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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers

July 2, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 1, 2019.

Ask someone what is the single most important state agency or body in Arkansas, and you might get different answers. Department of Health? Department of Human Services? State Police? But in this Natural State, don’t underestimate the importance of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the new leadership coming on board.

Over the years, over the decades, the AGFC has been one of the most well-run, and successful, outfits in state government. Remember when 20-head of men would hunt a whole autumn over one deer track? Kids, gather around, and we’ll tell you when turkeys couldn’t be found in the spring. And elk weren’t a tourist draw here. And bears were a rare sight indeed. But with wildlife management in the hands of the Arkansas Game & Fish, this place is rockin’, hunter-ly speaking.

Last week the governor appointed a young lady as the newest member of the commission: Anne Marie Doramus, all of 27. And she’s the first woman nominated to serve a full term in the commission’s history, according to the papers.

It’s great to see more women being put into positions of leadership, and Asa Hutchinson has made it a priority. It really does take all types.

Anne Marie Doramus told the press that she’s an avid duck hunter. Who can blame her? Is there anything more exhilarating than the wind blowing in your face of a January morning, about daylight, when the ducks come into the decoys? As long as there’s plenty of hot coffee available to take the ice off your upper lip. Apparently Anne Marie Doramus learned to love duck hunting while she watched her father and brothers in the blind. When she was in preschool. Ducks beware.

Some of us didn’t know this, but the commission does face challenges. The paper said that hunting and fishing licenses are on the decline. That’s surprising, given the number of duck calls we hear every year. But young Mrs. Doramus holds a degree in journalism and advertising from the UofA, so maybe some of her talents will translate into much-needed help.

Anne Doramus is apparently ready to use new technology to help accomplish these goals and more, including making use of social media to reach new audiences, digitizing hunting and fishing regulations for easy access in the field and establishing an automatic renewal system to reduce noncompliance when it comes time for renewing.

If anyone can figure out to reach new sportsmen and introduce them to the joys of hunting and fishing in The Natural State, it’ll be someone their age who grew up with the passion and is eager to share it.

In a duck blind in preschool.

We like that story.

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The (Hot Springs) Sentinel-Record. June 30, 2019

When did dehydration become a plague on our society?

It seems like everywhere you go nowadays everyone has a water bottle in their hand. They bring one to the gym, have one in their car and bring one into the office. Meetings have to be delayed while people run to get their bottles because they can’t be without them that long. Water bottles seem to be these folks’ constant companions. They seem to be either drinking from them, refilling them or looking for their misplaced water bottle.

The water bottles vary in size from the disposable, clear bottle to massive behemoth thermoses that carry enough water to keep the pools at Magic Springs full for the entire summer. They come in colors from black to neon green to even gold. Some have sayings or images on them and some will even beep when you haven’t drunk from them enough for the day.

I did a little research on dehydration and CBS News reports that while most people know perfectly well that water is the way to go, up to 75 percent of the American population fall short of the 10 daily cups prescribed by the Institute of Medicine — which, in medical terms, means that most people in the U.S. are functioning in a chronic state of dehydration.

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that people who were mildly dehydrated were much more likely to feel fatigued during moderate exercise and even when sedentary. Fatigue is a common dehydration symptom, and it’s said to be the number one cause of midday fatigue.

Research by Dr. David Benton stated dehydration, even mild dehydration, has been shown to put stress on cognitive functioning. Dehydration was linked to a loss in concentration and short-term memory, as well as an increase in feelings of anxiety and irritability. With children, studies are more conclusive that hydration can improve attention and memory.

With dehydration being such a “thing” I guess we should adopt a mascot for the effort. I nominate the ship of the desert better known as the camel. Camels constantly carry their water on their backs and are never dehydrated. Think about it, camels can spit a country mile and as everyone knows if you are dehydrated you are not spitting for distance.

We could bring back Joe Camel from the old Camel cigarette ads. He hasn’t really been working for a while. We could hijack the slogan that Joe used “I would walk a mile for a Camel” and change it to read “I can walk for miles because I am a camel.”

We could form camel clubs in each city. These would be social clubs for all the water beast out there. They could gather and have water sampling parties. Tasting all the varieties of water and different flavor packets that can be added to water to change the flavor. I would suggest having the meetings on Wednesdays each week. Get it, because Wednesday is Hump Day.

Come on everybody, let’s embrace our thirst. Not only would this be healthy for us but it would give an old cartoon figure from the past a new life. So everyone lift your gallon jugs and toast the return of Joe Camel. Because while Winstons may taste good like a cigarette should, water can make you think like you oughta.

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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 2, 2019.

If, on traveling through Benton and Washington counties, you’ve ever wondered why tiny Bethel Heights exists, you’d not be the first person to ponder the question. Small towns are at the foundation of Arkansas culture, but Bethel Heights is among those wedged so tightly between other cities it’s difficult to imagine why it needs its own government and related services.

Lately, it’s been impossible for journalists to even get a comment out of Bethel’s Heights’ mayor, Cindy Black. What is the point of having a mayor is if she can’t be counted on to speak openly and candidly to the challenges her city faces? As questions about Bethel Heights’ polluting sewer system linger, Black has steadfastly refused comment, a strange strategy for the leader of a city whose citizens need answers.

The town’s residents deserve better from the person elected to meet those challenges.

For years now, the city’s sewer system has been in and out of compliance with state regulations and, at times, has polluted land nearby. Recent reporting in the Democrat-Gazette shows the state Department of Environmental Quality has monitored and admonished Bethel Heights, but has also been right alongside the small community in granting extensions and delays while acknowledging permit violations threaten public health.

The sewer system was out of compliance from May 2013 to December 2016, according to state records, including the state’s grant of six months’ worth of extensions for the city to fix its problems.

Let’s acknowledge there aren’t many systems regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality that go their entire operational lives without some violations of their permits, which the state issues to guard the state’s environment. A spokesman for the state agency said its goal is to get all systems into compliance. In Bethel Heights, the result has been disappointing.

Neighbors, in the meantime, have complained about contaminated runoff affecting land and water. And now, the state has asked Springdale Water Utilities to refuse any new water service customers in Bethel Heights “until we can come up with solutions,” said a state official. Maybe that will at least slow the instances of sewer system problems.

J.R. Davis, spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, couldn’t have been more right in saying “the onus is on Bethel Heights.”

Like many other smaller communities very close to larger ones with more complex and trustworthy systems, it seems the time has come for Bethel Heights to make a responsible decision: connect to another city’s more reliable sewer system.

From all appearances, the Department of Environmental Quality has encouraged, extended, cajoled and nudged for years, seeing small signs of progress followed by more problems. It looks like an agency dealing with pollution problems in plenty of towns, and those seem tiny compared to larger issues like hogs on the Buffalo National River. But does the environment recognize any difference when it’s being polluted by a small town or a big one? Does that make it any better?

One also has to worry how many Bethel Heights-like systems exist around the state.

It doesn’t help when a town’s mayor or other leadership clam up, refusing to discuss what seems, from the outside, like negligence, ignorance or incompetence.

If a town can’t handle its waste effectively, without polluting land and water nearby, perhaps asking whether that town ought to exist isn’t so far-fetched. We’re not saying Bethel Heights should cease to exist. We’re saying it needs to handle its business.

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