The past, present and future of Main in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Main Street RevivalMarch 28, 2013
Vol 39 • No 30
Community without the commute.
Last December, the city of Little Rock unveiled the Creative Corridor, a master plan to revitalize four blocks of Main Street.
Says Main Street needs private dollars to boom.
An interview with producing artistic director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
She nurtures new life, with garden and more.
North Little Rock's Main Street revitalization got a head start on Little Rock's, thanks to Argenta Community Development Corp., whose work to restore 100 houses in the historic neighborhood starting in 1993 and create a more stable residential area was a catalyst for Main Street improvements.
Mending the historic fabric of the Argenta neighborhood, the restoration of its 19th and early 20th century properties, played an important role in its revitalization.
Main Street in Argenta wasn't always a refined place of restaurants, art walks and community theater. But it has always been a place with good bones.
Bennett's Military Supplies opened in 1870, which makes it unquestionably the oldest surviving retail shop in Little Rock.
Mr. Cool shouldn't, by all rights, exist in this day and age. A general clothing store in a downtown core, it's like something out of another era.
Could there be a greater anachronism these days than a video rental store? Didn't somebody declare the idea of renting a movie from an actual person dead as a doornail about the time the Blockbuster leviathan went belly up some years back? And yet, there is the reality of Main Street's RAO Video.
It's hard to imagine a better example of a Main Street survivor — or a survivor anywhere, for that matter — than Argenta Drug at 324 Main St. in North Little Rock.
Little attention has been given to an interesting little story Michael Cook wrote about the other day in Talk Business.
The new Republican legislative majority is settling so many scores and catering to so many base interests that it's truly impossible to keep up with them all.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services last week released a summary of findings that expanding healthcare coverage via the "private option" would cost the feds less than 15 percent more than traditional Medicaid expansion, and could even come at no additional cost at all.
Events today reminded me of another piece of legislation by Rep. Jim Dotson of Bentonville, who sponsored the resolution approved today affirming the legislature's support for gay discrimination in federal law and the Arkansas Constitution.
The Arkansas House didn't heed Rep. Deborah Ferguson's stirring call to, for once, "stand on the right side of civil rights" (past examples she cited — slavery, early opposition to women's rights, seg laws). On a voice vote, the House approved a resolution reaffirming Arkansas's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
If I were attorney general of Ohio, prosecutions in the Steubenville rape case wouldn't end with the conviction of two high school football players. In interviews, Mike DeWine indicated that he might seek additional charges, possibly obstruction of justice and failure to report child abuse.
From a letter to the editor — "However, they did not accurately understand the truth and asserted 'contradictories' into their writings."
Around 500 gathered March 30 to protest the state legislature.
Local rapper spearheads effort.
What follows is your typical story of a 6-foot-tall black female Republican who starts off in Wynne, Arkansas, and ends up in Israel, writing for a Zionist newspaper and studying counter-terrorism.
Within days, we will know whether the Arkansas DREAM Act, the legislation focused on providing in-state college tuition to undocumented young people who have been educated in the state's high schools, has legs in this legislative session.
Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday vetoed the Republican vote suppression bill because it unnecessarily restricts the right to vote. It was courageous.
Penguins and pork chops stand out.
It was also a good week for expansion, a tax cut and a protest. It was a bad week for old favorites from retrograde legislators.
"Forty-two-year-old Cal Amadee of Bare Ridge was found unresponsive this morning in his cell. He was being held in a single medical cell due to flue like symptoms."
Also, Rouxster at Afterthought, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at the Statehouse Convention Center, MacArthur Unleashed at MacArthur Park, Machine Gun Kelly at Juanita's, 25th Annual Community Easter Sunrise Service and Hot 8 Brass Band at White Water Tavern.
Baseball, for all its puffed-up charm as a piece of Americana, is really a pretty fiendish oddity. At the collegiate level, it's especially true.
The Times caught up with Beebe native and "The Voice" contestant Cody Belew this week
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, celebrated its third birthday Saturday, and you get the feeling that the infant that was so widely unwanted after its difficult birth is gaining family adulation as it develops a personality and character.
