- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A sampling of recent editorials from Arkansas newspapers.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 8, 2015

Waving the bloody shirt (again)

It’s the bane of good city planning: Discontinuing one street right in the middle of its course, or at least changing its name, and then restoring its name further on.

It’s the same street. Only the name has been changed, then changed back again. It’s got to be confusing. Little wonder so many people get lost and have to ask for directions. (“I was on Confederate Boulevard a moment ago, but now I’m on Springer. Can you help me?”)

No town can have enough straight streets on a simple, predictable grid, but Little Rock has entirely too many that suddenly take on an alias, then return to their original name, leaving any visitor bewildered.

It gets even more confusing when the (brief) change of name gets all tangled up with old grievances made current politics. There’s a name for it (waving the bloody shirt), a frequent practice back when the Civil War had been officially concluded -but the undeclared war between unreconstructed rebels and Yankees bent on enforcing a vengeful peace on the South continued unabated.

That war after The War lives on in the rhetoric of one Anika Whitfield, who objects mightily to leaving any remnant of Confederate Boulevard on the municipal map. The lady could have stepped out of any reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic back in the late 19th Century, to judge by her overheated rhetoric:

“The Civil War was meant to divide the U.S. Anything that is divisional (maybe she means divisive), has a racist tone, promotes hate, promotes unjustifiable murders of innocent adults and children, it certainly is one we need to dispel, we need to erase, we need to eradicate from a living history. We need to recognize it as the ill it was in historical perspective and move forward to try to prevent any other ills of that nature.”

Goodness. The lady could be Thaddeus Stevens delivering a stemwinder in the middle of Reconstruction—that is, waving the bloody shirt for all he was worth.

Couldn’t we just try to make our city planning rational without indulging in all this completely unnecessary, even provocative, grandiloquence?

Or would that be unspeakably rational? As a Union general named Grant once wisely suggested, “Let us have peace.”


Texarkana Gazette, July 8, 2015

One year later: Rubble still occupies site of old Masonic lodge

Back in its day, the Border Masonic Lodge Number 672 AF&AM; (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) building on West Seventh Street was quite the place.

Built in 1923, the lovely structure saw many years of service before the Masons left in 1984.

The years that followed were not kind to the building. Like so many abandoned structures in our town, it didn’t take long before the lodge became derelict.

Then on July 7 of last year, a fire broke out and destroyed the once proud lodge. What was once the pride of Texarkana Masonry in 1923, and for years afterward, was reduced to a pile of unsightly rubble.

And a pile of unsightly rubble it remains, one year later.

Owner Rod LaGrone, a local attorney, has been promising to clean it up. Texarkana, Texas, officials were supposed to ensure that happened.

Yet the rubble remains.

We hear a lot of talk about restoring old buildings downtown. The Hotel Grim. The Hotel McCartney. The train station.

All well and good. We hope for the best. But for now, those are just dreams. The reality is that no one_neither the owner or the city_has done much of anything about what’s left of the old lodge building_something that is both an eyesore and a hazard.

One year later. Still rubble.

We wonder what the site will look like a year from now.

We think this pile of rubble speaks worlds to how powerless our city is to deal with the most obvious of problems.

The owner has been treated more than fairly. The rest of our sensibilities have been summarily dismissed.

Your local government at work for you.


El Dorado News-Times, July 7, 2015

Use caution around flooding

Take out a dollar bill. Stand it on end. Imagine rushing water only that deep.

That’s enough water to knock over an adult.

Water only twice that depth can shove a vehicle off a roadway.

These facts are not unheard of. Yet, in recent weeks, someone somewhere in this state has gotten into a dicey situation on a regular basis because he or she failed to respect water’s power and arbitrary nature. Rushing water doesn’t care who you are or what your station in life is. If you cross its path at the wrong time, you’re likely to lose.

Scenes from Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma this spring and early summer have shown us why flooding is the nation’s top natural killer, responsible for more deaths each year than hurricanes or tornadoes.

Not that many years ago, a horrible tragedy at Albert Pike campground claimed the lives of nearly two dozen, as floodwaters raged through that valley in the overnight hours. There was no warning as the water rose foot after deadly foot.

That’s the hidden danger of flash floods: They come on in, well, a flash.

And there’s that infamous online video of an Arkansas TV reporter standing at the water’s edge along a flooded road, warning about the dangers of driving through water just as a motorist heads into the water. Moments later, the camera caught the vehicle floating away and the reporter helping the driver to safety.

So, why is it that too many people keep finding themselves in precarious situations involving floodwaters? Bravado surely plays a role. Ignoring the risks, though, should not.

Driving through water is extremely dangerous. Not only can one foot of water push a vehicle off a roadway, water can degrade a road. Most of the time, rushing water isn’t clear, and seeing a giant hole where the road should be is impossible. So, don’t drive through water. Turn around, don’t drown.

Entering a waterway swollen beyond its normal depth is risky, too. The current will be stronger and faster, and even the best swimmers are no match for a raging torrent of water. Also, as water flows into streams and rivers, it brings debris along with it.

Ever get run down by a tree while trying to swim? When a stream or river is deeper than usual, the water may be hiding stumps, brush or structures that could injure a swimmer or capsize a watercraft. Finally, even if the temperature is warm, running water will be cool, and hypothermia can set in quickly.

When natural disasters, including flooding, come our way, the costs can be high in terms of human and material resources. Do your part to not add to the tally.


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