Thursday, July 31, 2008

Authorizing game wardens to inspect natural-gas drilling sites makes sense

Game and Fish Commission may pay for inspectors for gas-drilling sites

 There is a legitimate argument for the Game and Fish Commission to provide inspectors for the land being damaged by the drilling for natural gas in Arkansas.
Game and Fish could legitimately be the "one-stop shopping" for redress of environmental crimes that many people have begged for. Reporting environmental destruction to the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, the state Department of Environmental Quality, the FBI, the CIA, the State Police, a county Sheriff's Office, a local police department or local code-enforcement department, a local tree-protection administrator, a local stormwater engineer or any other agency can be frustrating.
Serious criminal mistreatment of the environment reported to all will often result in referral to some of the others. No single agency appears to be authorized to take action to protection delicate, sensitive environmental areas. Soil, water, air and living things native to such places are treated as disposable or of no economic value by all.
Sure, the people at those agencies may agree with the complainant. But they all disclaim having any authority to act except in very unusual circumstances.
You can be arrested by a wildlife officer for killing more than eight squirrels in a day in Arkansas. But a person who destroys thousands of acres of squirrel habitat, those magnificent hardwood forests that our tourism people love to photograph and tout worldwide, and face not even a wrist-slapping.
A bit of extraining training in geology and biology can bring a well-trained wildlife officer up to speed in a hurry. And those wildlife officers already know how to write tickets and make arrests. Give them the authority if you want to take their money! And pay them well!

For decades, I have advocated authorizing the Commission's wildlife enforcement officers to ticket, or arrest as necessary, anyone found to be polluting the water or air and anyone destroying wildlife habitat anywhere in the state. Giving Game and Fish the authority to REALLY protect the resources of the state is the right thing to do. And the time is NOW.

Share gas-lease cash, Beebe urges agency
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Game and Fish Commission may pay for inspectors for gas-drilling sites

Gov. Mike Beebe said Tuesday that the Game and Fish Commission should share some of the $29.5-million from a natural-gas lease to help fund environmental inspectors needed to regulate the increased drilling in Arkansas.
“Game and Fish is very sensitive to the fact that these are resources that don’t just belong to them but that belong to all the people in Arkansas,” Beebe told reporters. “We’ve got environmentally sensitive areas that need protection.”
Amendment 35 of the state constitution, which set up the commission, puts the commission in charge of its revenue and gives little authority to the governor or the Legislature, Beebe and other state officials said.
Nonetheless, the commission is willing to turn over some of the money to the Oil and Gas Commission and to the Department of Environmental Quality to help guard against potentially unscrupulous gas drillers, said Loren Hitchcock, Game and Fish Commission deputy director.
“The wildlife would benefit,” Hitchcock said. “We don’t want to see a mountain stream running into a river get polluted from some type of drilling.”
The commission expects to get a wire transfer of the entire amount from Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City later this week, he said. The lease is for five years and after that could be renegotiated. The commission also will receive 20 percent royalties of gas produced.
Hitchcock said he wasn’t sure of the amount of the projected royalty revenue.
One of the two areas of commission land covered by the lease is Gulf Mountain in Van Buren County, $ 28. 3 million involving nearly 4, 000 acres. This is in the Fayetteville Shale formation where increased drilling for gas in the state has occurred.
The second, in the Petit Jean River Wildlife Management Area, totals $ 1. 2 million for 7, 500 net acres. That land is considered to be part of the Arkoma basin, where gas has been produced for years.
Beebe said some sort of “interagency agreement” would be the mechanism to transfer the money but that it’s possible legislation would be involved during the 2009 regular session of the General Assembly, which starts in January.
Some legislators, including Sen. Steve Faris, D-Central, a close ally with incoming Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, have in recent years expressed concerns about possible windfalls from natural gas leases that the commission may receive. Faris has talked about somehow diverting the money to other agencies.
Such talk makes Beebe confident the commission will agree to share.
“They are not stupid,” Beebe said of the commissioners. “They know that constitutional independence only goes so far. The Legislature still has to appropriate the money. The Legislature has to appropriate every dime of this money. [The commission ] can collect it all they want, but if they want to spend it, the Legislature still has to appropriate it.”
He said he would support a constitutional amendment to give the Legislature more authority on spending commission dollars but emphasized that would only be a last resort.
“My first option is to convince [the commission ] to do it,” Beebe said.
Beebe, a Democrat, has appointed two of the seven commissioners. The others were appointed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican. Commissioners serve a seven-year term and cannot be reappointed, said Beebe spokesman Matt De-Cample.
“There is no one on the commission that doesn’t want to get along with the governor’s office and certainly Gov. Beebe,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t see us getting off track where we can’t get something worked out.”
Faris said Beebe “is on the right track” but more should be expected of the commission. He said the drafters of Amendment 35, which was passed in 1944, didn’t envision such a “unprecedented windfall” for the commission.
“I don’t think the amendment gives the right to keep one dime,” Faris said. “They ought to do the right thing and turn every bit over to the state. They don’t even need that money. It just shows the audacity of the Game and Fish Commission that they think they can keep that money and dole it out as they see fit.”
He pointed out that the commission has a dedicated source of revenue from the one-eighth percentage point sales tax for conservation in Amendment 75 passed by voters in 1996.
He said needs in health care and highways are more worthy areas in which to spend the lease money.
In recent years, the Legislature has had mixed success in dealing with windfalls.
In 2000, it deadlocked over how to spend the expected $ 60 million a year in tobacco settlement payments. Later that year the voters approved a funding plan put forth by Huckabee. In 2007, lawmakers spent most of a $ 1 billion surplus on public school facilities.
Faris, who has clashed with the commission over the years, said if the commission doesn’t turn over the money the Legislature should appropriate it somewhere else and that the commission should sue if it thinks it is entitled to it. He also said the Legislature could refer a constitutional amendment for the people to vote on in 2010 to redirect the money.
Hitchcock said the commission has a “list of projects” on which to spend the money.
Examples he gave: work on the White River to improve fishing, the Bayou Meto irrigation project in southeast Arkansas, tracts along the Saline River to buy for wildlife areas, bonds to pay off early, and refurbishing Camp Ouachita at Perryville.
Beebe said it’s possible other agencies could share in the money in addition to the Oil and Gas Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality.
Teresa Marks, director of environmental quality, said the shale exploration has been “putting a strain on our resources.” She said she has 16 water inspectors to handle natural gas wells but that they inspect other water-related things such as storm-water draining.
“We would like to have at least two additional inspectors and an inspector supervisor and an enforcement administrator,” Marks said. “We’re probably talking $ 300, 000 to $ 500, 000 [a year ].”
She said the additional employees would only handle natural gas issues. Currently, her agency responds to about two to three natural gas complaints a week and can’t do many random checks, she said.
Through 2003, natural gas and oil permits with her agency averaged about 182 a year. But in 2007 there were 1, 024, she said.
The extra money would cover salaries and computers, office space and vehicles the additional staff would need as well as pay for water studies.
Marks said she just heard about the revenue-sharing idea from Game and Fish Commission officials.
“This is a real pleasant surprise for us,” she said.
Larry Bengal, director of the Oil and Gas Commission, said his agency has seven natural gas well inspectors and needs three more. He said he can fund that with additional permit fees his agency has received from the increased drilling.
But he said his agency could use more money to plug abandoned oil and gas wells and clean up the area around them. These are wells that were owned by entities that have gone bankrupt and the wells pose possible risks to water supplies.
“We have over 600 wells that require plugging for which there are no viable operators,” Bengal said.
That’s only what’s known. For instance, recently abandoned oil wells were discovered on property where the El Dorado School District is building a new high school, he said.
Fewer than 50 of the 600 are gas wells. The rest are oil wells, he said.
Bengal said he hasn’t asked the Game and Fish Commission for a specific amount but that it averages about $ 7, 000 to plug a well, which would add up to $ 4. 2 million for all 600 wells.
Richard Weiss, director of the Department of Finance and Administration, said he’s not aware of an agency giving money to others. Typically there is a contract or agreement where one agency agrees to provide a service to another in exchange for money.
He said he hasn’t talked to the governor about the idea but didn’t view the agreement being talked about as a giveaway by the Game and Fish Commission.
“Making sure water is clean and pure, that would certainly be a benefit [the Game and Fish Commission ] would get,” Weiss said.
Some environmental advocates have expressed concern that the drilling could harm the commission land, but Hitchcock said the commission has taken serious its charge to keep the land in good shape. He said that’s one reason the negotiation over the lease took about a year.
He said the land being leased has deer, turkey, bear, quail, rabbits, squirrels, and bass in streams.
Up until now, the state hasn’t reaped as much from shale leases as had been initially anticipated.
The Game and Fish Commission has received more than $ 3 million, the Heritage Commission about $ 20, 000, and the Highway and Transportation Department about $ 23, 000.
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Deadline tonight to sign online petition for impeachment

