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Smart Talk, Oct. 16


Send a new Arkie to Washington?

Stephens Media's Aaron Sadler wrote a feature recently on the news that one of the two statues representing Arkansas in the nation's Capitol is to be moved to a new Capitol Visitors Center. The statute of Uriah Rose, founder of the Rose Law Firm, will stay put. Banished, depending on your viewpoint, will be the statue of James P. Clarke, a former governor and U.S. senator. 

The article has inspired a running debate on an Arkansas history forum about new representatives for Arkansas, a decision the legislature could make. Other states tend to have more familiar representatives (such as Huey P. Long for the state to our south). Nominees so far have included such familiar names as U.S. Sens. Hattie Caraway, Joe T. Robinson and J. William Fulbright. Historian Michael Dougan of Jonesboro offers the rabble-rousing former Gov. Jeff Davis and the relatively obscure but worthy Leland Duvall, an Arkansas Gazette columnist and editorial writer whose opinions on economics might have forestalled today's economic crisis had they been heeded.

Have an opinion on statuary? Write with your nomination for an Arkansan worthy of representing the state in marble in Washington, D.C.

‘Looking for Rosey'

It will be a long time before the people who knew him forget Roosevelt Thompson, but memories fade, even though his name graces the branch library on Rahling Circle. Thompson was the Central High School graduate who won a Rhodes Scholarship at Yale, but was killed in a 1984 car accident returning to college from spring break. He was eulogized by Gov. Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked, at a packed funeral in Central's auditorium and is remembered still in an annual prize Yale gives to the student who best exemplifies Thompson's commitment to public service. Many said he could have been Arkansas's first black governor, maybe even the country's first black president. Whatever the unfulfilled promise, another step is being taken to preserve his worthy memory. A classmate at Yale, Slade Mead, has been working almost two years to make a documentary about Thompson and it is nearing completion. He hopes it will air on PBS. He's produced a website about the project and is soliciting tax-deductible contributions for the effort. An example of the film work so far is viewable at

How firm a foundation?

Is that really just a rough-hewn post holding up an Interstate 30 bridge over Arch Street Pike? We inquired of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and got this response from Glenn Bolick:

The overpass was damaged by a hit-and-run truck — “the classic case of a 14-foot overpass and somebody taller tried to go under it.” He said the Department has inspected the bridge and found it to be structurally sound, but workers shored up the damaged beam just to be safe. He said the steel to fix the bridge is on order, and repairs should be completed by the time this item appears.

“If there was any concern at all about the structural integrity of the bridge,” Bolick said, “we would have gone ahead and closed it.”

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