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REX NELSON: In Washington County

Subscriber onlyAfter two hectic days in booming Northwest Arkansas, the stillness at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park and at Cane Hill is welcome. I exit Interstate 49 at Fayetteville on a warm weekday afternoon and head southwest for two stops that will allow me to soak up Arkansas history. Continue reading...

Creating a sense of place

Subscriber onlyNorthwest Arkansas is on a roll. As cities across the country were scrambling to compete for Amazon's second corporate headquarters, Wal-Mart announced last month that it will build a new corporate campus at Bentonville. Some real estate experts in that corner of the state predict Wal-Mart will end up spending almost $1 billion on a project that could lead to at least another $500 million in construction elsewhere in Bentonville during the next decade. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: The Coles of Piggott

Subscriber only"I always wanted to be Atticus Finch, and this is as close as I'm going to get," Joe Cole says as he sits behind the desk at his law office in downtown Piggott. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: A downtown reborn

Subscriber onlyIt's only 11:30 a.m., and a steady stream of customers already is coming through the door of the restaurant named The Parsonage 322 in downtown Jonesboro. The business at 322 S. Main St. serves lunch Monday through Friday, dinner on Fridays, and brunch on weekends. In January 2016, the ongoing revitalization of downtown Jonesboro attracted John and Ramey Myers from Marion in Crittenden County, where the married couple's restaurant was in a former parsonage. Continue reading...

Constructing a community

Putting together a plan to revive Pine Bluff

Subscriber onlyThings are bustling on a Wednesday morning at the Highland Pellets plant in Pine Bluff. The $229 million facility manufactures wood pellets for the European market. Due to its modern, efficient production methods, the plant created only 70 full-time jobs. But it's expected to create hundreds of indirect jobs across south Arkansas in the timber industry due to its tremendous demand for pine. When fully operational, Highland Pellets will produce more than 600,000 metric tons of pellets annually with an annual direct financial impact of at least $85 million on the Pine Bluff area. Continue reading...

Effort above and beyond

Subscriber onlyBack in December, Tom Reilley, the man behind Pine Bluff's $229 million Highland Pellets plant, spoke at a graduation ceremony for Southeast Arkansas College. Continue reading...

The slot-machine man

Subscriber onlyIt happened 50 years ago this week, and it's a day Tony Frazier will never forget. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: An apple-growing tradition

Subscriber onlyThere's a reason that the apple blossom is the Arkansas state flower. In the early 1900s, Benton and Washington counties were the two largest apple-producing counties in the country. Continue reading...

Moving on up

Subscriber onlyWhen the Arkansas Democrat sent me to Washington, D.C., in 1986 to serve as its bureau chief in the nation's capital, I quickly learned that Southerners who live and work on Capitol Hill tend to hang together. That's how I got to know Bob Mann. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: The meat of the matter

Subscriber onlyThe smell of smoked bacon is almost overwhelming, and I mean that in a good way. I'm touring the Morrilton Packing Co. with Edward Ruff, one of the three sons of David Ruff who are involved in this family-owned business. I love bacon, though my wife has nixed the idea of joining a Bacon of the Month club. Morrilton Packing is best known for its Petit Jean brand of meats, and we're seeing it being processed--bacon, hams, turkey, various kinds of sausages, hot dogs, bologna, luncheon loaves and more. Continue reading...

A revitalization dream team

Subscriber onlyAs we toured the Murphy Arts District in downtown El Dorado several weeks ago, Madison Murphy stopped to take a call on his cell phone. I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that the subject of the phone conversation was wine. After all, the Murphy family owns a California winery named Presqu'ile in the heart of Santa Barbara County's Santa Maria Valley. Continue reading...

A Delta pilot project

Subscriber onlyThe weather is perfect as we sit on the deck of the old freight depot at Arkansas City in Desha County that Robert Moore Jr. affectionately refers to as Peck's Southeast. If there's a more peaceful place to be in the Arkansas Delta on this September afternoon, I'm not aware of it. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: The remarkable Roaf family

Subscriber onlyDr. Clifton Roaf was one of the most inspiring men I've ever met. I came to know Roaf, a Pine Bluff dentist who died last week, when I worked for Simmons Bank. He served on the bank's board and also on the board of the Simmons Foundation. His prayers before foundation board luncheons were legendary, as were the pep talks he would give when things weren't going as well as they should have been going in Southeast Arkansas. Continue reading...

Unvarnished truth at Lakeport

Subscriber onlyMy mother enjoyed visiting Natchez, Miss. As a boy who loved history, I also looked forward to our trips to that old city on the Mississippi River. We would tour antebellum homes and have lunch at the Carriage House Restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall. The ladies of the Pilgrimage Garden Club have served food at the Carriage House since 1946, and my mother always would order fried chicken. When trips take me through Natchez, I try to make it to the Carriage House and order fried chicken, the restaurant's silver dollar-sized biscuits and rice and gravy in her honor. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Arkansas' unifying force

Subscriber onlyThe Arkansas Razorbacks don't have a game today, thus giving those frustrated by last week's 28-7 loss to TCU a chance to see other college teams. UAPB is at Arkansas State. ASU, unlike the Razorbacks, will occasionally play other Arkansas schools. In Conway, the University of Central Arkansas hosts Southeastern Louisiana. And all six of the state's Great American Conference teams host squads from Oklahoma. That means two games in Arkadelphia along with contests in Magnolia, Searcy, Monticello and Russellville. Continue reading...