Kucinich Petition Deadline Midnight Tonight 7/30/08
URGENT: need your help -
Impeachment Petition Deadline Midnight Wednesday

Dear Friends,

Because of your vigilance and support for democracy, last Friday was a day of singular importance in Washington. The House Judiciary Committee met to discuss the Bush Administration's abuse of executive power and for the first time the case for Impeachment was discussed in front of a Congressional committee, in depth, at length and with authority.

Twenty members of the Judiciary Committee attended the six hour hearing, during which twelve witnesses, including myself and four members of Congress testified. In this hearing I called for the Impeachment of the President for misrepresenting a case for war.

This week I will present members of Congress with Impeachment petitions submitted by those of you who have signed the on-line impeachment form.

I need your help. In the next few days we must redouble our efforts to get more signatures on the online petition at I'm asking each of you to please contact at least ten of your friends to go to now and sign the Impeachment petition that will be delivered by me. Wednesday night is the deadline.
Please sign petition online here
Please send out an email to all your friends and family, post this link, to your blogs and make this effort count as this is the only petition that I will deliver.

Thank you so very much.

Tall-grass fear in Benton County: another reason not to approve unneeded housing projects

Failed subdivisions, bankruptcies, mortgage foreclosures, loss of employment and world affairs have combined to waste millions of taxpayer dollars.
Benton County officials are wasting it in a way many of us wouldn't expect. They are using public employees and equipment to mow private property.
This is simply wrong without a vote of the taxpayers, one would think.
However, the most obvious thing about it is that it is negating one of the few environmental BENEFITS of a crashing economy and high fuel prices.
Historically, the land on which most of these subdivisions are being built was tall-grass prairie. Native tall-grass prairie is a wonderful protector of the quality of air and water and soil and wildlife habitat. Those subdivisions weren't built on the native soil, which is being replaced by red dirt and other non-organic dirt to level and fill the formerly abundant wetland areas and to provide firm foundations for concrete slabs on which to build these obviously unnecessary houses and condos and such.
But at least allowing whatever vegetation manages to spring up on that abused land to grow is a way to make "lemonade out of the rotten lemons" for the time being.
Aspen Ridge, the failed condominium project in south Fayetteville that epitomizes bad environmental choices such as removing mature trees and tall grass and other native plants and even the rich soil itself, nonetheless has provided a bit of habitat for many species of easily noticeable wildlife.
In the fall of 2007, various species of flowering plants, particularly late-blooming asters, provided nectaring for southward-migrating monarch butterflies and local pollinators. Many birds found a bit of seed there. Canada geese found acceptable grazing opportunity in the winter and two pairs actually nested on the almost moonscaped area. Deer graze a bit as they cross the abandoned property as they walk to the Town Branch for water during dry times. But they get most of their food and lie down to sleep on fully vegetated World Peace Wetland Prairie and the adjacent Pinnacle Foods Corporation tall-grass prairie land as well as still-vegetated parts of nearby Rochier Hill. Rabbits have reappeared and venture out to snack on whatever they can find to eat. They retreat to thickets on World Peace Wetland Prairie or into the small tree-preservation area or the stream corridor through Aspen Ridge when approached by people or raptors. But they do use the mix of vegetation on the open area.
Some people who drive through the area or live nearby have complained about the area being "grown up." But many people walk there to enjoy the birds and bees and other wildlife and enjoy the wildflowers that struggle to grow in the poor soil.
Far too soon, such places will have people and cars and cats and dogs and constantly mowed grass and very little wildlife and very few native plants. But each day we protect even mediocre habitat counts for the creatures that depend on it and each tax dollar wasted hurts our currently shaky economy and threatens our ability to provide important, necessary public services.
At least one neighbor of the Aspen Ridge project has taken matters into his own hands, pulling up nonnative varieties of thistles to protect his own property from their potential encroachments. All thistles benefit birds and butterflies and bees. But three nonnative species are considered invasive and undesirable by state and federal agencies.
So it would be possible for people who don't like the vegetation on those vacant lots to mow it themselves rather than demand that public officials waste everyone's tax money to do it.
However, if you suggest that, the people bothered by the volunteer vegetation have a simple answer: "The city approved this and they can take the responsibility. We didn't ask for the growth."
Problem is, the city is all of us, regardless of who is in the hot seat where approval of projects is done. Even if we objected to their decisions before they were made, we have to face the problems. And those who didn't speak up ahead of time, still must accept some of the responsibility and tolerate the irritation and anger created by the current situation and the new round of noise and dust and traffic that will be caused by the process still to come.

To read the full story on the Benton County mowing debacle, please use the link below:

 Tall-grass fear wasting public money

Cutting through the jungle
By Jeff Mores Staff Writer //
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008

BENTON COUNTY — There was a day when park-department employees with the various cities in Benton County mowed parks and other public areas during the summer months. And there was plenty of that to keep them busy.
For the past two years — and more than ever this spring and summer — those same employees have found themselves mowing residential yards and vacant lots. For some, that has meant working Saturdays — which in many cases had been a day off prior to 2006. Even that hasn’t necessarily translated into keeping up with the rapidly growing list of homes — even entire subdivisions — that have turned into jungles rather than manicured lawns.
Benton County enjoyed a recordbreaking building boom. But any code-enforcement official, park employee or city planner knows that the growing number of foreclosures, bankruptcies and those simply walking away from their homes has created quite a nightmare.
“ There’s a process code enforcement works through — but when property owners don’t respond or we run into a wall trying to get some kind of action taken, parks ends up getting a list of properties to go out and mow, ” said Roy Lovell, Bentonville’s park foreman. “ Those lists are getting long and plenty. A couple of years ago, we were only having to deal with this six to 12 times a year. Since the middle of June, we’ve already had to mow more than 100 properties. ”
No matter which Benton County city is referred to, if it has park employees, odds are they will be mowing residential property through the end of November. Even then, the winter weather will only send lawns and weeds into dormancy for a couple of months — during which time code-enforcement and park employees will scramble to catch up with other work they’ve had to shuffle to the back burner. When the ground thaws, they know they’ll be right back to it again, even though residential mowing and maintenance are not in any of their job descriptions.
“What’s going on with the housing market nationally has complicated our jobs dramatically,” said Rogers code-enforcement supervisor Jeff David, who described himself as being more of a detective than anything else over the past couple of years."

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

University branch campus in Hope allows coal-industry representatives to hold a one-sided conference

Please click on
Environmentalists excluded from coal-industry conference on college campus in Hope, Arkansas

to read about recent unbalanced event on a publicly funded university campus.

Fran Alexander's Northwest Arkansas Times column focuses on severance tax, gas production problems

Please visit

A place to discuss Fran Alexander's July 28, 2008, column on natural-gas production and severance tax

SouthPass development rezoning gets a walk from Planning Commission; Frank Sharp's zoning request must be appealed to City Council

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos of Frank Sharp at the Ward Four meeting Monday after the Planning Commission meeting. See the Ward 4 meeting and hear Sharp's comments at noon today on City 16 on Cox Cable.

Please click on Monday, July 28, 2008, images of Frank Sharp to ENLARGE.

