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I read with delight your story on Paul Dodds and his efforts to help the Central High neighborhood. Having rehabbed a nearby property myself, I can identify with the obstacles Mr. Dodds faced and overcame.

I got feelings of great satisfaction and pride knowing I had saved a high-quality home from the bulldozer, contributing my mite toward preserving downtown. My eldest brother, who lives in Nashville, constantly tells me what a treasure we have, lamenting the 1910 fire which destroyed much of Nashville’s downtown.

Some years ago, I suggested to city planners that a special tax or fee be levied on developments west of University, to provide homeowners in downtown and midtown with grants to save their homes from “demolition by neglect.” I was told that required special legislative action. Perhaps now is the time to revisit that idea.

A related idea is to redevelop as a group the lots northeast of 17th and Main devastated by the January 1999 tornado, using the Charles Thompson home designs in the UALR library as source material. Perhaps “Charles Thompson Park” would be a fitting name for this area. Its proximity to the River Market and other downtown attractions would seem to make this a no-brainer.

I once saw a sign in an antique shop that said, “It’s not good because it’s old — it’s old because it’s good.” A comprehensive and intelligent rehab and rebuilding program will allow us to enable those good homes to get even older and produce more great memories, as well as creating spaces for our residents to make new ones.

Mark W. Riley

De Queen

Appalled

As an attorney, retired from a 34-year law practice in the state of New York, I was appalled by the recent actions of the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct, which has just decided that two Arkansas attorneys should merely suffer a reprimand and pay an insignificant fine, one for gross misfeasance causing his client a most serious loss and the other for essentially being a party to defrauding an estate. A lawyer’s stock in trade is based upon trust. A lawyer who cannot be trusted with the affairs of a client needs not to be practicing.

Interesting, this is the same self-righteous committee that disbarred Bill Clinton, who harmed nobody in what was a deposition in a case that had no merit in the first place.

The disparity between these two most recent actions and the politically motivated and disingenuous Clinton determination is scandalous and does great discredit to both the Supreme Court of the state of Arkansas and the state bar in general, the vast majority of whose members are ethical, competent and hard-working attorneys.

James T. McCollum

Emerson

Grow your own

Arkansas is an unhealthy place for kids nowadays. In order to significantly alleviate obesity and improve health, public education must consider diet and health part of its responsibility in educating future Arkansans.

A school garden could be an amazing project to fuel food appreciation. The Little Rock School District has a great start with the Dunbar Garden Project, founded by Pratt Remmel in 1992. The Dunbar Garden is partially supported by Heifer International, but other districts could follow suit if funding could be coaxed from the state government. The cause is every bit as important as athletic programs and computers.

Junk food is a staple of classroom parties, but food brought from a garden where students invested their own energies could shift students’ attention from unhealthy to healthy food. Gibbs, the elementary school that shares the Dunbar garden, had garden parties when I was a student there. I hope those parties persist because they were a great way to have fun without filling classrooms with cupcakes and cheese dip.

School gardens are a second classroom. They provide an environment for hands-on science lessons or peaceful poetry readings or after-school programs where students can interact over something productive and meaningful rather than over Uno and spitwads.

Health is important in Arkansas. Besides our ranking as the fifth most unhealthy state in the nation, we have a growing minority population, a population with a greater risk for obesity and diabetes.

Improving the health of Arkansas? The next generation begins in our public schools, where outdoor garden classrooms could bridge the gap between brains and body.

Noel Leon

New Haven, Ct.

LR schools

The recent November article “Free at Last” quoted John Walker as saying the Little Rock School District hasn’t had any programs that worked to raise black students’ achievements. Perhaps the problem isn’t the LRSD or its programs. If countless programs over countless years haven’t worked to raise the scores of certain demographic groups then I suggest it is time to look elsewhere for the root cause of the problem. As a high school teacher, I can tell you the biggest problems in the classroom are lack of meaningful consequences for student misbehavior and class disruptions followed by student lack of respect for education in general.

Too many students see school as a social center, not a learning center. Even more students see school as a nuisance affecting their jobs, parties, Internet time and sleep. As teachers, we call parents about student misbehavior but students return the next day more belligerent than before as if to prove their parents can’t control them. In the LRSD, suspensions are frowned on, apparently, and the students know from early grades how much they can get away with before anything significant happens to them as a result of their bad classroom behavior.

If John Walker and others really want to increase minority achievement it is time for them to launch a full-bore effort in the homes and at the grass-root community level to get parents and grandparents who are raising LRSD students to get serious about raising their children to respect and understand the need for education and school rules. But, that won’t happen because it is easier to blame than to fix and it would cut down on the need for lawyers and lawsuits.

Bruce Miles

Little Rock

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