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Paving paradise

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Iriana’s, the Insider’s favorite pizza, leaves its home in the old bus station next week (April 25, precisely) to take up new quarters immediately below our desk on the first floor of the Heritage Center at Markham and Scott. Happy day.

Iriana’s was the last tenant in the old Continental Building, which is to be razed by the Stephens empire to create more parking for its Capital Hotel next door, itself closed for a major renovation.
We note that the Capital will have to get waivers from the Board of Adjustment next week for the parking lot plan.

The hotel wants more spaces – 173 – than regs normally would allow, but the city staff agrees it can be justified because the lot will be for valet parking and the parkers can stack cars in tighter space than people parking on their own. Other waivers: Trees will be omitted from the street car right of way along Markham and stone will be substituted for concrete surfaces on sidewalks.

A City Hall spokesman mentions that there’s been talk about – but no plans filed for – a condo project on the property some day.

Poetry pays

Though most people don’t think of it as big money game, poetry paid off recently — and in more than spiritual dividends — for University of Arkansas creative writing professor Davis McCombs. Last week, McCombs received word that he had bested hundreds of applicants to win the prestigious Dorset Poetry Prize. The largest cash prize in poetry, open to any poet who wants to submit a manuscript, the award will pay McCombs $10,000 and see his book, “Dismal Rock,” published in Spring 2007 by Tupelo Press in Dorset, Vermont.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, McCombs has been an assistant professor in the UA English Department for four and a half years. He is currently director of the UA’s master of fine arts program in creative writing. In 1999, McComb’s first book, “Ultima Thule” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in Poetry.
Asked what he would do with the money, McCombs admitted that he hadn’t thought much about the material side of things. “I’m so focused on getting the manuscript into its final form that I haven’t even thought about it,” McCombs said. “I don’t know. Maybe buy a car?”

Diversity in the Senate
During the special legislative session earlier this month, the state Senate did something that may be unprecedented in its history. It adopted a memorial resolution honoring a person who was openly gay in life, and presented the resolution to his partner in the Senate chamber.

Sen. Sue Madison of Fayetteville sponsored SMR 3, “celebrating the life and contributions of Richard B. Atkinson and mourning his passing.” Atkinson was dean of the University of Arkansas Law School at Fayetteville. He died unexpectedly last August, at 58, while attending an American Bar Association meeting in Chicago. Atkinson was gay. The first of his survivors listed in SMR 3 was “his partner Michael Hollomon, director of psychiatric services at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville.” Hollomon attended the Senate vote and accepted the resolution.

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