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Heights Corner Market (nee Terry's) is open

Heights Corner Market, in the space occupied by Terry's Finer Foods since time immemorial at 5018 Kavanaugh Blvd., is open and selling fresh flowers, produce (including locally grown food), meat, seafood, organic bath and body products and organic pet products from Stella's Barkery.

Ahoy! Blue Sail launches Saturday on Main Street

Blue Sail Coffee Roasters opens its shop Saturday, March 25, in the Little Rock Technology Park, 417 Main St. The grand opening announcement says the shop will be in business at 7 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Arsaga's at The Depot a hit for coffee and breakfast anytime

Fayetteville spot serves up good coffee and a unique menu.

Dining Review

Go North

March 23, 2017
Go North
Park Hill bar gets high marks. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

The Savage truth

March 23, 2017
The Savage truth
Talking Feynman and failure with science champion Adam Savage. /more/

To-Do List

Margot Lee Shetterly speaks at Statehouse Convention Center

March 23, 2017
Margot Lee Shetterly speaks at Statehouse Convention Center
Also, Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, 'Dear Black People,' Haydn's 'Emperor,' The Steel Wheels, 'Moving Forward,' Hard Pass, Cedric Burnside Project, Jay Jennings at Argenta Reading Series /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight /more/

Ernest Dumas

Attack the poor

What do Pope Francis and the Republican Party have in common? I'm waiting. Let's make /more/

Gene Lyons

More on pits

Some years ago, I visited the local Boys Club early one morning. There had been a break-in. /more/

Movie Reviews

Wanted: 1991 Magic

March 23, 2017
Wanted: 1991 Magic
'Beauty and the Beast' revamp gets lost in the details. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Foul play

March 23, 2017
This beautiful little ride couldn't have just ended conventionally. That's not the Razorback way. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 07:42:00

Senate's big party leads the freebie list this week

click to enlarge bigswill.jpg

The legislature is pushing toward adjournment, but that doesn't mean there's not time to work in some free drinks and eats. It's a big week, particularly for the Senate, where the lavish event celebrating Senate President Pro Temper Jonathan Dismang is on the card. The House has already had its regal celebration of Speaker Jeremy Gillam.

On the agenda so far:

TUESDAY

Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Junior League Building. Marking the Junior League's 95th anniversary.

WEDNESDAY

Lunch, 11:30 a.m., location not announced, hosts are the Associated General Contractors of Arkansas/Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association/Arkansas Good Roads Foundation. (The mood of this party could be affected by events today if there's an adverse vote on another try at passing a highway bond program backed by a fuel tax increase.)

THURSDAY

Soiree, 6 p.m., Junior League Building, dinner for Senate President Pro Tem Dismang. Through legislation passed this session to further puncture holes in the ethics amendment, they've established a workaround to pay for such throw downs. The Arkansas Republican Party will be the host. Which special interests pony up the money to pay for it is a matter buried deep in political party financial reporting. Note that the ethics loopholes carved out for these events totally removes the ban on gifts at such events. Elon Musk could give a new car to everyone who attends, just so long as the swag bag for EVERY attendee includes a set of car keys.

I'm checking for committee "special events," another ethics carve-out that has allowed high-dollar wining and dining to continue unabated for those who are members of the right power committees.

 

Monday, March 27, 2017 - 07:28:00

The price of discrimination: In North Carolina, it's in the billions

click to enlarge EXCEPT MAYBE IN ARKANSAS: A pending bill with criminal penalties is aimed at discouraging restroom use by transgender people.
  • EXCEPT MAYBE IN ARKANSAS: A pending bill with criminal penalties is aimed at discouraging restroom use by transgender people.
An Associated Press report puts the economic damage to North Carolina from its laws discriminating against LGBT people at more than $3.76 billion over a dozen years.

Note that Arkansas law is almost as discriminatory as that in North Carolina — with exemptions of LGBT people from the state civil rights law; with a law that allows discrimination by any who claim a religious pretext, and with a law that prevents local ordinances to protect LGBT people (recently enforced against Fayetteville by the Arkansas Supreme Court.) All that's lacking is a law specifically barring restroom use by transgender people seeking facilities that match their identity. But at least two efforts are pending in the legislature this week — one by Sen. Linda Collins-Smith to specifically mirror the North Carolina law and another bill by Rep. Bob Ballinger aimed at the same outcome, masquerading as a bill to toughen the existing indecent exposure law. It is designed to discourage by threat of prosecution use of facilities by those with a different birth gender.

 

Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 22:32:00

Bill to strengthen dyslexia intervention runs into opposition in Senate committee

click to enlarge SEN. JOYCE ELLIOTT - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • SEN. JOYCE ELLIOTT

A passionate group of parents and reading advocates left the state Capitol disappointed but determined not to give up last week when a bill that would give teeth to a law that requires dyslexia screening and intervention in public schools failed to pass out of a Senate committee.

