Monday, June 30, 2008

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of park-division worker mowing at Walker Park on June 30, 2008.

Parks need less mowing, not more

 The article below discusses a subject with a simple solution.
The park division of the Department of Parks and Recreation can save a ton of money on mowing by simply saying NO.
The saving from not filling one position for a year isn't even close to the saving that not mowing would save in fuel cost, equipment maintenance and such. And NOT MOWING protects the air from pollution and allows the vegetation actually to improve air quality and reduce much-discussed global climate change. And the chances of a killer drought are greater at this time of year than of having adequate rain the rest of the year.
Allowing understory vegetation (brush and weeds to some) to stand allows song birds to nest and roost in our city parks instead. Not mowing or trimming trees or understory vegetation near streams protects life in the streams from sunlight, which encourages algae growth in the Beaver Lake and Illinois watersheds as summer temperatures rise and flows are reduced by lack of rain. Our mostly shallow tributaries of the White and Illinois rivers already evaporate too much and wildlife have little privacy or habitat for feeding in the stream corridors. And fish find too little oxygen to survive our summers.
Seeing a variety of butterflies requires protecting a variety of native plants throughout the growing season. The popular monarch butterfly depends totally on the several species of milkweed. The third generation of the growing season is the generation of monarchs that in October migrates to Mexico for the winter and returns to our area in April and May in reproduce the following year's first generation. A high percentage of monarchs froze in Mexico this past winter, seriously reducing the world population of the species.
Monarchs depend on milkweed or don't reproduce. Every species of butterfly has similar requirements of specific host species for their survival. Tallgrass and "weeds" are not only harmless but also beneficial.
A big part of the celebration of the completion of the new sewage-treatment plant has been the success of the wetland prairie restoration project on adjacent land to mitigate the city's destruction of wetland for the project. No one in the city should have to drive to the sewage plant to see a natural prairie.
Many of our parks are built on prairie land that will restore itself to primarily native species with little management and no mowing except once in winter. Even that should be done selectively so as to protect such species as the amazing wetland buttonbush, itself providng a favorite nectaring enflorescence for butterflies in summer. You'll find them showing their startling white flowers in July!
Our wonderful trails are in the riparian zone of some of the streams in many places and mowing along them means that butterflies will not have vegetation on which to feed and wildflowers on which to nectar.
Let's get the staff and administration with the program. Cutting the budget can help make Fayetteville a "natural" City in Bloom instead of just a city spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on "put-and-take" nonnative flowering plants while allowing developers to dredge and fill and then pave over our wetland.
Ballfields will always need a reasonable amount of mowing. But much larger areas of our parks can be returned to a natural look and contribute to some of our larger goals with a great reduction in our park budget.

All hands on deck : Staff keep busy tending to expanding park system
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2008

Can Fayetteville have it both ways: more parkland with the same or fewer hours for mowing and taking care of it ?
“ I know the park department talks a lot about they’ve got more parkland than they can take care of, and I sometimes wonder how much parkland do we need, ” said Ward 4 Alderman Lioneld Jordan, one of two council members to vote against rehiring a parks maintenance worker this month.
“ We have over 3, 600 acres of parkland to take care of. We keep busy year-round, ” said Connie Edmonston, parks and recreation director.
Responsibilities are growing. More land is dedicated for parks, and more parks are developed every year. In addition the department is responsible for maintaining the trails and public lands such as flower beds in parking lots, the entryway on Archibald Yell Boulevard and Happy Hollow Road landscaping.
Staff increases have not kept up with the increased workload. For at least five years, the department has been denied additional workers, Edmonston said.
The city’s parkland dedication ordinance requires developers to provide 0. 024 acres — or its monetary equivalent by formula — for every new single-family housing unit on a new lot and 0. 017 acres for each multifamily unit. Since the parkland dedication ordinance was established in 1983, it has added 202 acres of parkland and trails to the city. In the past five years, the city has acquired 350 acres from parkland dedication requirements, land purchased by the city and natural areas. The Parks and Recreation Division is also responsible for the care of 21 more miles of natural and asphalt trails in the same time period. Meanwhile, Fayetteville’s hiring freeze, established in December during the budget process, is still in place. A majority of the council must vote to rehire for vacated positions. A split council voted 4-2 earlier this month to rehire for one of the mowing and weed-eating positions. Jordan and Alderman Shirley Lucas cast the no votes. Edmonston said her department is brush-hogging more land and mowing less as officials re-prioritize the amount of work among the workers available. Brushhogging refers to field mowers, usually attached to tractors. Crews mow around pavilions and playgrounds in the developed parks. “ But the surrounding areas, sometimes, we’re mowing less and less just because we’re trying to protect the active-use areas, ” Edmonston said. Another change has been reducing the mowing on the sides of the trails. “ If we don’t preserve that land today, it’ll be gone tomorrow, ” said Edmonston, who continues to support the parkland growth despite the lack of a matching staff growth.
Vote The most recent hiring freeze vote was for a fulltime, year-round, entrylevel parks maintenance worker. The person who fills that post will be primarily responsible for maintaining parks, public lands and trails. That includes mowing, weed-eating, pruning trees and keeping parks and trails clean and free of litter. He or she would also have winter upkeep duties, help take care of ball fields and help install the Lights of the Ozarks display.
Salary for the position starts at $ 20, 911 annually.
Jordan based his vote against rehiring for that position on the possibility of filling it with a part-time worker and the sales tax collections that finance the city’s General Fund.
“ The only thing I was hoping we might be able to do is put on a part-time worker until the fall and see how the sales tax revenue does, and then possibly put that part-time worker on full time, ” he said. “ Or if we have to turn somebody loose, that would be a part-time worker instead of a full-time worker. ”
“ We need someone yearround, ” Edmonston said of the rehire request. “ People want full-time jobs that have benefits, and that way we don’t have to keep retraining the temporary workers. ”
The most recent sales tax report showed an increase of about 8. 59 percent when comparing city sales tax revenues for the same time period last year, according to Paul Becker, finance and internal services director.
Jordan acknowledged that tax revenues are coming in as anticipated.
“ Well for right now, but what if they suddenly don’t ? ” he said. “ I, personally, want to wait more until September, October, to really see what we’ve got. ”
Mayor Dan Coody disagreed with Jordan’s assessment, noting that the maintenance position was approved in the 2008 budget.
“ There’s no real reason to be worrying about the position of a parks maintenance person because it’s already been approved in the budget, and our budget numbers are right where we expected them to be, ” Coody said Thursday.
At the council meeting before the vote was taken, Lucas said she had heard from residents who wondered if the Lights of the Ozarks might take less time because the trees were shorter.
Edmonston answered with a list of other and ongoing winter duties for the maintenance staff.
Ward 1 Alderman Adella Gray said it made sense to her to rehire, especially in light of Edmonston’s comments about reducing maintenance at the parks.
“ To me it was a no-brainer to talk about cutting the staff further, ” she said. “ I think our parks are one of our shining stars in Fayetteville, and we all know that with all the wonderful rain we’ve had that everything has to be mowed more. The thought of cutting our personnel was totally out of the picture for me. ” Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell voted with the majority to rehire for the position, but for him it was a close call. “ I guess I was a 51 percenter, ” Ferrell said. “ I believe the council is and should do due diligence on these things. Government does not generally cut itself. ” Keeping parks natural cuts down the tax burden for citizens, he said. “ The less we have to maintain, the less we have to spend, ” he said. “ I love natural parks. ” According to Edmonston, the city has more natural parks than developed parks.
Parkland 1998 was the first time the city received a deed for parkland through the parkland dedication ordinance. It later became Bryce Davis Park. Among developed parks received through parkland dedication are: Trammel Park, Clarence Craft Park, Gar y Hampton Softball Complex, Red Oak Park, Eagle Park, Bayyari Park and David Lashley Park. Natural areas such as Rocky Branch Park and the greenspace of Friendship Park are also part of the parkland dedication from the past 25-plus years. Trail segments can also be part of the parkland dedication required of residential developers. By the wording voters approved in the ordinance, the money paid to the city instead of parkland dedication can only be used for the city to develop more parks and recreational facilities, and only in the same quadrant of town in which the development lies. Among other purchases, money in lieu of parkland has been used for sand volleyball courts, fences, signs, a gazebo, playground equipment, bike racks, the Lake Fayetteville spillway bridge, picnic tables and benches, soccer field construction, restrooms, lighting, a drinking fountain, basketball goal posts, and Grinders Skate Park at Walker Park. Development is ongoing. This month, a grand opening was held at Holland Park, 4385 W. Alberta St., and the department hosted an event at Bryce Davis Park to celebrate replacing outdated playground equipment. Ideas for creating a new park at 1582 S. Fairlane St., land dedicated through the city’s ordinance, will be discussed at the next Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting. Staff levels According to Sherrie Langehennig, human resources administrator, the city has 17 full-time parks maintenance workers and seven part-time workers. Of the seven part-time employees, six are temporary workers hired just for the summer. Tracie Martin, financial coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Division, said the city had 3, 678 acres of parkland to maintain at the end of 2007. Divided among the 24 maintenance employees, that comes to about ™ acres of parkland maintained per employee. “ People don’t understand that during spring and summer, we’re so busy mowing we’re not doing anything else, ” Edmonston said. In the winter months, crews clean brush, trim trees, fix fences, and do other parks and grounds maintenance and upkeep throughout the city. “ We are not a sufficient staff; we are an efficient staff, ” Edmonston said. Among the staff requests denied was a person to specifically care for trails so existing parks maintenance staff could continue their duties. Edmonston said her department also needs a facilities maintenance person to help renovate, replace light bulbs and paint. It is Edmonston’s understanding that she will not be able to request more personnel next year. “ You love that people are satisfied with you, but then when it comes to budgeting, ‘ They’re doing fine. We don’t have problems with them, so we’ll go to the problem area and give them money. ’ It’s kind of a double-edged sword, ” she said.
How much ? “ How much parkland do we need and how much parkland can we take care of ? ” Jordan said. “ I think that would be a good discussion for the council, especially during budget session coming up. ” He said when the city takes in more parkland, that’s more maintenance that needs to be done. “ I think we need to be realistic about it, ” Jordan said.
Coody said it is tough to maintain all the parks, trails and public lands, but it would be shortsighted to change policies based on what he considers to be a cyclical slump in the economy.
Ferrell said he might like to see the parkland ordinance revisited so the money coming into the city in lieu of parkland dedication could be used for maintenance as well as for acquiring more parkland.
The existing ordinance was approved by a vote of Fayetteville residents. As such, the parkland ordinance cannot be changed except by public vote.
Steve Hatfield, former trails and greenways coordinator for the city and now a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory board, said he thinks the parkland dedication ordinance will never outgrow its usefulness unless the city stops growing.
“ We’re selling our city on quality of life and all of these great things to do, ” he said. “ If you have to get into your car and drive across town to get to a park, it just makes no sense. ”
He said it is fair to acquire land based on the number of new residents so there are parks for everyone in every neighborhood.
“ It really has nothing to do with just trying to acquire more land, ” Hatfield said. “ It has a lot more to do with trying to provide that quality of life that everyone wants. ”
Coody, too, said he thinks it is a good idea to keep adding parkland to the city.
“ As Fayetteville continues to grow in population, we need to make sure our city stays green, ” said the mayor, who added that the city’s park system is “ by far the number-one favorite” in the city survey.
“ Especially when we are trying to encourage more dense development and encourage more infill and walkability and livability, if we start cutting back on our greenspace, then over time we will cut back on the quality of life for our community, ” Coody said.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Northwest Arkansas Times and Arkansas Democrat/Gazette report on Senior Center event

