Saturday, February 28, 2009

Joe Neal provides report on workday at Wilson Spring nature area

Joe Neal's report on February 28, 2009, workday at Wilson Spring nature area
Joe explains why Fayetteville's original map shows it in Prairie Township, not "woodland township"!

I wasn't there to make photos of the work of the volunteers onsite but chose some photos from a short distance downstream to illustrate what is happening far too rapidly to such land as that on the Audubon property. Joe and the volunteers were trying to restore and maintain the historic character of the land while developers have been trying to turn it all into sterile subdivisions.

Downstream from Wilson Spring along Clabber Creek developments have been planned and approved on much of the wetland prairie but, mercifully, the economic situation has brought a hiatus to construction. In the photos, one can see a wetland-mitigation sign in the riparian zone of the Clabber Creek and a developer's sign touting the nearby Audubon property as a selling point for lots to be built on fill dirt placed in the wetland. The pause in construction and the necessity of new owners going to the Fayetteville Planning Commission with new plans offers a chance to protect more of the valuable fertile and natural water-retaining soil by requiring homes to be built on piers rather than red-dirt and concrete foundations and making many changes for the good of all. As it exists now, this is area can easily meet the prime flood-prevention rule of "keeping the water where it falls."
Joe Neal's report on February 28, 2009, workday at Wilson Spring nature area
Joe explains why Fayetteville's original map shows it in Prairie Township, not woodland township!

Stream, wetland bill clears committee

Please click on images to view a relatively natural rural riparian zone on a snowing day in 2009 and a contrasting urban riparian zone that has been almost completely paved over with a silt fence that has failed even to protect the very edge of the stream.

Doug Thompson report on stream-preservation bill in The Morning News
Larry Woodall suggests that, "If you don't read the bill keep in mind Doug has a mistake in his column. There's a total of up to
$50,000 state income tax credit for riparian stream preservation per project. You can take up to $5,000 per year Ark
Income Tax credit for doing it. Then you may carryover the balance and get credits for
up to nine years. Those are it's major provisions. Now on to the senate."

Water and Wires: Fayetteville's new municipal courthouse work delayed a bit by unexpected reality

Please click on images for views of the site of the new municipal courthouse in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas, on February 11, 2009.

The bales of hay in two of the pictures are in place to try to filter the muddy flow from the runoff from the red dirt recently spread to form a foundation for the new municipal courthouse. The silt-laden water from the site is seen running downhill toward the confluence of the Spout Spring Branch and the Tanglewood Branch by way of an unnamed stormdrain and ditch along the east side of the new Advance Auto Parts store, which was built in 2008 on the site of a stone house formerly owned by the late Ray Adams and willow tree-marked wetland east of the house adjacent to South Locust Avenue. The ditch used to run through the middle of the lot where a Walgreen's store now stands.
The hoses in two of the photos were bringing water from pumps that were sending the water to the intersection at the southwest corner of the construction site to be "filtered" by the hay and sent down hill along the avenue.
Don't bother to call the ADEQ, because, as former ADEQ water-quality administrator and current watershed manager for Central Arkansas Water said at a recent public meeting televised by Government channel and held at the Fayetteville Public Library, the state "really can't stop a construction project because of water-quality violations," but the cities can. How would that work in this case?

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

New Courthouse Under Construction

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE -- Construction of a new municipal courthouse in downtown Fayetteville is expected to be complete by the end of the year. But in the meantime, the building process has been snagged by a few glitches.
Some of those problems include relocating telephone and other communication lines going to the police station next door, as well as the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and excavating an old underground cistern, said Lynn Hyke, construction manager for the city of Fayetteville.
"So, we ended up getting all these utilities pretty much relocated," Hyke told the Fayetteville City Council at Tuesday's agenda session. "The building is a little bit delayed because of that."
The delays have cost roughly $200,000 of the project's contingency budget, Hyke said. However, Hyke went on to say some of the money can be made up by savings planned for the landscaping budget, which can be handled in-house.
"But you would anticipate that," he added of delays eating into the contingency budget.
"Is there any more cheery news," asked Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan asked, almost joking.
"These are just blocks in the road, and we just need to get past them," Hyke said Thursday.
The $3.37 million, 15,000-square-foot facility hopes to set new standards in environmental building and operation by being accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building. It will include one new courtroom in the center of the building with offices for judges, clerks, and prosecutors surrounding the courtroom.
Project updates such as the one Tuesday afternoon are the kinds of presentations Jordan wants to bring to the city council on a regular basis. His plan is to not have a repeat of a council and city being mostly in the dark when projects start to go off track, such as the Westside Wastewater Treatment Plant. That facility was completed last summer, but only after being some three years behind and $60 million over budget. When the problems were realized, the sewer plant was taken under city management, where it stayed on course and didn't see any more over-runs.
"We've got someone who has a long history of getting things back on track," said Don Marr, the mayor's chief of staff, making reference to Hyke.
Monthly status reports will become a regular feature at council meetings, Jordan said.

Friday, February 27, 2009

School board selection for superintendent gets approval of some critics of other recent decisions

The Fayettevillage Voice gives school board an A for choice of woman who graduated from the University of Arkansas as superintendent.
I didn't attend the meetings, so I can't comment on the person selected, but I am happy to see that a failed football coach isn't getting the job. That was the kind of foolishness that made school administrators a joke decades ago.
I agree that being the best person for the job doesn't necessarily require being the person with the highest degree available in education.
However, I would hope that, if contract negotiating has to do with pay, it would be the candidate offering to work at a reasonable amount. I believe that a good administrator would consider the position a seven-day-a-week job. That does mean working a lot more than 40 hours a week. But, even so, it doesn't mean that a person really qualified and really enthusiastic for the job would require more than double the pay of the district's best educated and most experienced teachers.

The Morning News reports that UA graduate offered job of superintendent of Fayetteville schools

Northwest Arkansas Times reports that board votes to negotiate purchase of land to replace Happy Hollow School
Happy Hollow School is less than 40 years old. Let's demand that a replacement school be built to last at least a century, with the possibilities of the need for later additions and changes accounted for.
It should be first a sturdy building where kids can be safe in a tornado with alternative power sources and windows that open in spring and fall to ventilate naturally and with a heating system that will operate adequately during a power outage and the most efficient possible use of gas and water and elecricity.
Build it as though we will be paying the utilities. Because we and our chidlren will be paying and our grandchildren will be educated in it. Guess that means I just said build only a truly sustainable school facility. That applies to the new high school as well.
I live downstream from the high school. And I really want to see that construction methods take into account the potential further degradation of the Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River. We don't need another Aspen Ridge fiasco up the hill!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ward One council members, city officials Terry Gulley and Don Marr share cleanup plan with residents

Please click on images to ENLARGE view of council members Brenda Thiel and Adella Gray discussing plan to remove ice-storm debris in coming weeks during Thursday's Ward One meeting.
The meeting is to run at 11 a.m. Monday on City 16 on Cox Cable, the Government Channel.

Five-year-old photo of wetland construction site in preceding post. The wooded wetland served as a floodway but was kept wet by three springs

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of the area shown in the three immediately preceding photos as it appeared on March 28, 2004, before being bulldozed and dredged and filled for Aspen Ridge. Camera wasn't particularly good, camera operator was worse and the photo was actually reduced in size and quality to go on line at that time. Additionally, of course, the area was always shaded by tall trees! Even in winter one could see no more than 100 feet because of understory vegetation and thickness of the trees.

Lowest wetland portion of Hill Place (former Aspen Ridge) property being dredged and filled for parking lot in former overflow area of Town Branch

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos of dredging and filling of Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River west of South Hill Avenue and north of 11th Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on February 26, 2009. Rich, absorbent soil being hauled away to make space for truckloads of non-absorbent, non-organic red dirt to provide parking spaces for Hill Place student apartments.