Frank Sharp, founder of the Ozark Mountain Smoke House, talks about his steep Ozark Mountain land along the Farmington, Fayetteville boundary in Washington County. The Fayetteville Planning Commission failed to pass Sharp's request to annex his property as single-family one per acre and Sharp must appeal to the City Council if he wants the land annexed and zoned.
Currently, Washington County has the land zoned for one home per acre. Some members of the commission know the land and recognized that its best chance to be kept in something approaching the pristine condition Sharp has kept it for decades would be to zone it at a less dense level, possibly one home on 2 acres.
Aubunique comment: Sharp's property should be put in a perpetual conservation easement at city expense. It is a dream world that will not be replaced by any "mitigation" project if it should be developed in the future. I wrote about protecting Fayetteville's mountaintops in the1970s, and their importance hasn't diminished. Sharp has done his part to protect one of them. It is up to the City Council to make sure that Sharp's sacrifice of potential profit is not wasted.

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

SouthPass Annexation Moves Forward
By Skip Descant
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - Under the recommendation of the Fayetteville Planning Commission, SouthPass Development will pull 831 acres of rural Washington County pasture land into the city. The unanimous move by the commissioners was a first step for the nearly 1,000-acre single-family, multifamily and mixed-use development.
The annexation will require final and official approval by the Fayetteville City Council.
But the commissioners seemed to raise more questions than answers regarding issues such as transportation, the viability of retail or even how various uses across the planned zoning district community will ultimately unfold.
"Who would build a city of 11,000 people ... that has five ways of in and out, but they all lead to one road - Cato Springs Road?" wondered Jill Anthes, who serves on the planning commission. "No matter how many lanes we put out there, it's still one road."
SouthPass, planned for southwest Fayetteville west of Interstate 540 and south of U.S. 62, is set to unfold over 18 phases and 25-years, said Todd Jacobs, a planner with the design firm Appian Center for Design.
Phase I, which has a completion time of three years after it's begun, would include roughly 82 single-family homes and 350 multifamily homes, added Jacobs. Phase II is outlined as 50 single-family homes and 200 to 300 multifamily homes.
In its completion, the housing development will also include a 240-acre regional park - complete with soccer, baseball, tennis and other amenities. The ambitious development would have some 1,500 single-family and condominium units as well as more than 2,800 multifamily units, arranged on tree-lined streets in neighborhoods with names like Crescent Park and Kessler Mountain Bluff.
In addition, the community - which is billed as a small city in itself - would include 244,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.
But the concerns for the commissioners during Monday night's meeting - which was viewed as an introduction session - centered on basic thoughts around long-range traffic congestion on the project's access road from Fayetteville.
"Reading the booklet, it says some improvements will need to be made to Cato Springs Road, and I'd love to know what those improvements are," remarked Anthes.
Jacobs addressed the Cato Springs Road issue by saying it provided the best access to Interstate 540 and moves somewhat seamlessly into the University of Arkansas as well.
The zoning district proposal was tabled so these other issues can be studied more closely.
It's also still not clear how much of the cost for infrastructure such as sewer and water lines the city will bear. An already agreed upon resolution by the city and developer establishes a public-private relationship, particularly when building the new city-owned regional park. But the city must also foot some of the bill for other infrastructure needed on large segments of land annexed into the city.
"The city has not yet conducted a fiscal impact," Jeremey Pate, the director of the Fayetteville Planning Department, told the commissioners.
But that will be a matter for city council to wade through, say commissioners.
"I think that the city and parks department has expressed their intent to have this regional park and annexation," said Anthes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Viceroy caterpillar on World Peace Wetland Prairie in July 2008 and viceroy butterfly on nearby Hill Place (Aspen Ridge site in summer 2007)

Please click on image to ENLARGE TO photo of viceroy butterfly caterpillar on willow leaf at World Peace Wetland Prairie in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Viceroys (Limenitis archippus) look much like monarchs but their reproduction depends on willows and other native trees for nutrition, while monarch caterpillars depend on the many species of milkweed.

For more information on Viceroys and their life cycle, please visit World Peace Wetland Prairie blogspot

Sarah Lewis speaks with people who support her bid for seat on Fayetteville City Council

Please click on image to enlarge July 25, 2008, photo of Sarah Lewis.

Times reports Sarah Lewis' run to fill seat on City Council being vacated by mayoral candidate, Lioneld Jordan

Lewis kicks off campaign for Ward 4 council seat
BY SUSANNAH PATTON Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fayetteville resident Sarah Lewis thinks her experience with bringing people together will serve her well as a member of the City Council.
She brought a crowd of supporters together on the Fayetteville Square Friday afternoon to formally announce her candidacy for the Ward 4 seat on the City Council currently held by Alderman Lioneld Jordan, who is running for mayor.

"I'm excited about this opportunity," Lewis said. "This is another way to give back to Fayetteville."
Lewis, who moved to Fayetteville from Lincoln, Neb., nearly 11 years ago, said she has fallen in love with the city.
As a science teacher in the public school system for six years, Lewis said she learned project management skills as well as how to complete projects under tight budgets.
"I feel like I'm qualified for this position," she said.
As chairman of the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods, Lewis said, she helped start a program to educate and empower residents to learn the city's governing system so they can come to meetings and share their concerns before a decision has been made.
Lewis is currently working to earn a doctorate in environmental dynamics at the University of Arkansas. She also works as an ecosystems professional for the Springline Consulting Group, teaching developers and engineers how to implement low-impact development techniques.
That position, she said, has given her the opportunity to bring different types of people together.
"I feel like I can bring people to the table who aren't always willing to work together," she said.
She also serves on the education committee for the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, which she calls "a working example of how stakeholders can come together, and work for a common goal."
Lewis is also a board member of the Fayetteville Downtown Partners, which she said is working to promote art and culture in the city.
Her goals as a council member include promoting smart business and community development, upholding Fayetteville's quality of life and protecting the community.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Learn to make a rain barrel this morning on Fayetteville square

Beaver Water District will conduct three rain barrel building workshops at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 26th, at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market on the downtown square in Fayetteville. Those participating will learn how to build a rain barrel and leave with step-by-step instructions. Additionally, barrels built that day will be given away in a drawing to those who attend. Rain barrels are a water conservation tool. Positioned under a gutter of a home, a rain barrel will capture runoff during rain. Water may then be used to water the lawn and flowers. For more information, e-mail Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District at
Audubon Arkansas also will be on the Fayetteville Square today with a stream table conducting demonstrations showing how erosion occurs in a watershed setting and how this affects the watershed and streams and lakes. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. 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

Amy L. Wilson, Director of Public Affairs
Beaver Water District, P.O. Box 400, Lowell, AR 72745; 479-756-3651

Sondra Smith announces candidacy for second term as Fayetteville's city clerk

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Sondra Smith Seeks Second Term
By Skip Descant
The Morning News

The Morning News on Sondra Smith's bid for reelection as city clerk of Fayetteville, Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE - To many, government may seem built on paperwork. But Sondra Smith, Fayetteville's city clerk wants to use her next four-year term as a time to wean the city off its paper binge.
"One of the major changes I would like to implement is to move away from paper agendas," said Smith Friday in her announcement to run for re-election. "This is a huge cost to the city every year."
"It would be cost effective to purchase laptops for the city council and provide them with electronic agendas," said Smith, who is running for her second term. "There will be a learning curve for the council but well worth it."
"During the past three years we have changed from microfilming documents to a document imaging system. This new system has helped with the archive of records," she added.
The job of the city clerk is largely administrative. The position follows public meetings, records minutes and manages the vast flow of documents coming into and out of city hall.
Before becoming Fayetteville's city clerk, Smith worked for five years at Operations Management International as an administrative specialist.
"I have an extensive background in accounting and office management," she said.
"To prepare for the city clerk position I read as much as possible about the state law that governs cities of the first class and the Arkansas City Clerk Recorder Treasurers Association handbook for clerks," Smith explained. "The Arkansas Municipal League meetings have also been a wealth of information for me as well as the Municipal Clerks Institute."
In addition to continuing to bring more technology and less paper to city hall, Smith notes making the place personable and accessible will remain high on her list.
"Customer service has been a priority for me as well as easy access to city information," Smith said.


