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The Insider Sept. 15

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Still fat The results of the 2004-2005 body-mass index measurements of Arkansas’s schoolkids suggests that, while kids aren’t losing weight, the tool that’s testing them is accurate. The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement will announce next week the results of last year’s screening: 21 percent of Arkansas’s school children are obese and another 17 percent are at risk of obesity — precisely the same percentages produced by the 2003-2004 school year weigh-ins. Falling in the obese category were 77,351 students; another 63,943 were at risk. Sixty percent, or 223,127 students, fell in the healthy category. Only 2 percent (6,946) were underweight. Males, black and Hispanics tended more toward obesity — Hispanic males most. A candidate? Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett confirms that he met with Fayetteville broadcast journalist Don Elkins and encouraged him to run for the U.S. congressional seat currently occupied by John Boozman. Willett said Elkins is probably going to do it. Elkins anchors the nightly news programs at KNWA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Fayetteville and Fort Smith. Elkins said he met with Willett but would not say whether he was considering a campaign. “I’m flattered, but no comment.” Downtown development A news conference is scheduled Monday at which Tower Investments, purchaser of several historic downtown buildings, will announce its redevelopment plans. The major focus will be a plan for perhaps two dozen condos in the Lafayette Building (which will remain about half devoted to offices). Dept. of sad news Take a Hike, the venerable outdoor-supply store that first opened its doors 26 years ago, has closed. “I just wasn’t spending enough time with my kayak,” joked owner Frank Barton. Among the actual culprits: the tourism bust after 9/11, and unstoppable competition from big-box retailers, more and more often helped along by local government. And from Hot Springs: Mrs. Miller’s Chicken and Steak House closed last weekend after 68 years of family-style dining. And, the Majestic Hotel is sending out word that all but the original portion of the hotel, where the baths are located, is going to come down. Good citizen Recent federal court testimony about Simon Property Group’s abysmal maintenance of the dying University Mall reminded us to check something with city officials. No, Simon has never paid the $25,000 it promised in 2001 to contribute to an Urban Land Institute study of redeveloping the University corridor. Insider, heal thyself 1) An item last week about misspelled words on plaques for the new Little Rock Nine monument at the Capitol referred to a plaque with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. The plaque actually quotes one of the Nine, Jefferson Thomas. We get our just deserts for pointing out the typos of others. 2) State Rep. Jay Martin of North Little Rock is going to run for lieutenant governor, contrary to a rumor printed here.

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