The Observer saw him while walking out of The Observatory the other day: a bright yellow parakeet, perched on a branch over the driveway.
Arkansas needs the legislature to pass Senate Bill 1093, a bill requiring a racial impact statement for any legislation introduced that affects punishments for a crime. Why, some would ask? Well, we haven't finished the work that we started when we ended convict leasing that allowed the punishment system to target African American men.
With Easter just passed, I've been thinking a lot about faith — why we need it, what purpose it serves, and just how devout many of the people who claim to be religious really are. It's a question for the ages, and will probably be debated until the sun goes supernova or language finally devolves into a series of squeaks and grunts, whichever comes first.
James McMurtry at George's Majestic Lounge, too.
Just as every mass shooting in this country produces a counter-intuitive cry for more guns in circulation, so every showing of the harm done by merging religion and government drives Arkansas officials to pursue amalgamation more ardently.
The awful legislative session now raging may go into the history books as Beebe's Finest Hour. The governor wouldn't like that — he'd rather be remembered for doing good things than for trying unsuccessfully to stop bad things — but sometimes it's our response to adversity that most distinguishes us.
'Olympus Has Fallen' has 15-year-old boys in its sights.
A campaigner for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor told me weeks ago there'd be moments undoubtedly when people of my political persuasion would be unhappy with some of the positions he took in his re-election campaign.
You know how Republicans have become masters at giving misleading labels to legislation in hopes (often realized) that the press will use these labels in news coverage?
This ought to cinch it. The masters of the universe have spoken: The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has today announced its support for the “private option” healthcare coverage approach currently under discussion by members of the Arkansas General Assembly and the Governor’s office.
Daughtry, Sugar Ray, Darius Rucker, Lupe Fiasco, Drive By Truckers, Peter Frampton and more to Riverfest
Lupe Fiasco will perform at Riverfest this year.
"Portraits in Gray: A Civil War Photography Exhibition" features 70 images from the collection of an Atlanta collector.
Cosby plays at Stickyz Friday night.
Rouxster plays at The Afterthought Friday.
You do read Rock Candy don't you? If not and you're a Riverfest devotee, check it out today for the headliner lineup for this year's Memorial Day weekend party on the river.
Today was the day in House Judiciary for Bullet Bob Ballinger's bill to assert state supremacy on various matters related to firearms.
The Argenta Film Series screens "JFK" at Argenta Community Theater Thursday.
The Sound of the Mountain plays at White Water Tavern.
Rep. Stephen Meeks said on Twitter this afternoon that he wouldn't move for a vote today on a House vote to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the Republican Party's voter ID bill, national cookie-cutter legislation the GOP has rolled out to suppress the vote of traditional Democratic constituencies that lack driver licenses and ready means to go through steps needed to get required ID. Meeks later told the AP the delay was because of a long agenda and that he'd try next week.
Cody Belew released a new video with singer Meghan Linsey.
St. Vincent Health CEO Peter Banko said in an interview today that the decision to affiliate with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will not be made on savings alone — the $38 million to $63 million estimated by a Deloitte Consulting study isn’t so great that it’s a deal-maker — but also on the ability of the third-party affiliated entity to expand.
OK, you may not always like our politics, but I think you'll like our cooking.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform at the Statehouse Convention Center Saturday.
Another day done. Final items:
Paul Leopoulos, director of the THEA Foundation, and state Rep. Paul McLean, chair of the House Education Committee, made a successful pitch today before the committee to give a do pass to HB1689 to create a pilot program in 15 schools to test the Arkansas A+ arts-infused education model.
I turned the pages of the New York Times quickly this morning (yes, turned pages of the print edition) and passed a number of articles worthy of note, particularly: * THE GREAT RAZORBACK MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN: Remember Dana Altman, the Creighton basketball coach who spent one day as Razorback coach, then gave it up to return home to Omaha.
Arkansas Community Organizations has scheduled a tour Saturday of the parts of town where need is greatest for the street work promised by the city's massive sales tax increase.