Sondra E. Smith
Age: 54
Employment: Operations Management International
Political Experience: One term as Fayetteville City Clerk
Husband: Neil
Children: Angie and Schara
Source: Staff Report

Sarah Lewis announces run for Ward Four seat on Fayetteville City Council

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of Sarah Lewis' announcement of her candidacy for a Ward Four seat on the Fayetteville City Council on Friday afternoon on Fayetteville's downtown square.

Northwest Arkansas Times reports on school-board meeting

Northwest Arkansas Times on school-board meeting

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't sell anything. Just spend all the money acquiring property and sell it later. Meanwhile, start planning to renovate the current high school

And buy the Hill Place site for expansion of the current high school!

The Morning News reports that Fayetteville's board of education votes to buy more land; but the land remains part of a foreclosure action

Please click on image to enlarge school-board photo and read name tags (which appear off center from the angle the picture was made ) from July 24, 2008. Becky Purcell at right.
The Morning News report on school-board meeting from July 24, 2008

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of Fayetteville school board on July 24, 2008.

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

School District Approves Land Purchase
By Rose Ann Pearce
The Morning News
FAYETTEVILLE - The Fayetteville School District will buy a 9.6-acre tract on Deane Solomon Road for $600,000.
But the decision to buy the land Thursday didn't come easily for the board, which spent more than an hour in discussion.
School-board member Tim Kring wanted to tie the purchase to an agreement by the board that it would sell approximately 30 acres of a 101-acre tract on Deane Solomon Road that the district already owns. The 9.6-acre parcel adjoins the larger tract.
Kring wants the 30 acres placed on the market now, even though some board members pointed out that the real-estate market is not as healthy now as it was in 2004 when the district bought the property.

The property, owned by Brandon Barber and BLB Holding, is tied up in a foreclosure action. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had to approve the sale price, which was lower than the original asking price.

The Morning News report on school-board meeting from June 24, 2008

Lame-duck superintendent begging board to buy land from Barber?

Please click on image to Enlarge photos of Bobby New, Fayetteville superintendent of schools.

Between spending more than an hour interviewing people to "search" for candidates to become superintendent and spending more than an hour discussing buying two different wetland prairie tracts for a potential school site, the school board had to listen to the outgoing superintendent beg them to buy more wetland.
Audubon's future nature site was used to make the sale sound good, even though Audubon's presence actually should be convincing them that the land should not be built on and, if bought, should mostly be a nature site itself.

You have to love theatre of the absurd to watch this kind of thing.

The chairman of the board of education and the superintendent agree.

Tim Kring moves that some land be sold from the former Hoskins property to offset any new purchase in the Deane Solomon area. It isn't over. Check channel 14.

Build a rain barrel, help reduce erosion in the watershed and water plants free

PLEASE CLICK on image to ENLARGE July 24, 2008, shot of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) on World Peace Wetland Prairie.

Beaver Water District To Conduct Rain Barrel Building
Workshops July 26th at Fayetteville Farmers Market

For immediate release: July 15, 2008
Beaver Water District will conduct three rain barrel building workshops at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 26th, at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market on the downtown square in Fayetteville. Those participating will learn how to build a rain barrel and leave with step-by-step instructions. Additionally, barrels built that day will be given away in a drawing to those who attend. Rain barrels are a water conservation tool. Positioned under a gutter of a home, a rain barrel will capture runoff during rain events. Water may then be used to water the lawn and flowers. For more information, e-mail Amy Wilson, Director of Public Affairs for Beaver Water District at
Audubon Arkansas also will be on the Fayetteville Square that day with a stream table conducting demonstrations showing how erosion occurs in a watershed setting and how this impacts the watershed and receiving streams and lakes. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. 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

Amy L. Wilson, Director of Public Affairs
Beaver Water District, P.O. Box 400, Lowell, AR 72745; 479-756-3651

“Anyone who can solve the problems of water will be worthy of two Nobel prizes – one for peace and one for science.” -- John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Letters supporting grants to build trails in Arkansas needed NOW!

From: Terry Eastin
Date: July 23, 2008 7:43:08 PM CDT

Subject: Arkansas Trail Fund - last request for letters

Everyone -

Thank you so much for your support of the trail legislation initiative! We are 87 letters strong as of today, July 23rd. A significant number of the mayors of Arkansas' largest cities and many smaller towns have sent well-crafted letters indicating their support for economic, health, and conservation reasons. Many organizations, including those one might not expect (economic and health arenas), have also given this initiative their support. Even more of you individually took the time to share your thoughts and send your letters.

This is the last post I will send requesting letters. The deadline was extended to August 1st last week, but, if letters come in shortly after the deadline, they will be accepted until the packet is finalized. I am expecting the count to extend 100 letters.

Once the project is completed, I send a report to all who helped.

Thank you very much, and please forward this last message. Again, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me at, or by phone at 479-236-0938.

Terry Eastin
Co-Chair, 2008 National Trails Symposium


Please distribute the letter below and both attachments to every organization news outlet, email network, agency, mayor, city council, county judge, and trail enthusiast you know. If trail enthusiasts want to see an Arkansas Trails Fund established in the 2009 legislative season, NOW is the time to act! The response date has been extended to August 1, so, please help move this project forward with your letters to me either by email or regular mail. If you have questions, please feel free to contact. We are over half way to our goal of 100+ letters.

Attached is a letter from me explaining the project, a report prepared for the Legislative Committee on Agriculture, Economics, and Forestry, as well as, an Arkansas trail funding summary that illustrates the strong demand for our current minimal trail grant resources.

Even if you have already sent a letter yourself, please forward this request to other trail friends and enthusiasts. Your voices will be heard.

My address is

858 N. Jackson Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Best Regards,
Terry Eastin

Telecom board committees to meet at 5:30 and 7 p.m. today

Please attend the meeting in Room 111 of City Hall and comment if you choose.
Latest DRAFT

Compiled by Marvin Hilton July 13, 2008, revised July 14, 2008
(per subcommittee discussion added section X.B, July 15, 2008)
(per subcommittee discussion change “Cable Administrator” to “Government Channel Manager”, July 23, 2008)


The City of Fayetteville Government Access Channel, in accordance with resolution 94-91, is intended to give Fayetteville citizens information about City government services, programs, and activities and their relationships within the community and help create an open and participatory local government. The Fayetteville Government Channel is not a public access channel and will televise only programs that are directly related to government. The channel is administered by the City’s Government Channel Manager under guidelines established by and interpreted by the Telecommunications Board.


The Fayetteville Telecommunications Board was created under Ordinance 4504, Chapter 33, which authorizes the board “to facilitate the creation of policies regarding cable cast program content selection, time guidelines for program content, viewer and facility user complaint/feedback practices, and other such policies regarding the use and administration,” of the Government Channel. The purpose of this policy is to establish (a) the criteria for which Governmental entities and related organizations are eligible to have programming on the channel and (b) allow the Government Channel staff to operate without determining the programming content.


A. NONPARTISAN: Not controlled or influenced by, or supporting, any
single political party, faction or viewpoint.

B. PARTISAN: Controlled or influenced by, or supporting, a particular
political party, faction or viewpoint.

C. INFORMATIONAL: Facts delivered from all perspectives without an element of persuasion or partisanship and designed to assist the listener to make informed decisions.





First level priority will be given to televising City of Fayetteville Governmental meetings, regardless of the format in which they are conducted. City of Governmental meetings are defined as meetings of the governing bodies created by the City of Fayetteville, which meet FOIA criteria, including all committees, subcommittees, boards, commissions, task forces, and other such bodies dealing with City of Fayetteville business.



Second level priority for use of the Government Channel will be given to nonpartisan informational programs about City services, activities and events.



Third level priority for use for use of the Government Channel will be given for any meeting that meets FOIA criteria and deals with government business that directly impacts the Citizens of Fayetteville. Such meetings include, but are not limited to, those of Washington County, regional, state and federal agencies, Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, and Fayetteville Public Schools.


