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The week that was Dec. 7-13

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It was a good week for …

ALLTEL. The Little Rock communications company announced a $9 billion deal that will create a new, separate phone company based in Arkansas to go with an Alltel focusing strictly on wireless.

The PASSING ATTACK. Hog coach Houston Nutt hired his first offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, coach of state high school champion Springdale. Malzahn likes to air it out. It helps to have the best quarterback in the country. The question now is whether hiring Malzahn will bring ace quarterback Mitch Mustain into the Hog fold.

The ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, which got a $1.6 million gift from Acxiom boss Charles Morgan and his wife, Susan. The gift will permanently endow the symphony’s pops series.

MEXICO, which will get hundreds of jobs at a new refrigerator plant thanks to layoffs at the Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith. And probably lots more in the future.

It was a bad week for …

The ENVIRONMENT. A shorthanded Pollution Control and Ecology Commission voted 4-3 to fast-track the process by which protected waterways such as Lee Creek can be dammed or otherwise degraded. Even Marcus Devine, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality and no particular friend of clean air and water, opposed this assault on environmental regulation. Environmental groups are hoping for another vote.

ARKANSAS. A national group gave us a D for our science education standards, including a big, fat zero for our teaching of evolution. The state insists new standards next year will make things better.

OUR DEADLINE. We went to press Tuesday afternoon, before the votes were counted on the state highway and college bond issues. The backers, led by Gov. Mike Huckabee, think these proposals are in the bag. It’s a notion with which we can’t argue too strenuously, though it’s not how we voted.

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