People crowd open house
BY DUSTIN TRACY Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Monday, June 30, 2008

Fayetteville School Board Plans meetings to allow people to talk

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville School Board Plans Patron Discussion Meetings

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Fayetteville School Board plans a series of meetings for public comments on issues affecting the school district.

The first meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. July 8 at Woodland Junior High School. In addition to public comment, Fred Turrentine, the director of physical plant services, will present information on ongoing construction projects at Asbell, Butterfield Trail and Washington elementary schools as well as Woodland Junior High School and the Adult Education Center.

Board member Tim Kring, who will lead the first meeting, said the meetings are intended to inform patrons and allow patrons to interact with board members.

The meetings will be similar in format to zone meetings which several school board members conducted in the past.

The meetings will continue on the second Tuesday of each month through December. All of the meetings, except for one in August, will be in the Woodland cafeteria. The Aug. 12 meeting will be in the large group room at the school.

Meetings generally will focus on one or two specific topics of broad interest to district patrons, followed by time to allow patron-board discussion of any items from the floor.

Each meeting will be moderated by one or more board members, and the topics for the next month will be developed by attendees.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Missouri legislator finds albino cave fish and crayfish in cave in back yard

Missouri legislator finds rare Ozark underground species in back yard. Please click this link

Associated Press, Arkansas Democrat/Gazette report that Missouri legislator finds rare Ozark underground species in back yard

Please click on images to Enlarge April 28, 2004, photos from what now is known as the Hill Place student-apartment development site. These photos were taken looking west between the west border of the Moody property and the Town Branch.
What would workers have found if they had dug here before the floodway on the east side of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River was cleared of timber and covered with yellow non-absorbent dirt for the Aspen Ridge project in 2005?

Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission fails to add carbon dioxide to state list of air contaminants

Panel denies air-code changes
Posted on Saturday, June 28, 2008
Saying the request was premature, the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission on Friday unanimously rejected a request by environmental groups to change Arkansas’ air code to consider carbon dioxide an “air contaminant.”
“I do think this is putting the cart before the horse,” commission member Scott Henderson, explaining that he believes the governor’s Global Warming Commission should have first crack at determining how carbon dioxide emissions should be regulated.
The commission, established last year, is studying ways state agencies can offset factors that might contribute to climate change.
“I don’t agree with the discussion about waiting for the federal government to do it, but I do think the Global Warming Commission has to do its work,” Henderson said.

The Arkansas Sierra Club, Audubon Arkansas and the Environmental Integrity Project had filed a petition seeking to amend definitions included in Regulations 18 and 26 of the state’s airquality regulations. The proposal called for the definitions in both regulations to eliminate carbon dioxide from a list of emissions not considered air contaminants, including water vapor, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and inert gases.
The petition cited concerns that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can lead to higher maximum temperatures, more hot days, higher minimum temperatures, fewer cold days, more intense “precipitation events” and increased risk of drought.
Environmentalists argued their proposal wouldn’t immediately require regulation of carbon dioxide by the Environmental Quality Department. But industry and department officials disagreed.

“We are not opposed to the removal of this exemption.... We realize that global warming is a global problem,” department Director Teresa Marks said. “Our concern is unintended consequences, and the practicality of what we would do if the exemption was removed immediately.”
Marks said existing regulations would require the department to regulate anyone who emits more than 25 tons per year of an “air contaminant.” The department today doesn’t have the technology available to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide, she said.
After more than a half-hour of comments from industry leaders and environmentalists, the commission approved an order supplied by the Arkansas Environmental Federation, an organization that lobbies on behalf of companies on environmental matters.
The order states that the request from the environmental- ists was defective for a number of reasons, including that it failed to include an economic impact statement and an environmental benefit analysis. Such statements are required by state law if the proposed change is more stringent than federal requirements.

Glen Hooks, regional representative of the Sierra Club, said he was surprised by the decision.
“I think what these guys have done is stand up and say we know CO 2 is a pollutant, we know it is a contaminant, but we don’t want to do anything about it,” Hooks said.
“They said it publicly, and I found it amazing.”
He said he and other environmentalists expect to bring forward a new petition that addresses the commissioners’ concerns sooner rather than later.
“We’ll be back,” said Ilan Levin of the Environmental Integrity Project.
The concerns can be addressed in a number of ways, including by increasing the allowable emission threshold from 25 tons per year, Levin said.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Association for Beaver Lake Environment growing!

Sent: Sat 6/28/08 12:51 PM
This is an e-mail from ' - Association for Beaver Lake Environment '

Hello ABLE members,

I wanted to let you know that ABLE hosted a special Town Hall Meeting for Beaver Lake Dock Owners on Monday, June 23, 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to sell ABLE to Beaver Lake property owners, identify/discuss issues affecting and threatening the lake, and to increase ABLE membership. This meeting was very successful! We have signed up many new members, the meeting was standing room only, over 110 people attended!

We also had two guest speakers:
Thad Cheaney from the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers - discussed dock and shoreline issues.
Nathan Jones, VP of Power Source Solar - discussed solar applications on boat docks.

I have posted the program on the website ( Login, click on "Information Library" page, and then click on Town Hall Meetings. You will see the "Dock Owners Meeting". You will need Adobe Acrobat in order to view the program.

Thanks for supporting ABLE!