Third level priority for use of the Government Channel will also be given for non-partisan informational programs about government services or activities that may be provided by other governmental entities, such as, but not limited to Washington County, regional, state, federal agencies and Boston Mountain Solid Waste District.


Third level priority will also be given to outside agencies or groups with whom the City of Fayetteville contracts, grants money or has an agreement to provide city services or activities. In such cases, the program shall be nonpartisan in nature.

Third level priority will be given to two types of limited public forums: candidate forums and issue forums. Declared candidates for any public office, and persons advocating a partisan viewpoint, or proposed policy of a particular nature, concerning governmental matters, will be eligible to appear only in a limited public forum venue.
A limited public forum has the following criteria:
a. It is devoted to public expression and the free exchange of ideas and is conducted in a public place.
b. All candidates or sides of an issue are given an equal opportunity to appear.
c. Reasonable time, place, manner, and format restrictions will be applied without reference to content.
d. The Government Channel Manager may contact a non-partisan organization to organize the forum.
e. The forum will be limited or sponsored by a non-partisan person or organization that will ensure equity. All candidates and organizations participating in the forum will have the right of approval of the moderator from a list prepared by the Cable Administration Division. During the forum, the debate will be timed and the moderator will solicit and select audience input, and decide points of order.

f. If it becomes apparent that only one side of a forum is willing to participate, the forum shall be conducted with only one side participating. In such a case, all of the rules as stated here for conducting a forum shall remain and be applied.

Candidate forums:
g. For purposes of this policy, a person is considered to be a candidate from the time of announcing publicly for any public office until the election has been held.
h. This restriction that candidates can appear only in a limited public forum does not apply to persons who receive incidental air time as part of public meetings being cablecast on the channel, nor to officials acting as part of their regular duties when such activities do not involve partisan politics.
i. Ongoing series or programs featuring any elected City official may not be broadcast within 30 days of a contested primary or general election involving seats on the council or the mayor.
j. The City, through the Cable Administration Division, shall conduct one candidate forum for each contested office, for which a request is made, before each election. As resources permit, forums shall be conducted for school board and any government office representing the Fayetteville area, including City, County, State and Federal offices. These are the only candidate forums that will appear on the Government Access Channel.
k. Candidate forums for any contested office must be requested in writing by at least one of the declared candidates for that office.
l. No candidate forums will be held before the last filing deadline.

Issue forums:
In addition to the limited public forum criteria:

m. Issue forums must be requested by at least two elected city officials or twenty Fayetteville citizens, who are registered voters, living within the city limits of Fayetteville.
n. The issue must be related to government ordinances, policies, or activities, thereby serving a compelling government interest.
o. Issue forums may be sponsored by non-partisan or partisan entities, but they must satisfy all criteria listed above for limited public forums, with particular attention to all sides of the issue being given equal opportunity to appear and to the moderator being mutually agreeable to all entities involved in the forum.
p. Requests for issue forums must be made to the Cable Administration Division at least two weeks in advance. The Government Channel Manager will verify that all criteria have been met and that resources are available to record the event (on a first come, first served and third-priority basis). If resources are not available, the forum will not be taped by the Government Channel staff for cable casting on the Government Access Channel.
q. All decisions by the Government Channel Manager will be communicated in writing to the requesting parties. Appeals to the Administrator’s decisions will follow the appeal process outlined in this policy.


Last priority will go to the “Government Channel Bulletin Board.” The bulletin board will provide printed information about both City and community events and services when other programs are not being cablecast. It may also be used to inform residents of other “free” community events and activities.

The Cable Administration staff reserves the right to edit for reasons of style and length all announcements/messages submitted for showing on the Government Channel Bulletin Board.


A. City of Fayetteville meetings and informational programs will be televised at the request of a City of Fayetteville government elected official, a City of Fayetteville department head, a City of Fayetteville division head or a committee chair.

B. Meetings and informational programs of any governmental entity that impacts the city of Fayetteville community, in addition to those of the City of Fayetteville, may be televised at the request of representatives of that entity.

C. Registered voters who live within the city limits of Fayetteville may request that the Government Channel cover any meeting held by the City of Fayetteville or any other governmental entity, provided that the meeting affects the citizens of Fayetteville and meets the FOIA criteria.

D. All requested meetings and other programs will be televised, provided the resources are available and there exists no conflict with a request to cover a meeting or program with a higher priority as outlined in this document. The Government Channel Manager has discretion over issues of resources and priority.

E. Governmental entities, other than the City of Fayetteville, that request productions to be performed by the Fayetteville Government channel staff, shall be charged the direct labor costs of such productions.

F. The Government Channel will not duplicate the “gavel to gavel” recording or cable casting of a meeting of another governmental entity when that entity has given assurance that they will provide such recording and cable casting.


A. Except when (1) the intent is to use brief excerpts as part of a larger program or (2) when technical difficulties interfere, the public portions of any City Council meeting or other public meetings receiving coverage on the channel, including limited public forums, will be cablecast in their entirety, without editing or subjective comment. All other programming is subject to editing by the Cable Administration as long as such editing does not alter the factual content or overall intent of the material being cablecast.

B. No promotion, endorsement or advertising for any private business, commercial service or product, or any profit-making activity, will be allowed on the Government Access Channel. However, brief audio and video credit may be given at the end of a program where special materials or assistance has been donated by a commercial or charitable enterprise.


A. City of Fayetteville employees wishing to use the video equipment and studio facilities, for City of Fayetteville Productions, shall make arrangements through the Cable Administrator. Loaning of equipment for personal or outside use shall not be authorized under these policies. Other citizens, groups, and organizations may apply to the Community Access Television provider for use of their equipment, facilities, and staff.


A. Before a program or other spot is scheduled for cablecasting, it must meet minimum technical and broadcast aesthetic standards. These standards will be determined by the Cable Administration Division. Where a tape, slide show or film has been furnished by an entity other than city government, it must be viewed by the Cable Administration Division before it is scheduled or cablecast to ensure that it meets those standards.

B. Programming of forums produced by outside agencies, which include declared candidates for any public office and persons advocating a partisan cause, viewpoint or proposed policy of a particular nature, must be approved by the fairness committee, to ensure balance, before cable casting on the Government Access Channel. Only such forums that concern governmental matters that impact the citizens of Fayetteville will be eligible.

C. All outside agencies, groups, or citizens desiring to cablecast programming other than forums on the Government Access Channel shall submit programs to the Cable Administration Division no later than one week prior to the requested air date. The Cable Administration shall ensure that it meets the policies stated here.

D. The requestor will ensure the Cable Administration Division of the program’s eligibility under the criteria and requirements listed above.

E. The requestor will ensure that the program has obtained all necessary copyright clearances and permissions where legally required.

F. The Cable Administration Division shall review the program, decide whether to grant or deny the request, and notify the requestor.


A. Council desk audio coverage is gavel-to-gavel only. Ambient microphone will not be used to transmit general room noise before and after the actual meeting.

B. Video of room as it fills up or empties is acceptable, but Council microphones are closed. Only wide shots of the room are acceptable before and after a meeting to minimize the possibility of visually editorializing.

C. The person speaking will be on camera.

D. Individual reaction shots (shots of those not actually speaking or being addressed) are not allowed.

E. A brief wide shot of the room is acceptable to break up a long, spoken delivery or as a transition between agenda items and shots.

F. If a person is being directly addressed, a brief shot can be taken of that person in anticipation of that person’s response.


A. The Cable Administration Division will be responsible for scheduling appropriate programs and spots on the Government Access Channel and for publicizing the schedule.

B. Programs will be scheduled for cablecasting according to the same order of priority as indicated in the policy with allowances for first run of new programs, and timeliness in regard to viewers as follows:

1. Announcements or programs concerning emergencies affecting residents’ health or safety.

2. Regularly scheduled, recurring programs including informational series and cablecasts of regular public meetings.

3. One-time, special, or non-regular informational programs or cablecasts of meetings or other activities by government units.

4. Public service announcements.

5. Programs produced by persons, agencies, or groups outside of Fayetteville City government with whom the City contracts or to whom it grants money. These programs must be submitted and approved for use on the Government Access Channel (See procedures for submission and approval of programming of other agencies above).

