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The legal grapevine provides an update on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seat that comes open when Judge Morris “Buzz” Arnold of Little Rock retires next year.

It appears that the seat will stay in the hands of an Arkansan, because four Arkansas names reportedly have been sent to the White House for consideration by U.S. Rep. John Boozman. The prospective nominees include two lawyers from Little Rock (both said to be women, so we’d guess one would be the Friday firm’s Jonann Chiles, who once worked for the Huckabee administration as counsel at the Department of Human Services and the other Patricia Hays, a lawyer who once served out a municipal judgeship by gubernatorial appointment) and a law professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (probably Dean Howard Brill). The fourth person is Federal Magistrate Bob Shepherd of El Dorado. Some think he’s the front-runner on account of his long experience as a magistrate.

What about Kevin Crass of the Friday firm, the governor’s legal counsel, whom we mentioned earlier? He apparently asked that his name not be submitted to the White House. If the governor has a strong say in the selection, it’s a reasonable bet that he’d have been near the top of the list.



Bowled over

Former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did a little Christmas shopping while they were in Little Rock last weekend for a low-profile visit. One stop was River Market Artspace, which owner Debra Wood opened for an after-hours visit by the Clintons. Wood said the former president and first lady spent at least an hour at Artspace perusing its collection of works by Arkansas artists. The Clintons purchased for their home in Washington, D.C., a sand-etched glass bowl by Gartner Blade (formerly of Eureka Springs but now in Ashley Falls, Mass.) and a number of gifts, including several pieces in wood by Ron Ufkes of Lakeview and Dr. Bob Miller of Searcy, and pottery from Kari Albright of Sims.

Wood, who worked for the Clinton administration in its communications office, reports that Sen. Clinton inquired about the gallery’s business in the wake of the presidential library opening and was glad to hear of increased interest in art Wood said she and other gallery owners are seeing.

The Clintons’ visit was a quick stopover Saturday night as the senator made a Katrina-related trip to Louisiana. There was a flurry of activity at Vermillion Water Grille when a call came in for a late dinner for the couple.



Bell-ringing

Mall stores may be lagging behind the big boxes on sales this Christmas season, but as far as the Salvation Army is concerned, Park Plaza is the place to be.

The organization’s kettle outside the west-end Dillard’s is perennially in the top three in money collected, and often is number one, according to Maj. Phil Murphy, the Salvation Army’s area commander for Central Arkansas. Shoppers usually contribute more than $10,000 over the season at that location, he said.

Rounding out the top four, in no particular order, are Sam’s Club on Chenal Parkway, Kroger on Highway 10, and Kmart on Rodney Parham. Overall, the Salvation Army has about 70 kettles around Central Arkansas, Murphy said. But this year, they’re a lot emptier than usual: going into the last few days before Christmas, donations are down $35,000 from last year’s total of $271,000.


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