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Tapping Arkansas

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U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. was in Little Rock Monday, March 13, for a reception that reportedly raised about $100,000 for his U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee.

Our source says the event, which took place at the Hillcrest restaurant Ferneau, was hosted by Rodney Thomason, who is president of a Little Rock holding firm called Medical Assets. Thomason is a longtime friend of Ford’s father, former Congressman Harold Ford Sr.

About 40 to 50 people attended, including some prominent names and a few Republican friends of Thomason. Among the notables were former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and his wife, Betty; attorney Sam Hilburn; Metropolitan National Bank President & CEO Lunsford Bridges; state Democratic Party chairman Jason Willett and former party chairman Vaughn McQuary.

Steamed by coffeehouse

A woman who lives with her husband and child near a new coffeehouse for the homeless on Markham Street says she and her neighbors are unhappy that they weren’t consulted before the service was begun.

Christy Ward, who lives on South Pulaski Street, said Assistant City Manager Bryan Day told her that he would “pull the plug” on the operation if problems occurred. Day was out of the office at press time and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Robert Johnston and Matilda Buchanan, who’d been providing coffee and donuts to the homeless under the Broadway Bridge, prevailed on the city to rent space so the hungry could come in from the cold for a meal. The building, at 1307 W. Markham, is open from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. only Monday through Friday.

“I don’t think they put a bit of thought into the surrounding area,” Ward said. She said the traffic of homeless people in the neighborhood — which includes the lock-in at the Salvation Army at 1111 W. Markham — has increased and that neighbors, including elderly people, are being approached for money and other items. (One man came to her door asking for a lightbulb, she said.)

Matt Fair, business manager for the Plumbers Steamfitters and Pipefitters Local at 1223 W. Markham, said he’d noticed more traffic in the neighborhood in late morning. “They don’t bother us,” he said. “That’s part of life.”

Coming and going

Some interesting data was in the preliminary report compiled by UALR on addressing Alltel’s perception of traffic problems in Riverdale: Alltel wants to open Rebsamen Park Road to link with River Mountain Road.

Who might be traveling on that road?

A zip code analysis by UALR showed where Alltel’s 2,800 Riverdale workers commute from: 579 from West Little Rock; 536 from North Little Rock/Sherwood/Jacksonville/Cabot; 426 from Southwest Little Rock, Benton, Bryant and Saline County; 270 from the Heights/Hillcrest; 173 from Maumelle; 164 from mid-town Little Rock, and 136 from Conway. Nearly half in other words, depending on how many of the southwest contingent are from Little Rock and not Saline County, don’t live in Little Rock.

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