6. Limited public forums for both candidates and issues.

7. Additional replays of City archived meetings and informational programs may be requested to be replayed by elected officials and any registered voter living within the city of Fayetteville.

8. Programs and meetings originally requested by agencies, other than the City, may also be requested for such replays by the originating agency or any citizen who is a registered voter living within the city limits of Fayetteville.

9. Informational programs may be replayed from time to time, at the
discretion of the Government Channel staff, to create continuous programming and more effectively disseminate information.

10. Informational programs may be withdrawn from playback by the
person or entity who originally authorized the program to be produced.
Records shall be kept of such withdrawn programs indicating who requested the withdrawal and the reason for the withdrawal.

A. Program recordings that have been made of public meetings, informational programs, limited public forums, and other spots will be kept intact for three weeks after their final cablecast and are then subject to erasure unless other arrangements have been made in advance. Any tapes of public meetings are unofficial and will not serve as an official record of the meetings.
B. City elected officials, Department and Division heads may request recordings to be archived. Recordings may also be archived at the discretion of the Government Channel staff.

A. Citizens may view any of the programs or meetings archived by the City at the PEG Television Facility.
B. Citizens may purchase, at cost, any programs or meetings archived by the City.


A. The Telecommunications Board shall establish a Fairness Committee composed of five members who collectively shall have expertise in law, communication, government regulations, journalism and human relations.

B. The “fairness” committee will monitor all Government Channel programming for adherence to the policy regarding coverage, priority and procedure. This committee will monitor forums to see that they are fair and balanced and that “informational” programs are free from partisan elements.

Provisions will be made that will allow any citizen, whether elected official, staff or committee member, to submit any Government Channel program to the committee and receive a prompt fairness determination. In the event that it is determined that a program was improperly biased, proper action will be taken, such as allowing the “opposition” to have equal time for a rebuttal.

An appeal of a telecom Board Fairness committee decision must be sponsored by an alderman filing a written appeal in the City Clerk’s office within ten working days of the committee’s decision.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Discovery Farms' program highlighted on the organization's Web site and in Northwest Arkansas Times story

Please click link to read about
Discovery Farms environmental program in Wisconsin

Please click on link to read
Northwest Arkansas Times story on Discovery Farms environmental program in Wisconsin

Dairy farmer discusses program that monitors environmental data
BY TRISH HOLLENBECK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008
SPRINGDALE — Joe Bragger says he believes farmers and nonfarmers can work together to solve environmental and economic problems.

There are fringe groups out there that will never be happy with anything he does, Bragger, a dairy farmer who also raises chickens and beef cattle on his family’s farm in west-central Wisconsin, said Monday.

But then there are the rest of the people who farmers can work with to get things done, he said in an interview after giving a speech about Wisconsin’s Discovery Farms Program during Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 60 th annual Officers & Leaders Conference at the Holiday Inn in Springdale.

Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, on World Peace Wetland Prairie at 1121 S. Duncan Avenue in the Town Branch neighborhood in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of swamp milkweed on south end of World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 21, 2008.

Zinnea with insect on World Peace Wetland Prairie east side peace circle garden

Please click on image to ENLARGE photo of zinnea with insect.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Biofuel from waste products may become a reality

21st July 2008


Cars to run on fuel from household waste within two years

INEOS has the technology to produce commercial quantities of bio ethanol fuel from
landfill waste

Second generation bio ethanol reduces greenhouse gases from car use by 90% and
doesn’t use food crops in the production process

“This is a breakthrough technology” says INEOS Bio CEO

INEOS, the world’s third-largest chemical company, announced today that it is aiming to produce
commercial quantities of bioethanol fuel from biodegradable municipal waste in aboutg two years.

INEOS’ new technology will produce bioethanol in large quantities from municipal solid waste,
organic commercial waste and agricultural residues amongst other things.

According to Peter Williams, INEOS Bio CEO, “In North America and Europe we will see
around 10% or more of petrol (gasoline) being replaced with bioethanol. Our technology
will make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and the world’s need for
fossil fuels.

INEOS Bio Ethanol releases up to 90% less net greenhouse gases than petrol (gasoline). One
tonne of dry waste can be converted into about 400 litres (100 gallons) of ethanol, which can
either be blended with traditional fuels or replace them altogether, to substantially reduce vehicle

The technology – already proven at pilot plant scale – uses a simple three-stage process. The
waste is first superheated to produce gases. Then, through a patented process, the gases are
fed to naturally occurring bacteria, which efficiently produce ethanol. Finally, the ethanol is
purified to make the fuel ready to be blended for use in cars.

Car companies have already developed engines that can run efficiently on both bioethanol and
conventional fuel. Up to now, the challenge has been that bioethanol is manufactured primarily
from food crops and this has raised concerns on price and availability.

Peter Williams says, “The fact that we have been able to decouple second-generation
biofuel from food is a major breakthrough, and we expect our technology to provide cost-competitive, sustainable, renewable fuels."

Dr Geraint Evans is the Technology Transfer Manager for the UK’s National Non-Food Crops
Centre. He says: “This is a breakthrough in two areas: Technologically because we can
use municipal solid waste. And commercially because we have the potential to produce
large volumes of bioethanol viably across the world.”

Governments, NGO’s and Municipal Authorities are already welcoming second-generation
biofuel such as INEOS Bio Ethanol that will contribute to both reducing emission of greenhouse
gas and the ever-growing waste-disposal problem.

The process was developed in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Dan Coody is Mayor. He
recognises the enormous potential: “This is the right product for us, at the right time, to help
solve some of the world’s most intractable problems.
If we could use this ethanol from waste, we’re not only reducing our greenhouse gas
emissions, we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

With the technology proven at pilot scale, the next challenge is to bring second-generation
bioethanol into commercial production.

Peter Williams, INEOS Bio CEO says: “We expect to announce the location of the first
commercial plant fairly shortly and we will aim to quickly roll out our technology around
the world. We plan to be producing commercial amounts of bioethanol fuel for cars from
waste within about two years.

World Peace Wetland Prairie radish plant draws buttterflies

Please click on images to enlarge photo of butterfly on radish plant in the peace-garden eastern part of World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 20, 2008

Please click on image to enlarge butterfly seen on World Peace Wetland Prairie on July 20, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Construction site entrances worse than actual streets.

If you don't know what this is about, watch the past two city council meetings online and try to figure out how the developers of Ruskin Heights convinced the Fayetteville Council that the "construction entrance" didn't count against their promise not to open a "road" or "street" to Greenview until they finished phase Six or whatever.

If you had channel 16 on Cox Cable 16 on at midnight, you know that old Dirk was trying to answer Alderman Thiel's questions just when the channel went off the air and the announcement board came on.

If you are a government channel addict, you may not care about government channel policies and procedures, but you do care about the opportunity to view or record city meetings in their entirety at the time listed. The Telecom Board may have to suggest that the year-old equipment be sent back to the manufacturer and that the station return to some kind of manual operation.

Butterflies love zinneas at World Peace Wetland Prairie

Please click on image to Enlarge photo of butterfly on zinnea at World Peace Wetland Prairie's Elleya Richardson Memorial Butterfly Garden. I went in and corrected coneflower to zinnea. I actually wrote the headline and then selected the wrong photo. We have plenty of coneflower shots and I'll get one online when I get to it. So many photos, so little time.

Sedge west of World Peace Wetland Prairie on Pinnacle Foods Prairie

click to enlarge Cyperus esculentus

2.4 Reproduction

Yellow nutsedge does produce seed; however, reproduction by seed is of minimal importance in most areas in comparison to vegetative spread. The species spreads primarily by tubers, rhizomes, and corn-like basal bulbs.

Tubers planted to soil depths of 80 cm produced new plants. Tubers survive soil temperatures as cold as -5oC and require a period of chilling to break dormancy and germinate. Tubers germinate when soil temperatures remain above 6oC. Under field conditions, tubers typically survive approximately 3-4 years.

