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The 5-inch-tall plastic letters spelling out former first lady Janet Huckabee's name over the atrium entrance to the Governor's Mansion's Grand Hall have been removed for “aesthetic reasons,” a commissioner said this week.

The Mansion Commission unanimously voted in May to disallow any signage to be hung in the mansion or on the grounds and to prohibit naming rooms in the mansion after anyone. A bronze plaque on the exterior of the building does refer to the hall, built with private gifts during the Huckabee administration, as the Janet M. Huckabee Grand Hall and will remain. First lady Ginger Beebe, informed an unfulfilled promise had been made to do so, had a second bronze plaque installed two weeks ago that recognizes the major donors that made the addition possible.

The motion does not apparently run counter to previous commission policy. Mansion administrator Ron Maxwell and commission chair Wayne Cranford said Monday that the commission's minutes do not indicate that it ever voted to name the hall after the previous first lady. Perhaps, but members of both the commission and the nonprofit association that raises money for the Mansion held a news conference there to announce the naming of the room for Mrs. Huckabee in 2006. The association later was going to give Mrs. Huckabee a going-away present of dozens of settings of Mansion china and crystal, but decided against it after publicity about the gift.

 

Casualties

The downsizing of daily newspapers apparently has reached Arkansas. 

Michael Tilley, who had served under the Stephens Media flag since 2000 as business editor of the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith and the Morning News of Springdale, was laid off in late June along with several other staffers.

“I was surprised at how little notice they gave someone who had given them a good, solid eight years and who had turned around the business sections for both newspapers,” Tilley said. Phoned for comment, Gene Kincy, publisher of the SW Times Record, said that he wouldn't talk about personnel decisions. 

Asked if the layoffs mean someone has started to blink in the NWA newspaper war pitting Stephens Media against a regional newspaper owned by Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter Hussman's media empire, Tilley said: “Some newspapers play not to lose. Hussman plays to win, and there's a big difference. If you play not to lose, you're probably going to lose.”

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