by only 6,000, but enough to avoid a runoff. A few machine counties might easily have delivered the winning margin. It was the next-to-last election under the poll-tax system, where a few people or just the county sheriff alone could hoard poll tax receipts for scores of individuals and cast all the votes for a single candidate or a slate. McMath beat Alford for second place by 658 votes. McMath never ran for office again, but a survey of historians at the end of the century ranked him among the three most successful Arkansas governors of the 20th century. Alford ran twice more, for governor in 1966 and for Congress in 1984, both times proving Witt Stephens’ adage that, like a wasp, he was bigger when he was hatched than he would ever be again. Dave Cox finished last, which is where Faubus’ pollster, Eugene Newsom, predicted he would be with an overly generous 1 percent. Cox’s army of populists numbered exactly 2,149.


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2. SUMMER TOGS FOR MOM Want to make one stop for all of your Mother’s Day needs? Cynthia East has you covered! Cynthia East Fabrics, 501-490-9330, cynthiaeastfabrics.com 3. PILLOW TALK The Box Turtle has pillows to inspire and beautify. Box Turtle, 501-661-1167, shopboxturtle.com 4. FLORALS THAT FLATTER Looking for that perfect graduation gift? Or vacation shirt? Mr. Wicks has these Reyn Spooner shirts in a variety of patterns from which to choose. Mr. Wick’s, 501-664-3062, mrwicks.com 5. BEE GOOD Bella Vita Jewelry makes pendants, like the bee necklace from its “In the Garden” collection, from a mold of an antique button. Portion of sales of these necklaces go to the planting of wildflower seeds along U.S. Highway 70 outside Hot Springs. Also sweet: Cocoa Belle chocolates. Bella Vita Jewelry, 501-396-9146, bellavitajewelry.net

May 4 • 6 pm Embassy Suites by Hilton Little Rock

Tickets: MethodistFamily.org/Southern-Silks Presented by:

Heroes for Families: United Methodist Foundation HealthSCOPE Benefits Kinco Constructors First Security Bank/Crews & Associates Datamax

6. GIFT BOUQUET WordsWorth blooms with books, bags and mugs. WordsWorth Books, 501-663-9198, wordsworthbookstore.com 7. SCENTS SINCE 1760 Creed's Love in White for Summer and Creed Aventus for Her make perfect Mother’s Day gifts. Founded in London in 1760, Creed is the world's only family-owned luxury fragrance dynasty. BAUMANS MEN’S STORE, 8201 Cantrell Road, 501-227-8797, baumans.com

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MAY 2019 87


1

LEFT/RIGHT SYMMETRY

BY WILL NEDIGER / EDITED BY WILL SHORTZ

No. 0414 Will Nediger, of London, Ontario, has a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Michigan. These days he makes his living by constructing crosswords and writing trivia questions. His quiz-bowl team won the 2016 A.C.F. Nationals and the 2017 Intercollegiate Championship Tournament. The reason for this puzzle’s unusual grid pattern with left-right symmetry will soon be clear. — W.S.

ACROSS 1 [I

56 Popular

don’t believe it!]

5 Time

to treat yourself

58 Not

10 “The

Chosen” novelist Potok

15 Vaper’s

purchase, for short

19 Performer

at a canine talent show in “Garfield: The Movie”

20 Water 21 “Au

or rust

contraire …”

22 Paul

of “There Will Be Blood”

23 “Toodle-oo!”

26 Sort

mishap

of

with a number

29 Guest

bed when you don’t have an actual guest bed

30 Mr.

____ (fictional sleuth)

31 Grp.

that often has its first meeting in the fall

32 Onetime

transAtlantic fliers, for short

36 Major

to skip

to-do

38 Thanks

for waiting

39 Word

with “in,” “on” or “in on”

40 Road

safety spot, e.g., for short

41 Blueprint

details

43 Cryptanalysis 44 Tram

org.

part

45 Enlightens 47 Affix

with a thumbtack

48 Important 50 Ermines,

summer

51 Hits

address

in the

the jackpot

53 They’re

full of holes

54 Actress

Sohn of “The Wire”

55 “Phooey!” 88 MAY 2019

61 Father

63 “Begone!” 66 What

“T” may represent commercially

68 Clarinetist

Shaw

69 Bout

enders, informally

73 Samurai 75 Delish

ARKANSAS TIMES

3

4

swords

5

apt

you might write to someone you like

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

31

32

39

40

45

29 33

35

36

59

52

65

73

74

79

80

85

67 75 81

86

92

93

69

76

77

78 84 90

95

99 105

106

97 101

107

108

113

117

118 119

120

person?