The National Institutes of Health defines dyslexia as a type of learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read. It is not connected to a person’s IQ. “People with dyslexia usually have trouble making the connections between letters and sounds and with spelling and recognizing words,” an NIH website reads.

In the 2015-16 school year, there were 4,341 students in Arkansas identified with dyslexia, according to the 2015 adequacy study conducted by the state Bureau of Legislative Research.

Kim Head, the mother of two sons with dyslexia, attended the Senate Education Committee meeting Wednesday. “When a law is passed there is the assumption that it will be followed, and when it’s not, what do you do?” she asked a reporter.

In 2013 a law was enacted that required school districts to screen all students in kindergarten through second grade for dyslexia so that the necessary intervention services could be offered to students in need.

Senate Bill 708 would set a Nov. 15 deadline for screenings and would strengthen the reporting requirements of the law. Superintendents would be required to post information about the dyslexia program on a public school district website or in writing to parents. The bill would also codify enforcement measures. A public school district that failed to comply could be placed on probation and would have to post on its website or notify parents in writing the reason for its probationary status.

click to enlarge Kim Head - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Kim Head

Sen. Joyce Elliott
(D-Little Rock) filed SB 708. “I’m hearing over and over and over again to the point of ad nauseam that there are some school districts that are not doing what they need to do per the legislation or per the needs of kids who are dyslexic,” she said.

The 2015 adequacy study found that in the 2015-16 school year, there were 4,645 students in Arkansas who were receiving services through their district’s dyslexia program. But Elliott said some districts are not testing students until late in the school year.

“There are school districts who are using the old notion of fail first before you get intervention, and that’s just unacceptable,” she said.

Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), chair of the Senate Education Committee, initially declared the bill had passed by a voice vote with some dissent, which prompted supporters of the bill to start clapping. Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) then called for a roll call, and the vote was split on party lines. The three Democrats on the committee voted in favor, while three of the five Republicans voted against it, and the other two abstained from voting.

Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), who did not vote on the bill, said he had walked into the meeting late and had not heard Elliott’s presentation. Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), who also abstained from voting, said, “It’s a matter of enforcing law we got on the books. That’s why I didn’t vote for it at all. I think we’ve got something on the book and we need to enforce what we got.”

Hester said that the focus on students with dyslexia meant other students who need reading intervention were being overlooked.

“We understand that we have a finite amount of resources and with these bills we’re saying we’re focusing these resources down here, which means other kids not in that box get less resources,” Hester said.

Richard Abernathy, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, which represents superintendents, answered questions during the committee meeting at the request of Johnson for feedback “from somebody in the field.”

Abernathy said dyslexia screening usually happens on the first day of the school year. He also said the dyslexia screening law has shifted the emphasis of some schools’ intervention programs. “It’s more zeroed in dyslexia. Is that a good thing? Bad thing? You know, that’s a policy decision, but it has, in fact, shifted personnel in order to implement this law.”

The Arkansas Association of Education Administrators has not taken a position for or against SB 708.

Johnson and Sen. Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) expressed concerns that the reporting requirements in SB 708 would be overly burdensome for school districts.

Hendren said in an interview after the vote that he does not think SB 708 is a bad bill, but he thinks more paperwork is not productive. “We have good intentions but we continue to pile more and more paperwork and reporting procedures and administrative load on the school districts to where teachers can’t teach anymore.”

Dale Query, a retired superintendent at Flippin School District, spoke in favor of the bill. “We have found that dyslexia intervention is one of the most effective things we have every done — ” at this, supporters of the bill broke in with applause “— to bring nonreaders up to level and get them engaged in the process.”

While no other supporters of the bill testified, the committee chair asked them to stand to be recognized. About half of the people in the room stood.

Sen. Uvalde Lindsey (D-Fayetteville), who voted for the bill, said in an interview after the committee meeting had adjourned, “All of our school districts are different, and we believe strongly in local control, all of us do. It just personified itself in this particular bill. I don’t think it says anything about how we feel about dyslexia or what we need to do to combat dyslexia because it’s something that affects a lot of kids.”

Lindsey said he was hopeful SB 708 might still pass out of committee this legislative session. “We’ll come back,” he said, adding that the supporters of the bill should also “come again and fight the fight.”

On Friday, Elliott said in a phone interview that she was surprised the bill failed. “I do not know what happened. I did not have any indication that there was going to be a problem with this bill.”

Elliott said the concerns brought up in committee were worthy issues and that she would be making some changes to the bill before bringing it back to committee on Monday.

 

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 09:31:00

TheatreSquared asks Fayetteville A&P Commission to match city's $3.1 million commitment

click to enlarge An artist's rendering of the new TheatreSquared facility from ournextstage.org. - KILOGRAPH
  • Kilograph
  • An artist's rendering of the new TheatreSquared facility from ournextstage.org.

