Excavators at the site of the new minor league baseball stadium on the North Little Rock riverfront got a scare last week when an earth moving machine turned up a small, child-sized coffin. NLR director of youth services and former county coroner Steve Nawojczyk said the coffin contained only the remains of someone’s beloved pup.

“It was a dog,” Nawojczyk said. “It was in a very expensive sealing child casket.”

Nawojczyk said the coffin was unearthed near the site of the old Moore Ford dealership. Current thinking is that it was probably a watchdog or pet.

“Anyway,” Nawojczyk said, “someone had the money and the love to put old Fido in a very nice box.”

At least one famous passing this week has an Arkansas connection. Little Rock screenwriter/director Beth Brickell co-starred with the late actor Dennis Weaver on the television series “Gentle Ben,” which ran from 1967 to 1969. Weaver and Brickell played parents of a boy with a tame bear.

Brickell had kept in touch with Weaver and made a trip to Colorado for Weaver’s 50th wedding anniversary. She said Weaver was a devoted vegetarian and environmentalist; an advocate of hydrogen-fueled cars who took pride in his eco-friendly house, which had walls constructed out of old tires and tin cans packed with dirt and then plastered over.

Brickell said her old friend came to mind last Sunday, when she saw California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger speaking on “Meet the Press.” “He was talking about a ‘hydrogen highway’ that they’re now going to build in California, with a hydrogen pump every 20 miles,” Brickell said. “I have a feeling Dennis had something to do with that. He was committed to promoting that value for all of us.”

Oval no more
Pepper Pepper couldn’t be tracked down to confirm it, but word is out that he will close Oval Gallery, which he has operated at 201 W. Capitol Ave. since September 2004. It will go out with a “Big Art Bash” from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. March 2, a show and sale of work by member artists.

Allison Johnson, who was managing Gunner DeLay’s campaign for attorney general, left the campaign over the weekend. She would not tell us why she decided to leave, and she says she has not decided what she will do next, although she is considering several job offers. Johnson is the granddaughter of “Justice Jim” Johnson and has been active in state Republican politics.

Media man
You may have read that Dallas political strategist Scott Howell is doing the media production for Asa Hutchinson’s gubernatorial campaign. Howell once produced an infamous television advertisement for Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss that put a picture of his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (a Vietnam veteran and triple-amputee), next to pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Small world. The Arkansas Democratic Party is bringing Cleland to Little Rock this year to keynote the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner.

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