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Dining Review

Mex for the people

April 19, 2018
Mex for the people
Cantina Cinco de Mayo hits the right notes in downtown LR. /more/

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Columnists

Ernest Dumas

Week That Was

After the wildest week of the wildest presidency in history, the clouded future suddenly unfolds more clearly and, yes, nearer. That includes the end of the Trump presidency. /more/

Gene Lyons

Trump and Comey

In the Bizarro World of the Trump administration, it's only fitting that the president serves as publicity director for James Comey's big book tour. (In the old Superman comics, Bizarro World was an upside-down reality where wickedness was virtue and vice versa.) Supposedly, Trump's stomping around the White House and various golf courses red-faced with anger, emitting smoke from his ears. /more/

Movie Reviews

'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson

April 12, 2018
'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson
The actors deliver their lines drolly, portioning out emotions in pinches rather than with scoops. The stories flirt with magical realism. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Consistency

April 19, 2018
Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large. /more/

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Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

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Arkansas's guide to medical cannabis

Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 10:48:00

Wild, wild country

click to enlarge gator_.jpg

Southeast Arkansas Weather passes along on Facebook this photo of a massive alligator along Highway 165 between DeWitt and Gillett in Arkansas County.

According to this interview with an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staffer, alligators have been spotted in 45 of Arkansas's 75 counties.


 

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 10:27:00

More grants to Ecclesia surface

click to enlarge LAMOUREUX (file photo) - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • LAMOUREUX (file photo)
Then-state senator and Senate president pro tempore Michael Lamoureux insisted that a Hot Springs-based planning and development district that distributed state General Improvement Funds approve a grant to Ecclesia College despite problems with the college's application, a witness in the public corruption trial of former Sen. Jon Woods testified yesterday. Ecclesia, in Springdale, is about 200 miles from Hot Springs.

Doug Thompson reports for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that in 2013, Ecclesia College received a $50,000 state grant even before it applied for the money and received another $50,000 after back-dating another application that missed a grant deadline, according to testimony yesterday.

Dwayne Pratt, director of the West Central Planning and Development District in Hot Springs, testified about the grants and pressure by Lamoureux, who was later chief of staff to Governor Hutchinson before moving to a lobbying job.

Lamoureux's records show no grants to Ecclesia, Thompson reports. The grants are not at issue in the trial of Woods, who was indicted for taking kickbacks from Ecclesia through a middleman. Ecclesia College's former president, Oren Paris III, and former state Rep. Micah Neal, who were also indicted, have pleaded guilty. The trial began April 9 in federal court in Fayetteville. 

 

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 10:05:00

Friendship charter school to seek LR's Garland building after first charter withdraws

click to enlarge NEW OPERATOR: The old Garland school building, now owned by a Walton Family Foundation company.
  • NEW OPERATOR: The old Garland school building, now owned by a Walton Family Foundation company.

Cynthia Howell reports in Thursday's Democrat-Gazette that a second charter school operator is now seeking occupancy of the old Garland School building at 3615 W. 25th St. after the building's intended occupant, Einstein Charter Schools, earlier abandoned its plans to begin operating in Little Rock.

The second charter is Friendship Public Charter Schools, which was originally planning to open its first campus in Little Rock for the 2019-20 school year in a different location. Now, Friendship appears to instead be aiming to open this August — that is, in time for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.

Howell quotes Kathy Smith of the Walton Family Foundation, which owns the Garland building through a subsidiary company, as saying building renovations at the Garland campus are continuing as previously scheduled and should be completed in time for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year in August. The WFF bought the vacant building from the Little Rock School District in 2017 and had previously intended to lease it to Einstein for 2018-19, so it's little surprise the foundation is eager to find a new charter operator willing to take the property on short notice.

News of Einstein's cancellation of its expansion plans broke earlier this month when the New Orleans-based charter operator ran into trouble in its home city with a lawsuit over student transportation obligations.

Last September, the state Board of Education gave the go-ahead to three planned charter expansions in Little Rock: Einstein (in the Garland building) for 2018-19, ScholarMade Achievement Place for 2018-19 and Friendship for 2019-20. Friendship was also approved to begin operating a school in Pine Bluff in 2018-19. (All of the Little Rock expansions were opposed by LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore, who noted an excess capacity of seats in the traditional public schools and said more charters could harm the district's improvement efforts.)

Before Friendship can move ahead with plans to open in Little Rock a year ahead of schedule, it will need an amendment to its charter from the Education' Department's Charter Authorizing Panel and the blessing of the state board. Considering the state board's friendliness toward charter operators in recent years, that seems likely enough. But with August only four months away, Friendship and its WFF backers will have to scramble to get an operating plan in place that quickly.

I've asked the Education Department about the timeline regarding the requisite amendment to Friendship's charter and will update this post when I get an answer.

 

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Rock Candy

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 - 15:46:00

Food Truck Friday feeds start this week

click to enlarge retro-food-truck_23-2147530708.jpg
Food Truck Fridays, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership's project to use food to lure folks to enjoy the Creative/Technical Corridor on Main Street, kicks off its season Friday, April 20, at Fifth and Main streets. Hours are 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Food trucks will continue to serve at the spot every Friday through May 18.

The DLRP also announced the 2018 Food Truck Festival will be Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and a new food truck event, the East Village Street Food Jam, will be held from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 16 on the lawn of the Clinton Presidential Center.


 

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 14:26:00

Sculptor Kaminsky is new Arkansas Living Treasure

click to enlarge Kaminsky at his "World Peace Prayer" sculpture.
  • Kaminsky at his "World Peace Prayer" sculpture.

Sculptor and jeweler Hank Kaminsky, 79, of Fayetteville, has been named the 2018 Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council.

Kaminsky is perhaps mostly known for his spherical bronze "The World Peace Prayer" fountain sculpture in front of the Fayetteville Town Center, just off the square.

Kaminsky will be honored at a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 1 at the town center, 15 W. Mountain St. Experience Fayetteville is co-sponsor. Reservations are required; email faye.croy@arkansas.gov or call 501-683-4365 by April 23.

Read more about Kaminsky in the following news release.

/more/  

 

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 12:00:00

Ciao on the river: first Italian Food & Cultural Festival is Saturday

click to enlarge aifcf-website-logo2.png
We do Greek; we do Jewish; we do Indian. So it’s about time that Arkansas held a citywide festival celebrating all things Italian.

Starting at 4 p.m. Friday, April 20, the first Arkansas Italian Food & Cultural Festival will bring food, Baggo and bocce tournaments (for cash prizes!), food, a grape stomp challenge, food, an Italian car exhibition, food, and live entertainment to the North Shore Riverwalk Park in North Little Rock.

The event, which benefits the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas, actually kicks off Thursday night, April 19, with a double feature of romantic movie “Moonstruck” and documentary “I sopravvissuti (Survivors),” at the Clinton School for Public Service. Southern Table will cater; tickets are $25 (reserve at www.aritalianfestival.com/film).

Is that all? No it’s not. There are also soccer tournaments for children and adults; a sauce and gravy competition; and music by DJ Nick Hud, David Adam Byrnes, Nerd Eye Blind, Jersey Boys and the Big Dam Horns. Relyance Bank is the sponsor; Patrick Presley is the founder. The festival continues 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5; kids 5 and under get in free.

 

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Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5

April 19, 2018
Ballinger, King square off for Senate District 5
The firebrand vs. the happy warrior /more/
 

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