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Delta-made high society

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Delta-made high society

Tuckerman, Ark., amid the Delta row crops of Jackson County, isn't much known for high-society cotillions. Nonetheless, a son of Tuckerman, Bronson Van Wyck, has become the A-list party planner of choice in New York city and beyond. BizBash, an industry journal for planners, named him the party designer of the year. He's president of Van Wyck & Van Wyck, which he runs with his mother Mary Lynn and sister Mimi. The firm's work and its leader were featured in a recent New York Times article for its good taste for billionaires like George Soros, Rupert Murdoch and David Koch, plus entertainment celebrities, major businesses (he handled Mercedes-Benz's Oscar night party) and major arts institutions. He doesn't sound like the average farmer in the Times' account:

"There's not much in his carriage that suggests that Bronson Van Wyck grew up on a farm in Tuckerman, Ark. The farm, however, had been in his mother's family for generations. His parents settled there after his father finished Harvard Business School, and his father approached agriculture in the Mississippi Delta with entrepreneurial zeal, he said. It was not a small farm, but don't ask how many acres. " 'That's one of those questions like, "How much did money did you make last year?" ' he said. From there, he continued through Groton and Yale."

When they say it's not about slavery ...

The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is upon us. Dec. 20, for example, was the 150th anniversary of South Carolina's vote to secede. Inevitably, the observance will resume the lingering hostilities over the question of whether the bloody conflict was a war over states rights or slavery.

For the record, Guy Lancaster of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, provided us a copy of the journal with resolutions adopted by the Arkansas secession convention. Among others: "Resolved: That it is the deliberate sense of this convention that African negroes and the descendants of the African race, denominated slaves by all the constitutions of the southern slaveholding states, is property, to all intents and purposes, and ought of right to be so considered by all the northern states, being expressly implied by the constitution of the United States and a denial on the part of the people of the northern states, of the right of property in slaves of southern states, is, and of right ought to be, sufficient cause, if persisted in by northern people, to dissolve the political connection between said states."

Charter school: All in the family

The Dallas Morning News has been doing a series of articles on charter schools and it has included some information worth following here, as charter school backers keep pushing for more state money for their operations. One thing to watch for: nepotism.

The Dallas paper reported on the Focus Learning Academy, a Dallas charter school of 700 students, where founder and Superintendent Leroy McClure makes $146,000, about $50,000 more than the chief of a regular public school district that size. His wife, Yvette, makes $100,000 for consulting work. His brother is the school's facilities manager and his sister is a teacher.

That name might be familiar in Conway. McClure and his brother are Conway High School graduates. They started a Focus Learning Academy in Conway, but announced closure of the charter school in 2007 on account of low enrollment and financial deficits. Texas has proved friendlier to the cause.

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