Don't let the contractors take all your brushpiles; the birds won't forgive you

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mockingbird on brushpile at World Peace Wetland Prairie on February 25, 2009,

The more buds you spot on the ends of small limbs the more likely these limbs are the ones to keep on your property if you want plenty of song birds to be in your neighborhood when spring comes. You might also try to convince your neighbors to preserve some similar brushpiles on their property. And urging neighbors to preserve ice-damaged trees on their property also will help.
Many won't understand. But every property owner who keeps a brush pile or resists pressure to cut down a damaged tree can make a difference in the reproductive success of song birds in the coming spring.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New seatbelt law may facilitate racial profiling in Arkansas. Pass a REAL helmet law instead

Seatbelts are important. But I don't get nervous knowing other motorists aren't wearing a seatbelt. However, a person on a motorized bike, scooter, 3-wheeler, 4-wheeler, or golf cart or any such vehicle or motorcycle without a helmet are suicidal and cause me to slow down and worry more about having to see that person die more than about my own driving. How about making wearing no helmet a "primary violation" for anyone on a public street or road in the state? That might be protested as violating the rights of the suicidal or of those lacking common sense, I suppose.
LTE's and calls needed. Seat belt laws leads to more racial profiling in Ark.‏
From: L. woodall (
Sent: Wed 2/25/09 5:36 PM
To: Dick Bennet (
(Wendell Griffen is a former Appeals Court judge in Ark. Please call your legislators and ask that this piece of legislation (SB 78) be amended. The likely result will be racial profiling using this proposed law. Would you write an LTE
to your local newspaper? Please. We already have enough of the police state from Bush. LW

Leave a phone message for your state representative at 501-682-6211.
- Leave a phone message for your state senator at 501-682-2902.

Locate your state senator by clicking here.
Locate your state representative by ...............clicking here.

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Fellow Advocates for Public Safety and Fairness:

I am writing to ask you to call on members of the Arkansas House of Representatives to improve a bill currently pending in that body that would make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense (meaning that motorists can be stopped by law enforcement officers on that basis alone in Arkansas if the bill is enacted). The newspaper article shown at the following link describes the measure, which received a "do pass" recommendation yesterday in the Public Transportation Committee of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Click here: Bill for seat-belt stops by police wins vote; passage up to House

The language that I am asking you to urge legislators to add to Senate Bill 78 is: "Violation of the primary seat belt law shall not constitute reasonable suspicion for a search and seizure."

If there is any question about whether racial profiling occurs by police in Arkansas--despite the hearing testimony yesterday that only 2 complaints were lodged with the State Police in recent years--one should study the opinions issued in Martin Hinojosa v. State, decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals on November 29, 2008. Here is a link to that decision:

No one can deny that seat belts save lives and reduce the prospect for injuries when worn. I support efforts to improve highway safety in Arkansas by requiring motorists to wear seat belts. However, by making failure to wear seat belts a primary offense without including any protection against using traffic stops made on that basis from the risk of abuse, our legislators will expose all motorists to a greater risk of improper traffic stops that will risk further targeting women and persons of color, and also include stops in numerous other scenarios. Consider the following realities:
No one can determine from ground level whether drivers of tractor-trailer rigs are wearing seat belts without first stopping those drivers.
No one can determine whether drivers of older vehicles that are equipped only with lap belts are wearing them without first stopping those drivers.
No one can determine whether passengers seated in the rear of vehicles, or in seats other than the front of passenger and minivans, are wearing their seat belts without first stopping those vehicles.
No one can ever determine whether any motorists are wearing seat belts during nighttime without first stopping the motorists.
No one can determine whether motorists in vehicles with tinted windows are wearing seat belts without first stopping them.
No one can determine whether motorists dressed in clothing that matches the color or pattern of their seat belts are wearing the belts without first stopping them.
Passage of Senate Bill 78 will allow law enforcement officials to stop all of these motorists on Arkansas roadways at any time based on that factor alone. After the motorists are stopped, Senate Bill 78 contains no protection against the traffic stops from operating as a gateway for law enforcement officers to engage in search and seizure tactics.

People who do not wear their seat belts are not more likely to be engaged in other violations of the law than others so as to justify being subjected to searches and seizures because they do not wear their seat belts. Therefore, the language I have suggested will protect those motorists from being subjected to searches and seizures based solely on violation of the primary seat belt law. It will not hinder law enforcement from enforcing the primary seat belt law. It will not make compliance with the primary seat belt law more difficult. It merely provides a reasonable check on the way the law will operate in order to lessen the chance for it being used in oppressive ways.

Please understand that I do not oppose and am not trying to prevent passage of a primary seat belt law in Arkansas. However, any such law can and should include explicit protection against improper and oppressive enforcement efforts. Public safety and even-handed law enforcement practices are not conflicting or incompatible interests. Rather, we should encourage people to wear seat belts while protecting them from over-bearing or discriminatory law enforcement tactics.

For these reasons, I ask you to join me in urging the Arkansas House of Representatives to amend SB 78 by adding explicit language stating that violation of the primary seat belt law shall not constitute reasonable suspicion for a search and seizure. The ACLU of Arkansas and the Arkansas NAACP support such a change, as their representatives testified yesterday before the Public Transportation Committee. Adding that language will not undermine the safety benefits of a primary seat belt law. It will simply make that law less susceptible for abuse by those law enforcement agents who may be inclined to engage in unlawful or over-zealous tactics.

Thanks for taking time to read this message and for your help. Stay strong.

Wendell Griffen
Griffen Strategic Consulting, PLLC
P.O. Box 17268
Little Rock, Arkansas 72222-7268
(501) 416-1917

323 Center Street
Suite 1312
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 374-5949
(501) 374-5993 (fax)

We will either find a way or make one. Hannibal of Carthage.

Illinois River Watershed Partnership cleanup of Mud Creek successful

Please click on image to see volunteers after cleaning up portion of Mud Creek in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The photo was provided by Delia Haak of the Illinois River Partnership. Please read below for her report and an announcement of a similar activity set for March 2009.

Many thanks to the 51 hearty citizens -- kids, moms, dads, Webelos, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school students -- who came out Saturday, February 21, for the first 2009 IRWP Creek Clean Up!

Thanks to Cub Pack 46, Girl Scout Troop 5064, and Haas Hall students for braving freezing morning temps and working together along Mud Creek Trail from Front St. to Mall Ave. Thanks to Kevin Hickie, Washington County Forester, for helping us see the connections between positive human efforts to clean up the creek and positive impacts on the wildlife habitat, trees and water quality.

NEXT IRWP VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Saturday, March 28, The 2009 IRWP Riparian Project
You can help plant 6,000 green ash, sycamore, and shortleaf pine seedlings in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Siloam Springs, and Tahlequah to improve riparian buffers that protect and improve the water in our watershed. For more information, contact Delia at or

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Morning News reports that Fayetteville mayor, Lioneld Jordan, is headed to D.C.

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Jordan Heads To Washington, Announces Economic Summit

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE -- Call it ticking off another campaign promise. Or following in the footsteps of his predecessor. But Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan announced Tuesday his economic summit, a four-day community conference will be March 31 to April 4, except for April Fool's Day.

Jordan also announced travel plans at Tuesday's City Council agenda session. With Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President Steve Clark at his side, Jordan heads to Washington today on his first official trip as mayor to meet with the state's Congressional delegation and the city's Washington lobbying arm Van Scoyoc and Associates. The $100,000 a year annual contract is up for renewal.

But before going forward, the mayor says he'd like to get a firmer picture of what a new presidential administration and the recent economic stimulus package passed by Congress will mean for cities such as Fayetteville.

