Diamond dust-up 

An Appleton, Wis., man is selling diamonds he claims came from Crater of Diamonds State Park, but a gem collector says they're not. Now, the state Parks Department and the attorney general's office are looking into the claim.

Eric Blake, who sells diamonds from his website arkansasdiamondjewelry.com, and a group camped at the park outside Murfreesboro for a week last October. During that time, Blake and the group weighed in more than 30 diamonds, Park Superintendent Tom Stolarz said, including a 3.92-carat whopper.

In March, on his site fakeminerals.com, a gem collector accused Blake of passing off lower-quality diamonds from India as Arkansas diamonds. Diamonds differ as to surface and shape depending on the deposit they come from. Stolarz suggested that Blake have the state mineralogist analyze his big diamond. Blake said he would, but didn't show for his appointment at the Geology Commission.

The attorney general's office, if it determines there's been consumer fraud, could file civil charges.

One job at a time

Mayor Mark Stodola is working full time at the city and not doing legal work on the side, he told the Times last week. A rumor campaign said otherwise.

Stodola said one case he was involved in has yet to be resolved in Pulaski Circuit Judge Willard Proctor's court, but that he has passed off the work to others.

Homelessness mess

Stodola complained, only slightly, that instead of paying attention to rumors the local press should be giving more attention to North Little Rock's action to thwart a day resource center contract for the homeless. River City Ministries, 1021 E. Washington Ave., near the Alltel Arena and the new apartment development Enclave at the Riverfront, was the low bidder for a contract awarded by a joint Little Rock-North Little Rock Commission on Homelessness, but Mayor Pat Hays and North Little Rock aldermen threw a wrench in the works by saying RCM would have to get a special use permit to offer services to the homeless. Hays said the decision was unexpected. The only other bidder for the resource center was the Union Rescue Mission, which wanted more than the $300,000 the cities have pitched in for operating costs.

Jim Woodell, director of River City Ministries, estimated the center would attract only 12 more people a day, rather than the 125 he's heard bandied about. North Little Rock's Planning Commission will consider the permit May 13.



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