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Arkansas Blog

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Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Dining Review

Hidalgo's in Perryville hit the spot

October 11, 2018
Hidalgo's in Perryville hit the spot
We didn't get the goat. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

Goodbye to Little Rock Crate & Basket

October 11, 2018
Goodbye to Little Rock Crate & Basket
Company counts down the last logs in the lumber yard. /more/


Max Brantley

Talking ethics

A state Senate committee this week began firming up new ethics rules to govern members. Call me wary. /more/

Ernest Dumas

No courage

Political courage — doing what needs to be done even if it is not wildly popular — is a vanishing commodity. /more/

Gene Lyons

Outrage politics

For somebody like me, the Major League Baseball playoffs serve as a splendid diversion from the squalor of partisan politics. For serious fans, the drama of an October Red Sox-Yankees series provides the kind of emotional release others derive from a night at the symphony or a hike through a national park. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Waiting on the Hogs

October 15, 2018
Waiting on the Hogs
The late, inimitable Tom Petty memorably penned, then belted out, this refrain in his classic “The Waiting”: “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart/The waiting is the hardest part.” /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

Music, art and eats in Arkansas


Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 18:54:00

Marijuana dispensary scores could be ready by mid- to late November, commission told

click to enlarge Medical Marijuana Commissioners Ronda Henry Tillman, Stephen J. Carroll and Travis Story. James Miller participated by conference call; Dr. Carlos Roman did not attend.
  • Medical Marijuana Commissioners Ronda Henry Tillman, Stephen J. Carroll and Travis Story. James Miller participated by conference call; Dr. Carlos Roman did not attend.

Public Consulting Group, the company hired by the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission to evaluate dispensary applications, said it will try to provide results to the commission within the 30 days agreed after receipt of the applications — by mid-November or late November at the latest.

First, however, PCG must train a team of scorers, who will grade independently, so that their evaluations of application components will be consistent, manager Thomas Aldridge told the commission. It will be up to the commission to review the aggregate scores for location — 32 dispensaries will be divided up in eight regions — and award bonus points based on the rubric.

Commission Chairwoman Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman objected strongly to the lack of a physician on the scoring team that PCG has assembled: "industry experts" in government regulation, cannabis, a  pharmacist, law and a nurse. Henry-Tillman said dispensaries should be evaluated as to knowledge of how to dispense medical marijuana appropriate to the disease process. She said the rubric for applicants requires dispensaries to be educated on what to do when an applicant comes in with one of the qualifying diseases. She said a nurse evaluation would be "unacceptable."

"I get very nervous about patient care," Henry-Tillman said. "To see a lack of support on medical is mind-boggling to me. This could be dangerous. ... Someone could get hurt." Commissioner Travis Story suggested that PCG review minutes and recordings — of which there would be hours — of the commission's discussions on the educational component in dispensaries.

Aldridge said PCG would be "happy to revisit the idea and add that as a possibility. That would come with a few changes. That's not the way I originally established [the team]." Aldridge didn't say so, but hiring a physician might make its low bid for the job — under $100,00, a great deal less than other bids — unrealistic. He did say that hiring physicians for hours of work might be problematic, to which Henry-Tillman replied that she is a physician serving without compensation on the commission.

Commissioner James Miller, who participated in the meeting by conference call, asked Aldridge why the company's bid was so low. Aldridge responded that PCG, which largely works with health and human service organizations on Medicaid issues, believed working with Arkansas was an "opportunity to see how we can go in and be helpful. ... We also might use this as a jumping off point for other projects. We have no intention of making a lot of money on this contract." Instead, it is a project that would help PCG establish a "footprint" in the cannabis business.

What Aldridge seemed to be saying was that while evaluating qualifications for certain government services is something PCG does, the contract with Arkansas will require a learning curve and be a test to see, as Aldridge described it, if "skill set and talents match up."

The videotape secretly made by unsuccessful marijuana cultivator permit seeker Ken Shollmier of Commissioner Dr. Carlos Roman was not a subject of discussion. Roman did not attend the meeting.

The commission also engaged in a long discussion with its counsel on how to handle notification of disqualification to applicants, previously handled by ABC staff but required by law to go out under the commission's signature.

A request at the end of the meeting by two people in the audience who wanted to speak to the issue of the disqualified applications was amenable to Henry-Tillman, but Story objected and suggested a separate meeting be held to hear comments, perhaps in a bigger venue. The commission agreed not to sign any notices of disqualification until a public hearing could be held. The hearing was tentatively set for 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at either Bowen School of Law or the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 16:32:00

Highway department closes bridge for closer look

click to enlarge bus.jpg
After a video went viral of the historic Beaver suspension bridge in Carroll County sagging beneath the weight of a tour bus, the Arkansas Department of Transportation has decided to close the bridge for a closer inspection, 40/29 reports.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 14:45:00

Poor People's Campaign gathers in Little Rock

click to enlarge REBEKAH HALL
  • Rebekah Hall
A diverse chorus of voices joined together to sing “Freedom Ain’t Free” at the Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival event on Monday evening in Little Rock. Hosted by the Arkansas PPC, the walls of Rufus K. Young Christian Church at 2100 Main St. were covered in signs spreading the message of the movement, such as “Denying Health Care is Violence,” “Ecological Devastation is Immoral” and “Systemic Racism is Immoral.”



