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Smart Talk, Dec. 17



All-star shines at Harvard


Ben Sessions, a senior at Harvard, was named to the All-Ivy football team as an offensive lineman. Sessions is a 2006 graduate of Pulaski Academy and we take a little pride in his football performance because he was a star earlier in the pages of the Arkansas Times. He was a member of the 2006 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team. He's heading to medical school next year, according to a feature article on Harvard football pre-meds in the Boston Globe.


More fingering


The state Public Service Commission has approved a plan for the 870 telephone area code that will allow existing customers to keep their 870 numbers, but will require that 10 digits be used for local calling in the area. The 870 code area is the largest geographically in Arkansas, covering the southern, eastern and north central regions of the state. (Central Arkansas has a 501 area code. Northwest Arkansas is 479.) The 870 number supply is expected to be exhausted by 2013. After that, new customers in the area will be assigned a new three-digit area code. The new code has not yet been chosen. Because there will be two different area codes in the same geographic area, all 10 digits will be required for local calls.


Caution: stairs


It took a Freedom of Information Act request, but, after some resistance from Little Rock City Hall, we finally got a look at engineering plans for conversion of the old Rock Island rail ridge to a pedestrian link between the Clinton Library and North Little Rock. The drawings show a graded path over the bridge, but no ready signs of architectural features that former President Bill Clinton has promised would make the span a landmark. Work is supposed to start next year, though several million more needs to be raised for the $10.5 million project.

There was this surprise: The drawings show an abrupt termination to the path at the north end of the path, with flights of stairs leading to the ground. Not good for bicyclists, who hope this span will close the loop of a long trail on both sides of the Arkansas River. Jordan Johnson, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation, says the plans are not final. He says the bridge will be a continuous ramp to allow for smooth passage of bicyclists, joggers, etc.  Joe Smith, director of commerce and government affairs for the city of North Little Rock, said,  “We definitely want it to be bicycle friendly, but we just haven't been able to design it yet or figure out where the money's coming from. It will have a ramp and it will be done according to what the input of all the various groups have indicated.”



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