"I want to go to Washington and meet with them and get a feel for what they're doing," Jordan told the council. "I hate to commit to another $100,000 contract before we meet and see what they will provide."

The economic summit, which the administration has termed "Fayetteville Forward," is a much-mentioned campaign talking point. Jordan said he wanted a plan in place in his first 90 days. The ice storm slowed down that process.

The $39,500 city summit hopes to build on work accomplished several months ago by Eva Klein and Associates, an economic consulting firm jointly contracted by the city and the University of Arkansas. The Jordan administration has said tapping local experts is a central tenet of Fayetteville Forward.

"Instead of relying on a lot of outside expertise, we're relying on the expertise we have," said Michele Halsell, who served on Jordan's transition team, and who focused specifically on how the administration should develop an economic development strategy.

An ongoing and immediate concern for residents is storm debris pickup. The city Web site now has an interactive map, updated daily with streets covered and streets scheduled, said Don Marr, chief of staff for Mayor Jordan. Some 39,000 cubic yards of debris have been picked up in the couple days since the contracted debris removal teams began work.

"They're doing in a day what we could do in a week," said Terry Gulley, transportation director for Fayetteville.

Web Watch

Up-to-the-minute information on debris pickup:

Does Bikes, Blues and Barbecue have a redeeming social value?

Please click on image to read banner for Bikes, Blues and Barbecue in September 2008 on Dickson Street

Time for an audit. If Bikes, Blues and Barbecue is really financially beneficial to Fayetteville, who gets the money?
The rally started with a redeeming social value and purpose: Donating to to Meals on Wheels.
When that became a minor part, the value of the rally became suspect. Suspending any help to charity again this year makes it more than suspect. Who profits from the rally and why don't those who profit contribute?
See The Morning News story below for details.
Questions of sales-tax from the rally and revenue to local businesses were not asked for The Morning News' story below. But it is effective in gathering response from some of the affected charitable organizations, whose spokesmen were restrained in their measured responses.
The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Rally Suspends Charity Donations
By Dan Craft
FAYETTEVILLE -- Bikes, Blues & BBQ lost money in 2008 and won't hand out any charitable donations, according to event organizers.
The 2008 rally is about $100,000 in the hole, mostly a result of expansion costs, said Ken Mourton, chairman of the nonprofit organization's event board.
"There may be a down year or two where we can't do what we want in terms of donations," Mourton said. "It's a result of our expansion and the costs associated with that. We hope we can get out of the hole this year."
The festival has suspended charitable donations once before in its nine-year history, after losing about $55,000 on a Blues Traveler and Neville Brothers concert in 2003.
The rally originally raised money for local Meals on Wheels programs and started giving money to other charities in 2004. The rally has donated just over $500,000 since 1999. The largest total was in 2006, when $150,000 went to 31 charities.
The rally lost about $24,000 in 2007, bringing in $681,680 but spending $706,200, Mourton said. Board members agreed to put up collateral for a $100,000 loan so money could be given to charities, Mourton said.
Paying back that loan, purchasing additional fencing, upgrading electric service at the Tyson Track Center, increasing security costs and adding transportation service between venues all hurt the 2008 rally's bottom line, Mourton said.
While attendance in 2008 didn't seem to suffer, sales of official rally shirts, raffle tickets and other memorabilia all were down, Driver said.
Neither Mourton nor Driver could be reached Tuesday to provide a detailed breakdown of 2008 expenses and revenue. The organization has not yet filed a federal tax statement for 2008.
Board members decided against taking out another loan this time around, mostly because of uncertainty about the economy, Mourton said.
"That's one thing we just can't predict, so we're playing it safe," he said.
The news didn't surprise Kaye Curtis.
"We hadn't heard a word, so we kind of assumed there wouldn't be anything this year," said Curtis, director for senior services at the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, which operates local Meals on Wheels programs. "That grant isn't a significant portion of our budget, but it did help us serve more people."
The program received $7,500 from the rally in 2007.
"They're certainly not the only source of funds that's down this year," Curtis said. "We're seeing a big drop in donations and support across the board."
The lack of donations doesn't diminish support for the rally from some organizations.
"It's typically a pretty good amount for us, but we suspected it would be hard this year," said Angie Graves of the Jackson Graves Foundation, which donates annually to Arkansas Children's Hospital to support medical care for seriously ill infants. "We gave our gift as usual to Arkansas Children's Hospital, and we're working a little thin on operating money because of it. Still, it's a great event, and we understand their challenges. We hope they can turn it around next year."
The foundation received $4,000 in 2007.
Several changes for this year's rally should help reduce costs, Driver said.
The biggest impact will be fewer one-time upgrades, he said.
"We're done expanding the footprint, so the capital costs will be reduced," he said. "We're not buying any more fencing because we're not adding more beer gardens, and we're done with electrical work."
The Blues Train was a late addition in 2008, and lost about $8,000. This year, the board hopes to sell additional sponsorships on the train, add a day of service and restructure the cost of a ticket, Mourton said. The shuttle buses will be eliminated, he said.
Organizers also hope to increase "T-shirt" security, or nonpolice guards, and reduce the amount of overtime paid to Fayetteville and University of Arkansas police officers.
"That was a $60,000 expense last year, and we think we can take a good chunk out of that number," Mourton said.
Promoters of the 2008 headliner, The Allman Brothers, owe $17,000, Mourton said.
"That will knock the figure down some, whenever we get it," he said. "Obviously, we're not the only ones with money issues right now, but we're confident we'll receive it."
The financial hit to Peace at Home Family Shelter comes as demand for service is increasing, and other sources of support also are hurting for money, said Judi Selle, chief executive officer of the family services agency. The shelter received $5,000 in 2007.
"We're also very concerned about whether other donors have the money to continue their levels of support," Selle said. "At the same time, our shelter residents are up 62 percent in January over last year, so our expenses are up significantly."

Web Watch

Bikes, Blues & BBQ

By the Numbers

Bikes, Blues & BBQ
400,000: Estimated 2008 attendance
Nine: Years in existence
Two: Years without charitable donations (2003, 2008)
$500,000: Total dollars donated
31: Most charities supported (2006)
$150,000: Biggest total of single-year donations (2006)
0: 2008 Donations
Source: Staff Report

Foster Holtzclaw and Aubrey Shepherd fish a West Fork Jaycees bass tournament in October 1974

They say that bad things come in threes, but in the past three weeks four of my longtime friends have died and I have learned of their passing only by reading newspaper obituaries. I seldom know how to react to the loss of people I haven't seen in a long time and wish I were better at attending funerals and writing something appropriate to share my sense of loss.
Today, I was thinking about how I first developed a back problem and was reminded that I had my first bad day of fishing because of back pain while fishing with Foster Holtclaw, who died last week.
Holtclaw himself had a back ailment that made operating his bass boat uncomfortable or worse sometimes. But his love of being on Beaver Lake and fishing kept him going. There is a reference to his discomfort in the old story linked below. On a later fishing trip, I developed my first serious back pain and jokingly told him I must have "caught" it from him, as in "catching" a cold or something.
Anyway, Foster was a great friend and excellent outdoorsman and an inspiration and mentor to me in those years. I regret not getting spend time with him in recent years. Even more, I regret never having had the privilege of writing a story about or photographing all the other wonderful people who have passed from my life.
To view outdoor page from Oct. 6, 1974, Northwest Arkansas Times and Aubrey Shepherd's outdoor column, please click on
Oct 6, 1974, Aubrey Shepherd column in Northwest Arkansas Times includes account of fishing bass tournament with Foster Holtzclaw of Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Beaver Lake.