I was copied on an e-mail being circulated at UAMS. It is building support for a resolution before the Academic Senate at UAMS for partner benefits in health insurance for the University of Arkansas System.
Sounds like this turkey is cooked. Direct support by House Speaker Davy Carter and slightly qualified support by Senate President Michael Lamoureux would make it appear Gov. Mike Beebe is going to get his big state subsidy to help a startup steel mill operation in Mississippi County, despite stout opposition from an existing competitor that cranked up here without such millions in taxpayer help.
Collin vs. Adam plays at The Joint Saturday night.
CDI Contractors of Little Rock, in partnership with the Hunt Construction group, has been chosen by the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission to handle the expansion and renovation of the Robinson Center and its music hall.
I got a note last night from Steve Patterson, former aide to former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, objecting mildly to my calling her a lobbyist in an item about Sen. Mark Pryor's comments on gay rights.
Some as always, share with us where and what you are eating this week. We're chomping at the bit.
When they say it (voter ID, whatever) isn't about race or poor people .... Check this out.
The Arkansas unemployment rate in February held steady at 7.2 percent. Details here.
There's some self-back-patting on Twitter this morning about the Republican idea introduced by Sen. David Sanders to put an office of Medicaid inspector general in the governor's office.
Two events for your consideration on what's supposed to be a rainy Saturday.
Machine Gun Kelly returns to Juanita's Sunday.
The Community Easter Sunrise Service is Sunday at Riverfest Amphitheater.
Pulaski County Humane Society announces its 8th annual contest in honor of “Be Kind to Animals” week May 1-8.
"Monty Python's Spamalot" comes to Robinson Center Music Hall Monday and Tuesday.
The Body will release "Master, We Perish" April 30.
Nate Bell, Charlie Collins, David Sanders, Medicaid expansion, private option
Two big headlines from the DHS release of actuarial findings on expansion options yesterday. They project that 1) The "private option" saves $670 million to the state bottom line over ten years.
Today’s chances of passing expansion: 85%Last week’s chances: 82%See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter
Prop 8 and DOMA and the Arkansas General Assembly and Sen. Mark Pryor shameful responses where, the fight over voter ID, media criticism of the Democrat-Gazette, the morality of Republican tax cuts, Big River Steel, new numbers on expansion and the latest on the potential merger between UAMS and St. Vincent — all covered on this week's edition.
Dead around here. Then I remembered, it's kind of sort of a holiday.
I think it's worth a separate bit of attention to the pipeline break and crude oil spill, which apparently followed an explosion.
You just have to follow Diane Ravitch if you live in this land of Stepford legislators who accept pronouncements from the Billionaire Boys Club school reform lobby as holy writ.
The Arkansas legislature faces a six-day week next week because of the need for extended meetings to complete action on pending business before the currently scheduled end of the session April 19.
I couldn't begin to catalogue all the steps taken by the Arkansas legislature to combat a problem that doesn't exist.
The line is open. We finish up with the threat of pipeline companies taking your property; a thanks to President Obamacare for private option Medicaid expansion, and a tour of Little Rock's neglected streets.
Hmmm. Late and not much to bring at this point, either: * HAPPY EASTER: I did join a good crowd beneath the River Market pavilions for Pulaski Methodist's sunrise service this morning and did get to give a good hug to Swann Kohler, my old friend who got the ball rolling 25 years ago.
Slow and improving day. The line is open.
By EPA standards, the oil spill at Mayflower wasn't the only major one in Arkansas this month.
Good story from Rob Moritz of Stephens Media on an underhanded little ol' amendment from Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home to open the flood gates of state money to support home schoolers with tax dollars.
The Frontier Circus plays at White Water Tavern Tuesday.
Exxon Mobil has established a webpage with information on the major spill of heavy Canadian crude from a break in its Pegasus pipeline near Mayflower.
Good way to distract attention from unhappiness over House Speaker Davy Carter's failure to move expeditiously enough for some Republicans on the House vote to legalize vote suppression (voter ID) in Arkansas by overriding Gov. Mike Beebe's veto.
