Here's some stimulus spending even Republicans like Arkansas Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman can love. The eStem charter school in Little Rock – heavily supported by Hussman, Walmart heir Jim Walton and a number of other financiers with Republican leanings — announced recently that it got almost $120,000 in federal stimulus money from the Obama administration to improve the playground behind the Hussman-owned school building at Third and Louisiana with artificial turf and a new jungle gym with padded surface below. What do you bet this is a stimulus project that even stimulus critic Rep. John Boozman, the D-G-backed Republican senatorial candidate, could love?

Good guy; good cause

It's not too late to buy a $50 ticket to the first Arkansas Community Truth Teller Award ceremony. It's at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Darragh Center of the Central Arkansas Library System. The honoree will be Ernest Dumas, an Arkansas Times columnist with a distinguished history in journalism including as a Capitol reporter and then editorial writer for the Arkansas Gazette.

He's also taught journalism at UCA, writes editorials for The Leader in Jacksonville, gardens, is a fair stone mason and once played a mean game of table tennis.

He'll be introduced by Times editor Max Brantley and give a talk, truthful for sure, though likely embellished in spots. The event is a benefit for Arkansas Community Organizations, newly created to carry on ACORN's grassroots work in the state.

You can RSVP by e-mailing aco@arkansascomm.org or by calling 376-7151, extension 2000. If you can't attend, you're welcome to send a check to Arkansas Community Organizations at 2101 S. Main St., Little Rock, AR 72201.

Top of the class

The Hogs may have beaten Vanderbilt on the football field last Saturday, but the Razorbacks aren't a match for them in the classroom. The NCAA last week released graduation success rate statistics that showed the rate over a rolling four-year period, the latest for the percentage of freshmen and transfers that entered from 2000 through 2003 who graduated within six years. Thank goodness for Tennessee. Otherwise, Arkansas would have been last in the SEC. The rates:

1. Vanderbilt: 89 percent; 2. Georgia: 68 percent; 3. Alabama: 67 percent; 3. Florida: 67 percent; 3. LSU: 67 percent; 6. Mississippi State: 64 percent; 7. Auburn: 63 percent; 7. Kentucky: 63 percent; 9. Ole Miss: 61 percent; 10. South Carolina: 57 percent; 11. Arkansas: 55 percent; 12. Tennessee: 53 percent

Noted: the other schools in Arkansas with four-year reports for the biggest schools were Arkansas State, with a 70 percent GSR among football players, and UA-Pine Bluff, 43 percent.



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