Doug Timmons
President, ABLE

Telecom Board's recommendation to council doesn't please administration

Please click on images to read Susan Thomas' letter and Richard Drake's letter to the Fayetteville City Council.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Northwest Arkansas Times reports on $60 million offer for FHS

Teeming with issues : Developers top UA’s offer for 40-acre FHS campus
BY BRETT BENNETT Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, June 27, 2008

A limited liability company called Campus Building Group has offered $ 60 million for the Fayetteville High School campus.
The amount is $ 10 million more than a $ 50 million offer from the University of Arkansas. The Fayetteville Board of Education offered the property to the UA, which borders the 40-acre high school property, for $ 59 million.
The school board’s plan has been to sell the current campus to help subsidize construction at a new site. The board has also authorized Superintendent Bobby New to negotiate a purchase of 73 acres along Morningside Drive for a new high school site, but New said there were no updates on that to report.
Campus Building Group attorney David Fisher spoke about the group’s proposal and plans for the campus at the Board of Education meeting Thursday. He indicated the plans would be to develop a student housing / commercial project on the campus.
Reading from a statement, Fisher said, “ It is CBG’s belief that the Fayetteville High School campus is truly a rare jewel and is definitely the finest piece of property in all of Northwest Arkansas. Its proximity to the (UA ) campus makes the property extremely desirable for upscale student housing, as well as for opportunities in commercial and retail activities. ”
On Wednesday, Fisher submitted a written request for a 90-day option on the property with a $ 60 million sale price. An option means the company would have time to evaluate the property and develop sale contract terms. The school board would not be able to sell it to someone else dur- ing the 90 days.
“ It gives them a chance to look at the possibility, do due diligence and whatever you need to do, ” said Rudy Moore Jr., attorney for the school district.
No action was taken on the request. Board members John Delap and Becky Purcell, who cast the lone dissenting vote against offering to sell the campus to the UA, were absent.
New said Lisa Morstad, the district’s chief financial officer, attempted to contact UA Vice Chancellor Don Pederson to inform him of the $ 60 million offer.
The superintendent said his last face-to-face meeting with incoming Chancellor G. David Gearhart was on Monday and that Gearhart indicated at that time the $ 50 million was a firm offer. The school board decided to delay action on the UA’s offer until more details about contract terms could be worked out.
New said the offer from the private entity provides another option the board can consider. He made a comparison to a restaurant menu.
He said he was first contacted by the group about a month ago but held off making any announcements about it to evaluate the seriousness of the group. In an interview before the meeting, New said he was convinced Campus Building Group was making a legitimate and serious offer.
“ It is CBG’s hope that this project will allow them to create a great new development next to the university campus to service the housing, safety and entertainment needs of our university students for years to come, ” Fisher said at the meeting Thursday.
He declined to identify any of the members of Campus Building Group.
According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, the group’s office is listed as 1589 Electric Ave. in Springdale. That is also the address listed in several sources for a company called Alliance Construction Group.
Springdale developer Gary Combs is listed as the registered agent for Alliance. The address listed with the state is ©5 Electric Ave., which is also the address of another Combs company, Basic Construction Co.
Combs is a developer who has been involved in several local companies and projects, including Basic Block Group, Waterford Estates on Arkansas 45 in Goshen and Pinnacle Hills in Benton County. Lately, he has garnered headlines with his plans to build Diesel Downs, a sprawling truck stop at Interstate 540 and Wagon Wheel Road.
Contacted Thursday evening, Combs referred all inquiries to Fisher and said he couldn’t comment on Campus Building Group.
New said he was excited about the offer because it represents an additional $ 10 million toward a new high school project that would not have to be paid by taxpayers.
“ I’ve characterized my administration as kids first, taxpayers second, ” New said.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This fantasy of needing a new high school must not cost taxpayers an extra dime

Interesting manipulative activities. Makes the need for more PUBLIC discussion of the whole idea of selling the high school even more obvious.
$100 million wouldn't make selling the high school logical or practical.
No amount of money less than the total price of building a new high school would make it seem reasonable. By that, I mean an amount that would purchase land, build the total high school package and pay it off completely at whatever price it will actually end up costing.
And that amount of money must come to the school system up front so that not a dime need be borrowed and not a penny of new tax need be raised.

The Morning News says 'Speculator' eyes high-school site
Speculator Eyes High School Site

By Rose Ann Pearce
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - An unnamed investor or group of investors wants an 90-day option to consider buying the Fayetteville High School campus for $60 million.

The proposal was handed to the Fayetteville School Board on Thursday. The board didn't take action on the option but could in the next few weeks.
A 90-day option is a contract granting the group an exclusive right to purchase the property at a set price, said board attorney Rudy Moore Jr.
"It is not an offer," Moore told the board.
Superintendent Bobby New said he received the offer Wednesday.
"This offer simply gives the district another opportunity," New said.
Springdale attorney David Fisher, who represents Campus Building Group LLC, said an option agreement along with more details on the participants in the project should be available in the next two weeks.
The group apparently wants the property for an "upscale" apartment community and entertainment center for students at the University of Arkansas.
"Its proximity to the University of Arkansas campus makes the property extremely desirable for upscale student housing as well as for opportunities in commercial and retail activities," according to a prepared statement Fisher read to board members.
"It is CBG's hope that this project will allow them to create a great new development abutting the university campus to service the housing, safety and entertainment needs of our university students for years to come," the statement continued.
School board member Tim Kring said he couldn't find information about the group in an Internet search during the meeting.
"I can't tell who the group is at this time," Fisher said. The address listed on his letterhead is 1589 Electric Ave., the same address for Springdale Construction and Contractors.
A 90-day option will limit the district from accepting other sale offers during that time period and gives Campus Building Group the exclusive right to buy the property during the 90-day period, but doesn't obligate the group to buy the property. Any sale to the group would be limited by terms and conditions approved by the school board.
New said the district should continue discussions with the University of Arkansas which has offered $50 million for the property. The district set a price of $59 million when the property was offered to the university last month.
The board also authorized Lisa Morstad, the chief financial officer, to continue discussion with university officials about their purchase of the property in an effort to nail down additional information on the terms and conditions. The board postponed making a counteroffer until it has more information.
School board members wanted more information, especially on any lease-back arrangement to continue to use the high school while a new school is constructed.
In response to questions about the impact of an option on the ongoing discussion with the university, Moore told board members there was "no reason" negotiation couldn't continue with the university.
"You couldn't sell in the 90-day period," Moore said.
University officials were caught off guard about the option.
"This is the first I've heard of it," said Dave Gearhart, the chancellor-elect of the University of Arkansas, on Thursday afternoon.
Gearhart said he and New last discussed the university's $50 million offer for the high school property on Monday, and New did not mention any other offers.
University trustees would be unlikely to match a $60 million offer, Gearhart said, citing discussion at the Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month that led to the approval of the $50 million offer.
The Morning News' Dan Craft contributed to this report.

What's Up
Back To The Classroom
Fayetteville School Board member John Delap resigned the at large board seat he has held for nearly two years to return to the classroom.
Delap was hired as a social studies teacher at Fayetteville High School. State law prevents a teacher in the district to serve on the school board.
When Delap retired from education several years ago, he was principal at the high school.
School board president Steve Percival said patrons in the district who are interested in filling the vacancy should contact a member of the school board. The board must appoint a new member within 30 days.
There is no residency requirement because Delap was an at large representative.
Delap's replacement will serve until the September school election at which time a member will be elected to fill the rest of Delap's term. The appointed member can run for election to the seat.
His resignation is effective July 1. His new assignment begins a month later.
Source: Staff Report

Don Nelms' outdoor photos some of the best in Arkansas

I was impressed with my cloud photos from Sunday until I received the following photo by e-mail from Don Nelms. But I am grateful for being able to do what I do and for the privilege of being in position to get such photos. Don enjoys the advantage of selling a LOT of Hondas while I bought only a few!
He has a tremendous talent with with an excellent camera. Hope you enjoy this example of his cloud work.

A manifestation of Heaven: Clouds eternal reminder of beauty of earth's atmosphere

Please click on image to Enlarge photo of June 22, 2006, cloud over Fayetteville, Arkansas, at sunset.

Why doesn't Fayetteville have this problem? Bentonville wireless service for all laptop users temporarily out of service on town square

Because we don't have free wireless service on the square! But we have some wonderful stonework and some smaller trees this year for only a million dollars or so. Will your purple-hull peas taste any better this summer than last? Are the put-and-take flowers any prettier? Or are the women prettier or the old men any less ugly? Are any more people driving from other cities and spending big bucks in our city this summer because Fayetteville taxpayers coughed up the big bucks for this unnecessary remodeling?
The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Wireless Networking Again Working On Square
By The Morning News
BENTONVILLE - The city has rebooted the wireless device that enables laptop users to access the Internet on the Bentonville square.

Jonathan Rogers, the city systems manager, was unaware the free wireless networking access area - known as a "hot spot" - wasn't working until a person called him Tuesday morning.

