The merit scholar reports
It was a good year for public schools in Pulaski County this year, if your measure is National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists. The public schools produced 28 this year, compared with 20 last year, while private schools held steady at 19.

Little Rock Central High again led the state with 19, followed by Fayetteville and the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs at 16; Fort Smith Southside with 14, and Cabot High with 12.

In Pulaski County, after Central, came Pulaski Academy with 6; Parkview Magnet and Episcopal Collegiate with 4; Pulaski Mills and Little Rock Christian with 3; North Little Rock, Catholic and Central Arkansas Christian with 2, and one each at Lutheran and Mount St. Mary. There were two home-schooled semi-finalists from Pulaski County, among six statewide.

In all Pulaski produced 49 of the state’s 159 semi-finalists. Springdale, once home to the state’s largest high school, now has two high schools, neither of which produced a semi-finalist. Bentonville High, in the news recently for extraordinary spending on athletic facilties and the football coaching staff, had 5, one less than neighbor Rogers.

Cancer screenings
Prostate cancer tends to get less attention than breast cancer, in part thanks to the devoted work against breast cancer by the Komen Foundation. The Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation is dedicated to building awareness. It says that men are more likely to get prostate cancer than women are to get breast cancer. In a typical year, 2,830 Arkansas men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 330 will die, with risk increasing with age and black men more susceptible.

Annual screenings are recommended for men 50 and older and black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer should begin screenings at 40. Free screenings are set at the State Fair Oct. 20-22 and in a series of locations before then. For information, call the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation at 603-7433, 1-800-338-1383 or info@arprostatecancer.

The new urbanism
An article in the recent AARP Bulletin describes efforts to rebuild Pass Christian, Miss., which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Part of the discussion is over rebuilding the downtown center or creating other “centers” around which neighborhoods would form.

Forget the old notion of downtowns, one architect-developer, Robin Riley, suggests. He proposes building a second town center about three miles from the historic center — around a Wal-Mart.

“People — especially seniors in our area who need safe rental housing — should be living next to Wal-Mart, where they have 24-hour access to so much of what they need without having to drive anywhere.”

Here’s our free idea for a new Wal-Mart profit center: How about building senior housing INSIDE Wal-Marts?


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