The following link brings up an April 20, 1975, Northwest Arkansas Times outdoor page with Holtzclaw and many other local anglers doing well in regional fishing events.
April 20, 1975, aubrey shepherd's outdoor column in NWAT covers Poor Boy Bass Association tournaments with Foster Holtzclaw doing well in season standings. Roger Mhoon, Sonny Whitson and Paul Castleman early qualifiers for Poor Boy Classic, Also article on North American Sportsman's Society with Bob Reed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joyce Hale pushing major legislation into legislative mix to protect wetland and riparian zones in Arkansas

Please click on image of stream-bed dredging and adjacent riparian-zone damage. The bill in the Arkansas General Assembly described below has a chance of preventing such madness.

Dear Friends,

Most of you know that I have been spending the better part of the last two years in an effort to preserve water and land resources in Arkansas with state tax credit incentives enjoyed by twelve other states. It has been a long road to today, but I am proud to announce that HB1577 was birthed shortly after noon today and is ready to run the legislative gauntlet on its way to passage. You may or may not be interested in reading all that is attached, but I just wanted you know that this small demonstration project has a chance of showing how important it is to protect Arkansas's water quality. The original bill that is being amended, would only offer credits to repair damaged wetlands and riparian areas. This amendment provides tax credits to landowners for protecting quality wetlands and riparian areas before they are damaged by development. If you are an Arkansan and inclined to speak positively about this to your state representative, I would be grateful for your support. These are challenging times economically and ecologically. This small program is only a first step to bring a full fledged conservation tax credit program to life. If it goes well, we will move to Plan B for something with real conservation potential. There is much to protect and your support might be just the amount to tip the balance in the final vote.


Joyce Hale

WHAT THE BILL DOES: Creates a new conservation easement program within the existing Wetland and Riparian Zones Tax Credit Program (Section 26-51-1501) under the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission; and establishes a new state income tax credit which can be granted under certain conditions to Arkansas landowners who voluntarily set aside land for the protection and enhancement of the water quality of our streams, rivers and lakes.
• Stream Bank Protection Works: It’s well known that setting aside land along our streams, rivers and lakes for the restoration of natural ground cover helps reduce erosion, sedimentation run-off, and stream-bank deterioration, thereby improving water quality. In addition, wetland and riparian zones provide habitats for fish and wildlife; help groundwater recharge; provide more opportunities for hunting, fishing and hiking; and encourage the restoration of timber and grasslands. We believe protecting the quality of Arkansas waters is crucial to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for all Arkansans.

• Existing Law: Currently, ANRC’s Wetland and Riparian Zone Creation and Restoration Tax Credit allows landowners to claim a tax credit for 100% of the costs associated with creating or restoring a wetland and/or riparian area – presuming they maintain the area for at least 10 years.

• What’s Proposed: Under this bill, landowners wishing to donate a wetland or riparian area conservation easement or full real property interest would be able to apply for a state income tax credit of up to 50% of the fair market value (but no more than $50,000) of the wetland and riparian land they donate to a land trust or governmental entity in perpetuity. We’ve named this a “Wetland and Riparian Zone Conservation Tax Credit”.

• Caps on Tax Credits: The draft legislation would make any approved conservation tax credit donation subject to the same $5,000 annual tax credit cap for each donation and the same 9 year carryover that currently applies to the existing Wetland and Riparian Zone Creation and Restoration Tax Credit program. Both the proposed and existing tax credits are non-transferable and limited to the existing $500,000 programmatic cap.

• No General Revenue Impact: DF&A says that the proposed conservation tax credit program has NO fiscal impact to the state since it uses existing and under-utilized funding within the existing ANRC budget.

• Who Approves? Conservation tax credit applications would be reviewed by the same Committee that reviews ANRC’s current program, with approval by the Natural Resources Commission. Members of the Committee are the directors of the Forestry Commission, the Game and Fish Commission, the Department of Finance & Administration, the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the Department of Environmental Quality, along with two members with expertise in wetlands and riparian zone ecology appointed by the Commission.

• Cost Effective: We believe the cost of protection will be much less than the cost of fixing the problem. Cleaning up dirty water, and restoring eroded stream banks is expensive. Building a natural system to protect water quality helps our environment and our economy, and it’s a cost effective use of taxpayer dollars.

• Access to Federal Tax Deductions: The proposed legislation includes language that meets IRS criteria for accessing federal income tax deductions for the granting of conservation easements or full real property interests.

• Oversight and Accountability: Valuation of the donation is determined by strict professional appraisal standards; stacking of tax credits is prohibited; ANRC sets the rules and keeps the records to ensure performance; DF&A would review to prevent abuse, and DF&A will report the total cumulative use of the tax credits.

All about Washington County businesses: Local540 now online as a community business resource

The Fayetteville Flyer, last week, announced a new site called Local540. It's a comprehensive directory of every business in Washington County, including hours of operation, pictures, maps, etc, on every local business. It is a pretty good resource if you are looking for a local plumber, electrician, a list of all the places to get Thai food, or even just whether or not Hugo's is open on Sunday.

Public television program listings linked below for Feb. 22-28, 2009

Please use links below to find program schedules for Fayetteville's public television stations for this week.
Feb. 22-28 government-channel listings
Public-access channel CAT 18 schedule for Feb. 22-28, 2009

Mardi Gras at Mike Shirkey's house on Block Avenue as close to New Orleans as true Fayettenamese can get without crossing many rivers

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Mike Shirkey and friends opening the Mardi Gras celebration in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Saturday February 21, 2009.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rosa Rosales, president of Lulac, in Fayetteville to fight discrimination; Mayor Jordan speaks in support of equality

Please click on image to enlarge view of Mayor Lioneld Jordan quoting President Abraham Lincoln in support of human equality before the Citizens of NWA Against Racial Profiling on Dickson Street's walk down Dickson Street to protest discrimination. Members of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology walked in support of the anti-discrimination effort. Please see story below from the Northwest Arkansas Times for Saturday, February 21, 2009, for more information about the issue.
Northwest Arkansas Times

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Rosa Rosales, national president of LULAC, addressing the crowd in front of Walton Arts Center at 7:37 p.m. Saturday February 21, 2009, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. For more about Rosoles, please visit
Rosa Rosales elected president of LULAC