"Our transmitter to the square was locked up. It needed to be restarted to correct," said Rogers, who fixed the problem within an hour of the person's call.

Rogers doesn't know how long the hardware malfunction lasted or what had caused it. He suspects lightening or a power surge.

"Typically we turn it on and let it run. There's no monitoring. We rely on users of the system to tell us if they work or not," Rogers said.

Bentonville spent nearly $3,000 creating the hot spot in May 2007. The service offers the most basic commercial wireless network, the 802.11b standard, to entice people to use the downtown park and eat and shop at nearby businesses.

Rogers asks users to call 271-5911 to report any future system failures.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please urge Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission to classify CO2 at pollutant

The PCE is a public commission that will hear/read your comments and take them into consideration. Your comment can be long and detailed, or it can be as short as:

Because anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming that is changing our planet and could be disastrous in the future, carbon dioxide needs to be classified as a pollutant, or "air contaminant," in Arkansas. I hope you will change Regulation No. 26 accordingly, as requested in the petition from Sierra Club and others that will appear soon before the APCE.

Feel free to quote me on that.

To submit a comment, go to the ADEQ website, PCE is actually a sub-division of ADEQ. At that website, you'll find a space to make your written comment to both the PCE and to ADEQ. You'll also find a phone number if you'd rather talk with them.

Please pull out all the stops in telling others about this. If we can get excess CO2 classified as the planetary threat that it actually is, it will make a big difference.

Cheers - Art

Please urge Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission to classify CO2 at pollutant

--- On Mon, 6/23/08, Art Hobson wrote:
From: Art Hobson
Subject: Ask that CO2 be classified as a pollutant
Date: Monday, June 23, 2008, 2:51 PM

Dear Friends,

You can make a real difference in Arkansas global warming politics. The Ark Sierra Club, Ark Audubon Society, and the Environmental Integrity Project are petitioning the Ark Commission on Pollution Control and Ecology (PCE) to allow CO2 to be declared an "air contaminant" (or pollutant). Their petition is attached. This issue is of crucial importance because the Ark Dept of Environmental Quality (ADEQ, which is PCE's parent organization) must soon either grant or deny a permit to the proposed Hempstead coal-fired generating plant, and ADEQ has been unable to include CO2 as a possible air contaminant in this case because present Ark regulations proclaim that CO2 is not an air contaminant. As you know, human-caused CO2 emissions are now the most deadly pollutant of all, because they can change our planet in large and harmful ways. In a contentious 2-to-1 ruling, the Hempstead plant has already received its Public Service Commission permit to proceed. If ADEQ also grants a permit, Swepco will immediately begin construction of the plant and it will then be impossible to stop. If CO2 is declared a pollutant, ADEQ will need to consider the entire issue of global warming before making a ruling on the Hempstead plant, and there's an excellent change that they will rule against the plant (for confirmation that there are good reasons to rule against the plant, see Judge David Newbern's dissenting opinion in the PSC ruling).

The PCE is a public commission that will hear/read your comments and take them into consideration. Your comment can be long and detailed, or it can be as short as:

Because anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming that is changing our planet and could be disastrous in the future, carbon dioxide needs to be classified as a pollutant, or "air contaminant," in Arkansas. I hope you will change Regulation No. 26 accordingly, as requested in the petition from Sierra Club and others that will appear soon before the APCE.

Feel free to quote me on that.

To submit a comment, go to the ADEQ website, PCE is actually a sub-division of ADEQ. At that website, you'll find a space to make your written comment to both the PCE and to ADEQ. You'll also find a phone number if you'd rather talk with them.

Please pull out all the stops in telling others about this. If we can get excess CO2 classified as the planetary threat that it actually is, it will make a big difference.

Cheers - Art

World Peace Wetland Prairie plant mixture delightful

Please click on image to ENLARGE.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ozark Highlands Group of Sierra Club to meet with James Burke to discuss fight against dirty coal burning in Arkansas at Smiling Jack's at 7 p.m. Wed.

Our June monthly meeting will be this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Smiling Jack's just off Dixon Street behind the Dixon Street book shop.

James Burke will be joining us to talk about the coal campaign and the progress we are making in that area. It will be very informal; this is a great opportunity to learn more about what we can do to make sure Arkansas doesn't build any new coal fired power plants. Bring your coal questions for James to answer!

Our Arkansas Chapter chair, Adrienne, will be bringing some yard signs protesting dirty coal if you would like one.

As always, please forward this email along to others you think might be interested.

Molly Rawn
Sierra Club, Ozark Headwaters Group
(479) 879-1620

Project up for renewal may affect property all the way down past Greathouse Park: Fayetteville Planning Commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. today

Fayetteville Planning Commission agenda for 5:30 p.m. June 23, 2008

This would be the perfect day for our planning commission to table a project up for a one-year renewal for the start of construction and require a reassessment of the stormwater-management plan for the land.
The condo project up for renewal at Razorback and Fifteenth drains south directly into the west arm of the Town Branch of the White River and west directly into a tributary of that stream.

Several houses downstream near South Brooks Avenue and South Stirman Avenue have flooded in the past and others are at risk of flooding if just a slightly longer-lasting heavy rain ever occurs and creates a higher flash flood than has ever occurred in the past. If the stormwater requirements aren't strengthened now, this project may be built without concern to the property or lives of people further downstream.

I wonder whether the houses downstream were considered in the original approval process?

The city rules require notifying owners of adjacent property when PZDs are up for approval. How about notifying everyone who owns property downstream and everyone who lives in a house downstream? Might prevent having empty seats at some planning meetings!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wetland article ignores drawbacks in wetland mitigation projects but provides valuable insight and source of hope for urban wetland protection

Woolsey wetland article in The Morning News

The Woolsey Prairie is adjacent to land where the new wastewater-treatment plant was built. Actually, the plant was built on what might be called the original Woolsey Prairie.
Because the plant destroyed a great many wetland acres, the Corps of Engineers permit required mitigation. There have been many shows on Government channel about the progress of creating the mitigation area over the past couple of years, mostly as a part of shows on progress of construction of the plant itself.
The good news is that the city is "manufacturing" wetland to make up for destruction. That isn't as good as preserving existing wetland exactly as nature made it. However, it is beautiful site.
The bad news is that a plan to allow developers to "purchase" shares in such mitigation land is similar to trading carbon-pollution rights. It means developers can dredge and fill to build on wetland in the city and "mitigate" it by paying for creation of such sites. This is better than nothing. However, it doesn't protect property from flooding downstream from the development. And it allows valuable habitat to be destroyed where it should be kept. It doesn't make stormwater remain where it falls and soak in to keep vegetation healthy and replenish underground aquifers.
That was the first story I ever read by Skip Descant. He appears to be a good reporter.
He wouldn't likely know about World Peace Wetland Prairie or that "keeping the water where it falls" is the contrasting idea that would have had to have been included in the story if his plan was to write a truly multi-source story.
In fact, WPWP is exactly opposite to a manufactured wetland area. It protects habitat and lets water soak in UPSTREAM where it falls. It was saved from development and stands in stark contrast with the Aspen Ridge/Hill Place development site to to its north.
While it has a large population of nonnative species, particularly fescue and Japanese honeysuckle that require constant volunteer effort to remove, it never had its basic seed and root base of native species removed.
Being inside the city and a part of the headwater system of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River and thus a significant area that helps protect the Beaver Lake watershed, its soil and plant life (even the invasive nonnative species) are functioning perfectly for stormwater management and protection of water quality.

The already completed Woolsey Prairie serves to catch water NEAR where it falls on the sewage-treatment plant. But adjacent parcels that may be saved as wetland prairie or savannah will be for sale to developers as mitigation for environmentally destruction parcels upstream. That part of the story has been discussed on several Government Channel productions related to the new sewage-treatment plant.

It would be nice to have a map of wetland areas. I frequently offer such information with photos from various parts of the watershed on my blogs and Flickr photo sets. But an overall plan to protect wetland isn't something everyone wants. Such a citywide delineation of wetland areas could prevent developers from buying property that should not be developed on the assumption that they will always get permission to dredge and fill such places simply by buying a share of an already preserved parcel miles away or not even in the same watershed.

Some developers and even some city officials and staff members don't want to acknowledge the existence of more than minimal wetland because public knowledge of the facts of Northwest Arkansas' environment might stifle their desire to build and pave every acre in the city.