Little Rock's first look at authentic Neapolitan pizza comes from the mobile pizza oven at Pizzeria Santa Lucia. They're just beginning to roam the streets of Arkansas, hoping to spread the gospel of great pizza to all willing to listen.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has posted an initial report on the accident Sunday at Arkansas Nuclear One that killed one worker and injured others.
The Arkansas Realtors Association report on housing sales in Arkansas February shows the number of sales down slightly from a year ago, by 1.5 percent, but prices up by more than 7 percent.
She's the lone Arkansas nominee for a people's award from Food and Wine magazine.
Deadline to enter design is April 15.
The Little Rock Film Festival will achieve organizers long-stated goal of having a walkable festival this year. All of the festival's venues will be within walking distance from downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.
An e-mail from Pat Riley Jr. announces the sale of the Little Rock Athletic Club, effective today, to a group of executives from Stephens Inc., led by Brad Eichler.
At 2:20 p.m., the House is hearing arguments from Rep. Stephen Meeks to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the bill to require a photo ID to vote in Arkansas.
The Church at Argenta has begun work to put a coffee shop, Mugs Cafe, at 515 Main St., next door to the Argenta Market.
Cody Belew released a new song and video today.
It's your turn. Closing out with Grover Norquist, pipeline peril for Lake Maumelle and the growing list of lawsuits to be spawned by this legislature.
Some odds and ends to start the day. * THE WAR ON THE POOR THROUGH PAYDAY LENDING: Is it really a surprise that a gang of Republican lawmakers is trying again to open the legal door to bring the blood-suckday payday lending industry back into Arkansas?
The monthly state revenue report shows a dip in receipts in March, both against last year and below the forecast.
The Hot 8 Brass Band plays at White Water Tavern Wednesday.
Good interview by the Washington Post with the director of North Dakota's only abortion provider, a a clinic that the legislature there has been trying by man means — several similar to efforts underway in Arkansas — to legislate out of existence.
Big news last night with the announcement that House Speaker Davy Carter and Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux have endorsed the “private option” for healthcare expansion.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who's been something less than an environmental crusader to date, has announced that he'll investigate the Exxon Mobil pipeline spill that drenched a Mayflower neighborhood with thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil.
Little Rock's newest farmer's market will be running during the evenings, giving market goers even more flexibility in when they'd like to shop for some of Arkansas's finest produce and artisanal products.
The National Rifle Association, with Arkansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson as front man for the gun lobby, has a Washington news conference at 10 a.m. to announce their suggestion for response to recent gun violence in school.
Several complaints have arisen this morning that the House Education Committee, which is hearing several so-called "school choice" bills this morning, that only supporters of the bilsl are being allowed in the room.
I mentioned yesterday that a lawsuit was already cooking should the legislature pass a proposal being pushed by the two Arkansas casinos at West Memphis and Hot Springs to make it difficult to put initiated acts and amendments on the ballot.
Gov. Mike Beebe's office has announced positive news from the federal government on the proposal to expand Medicaid by moving those eligible to coverage under private insurance programs through the new health insurance exchanges.
Sen. Joyce Elliott will try again today. A resolution for Arkansas to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment is on the Senate State Agencies Committee agenda at 10 a.m. this morning.
Roby Brock at Talk Business reports that Mike Ross, the former congressman recently turned lobbyist-in-waiting for the Southwest Power Pool, has resigned from his government affairs job.
Paul Leopoulos, director of the THEA Foundation, has shared the link to the Thea Arts Festival webpage, and what a lineup of artists the festival has!
While lawmakers will clamor for further assurances and details from the feds, the information released in recent days has affirmed the basic framework of the Arkansas “private option” (although you might not have known it reading some responses in the national media).
The line is open. Some final notes: * WHO PAYS FOR OIL SPILLS?: This was an amazing piece of news to me. Pipeline companies pay into a fund that is used for cleanups when disasters happen.
Three pampered meats come together into something amazing.
After weeks of discussion following the "private option" announcement, the legislature finally has an actual bill to debate.