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Publisher leaving Lovely County Citizen

Bill King of Eureka Springs, publisher of Arkansas’s most colorful weekly newspaper, the Lovely County Citizen, has resigned as publisher, although he will continue to write an op-ed column and work on the Citizen’s blog.

“It was time to move on,” King said. “It’s a different thing when you’re working for a corporation.” He said he’d always considered himself more an activist than a journalist, and now planned to devote more time to activism, such as trying to repeal the Carroll County Jail tax enacted in 2000. He said he’d work also to build a progressive Democratic Party in Arkansas, and hoped to work in a presidential campaign for U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., in 2008.

King and Mary Pat Boian founded the Lovely County Citizen seven years ago. King said that in territorial days, part of Northwest Arkansas was called “Lovely County.” There was already a weekly newspaper in town, the Eureka Springs Times-Echo, a more traditional journal and one of a number of small papers owned by Rust Publishing.

For a time, Eureka Springs may have been the smallest city in the nation with competing newspapers.

The Citizen covered local government intensely, as well as the bohemian lifestyles found in a tolerant town that lives on tourism. The newspaper also advanced its own left-of-center views — anti-war, pro-gay marriage, sharply critical of President Bush and the Republican Party. A year and a half ago, Rust bought the Citizen and closed the Times-Echo. Boian left, but King stayed and said the Citizen would continue in its distinctive style. And it did. King expects it will do so without him as publisher. Melody Rust is now the top officer at the Citizen, with the title of general manager.

King said the Citizen had a new rival, what he calls “a right-wing tabloid” founded by a local critic of the Citizen, who, according to King, hopes to put the Citizen out of business.


Pigs in space

The little green men on Mars might soon be rooting for the Razorbacks. That’s because the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas recently received a $1 million grant from NASA, part of which is earmarked for the search for and study of possible water on the Red Planet.

In addition to supporting space education at the U of A, the grant will help UA researchers develop tests to be used in the ongoing hunt for H2O on Mars and further tests to help determine the water’s chemistry when and if it is ever found. Another portion of the dough will go toward the development of a sample collector for Hera, a robotic spacecraft that NASA plans to land on a near-Earth asteroid and then return to terra firma sometime in the next decade.


Lobbyists’ dough-ray-me

Hillary Clinton ranks second among all members of Congress in campaign contributions from lobbyists, according to Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.

Public Citizen studied the contributions from lobbyists to members of Congress thus far in the current election cycle (2004-06). Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was the foremost beneficiary with $560,738. Clinton was next at $417,575. The others in the Senate’s top five were George Alllen, R-Va., $378,478; Kent Conrad, D-N.D., $282,542; and Conrad Burns, R-Mont., $268,899. All are running for re-election.

The leading House member was — who else — former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, with $387,239. Now under investigation on charges of money laundering and conspiracy, DeLay has resigned from Congress. The rest of the top five in the House: Jim McCrery, R-La., $245,372; Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, $215,229; Roy Blunt, R-Mo., $208,758; and John Murtha, D-Pa., $207,550.

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