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Eureka Springs has been known to push the cultural envelope from time to time, but a proposed ordinance that would give the city’s blessing to relationships of non-married couples might well lend Eureka a bit of national buzz. Though gays and lesbians are not specifically mentioned in the ordinance, supporters hope the law will make Eureka a haven for same-sex couples.

Under the proposed ordinance, couples would pay $35 and sign a Declaration of Domestic Partnership, with their names entered in a permanent registry maintained by the Eureka Springs city clerk. While the ordinance stresses that registration with the city does not amount to legal marriage (that and a civil union being unconstitutional in Arkansas), couples would receive a document that lends the city’s approval to their union (and yes, in case you’re wondering, the ordinance has provisions for a filing a $20 “Certificate of Termination” if an approved domestic partnership ever dissolves).

“One more time, it’s going to put us on the Arkansas map, because we’ll be the only community that has one of these,” said Mary Jean Sell, Eureka Springs city clerk.

Sell said that for employees of companies that recognize domestic partnerships, the ordinance would provide a piece of paperwork with which to seek benefits. She added that unmarried elderly heterosexual couples — who might lose retirement income if they were to get legally married — had expressed interest in the idea as well. “It’s going to be a recognition of a partnership,” Sell said. “A lot of older people like that. They still think they’re living in sin when they’re not married.”

The Domestic Partnership Registry ordinance has to survive three public readings and three votes by the city council before it becomes law. It passed its first reading April 9, and subsequent votes should be taken on April 23 and May 14.

Award season

Little Rock fiction writer Kevin Brockmeier continues to impress us with his tales of the fantastic. Now, it seems, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has joined the Brockmeier fan club, awarding him one of its 2007 Guggenheim Fellowships for creative excellence.

Founded in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation was created by U.S. Sen. Simon Guggenheim as a memorial to his son. The foundation offers awards to American, Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean authors, scholars, scientists and artists who have “demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship and creative ability in the arts.” This year, 189 fellows will each receive an equal share of $7.6 million.

Brockmeier said he got the good news March 3, but doesn’t know if he will attend a May 16 reception for the 2007 fellows in New York. Though he said he’d rather not disclose the exact amount he will receive, the average amount given to fellows in 2006 was $40,107.

Brockmeier said that many of his friends and family have asked him what he plans to do with his windfall.

“I’ve been telling people that I plan to blow all the money on candy and fireworks,” he said. “But the truth is that I’m going to sock it away in the bank and use it to pay my living expenses while I write.”

Newspaper coming

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s effort to damage the Arkansas Times — the D-G’s daily monopoly here and monopolies in a number of other Arkansas cities not being enough media dominance for billionaire publisher Walter Hussman — is reportedly set to debut the first week in May. We’ve heard a couple of names — Focus and Sync, the latter more prevalent lately. They say they are going to target younger readers (not to mention our advertisers).

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