Finally, some peace 

In April, the Times brought you the story of Mark and Renell Cothren, a Conway family whose life had been disrupted by the noise coming from Frac Tech, an oil and gas services company located about 200 yards from their home. Diesel tanker trunks entered the facility at all hours and a loud compressor-like noise often disrupted quiet evenings at home, sunny days out on the front lawn and peaceful nights of sleep.

Because the facility was located just outside the city limits, Conway's noise ordinance did not apply, and local officials said nothing could be done.

Quiet now reigns. After a round of layoffs in 2009, Frac Tech announced in December it would be closing its operations. Sharon Hicks, general counsel for the company, said the demand for Frac Tech's services was simply greater in other states.

So what does that mean for the once-booming natural gas industry? Jamie Gates, vice president of public affairs for the Conway Development Corporation, says he doesn't think it's an indication the industry is in decline.

“We're getting calls constantly from people looking for parcels of land very similar to that one,” he says. “There's been a noticeable up-tick in activity in the gas industry since the fourth quarter of last year.”

As for the Cothrens, they're happy to have some relief, but intend to keep pressure on local officials to make sure another disruptive business doesn't move in.

“We're certainly not happy about the layoffs,” Cothren says, “but something had to happen.”


Mark your calendar

Sarah Huckabee, the former governor's daughter and executive director of the Huck PAC, confirms that she'll be marrying Bryan Sanders May 25 in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's a political consultant who was a field director in Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign, in which his daughter also worked. Politics doesn't always make strange bedfellows, a la Matalin and Carville. You can send a gift by checking registries at Dillard's and Bed, Bath and Beyond.


Working on holiday

Not all state employees will be off Monday, though it's a state holiday for Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King's birthdays. Some employees of the Legislative Auditing Division will attend a meeting at UALR to work on new auditing procedures. Legislative Auditor Roger Norman said the meeting was necessary in order to meet new auditing deadlines in connection with federal grants. Employees who ask for Monday off will be given it, Norman said, and others will take a day off later.










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