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Pot hunting 

An increase in art thefts has prompted a national initiative by the FBI to solve the cases and that effort has had an impact in Arkansas.

Last week, the Arkansas office of the FBI circulated a news release seeking information about 26 pieces of Caddo Indian pottery stolen in 2006 from the Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Station in Magnolia. The pieces had been unearthed from a burial ground discovered during Corps of Engineers work in 1980 along the Red River in Lafayette County. The pieces are believed to date to 800 A.D. People with information about the pieces are urged to call the FBI in Little Rock at 221-9100.

The FBI's new push on art theft also is including an assessment of potential risks in the state. So far, the missing pottery is the only case under investigation in the state.

All in the family

Mike Huckabee's Republican presidential primary wins on Super Tuesday gave new life to his campaign, which, in turn, gave new life to continued family employment.

According to year-end reports filed Jan. 31 with the Federal Election Commission, Huckabee had many friends, former administration aides and family on the payroll.

Payments to family during the fourth quarter of 2007 included $6,750 to son John Mark Huckabee; $11,583 to daughter-in-law Lauren Huckabee; $11,583 to daughter Sarah Huckabee, and $6,375 to Huckabee's brother-in-law Jim Harris. Several media accounts have reported that son David Huckabee is also working for the campaign, though his name doesn't appear among disbursements for the end of 2007. He could have been added to the payroll after the first of the year. Or perhaps he's been paid through a contractor for the campaign.

Down the drain

Little Rock is known for its long, hot, dry, butt-stuck-to-the-vinyl, just-northwest-of-hell summers. What with that (and global warming threatening to turn the Bible Belt into the Great Dixie Desert in coming years) some have expressed concern about water usage by the new children's spray fountain going in at Riverfront Park.

Little Rock Parks and Recreation Director Truman Tolefree said the city considered three water-supply systems when designing the $178,000 fountain: a recirculation system, which would basically have its water chlorinated and re-circulated like a swimming pool; a water-to-waste system, in which water from the municipal water supply would flow through the fountain and into the storm drains; and a water-to-storage system, in which water used in the fountain would be stored for watering grass and other plants in the park.

Eventually, Tolefree said, they settled on the water-to-waste system.

While that might sound a bit — uh — wasteful, Tolefree said that because the fountain will be motion activated, only spraying water when a visitor is present, it is really the most cost-effective and energy-efficient way to construct and operate it. Another concern, he said — especially when considering a treated-water system — was safety. Because the water comes to the fountain from the city water supply, it will be safe to drink; meaning parents won't have to worry about their little darlings catching any of the nasty microbes that can live in re-circulated water.

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