Allegations of racial discrimination on Dickson Street have prompted one local group to take a stand.
Members of the online Facebook group, Citizens of NWA Against Racial Profiling on Dickson Street, plan to raise awareness this weekend by taking part in the African American Heritage Walk at 7 p.m. today.
The walk will start at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church parking lot on Dickson Street and will end at the front of the Walton Arts Center.
"It's a way to celebrate African-American heritage achievements in Northwest Arkansas and to bring attention to issues like racial profiling," said Corbin Blake, who helped create the online group. "We want this to be a peaceful awareness type of event. We don't want to overstep our boundaries - we're just out to try and help the situation."
Since joining the group several weeks ago, Blake said membership numbers have continued to skyrocket.
The site, which can be access by visiting www. php?gid=61630505119, features an open forum where members can share their thoughts, ideas and experiences.
"We started the Facebook page to try and collect as many stories as we can from people," Blake said. "It's pretty powerful right now. Last week we had 200 members and this week we have over 700."
Site administrator Lesleigh Creel said the group's popularity has prompted numerous residents to come forward with their own stories of racial discrimination. Blake said tonight's walk aims at furthering the group's awareness initiative through community education. Instances of racial dis- crimination on Dickson Street, he said, have become an all-too-common experience.
"I didn't realize it was so prevalent," he said. "I've experienced a couple things personally and have heard the same stories from a lot of other people. We just feel like this has gone on long enough and someone needs to be held accountable."
Though he admits that instances of racial discrimination aren't a common experience at every bar, Blake said most stories have centered around two Dickson Street bars owned by David Bass.
Bouncers at both Shotz and Stir, he said, have been accused of selective policy enforcement.
"There have been times when I've been asked to remove my hat, while other, white people in the bar didn't have to," Blake said. "I've also been told that my pants are too baggy but have seen other, white people with clothes a lot baggier than mine."
According to a sign posted on the window of Stir, the club prohibits customers from wearing sunglasses, hair net, hats, baggy clothing, jerseys, hoodies, towels and or chains.
Willy D's Piano Bar has a similar sign prohibiting the same items, in addition to tank tops, sweats, medallions, oversized T-shirts, bandanas, cut-off sleeves, skull caps or beanies. The policy also bans hats from being worn sideways.
"The dress code isn't a problem for me," Blake said. "They have the right to enforce their own policies. What bothers me is when they apply them to whoever they choose."
Blake said group members attempted to contact Bass to no avail.
"We feel like it's a slap in the face," he said. "We were taking the stance that maybe he didn't know this was going on, but he hasn't returned any correspondence with us or the mayor in about a month. We'd just like to talk to him."
As of Friday, Bass said he didn't plan on contacting the group.
"There's no discussion here," he said. "Any allegations of racial profiling are absolutely untrue. The inference that such statements are being made is extremely disappointing and unfortunate."
Bass described most of the allegations against the business as "hearsay."
"Anytime you're in the club business, you'll have a lot of gossip and water cooler talk," he said. "The fact of the matter is that we, like any other business, have a policy set in place that we will enforce and abide by. If you don't meet the conduct or dress code, regardless of race, creed, nationality or age, you won't be welcome nor should you be at any other business."
"If you conduct yourself in a professional manner, then you're welcome here," he said.
In addition to starting a Web page and hosting awareness events, members of the anti-racism group have submitted letters to the mayor, the police chief, local media and business owners to address the issue.
"We haven't received any complaints about racial profiling, other than the letter that was sent out," Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor said. "It's against the law for a business to discriminates against someone based on age, race, gender or religion. It's not a criminal offense, but it is something that could be pursued civilly."
The letter, which can be accessed by visiting the group's Facebook page, asks that Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan take a stand by publicly addressing the issue.
Calls made to Jordan weren't returned Thursday or Friday.
Copyright © 2001-2009 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact:

OMNI salsa and peace leadership event at 6 p.m. followed by diversity walk at 7 as part of Black History Month

Peace Leadership Forum
Saturday 6:00 pm, UCM Deep End
Salsa Potluck
7:00 pm, diversity walk for Black History Month

So what does diversity have to do with peace, anyway?

We probably don’t have to tell you about that. But it’s good to be clear and in unity about why we think it’s important for everybody to have a place at the table.

Saturday night over salsa we’ll talk about embracing diversity in our leadership, and then take action.

After we’re energized by salsa and conversation we’ll carpool over to the parking lot of Walton Arts Center, where a walk for diversity will be forming. With a bunch of other people from groups around Northwest Arkansas, we’ll walk Dickson Street as part of Black History Month.

We’re working in conjunction with “Human EQ”, a dedicated group who do cultural awareness and diversity education and training, and other good folks. We’ll be putting our boots on the ground where our values are rooted.

United Campus Ministries is at 902 W. Maple
for more information please do reply

Gladys Tiffany
Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
479-973-9049 --

Mardi Gras parade begins at 3 p.m., vendors ready; civil-rights march at 7 p.m.

Please click on image to enlarge view of Bikers Against Child Abuse booth on the Fayetteville Square at 1 p.m. Feb. 21, 2009, and follow link in previous post for information about the events.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two more things to do on Saturday listed by Fayettevillage Voice

Please visit Fayettevillage voice offers new more ways to spend Saturday for a couple other activities planned for Saturday, February 21, 2009, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

For important things to do early this morning, please scroll down this blog.

Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society meets at 10 a.m. Saturday in Fayetteville Public Library

Sat. Feb. 21, 10 am to noon, Walker Room, Fayetteville Public Library
> "Climate Change Coming Soon to a Planet Near You"
> presented by UoA Professor Malcomb Cleaveland
> Sat. Feb. 28, 10 am to noon, the same presentation will be repeated
> in the Rotary Room of the Bentonville Public Library.
> Douglas A. James tel: 479-575-6364
> Department of Biological Sciences fax: 479-575-4010
> University of Arkansas
> Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201, U.S.A. e-mail:

Mud Creek Cleanup set for Saturday, February 21, 2009

Please click on image to Enlarge view of Illinois River. Mud Creek is an urban tributary of Clear Creek, which is a tributary of the Illinois River.

IRWP Mud Creek Clean up Sat. Feb. 21‏
From: Contact IRWP (
Sent: Thu 2/12/09 12:54 PM

Join the IRWP on Saturday, Feb. 21, from 9 am till 12 noon to learn more about water quality, trees and conservation management from the Arkansas Forestry Commission and help us clean up Mud Creek and enjoy our natural resources!
Meet at the Mud Creek Trail entrance on Front Street just east of College Avenue, south of Joyce Blvd and north of Panera Bread Co. in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Plastic trash bags and gloves will be provided by the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Dept.
For details, please email or call 479-238-4671

Brian Binggeli to meet the public at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Walton Arts Center

All district patrons are invited to a reception to meet Dr. Brian Binggeli at a reception
on Monday, February 23 at 4:30 pm in the Joy Pratt Markham Gallery in the Walton Arts Center.
For more information on the superintendent search, go to this link:
Alan T. Wilbourn

Goose-shy Bella Vista POA votes to reduce goose numbers with guns but don't discuss covenant marriages of goose couples

Please click on images of pair of Canada geese with goslings in May 2008. This same pair has nested in the same area for about six years.

Apparently, the plan to capture and give away the unwanted geese isn't on the table this year. That sounded good when it was proposed in 2008, and I was told that people were signing up to adopt geese.
Both shooting and adopting create a common problem in dealing with geese. Geese pair up for life, and killing mature geese that already have selected a mate may leave a lot of widows and widowers that may not establish a new relationship. Capturing geese to be moved away would require taking both members of the pairs or the same result would occur.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee, an avid waterfowl hunter, did not go on record about this problem at the time he was advocating a program of covenant marriage for human beings. I can't recall his stating that the solid family structure of geese was a model he was saying human beings should follow.
The Morning News
Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Association Votes To Obtain, Use Goose-Culling Permit
By Anna Fry
BELLA VISTA -- The Bella Vista Property Owners Association board voted Thursday to obtain and use a federal permit to shoot 100 Canada geese.
The feces of Bella Vista's estimated 1,000 resident geese foul lakes and golf courses.
"This is not unique to Bella Vista," said Darrell Bowman, the association's lake ecology and fisheries manager. "This is a problem nationwide."
The board voted last year to use such a permit. After some resident objections, the board decided to pursue peaceful methods and let the permit expire.
Association officials presented their recommendations on goose control to the board Thursday. The recommendations were to start oiling -- coating eggs with embryos that haven't developed lungs to stop biological processes -- and educate the public that a city ordinance prohibits feeding geese.
The administration didn't take a position on whether to use the permit.
"That is such a controversial thing that I think the board needs to weigh in on that," General Manager Tommy Bailey said.
Board members supporting using the permit said they were concerned it may take a few years for the oiling's effect to become evident, which doesn't now help residents who have a goose problem.
"I think we've got a short-term problem and a long-term problem," said Bill Johnson, a board member.
The board voted 5-3 with Tom Wooters, Andy O'Neil and Anita Werts dissenting.
Werts said the association spent a lot of money on GeesePeace and needs to see what effect oiling will have before looking at how many geese to eliminate.
"I've come to grips that we're probably going to have to take some lethal means," she said.
City ordinances forbid shooting guns and hunting with guns within the city. The association will speak with city officials about obtaining a permit, Bailey said.
After halting the plan to cull last year, the association invited GeesePeace, a nonprofit group that promotes nonlethal methods of goose control, to visit. GeesePeace representatives recommended oiling and chasing the geese with a border collie. Chasing the geese makes them want to find a safer place before molt, during which they can't fly.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bella Vista's plan to oil Canada goose eggs inhumane and wasteful

Please enlarge photo of gander guarding goslings in May 2007.

