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Strange bedfellows

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Michael Nellums defeated long-term incumbent Micheal Daugherty in a September race for Little Rock School Board, thus ousting a candidate the downtown business community had worked mightily to defeat three years ago.

Nellums had a much lower-key candidacy than Anna Swaim, backed by the business community in 2007, and spent far less, raising only $3,579 for his winning campaign. But nearly a third of that came from downtown businessmen — $100 from Jay Chesshir, executive director of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and $1,000 from the Progress PAC, the chamber's political action committee. In addition to contributions from several black physicians, Nellums also scored $700 from civil rights attorney John Walker, an ardent foe of the chamber's candidate three years ago.

New church home

Bishop Steven M. Arnold, who resigned recently as pastor of the 7,000-member St. Mark Baptist Church on W. 12th Street after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a female church member, has started a new church. Bible study classes began this week at Grace Temple at 1717 Mississippi Ave., according to the church's Facebook page. Sunday services are to begin at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, in the Perfecting New Life facility. The move follows several meetings of St. Mark members unhappy about elders' decision to force Arnold's resignation. Some of them will follow Arnold to the new church. The future of the ambitious expansion plans Arnold had charted at St. Mark in building what many think is the state's largest predominantly African-American church remains uncertain.

In other news, Arnold's wife Shanta filed for divorce last week.

UA sports plans

Whispers grow louder that University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has a working draft of a master plan for expansion of UA athletic facilities that will be the basis for a major fund-raising campaign. When the UA Board approved an expenditure for an architecture firm to consult on the project, some trustees raised questions about the potential price tag at a time when other elements of the campus were strapped. So far, Long has been evasive in response to our queries. But he did confirm that he's begun making calls on potential donors, without indicating the reception he's received. In a statement he issued through a department spokesman, Long said: "We are engaged in the process of developing a master plan with an architectural firm approved by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees. It is not yet complete."

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