More than two years ago, the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association created a booklet with a list of environmentally sensitive areas in the city that the group deemed worthy of protection. That information has never been used by the city in any way, as far as I can tell. During the June 17, 2008, meeting of the Council of Neighborhoods, Bruce Shackleford's presentation on Woolsey Prairie got his ideas out to a lot of people and excited some of the neighborhood advocates to realize the importance of wetland prairie, exactly what we've been trying to do with our photos on Flickr and on our blogspots for the past year and for more than six years on and for decades in various newspaper and magazine stories.
Fran Alexander and others persevere, but are only voices in the wildnerness, it seems.
Too many of the most outspoken people in the green, "sustainability" movement mostly focus on compromise positions. The paid environmentalists are all about compromise these days. Compromise mostly leads to learning to lose gracefully.
It takes people such as Fran Alexander with passion to get things done. And Shackleford's passion about the prairie wetland can do more to stir fervor in the fight to do the right thing in Fayetteville than some of us have done in decades. A lot of us old "tree-huggers" will be supporting his educational effort in every way we can.
For photos and more information, please use the following online links.

Hill Place/Aspen Ridge set of photos

Pinnacle Prairie set of photos — west side of World Peace Wetland Prairie

World Peace Wetland Prairie collection of sets of photos

Town Branch watershed set of photos

Wetland prairie at sewage-treatment plant shows value of Northwest Arkansas environment

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Consultant Want To Develop Sanctuary

By Skip Descant
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - Bruce Shackleford hates Poison Hemlock.

It's an invasive non-native herbaceous plant growing in the Woolsey Wet Prairie Sanctuary. When he saw one on a drive through the sanctuary Thursday morning, he abruptly stopped his Toyota FJ Cruiser, got out, and yanked the plant up, roots and all.

But the plant he really hates - and this one's even more invasive - is Tall Fescue, a non-native grass covering nearly half the 28-acre sanctuary area. Much of the Fescue and other non-natives have been culled through burning or a careful application of herbicides applied at just the right time in the year so not to damage the native plants.

This is all part of the ongoing vegetative management in the Woolsey wetland sanctuary next to Fayetteville's new Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant. The area was set aside as a mitigation site when the treatment plant was planned.

Shackleford, an environmental consultant and president of Environmental Consulting Operations, wants to grow the sanctuary to nearly 70 acres by including surrounding city-owned land, part of which is a natural savannah region. Shackleford says his next step is to set up a foundation to raise money for the wetland prairie preserve and eventually open the site to the public.

"This is a very ambitious undertaking, but I will not be afraid to think 'big' or to ask everyone from the average citizen of Fayetteville, including the mayor and city council, to large corporations to provide financial sponsorships," said Shackleford of his plan to establish a public-private partnership foundation to raise the money needed for park features like trails, kiosks and an observation tower.

"I'm going to go to the public. I'm going to go to Tyson. I'm going to go to Wal-Mart. And I'll say, if you build this kiosk, then it'll be your company's logo that we put on it," he explained. The plan to expand the area has the green light from Fayetteville wastewater and sewer committee and will eventually need the blessing from other groups like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Fayetteville City Council.

But the idea was met with a solid round of approval at Thursday's meeting of the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods.

"I think it's a great idea," said JoAnn Kvamme. "We should be doing this in other parts of town."

And other residents commented on the particular nature of public park space going to wetland prairie preservation, since this is somewhat an anomaly.

"We've got some," said Bob Caulk, of lands set aside for natural preservation. "But they tend to be the tree-covered hillsides. And that's great. But we need more of this type of thing."

Other residents have wondered about odors coming from the nearby sewerage treatment plant. But with its modern high-tech design, the plant is all but odorless.

"Do you smell anything," Shackleford offered on a walk through the area Thursday morning. "And we're downwind."

"It's almost miraculous how this has evolved," remarked David Jergens, Fayetteville's wastewater treatment plant director, remarking on the development of the wetland prairie. "It shows that Mother Nature is a whole lot smarter than all of us combined."

Some residents wonder if even the image of sewer treatment plant in the background might work as a hindrance.

"My only concern is how that wastewater treatment plant nearby will affect things, from a visual perspective," said resident Susan Jenkins.

"But I do think it's a great idea," she added.

When the wetland sanctuary was begun three years ago, researchers were able to name about 50 native species. Today, 294 plant species have been identified. One of the latest to be awakened from generations of lying dormant is the Arkansas Sedge, a native grass.

"I gathered seeds and then started them at home," said Shackleford who has seeds wrapped in moist tissue paper in his refrigerator at home. He plans to germinate them and plant the grass around other parts of the sanctuary.

Also, shore birds, song birds and migratory birds, along with deer, cotton rats - too many frogs to mention - and dozens of other animals now call the sanctuary home.

"Now right over there," said Shackleford, stopping his Toyota on a drive through the wetland and pointing to a marshy area where two ducks were gliding by, "are a couple of mallards, a hen and a drake. They've probably got a nest out here."

Preserving these landscapes is not just about preserving the plant and animal habitats residing in them. It's also about preserving a slice of Arkansas heritage, says Shackleford. He notes prairies and savannahs - which are somewhat like prairies, but with small clumpings of trees and slight mounds - are disappearing with encroaching development. But through preservation and proper management, these landscapes can return in a relative short time.

"It'll be in five years," said Shackleford, when asked how much longer it would take to have the Woolsey area returned to the state it was in during the early 1800s.

"We've just got to keep tweaking it, keep managing it," he remarked. "I have tremendous passion in this project and just have a great vision of what this can be."

Wetland Prairies

Wetland prairies are grasslands "pimpled" with slight mounds that create areas of varying degrees of wetness during different times of the year. This hydrological pattern establishes an ecosystem known for its rich plant and animal life.

Source: Bruce Shackleford, environmental consultant with Environmental Consulting Operations.

World Peace Wetland Prairie plant mixture

Please click on image of mix of species on World Peace Wetland Prairie on June 21, 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Telecom Board meeting from Thursday night runs from 1 to 3 p.m. today (Saturday) on Channel 16 on Cox Cable

The government channel (Cox 16) is to rerun Thursday's Telecom Board meeting at 1 p.m. TODAY. Set your recorder for MORE THAN 3 HOURS. It was a long meeting but unusually exciting for a Telecom meeting.

Have Chambers Bank investors ever questioned this "investment opportunity"?

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of Chambers Bank sign on Royal Oak Parkway at the north entry to the now-failed and finally defunct Aspen Ridge Townhome project site on Sixth Street/Martin Luther King Boulevard in south Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2006.
For a story on another development project gone wrong, please click the following link:

Investors sue over Chambers Bank involvement in fraudulent development scheme

Telecom Board Recommends change in forum policy

Telecom Board recommends changes to forum policy
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Friday, June 20, 2008
The Fayetteville City Council should honor its current policy and show two “ yanked” forums, according to the Telecommunications Board.

“ We are recommending that, until new policies and procedures are accepted by the council, that the current policy and procedures be honored, ” said Shelli Bell, a board member.

The board will also recommend at least two changes in policy directly related to the ongoing question of whether forums and roundtable discussions should be shown on the city’s Government Channel.

Board Chairman Richard Drake said he will write a letter to the council telling aldermen that, in the board’s opinion, the city “ essentially violated existing policy ” when two issue forums were “ unceremoniously” halted.

In that letter, he said, he will also “ respectfully request” that the council direct city staff to proceed with production of the forums about the location of Fayetteville High School and the future of the Walton Arts Center.

“ This was all set to go, and they pulled the plug on it, ” Drake said during discussion of a complaint by Fayetteville resident Jim Bemis.

Bemis charged that the city administration has influenced Government Channel programming in violation of city policy.

Drake said he wanted to keep the motion and his letter short and to the point and just say, “ You shouldn’t have done it. ”

Government Channel procedure states that a council member can request a forum, Bemis and former cable administrator Marvin Hilton told the Telecom Board. Ward 2 Alderman Nancy Allen requested the forums.

The vote establishing the communication with the council on the issue was an apparently unanimous, simultaneous voice vote.

Board member Aubrey Shepherd said that, when the council sent the forum policy decision back to the Telecom Board, it did not speak specifically to the forums that were stopped.

He said the council “ couldn’t be expected to take a very serious look” at the question coming, as it did, at the end of a three-and-a-half-hour meeting.

Bell proposed two policy changes, both of which were accepted by the Telecom Board. Together the two changes would allow issue forums and round-table discussions on the Government Channel if they are part of a government meeting rather than a separate program or event.

“The important thing here is that it is indeed a meeting, ”Bell said, explaining that there is no reason for the Telecom Board to tell boards, commissions or government bodies how to have meetings.

With a 4-2 voice vote, the board approved recommending a policy change that, if approved by the council, will change the words “limited public forums” to “moderated public forums.”