Yellow nutsedge is considered one of the world's worst weeds. Well adapted to irrigated agriculture, yellow nutsedge is particularly problematic in row crops because it competes with crops for water, light, and nutrients, thereby reducing crop yield. It has also been known to spoil the quality of some crops. In some areas, yellow nutsedge tubers have been known to grow into potato tubers causing them to be graded as culls. They may also pass through shelled lima beans, requiring costly hand sorting. It addition, there has been some suggestion that this species may produce chemicals that are toxic to crops.

2.5 Economic Importance

Yellow nutsedge is closely related to chufa (Cyperus esculentus variety sativus); some taxonomists treat them as the same species. In parts of Africa, Europe and Asia, chufa is grown for its edible tubers. The tubers contain protein, carbohydrates, sugars, and lots of oil and fiber. The chufa nut is good for human health, containing high levels of iron and potassium, and no sodium. The Spanish produce a drink called "horchata" made out of the nuts (tubers) of the yellow nutsedge. The popularity of this drink has recently extended to other countries such as France, Great Britain, and Argentina. Chufa tubers are ground into flour, as well as being used to produce a cold drink (horchata), a coffee substitute, vegetable oil, and cellulose.

In the United States, the primary use of chufa as a crop is to attract and feed game, particularly wild turkeys. Turkeys love chufa tubers; as natural scratchers, once discovering a plot of chufa, they will return again and again, all winter long, or until spring arrives and other food is readily available.

Chufa tubers have been planted so that pigs could be turned into the fields to fatten and improve the taste of pork. In the United States, chufa tubers have been used as hog feed, pastured in the field in states such as Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.

Tubers of chufa have also been identified as valuable food for waterfowl and cranes. Ducks dive for them when wetland fields are flooded. Chufa is also used in seed mixes for wetland restoration, mitigation, and erosion control.

Currently, yellow nutsedge is merely regarded as another obnoxious weed; however, historically, its small tuberous rhizomes were used both as food and medicine by the Native Americans. Even today the Egyptians cultivate a native species of Cyperus in moist soils or sandy shores for their edible tubers. These are called "tiger nuts" and are first fried, and then soaked in water. Reportedly, the taste is similar to hazelnuts. It was another species (C. papyrus) that the Egyptians used to make paper, sails, cloth. mats, ropes, or plaited into sandals.

In the Peruvian Amazon, reportedly there is a native species of Cyperus used widely by tribal women as a natural contraceptive. This property has been attributed to a certain mold that grows on the root of the Amazonian species that has oxytoxic (abortive) properties similar to Ergot, a fungus that grows on rye.

In Maradi state, eastern Niger, C. esculentus is cultivated for export to Nigeria. Revenues from this weed exceed those from the typical cash crops such as cowpea and groundnut. The tubers of C. esculentus may be consumed raw, roasted, or ground.

Nowadays, chufa is cultivated in Northern Nigeria and Ghana, where it is made into a sweet meat, and Togo, where it is used uncooked as a side dish. These countries, and others as the Ivory Coast, export 2300 tons of tubers every year to Spain. The chufa is also a representative crop of the Spanish Mediterranean region, where tubers are used to make a beverage called horchata or horchata de chufas. The milky-looking aqueous extract of chufa has a pleasant and characteristic flavor of vanilla and almonds.

Chufa is potentially a commercial source of high-oleic acid vegetable oil and high-carbohydrate tuber cakes. Some authors believe that tuber oil could be exploited in the same way as olive oil.

Chinese researchers have measured the physical and fuel properties of oil extracted from the chufa, and concluded that the physical properties are similar to those of other vegetable oils. They have suggested that this oil may also be used as biodiesel fuel.

Yellow grasshopper pretty interesting on Pinnacle Foods' wetland prairie

Please click on image of yellow grasshopper on Pinnacle Prairie, 100 yards west of World Peace Wetland Prairie, on July 19, 2008,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Democratic Party of Arkansas holds 2008 convention

July 19, 2008
Contact: Darinda Sharp
Director of Communication
(479) 200-9522
More than 700 Democrats from around the state met in Little Rock today for the 2008 Democratic State Convention.
Delegates to the convention elected members to the Democratic Party of Arkansas state committee, adopted the Party Rules and the Party Platform, and certified the Democratic candidates for the General Election.
One candidate, Dwayne Dobbins, was not certified. Dobbins had filed for state representative for House District 39. He was not certified due to Rule 37(c) adopted earlier in the day.
The rule stated that "No person having resigned from public office as a provision to a plea agreement to avoid felony prosecution shall be certified by the Democratic Party of Arkansas to be a candidate and/or its nominee."
The rules committee, appointed by DPA Chairman Bill Gwatney in August of 2007, has been meeting periodically for the past 11 months. The committee suggested several rules to be considered by the convention delegates. The rules committee's suggestions were adopted in full.
The newly adopted Party Rules and Party Platform will be available on Democratic Party of Arkansas's Web site soon.Immediately following the state convention, the newly-elected state committee met to elect Arkansas's Democratic National Committeeman and Committeewoman. Krystal Thrailkill of Mena was elected as the Committeewoman, and Don Beavers of North Little Rock was re-elected as the Committeeman. Their terms begin immediately following the Democratic National Convention to be held in Denver, Aug. 25-28, 2008. They will serve through the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
The Democratic Party of Arkansas appreciates the service of Martha Dixon of Arkadelphia who has served the as Arkansas's Democratic National Committeewoman for the past eight years. She has been of great service to the state and the party. The party asks all Democrats across the state to thank her for her accomplishments in that role.

1602 East Robinson, Suite J
Springdale, AR 72764
PHONE: 479.750.7700
FAX: 479.750.7701

1300 W. Capitol Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72201
PHONE: 501.374.2361
FAX: 501.376.8409

Senior Center bootscoot tonight! Use link below for details

Coming week's government-channel schedule at link below

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Deadline noon to file for school board. Get a packet, get 20 voter signatures, turn it in by noon

School board hopefuls can pick up applications
BY BRETT BENNETT Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday was the first day individuals could begin picking up applications and circulating petitions to file for school board positions.

Although petitions can be circulated now, there is a one-week time frame for filing them in mid-July this year because of a change in state law, Washington County Clerk Karen Combs Pritchard said. Petitions with at least 20 signatures have to be filed at the clerk’s office between July 11 and July 18.

“ There’s only a one-week period there. The last day is at noon on July 18, ” Pritchard said.

Each school district has some seats up for election; all seats are five-year terms. Most seats up for election this year are at-large positions with the exception of a seat each on the Greenland and Springdale boards.

School board positions up for election this year are listed below with the name of the current members who hold the positions:

• Fayetteville — Susan Heil

• Farmington — Wesley Stephens

• Elkins — Carol Heymsfield

• Greenland — Dennis Caudle, Zone 5

• Lincoln — Gary Morris

• Prairie Grove — Steve Bartholomew

• West Fork — Tim Helder

• Springdale — Robert Farrell, Zone 2; and David Van Bebber, at large

The elections are scheduled to be held on Sept. 16.

Any school tax elections not held for the year also will take place on that day.

Greenland held a tax election on June 10 that increased the district’s tax levy by 2. 6 mills to 39. 5 mills.

On Friday, the Arkansas Department of Education announced that despite the tax increase, department Commissioner Kenneth James will recommend that Greenland be annexed because of its status on the state’s fiscal distress list.

The Arkansas State Board of Education is scheduled to take up the matter at a meeting in Little Rock on July 14, just four days before the filing deadline. James has recommended the district be annexed immediately. It remains to be determined what effect an annexation will have on board elections if approved.