The best thing would be for Bella Vista residents to learn to value and enjoy having wildlife around. But, if the lack of understanding of nature and natural resources can't be overcome, then there is an accepted and humane and sustainable way to deal with the perceived overpopulation of Canada geese on Bella Vista Lakes:
Eat the eggs. Forget the oiling. Think about that on your next visit to the egg counter at the grocery store. A dozen goose eggs is equivalent to more than two dozen extra-large chicken eggs and the flavor is at least as good!
Actually getting close enough to a pair of geese to rob the nest likely will give a person a lot more respect for the geese, which not only do not abort their young but will fight to protect them and mate for life!
The Morning News

Group To Oil Goose Eggs
By Anna Fry
BELLA VISTA -- The Bella Vista Property Owners Association will start oiling Canada goose eggs this year in an attempt to slow population growth, the association's general manager said.
GeesePeace, a nonprofit group that promotes nonlethal methods to control problem goose populations, visited the community last fall. Representatives provided a suggested plan that included egg oiling and chasing the geese with a border collie. The feces of Bella Vista's estimated 1,000 resident geese fouls lakes and golf courses.
Oiling means coating eggs with corn oil to seal pores so oxygen can't get in and biological processes stop. That's only done to eggs in which the embryos haven't developed lungs.
Association officials hope to set up a volunteer program where a team adopts a designated area, Bailey said. People who spot goose nests could report them to team members. The members could map the nests and later oil them.
Egg oiling is the best way to stop reproduction, said Darrell Bowman, the association's lake ecology and fisheries manager. The problem is the geese imprint in the area they are born and will stay rather than migrating.
The association will start at least trying to stop reproduction and hope over time the goose population will decline, Bowman said.
GeesePeace's report suggested oiling eggs in April. The report then suggested "site aversion" between mid-May and early June. Site aversion is making areas inhospitable to geese.
The report recommended using a border collie to flush geese from parks, lakes and golf courses. The border collie would cost $4,500, according to the report.
The association's board would have to discuss whether to use a collie in the future because that'll cost the association more, Bailey said.
He thinks it's unlikely the association will get enough volunteers to house the dog and take it out to flush all the lakes and golf courses. If not enough people volunteer, the association would have to add staff, Bailey said.
"The best world would be that volunteers would run the program and we would just coordinate," Bailey said.
Bella Vista has about 1,000 acres of lakes. GeesePeace's program has been used at smaller locations, Bailey said.
GeesePeace Director David Feld said that Bella Vista's size wouldn't make flushing the birds problematic. The program has seen success at larger locations including some that are countywide, he said.
"You're small," Feld said. "You're easy, probably one of the easiest places we're dealing with."
Bella Vista would be pretty successful controlling the goose population through egg oiling and no site aversion, Feld said. Many GeesePeace-assisted areas solely do egg oiling, which is sufficient for them, Feld said.
Without goslings, the geese won't be tied to the area. But a site aversion program would be helpful in the first year because the birds would think they need to find another place to molt, he said. Geese can't fly during molting season.
The association's board was to discuss the report at a meeting Thursday.

Sunshine nice after another cold night: mockingbird

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of mockingbird on February 19, 2009, at World Peace Wetland Prairie in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Morning News reports that Faytteville selects contractors to pick up limbs and another to document the work

"The debris hauling and chipping job is expected to take 120 days." How long will FEMA's check take to arrive to reimburse the city?
Will the chips work for firewood?
For more local news, please go to

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Cleanup Bids Come In At Least $1 Million Under Estimates

By Skip Descant
FAYETTEVILLE -- Contract cleanup crews will begin combing through Fayetteville in no more than 48 hours.

In a special-called meeting Wednesday night, the Fayetteville City Council released up to $4 million for debris removal and cleanup after the record January ice storm. Three million dollars will come from an emergency disaster fund. And the council granted the mayor authority to pull another $1 million from the general fund, should he need it.

Most of the cleanup cost will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state government. The city's share will be roughly $500,000, said Paul Becker finance director for Fayetteville.

This amount came in substantially less than the $5 million to $10 million estimate previously released.

"I think we got real competitive in our bidding," said Don Marr, chief of staff for Mayor Lioneld Jordan, and who served on the review and selection committee. "I'm just glad we're at the stage of starting work."

DRC Emergency Services, of Mobile, Ala., was awarded the pickup and removal contract at $4.21 per cubic yard, an amount the city felt proud of.

"We're looking at $3 less than Springdale right now," Jordan said. The debris hauling and chipping job is expected to take 120 days.

After reviewing 18 proposals based on criteria like qualifications, references, past performance and price, the list was narrowed to five. DRC was incidentally the low bid.

Solid Resources Inc. of Sarasota, Fla., will handle the review and monitoring portion of the cleanup.

"This was a very tough choice," Marr said, noting eight bids came in for this job. But Solid Resources was the firm charged with a similar monitoring role during a Tulsa, Okla., ice storm several years ago, Marr said, and is also the firm hired by Rogers.

However, even with the contractors in place, city officials say they plan to remain active observers and reviewers of the process.

"We're not just washing our hands now that these projects have been laid out. The city will still have an active role in the oversight of this process," Marr said. "We still very much have skin in the game, as they say."


Fayetteville Ice Storm Cleanup Contractors

Solid Resources Inc. -- $483,690

DRC Emergency Services -- $2,419,185

Source: Staff Report

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Public invited to meet one of the two finalists for the position of superintendent of Fayetteville schools

All district patrons are invited to meet Vicki Thomas, one of the two finalists for the
superintendent's position in our district. The public reception will be held on Thursday,
February 19 from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at the Walker Room of the Fayetteville Public Library.

For more information on the finalists, go to this link:


Alan T. Wilbourn

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coal-powered power plants take a hit

February 17, 2009
Contact: Harlan Hentges, 1-405-808-7669 or Robert Huston, 1-479-629-1073

Today’s decision by AES to cancel plans to build a second coal-fired generating plant in Panama is proof the handwriting is on the wall for burning coal to produce electricity.
Robert Huston of the Center for Energy Matters, the citizen-based group fighting the proposed expansion, says public outcry for newer, cleaner technologies is forcing companies to take a second look at how they generate electricity.
Combined with today’s Obama Administration action to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to Huston, “It’s no wonder AES pulled their application.”
“With today’s EPA ruling, the cost to AES to clean up carbon emissions from their existing Panama plant, much less a new plant twice the size, would make any company’s shareholders think twice about using coal to generate electricity, especially when cleaner technologies exist.” Huston said.
The Center for Energy Matters contends the six coal-fired generating plants in eastern Oklahoma creates smog, contaminates rivers, steams and water supplies with mercury and arsenic and creates a loss of economic viability to the region.
“This also proves that the people of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas don’t just accept things at face value. The people from Leflore and Sequoyah Counties who voiced their concerns about the health and economic ramifications prove they aren’t going believe everything a large, multi-national corporation tells them.” Huston said
“Adding another dirty coal-fired generating plant to our area could potentially force Tulsa, Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Bentonville out of attainment for air quality standards under the Clean Air Act. That could limit the entire region in attracting new industries to the area.” Huston said.
The Environmental Protection Agency, under the new leadership of Administrator Lisa Jackson, granted a petition from the Sierra Club and other groups calling for reconsideration of an unlawful, midnight memo issued by former EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson which sought to prohibit controls on global warming pollution from coal plants.
Today's decision is consistent with a previous ruling by the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) in the Utah Bonanza case, which found that there was no valid reason for the Bush administration's refusal to limit carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants. The so-called Johnson Memo sought to unlawfully overturn that decision.