Bell said that clarification would ensure that moderated issue forums are limited to candidate and ballot issues and ensure that the Government Channel is specific to government activity.

On the second change Bell proposed, the board seemed to accept unanimously. It makes all city government meetings the first level of priority for showing on the Government Channel (Blogger's note: Actual vote was 5-0-1, with Shepherd abstaining).

The intent is to clarify that any government meeting can be televised on the Government Channel “regardless of the format chosen by that government body,” she said.

Agreeing with City Attorney Kit Williams and Susan Thomas, public information officer and policy adviser, Bell said Government Channel programming should be limited to candidate and ballot issues. She said anything not a government meeting would be shown on the city’s public access channel to ensure that programming on the Government Channel is specific to government activity.

Under the policy changes being recommended to the council, any government meeting would be eligible to be televised on the Government Channel, even if the governmental body chooses to conduct the meeting in a round-table or forum format. The policy would not limit the type of meeting that can be televised.

Drake indicated that the board is open to other policy suggestions to take to the City Council. Those proposals will be discussed at the board’s July meeting for presentation to the council in August.

The Telecom Board meeting Thursday was not shown as a live broadcast because of technical difficulties. It will be broadcast on the Government Channel and can be viewed on the city’s Web site, www. accessfayetteville. org.

Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watch Telecom meeting live on Internet at 5:30

Watch Telecom Board live or archived later at this link

Please attend or watch Telecom Board tonight. It may not be live at 5:30 but is to be run immediately afterward and may be found live on the city site

Although the local media harshly criticized the City's recent denial of a Council Member’s scheduled issue forum on the government channel, you probably haven’t heard about a Telecom Board member’s proposal to totally eliminate such forums. The Board will hear the proposal today at their “live” meeting at City Hall (5:30 p.m.)..

Board Member Bell will present the proposal as a slide show, after consulting privately with the City Attorney Kit Williams and Susan Thomas, Policy and Information Officer. Kit has said that the forums are legal and constitutional, and both he and Ms. Thomas have said they thing the forums are great, so it’s hard to figure their decision to nix the forums and completely bypass the Telecommunications Board in the process of denying the earlier forum request..

As I see it, the City Hall folks have presented only opinions and conjecture as their reasons for denying the forums, and I have filed a complaint to the Board that also should be considered at tonight’s Board meeting. In addition, several local citizens have followed current channel policy to request an issue forum to discuss Board Member Bell’s proposal, as well as to provide more public iinput into how the government channel is used and programmed.

Please tune in to the Board Meeting tonight on Channel 16. You can also call in or send an email during the meeting.

Information for today's Telecom Board meeting

Telecom Board meeting agenda and city memo for June 19, 2008 meeting

Free lunch for all from 11:30 to 12:30 today at Senior Center

Please click on image to ENLARGE.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Association for Beaver Lake Watershed

The Association for Beaver Lake Environment has an excellent list of threats to Beaver Lake on its forum page. The group wants people to list other threats. I'll add a few things as they occur to me:
Grass clippings and leaves and other yard waste allowed to fly onto sidewalks and into streets and thus into storm drains, ditches and streams contribute to siltation and add unwanted nutrients to the lake.
Litter from streets and parking lots can be dangerous to wildlife as well as clog storm drains and add a lot of ugliness to our stream banks and the lake itself.

Please click here to read Arkansas Business article on Beaver Lake condos and to comment

Save Lake Maumelle today; save Beaver Lake tomorrow

4:00 pm today is deadline for requests and commentary.

Save the lake: Tell ADEQ Commission what you believe

Save the lake: Tell ADEQ what you believe

Electronic mail comments should be sent to the following address:

Save Lake Maumelle today

Kate Althoff, a tireless advocate for protecting the safety of the Lake Maumelle water supply, notes that today is the deadline for public comments on a proposal before the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission that would provide protection in the watershed from sewage discharges. The Commission, not known as a vigorous advocate for a pristine environment, seems reluctant to impose the rule. If you start protecting Lake Maumelle, after all, who knows where it might end? You might have to protect other water in the state from pollution, too.
She explains on the jump.
We often speak of certain items that are critical to the protection of the water quality of Lake Maumelle. There are none more critical than securing regulations that will prohibit the surface discharge of treated waste water. The computer modeling has indicated over and over again that without a doubt that just one small waste water treatment plant discharging into Lake Maumelle will clearly make it impossible to maintain safe drinking water quality – not good but safe. This is due primarily to the fact that Lake Maumelle is so small and shallow.
Lake Maumelle, and therefore the drinking water of 400,000 people, is very vulnerable at this time because, believe it or not, there is no Federal, State or local laws or regulations stopping a small or large residential developer from building their own waste water treatment plant, and dumping the treated waste into Lake Maumelle. This type of small package treatment plants are widely used across the US.
The one agency that has the authority to provide the needed regulations watershed wide is the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. Believe it or not such a regulation is considered by the current members of the commission to be very progressive. The commission in recent hearings has indicated that they would rather this concern be addressed on a local level and therefore placing the burden on 3 counties, Pulaski, Perry, and Saline. This having been stated the Commission has begun the process, a delay version, of considering the adoption of such a regulation.
TODAY IS THE DEADLINE for the public to submit comments for consideration by the PC&E.
Written or electronic mail comments will be accepted if received no later than 4:30 p.m. June 16. Written comments should be sent to Doug Szenher, public/media affairs manager, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Public Outreach and Assistance Division, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118. Electronic mail comments should be sent to the following address:

Siltation of Beaver Lake begins at many points in Northwest Arkansas

Please click on images to enlarge view of undetained runoff entering incomplete storm drains from Aspen Ridge/Hill Place development site at 11th Street and South Duncan Avenue in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at 11:30 p.m. June 15, 2008..

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pinnacle Prairie offers numerous plants characteristic of wetland prairie in northwest Arkansas

Please click on image to enlarge view west on Pinnacle Prairie (adjacent to World Peace Wetland Prairie). Rosa arkansa, the native prairie wild rose, appears in the near background, with Asclepias viridis, the spider milkweed, in the foreground.

Schedule of Government Channel programs available online

June 15-21 schedule Gov Channel

Government Channel

Discuss Government Channel and Telecommunication Board

Forget selling the high school; spend the next five years picking a site for a second high school and the following five years building it right

There is no excuse for selling the high-school property. There is no excuse for building either a new high school or a second high school within a decade.

An urban model needs to be used for the buildings for a second high school, and the athletic facilities must return to a classic model: The track runs around the football field and uses the same stadium. PE classes and the varsity basketball team use the same gym, weight room, etc.

Windows should be fully operable to ensure that heating is needed only in late fall, winter and early spring and that only summer school might need air-conditioning. And fans still work well in the real world.

Every possible way to conserve energy known today must be planned for and every known wiring requirement built or space provided for up front.

Windmills and solar panels should be installed in every conceivable possible place.

It must be assumed that public transportation will be provided and people under age 21 will be discouraged from driving automobiles to school. Walking, riding bicyles and maybe motorbikes should be the only alternatives to using school-provided or public transportation.
Parents should not have to even consider driving kids to school. Safety on public and school-provided transportation should be a given.

The second school's site should be selected based on many factors, but economical, safe transportation should be the main thing. No student doing anything other than voluntarily walking should have to spend an hour between home and school.

Third and fourth high schools will be required at some time in this century, if those who ignore the unsuitablility of Northwest Arkansas to become a major city have their way. So the planning now should be for a second high school in a place accessible from places far north of the current high school.

About some of the comments on who wants growth and who wants the high school moved: I talk with a lot of people. And I listen to a lot of people. And the majority want inexpensive, convenient transportation and the shortest possible commute from all areas of dense population to the schools. It is insulting to many to say that the current high school is inadequate. People know that dedicated teachers are the main requirement of a good educational system. Fancy buildings don't change the quality of education, unless the cost of them reduces the funding of teacher salaries and needed books and computers and such for students. New buildings probably send the wrong message: That appearance is more important than reality.

We can't expect mercy from the UA board. How many members of that board live in Fayetteville or pay taxes in Fayetteville?

This isn't about Jonah leading a conspiracy to vote down a millage increase for schools or anything else.

I hear "no to taxes" everytime this subject comes up in conversation.