“ I’m just going to proceed like normal until I’m told something different, ” Pritchard said. “ It’s just going to be interesting to see what happens. We’re in uncharted territory. ”

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

Please attend the meeting of the telecommunication board at 5:30 p.m. today in the chamber of the Fayetteville City Council and share opinions

My vote against the first of the proposed pair of suggestions at last month's meeting and my unannounced abstention from voting on the second were the result of a something that might be described as an epiphany that something was seriously wrong about the motion coming without due consideration. We didn't adequately discuss the questions and the problem became clear a few minutes later when it was made clear that Mrs. Bell had done that volunteer effort in going to meet with representatives of the city administration but was not even a member of the policy and procedure committee, the proper group to consider such questions.
It was proper to follow that realization with the two subcommittee meetings that have been held and all members of the board were invited to attend and participate.
I believe that the only way to meet the twice-confirmed will of the City Council that we consider all policies and present our recommendations to the council in August is to spend enough time going over the specifics of the subcommittee's draft during the full meeting tonight to ensure that we can agree to all the parts NOW.
If a special meeting is needed before the final draft goes to the council, then we must do it. We have clarified the language that City Attorney Kit Williams cited in email a couple of weeks ago and read aloud at the council meeting on Tuesday and made other small but significant changes in the policy.
The council has enough homework to do each week to boggle anyone's mind and we have an obligation to provide a document as clear and simple as possible. And the council will have access to replays or DVDs of the meetings in which these issues have been discussed and can review it as much as they choose to internalize the process. Obviously, we want everyone interested to have a chance to follow this process and understand the principles behind the board's thinking.

"Aspen Ridge on Steroids": To see photos of the "preliminary dirt work" visit the ABLE site linked below

Quotation from The Morning News' story on denial of condo project construction time extentions: Developers spent nearly $2 million on preliminary dirt work for the project, which shows dedication to the project, Little said.

More confirmation of the need for all developers to be required to post a bond covering all damage caused by the "preliminary dirt work" and the rest of the work to complete such projects.

Simple rule: If they have to borrow the money, they have no "Right to Build."

For more on the "Aspen Ridge condos on steroids" of Benton County, see story below.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Benton County planning board denies request for extension of permits to build huge condos on Beaver Lake Web site of the Association for Beaver Lake Environment Web log where anonymous and signed comment is OK on Beaver Lake issues

The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Grandview Condo Extension Denied
By Scarlet Sims
The Morning News
BENTONVILLE - The Benton County Planning Board unanimously denied a time extension request for a controversial condominium development on Tuesday. Grandview Heights at Beaver Lake can appeal the decision or resubmit plans to the Planning Office.
"I think they got themselves into this boat," Chairman Tim Sorey said after voting against the extension. "The developer brought this on himself when we warned him against it."
E&S Development of New York asked for a two-year extension for the multistory project the board approved in November 2005. Around 40 lake residents and members of the Association for Beaver Lake Environment, an environmental activist group, attended the meeting Tuesday. Several residents asked the board to deny the extension.
"There's no way they can guarantee that this project will not harm the lake," said Pat Timmons, of Rogers. "Please, please do not approve this time extension."
Developers had to show "good cause" for a time extension, according to county regulations. No other development has been denied a time extension in several years, but Director Ashley Pope pointed out no similar project has requested an extension.
Pope recommended denying the extension.
Attorney Courtney Little, representing E&S, said legal actions stalled construction work, and the economic downturn tightened lending and credit. Those two factors left the project with unfinished roads and little progress during the past year.
"Back when the market was good and things were hopping along, we were in court," Little said.
Developers spent nearly $2 million on preliminary dirt work for the project, which shows dedication to the project, Little said. Developers are committed to building the condominiums. Developers are also working with parties who filed liens against the property. Little said all but $150,000 of the liens has been paid off.
"If these guys wanted to cut and run, they could have done that a year and a half ago," Little said.
Planning board members said developers had not worked to meet the original stipulations for approval.
"There's essentially not anything for us to lay our hands on to show behind the scenes activity," board member Caleb Henry said.
Pope submitted a letter saying developers had not secured state environmental approval of their wastewater system, improved roads leading to the site and who owns the property is currently unclear. A lawsuit is pending to decide who has clear title to the property. Little said he did not receive Pope's recommendation letter until noon Wednesday.
Little said developers have concentrated on getting credit. Once a bank backs the project, the state environmental department will approve the wastewater system, he said.
Pope said developers had not met about nine original requirements for approval, including acquiring a completion bond and fire protection from the local volunteer fire department.
"My problem is that we had no performance whatsoever," Sorey said. "If they continued to work on this project for 20 years and didn't stop, I wouldn't have a problem. My problem is they stopped."
Little said the board's action send the message that opponents of developments can stall projects until they are denied. He disagrees with the board's decision because the rules should be more supportive of development, Little said. The board probably would have approved the extension if the project hadn't been so controversial, he said. Developers will decide how to proceed in the next two weeks, Little said.

Council approves Walker Park Neighborhood Master Plan

Ruskin Heights

Park with a plan : Council OKs Walker Park neighborhood rezoning
BY SUSANNAH PATTON Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Fayetteville City Council unanimously approved a proposal to rezone the Walker Park neighborhood Tuesday.
The proposal rezones the 308-acre neighborhood from predominately multifamily residential to Neighborhood Conservation and Downtown General.
Neighborhood Conservation allows single- and twofamily dwellings. Downtown General allows cultural and recreational facilities, offices, eateries, neighborhood shopping goods, home occupations and multifamily dwellings, in addition to the uses allowed in Neighborhood Conservation.
The rezoning proposal has gone through many revisions since it first went before the Fayetteville Planning Commission on April 28, most of them at the request of individual property owners.
One such revision was requested by Steve Winkler and approved by the Planning Commission on June 9. Winkler’s property, which includes four parcels on South Street, was originally zoned as Neighborhood Conservation on the proposed rezoning map. Winkler unsuccessfully requested that the property be zoned as Downtown General so he could eventually build an apartment building on the property, which amounts to approximately two-thirds of an acre.
Neighbors objected to the change and asked that the property remain zoned as Neighborhood Conservation, as originally proposed.
Jimmy Glen, speaking on behalf of the Jennings Plus Neighborhood Association, said he has a petition signed by 30 neighbors who are concerned about the increased density that the Downtown General zoning would allow and the impact the density would have on the neighborhood.
“ We see a bit of a can of worms if that density is increased, ” he said. “ We want to maintain the neighborhood’s character. ”
Ward 1 Alderman Brenda Thiel said the neighbors have invested a lot of time in the Walker Park plan and have requested that the property remain as Neighborhood Conservation.
“ I feel like the neighborhood feels very strongly about this, and they weighed in early, they worked on this plan and if we start making changes to this the plan is going to be back to (residential multifamily with 24 units per acre ), ” she said.
Ruskin Heights Developers of the Ruskin Heights planned zoning district will be allowed to pay more than $ 43, 000 in lieu of certain street improvements that the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department will not approve. The City Council approved an amendment to one of the development’s conditions of approval that requires the developer to construct turn lanes on portions of Greenview Drive as well a section of curb, gutters and sidewalks along the south side of Mission Boulevard to the east and west of the project’s frontage. The highway department stated in a letter that curbs and gutters will require additional maintenance and interfere with future widening of the road, which is also Arkansas 45. Pamela Conner, a resident of the neighborhood, said the development is going to add traffic to an already crowded road where turn lanes are necessary. “ You owe it to all of the people who use Mission to think about what this development means to them getting to work and getting to places they need to go without the turn lanes, ” she said. “ I think they are essential to moving traffic. ”
Thiel reiterated that the developers are requesting an amendment to the condition because the highway department will not allow them to construct the improvements at this time.
“ I don’t know how we could turn this down, ” she said. “ They came to us because the state basically told them this was something they couldn’t do.
“ We approved the planned zoning district based on everything before us. I don’t see how we could possibly go back and say this is justification for you going back to the drawing board and starting all over. ”
Thiel reminded the council that the developers are putting up money in lieu of the improvements.
“ When it’s built out, more than likely the highway department will see that there is a need for these improvements, and we’ll have (the developers’ ) share of the money to make the improvements, ” she said.
Alderman Nancy Allen, who along with Alderman Lioneld Jordan voted against the amendment, said she had trouble with the project when it first came through because the neighborhood was so unified in opposition.
“ They really worked together. They explained why they didn’t want it there, ” she said. “ As a show of faith to you people, I’m going to vote against this. ”
Copyright © 2001-2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact: