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Visionary Arkansans 2018

Visionary Arkansans 2018

December 6, 2018

Vol 45 • No 14

Read the print version

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Benito Lubazibwa

Working for economic mobility.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Brandon Markin

A curious and roving eye.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Jared Henderson

Lost the battle, but sees hope for Democrats in the longer political struggle.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Lorenzo Lewis

Mental health care advocate.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Project REACH

How a team of Arkansans hopes to change the criminal justice system.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Steve Arrison

The Hot Springs promoter wants to see hordes in hot water.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Stacey McAdoo

Transformative teacher.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Chrissy Chatham

Defender of potential.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Kim Lane

Empowering entrepreneurs.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Yu-Po Chan, Edmund Wilson and Po-Hao Adam Huang

Spaceflight cubed.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Brian Mitchell

History detective.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Jen Gerber

Multifaceted creative.

Visionary Arkansans 2018: Jerrmy Gawthrop and Bryan and Bernice Hembree

They form the engine that makes the Fayetteville Roots Festival go.

Visionary Arkansans 2018

Inspired men and women who are making great things happen.

Making the abstract come alive

UA instructor and ceramicist Linda Lopez didn't visit an art museum until college. Now she's in demand across the country.


After many years of faithful service, it seems as if the transmission in Black Phillip — our trusty 2006 Honda CRV — is in the process of giving up the ghost.

The Great British Baking Show' is both competition and confection

The sponge also rises.

Cotton and crime

The debate over what would be the sole consequential, bipartisan legislation of the first two years of the Trump presidency is underway in the U.S. Senate, and Arkansas's high-profile junior Sen. Tom Cotton has placed himself at the center of it.

'Meant to be' at Lucie's Place

Rev. Johnette Fitzjohn succeeds founder Penelope Poppers as executive director.

S'OK? Slaw right!

Forrest City's Delta Q offers a new take on barbecue.

A decent man

The beatification of George H.W. Bush, which even the current president signaled was OK, would have surprised the 41st president, who seemed to have accepted the public's verdict that, although a waffler, he was a decent man who did his best and didn't do any harm to the people of the country or the world with whose well-being he was entrusted for a time.

Race, history, taxes

Racial prejudice and discrimination have long driven Arkansas politics and public policy. Arkansas's tax policies have especially perpetuated the harm of past racism and done little to reduce the systemic barriers faced by people of color today.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Burning hole revisited edition

Play at home while eating a delicious Morningside Bagel!

Guess who the winner will be

Hope for Hogs

For as achingly far off the pace as the Arkansas Razorback football program seems to be, I find myself shocked that this Hog basketball team could end up being pretty good despite a tumultuous offseason in which virtually everyone aside from Daniel Gafford left town.

John Neal comes to South on Main

Also, Weakness for Blondes plays White Water.

Philip Glass: Works for Piano at Crystal Bridges

And much more.

Herd shifts

Some years ago, I watched a herd of nine mares stampede across a pasture on a friend's farm. It was an impressive spectacle, like that seen from the rail at a racetrack.

DYS director to new role

Also, Quapaw closer to running Pine Bluff casino and student newspaper stifled.

PAC chairwoman behind racist ad in support of French Hill lands Minority Affairs job

The chairwoman of the PAC that ran the racist ad in October in support of U.S. Rep. French Hill that included the voices of two black women discussing the likelihood of white Democrats "lynching" black men as part of the MeToo movement was appointed to head the West Virginia Office of Minority Affairs this week, Talking Points Memo reports. 

Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event

To conservative legislators, Arkansas college campuses are ground zero in the culture wars.

Trump nominates William Barr to be U.S. attorney general

The White House also announced that former Fox News correspondent Heather Nauert would be nominated to replace outgoing United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

Sun rises again on MorningSide Bagels

MorningSide Bagels, whose cult following has been loxless since the eatery was shut earlier this year, is open again in its original store at 10848 Maumelle Blvd.

East LR revitalization continues with The Distillery

The latest new thing coming to the East Village is a coffee shop (as yet officially named) in the former Rocktown Distillery building at 1216 E. Sixth St., where Rock Dental Brands is relocating. The plumbing permit, pulled by Cromwell Architects Engineers, tags the entire remodeling project "The Distillery," as does the East Village website image.

Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election

Cliff Farmer, the challenger for a seat on the Hoxie City Council, failed to vote in Tuesday's runoff election. That resulted in a tie with his opponent, incumbent Alderwoman Becky Linebaugh.