123

124

125

126

represented wearing a solar disk

127

128

129

130

No. 1 Rihanna album

84 Artless 85 Wreck 87 Web

nickname?

site

user

90 Cousin

of a martini

92 Blogger’s 93 Cuzco

95 Person

code

residents

record

with a

97 Some

breads … or a homophone for what bread loaves do

98 Historical 100 Flower

records

traditionally used to relieve inflammation

102 Airheaded 105 No-nos

in many apartment buildings

107 Hook’s 108 Junk 112 Get

helper

transporters

ready for a long auto trip

114 Gaping 115 Cook 116 Troy

opening

in the news

of N.F.L. fame

117 ____

Spumante (wine)

118 Having

a high B.M.I., say

120 Seemingly 122 Literary

forever

character who says, “Cassio’s a proper man”

123 TV’s

“____ Is Us”

124 Object

of wishful thinking?

125 Home

of the 2016 men’s and women’s Olympic marathon winners

126 “Begone!” 127 Pricing

word

128 Not

bottled, say

130 Full

house, e.g.

129 ____

Park, Colo.

1 What

some carefree beachgoers do

2 Got

comfortable with

3 Pickle

4 Samosa

5 Epitome

ingredients

of slowness

track bets

7 Takes

a few courses?

8 Goes

on to say

9 “Right

10 Longtime

broadcaster of the Masters golf tournament

11 Runs

perfectly

12 Tasted, 13 Down

quaintly

14 Quagmires 15 Dutch

cheese

16 “Murder,

She Wrote” setting

17 In

the club

18 Start

32 Treat

printing

with utter contempt

33 Imitation 34 Homes

DOWN

6 Some

115

109 110 111

112

80 2016

114

91

96 100

102 103 104

you are!”

in the woods

35 Seaside 37 Get

41 Like

rental

hitched

the legs of a daddy longlegs

42 Laundry

46 Tex-Mex 49 Must

setting dish

51 Walletfuls 52 Part

of a dark cloud

55 Verb

with “thou”

70

83 89

94

58

68

88

72

49

62

82

87

71

44

57 61

66

18

53

56

60

17

38

43 48

55

64

37

42

51

54

16

30

47

50

63

34

41

46

98

77 Totally

6

19

…”

figure?

83 Goddess

fabulous

33 Things

59 “Curious

82 Peeples

27 Work 28 Just

just words

79 What

24 Territories 25 Mascara

girl’s name any way you look at it

2

116 121

57 “Ciao!”

94 Rip

Van Winkle had a long one

60 Sub

62 Roberto

of “Life Is Beautiful”

63 Mere

smidgen

64 Starfleet

Academy attendee

65 Starting 67 Dahlia

lineup

and Agatha, in the Jeeves novels by P. G. Wodehouse

68 Dazzle

70 ____-face 71 How

a ballerina might be seen

72 Knocks

off

74 Not,

the socks

to a Scot

76 Early

year

millennium

78 Next-to-last 81 Stormy 83 Unit

86 ABC

letter

in a bar graph

sitcom about the Johnsons

88 Oceania’s

in “1984”

89 Probes

91 Slightly

122

enemy,

salty

96 Liftoff 99 Sch.

preceder

from which Lady Gaga and Woody Allen were dropouts

101 15-season

show set in Vegas

102 Chihuahua, 103 Ottoman 104 Madcap 106 4-0,

e.g.

rank

e.g.

