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Smart Talk, Aug. 1

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Out of touch

 

We learned recently, from cruel experience, that it's almost impossible to reach the main library of the Central Arkansas Library System if all you have is a telephone, an AT&T telephone directory for Little Rock-North Little Rock, and directory assistance (411). Larrie Thompson, CALS associate director for operations, says she's been trying to get the problem fixed for 15 years. Once, the directory had the CALS numbers nearly correct for two consecutive years, she said, but that was an unprecedented high point, and the directory soon slipped back to normal — that is, not even close to correct. Some CALS complaints about the listings don't get past a taped message. Sometimes, changes are made in the directory, but the changes only make the listing wrong in different ways.

A Times reporter tried to find a phone number in the directory for the main library at 100 Rock Street. But all that the  directory lists under “Central Arkansas Library System” in its “Government Offices” section is three branch libraries, all of them far removed from the main library. The same three-branch listing appears in the “Business Listings” section of the directory. When the reporter called information, the operator gave him the number for the Fletcher Library, another branch. Finally, the reporter went on line, to the CALS home page, and found the number he was looking for. Thompson said she encourages people to go to www.cals.org to find all the CALS phone numbers. But she's still trying to get a correct listing in the telephone directory.   

 

Game and Fish's wish list

 

For a commission that generates about $21 million annually in license fees, the $29.5 million bonus payment that the Game and Fish Commission will receive for leasing land to Chesapeake Energy is a bonanza. So how does the commission expect to spend the extra green? On announcement of the lease, the commission released a list of potential projects, including new office buildings and bond payments. Though possible expenditures are still up in the air, the commission's deputy director, Loren Hitchcock, highlighted a few possibilities:

• Relocating facilities on the White River as part of a federally mandated engineering program.

• Investing in a federally-matched irrigation program in the Bayou Meto wildlife management area, in Jefferson County.

• Acquisition of hunting and fishing rights to as much as 20,000 acres of land in the Saline River bottoms.

• Renovation of Camp Ouachita, in Perry County, for educational and public use.

Others in state government have warned Game and Fish that it shouldn't expect to hoard the cash — both Gov. Mike Beebe and Sen. Steve Faris said publicly last week that Game and Fish should share. Hitchcock said the commission would be open to doing that, although any further specifics are speculation at this point.

 

College administrative pay

The controversy over the pay of Lu Hardin, president of University of Central Arkansas, had ramifications for college administrators statewide because it prompted a legislative request for a full accounting of pay and perks of all public university and college bosses.

Coverage in the daily press focused on the university officials. Dr. Les Wyatt, head of the Arkansas State University System, led the pack with $540,610, a figure that includes estimates for the value of his free housing and staff. Next came Dr. Alan Sugg, head of the UA System, at $538,722; UAMS Chancellor Dodd Wilson at $530,786, and Hardin at $510,667. News included the revelation that Hardin enjoys a $57,000 annual expense account funded by the UCA Foundation. Only two other presidents, Robert Brown at Arkansas Tech, and David Rankin at Southern Arkansas University, have expense accounts ($5,188 and $25,000, respectively).

Overlooked were the community college chiefs. In case you wondered, Becky Paneitz-Danks, head of NorthWest Arkansas Community College, was the leader with $263,257 and the next highest compensation was Dr. Glen Fenters of Mid-South Community College with $238,836. Little Rock note: UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson's compensation was put at $275,473 and Pulaski Tech President Dan Bakke's compensation was $204,595.

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