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The Insider June 30

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Not so majestic Rumors have been buzzing for months about the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs. One had it that it faced a loss of its land lease. Others say it’s not long for the world. We decided to check it out. Turns out that any land problems have been solved. Three families that owned the land underneath most of the Majestic and leased it under a 100-year deal running through 2022, sold the land to Southwest Hotels in November. No more lease problem. But Monty Scott, who runs Southwest Hotels, confirms that the company is taking a hard look at the Majestic’s future. It and another Southwest property, the Arlington, have been affected by new competition from the Embassy Suites and Majestic numbers are down. Scott said a decision should be reached by the end of the year on the Majestic’s future. A possible scenario mentioned by Scott: The red brick portion of the old Majestic plus the 1950s-era Lanai behind that building would be torn down. The original Majestic, the yellow brick structure, would be retained and refurbished as a “boutique spa hotel.” The cleared land next door could become the site of a new thermal pool, as well as provide more parking. Artistic license Wondering where your duck stamp print for the 2005-2006 hunting season is? The print, which benefits the state Game and Fish Foundation, is coming out a little late because artist Larry Chandler decided to make a small change. “Big Woods Mallards,” his painting of a black Labrador retriever exchanging looks with a female mallard landing in water, now includes in the background an ivory-billed woodpecker clinging to a tree. Steve Smith, foundation head, said the artwork is still being printed. Chandler has also painted an image of the ivory-billed woodpecker, a species believed extinct until it was rediscovered last year in the Bayou DeView, for a conservation stamp to be sold to benefit the Foundation, Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab and The Nature Conservancy. Prints of the duck stamp (officially called the state waterfowl stamp) start at $152. Smith said a price for the conservation print will probably be a few dollars more. For more information, check the state Game and Fish Commission website at www.agfc.com. The Blog report A couple of things you heard first on the Arkansas Blog (www.arkansasblog.com): • City Director Barbara Graves has confirmed she’s likely to run for mayor next year if current Mayor Jim Dailey does not. Elections aren’t until the fall of 2006. Other names going around: attorney Cyril Hollingsworth, former Prosecutor Mark Stodola, Director Joan Adcock and former state Sen. Bill Walker. • We told you first that Beverly Enterprises was in trouble in circuit courts in Bradley and Saline counties on class action suits over rank conditions at two nursing homes. Beverly officials have been threatened with jail in Saline County for not providing information sought by plaintiffs’ attorneys. In Bradley County, the firm has been slapped with a default judgment entitling the plaintiffs to refunds of nursing home fees paid by more than 200 residents. That sum could top $8 million and the issues of actual and punitivie damages are yet to be tried.

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