Category Archives: Arkansas


Organization Helps Southeast Arkansas Animal Control

MONTICELLO — First let me state my conflict of interest: my wife runs Faunahope, so I have a vested interest in both keeping her happy and helping her place animals.

Yet I repeat: my wife runs Faunahope, which means she’s invested to the point that she requires a site visit to insure the animal will be placed in a HOME rather than a halfway-house.

If you’re interested in helping adopt, foster or donate to defray food expenses, please contact her. And help us find a home for this guy:


Defenders of Honor Stand Guard for Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier

Photos courtesy of Aaron Etue
Flip Out Photography, (870) 370-0826

MONTICELLO, Ark. — As promised, a flashback to last weekend when a group of Arkansans mobilized in Pine Bluff, Ark.,  to defend the honor of a U.S. soldier whose funeral was targeted by the Westboro Baptist Church. Thanks to Aaron Etue of Flip Out Photography, we can show you the scene.

First a little background in case you didn’t read the first post. Vilonia High School math teacher John Allison, a former Marine and friend, organized folks through a facebook public event to fight the hate of WBC with love toward the family.

Within 36 hours, 126 people pledged to attend and stand up for the honor of fallen Arkansas soldier, Army Sgt. Michael J. Strachota. Allison estimated more than 200 people (including the Patriot Guard riders) showed in support of Sgt. Strachota and his family.

“It was an awesome sight,” Allison said in a facebook email exchange. “That many people, most of whom didn’t know the Strachotas at all, standing in the hot sun to honor him and his family. Several elderly people stood on the flag line until they almost collapsed, but each time another person quickly came to their aid and another took their place in line.”

Rumors placed WBC protestors at the White Hall Huddle House — a call to boycott the business received lukewarm response on the facebook page — but Allison only knew of three who protested at 6th and Main, down the street from the memorial service. The heat also forced some people to stay home though they’d pledged to come. Allison said the crowd thinned once the mass began.

Etue shot these photographs for posterity, but luckily he is willing to share here. Click on the photo to see the full-sized image.


Group Plans to Shield Soldier’s Service

An Arkansas high school teacher’s facebook page to “Preserve the Honor of Fallen Pine Bluff Soldier” plans to buffer funeral participants from a Westboro Baptist Church protest Saturday afternoon at Pine Bluff’s St. Joseph Catholic Church.

John Allison, a 44-year-old former Marine who teaches math at Vilonia High School, started the page Friday afternoon; by midnight, 62 of the more than 1,800 invitees confirmed they would attend with an additional 31 maybes. (UPDATE: Those attending topped 100 by 10:30 CST this morning.)

The stated goal of attendees is to keep the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., from disrupting the memorial service for fallen Arkansas soldier, Sgt. Michael J. Strachota of the U.S. Army. Strachota died June 24 in Afghanistan, a week and a half prior to a scheduled home leave on July 5.

“Please join us to peaceably make certain these disrespectful hatemongers are far enough removed they cannot disrupt the service or upset the family and friends,” Allison writes. “Help us prevent this so-called church from dishonoring this man’s honorable service and sacrifice.”

A press release indicates WBC will preach “in respectful, lawful proximity” that God kills American soldiers as punishment for sin. The flier uses incendiary language about military personnel, including the phrase, “Thank God for IEDs.”

In stark contrast, Allison provided five ground rules for those providing a “shield”:

“1. This will be a peaceful undertaking. We are certainly not here to cause a scene that will cause more of a disturbance than WBC. Our goal is not to shout, scream, or strike those gathered with WBC.
“2. Do not bring weapons of any kind: no guns, knives, mace, pepper spray, or anything else you might be tempted to use as a weapon.
“3. Our goal is to get enough people together to shield those attending the memorial service from the WBC protesters.
“4. Flags, crosses, crucifixes, other symbols of patriotism and religion are welcome. If you wish to make signs, they should have only positive messages honoring the courage and sacrifice, nothing derogatory or demeaning toward any person or group. Remember, we are there to help honor Sgt. Strachota, not to protest or make a political statement.
“5. We have now learned the Patriot Guard will be at the service also. They do this all the time at military funerals across the country so we will fall in with them and follow their lead.”

According to the Patriot Guard Riders’ website, the motorcycle enthusiasts “standing for those who stood for us” will also be in attendance. The group warns participants to hydrate; the Weather Channel predicts it will be 95-96 degrees by the 1 p.m. start, though the 46 percent humidity will make it feel like 104.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Allison and the reporter attended Northeast High School in the late ’80s.)


Suite: Occupy Little Rock


Arkansas’ State Capitol reflects in a button worn by a protester. (Photo by Sitton)

Movement the First: To Protest or Not

It started with a spark.

