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For the folks who live in the bedroom communities around Little Rock, coming to the city's River Market District for a night out might seem a little daunting. Little Rock Tours and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau are hoping to change that, however, with a new free shuttle service called Thursday Neighbors Night Out. Gina Martin with Little Rock Tours said that starting with a “soft opening” on Aug. 27, a 56-passenger tour bus will begin rotating on Thursday nights to different cities — Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Sherwood and Maumelle — picking up diners, and ferrying them to the River Market District. During the trip, Martin said, diners may be served appetizers from River Market-area restaurants, and an on-board guide will provide information about Little Rock attractions. Martin said she got the idea from another city and pitched it to LRCVB.

The Bureau will pay for the shuttle, roughly $700 to $750, which Martin said just about covers the cost of fuel, a driver and guide.  In return Little Rock gets the tax benefits of up to 56 paying customers for what's hoped will be an experience worth replicating. Little Rock Tours, meanwhile, gets to introduce new potential customers to their tours.  If the program is a success, Martin said, they plan on expanding the suburb-to-curb service to include free or low cost shuttles to other Little Rock events, such as plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theater.

 

Busting Betsey

Former Clinton aide Betsey Wright, 66, was charged with 51 felonies last week for allegedly attempting to smuggle some tattooing needles, tweezers, a small pocket knife and a razor blade into a maximum security prison at Varner. She claims the needles weren't hers and the other items were openly given to a security guard checking belongings. She thinks the prison administration wants to punish her for years of criticism about prison conditions and operation.

Contraband is a frequent problem in the prisons, but rarely prosecuted.  A check of records by spokeswoman Dina Tyler turned up the finding that only four “free-world” persons with contraband (two with guns) had been referred to State Police for investigation in the last year. Only Betsey Wright has been charged so far.  In roughly the same period, about 52 visitors had their visiting rights suspended over contraband, but were not charged.

 

Correction

Jeremy Hutchinson defeated Dan Greenberg by a 57-43 margin in a 1999 primary race for state representative, not 60-40 as written here Aug. 6.

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