by Max Brantley
The line is open. Finishing up:
* WARNING: MORE LANE CHANGES AT I-430/630: The Highway Department issues another warning about big lane shifts in the major reconstruction of the Interstate 430/630 interchange. The shifting starts July 19 and will go around the clock for 20 days. Read it and weep. I just intend to continue to avoid the whole dang area.
* PLUTOCRATS FOR ROMNEY: Talk Business notes that Warren Stephens, John Tyson and Claiborne Deming (former CEO of Murphy Oil) are on the Romney finance committee for Arkansas.
* PRICE-FIXING SETTLEMENT: The attorney general's office announced that the Arkansas treasury will get almost $1.2 million in settlement of a price-fixing lawsuit brought by a number of states against makers of liquid crystal display (LCD) screens.
* ASU CHANGE CHEERED: Arkansas State reported a bureaucracy shuffle this week. Dr. Lynita Cooksey, associate vice chancellor for Academic Services, has been selected to serve as interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and provost at Arkansas State University. She replaces Dr. Dan Howard, who has resigned from his post and elected to return to the classroom as a full-time, tenured professor. There's more to the story, another faculty member says. Howard was influential in ASU's international program that had stirred a great deal of controversy on campus in part because of Howard's involvement with a company that did business with ASU. The Jonesboro Sun reported that Howard will remain on salary during a sabbatical in the fall. Many are cheering what they see as a signal about a change in administration direction under new president Chuck Welch.
* THE FOUNDING FATHERS IN QUOTES: Constant blog companion Saline Republican asks a link to his blog post delving into the misquoting of the Founding Fathers. Why not? Credit him for knocking down some that he once favored himself, particularly those suggesting more religious leanings than some actually possessed.
* BLUE ARKANSAS: And while we're citing blogs, let's give a link to the Blue Arkansas Blog, which delights in the news that fake Democrat Tim Woodridge has crawled out of his spider hole to back Republican Rick Crawford's congressional re-election bid. Happy? Blue Arkansas gets to kick Tim the Happy Hangman around the block a few more times.
* HOTTEST TWITTER OF DAY: From Channel 4 — "NOAA Plot shows LR's 2012 average temperature is running 2F+ ABOVE next warmest year in history!"
* WHERE HAVE ALL THE NEWSPAPER REPORTERS GONE? How about this? Many have gone to television. While newspapers shrink, TV station news staffs are growing, according to a new study.
"What it tells you is the local TV business, for the most part, sees local news as more and more of its future," Bob Papper, the Hofstra professor who did the study
* BONDS FOR BICYCLES: Mayor Mark Stodola spoke last night to Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas. I understand he mentioned to the group his belief that the pending city property tax election — a renewal of 3 mills for streets and drainage — holds promise for bicyclists. He has a number of projects in mind to improve bicycle conditions on city streets, but the biggie would be the use of some of the bond money to finally close that River Trail gap along Cantrell Road. This could mean construction of a cantilevered trail built on the bluff overlooking the Arkansas River behind the Dillard's headquarters.
AND SPEAKING OF THE RIVER TRAIL: I got this response from the Highway Department when I inquired about talks between cyclists and Highway Director Scott Bennett over disruptions in use of the River Trail on Cantrell because of road work at the railroad viadict just east of Episcopal Collegiate:
There has been some communication between Scott Bennett and Tim McKuin, who is the president of the Bicycle Advocacy Group of Central Arkansas (BACA). BACA’s board asked if the Department could use the southernmost travel lane of Cantrell as a temporary route for the River Trail in the construction area.
Scott replied that the closure of the trail was delayed until after the July 4th holiday due to the expected number of riders on the holiday. Also, closure of the trail would be closer to a week rather than a month as was planned.
Our Assistant Chief Engineer for Operations Emanuel Banks and our District Six Engineer Mark Headley went to the job site yesterday morning to meet with the contractor to discuss what could be done to accommodate bike traffic. As a result of the BACA group’s request, the Department has decided to allow the contractor to make some sidewalk repairs and temporary asphalt connections to allow bike traffic to continue to use the trail during the project. Also, some fencing will be put up to separate the bikers from the work area. Work should be done within a week on the asphalt and fencing so that bikers can return to the trail.
* SUPPORT FOR DOWNTOWN TECH PARK SITE: Speaking of Mayor Stodola. You'll find he's quoted by a neighborhood group newsletter as speaking favorably of a downtown alternative for the Little Rock Technology Park. He said as much in a phone conversation with me today. About 10 acres are available from Lions World Services, currently unused. Another 20 acres of commercial space is in the hands of about a dozen owners.
DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER
Proposal to put Technology Park east of I-30, on 10 acres of Lions International next to Clinton and Heifer complexes and Hanger Hill area - connection to city redevelopment plan for East of I-30.
Mayor Mark Stodola said he would recommend the Tech Park Board look at this site, among others coming under consideration. This does fit redevelopment plans the city adopted in 2005 in the East of I-30 Plan, he told residents of the Downtown NA and Hanger Hill NA, who also attended. They reported unanimous support for this site at a meeting of their association the night before. The Board of DNA has also voted to express support for that site. Stodola pleased residents by echoing their concerns about preservation of historic Woodruff House on Eighth St., across from the redevelopment site. Bryan Day, Asst. City Mgr., reported efforts with the current owner to find someone to buy the structure and restore it, but said that so far, there had been no success. He noted the mortgage on Woodruff House is $179,000. DNA members pledged to work on the preservation issue.