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Time for some Thursday thumbs:

[THUMBS UP] Evergreen Cemetery, burial site for many of Fayetteville's founding families and influential leaders throughout history, can't rely on its eternal residents for maintenance. They set the foundation for what Fayetteville, Washington County, the region and state have become, but they can't keep their fence-bound final resting place from giving way to the corrosive effects of time. Thankfully, some people recognize the value of preserving community history. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recently award the Fayetteville Evergreen Cemetery Association a $35,100 restoration grant to repair a crumbling stone retaining wall that's more than 100 years old. Historic figures like Archibald Yell, Lafayette Gregg, J. William Fulbright and his mom, former Northwest Arkansas Times publisher Robert Fulbright, are buried there. Beyond protecting the hallowed ground because it's a burial space, it deserves protection for its historical significance. We're thankful the nonprofit association that maintains the cemetery got this support from the state's historic preservation program.

Give’em a thumb

Want to give some brief feedback on news? Someone who deserves a pat on the back? An idea that needs a dose of common sense? Recommend a “Thursday thumb” by calling Greg Harton at (479) 872-5026 or by email at gharton@nwadg.com.

[THUMBS UP] Dick Barclay is one of those rare people who earns respect from business competitors, praise from political opponents and gratitude from the many, many people he's helped in his life and career. Barclay, a lifelong Republican and former member of the Arkansas General Assembly, has no greater cheerleader than David Matthews, a Democrat who served in the House of Representatives with him. Heck, even the Rotary Club has nothing but good things to say about the former leader of the Rogers Lion's Club. On Tuesday, the Rotary Club of Rogers presented Barclay with it's fourth annual Dick Daniel Distinguished Citizen Award, and no one deserves it more. Barclay, a pillar of the Rogers business community who founded an accounting firm that's still going strong, served 16 years in the House and was also director of the state Department of Finance and Administration. He also put his name and efforts to any number of community projects, from helping establish Northwest Arkansas Community College to helping put Rogers Little Theater -- now Arkansas Public Theater -- on solid financial footing. And, oh yeah, he and his wife Jan raised a wonderful family who are all making contributions to make the world a better place. Dick's son, John, told a story Tuesday about his dad that sums up the man's character. When John was young, he made a disparaging comment about his father's opponent in a political campaign. Dick's reaction was to introduce John to the opponent so he could see that, while people may have political differences, that is not what's important. What is important is treating each other with respect and courtesy, despite which side you happen to be on. John said it was an important lesson for him. In fact, it's an important lesson for us all.

[THUMBS UP] The news from Northwest Technical Institute the other day was chilling ... in ways that only can be good. Tyson Foods and the governor's office have both pitched in $1 million and another 17 private companies have made contributions worth another $1 million to expand the refrigeration technology program at the technical school. Almost $1 million will go toward renovating space at the state-supported Springdale school, with the rest going toward new equipment and related construction. Educators at NTI say the robust philanthropic effort will position the school among the top in the nation for refrigeration technology, a program that will draw people to Northwest Arkansas for training. There's currently a shortage of trained workers in the field. NTI, with the help of state and private funding, is fulfilling a vital role in career education.

[THUMBS DOWN] Former state Sen. Jake Files is in a federal prison, having reported there the other day. That might be worthy of a thumbs up, except that it's a sad outcome for his life and for the damage his actions have contributed to in Fort Smith and in the reputation of our Arkansas Legislature. That reputation has taken a beating lately because of the greedy actions of a few lawmakers. Our down-turned digit is really about the disappointment many Arkansans feel in people who were elected to serve the greater interests of the state and their fellow Arkansans. Former lawmakers like Jon Woods, Micah Neal, Hank Wilkins and Eddie Cooper have all cast doubt and suspicion on Arkansas' institutions of government. We can only hope that ex-lawmakers entering the confines of federal prisons can have the desired deterrent effect on those who would seek to enrich themselves through public service. The voting public, in the upcoming general election and all future elections, must try to elect decent people who will make moral choices, not just the ones who give stump speeches saying what we want to hear.

[THUMBS UP] Saturday's newspaper featured a photo of and story about Matt Mika tossing out the first pitch Friday during Tyson Foods' annual softball tournament at Rogers Regional Sports Park. He's Tyson's director of government relations who took two bullets in the June 2017 attack on practice for the Republican congressional baseball team as they prepared for an annual charity ballgame. Mika underwent five surgeries, so Friday's moment on the mound was a significant sign of recovery. Friends and colleagues call it inspirational. We couldn't agree more.

[THUMBS UP] There was never any doubt that Arkansas Children's Northwest would quickly have a major impact on health care in the region, but sometimes it helps to hear the numbers. The hospital's chief executive, Marcy Doderer, told an audience the other day about 2,200 children per month receive care at the Springdale hospital which began providing services in January. Some undoubtedly had gotten treatment at other regional hospitals before, but some also would have previously had to leave the region for their care. It's exciting to have such a medical facility in this region to meet the health care needs of children.

[THUMBS UP] Disruption in the delivery of services was a given once Preferred Family Healthcare's contracts with the state of Arkansas ended as a result of a fraud and bribery schedule. But it's great news that Ozark Guidance, a longtime provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment in the region, is able to step in to take over the state contract for substance abuse treatment in Northwest Arkansas. That includes hiring about 100 of the employees formerly working with Preferred Family Healthcare's subsidiary, Decision Point.

Commentary on 08/09/2018

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