107 Pump 109 Poker

up

variety

110 Part

of an old

111 Hair

net

train

113 ____

stick

116 Some

prosecutors, for short

119 Michael

Jackson’s second album

121 Countdown

for short

time,


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MAY 2019 89


THE OBSERVER

T

ry as we might to avoid it, winter has become a time for The Observer to den up and hibernate, huddled in front of the fire at The Observatory while wrapped in a buffalo skin, like a particularly surly “Game of Thrones” character destined to be spectacularly killed off. Our exercise routine, such as it is, doesn’t really gear back up until the pollen flies. With the cars rapidly disappearing under drifts of poison yellow dust in the driveway, we knew it was time to dig our run-over sneakers out of the closet. Our preferred field of combat against the battle of the bulge is, like a lot of Little Rockians, the Big Dam Bridge, that soaring, river-spanning memory-maker with views that never fail to knock our socks off, each trip across as unique and intricate as a fingerprint. God bless you for that, former Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines. You’re a tough act to follow. Your move, current County Judge Barry Hyde, and it had better be good. The Observer and Spouse got there just as the horizon behind Pinnacle Mountain was starting to go orange, our favorite time to hit the bridge. Full water bottles hoisted, we crossed from the parking area to the long row of triangular concrete monoliths that line the approach to the bridge and started our trudge. We hadn’t even made it to the sloped ramp when we saw it in the gloaming: a turtle. This wasn’t any regular turtle, we soon saw, but a baby alligator snapping turtle. The broad tail, thick legs and knobby shell were unmistakable, even though this example was the size of a teacup saucer instead of one of the mossy, washtub-sized monarchs we sometimes see along the riverside, sunning themselves. 90 MAY 2019

ARKANSAS TIMES

The Observer first saw an alligator snapping turtle in the wild when we were about 5 — a massive old sumbitch one of our distant kinfolks had transferred from the Arkansas River to a 6-acre stock pond up near Quitman as a kind of joke a few years before John Kennedy was felled in Dallas. There it stayed, to live out eternity as a god in that muddy little hole of water. Our grandmother, Evangeline, was a fishin’ fool, and loved to quest that pond in the spring for bluegills: shimmering, flopping beauties on their way to a meeting with a knife and hot fat. She and the great turtle there had a kind of horrid pact, like something out of a particularly dark Flannery O’Connor story. Every once in awhile, when she reeled in a fish too little for the skillet, instead of throwing it back to grow into a record breaker, she’d get it off the hook, drop it on the ground, step on it, then toss the stunned fish down to the muddy bank to flop. She was old school like that, having grown up dirt poor in the 1930s on a farm near Quitman. Death didn’t bother her, not even at the end. No more than a minute after she tossed down the little fish, the vast turtle would materialize from the murky bottom of the pond, big as a Honda Civic to a small boy. We can see it now in our memory: a sea monster, creeping through the algae and stones, the knobby shell breaking the surface glistening and black. At last, the turtle’s nose touched the little fish. And then: SNAP! Sated, the turtle would recede, melting back down to the cool bottom, its shape growing more and more indistinct until it was lost again to the mud and murk. Needless to say, The Observer has had an abject terror of them ever since, always remembering Granny’s warning not to

get too close, lest the Honda-sized turtle latch on to finger, limb or toe, with no hope of release until the beast heard a clap of thunder. The Observer recalled all this as we approached the little snapping turtle, which had been crossing the concrete path from a water-filled ditch on one side to the other, maybe even headed for the river beyond. Given its size, we likely would have picked it up and helped it across, but there’s the whole clap of thunder business, so we decided against it. Seeing us, the little turtle sort of reared up on its legs, lifting its shell off the concrete. If a turtle can be said to fluff itself, this one did. “I’m big!” Spouse translated. “Fear me!” Turtles can live long and longer, and for the first time in 35 years or more, we considered whether that reptilian god Granny had fed fish like a pagan sacrifice was still up there near Quitman, haunting the depths of that pond. Soon, the little turtle settled down and resumed his relentless try for the river, and The Observer and our Lovely Bride did the same, up the ramp to climb toward the sunset. The Observer was halfway across the bridge, creaky old joints howling, when we realized that the Turtle of Evangeline has become synonymous in our mind with our own mortality: slow, terrible, inevitable, something imprinted on us as child, death and the turtle becoming one, and then: SNAP! We thought about that as we walked side by side with the love of this life, blood pumping, heart thrumming for the billionth time, a little fish flopping at the edge of eternity, trying our best to fend off his approach just a little bit longer. And in spite of our bum knees, we walked just a little bit faster.  


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