Chidren who were walking to Bates School or would be now and children who were walking to Jefferson School or would be now are a long way from the schools now. Closing those schools killed the most recent attempt to pass a millage increase.
And Jonah hadn't started The Iconoclast site at that time. I suspect that listening to people offended by those two incredibly bad school-board, school-administration decisions may have been a part of the reason this Web log came into existence.
I would suggest that the failure of people involved in all aspects of government to listen to the common people, the people affected by their decisions, motivated Jonah.
Every vote counts one. So don't count on buying enough votes to pass a millage after selling the high school cheap.
A fair, realistic price would be enough to buy a site AND to build every single facility needed for a complete new high school. Whatever that figure is, it isn't the one offered by the UA board. Something like $400 million might be the only reasonable price that could make a case for selling the high school. That might be low, because selling that property should result in having enough money in hand to build not only a replacement for the current school but also a second high school.
A new high school isn't needed right now and selling the existing one would be a serious mistake.
Just stop this whole process and begin a slow, all-encompassing process of studying the possibilities of building a second high school in a place that will be environmentally harmless and comfortable for those who have to use it and to travel to it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Derailments happen but no one addressed the possibility mentioned by the Town Branch neighbors when the Hill Place student-apartment PZD was approved

No one injured, no hazardous material released in 11-car train derailment
BY KATE WARD Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2008

Derailment in Brentwood in NWAT

BRENTWOOD — Arkansas & Missouri Railroad crews worked all day Friday to realign 11 cars that were derailed from a portion of railroad track near Brentwood, in southern Washington County.

Asclepias tuberosa, the butterfly milkweed, brightens World Peace Wetland Prairie on Friday the 13th of June 2008

Please click on image of butterfly milkweed in bloom on World Peace Wetland Prairie.

For more flowers and tall grass photographed Friday on World Peace Wetland Prairie, please visit
World Peace Wetland Prairie's Web log

Derailment at Brentwood will stop train traffic through weekend
The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Train Derailment Sends 11 Cars Off Rails
By Skip Descant
The Morning News
BRENTWOOD - Rob Romine was at work retiling his bathroom Thursday night when he heard, "just an awful ruckus."
"It lasted about seven or eight minutes," said Romine, 32, of the Brentwood community, recalling the crashing sound of a derailed southbound Arkansas & Missouri Railroad train making its usual late evening run on the rails behind his property.
The derailment sent 11 cars off the tracks and will hold up train traffic between Fayetteville and Fort Smith until Sunday or Monday, say officials.
Only a conductor and engineer were on board and neither were injured, said Ron Sparks, police chief of the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.
The Springdale Hazmat team was called for assistance at the derailment.
"There was no spillage of any hazardous material, and we had the ADEQ (Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) out here to respond immediately," Sparks said.
The southbound train was traveling at 35 mph when it derailed on a secluded section of rail a mile south of Washington County 39 in Brentwood about 9:40 p.m. Thursday. Some 12 to 15 rail cars remained on the rails with the bulk of the damage occurring in the front of the train.
"The people that live around here just need to be assured that they're not in any danger," added Sparks on Friday afternoon. Cleanup crews from RJ Corman Derailment Services, of Nicholasville, Ky., were called in to haul away the crumpled box cars and twisted rail.
Of the 11 cars to jump the rails, seven were empty and four were loaded with "commodities," said Sparks, who would not elaborate on what those goods included.
"We need to protect the privacy of our customers," he remarked, but added many of the spilled items were in boxes.
Speculating on what might have caused the accident, neighbors in the area reported erosion around the rail bed - which runs alongside the White River - and sections of rail that had worn thin over the years could be a cause.
"I figured it would give way eventually, with all the erosion up through here," said Tim Binder, 41. His property runs along the tracks and he has been living in the area about 20 years.
"These tracks down here have been in bad shape for years," he added.
Sparks said the cause of the derailment is under investigation and it's too early to determine what caused the accident. Generally, he said, train derailments are caused by several factors. Some railroad authorities have speculated that shuffling occupied cars with empty ones can result in load distribution problems, but Sparks reiterated the cause is often multifaceted.
"That can be one of the factors, but very rarely is it a single thing," Sparks said.
Three to four trains a day use the rails, and their travel will be either suspended or rerouted, Sparks said.
"We work closely with the shippers and we'll work out any delays. And if any customers are in a bind, we'll make arrangements to get them their product," Sparks said.

Friday, June 13, 2008

'Students First' wants FHS sold cheap. What's the hurry?

Group says take UA offer for FHS

Town Branch Self-Service Laundry on May 24, 2004

Please click on image to Enlarge photo of homeless laundry on May 24, 2004, near the center of what is now known as the Hill Place student-apartment project.

One question that no one brought up during the past few months as the Hill Place project went through the approval process is what will happen to this particular part of the area formerly known as Aspen Ridge. The huge culvert routes water from the University of Arkansas campus under a railroad siding embankment that linked the east/west and north/side railroads in the days before the east/west tracks were removed. Before the walking bridge was built by the Aspen Ridge developers, this was the only way to cross the Town Branch with dry feet between Eleventh Street and the old trestle at the east end of the tunnel that allowed the east/west railroad to pass under the north/south railroad.
We'll see 7159 on Sunday: Trees long gone.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Damselflies are effective predators of aphids in gardens

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of damselfly eating aphids off flowering plant at World Peace Wetland Prairie.

"Compared to their dragonfly cousins, damselflies are weak flyers. However, they are able to fly through fields hunting for their food - other insects. Damselfly nymphs (young damselflies) live in the water, but they like to climb up plants looking for other insects to eat. They particularly enjoy eating hopper nymphs from rice fields.
"The average size of a Damselfly is 3/4 to 1 3/4 inches long. They are predators who will eat nearly any other insect. Damselflies and their Nymphs eat lots of different kinds of insects from the ponds and streams where they grow up. They are extremely good at picking aphids off plants.
"Adult Damselflies are brightly colored (often bright blue) very slender creatures closely related to dragonflies. Damselflies have two pair of wings that taper at the base and, when at rest, the wings fold back over the body like butterfly wings. Damselflies flutter their wings rapidly when they are patrolling the area of the stream or river looking for prey."

Aphids eaten by Damselflies

Twenty-four Republicans and 227 Democrats vote to send articles of impeachment to Committee

By a bipartisan vote of 251-166, the full House of Representatives sent Dennis Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment to the Judiciary Committee.
That means Chairman John Conyers now has the power to decide whether to hold impeachment hearings - or not.
Incredibly, 24 Republicans voted with 227 Democrats; the 166 no votes came exclusively from Republicans.
So what will Conyers do? After the Downing Street Memo was published on May 1, 2005, worked closely with Conyers to hold the famous basement hearings featuring Cindy Sheehan, Ray McGovern, and John Bonifaz. In August 2006, Conyers published all of the evidence of Bush's crimes in The Constitution in Crisis. Many of us believed he would begin impeachment proceedings if Democrats won the House, which they did that November.
But in the spring of 2006, Nancy Pelosi declared impeachment "off the table." And when Democrats took control and Conyers was sworn in as Judiciary Chairman, he fell firmly into line behind the Speaker. (Conyers insists Pelosi did not threaten to deny him the Chairmanship.)
Since 2005, Conyers has received millions of impeachment petitions. Hundreds if not thousands of activists have spoken to him personally. But he remains adamantly opposed to hearings, for one simple reason: he fears it will hurt the Democratic candidate for President (now Barack Obama) in November.
© 2008 Microsoft

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alan Fortenberry Receives National Award

Alan D. Fortenberry P.E., CEO, of Beaver Water District, received the prestigious George Warren Fuller Memorial Award from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) today in Atlanta, during the Annual Conference and Exposition of the AWWA. The Fuller awards, established in 1937, recognize members of AWWA for their distinguished service in the water supply field. The awards commemorate the sound engineering skill, the brilliant diplomatic talent, and the constructive leadership which characterized the life of George Warren Fuller, one of America’s most eminent engineers.

Mr. Fortenberry, a resident of Springdale, is Chief Executive Officer of Beaver Water District, which supplies drinking water to more than 250,000 people and industries in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and surrounding areas. He joined Beaver Water District in 1991 as Plant Engineer, and in 2001, he was named CEO. His major accomplishments as CEO include the expansion of the District’s facilities by 60 million gallons a day to 100 MGD, the completion of an award-winning new water intake on Beaver Lake, and a new solids handling facility with centrifuges, at a total cost of about $98 million. In addition, Mr. Fortenberry is responsible for all the activities at the District, including the demolition and renovation of the original Joe M. Steele plant, which will add another 40 MGD of capacity to the plant in 2009, and the construction of a new administration building being built in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a green building rating system. Educational components of the building will include a drinking water plant model, a wall-sized map of the Beaver Lake Watershed, native plantings, and bioswales. He also has led efforts with various partners, including the Northwest Arkansas Council, to protect Beaver Lake water quality and the Beaver Lake watershed through increased research, monitoring and education activities, while at the same time developing strategies to plan for Northwest Arkansas’ future water demands through the year 2050.

