A week from now, the fortunate among us will have a chance to offer some thankful thumbs as the nation observes the fall tradition of Thanksgiving. It's the beginning of what some call a season of giving, and that sounds like a grand idea. It's a good time to start looking for good organizations or efforts that need a boost, which can be given by thumbing through a few (or more) dollars bills and being generous. Plenty of organizations could use the help. Why not look for a way to help?
But now, onward to this week's collection of digit-al feedback:
In Fayetteville, few modifications to roads have met with the kind of open hostility as the addition of "bike lanes" to Rolling Hills Drive between College Avenue and Old Wire Road. Oh, there's been the occasional room for grousing, like those back-in parking spaces on Block Avenue or once-upon-a-time installation of a boulder in the middle of Dickson Street that promptly became a magnet for errant drivers. But the Rolling Hills change a year ago earned a lot of commentary over the last year, most of it negative. City officials say the lane markings will be removed by the end of this month. We'll at least say this for it: It was designed to be temporary, a gauge of public sentiment before anything permanent is done. With that in mind, we'd say it was wildly successful in the way it stirred public sentiment and delivered a clear verdict from neighbors and motorists (some of whom appreciate the effort). A temporary test drive that gives the city an inexpensive way to try out ideas is far better than discovering a bad reaction after concrete is poured. If government officials just ask for people's ideas, they sometimes get a paltry response. But Rolling Hills has demonstrated a pilot project can focus people's attention and inspire their honest feedback. That's a failure only if those government officials don't listen.
A couple of recent news items have reflected the generosity of the family of J.B. Hunt, the late founder of the Northwest Arkansas trucking firm that bears his name. University of Arkansas officials announced the family's $5 million donation to help pay for a $27 million baseball "development center" alongside Baum-Walker Stadium. Last week, a few lucky souls also got a tour of the $18 million J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center under construction by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in Springdale. Mrs. Hunt donated $5 million to that project as well. It's always exciting to see the impact that homegrown success stories such as J.B. Hunt can have over the decades for the region. These contributions will impact residents and visitors to the region, student-athletes and others for generations to come.
Last month, we gave state legislators a downturned digit because they declined to embrace Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to devote $1 million in state funding to conservation efforts within the Buffalo River's watershed. Now, they've turned that thumb the other direction. Last Friday, the Legislative Council agreed to the one-time funding apparently after satisfactory assurances that the money would be used transparently for grants and projects encouraging best management practices for farmers and landowners, for local wastewater systems and for reducing sediment runoff from unpaved roads. In a strong agriculture state like Arkansas, lawmakers are naturally a little skittish about moves that might be intended or interpreted as impeding property rights and farmers' ability to use their lands to make their livings. It's good to see Hutchinson's office was able to convince lawmakers this valuable effort wasn't designed to infringe on any rights. We have argued before that, of all places in Arkansas, the Buffalo National River deserves protection from harm by either intentional or unintentional actions within its watersheds. Doing that doesn't have to be in conflict with land uses, but the state should always be concerned when one property owner's behaviors flow downstream to impact others' properties.
The American Medical Association this week called for an immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. We'd trust the doctors over the folks dealing these devices, these nicotine delivery systems, to young people. With such hopeful signs that young people were getting the message about the dangers of cigarettes, the nicotine-peddlers had to find a way to addict new generations to protect their bottom lines. Too much of the industry's results have come through pushing their products toward young people. Teens (and younger) are taking up the habit aggressively. Perhaps there's some closely regulated place for electronic cigarettes in the market, but we have today is a product and system that's targeting kids. How many of those kids are we willing to sacrifice before Congress protects the public welfare?
Commentary on 11/21/2019
Print Headline: Thursday's thumbs