A Canadian spark no less, when the Adbusters Media Foundation came up with an idea to Occupy Wall Street. That spark started the occupation in Liberty Plaza Park Sept. 17, America’s Constitution Day.

At first, few paid attention. But the movement gathered steam and the spark spread to cities across the country and then around the world.

During the time of year normally reserved for the state fair, the spark made it to the Natural State.


I stayed up too late Friday night with one of my best friends. He would leave Saturday morning for three weeks of drill with the Arkansas National Guard, which has orders to be ready to go to Afghanistan at a moment’s notice … they just don’t know when they’re going. He’s already been to Iraq twice and would just as soon not see the site of America’s longest war.

I’d told him I’d planned to go to the march, to which he retorted, “As a participant or to cover it?” I hadn’t actually decided yet. So he asked me what was the goal, since he’d heard it was just a bunch of rich kids camping out in New York. Why weren’t they in D.C. instead, if they wanted to fix something with the government?

As I explained, it’s not the government. When 9/11 happened, where did they aim first? At corporate America. That was a terrorist act; this seemed to be something more.

We spent the evening debating whether a protest would actually work. I suggested if I marched in protest, my personal reasons would be to end the Federal Reserve and to get the military out of Afghanistan. Needless to say, we kept it up long after we needed to go to bed.

As I lay down and set my alarm, I noticed it was nearly 2 a.m.  That 9 a.m. start would come early.

Continue reading

“And Not a Drop to Drink”


NORTH LITTLE ROCK — This morning we will rise early to participate in a march for Arkansas’ water. Why? The easy answer: once they’ve messed up air, food or water, it cannot be fixed.

As an Arkansan, I’ve been blessed with an incredible natural water supply. I thought everyone would get pure water in the 20th century … up until the time I moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1995. I didn’t stay long, in part due to continually getting sick when the water was bad. Looking for a job took me through a couple of opportunities, including one selling water purifiers. At first I laughed, especially at the joke about “Evian,” the first bottled water, being so named due to folks being naive about the world’s water supply.

I didn’t laugh after seeing the tap water turn a murky yellowish-brown after the exhibitor conducted a purity test.

I’m back in Arkansas again, but now the question’s concerning hydrofracking and the resulting problems with our water supply (not even considering the possibility that the process is contributing to earthquakes in North Central Arkansas). Continue reading

Merry Christmas (yeah, that’s what I meant)

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — I found it funny (and not in a ha-ha way) that someone actually had to ponder whether to tell me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. I think the second title might give the holidaze too much credit.

How happy can one feel to wait in line for a checker when over a quarter of the lines aren’t manned? How happy can one feel to see people trampled, in some cases killed, so that someone can get the big deal on the flatscreen television? How happy can one feel to know that even with cheaper gas (for now at least) it’s going to be tough for people to have Christmas? Better yet, how can the vast majority of people consider it a holiday when their credit bill escalates while we bail out Citi and friends? Maybe Citi got a holiday; we didn’t.

Happy holidays? Bah! Humbug! Continue reading


Southern Arkansas Election Issues Forum


MONTICELLO, Ark. – You’ve heard the candidates, now it’s time to also consider the issues.

Attend the 2008 Election Issues Forum at the University of Arkansas at Monticello in the University Center Green Room on Tueday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

Brought to you in part by the UAM American Democracy Project, the UAM Journalism Club, and the UAM Speech and Debate Program, this event promises to educate the public about ballot initiatives prior to the Nov. 4 election.

Supporters and opponents of the ballot issues facing Arkansas voters will speak about the proposed State Lottery, Unmarried Couples Adoption Ban, Water Bond Act and more. Confirmed interest groups sending representatives include the Family Council of Arkansas, Hope for Arkansas and Arkansas Families First.

Audience members in this Town Hall-style forum will submit questions for the candidates to answer following the discussion of each issue.

New College Football Feature…

Editor’s Note: Due to the dwindling quality of online news coverage that makes it easy for readers to scan and find out about upcoming events, we are launching this new feature for football season 2006. Each Friday, we will carry a column from a legendary Southern sports writer who wishes to write under a pen name here to prevent career problems at the corporate news organization he is affiliated with. Do you ever find yourself just trying to find an easy place online to find out what games are coming up, what time the games start, and what television network will be carrying them? Then check back in here every Friday afternoon or Saturday morning and we’ll have it for you. It’s easy to print out. Just hit the print button in your Web browser.

It’s Not A Big Game Weekend, Unless You Are A Tide Or Hog Fan

by Paul Rockne

After a big week of big games in college football last weekend, this week’s schedule is a letdown. Not that there aren’t a few interesting matchups … especially if you are an Alabama or Arkansas fan, for instance, but the meaningful meetings on the college gridiron are few and far between.

