Heroics, politics top off week’s development
It’s hard to believe most Northwest Arkansas students are just a couple of weeks away from a return to the classroom, their summer nearly finished. Some might be tempted to give that a thumbs down, but great things lay ahead for the approaching school year.
Here’s our latest collection of thumbs from here and there:
Officer Steven Creek of the Fort Smith Police Department received his department’s Life Saving Award and the Chief’s Award for his actions on Feb. 22, when a mother reported her son was attempting suicide at Riverfront Park. Creek found her son face down in the Arkansas River and jumped in. A struggle ensued but Creek ultimately brought him back to the river’s banks. Creek, a fiveyear officer for the department, put his life on the line for the sake of another. Our communities are well served by people like Creek every day.
Joseph Wood has been the Washington County judge since January, but his work to promote the statewide Republican Party goes way back. He was the party’s treasurer and served under Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin as a deputy. Because of his years of dedication and contributions to grow the GOP, he was named winner of the John Paul Hammerschmidt Party Builder Award for the 3rd Congressional District.
It almost sounds hopeful, a move by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, the plaid-shirted Republican Tennessean, and Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, to begin work on a bipartisan effort to stabilize the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Didn’t they get the memo from their party leadership? It’s about notching a win, not making things better, right? One has to wonder how far they’ll get. It’s not leadership if you look behind and nobody’s going the same direction as you. But we appreciate the effort, because progress will come from people who recognize the Senate. as Sen. John McCain said on the Senate floor recently, hasn’t “been overburdened by greatness lately.”
“Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic,” McCain said. “And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.”
It’s great news — sad, but necessary — that Arkansas
State Police troopers will soon carry with them a nasal spray that counteracts the effects of opioid overdoses. The state has seen significant growth in the number of opioid-related overdoses, from 153 in 2011 to 227 in 2015. Oh, there’s a cost involved ($47,088), but the lives saved are worth so much more, don’t you think?
We vote “yes” to our own proposal that the county-appointed election commissioners in Northwest Arkansas deserve kudos for their development of regional election commission groups. Other such groups are forming across the state, inspired by the actions of the Northwest Arkansas group. County election commissioners are the foundation of fair, efficient elections in every county, but many of the laws and rules they operate under originate within the state and federal governments. These regional groups will give them a clearer voice in helping to influence policies and ensuring all 75 counties have strong systems.
Speaking of regional election commission groups, we note that while interest is strong among county officials, Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office hasn’t shown up yet despite being invited. His office only supervises the state’s elections and selects the kinds of equipment that will be used. A reporter’s effort to get a comment from the office’s spokesman met with a voice mailbox that was full and no response to emails. The office should be at the forefront of efforts to ensure the state has a trustworthy and effective election system. It’s hard to lead if you don’t show up.
Although the precise nature of a future science center may be a little hard to see, astronomy enthusiasts brought a 106-year-old, 36-foot-long telescope from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania to Northwest Arkansas last week. The telescope, one of the largest refractors in the nation, will be stored for now, but the group Supporting STEM and Space Inc. has grand plans for a facility that will promote science, technology and math. The group’s volunteers have taken one giant leap toward their goals with the telescope’s acquisition.
A massive blaze in January destroyed nearly the entire fleet of buses Ozark Regional Transit relied on to provide mass transit services in Benton and Washington counties, but it’s good to hear news ridership has returned to near pre-fire levels with the assistance of many other transit systems who loaned or gave Ozark buses to use. Ozark Regional Transit officials say they could acquire new buses within months. This region needs a mass transit system, and that will be even more true as it grows. The transit system deserves praise for navigating its way through its unexpected disruption.
Congratulations are in order for Janie Darr, the retired superintendent in Rogers who received the Dick Daniel Distinguished Citizen Award given by the Rogers Rotary Club and named after the former president of Daisy Manufacturing. The award recognized excellence, creativity and initiative in improving the community; devotion of time and energy to improving the quality of life for others; and helping others developing and use their full leadership potential.
It’s Tontitown Grape Festival week, giving folks from there and from all around a good reason to join in the fun, whether it’s carnival rides, some Italian spaghetti, musical entertainment or a 5K run. What a great slice of Northwest Arkansas culture!