Beaver Water District’ s mission is to serve our customers in the Benton and Washington County area by providing high quality drinking water that meets or exceeds all federal and state regulatory requirements in such quantities as meets their demands and is economically priced consistent with our quality standards. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chinese news service says Russia claims arctic oil

Tuesday,Jun. 108


Russia schemes to claim North Pole oil
BEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- The icebreaker Rossiya and scientific vessel Akademik Fyodorov have reached the North Pole and will attempt to plant a Russian flag on the Arctic seabed as part of an ambitious scheme to claim vast reserves of oil and gas, Russian news agency ITAR-TASS announced Wednesday.

Polar explorer and Russian parliament member Artur Chilingarov heads a team of about 100 scientists on the expedition designed to find evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge — a 1,200-mile underwater mountain range that crosses the polar region — is a geologic extension of Russia.

Russian researchers used two mini-submarines to dive to a depth of 4,300 feet (1,300 meters) prior to reacing their destination. The dives "were only a dress rehearsal before diving at the North Pole, where depths are over four kilometers (2.5 miles)," Chilingarov told ITAR-TASS.

Chilingarov and fellow parliament member Vladimir Grudez will later attempt to dive in one of the mini-subs to more than 13,200 feet (4,023 meters), where they will drop a titanium tube containing the Russian flag on the sea floor.

The gesture will symbolize Russia's claim to a large chunk of the Arctic shelf twice the area of Britain and estimated to contain up to 10 billion tons of oil and gas deposits, as well as vast reserves of diamonds and valuable metals such as gold, tin and platinum.

Under current international law, Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway and Denmark—the countries with territories ringing the Arctic — are limited to a 200-mile economic zone around their coastlines.

In May, Russian leader Vladimir Putin claimed that the Lomonosov Ridge is a geologic extension of Siberia and can therefore be claimed by Russia under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Ironically, the North Pole is already drifting towards Siberia, albeit in a very slow, geologic way.

Gray tells Greenland City Council no on resignation demand

Gray refuses to resign as mayor of Greenland

Children of China need your help!

Please click on images to ENLARGE view of posters.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Town Branch neighborhood something beyond the imagination of most developers

Statements taken at face value in stories such as the one in Arkansas Business linked below are built on incomplete research:

Arkansas Business quotes developers' demands on June 2, 2008

The opening paragraph asserts something without documentation. And headlines often are based on what the writer asserts, even in balanced stories. This one was hardly balanced. And maybe the publisher doesn't dare do balanced stories on such subjects.

It quotes developers a lot. It quotes council members a little bit because they are the ones taking flak from the developers. But it doesn't quote any of the people whose lives are disrupted by the developers' plans. Their motivation is assumed to be selfish, just not wanting to be botherd — as though neighbors of huge developments don't have a right to privacy and quiet and peace and to protect what they have built and committed their life's work to in the expectation of living out their lives in peace.

"Hank Broyles was trying to be the good guy when he paid more than $5 million in 2007 for the 28 acres of land left vacant by the unsuccessful Aspen Ridge development.

But it didn't take long for Broyles to become the bad guy."

The writer presumes to understand the developer's motivation. And then asserts that he became the bad guy. Wow. First accept the motivation and then accuse him of becoming a bad guy. Which it is? Is the writer saying that the developer's motivation suddenly changed from altruistic to greedy or evil?

Apparently, the developer never bothered to read the item below, to which a card with a link to it was handed to him the first time he appeared in the neighborhood and informed this writer that he was going to "raise our property values." At that time he was still buying property that would become the Aspen Ridge site and appeared to have no idea that displacing hundreds of low-income housing or destroying acres of trees and other vegetation and even replacing the rich soil would be inappropriate.

How could he understand those things? His upbringing obviously hadn't included concern about poor people or wild things. This writer continues to be amazed that everyone didn't grow up with the same opportunities to interact with working people or wildlife or agriculture. This writer fears that things will never get better as long as children are deprived of wild places to play. The push for "infill" means children growing up in multifamily buildings or in houses on lots so small there there is little room to play and yards so devoid of trees and understory vegetation that residents have to put feeders up on poles to get to see song birds, because nesting and roosting habitat is far away.

The essay below was an attempt to share this writer's perspective on the Town Branch Neighborhood. Not everyone can be expected to understand it. But this writer's parents and grandparents would have understood it. And this writer's pastors in church in the 1940s and 50s would have understood it. And a great many people in this neighborhood understand it.

October 3, 2002

Aubrey's Notebook:
Bringing the neighborhood together
Walking house to house recently to invite people to attend the first meeting of this neighborhood association, I have been impressed by the diversity of our neighborhood and the many areas of concern cited by its residents.

Many people who lived in the neighborhood in their childhood are still here or have returned here to retire. Many people are in this neighborhood because it is conveniently situated, relatively quiet and safe and displays a great deal of natural beauty. There are no expensive houses but there are some really nice houses as well as a few historic houses. There are some houses in need of a great deal of repair and some that are perfectly kept. There are even a few new ones and others being remodeled.

There are people who prefer the natural look that must have dominated this area when it was mostly pastureland up into the 1940s. Some dream of how it must have appeared before it was settled and encourage the native plants to grow to keep the air and water pure without demanding human care.

There are people who prefer the closely cropped look of a golf course and others whose plantings rival those in a botanical garden.

More important, there is an air of respect for and tolerance of the choices of others. Some want native plants to grow to feed the area's abundant and diverse population of birds. Others keep feeders full of store-bought and nourishing seed. However, almost everyone here appreciates the shade of the mature trees that grace many lots and the smaller, understory vegetation that provides food and nesting sites for many species of birds.

Popular but care-free flowering species such as the Rose-of-Sharon may be seen in many yards while others are abundantly populated by species that require constant attention and effort. My yard has blooms on the Rose-of-Sharon bushes starting in late June and more buds appear ready to burst open even in October if the frost doesn't come early. And these excite and please me as much as some of the flowering plants I have made much more effort to encourage!

Town Branch, which originates from now hidden springs and from runoff from areas such as Razorback Stadium and Walton Arena, flows through our neighborhood, providing not only some of the most beautiful back yards in all of Northwest Arkansas but also outstanding wildlife habitat, good fishing in some of the larger, deeper holes and a length of free flow over rocks that cleanses the runoff from Sixth Street and the campus before this water enters the West Fork of the White River on its way to Beaver Lake. The cannery to the west, despite the odor and noise and excess light that shines through the windows of bedrooms in some houses in the area is a valuable part of the neighborhood because it has provided employment for generations of residents.

The National Cemetery to the east provides a historic significance that few parts of Fayetteville can match. When guns are fired to salute the passing of veterans a few times a week, most of us hear the sounds and remember the sacrifices of these and other veterans of wars in our lifetime. The old cemetery to the south of the National Cemetery contains the grave markers of members of some of the city's earliest families.

The Salvation Army Store and shelter on 15th Street to the southeast and the Seven Hills shelter to the northwest on Sixth Street remind us to live a bit more prudently and unselfishly than we might because there is always someone who needs a bit more than we. It is never far to drive to donate items we no longer need or something for the kitchen stock of these worthy facilities. Many of us take pride in shopping for necessities at the Salvation Army Store and the resale shop that helps support City Hospital's efforts. We know that the small profit on what we buy in these shops is spent to help people nearby.

Two nursing homes ‹ City Hospital to the northeast and Rochier Heights on top of the mountain to the northwest ‹ remind us that our youth and strength will not always be with us and that we must throughout life consider the needs of the very young, the very old and the infirm.

This neighborhood is home to many retired people and to many young families. The children have to go a bit further to school now that Bates Elementary has closed, but Jefferson really isn't far. And it will be getting some of the most innovative programs in the city before long. And sometimes the children are endangered by careless, speeding drivers who cut through the neighborhood and the elderly are disturbed by the sounds of those speeding cars. But overall it is a relatively quiet and safe neighborhood. Most people in this neighborhood, except those who are students, can't afford tickets to Razorback basketball or football games, but many attend Razorback baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball and other events for less than the price of a movie and don't have to drive far to reach them. And many of us gather on weekend afternoons to play softball or basketball or soccer in Walker Park or walk a dog in Greathouse Park.

The Fayetteville trolley visits our neighborhood to provide inexpensive transportation and many people find the walk to 71 B and Sixth Street easy enough not to have to drive to shop for the basics or to enjoy a good restaurant meal.

Our neighborhood isn't perfect. But, together, we can improve it. And together we can try to see that the things that make it special don't change too rapidly.

— Aubrey Shepherd, Oct. 3, 2002

October 2002 essay on Town Branch Neighborhood