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Today we're going all digital.

Whoa there! We're not talking about iPads and changes to newspaper delivery, not here in Northwest Arkansas at least. We're talking digits, as in thumbs up and thumbs down. Didn't mean to scare anyone.

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.

Below are our almost weekly digit-based perspectives on a few recent news developments, which reminds us: Time for a manicure.

[THUMBS UP] Congratulations are certainly in order for Darynne Dahlem of Greenwood, who last Saturday evening took on the coveted title of Miss Arkansas 2019. Competing as Miss Apple Blossom, Dahlem's journey to become Miss Arkansas included a total of five entries in the state contest. So let that be a lesson to you, kids: Not getting what you want and have worked hard to earn doesn't define anyone unless the person let's it. Dahlem stayed true to her dream and kept coming back, no doubt learning more every time she went through the process. Also impressive is the fact this graduate of the University of Arkansas has paid for her college education by competing in local and state pageants. Sure, pageants aren't everyone's cup of tea, but credit them with delivering great educational opportunities to young women. As Miss Arkansas (and hopefully Miss America), a pretty sizable chunk of the state can lay claim to her journey. She's competed previously as Miss Northwest Arkansas, Miss University of Arkansas, Miss Arkansas Valley and Miss Western Arkansas.

[THUMBS UP] People can come from the same hometown but still have vastly different experience as they go about their daily living. A lot of that is based on their neighbors and their neighborhoods. So it seems a great idea in Bentonville to promote involvement in neighborhoods and, in turn, those neighborhoods' involvement in city government. That's the idea behind the Great Neighborhoods Partnership being promoted by Bentonville Mayor Stephanie Orman and her staff. The program will help established neighborhoods and those that perhaps today lack clear boundaries to identify themselves and become more, well, neighborly and involved. It's all voluntary, but it sure seems everyone can benefit when neighbors get to know each other and pull themselves together to do some good things in their community. Maybe, in the long run, it will also give them a stronger voice in city government.

[THUMBS UP] The recent big news about the Buffalo National River had to do with a hog farm, but people who appreciate being able to look up at night and see something other than the glow of man-made lights also got something to cheer about around the river. The national park recently became the first International Dark Sky Park in Arkansas. The river is situated in a rural part of Arkansas where the glare of electric lights can be avoided, giving star-watchers a chance to enjoy the celestial bodies. The national park spent the last two years getting more than 345 light fixtures into compliance with the international organization's standards. We applaud the effort. Anyone who has ever gotten out of the cities and found a truly dark place to observe the night sky can't help but be astounded at the clarity of the night sky. This is an outstanding step that gives Arkansans yet another reason (and their are already so many) to love the Buffalo National River. We appreciate the National Park Service having the (protected) vision to see the value of protecting the night sky.

[THUMBS UP] It's great to hear discussions happening across the Natural State from government officials working out the details of audio or video recordings of open public meetings. A state law passed in the last session of the General Assembly established an expectation that public meetings be recorded and those recordings be retained for at least a year. In today's technological world, there's really no excuse for a public body to avoid recording its sessions and making those recordings available to the public. Just this week in Benton County, government leaders bounced around ideas to potentially go beyond recording to actual live-streaming. It's a great convenience for constituents to be able to watch debates of their government officials without necessarily having to drive to city hall or the county courthouse. For some county residents, that can be a 50- or 60-mile round trip. Hearing the final vote on ordinances or other measures does little to inform, but listening to a full debate can be eye-opening. We applaud efforts to make public meetings accessible through live-streaming and through archiving of meeting discussions in a usable format. These meetings are history in the making and ought to be preserved for many years to come.

[THUMBS UP] The Fayetteville Housing Authority recently revised its policies to create more opportunities for people who are homeless to benefit from the services of the authority. People in homeless situations will be given a place in front of the line, essentially, for 10 percent of the available housing vouchers or public housing units. Fayetteville has such a massive waiting list for units, it seems only right that an organization attempting to find housing for those in a housing crisis should provide some priority opportunity to people who are, in fact, without a home at all. It's a good policy. The question is whether it's enough, and the answer to that, we suspect all would say, is no. The response is limited by the authority's financial and physical resources, which are far from endless.

Commentary on 06/20/2019

Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs

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