A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
First lottery winner
The new state lottery may be in operation before 2009 is out, but the Insider has already identified a potential winner.
That would be long-time ad man Ed Dozier, who now lives in North Little Rock. Back in 1994, Dozier took out state trademarks on the names Arkansas Lottery, Arkansas Powerball and Arkansas Lotto. The names could have been valuable then had Oaklawn and Southland Parks passed a casino amendment that was on the November ballot that year. The amendment also authorized a state lottery, but the idea was defeated by voters.
In the interim, not much has happened. Dozier has used the phrase “Arkansas Lottery” in a radio station promotion (giveaways, not gambling). More recently, he's established an arkansaslottery.net website and says candidly that if he can make some money “tailgating” off the newly approved state lottery, he'd be delighted to do so. The site currently offers T-shirts for sale touting the “Arkansas Lottery.”
Just don't call the state's lottery the Arkansas Lottery. “That's my name,” Dozier said. Would he sell it? “Anybody would sell anything,” Dozier said. For now, he's just selling T-shirts.
Huckless at the library
All of Arkansas's living governors — but one — turned out Saturday for the grand opening of the Arkansas Studies Institute in the River Market district.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee was invited to join Mike Beebe, Dale Bumpers, Bill Clinton, David Pryor and Jim Guy Tucker, Central Arkansas Library System director Bobby Roberts said, but didn't respond to the invitation.
The ASI, which combines the archives of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and CALS' Butler Center, includes the papers of Clinton, Tucker and Bumpers. Huckabee's papers are at Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia. Pryor's are in Fayetteville, but the Butler Center published his recent biography and Roberts said Pryor has been a significant supporter of the library.
The gleaming new Arkansas Studies Institute is a great addition to the city's architecture. Not so attractive: A shipwreck of ductwork and air conditioners atop the easternmost building of the trio of structures that make up the ASI. Not to worry, though. It's history to the rescue. Workmen are currently installing a framework for a large billboard in front of the HVAC works. Displayed on it, says Butler Center director David Stricklin, will be a rotating series of vintage billboards, all with either an Arkansas connection, or a connection to the buildings below. The billboards will be changed out every few months.
The five billboards currently slated for display in the space are: a billboard for the Rock Island Railroad, whose lines once ran behind what is now the ASI; a sign advertising the Fletcher Coffee and Spice Company, which once occupied the circa-1882 building the billboard stands on; a scan of a classic “Welcome to Arkansas” postcard; a World War I-era war bonds billboard created by the American Library Association to encourage reading, and a reproduction of a poster for the 1938 film “The Arkansas Traveler.” Stricklin said that additional images will likely be posted on the billboard in the future.
“We're history geeks. That's the main reason,” Stricklin said. “A lot of buildings in the old days had billboards on top of them, so it kind of evokes a sense of connection between these buildings and commercial enterprise.”
Don't call us, we'll call you
Top-level Little Rock city officials are again showing little interest in hearing from the city Parks and Recreation Commission, a group of volunteers appointed by the Board of Directors. The latest incident involves a commission plan to ban smoking in city parks. Some commissioners are upset by what they believe is indifference by city officials. Much of their displeasure is directed at city attorney Tom Carpenter, who says he's only doing his job.
The commission has voted to ban smoking in city parks. Carpenter told the group that their policy could not be enforced unless the Board of Directors adopted it as an ordinance. The city already has an ordinance regulating smoking, but it does not include a ban on smoking in parks. Carpenter told parks commissioners that he couldn't help draft a proposed ordinance to change city policy, because the policy-makers — the Board of Directors — hadn't asked either him or the Parks Commission to prepare such an ordinance.
Whether the commission's recommendation to ban smoking in parks will be presented to the board of directors in any form will apparently be decided by the city manager's office. City Manager Bruce Moore said Tuesday he was still considering the matter.
A special committee appointed by the city manager recently recommended that part of War Memorial Park be sold to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as a parking lot. The Parks Commission was not consulted. That recommendation was nullified when the city said that proper procedures hadn't been followed, but the city is again seeking proposals for the sale of the War Memorial property.
Last week we told you that the Batesville Chamber of Commerce had lost some members — and infuriated many others — when we reported that it had established a Twitter account and sent messages encouraging readers to an “I Want Obama to Fail” website.
Rest of the story: Following a Chamber Board meeting last Tuesday, the author of the “tweets” on the Twitter account, Chamber president Jonah Shumate, resigned his job. The chamber's Twitter site was shut down. Shumate didn't respond to our calls. Ed Mabry was made chamber acting director until a new permanent leader could be hired.
We mentioned last week that Cyndi Nance, dean of the law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, had been mentioned as a potential nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. We were unable to reach her by press time. She responded later. She said the rumor was true. Her name was submitted along with a number of others and she said she didn't know how the process would play out. “As you might imagine, I am very honored to be considered for the seat.”
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