Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
Many other Arkansans were important to the life of the state in 2007, for good and ill. Among them:
MIKE HUCKABEE. After more than a decade as governor, he plunged into a race for president and quickly used his personal skills to move to the front of a splintered pack of Republican contenders. Ethical miscues and changing positions on everything from foreign policy and immigration to taxes and church-state separation made his campaign fun — and scary — to watch. His on-the-fly low-cost campaign had a small footprint in Arkansas, however, unlike Bill Clinton's war room of 1992.
ALICE WALTON. The billionaire Wal-Mart heiress made headlines as construction began on the world-class Crystal Bridges museum of American art she's building in Bentonville. Headlines included many major art acquisitions, some attended by local controversy in communities that will see the departure of long-held treasures.
CLAIBORNE DEMING. The CEO of El Dorado-based Murphy Oil was the driving force behind the company's decision to contribute $50 million to a fund to pay for college tuition for any El Dorado High School graduate at any college they wanted to attend. It was a mighty blow for El Dorado and for education everywhere.
HOUSTON NUTT. As UA football coach, he had a so-so year with an immensely talented team, though the victories did include a win over eventual national champion LSU. But as the source of soap opera for fans greedy for drama, he couldn't be beat. Turmoil among coaches and top recruits, a legal wrangle over Nutt's texting to a female TV announcer and so much more concluded with a buyout of Nutt's contract for more than $3 million and his departure to Ole Miss.
FRANK BROYLES. Partly on account of missteps in the Houston Nutt saga, sufficient force finally accumulated on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees to force the legend's retirement as athletic director after 50 years on the UA payroll. Don't cry for Frank. He'll be paid a quarter-million a year, until he dies most likely, by the Razorback Foundation.
JOHN WHITE. Partly on account of missteps in the athletic saga, the chancellor of UA's Fayetteville campus accumulated significant opposition on the UA Board of Trustees. He insisted this had no bearing on his decision to step down as chancellor at the end of this year. He leaves a billion-dollar fund-raising legacy and a bigger and better-qualified student body, but a demoralized and weakened humanities sector.
JOHN WALKER. The civil rights lawyer remains spry and effective (aggravating, his detractors would say) at age 70. He was a key player in the emergence of a black majority on the Little Rock School Board. The majority reflects the enrollment and population of the district, but it's causing heartburn among white business leaders and the remaining white patrons of the district, who fear their concerns could take a backseat to racial considerations. Shoe's on the other foot, in other words.
KATHERINE MITCHELL. The president of the Little Rock School Board oversaw the historic shift in the balance of power on the board to a black majority. The new majority ousted the superintendent, and put the brakes on a merit pay experiment funded by Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman and the Walton Family Foundation.
U.S. SEN. MARK PRYOR. By our deadline, the Republican Party seemed unlikely to field an opponent for the Democrat, whose moderation infuriates liberal Democrats even as it explains his near invincibility.