On the Southern scene, the Crimson Tide will travel to Arkansas for what is always an important meeting of these two similarly-clad teams (often, it is hard for viewers on TV to tell which team is which because their colors match up so well).

“This game usually always decides a lot about your year,” said the Hogs’ head coach, Houston Nutt, last week. And he’s right. Historically, the winner of the early-season meeting between the Tide and Hogs will battle for the SEC West title, while the loser is relegated to the second rung of the standings.

And while the Alabama-Arkansas game doesn’t have the glamour of last week’s West matchup between Auburn and LSU, it could produce the same type of glued-to-the-screen drama. The cumulative score while these two division rivals have been splitting their last eight games at 4-4 has been just as even … Alabama 191, Arkansas 191.

And with both teams having trouble scoring points while playing solid, for the most part, defense in their first three games, it looks to be another defensive slugfest like last week’s AU-LSU headliner.

The similarities between the two teams this season are uncanny. Both sport close conference opening wins over Vanderbilt and a win over an early-season creampuff. The main difference is that while Bama was opening its season with a close win over Hawaii, the Hogs were being beaten badly by Southern Cal.

Part of both teams’ offensive problems stem from the fact they each have new starters at quarterback – Bama going with sophomore John Parker Wilson and Arkansas with true freshman Mitch Mustain.

Arkansas (2-1 overall, 1-0 SEC) has been named the pre-game favorite, by a narrow 2-and-a-half-point margin over the still unbeaten (3-0, 1-0) Crimson Tide.

The Bama-Arkansas game is the main CBS game for the weekend – highlighting the weak week’s schedule – with game time set for 2:30 p.m. After an absence from the TV lineup in two of the first three weeks of the season, Bama will be on national TV for two weeks in a row. CBS has announced it will broadcast the Alabama at Florida game from Gainesville next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

No. 2 ranked Auburn (3-0) will not be on the tube anywhere – not even pay for view – as they host the University of Buffalo Saturday.

Speaking of the War Eagles, Auburn fans have been saying “all the way to Glendale (site of this year’s BCS national championship game)” since last week’s win over LSU. The thinking is that now all Auburn has to do is to win out to make it to the title contest.

But Auburn, as well as anyone, knows that winning out is not enough – not if more than two teams make it through the year unbeaten. And this could be one of those years.

After three weeks of the 2006 college season, 29 teams are still on the unbeaten list. The include, by conference: SEC – Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida; ACC – Boston College, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest; Big East – Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia and South Florida; Big Ten – Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin; Big 12 – Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M; Conference USA – Houston; Mountain West – TCU; Pac-10 – Arizona State, Oregon, Southern Cal and UCLA; Western Athletic – Boise State; Independent – Navy.

This week’s college football TV schedule kicks off tonight, Friday, with Northwestern at Nevada at 7 p.m. on ESPN2). Saturday’s weekend TV lineup, other than pay-for-view is as follows:

Wisconsin at Michigan, 11 a.m., ESPN
Minnesota at Purdue, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Cincinnati at Virginia Tech, 11 a.m.
North Carolina at Clemson, 11 a.m., ESPNU
Iowa at Illinois, 11 a.m., CSS
Louisville at Kansas State, 11 a.m., FOXSS
Colorado at Georgia, 11:30 p.m., WJCT
Alabama at Arkansas, 2:20 p.m., CBS
Penn State at Ohio State, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Arizona State at California, 2:30 p.m. FOXSS
Connecticut at Indiana, 2:30 p.m., CSS
Rice at FSU, 2w:30 p.m., ESPNU
West Virginia at East Carolina, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Western Carolina at Furman, 6 p.m., CSS
South Florida at Kansazs, 6 p.m., FOXSS
Miami (Ohio) at Syracuse, 6 p.m., WAPNU
UCLA at Washington, 6 p.m., TBS
Kentucky at Florida, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
Boston College at North Carolina State, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Notre Dame at Michigan, 7 p.m., ABC

The biggest game on the grid schedule this week will not be played on Saturday and it will not be a college game either. This week’s big game will the first game played in New Orleans’ Super Dome since Hurricane Katrina. After playing a whole season on the road, the Saints return to the Dome in triumphant fashion for what is actually an important division win. Coming to town is arch-rival Atlanta and the game Monday (7:30 p.m. on ESPN) will be for first place with both teams sitting at 2-0.

The Sunday NFL television schedule has Carolina vs. Tampa Bay at noon (FOX), Jacksonville at Indianapolis at noon (CBS), New York Giants at Seattle (3:15 p.m. FOX) and Denver at New England (7 p.m. NBC).