Some for the thumbs

The week’s ups and downs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Now that 7 Hills Home­less Cen­ter has got­ten on a bet­ter foot­ing with a plan for the fu­ture, its chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer re­cently an­nounced his de­ci­sion to move onto some­thing new. Who can blame him? It’s a de­mand­ing job. Billy Rader has done yeo­man’s work in get­ting the or­ga­ni­za­tion back on its feet. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but the foun­da­tion he’s helped shore up will make that work less dif­fi­cult.

Pun­dit and con­ser­va­tive provo­ca­teur Ann Coul­ter made the news again (she must have an­other book com­ing out soon). This time, she got into a Twit­ter war with Delta Air­lines over the fact that on a re­cent flight she was moved from a seat on the aisle — which she paid an ex­tra $30 to get — to a win­dow seat. Ac­cord­ing to Delta, it was hu­man er­ror and ev­ery­one’s sorry and Coul­ter got her money back. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Coul­ter’s Twit­ter feed, the Delta per­son­nel she dealt with were akin to sadis­tic prison guards who worked for the worst air­line on the planet. We get be­ing frus­trated when a busi­ness doesn’t de­liver what it promised. And we also get Coul­ter makes her liv­ing by play­ing the snide, ob­nox­ious, in­sult­ing jerk with a pretty face. There must be some brand­ing value in meet­ing those ex­pec­ta­tions in ev­ery hu­man in­ter­ac­tion. But those Delta ticket agents and flight at­ten­dants aren’t the well-paid lib­eral talk­ing heads she loves to skewer on TV. They’re just do­ing their jobs. Some­body made a mis­take, and a mi­nor one at that. It’s not like they dragged her off the plane or can­celed her flight. Get a grip, Ann. Not ev­ery prob­lem re­quires a shrill rant.

Bill Bradley got an early re­tire­ment gift Satur­day night at the Wash­ing­ton Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter gala in Fayet­teville. The fundraiser dou­bled as a go­ing-away party for Bradley, the soon-to-be re­tired WRMC chief ex­ec­u­tive. His fam­ily, friends, co-work­ers and col­leagues of­fered their best wishes to the leader who man­aged the hospi­tal’s tremen­dous growth over the past 13 years. But most peo­ple talked first about Bradley’s high char­ac­ter and vi­sion, and how much they’d miss him when he steps down in Novem­ber. The ac­co­lades are well-earned and the com­mu­nity is bet­ter off as a re­sult of his hard work.

Sev­eral times in re­cent weeks, the news­pa­per re­ported on pub­lic school stu­dents from across the re­gion tak­ing time out of their sum­mer va­ca­tions to, well, go to school. Sort of. Dif­fer­ent kinds of pro­grams in Spring­dale and Rogers stressed the im­por­tance of lit­er­acy through en­cour­ag­ing kids to read and write even though the school build­ing is closed. Those are only two of dozens of ex­am­ples of ded­i­cated teach­ers and con­cerned par­ents work­ing to­gether to keep kids en­gaged dur­ing the sum­mer. Even if it’s sum­mer time, pro­fes­sion­als teach­ers don’t stop do­ing their jobs. They just keep look­ing for ways to open path­ways to suc­cess for the chil­dren who count on them. Some­one once said ed­u­ca­tion is the sil­ver bul­let for poverty and hope­less­ness. These teach­ers, and many others, are hit­ting the bull’s eye even when the kids aren’t in school.

A dis­ap­point­ing story in the news­pa­per last week in­di­cated that a hand­ful of elected school board po­si­tions the re­gion had no one had signed up to run. All were in smaller com­mu­ni­ties in the area. We of­ten hear that schools are the lifeblood of small towns, yet those are the places where it seems the most dif­fi­cult to find peo­ple to run for po­si­tions like school board. In many com­mu­ni­ties, the only time there are con­tested school board races are in the midst of con­tro­versy or some other un­pleas­ant­ness. And then the elec­tions are of­ten col­ored by axe-grind­ing and sin­gleis­sue can­di­da­cies. If schools are so im­por­tant (and they are) then more civic-minded peo­ple should be in­ter­ested in tak­ing a turn at serv­ing.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Padma Viswanathan, a Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor who was re­cently named win­ner of the Porter Prize, given an­nu­ally to an Arkansas writer whose work de­serves spe­cial recog­ni­tion. Her work in­cludes the nov­els “The Ever Af­ter of Ash­win Rao” and “The Toss of a Lemon.” The prize was cre­ated to honor Ben Kim­pel, a long­time UA pro­fes­sor of English, who in turn asked that the award be named for his mother, Gla­dys Crane Kim­pel Porter. Past win­ners in­clude nov­el­ist Don­ald Har­ing­ton and jour­nal­ist Roy Reed. That’s a long way to go to say that Viswanathan’s name is now on a very im­pres­sive list of Arkansas au­thors.

When it comes to find­ing ways to reach peo­ple whose choices have landed them in jail, al­most ev­ery idea should be on the ta­ble. You never know what will click with some peo­ple and help them find a straighter, bet­ter path. Last week’s story about New Leash on Life, a pet ther­apy pro­gram for fe­male in­mates in the Ben­ton County Jail, might have hit upon one of those magic con­nec­tions. Dogs from lo­cal shel­ters are brought into the jail to in­ter­act with the in­mates, who are re­spon­si­ble for their care while there. The pro­gram is de­signed to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity and morale among in­mates. And it has the added ben­e­fit of giv­ing pur­pose to the lives of the dogs, who might other­wise be con­fined to a shel­ter cage, or worse.

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