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Loaner jewelry

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An item in last week’s Insider recounted the presence of an MTV crew in Little Rock to film a Sweet 16 party for Alyson Walker, daughter of Bill Walker, the state workforce education director and former state senator. It reported filming at Sissy’s Log Cabin of what we had been told by the store was the purchase of $167,000 in jewelry for the event.

Walker said he didn’t purchase the jewelry. He said the jewelry had been loaned for use on the show. “Even if I could afford that kind of purchase, I wouldn’t have spent it. My values are different than that.” He said all the jewelry listed was now “back in their possession.” A store spokesman told us, after Walker called, that he’d told us the items had been sold because that’s how the show would represent the transaction and he didn’t want to give away the plan.

The Sweet 16 party was held last Saturday at the Clear Channel Metroplex. A local DJ provided the music, Walker said. Sometimes big-name entertainers appear for segments of the MTV reality show.

Foodie alert

Plans are taking shape on the redevelopment of the former Rye Furniture building next to North Little Rock’s Wyndham Hotel. In addition to a bank and cleaners, the plans of the V3Partners apparently call for a full-service local grocery to serve the burgeoning residential community in downtown LR-NLR.

The grocer reportedly would be Jody Hardin, who sells fresh produce at Hardin Mercantile in the River Market, with expert advice from the founder of Beans and Grains and Things, the pioneering natural foods grocery. There’d be the same emphasis Hardin now has on local products and monthly food baskets filled with seasonal specialties.

The talk is that the Argenta Market could open next spring.

Judicial opening

Still no word from U.S. Rep. John Boozman on the recommendations he’ll send to President Bush on a replacement on the federal bench for the late Judge George Howard. Republicans kick these names around, all Little Rock lawyers: Kevin Crass, who’s been Mike Huckabee’s personal attorney; Patricia Hays, who had an interim appointment as a district judge from Huckabee, and Jonann Chiles, a former hand in the Huckabee administration who’s been mentioned for some other judicial openings. None is African-American. Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, though they won’t control the nomination, have urged appointment of a black person since Howard was the only black on the district court bench in Arkansas.

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