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The Insider Dec. 23

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House plans A Donald W. Reynolds Foundation challenge grant of $750,000 has apparently been matched by the non-profit fund-raising arm of the Governor’s Mansion, thanks to proceeds from events held in conjunction with the November opening of the Clinton Presidential Center. The $1.5 million raised by the Governor’s Mansion Association for mansion expansion will likely pay for a new residence for the governor on the grounds just east of the Mansion. A 7,000-square-foot Georgian home was drawn up for the Association by Gaskin Hill Norcross architects two years ago. Neither members of the Association’s board nor Mansion Administrator Don Bingham, who acts as the board’s staff, would talk to the Times about the challenge grant, which was to expire Dec. 31. But Skip Rutherford, a co-host of the Nov. 17 “Homecoming” luncheon with Arkansas’s current and former first ladies, told the Times he’d heard the Association had finally raised enough money to match the grant, approved in 2002. “I’m told the Governor’s Mansion event for the first ladies netted around $160,000 and the teas and tours associated with [the event] netted approximately $20,000, which was a contributing factor in the Mansion Association’s meeting the match” for the grant, Rutherford said. No word available on when construction would begin. Prairie Home’s return The Insider hears that Garrison Keillor may bring the Prairie Home Companion gang back to Hot Springs for a show in the coming summer. Details aren’t finalized, so don’t go calling the Hot Springs Convention Center yet for tickets. But Keillor apparently enjoyed Hot Springs so much during this year’s visit to benefit National Public Radio that he may make a stop on his “Rhubarb Tour.” The show would not be broadcast live, but if all went well a tape of the show might be broadcast later. Clubbing News last week on the drinking beat. Jacksonville is the latest city to take advantage of a 2003 state law that makes it easier for regular restaurants to obtain private club permits in the name of fostering economic development. ABC action last week clears the way for construction of a new Chili’s across Main Street from City Hall. Jacksonville officials were solidly behind the private club application by the national chain. Conway, where city leaders have been working hard to expand availability of drinks, had a setback, however. The Jacksonville restaurant won administrative approval of its application because no one objected. A Conway applicant for a club beer and wine permit, Brick Oven Pizza, was turned down because Republican Sen. Gil Baker opposed the permit. The administrator routinely denies opposed applications. The Conway request now goes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Correction William H. “Coin” Harvey was the developer of the Monte Ne resort, now mostly submerged beneath the waters of Beaver Lake. His name was given incorrectly in last week’s cover story.

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