The Fayetteville Flyer reports that TheatreSquared Artistic Director Bob Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller met with the Fayetteville Advertising & Promotion Committee Monday morning, asking for a $3.1 million match to the city's pledged funding in the same amount as part of a five-year economic development plan, Fayetteville First.

The funding request is part of T2's attempt to raise $18 million for the construction of a new facility at West Avenue and Spring Streets, across from the Walton Arts Center's Nadine Baum Studios where the nonprofit professional theatre company currently leases space. More specifically, the Walton Family Foundation pledged an amount of $9 million in January for the new facility, contingent upon T2's raising $18 million in a 2-to-1 match. That's in addition to the $3.5 million the Foundation awarded to the company for the new theater's design.

TheatreSquared expects construction to begin later this year, and projects opening in time to hold its 2019 season in the new facility.

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 11:18:00

Arkansas Times Film Series presents 'Bunny Lake Is Missing' tonight

click to enlarge image-w1280.jpg

In concert with Film Quotes Film and Riverdale 10 Cinema, Arkansas Times Film Series presents Otto Preminger's 1965 suspense “Bunny Lake is Missing." Film Quotes Film's Omaya Jones discussed the film in this week's arts and entertainment section.

Shortly after the film begins, Anne Lake (Carol Lynley) goes to pick up her daughter, Bunny, from school. She wonders around the waiting room with a crowd of mothers who are also there waiting to pick up their Bunnys. School ends, the group of mothers dissipate. Only Anne is left, and there is no Bunny. The rest of the film exists in a nightmare state where the viewer is never quite sure of what to make of what is going on — or if Bunny even exists. It’s a terrifying prospect. The only other film that so successfully elicits a sense of total discombobulation is Orson Welles' “The Trial,” adapted from the Kafka story of the same name, and every facet of the camerawork works toward producing this feeling; it’s classical in style, keeping an objective distance, moving subtly in lieu of wild pans and closeups. It almost has the sense of a police procedural. Penelope and John Mortimer adapted the screenplay from a novel by Merriam Modell, thanks to a reprinting of the work from The Feminist Press, a publisher whose “Femme Fatales” line of books is devoted to reprinting pulp novels by women. Modell was a graduate of Cornell University and, after living abroad, settled into life as a writer of short stories and suspense novels under the pen name Evelyn Piper. Many of her stories, Modell’s New York Times obituary reads, “had a common theme: the domestic conflicts faced by American families.” The film moves the setting from New York to London to further heighten the sense of loneliness and isolation Anne feels as she searches for her daughter, in a new place surrounded by strange people who mostly think she’s insane. 
The Arkansas Times Film Series is co-presented by Film Quotes Film, and is accompanied by a set of podcasts exploring the creative and historical contexts of the movies featured. Tonight's screening begins at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased in advance at Riverdale 10's website.

click to enlarge bunny-lake-is-missing-3.jpg





 

Friday, March 17, 2017 - 16:07:00

The art of the book, Cuban-style, at UA Little Rock's Ottenheimer Library

click to enlarge On display at the Ottenheimer Library. - CARLY MACHIN, UA LITTLE ROCK COMMUNICATIONS
  • Carly Machin, UA Little Rock Communications
  • On display at the Ottenheimer Library.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Ottenheimer Library has opened an exhibition, "Binding Communities: Cuba's Ediciones Vigia and the Art of the Book and Entrpreneurism," from the handmade collective in Matanzas, Cuba. Book artist Steven Miller of the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa will give a talk on the show, which includes works by 71 artists, at 5 p.m. tonight, May March 17, in the Fine Arts Building, Room 161.

Here's some interesting information on the collective from UALR:

Ediciones Vigía (“Lighthouse Editions”) of Matanzas, Cuba, came of age during the so-called Cuban Special Period, a time of economic depression following the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout the 1990s, an extreme shortage of paper and materials – not to mention food, petroleum, medicine, and other basic resources – contributed to difficulties in publishing in Cuba. Vigía responded by seeking out diverse, talented young authors to publish in limited edition artists’ books (each printing is limited to 200 copies). Community members from Matanzas would gather together to assemble these books out of found materials, such as cardboard and fabric scraps, and butcher paper, which was less expensive and more available than bleached white paper. These precious books have quickly earned an artistic cachet that carries prestige for its authors and captivates international scholars and collectors.
Upcoming events related to the show include a talk by UALR professors David Clemons and Dr. Erin Finzer of UALR at 4:30 p.m. March 29 at the Applied Design Studio, University Plaza 300; "Up Close and Personal: Student Presentations of Select Vigia Books," 3 p.m. April 6 in Ottenheimer Library, Room 535; a screening of "Ediciones Vigia: Poetica visual/Visual Poetics" and tour with Finzer, 5 p.m. April 12, Ottenheimer Library, Room 535; and a closing reception and lecture by Vigia scholar and filmmaker Dr. Juanamaria Cordones Cook, 4:30 p.m. April 17, Ottenheimer Library, Room 535.

 

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