Gladys Tiffany
Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
479-973-9049 --

Packet of background information for journalists, members of the telecommunication board and the public for 5:30 p.m. Thursday Feb. 19 meeting

Telecom Board packet of background information for February 19, 2009, meeting

Be careful what you spread on your property

Over the weekend the doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk . Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website,

this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that 'It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it.'

This Snopes site gives the following information:

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ' Theobromine' . It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

Red dirt abominable: West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality step up against red-dirt farm, limestone quarry

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of dump truck full of red dirt being hauled to construction site in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Please click on images to ENLARGE photos.

In the photo above, a layer of something approximating topsoil has been spread over red dirt used in trail construction but the chances of a strong enough crop of grass and other natural vegetation taking hold there to prevent erosion on a slope is questionable. Erosion from this site enters Scull Creek, a tributary of the Illiinois River.
In the photo below, red dirt has been built up several feet for the foundation of a strip shopping center in the riparian zone of a tributary of Fayetteville's Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River.

The story linked below is about as good as it gets for coverage of local resident/environmental groups' meetings. However, it is important to note one mistake, a mistake that may explain why comments about red dirt in water-quality discussions never get quoted by local reporters.
Red dirt is misunderstood.
Red dirt is not "rich, red dirt." A soil expert may be able to tell us about "rich, red dirt" someplace on earth. But "red dirt" in Northwest Arkansas is not topsoil even when one sees it on the surface. The natural topsoil has been removed by the mining process of scraping away the soil found above it.
The red dirt found in Northwest Arkansas is non-organic dirt that will not sustain life. It is stone and clay that has been hidden under a layer of organic soil for eons.
"If God had been proud of red dirt, God would not have buried it out of sight," said one Northwest Arkansas natural-resource conservationist speaking about its use on construction sites.
Road-builders and contractors putting up buildings use red dirt for foundation material. Some engineers and planners and developers call red dirt "good dirt" for their purposes. However, red dirt is the opposite of good for growing food or trees or flowering plants. Contractors who spill it beyond the bounds of a foundation quickly hide it under a layer of some type of organic soil that will at least grow a bit of grass.
But that means the possibility of raising a healthy garden or having a tree grow successfully for the long term is impossible forever, or at least until the red dirt is removed! Whole subdivisions may be found with solid red dirt where truly rich almost black topsoil formerly created fertile prairie land with the immense potential for agriculture and wildlife habitat. NOTHING LIVES IN OR ON RED DIRT. Human beings and other living things depend on organic soil for their existence.
Basically, red dirt-covered development sites are as impervious to water as paved lots. Stormwater runs off rapidly because it cannot soak in. The elements that erode from red dirt discolor streams and lakes and rivers and the silt doesn't stop discoloring the water for a long, long time. Native lIfe in streams decreases permanently after such changes in the watershed.
So, please, editors and reporters, let's not use the words "rich" and "red dirt" together. Certainly, people selling lots of red dirt may be enriched. But their product is not "rich" as an agricultural or environmental expert would use the word.
West Fayetteville serious about fighting red-dirt and limestone quarry

Neighbors decry noise, effects of blasting at Big Red Dirt Farm
BY DUSTIN TRACY Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, February 17, 2009
They're tired of the blasting, they're tired of the noise at all hours of the night and they certainly don't want to see the Big Red Dirt Farm, just off Hamstring Road north of Wedington Drive, converted into a limestone quarry.
That's why members of the West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality asked Ward 4 Aldermen Shirley Lucas and Sarah Lewis at the group's meeting Monday for the City Council's help in the battle against what has become a noisy, arguably dangerous, big hole in a number of resident's backyard.
"Quarry blasting on the edge of city limits can't be a good thing," Dave Bolen, president of the group, said.
The issue dates back to 2004, when about 50 acres were purchased by the William G. Sweetser Trust and A. Brad Johnson, who began farming the land for its rich, red dirt. Soon, the company decided to harvest the pillars of limestone that ran up through the dirt. Bolen said that was when his headaches started.
"They decided to fire up a rock crusher at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night," Bolen told Lucas and Lewis.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Natural resources treated like trash in Northwest Arkansas: Tree limbs and Canada geese

Please click on image to ENLARGE view of Canada geese.

The Morning News
Board To Discuss Geese

The Bella Vista Property Owners Association board will revisit the topic of Canada geese Thursday.
The association's general manager will explain GeesePeace's report, Chairwoman Roberta Dale said. The nonprofit visited Bella Vista and provided suggestions for controlling the goose population.
GeesePeace's suggestions include chasing the geese with a border collie, oiling eggs and using handheld lasers.
The general manager will tell the board the administration's recommendation, Dale said. She wasn't sure whether the board would vote.
The board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Country Club's board meeting room, 98 Clubhouse Drive.

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Springdale Contract Cleanup Begins

By Steve Caraway
SPRINGDALE -- City residents need to have their tree limbs ready for a storm debris cleanup which starts today.
Storm Construction Services of Mobile, Ala., will have 50 trucks hauling debris, in all four sections of the city, according to David Crump, company spokesman. The company aims to move from 10,000 to 15,000 cubic yards of debris each day, Crump said. Most of the debris piles look good for pickup, Crump said, but some might need to be relocated for the company to collect.
"Don't panic if we don't get all of your debris the first sweep," Crump said. "We'll be going through the city three times. We'll get it the second or third sweep."
Storm Construction Services earned the right to collect debris, haul it to be chipped or burned and then dispose of the remains. The company bid $3.44 per cubic yard for debris removal and $4.28 per cubic yard to chip and dispose of the debris. Burning instead of chipping would drop the cost 50 cents per cubic yard.
The contract runs for 60 days. The estimated cost for the cleanup of a projected 300,000 cubic yards of debris was $1.86 million.
"The first sweep should take about three weeks, the second two weeks and the third one," Crump said. "That would give us about 15 days to work on any special problems and clean the city drainage areas."
Storm Construction and Beck Disaster Recovery of Olathe, Kan., listed factors that would slow the removal of debris. Beck Disaster Recovery bid $296,591 to monitor the cleanup. Monitoring and documentation is required for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for 75 percent of the cost. The state and the city would split the remaining 25 percent of the cost.
Only vegetative debris is eligible for cleanup, said Danny Simpson of Beck Recovery, including limbs, tree trunks and broken shrubbery.
The city must keep other types of debris separated from the vegetation to remain eligible for FEMA reimbursement, said Mayor Doug Sprouse.
"We can't mix in broken boards from a fence, or lattice or a sofa," Sprouse said.
The FEMA eligible debris must be stacked in the street right of way to be removed. It cannot be stacked next to utility poles or boxes, gas or water meters, fire hydrants and low-hanging wires. The debris needs to be away from fences.
"If we can't move the debris, we'll leave a notice asking the pile to be moved," Simpson said. "We'll get the debris on the next sweep."
Storm Construction cannot go onto private property to remove debris, Crump said. Piles of debris along driveways or in parking lots need to be moved to be eligible for pickup.
Storm Construction also will cut down any branches hanging from trees over the right of way. Deciding which branches could land in the right of way is a judgment call to be made by Beck Recovery, the monitoring company, Crump said.
"You need to make sure all the debris is eligible for FEMA reimbursement," Crump said. "You don't want any surprise at the end of the job."
At A Glance
Counties Eligible For Federal Aid
Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway Craighead, Crawford, Cross, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Newton, Poinset, Randolph, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren and Washington.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Link below goes to information on another legislative failure to do the people's bidding

Google may help you learn more about the final two candidates to be Fayetteville school superintendent

The Fayetteville school board's blog linked below has brief comments on the candidates remaining in the running for superintendent.
Strangely, there is no mention of their academic qualifications, just where they got degrees. In order to understand them a bit, I would at least want to know what academic subjects they are qualified to teach. We seem to be drifting away from the time when the principal was the principal teacher, when the superintendent was a teacher of special talent and merit. link to Vicki Thomas' current worksite.