New episode of Out in Arkansas: "Boy Erased"

Out in Arkansas’s hosts Traci Berry and Angie Bowen talk about all the things because all the things are LGBTQ things. This week T & A talk about “Boy Erased” and their own emotions during and after the movie. Thank you for listening! #outinarkansas #beinggayinthesouth #dontbeadouche #beadecentperson

Mandolin Orange at South on Main: A Review

While the North Carolina duo's work is music to chill by, there were no sleepers.

Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette will stop distributing print editions of its daily newspaper in five south Arkansas counties from Monday through Saturday beginning Feb. 11, general manager Lynn Hamilton confirmed in a phone interview today.

End of the week headlines and your open line

Alderman candidate misses chance to cast deciding vote for himself in runoff election; Dem-Gaz to phase out print delivery in El Dorado, Camden and Magnolia; Rapert threatens UA Fort Smith over 'Drag Queen Story Time' event; The Van seeks to raise $35,000 in three weeks for new warehouse facility in South Little Rock.

Waiver consideration for the LRSD on State Board of Ed agenda sparks concern from LRSD advocates

There's a vague, but ominous item at the end of the State Board of Education's agenda for its Thursday, Dec. 13 meeting: "Consideration of Waiver of education-related laws in the Little Rock School District."

The New Mayor Edition

Lindsey and Benji discuss the election of Frank Scott Jr. as Little Rock mayor, a shakeup at the state Division of Youth Services and an ominous item on the agenda of the State Board of Education concerning the LRSD.

John Kelly leaving White House

John Kelly will leave his White House chief of staff position by the end of the year, President Trump told reporters today.

Saturday line

It's wet and cold out there. What do you know?

Applications pour in for Little Rock police chief

KARK reports that nearly two dozen applications have been received, with more expected, to fill the job of Little Rock police chief.

More Little Rock corporate welfare and its role in city governance

Coming business for the Little Rock City Board this month is a renewal of the $300,000 "contract" with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide "economic development consulting services."

The Sunday open line

Taking comments now.

Washington County man killed by deputies responding to domestic disturbance

40/29 reports that Terry Don King, 50, was shot by Washington County deputies responding to a domestic disturbance call at his home near Springdale after he pointed a shotgun at them.

Gas company tax contest leaves schools with money problems

The Fayetteville shale boom is long over but unhappy fallout continues. Bloomberg reports here on a gas company's contest of property taxes that is causing problems for the school districts that depend on the taxes.

Trump's lies prompt creation of the 'Bottomless Pinocchio'

The Washington Post fact-checking feature reports that Donald Trump's ceaseless lying has required the creation of a new label beyond "Four Pinocchios" for blatantly false statements.

Planned Parenthood wins at Supreme Court on efforts to strip state funding

The U.S. Supreme Court today handed victories to Planned Parenthood in two states — Louisiana and Kansas — that tried to strip the organization of Medicaid funding for medical services (not abortion).

UPDATE: Midnight pay raise at Little Rock City Hall

A surprise addition to the Little Rock City Board agenda seems aimed at sweetening Mayor Mark Stodola's transition to retirement. And perhaps more. For now, taxpayers are in the dark.

Monday: The news roundup and open line

Max is back with the news roundup. Here's your open line.

Drive-by hits homicide witness's home

Shots fired at home of the witness of a recent triple homicide.

Proposal coming to end teacher fair dismissal law for all of LR School District

It took a Freedom of Information Act request (by me and at least one other) to shake loose Education Czar Johnny Key's previously secret plan to ask for law waivers in his operation of the state-run Little Rock School District. On the table will be a motion to be presented by Board member Dianne Zook, a long-standing critic of the district, to waive the teacher fair dismissal law for ALL Little Rock school teachers.

LREA: Keep your promise, Johnny Key

The Little Rock Education Association is counting on Education Commissioner Johnny Key keeping his word that a waiver of the Teacher Fair Dismissal wouldn't go into effect until next school year and that it would only cover schools that earned a "D" or "F" under the state's new accountability scoring, LREA president Teresa Knapp Gordon said in a statement Monday night.

Arkansas group joins suit over concentrated animal feeding operations

White River Waterkeeper, an Arkansas group based in Harrison, has joined seven other groups in a federal lawsuit in Washington that aims to stop a U.S. Agriculture Department policy that exempts industrial animal operations that receive federal loans from undergoing an environmental review or providing notice of their operations to neighbors.

Former senators, including two Arkansans, warn of 'dangerous' political period

Forty-four former U.S. senators, including David Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, have signed a letter published as an op-ed in the Washington Post warning of dangerous political times in the country.