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Rock Candy

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 16:03:00

Mount Holly Cemetery's Tales of the Crypt relocated

click to enlarge 43058729_2390603194299384_4002131254618095616_n.jpg

The annual Tales of the Crypt, scheduled for tonight at Mount Holly Cemetery, has been relocated to the Parkview Arts & Science Magnet High School Auditorium at 2501 John Barrow Rd.

The guided tour of the historic Cemetery features costumed students from Parkview Arts and Science Magnet interpreting famed Arkansans' lives graveside, and draws hundreds of attendees each year. Due to impending thunderstorms last week, the event was rescheduled from its original date on October 9 to Tuesday, October 16. Lace gloves and lightning, after all, do not co-mingle well.

Here's a short preview of 'Tales,' part of the To-Do List in last week's entertainment section:

A lot of storied lives were led by those interred at Little Rock's 175-year-old Mount Holly Cemetery, and nearly a quarter-century ago an English teacher at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet, Susan Taylor Barham, teamed up with playwright/educator Judy Goss, Fred Busey, the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to tell some of those tales with a program called "Tales of the Crypt." Student performers were outfitted with period-specific costumery and assigned the role of some Arkansawyer interred there to re-enact graveside, and instead of the expected 300 attendees, Mount Holly's website reads, 1,200 people showed up. The event is still going strong, and Arkansas figures like Eleanor Counts, Quatie Ross and David O. Dodd are represented by drama students in dialogue and monologue along one of the event's tours, which begin at both the north and south ends of the cemetery. Admission is free, but anything you can donate goes to the maintenance fund for the cemetery.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 12:02:00

UA Little Rock Faculty Biennial at Windgate Center

The talents of the arts faculty at UA Little Rock's are on display in the "Faculty Biennial Show" that opened Monday in the Brad Cushman Gallery of the Windgate Center for Art + Design.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 10:48:00

Crystal Ridge bringing shine — as in ’shine — to Hot Springs

click to enlarge From Country Store to Crystal Ridge, in 2019.
  • From Country Store to Crystal Ridge, in 2019.

The Arkansas distillery scene is expanding like yeast. Last week, Rock Candy wrote a bit about Delta Dirt Distillery coming to Helena-West Helena. Another distillery, like Delta Dirt named to reflect its home, is Crystal Ridge, which Danny and Mary Bradley hope to open in Hot Springs in February 2019.

Danny Bradley knows something about how alcohol works because he’s a Ph.D. animal nutritionist whose job required him to learn about yeast. The idea to open a distillery “just started growing from there,” he said. “I’m not really a big drinker. I’m really not a connoisseur; I’m a scientist.”

He’s also a lover of Hot Springs history, so he plans for Crystal Ridge, to be located at 455 Broadway in the 15,000-square-foot building that housed The Old Country Store, to feature information on the Spa City’s past as a bootlegger’s paradise. Crystal Ridge will also feature information on how alcohol is made — making it sort of a museum/distillery.

Bradley will distinguish Crystal Ridge with one of its products: white lightning. Because what constitutes moonshine, unlike bourbon and other spirits, is mostly undefined under federal regulations, Bradley can come up with his own concoction. “Right now I’m hoping to use Arkansas-sourced grain. So I’m looking at corn, of course, but what I want to do is a wheat-based moonshine,” with 50 percent wheat and a mixture of rice and corn.

Bradley has not made spirits — that would be illegal, as Nixon said to the potted plant. He has, however, shadowed other distillers at distilleries and breweries, including Ole Smokey Moonshine and Sugarlands in Gatlinburg, Tenn., which he says has a tourist trade much like Hot Springs. And he understands chemical reactions. “I know there are going to be tricks of the trade that I’ve got to learn,” he said, but basically, to make booze you follow a recipe.
Crystal Ridge will include a restaurant and events area; Bradley wants to appeal to the families who come to Hot Springs for vacations.

Bradley will repaint The Old Country Store brick in gray and copper tones and has his equipment on order. He’s also working on a menu.


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Cover Story

Fast forward in Blytheville

October 11, 2018
Fast forward in Blytheville
The East Coast Timing Association held its Arkansas 1-Mile Challenge in September, where racers from all over the country mixed gasoline, steel and passion in the pursuit of raw speed. /more/


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Arkansas Reporter

Glen Schwarz: a part-time mayor

October 11, 2018
Glen Schwarz: a part-time mayor
That's the perennial candidate's goal. /more/


  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 

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