If this description of Binggeli is correct, he should be perfect for herdiing Fayetteville's school board. I have heard our school board described as a cluster. "Brian Binggeli, 48, is Cluster Assistant Superintendent for Fairfax County Public Schools in Falls Church, Va."

Cluster 4

Assistant Superintendent: Brian Binggeli
Office Address: 8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 5800, Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 571-423-1140 | Fax: 571-423-1147 | E-mail:
Home Page:

3209 Birchill Court, Glen Allen, Virginia 23059
Work (571) 423-1143 ♦ Residence (804) 261-6235 ♦ E-mail:


2001 DOCTOR OF EDUCATION - Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24060
1989 MASTER OF EDUCATION - Educational Administration and Supervision,
Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA 23860
1981 BACHELOR OF SCIENCE - Secondary Social Studies Education, Miami
University, Oxford, OH 45056


FAIRFAX COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, 8115 Gatehouse Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
2006-present Cluster IV Assistant Superintendent – Area responsibility for 29 sites in 3 high
school pyramids, adult and alternative centers, 22,000 students (total division size
164,843 students). I was asked to lead a project team that revised the division
school improvement plan process providing schools with a more focused and
strategic planning model. We have combined programmatic self-assessment with
best-practice research to enhance collaboration and instructional practice. AYP
math performance increased at a percentage higher than the division or state with
black and economically disadvantaged student subgroups showing the greatest
gains. Of the three FCPS high schools that posted double-digit increases in SAT
combined average scores from 2005 to 2007, two were in Cluster IV.

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY SCHOOLS, 8020 River Stone Dr., Fredericksburg, VA 22407
2005-2006 Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction – Responsibilities were
expanded to supervision of K-12 curriculum development and delivery, 24,186
students. We redesigned the professional development program anchoring site-
based and division efforts on student performance data and improvement goals.
2003-2005 Director of Middle Education – We reconfigured the use of instructional time,
reducing core area class size and creating time for in-day intervention. Student
performance during this two-year period increased for every subgroup with
overall achievement increasing at a rate much higher than the state average.
These achievement gains occurred despite the division’s percentage of
economically disadvantaged students increasing by 21% as compared to a
state increase of 5.3%.

HENRICO COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, P.O. Box 23120, Richmond, VA 23223
1995-2003 Principal - Tuckahoe Middle School, 1,164 students, grades 6-8; received Blue
Ribbon recognition by the U.S. DOE – 1996. Our school was one of nine middle
schools in Virginia to meet full accreditation status in the first year of Standards
of Learning (SOL) testing. Our percentage of economically disadvantaged
students was four times the average of the other successful comprehensive
schools. In my final two years as principal, our disabled students, as a group unto
itself, actually met Virginia’s standards for full accreditation. In these years, I
conducted regression analyses correlating the combined SOL results for both
regional schools and the 50 highest scoring middle schools in the state with their
respective economically disadvantaged percentage. In each case, our school
emerged as having results two standard deviations above its predicted outcome.
School division size: 47,537 students.
1993-1995 Principal - Goochland High School, 560 students, grades 9-12. We restructured
the use of time to increase student offerings and opportunity including the
creation of an early release program in which seniors studied at a junior college
or worked an internship at various businesses. We increased the percentage of
students earning an advanced studies diploma. In my two years as principal,
our students’ average norm-referenced test results (TAP) were 21.4% higher than
the average of the two previous years.

HENRICO COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, P.O. Box 23120, Richmond, VA 23223
1991-1993 Assistant Principal - Henrico High School, 1,034 students, grades 9-12.

1989-1991 Assistant Principal - Goochland High School.

HOPEWELL PUBLIC SCHOOLS, 103 North 11th Avenue, Hopewell, VA 23860
1986-1989 Social Studies Teacher - Hopewell High School, 1,080 students, grades 9-12.
Also served as assistant varsity football coach.
Department Chairperson (1988-89) - social studies department.

ELYRIA CITY SCHOOLS, 40719 Griswold Road, Elyria, OH 44035
1981-1986 Social Studies Teacher - Elyria High School, 1,890 students, grades 9-12. Also
served as head varsity ice hockey coach and assistant varsity football coach.


Adjunct professor – Virginia Tech; Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Ed.D. program – ELPS 6004 “Theories of Educational Administration”

Adjunct instructor – University of Virginia; NCED 103A “Leadership and Administration
Issues in K-12 Education” – administrative licensure program for identified teacher leaders

Selected as one of 33 administrators statewide to provide assistance to administrative teams in
school divisions having schools in the “School Improvement” category – summer, 2005

Served as a consultant to Dinwiddie County Schools - presented a workshop on the utilization of
research-based instructional strategies to the division’s middle school teachers - August, 2005

Steering Committee Member, Virginia Demonstration Project – effort between several school
divisions and Naval Centers in Virginia to team scientists and engineers with middle school
science and math teachers to use research and robotics to solve an original problem – 2005-2006

Served on a 21-member commission established by the Virginia General Assembly to “review,
study and reform educational leadership” – 2002-2004

Served on the Committee to Enhance the K-12 Teaching Profession in Virginia during the
completion of its final proposal to the Virginia Department of Education – 2002; Invited by DOE
to participate in the Virginia Teacher Quality Forum – March, 2003

Served as a discussant for the Virginia Department of Education Learning Forum - created
instructive videotape related to effective instructional leadership – 2000

Member: American Association of School Administrators; National Association of Secondary
School Principals; Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals; Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development

Invited by the VASSP to present a session supporting the meaningful use of data and research to
improve instructional leadership – Virginia Principals’ Conference – June, 2005

Presented workshops on the effective utilization of data to improve instructional practices and
enhance program development – Henrico and Spotsylvania County Public Schools New Teacher
Academies and Leadership Development Programs – 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006

Presented workshop for education leaders throughout the nation when school was selected as a
location for the National School Board Assoc. Education Technology Site Visit – March, 2003

Invited to present effective school practices to the Virginia Department of Education Instructional
Division – June, 2002

Presented research related to school accountability - University Council for Educational
Administration Convention - 2001 (refereed)

“An Analysis of Issues that Helped Shape Florida Public School Accountability Legislation:
1989-2000” (published doctoral dissertation)


Selected by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals as Outstanding Middle
School Principal of Virginia – 2002

Selected Henrico County Public Schools Instructional Leader of the Year – 2000 (division size –
66 schools; 47,537 students)

Nominated by the Richmond Area Counselors Association for the Virginia School Counselors
Association School Administrator of the Year Award - 2001


Invited by the Council on Virginia’s Future to join leaders from business and government to
frame an issue booklet on human capital development for tomorrow’s economy – fall, 2005

Member of Glen Allen Community Center

Volunteered with family to feed the homeless at a local shelter, clean up a local park, pick up
trash on adopted stretch of road, and support efforts of the local SPCA

As a principal and central office administrator, I met parents in elementary schools, church
community rooms, and apartment community rooms in an effort to help them support their
children in school.


Married to Sherri Binggeli. One daughter – Hailey – 10 years old


Available upon request