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Smart Talk May 19

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Polishing the silver HGTV, the cable channel devoted to home and garden, has chosen North Little Rock for a $50,000 grant in a joint program with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. One of 12 grants awarded, the money in North Little Rock will go to restoring the historic Argenta Drug Store on Main Street. The Argenta Community Development Corporation is leading the project to preserve the landmark and build second-floor lofts as part of an ongoing downtown revitalization effort. HGTV will film a public service announcement about the North Little Rock project June 2. Argenta Drug (Argenta was the city’s early name, a reference to nearby silver mines) is said to be the oldest continuously operating drug store west of the Mississippi. It opened at Main and Fourth in 1887. The building has had few major changes since it was built, except the addition of an 1891 annex. Building lofts will be a return to residential living on the second floor, which once housed 11 apartments. Stopped in their tracks? USA TODAY reported this week that the NCAA is about to decide, after meetings this summer, whether to impose a ban on the use of Indian mascots and nicknames by some 30 members. In the meanwhile, the NCAA has asked the schools to evaluate their use of such mascots. ASU’s report, provided to the Times, acknowledged that the school faculty had voted for a change in the mascot, but school leaders declined because of “considerable sentiment” for retaining the Indian team name. The school noted it had changed mascots over the years from a cartoonish “Runnin’ Joe” to more “responsible and dignified” depictions of Native Americans. The official live mascots are now three students in “authentic and hand-stitched” Indian attire led by “Chief Big Track,” said to be named after the chief of an Osage tribe that once lived in Northeast Arkansas. The family includes a “princess” and a “brave.” A “spirit character” known as Red now does most of the sideline whooping, while the Indian family maintains “a dignified presence.” Big Track and the princess, the school told the NCAA, are “mostly quiet and dignified.” The Brave “often performs authentic war dances around the opponent area and the cheerleaders and fans respond with ‘war cries.’ ” Just like the Osage did, we imagine, when white settlers threatened to score a touchdown. ASU said it had no plans to change the mascot, though changes “may be adopted to more specifically address specific Native American cultures.” Grade inflation? Gov. Mike Huckabee received an honorary doctorate from the University of Arkansas at graduation exercises last weekend. It was a little unusual — not for a governor to be so honored but to be honored while still in office. The commencement program listed all honorary degree recipients back to 1946. Of those men elected governor of Arkansas since then, these received honorary degrees from the UA after they left office: Sid McMath, who left office in 1953, was honored in 1989; Dale Bumpers, who left office in 1975, was honored in 1999; David Pryor, who left office in 1979, was honored in 1997, and Bill Clinton, who left office in 1992, got his UA doctorate in 1993, after he was elected president. Ben Laney, Francis Cherry, Frank White and Jim Guy Tucker, all elected since 1946, haven’t been honored by UA with doctorates. Winthrop Rockefeller got an honorary degree from UA, but it came in 1957, before he was elected governor. The UA did honor one other governor while he was still in office. The class of 1957 saw an honorary doctorate given to Gov. Orval E. Faubus. As you may know, Dr. Faubus became a national headliner in the fall of 1957. Watch yourself, Dr. Huckabee. The big question is when the UA will give Janet Huckabee her matching doctorate, to go with the his ’n’ her Huckabee nature centers. After all, both Jeannette Rockefeller and Hillary Rodham Clinton have received honorary UA doctorates.

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