New episode of Rock the Culture: "Juice In Your Own Life"

In this week’s episode, Charles and Antwan provide perspective and conversation on the Little Rock Mayoral Election and State Board of Education’s consideration of the anticipated request to waive the Fair Teacher Dismissal Act. In addition, Charles and Antwan discuss all things happening in the Little Rock School District with Superintendent Michael Poore.

Arkansas cannabis trade groups announce merger

Two trade groups (aka lobbies) for the budding medical marijuana business in Arkansas have announced they've joined forces to build their strength.

Mayoral pomp and circumstance

Frank Scott Jr. will be sworn in as Little Rock mayor at 2 p.m. Jan. 1 at Robinson Center, the traditional swearing day for all elected officials. But his installation may take on the grandeur of a gubernatorial inauguration.

In your guts .....

Donald Trump staged a public meeting today with Democratic leaders and vowed to shut down the government if Congress doesn't give him money to build a border wall.

Arkansas Times challenges law that requires state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel in federal court

The Arkansas Times Limited Partnership, the company that owns and publishes the Arkansas Times, is challenging in federal court a state law that requires government contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel or reduce their fees by at least 20 percent.

Tuesday: Headlines and the open line

Here you go: The open line and the day's video news roundup.

Little Rock School District to release plan for changes at 5 p.m.

Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore held a news conference this afternoon at McClellan High to announce that he'd be releasing at 5 p.m. today on the web the "blueprint" for facility use and other plans for the school district.

Trump administration to roll back clean water rules

The Trump administration announced today plans to roll black clean water rules adopted during the Obama era — a setback for the environment and a victory for big business and agriculture.

John Thurston off to poor start as secretary of state elect

Catchup on vacation happenings. I got a tip, first broken on the Arkansas Blog, about Land Commissioner John Thurston's decision to sack 10 current secretary of state employees so as to make room for his people.

City Board delays vote on Stodola pension; hears news of employee bonus proposal

The Little Rock City Board added news of a bonus for non-union employees to the meeting at which they discussed adding almost $900,000 in value to outgoing Mayor Mark Stodola's pension three weeks before he leaves office.

LRSD UPDATE: Here's the recommendations for district changes

Here's the link to the so-called blueprint for changes in the Little Rock School District to be discussed at a meeting of the state-controlled district's largely powerless community advisory board at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Metro Career Tech Center.

Forum set on school resegregation and privatization in Little Rock

And speaking of the Little Rock School District: Judge and pastor Wendell Griffen sends word that his New Millenium Church will  be the site of a series of programs in January on "re-segregation, privatization, and de-funding of public education."

Law waiver on Education Board agenda for Pine Bluff School District

We've reported about the proposal Thursday before the state Board of Education to waive the teacher fair dismissal law for all teachers in the state-controlled Little Rock School District, ostensibly as a means to improve student performance. It has supposedly deteriorated under four years of state operation. Pine Bluff, recently taken over by the state, also has a waiver request on Thursday's board agenda.

The rich get richer: IRS enforcement

If recent tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the rich (and they do) shouldn't tax law enforcement also favor the rich? It does, says a report from Pro Publica.

There he goes again: Tom Cotton dishonest about food stamps

The U.S. Senate approved a farm bill yesterday that didn't go far enough in punishing poor people for the likes of Sen. Tom Cotton, one of 12 Republicans who voted no. Then he chose to, well, lie about it in defending his vote against the interest of farmers, the largest sector of the Arkansas economy.

Motorist who reportedly pulled knife killed after I-40 traffic stop

The State Police is investigating the shooting death of an Interstate 40 driver who reportedly pulled a knife on a Pope County deputy after a traffic stop about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in Conway County. The driver hasn't been identified.

Senator says challenged boycott law to be changed

Sen. Bart Hester, one of the sponsors of the Israel boycott law being challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Arkansas Times, tells the Associated Press the law will be changed in the coming legislative session.

Court of Appeals dismisses Goodson case on campaign advertising

Saying the issue was moot, the Arkansas Court of Appeals today dismissed a TV station's appeal of a court decision enjoining the airing of advertising critical of Associate Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.

UPDATE: Rich get richer: State income tax edition

Sen. Jim Hendren Tweets from the state's tax cutting task force meeting this morning that the gorup had backed the plan preferred by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to phase in a change in the state income tax to three rates with a drop in the top rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent.

Nook comes to the library: Not a tablet, but a cuppa

The Central Arkansas Library System kicks off a caffeinated experience Saturday, Dec. 15, when the Nexus Nook coffee shop opens on the first floor of the Main Library, 100 Rock St.

New Tacos 4 Life to open in NLR

Arkansas's 10th Tacos 4 Life restaurant opens Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Dillard’s Department Store parking lot at the McCain Mall.

