Donaghey detour 

A Florida woman’s plans to make a condo project of the Donaghey Building, the historic office skyscraper at Seventh and Main, are defunct.

Stephanie Smith, the young would-be developer, has apparently left Little Rock with only some demolished upper floors in the building to show for her time. Her office phone is disconnected. A couple of people The Insider has talked with are hoping to get in touch with Smith about some past-due payments.

In the meanwhile, ownership has reverted to the Lake Hamilton Company, owned by Charles Hendrix of Hot Springs. Hendrix bought the building from the Donaghey Foundation several years ago and saved the landmark from the wrecking ball. Hendrix says he still thinks the building is primed for redevelopment by “the right person” and he’s working toward that end.

July 4 peaceworks

The annual national gathering of the Rainbow Family, which typically culminates with a July 4 peace rally on National Forest land, apparently will be in Arkansas this year.

Up to 20,000 tie-dyed, tree-hugging holdovers from the 1960s turn out for the annual gatherings. The assemblies sometimes make neighbors and the Forest Service nervous, but the group works to “walk lightly” on the land. In addition to the July 4 Circle for Peace, the event includes the Granola Funk Theater talent show and a kids’ parade. It’s a big campout, generally held the first week in July.

The Rainbow people are aiming their microbuses this year to a spot a little more than a mile north of Fallsville, which is north of Clarksville and southwest of Jasper in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. A website with info on the event notes, “There was no clear Spring Council consensus this year, but this appears to be where folks on the land are going as of today... Since there is no clear consensus, some scouts are pushing an alternate site by Shores Lake, Arkansas. Directions to that site are: Interstate 40 to exit 24.”

Forest Service at work

Tracy Farley, information officer for the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in Russellville, says no permit has been finalized for a location for the Rainbow Gathering, though it’s expected to occur in Arkansas. “We’re just in the mode of waiting for a final decision from the group,” she said.

“They have a right to meet on public land,” she said. “It’s just a matter of making sure we follow the rules and guidelines and protect resources and visitors.” The Forest Service already has a national information officer in the state to handle press for the gathering, a regular event for the Forest Service for a couple of decades.

Divorce suit filed

It was a fairy tale marriage attended by 600, officiated by Gov. Mike Huckabee, with former President Jimmy Carter, Frank Broyles, Houston Nutt, Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Mickey Mouse in attendance. But the union of Paul Young and Breezy Osborne, celebrated Aug. 2, 2003, is apparently coming to an end. He filed for divorce June 11.

The Osborne Family website (jenningbornefamily.com), in addition to features about the Little Rock drug testing magnate Jennings Osborne’s many barbecues and Christmas light extravaganzas, still includes links to numerous wedding videos and photos.

Inside Story

Ralph Brodie, a Little Rock lawyer who was president of the student body at Central High School during the 1957 integration crisis, is writing a book about what he says are the overlooked heroes of the period, the ordinary students and teachers who were thrust into extraordinary circumstances but comported themselves well and made a record “that would be the envy of any American high school in any year before or after.” He hopes to publish the book in time for the 50th anniversary of the events this fall.

John P. Gill, also a Little Rock lawyer, is helping raise money to publish the book. He said in a letter to a potential contributor, “No one as yet has heard the voices from inside Central – the voices of those who obeyed the law and reached out to the nine new students.”

Spelling bee

Twenty-four spellers competed last Saturday at Pulaski Heights Christian Church in the first Central Arkansas Adult Spelling Bee. The winner – nailing down the victory with the correct spelling of “hypochondriasis” – was state Rep. Dan Greenberg of Little Rock. Elizabeth Branch was second and Jennifer Chilcoat was third. Sponsors hope to expand the contest next year and make it a preliminary in a national adult spelling bee. See The Observer for commentary on the event by Doug Smith, who was a judge at the event, which benefitted the Interfaith Hospitality Network.



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