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Smart Talk, Oct. 11

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More than the blues

What have Cajun seasoning, soy candles and personalized stationery got in common? They're made in the Delta and part of DeltaMade, a new branding program to promote the economy of East Arkansas. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Rural Heritage Development Initiative created the program, which includes 16 retail locations and 25 vendors. The DeltaMade directory, available at, includes contact numbers and websites for participants, from Mack's Prairie Wings in Stuttgart to the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Jonesboro. Small businesses account for 87 percent of all businesses in the 15 counties of the Delta.

Cake for the cook

Liza Ashley was back in the Governor's Mansion this week, but not in the kitchen. The cook for the governors from Francis Cherry to Bill Clinton and author of “Thirty Years at the Mansion” celebrated her 90th birthday Oct. 10 at an afternoon party hosted by First Lady Ginger Beebe, Lynda Dixon (who was Clinton's secretary when he was governor), “Thirty Years” co-author Carolyn Huber and Melinda Martin. The public was invited. Ashley, who still lives at home, was feted with a three-layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing and ginger ale punch, mansion executive chef Jason Knapp said. Knapp said he's made Ashley's chicken enchiladas, chocolate chip cookies and other recipes from her cookbook, a copy of which is in the kitchen.

LR Catholic: High on football

The event's not open to the public, but the keynote speaker Thursday at Catholic High School's annual alumni dinner is worthy of note. He's John York, co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers pro football team and a 1967 graduate of Catholic High. York, who'll be named alumnus of the year, has been a major contributor to Catholic over the years and principal Steve Straessle describes him as “the epitome of Catholic High success” for his “adherence to the Catholic High code of self discipline and hard work coupled with creativity and integrity.”

Catholic, by the way, is one of the few high schools in America with direct ties to TWO NFL franchises. Jerry Jones Jr., vice president of the Dallas Cowboys, is also a Catholic High alum. You might have heard of his father, who owns the team.

Little Rock Police Chief Stuart Thomas, a 1973 Catholic grad, and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a 1979 grad, will receive public service awards at the dinner.

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