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It's been a trying few days here in Northwest Arkansas. The death of Fayetteville Police Department Officer Stephen Carr is such a tragedy. In the mourning that follows, many in the region and beyond have found unity in a simple but serious message of shared heartbreak, hope and healing.

Tuesday evening was a candlelight vigil in the cold, evening breeze on Dickson Street. On Wednesday, friends, family and supporters gathered for visitation at University Baptist Church. Today, residents and visitors will undoubtedly turn out to honor Carr as his body is transported across town to Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus, where his life will be celebrated, with full police honors.

Today is our usual day each week for Thursday's thumbs. They often include a mix of serious comments and some lighter fare. Certainly nothing so serious as what's happened to and within our community this week. So we'll get to our thumbs below, but first it's important to acknowledge everyone who has held a candle, installed a blue light, shed a tear, shaken the hand of a law enforcement officer or sent a note of encouragement to those who could use it. We cannot speak for the police department or its officers and staff, but our sense is the outpouring of support is deeply appreciated. Unquestionably from our perspective, we laud the community response and are thankful for it.

Now, on to this week's mini-editorial hand gestures:

Word arrived Wednesday that the place in the Highfill, Arkansas, where jets fly in and out will now be known as Northwest Arkansas National Airport. Sounds pretty high falutin', but it's hard to keep calling it a regional airport when its airlines have direct flights to Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and destinations. It really does sound like our airport, which opened in 1998 when President Clinton's Air Force One landed for the inaugural festivities, has grown up. The new name is certainly an accurate depiction of the airport's service level, but it could just as easily be known as Walmart National Airport (except for that whole "always low prices" slogan) thanks to the international retailer's impact on demand for flights. Here's an idea, though: Why not put the region on the cutting edge of the future and adopt the name "Northwest Arkansas Space Port?" The sky doesn't have to be the limit, right? Calling Elon Musk.

Speaking of Walmart, the retailing behemoth's recent gift of 75 acres at Southwest Eighth and I streets to the city of Bentonville will give the city a nearly 100-acre park when it's paired with a 23-acre donation from members of the Walton family. The company says it sees the donation as an investment in Bentonville, where it hopes to continue attracting employees to a future Home Office campus nearby. As development pressures grow with an ever-growing population, the donation is the kind of gift that will keep giving to the entire community for decades.

What is the native accent of an Arkansan? That's not really a simple question to answer. It's hard to hear a way of speaking and immediately know "That woman's from Arkansas." Someone who grew up in the pine forests of south Arkansas undoubtedly speaks a different way than a hillbilly from the Ozark Mountains. But what identifies both as and Arkansas accent? University of Arkansas Professor Ben Corbett is talking with and recording native Arkansans, looking for insights into the dialects of the Natural State. A dialect, to our way of thinking, is just as important as a state's history. One of the saddest tales of historic preservation regarding the Civil War is that nobody today can truly attest to what the famed "Rebel yell" actually sounded like. So we're pleased to hear Professor Corbett is at work attempting to categorize and understand the way native Arkansans talk. Nothin' wrong with that, y'all.

We're not sure former pastor-turned-Gov. Mike Huckabee still qualifies has having an Arkansas access. He's a Floridian now. It's hard to tell accents from tweets, which is how he tries -- really hard -- to be humorous much of the time with comments dripping with sarcasm or laborious turns of phrases. Now the ex-presidential candidate-turned-media personality has filed a complaint with the Florida Bar Association against a Florida lawyer with about 400 Twitter followers for ridiculing Huckabee as a "beach thief." That's a reference to Huckabee's support for making a beach area near his home more private. The big irony is Huckabee's actions earned the lawyer about 75,000 new followers. Huckabee says a lot of nasty things himself on the social media platform, which raises an interesting question if the rest of us are going to be so thin-skinned as Huckabee: Is there a bar association for pastors?

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 [email protected]

Commentary on 12/12/2019

Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs

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