BITS & PIECES: Back in the Saddle

By JOEL PHELPS | arkadelphian.com

For the first time since this website launched in 2021, we took a real break, leaving behind Clark County and Arkansas and its happenings. It was a much-needed break. Yet we feared that, in doing so, some major news might happen — no matter what your job is, things always seem to hit the fan the moment you leave town.

We decided to keep our vacation quiet. When your job is to communicate with a few thousand people — and sometimes name their friends and relatives in the police blotter — you can’t exactly announce your intentions of leaving town for a week. Also, in the past we’ve hired various folks to take the reins in our absence, but those good people have either moved away or gotten jobs that simply don’t allow them to take the time to run this website. There’s our excuse for not keeping you, Kind Reader, abreast of these big things that happened while we were away:

• Henderson State University named Trey Berry as its next chancellor (the announcement, from HSU, was posted to the site while we were on a bus from the Orlando airport to our hotel, so we were at least able to share this huge story). Given what Berry has done for SAU’s growth, we sense that great things are in store for Henderson’s future. Too bad he wasn’t put in this role sooner.

• Five minutes before our vacation began — no exaggeration — we skimmed over a civil complaint Veolia North America had filed against a competitor for flying drones over its Gum Springs plant. We plan to follow up on this and provide another angle than what our own competition has printed. We were standing in line at the hotel awaiting check-in when Joe May at The Southern Standard called to chat about the news of Trey Berry. We responded kindly: “Hey, I got that story posted, but I guess you’re going to scoop me on the Veolia story, huh?” Yes, he was, and he did. Oh, well — our room was waiting and we had many, many roller coasters to ride.

• The FBI arrested the top lawman of our neighboring Hot Spring County on allegations of corruption involving drugs and sex. Not exactly in our area of coverage, but definitely big news we would have otherwise covered. But, hey, we were living the Rock ’N Roll lifestyle ourselves at the Hard Rock Hotel. We skimmed a few pages of the FBI’s affidavit while on a water taxi between the park and the room. The news I cared more about was that relief for our aching feet was near.

As far as we know, the rest of the week was quiet until we were back in line at the hotel, this time to check out. That’s when some of our readers inquired if we knew what was happening at the high school …

• An Arkadelphia High School student was arrested after taking a gun on campus. It was our travel day back home, and by this point our hands were tied with what we were capable of doing. We had no laptop to write the story, and it would be too much information to convey, the correct way, using a cell phone. Besides, thankfully no one was hurt, and the school district got the information out there on its social media pages.

If there was more news to be shared in our absence, it’s still in our inbox, which is packed with unread messages.

Back to work.

Joel Phelps is editor-in-chief at arkadelphian.com. Opinions expressed in Bits & Pieces are his own. Write him at editor@arkadelphian.com and, for the love of Pete, don’t do anything stupid while he’s on vacation.

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