By JOEL PHELPS I The Arkadelphian
Road Work Ahead
After taking note recently of some signs detouring traffic on South 26th Street, I took a drive down Red Hill Road, and also as far south on 26th Street as I could until signs warned me to turn around or else. Can’t see much activity from where the signs are, but there are many ribbons and stakes that indicate the right-of-way for the bypass.
City Manager Gary Brinkley reports that crews are beginning the process of clearing a swath of forest that will become the Arkadelphia Bypass, which will run parallel to and south of Walnut Street to connect U.S. Highway 67 to state Highway 51. My gut tells me we’re going to wish the newish bridge over the Ouachita River had been built farther south so that this new road actually “bypassed” town, but that’s just one man’s opinion.
As for the widening of Pine Street, I’ve also noticed a bank of utility poles are being stored at the future site of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at the corner of Pine and 15th streets. Brinkley reports that Entergy Arkansas is storing them there until it comes time to move the existing utilities for the widening of the street to include a turn lane. On a personal note, I’m ready for the Pine Street improvements — it’s getting rough!
In the most recent Question of the Week readers were asked to name an attraction or town near home they haven’t yet visited. I can relate to some of the answers, but felt most compelled to opine on Eureka Springs (which isn’t really that close to home, but hey, points for participating). Little Switzerland, as it is also known, is the grandest, neatest community in all of Arkansas, a place where teetotalers somehow seem to live in harmony with bikers, bar hoppers and the LGBTQ crowd. History, arts and oddities abound at quite literally every corner in a town where there is not one single 90-degree intersection. If you’ve not been to Eureka Springs, you’re missing out.
Other attractions/towns folks haven’t yet visited include Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, Murfreesboro’s Crater of Diamonds State Park and even Clark County’s Gurdon Light. Though I’m curious what the fuss is all about, I’ve never been to Oaklawn and may never go — I don’t gamble, and I don’t like crowds or sketchy crosswalks. I once visited the diamond mine, but only because my wife and daughter dragged me there against my will. I’m not keen on digging, and precious metals and stones don’t move me, but at least the family enjoyed it. The Gurdon Light is what I long to see, and I’m ashamed to admit that, as a Clark Countian of 18 years, I’ve not once attempted to see the light. Maybe this will be the year.
Black History Month in Arkadelphia
Major kudos to the City of Arkadelphia for honoring local black pioneers for Black History Month. This week’s ceremony at Town Hall was well attended, there was a great deal of information presented, and it’s about time these pioneers receive public recognition, albeit posthumously in most cases. The nominating committee did a fine job in their selection, and I look forward to learning about the future honorees. Check out the banners in downtown Arkadelphia if you haven’t already. They’re on Main Street.
Speaking of streets … Pine Street. For years Henry Wilson fought tirelessly to change the name of this major thoroughfare to honor King. Though it wasn’t a popular suggestion — he died without his wish being granted — he showed up, stood up and spoke up, and that’s commendable. The renaming of Pine Street is a point of major contention and schism within our community, and it’s an issue that is certain to resurface at a moment’s notice. When that time comes, it’s my hope that we consider — if it’s even up for debate — renaming the street in honor of a local African-American who left their mark on Arkadelphia.
Blue Hog, there’s my shoutout!
In the last Bits & Pieces I called out Matt Campbell’s Blue Hog Report for not referencing our reporting on the Barry Walker case. I did it partly in jest because I couldn’t help but to toss a Letterkenny reference back at him.
I soon received an email response from Campbell — to be fair, he had not known of this website’s existence — and because when a friend asks for help, you help them, he threw me a bone in his latest investigative piece on Pike County Prosecutor Jana Bradford. I’d sure hate to be Ms. Bradford, but based on the facts BHR has presented, it sounds like she needs to resign and never, ever run for public office again. Lots of us are anxious to see someone with high authority step in and right some wrongs. Pitter patter!
No Country for Old Newspapermen, Pt. 3
You guys wanted a follow-up on the conversation I had with Arkadelphia Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson regarding the lack of information available to us in felony incident reports. So here it is.
I’d like to note that I wasn’t suggesting any violation of the state’s Freedom of Information Act. In fact, before calling APD out on this I studied the latest version of the FOIA booklet as it relates to law enforcement records. It notes that records that are part of an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation are protected as “undisclosed investigations” under the FOIA. The issue there, at least for me, is how is John Q. Public to know if an investigation is actually ongoing, and how many felony incidents are open-and-shut cases?
At any rate, progress was made as a result of the discussion with Chief Jackson. He reports that he will make a policy within his department to include a time and place on the cover sheet of incident reports. That way, we at least know where incidents are happening rather than being left to wonder, so if there is a rash of crimes being reported, the community will be better informed.
If a report begs for more information to be unearthed, Chief Jackson is just a phone call away. I don’t expect him to give us every little detail, but I do have faith that he will cooperate with the media if danger to the public is imminent.
One last thought
Have you ever wondered if any of the wedding-goers at Cana returned the next morning to request that the wine be turned back into water? I imagine the conversation would have gone something like this: “Thanks for the wine, Jesus, but Good Lord am I parched!”
Joel Phelps is editor and publisher of The Arkadelphian. Any opinions or off-color humor found in Bits & Pieces are his own. Contact him by email at email@example.com. Or don’t.
Categories: Arkadelphia News