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The Mama Grizzly look 

It may only be coincidental, but former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin, the Republican candidate for Congress from the Fourth Congressional District, has a new look. Gone is a cascading, shoulder-length hairstyle. Now her hair is pulled back, with a few bangs on her forehead, just like the real Mama Grizzly, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. In, too, for Rankin, are severe eyeglasses, similar to models Palin favors. No word if she can see Russia from her home of Magnolia. Or just Bodcaw.

How do you like your melons?

Hope watermelons got marquee play in the New York Times' dining section recently, but not for reasons you might think. Size still matters in Hope, but not New York. The premium in the Big Apple is on little melons, not the monsters for which Hope became famous. The University of Arkansas is busily adapting to changing times.

Said the Times article:

"These days, a good watermelon also has to ship well, which means a thick rind and a uniform shape. It has to be small enough so people pushing grocery carts in big-city stores will buy it. And it can't have seeds.

"All of that describes [UA plant pathologist Terry Kirkpatrick's] his small hybrid triploid beauties with names like Precious Petite and Orchid Sweet. They are very likely the future for many watermelon farmers, but they are also heartbreakers for a lot of people around southwest Arkansas who miss the old-fashioned seeded melons that now grow in only a few fields."

Protect the gar

UCA professor Mark Spitzer, who's written a book about the alligator gar, is encouraging people to write the Conway Corporation to plead for an environmentally sensitive plan for a new sewage treatment plant on Tupelo Bayou. The bayou is home to what Switzer says is the largest known population of the giant fish, a species 300 million years old. The fish is in decline and Spitzer urges an environmental impact study on how the treatment plant might influence spawning and whether use of estrogen in wastewater treatment could turn male fish into female fish and affect population growth. Interested? Write Richard Arnold, CEO of the Conway Corporation at PO Box 99, Conway, AR 72033. Deadline is Sept. 6.

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