Don't shoot! We're just high school gals.

A gunshow billboard has ruffled some feathers in Hillcrest.

City Board reviews city manager, city attorney; alters Moore's pay accrual deal

Little Rock City Board reviews city manager and city attorney. It also gave Manager Bruce Moore an improvement in his contract on accrued vacation and leave time.

Argenta Community Theater names new executive director

Laura Sessoms Grimes, a North Little Rock native, will join Board Chair Judy Tenenbaum and Artistic Director Vince Insalaco in expanding ACT’s outreach and education programs.

2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Submissions Are Open

Got a band together? Enter your ensemble in the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Arkansas DHS to step up outreach on Medicaid work requirement and allow reporting by phone

The helpline (which can be reached at 1-855-372-1084) will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. DHS will also buy paid advertising to better inform beneficiaries about the work requirement.

Michael Cohen gets three years

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, was sentenced to three years in federal prison today for a variety of crimes, including accusations related to paying hush money to Trump mistresses to keep their stories out of circulation during the 2016 election campaign. Can't wait for the Trump tweet storm.

Wednesday: Headlines and the open line

The video news roundup and the open line.

Kane Webb leaving Parks and Tourism for Walmart

Kane Webb is departing as director of the state Parks and Tourism Department to take a job as director of executive communications at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville. Cynthia Dunlap will be the agency's interim director.

UPDATE: Politico suggests Tom Cotton will lose his fight against justice reform

Tom Cotton's winning streak as a Senate obstructionist may come to an end on criminal justice reform.

Teacher fair dismissal law apparently to be waived in Pine Bluff, too

State Board of Education action to waive school standards law in the Pine Bluff School District may be broader than I indicated yesterday. But officials won't talk about it.

Jo McDougall named recipient of Porter Fund's Lifetime Achievement Award

McDougall is the fourth Arkansas writer to be given the Lifetime Achievement honor following Donald Harington in 2004, Miller Williams in 2009 and Charles Portis in 2014.

Hog linebacker arrested on drug, gun charges

Demetrius Walker, a sophomore linebacker for the Arkansas Razorbacks, has been jailed in Washington County on charges of possession of marijuana and Xanax with intent to deliver and simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm (an AR-15 rifle with a loaded magazine.)

A blow to church school vouchers in Montana

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that the state's constitution makes illegal voucher payments for students to attend religious-oriented public schools.

Kentucky court kills pension change that prompted teacher strike

The Kentucky Supreme Court today struck down a state law that changed the state teacher pension plan, a change that sparked massive teacher protests.

Thursday's open line

Here's the Thursday open line. Also a roundup of news headlines so far today.

Wisconsin strikes deal with Kimberly-Clark that means Conway plant closure

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has struck a deal with Kimberly-Clark in which the company will retain operations in Wisconsin in return for $25 million in handouts over five years. This means the closure of Kimberly-Clark plant in Conway, the article says.

Our House names Cynthia Huff and LaShaunti Natt as the 2018 Resilient Family of the Year

Our House announced Cynthia Huff and LaShaunti Natt as recipients of the nonprofit’s 2018 Resilient Family of the Year award on Friday, Dec. 7 at its Home for the Holidays charity event.

Democratic lawmakers call for state Board of Education to maintain standards, deny waiver proposals

State Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) and state Rep.-elect Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock) have released statements decrying expected moves by the State Board of Education to waive educational laws in the Little Rock and Pine Bluff school districts, both of which are under state control.

Attorney General Rutledge asks Public Service Commission to review Entergy-Sierra Club settlement that would shutter coal-burning power plants in state

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who's long been an opponent of environmental protections, now wants to stand in the way of an agreement to shutter Arkansas's biggest contributors to climate change.

State Board of Education wakes up to transparency; delays vote on waiving Teacher Fair Dismissal law in Pine Bluff

Although it was nowhere to be found on its agenda, the State Board of Education discussed waiving the Teacher Fair Dismissal Act for the Pine Bluff School District today, but ultimately postponed consideration to allow the public sufficient notice.

State Board of Education's Diane Zook to move to reshape LRSD

State Board of Education member Diane Zook disclosed her wide-ranging plan to micromanage the Little Rock School District at a State Board meeting on Thursday. She sounds like she wants to be LRSD superintendent.

The Van’s search for a new warehouse not deterred by zoning issues

The Van began accepting donations on Monday, Dec. 3 to raise $35,000 to purchase and make repairs to a new warehouse property, but Reddin told the Times this morning that on Friday Dec. 7, he learned the new warehouse is not correctly zoned for the nonprofit's use.