50 by 50-ish
Pet Walk, Blessing of the Animals this weekend, Covid death toll makes another big jump, Maumelle Candidate Forum to be held held Oct. 18, Big football games this week plus headlines
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Forum to be held Oct. 18
ArkansasNewsroom.com will sponsor a municipal race candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the First Baptist Church in Maumelle.
The forum is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and will be moderated by Neal Moore, a public relations consultant and columnist for the site and Jeremy Peppas, who is the site's editor.
The forum will feature four races of interest to Maumelle and Pulaski County. The candidates who have accepted the invitation to speak are:
Maumelle Mayor: Incumbent Caleb Norris vs. Jodie Mahony
Maumelle City Council- Ward 1 - Position 1: David Cole vs. Christine Gronwald
State Representative, District 71: Brandon Achor (R), John J. Pack (D) and Aaron Raatz (L)
Pulaski County Sheriff: Incumbent Eric Higgins (D) and Republican Paul “Blue” Keller (R).
“We are thankful that First Baptist Church of Maumelle opened its doors to host this and we feel that, given the interest in this year’s races, that the forum will be well attended,” Peppas said.
Those attending are asked to not bring candidate signs, literature or imprinted clothing.
An email to paid subscribers to submit questions was previously sent out. Please click the button at the bottom of that email and it will take you to a Google form where you can submit questions.
Oct. 10: Last day to register to vote. Click here for more.
Oct. 18: Maumelle Candidate Forum
Oct. 24: Early voting begins
Nov. 8: Election Day
Death toll makes another big jump
“Holy s**t. That can’t be right,” was what I said when looking at the latest Covid numbers from the Arkansas Department of Health.
In a single week, the total number of dead Arkansans was 103. That’s the biggest one week increase recorded since March 24 when it went from 10,999 on March 17 to 11,152 for 153 in a single week.
Last week, the death count was at 58 and the week before it was 26.
The total number of dead Arkansans is now at 12,131.
There’s now a one-stop shop to learn about vaccination sites and other Covid related information. Click here to learn more.
If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s some things you can do: Get vaccinated Get boosted Wear a mask Avoid crowds
ICYMI: Rock City Burger Week here: Still time to get some $9 burgers.
Upcoming meetings: The Maumelle City Council will meet next Monday night.
Upcoming events: Pet Walk is Saturday in Little Rock and Blessing of the Animals is Sunday in Maumelle. More details below
World’s largest pet walk coming to Little Rock
The 5th annual Pet Partners pet walk will be held this Saturday, Oct. 1 at Little Rock’s Two Rivers Park, said Debbie McCollough, who is helping organize the local event.
The national event was held this Sept. 24, but a scheduling conflict arose locally.
“We have a Paws and Practice event,” McCollough said. “So we have scheduled our walk for Saturday, Oct. 1. And we would be happy to have anyone join us with a dog friendly pet.”
The walk will start at 9 a.m. and to sign up, click here for the Facebook page of Central Arkansas Pet Partners then click on the event, World’s Largest Pet Walk.
“It is really hard to say,” McCollough said when asked how many people would be participating. “We have posted an event on our local Facebook page which has been shared by our members. We have also invited our members through email. We are open to the public joining us if they have a dog friendly pet. So I expect we will have members, their families, friends and people that are interested in our group.”
But they don’t necessarily sign up beforehand.
“They can just show up at Two Rivers Park at 9 a.m. and find the group of dogs walking together,” McCollough said.
Blessing of the Animals to be Sunday
St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Maumelle is having its annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday, Oct. 2 at Lake Willastein.
This is a free event. Maumelle Friends of the Animals will be there as well.
This event is open to all animals from dogs to cats to birds and lizards. Even spiders (OK, spiders aren't animals, but you get the idea) and their humans.
In your last week's Sept. 22 Arkansas Newsroom newsletter, Mr. Chad Gardner talked about the Pit Bull issue in his "Council Report". During his report, he talked about how the Ordinance to reinstate the ban on dangerous dogs was voted down 5-3 by "tabling the ordinance indefinitely" and then saying that the ordinance wouldn't be able to be brought back up again "unless five or more council members vote to bring it back from the table".
Following this, I made a motion to table the motion indefinitely, meaning this ordinance can not be brought up again unless five or more council members vote to bring it back from the table. There were a few minutes of back-and-forth debate on this, but the majority opinion of the council was that there was no need to revisit this issue when it comes to banning certain dog breeds. My motion to table the ordinance passed 5-3.
I've had a couple of constituents who took his comments incorrectly as meaning that "tabling indefinitely" would prevent a dangerous dog ban from being introduced again. I'd like to clarify this by saying there is nothing to prevent another ban ordinance with the same wording from being introduced at any time.
Thank you for the opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding. Because Mr. Gardner and the 4 other Council Members lifted the ban on dangerous dogs without allowing the residents to first vote on such an important safety issue through a referendum, the issue is not settled "once and for all". As such, it is likely that the ban will be introduced again.
City Council Member, Ward 1, Position 1
North Little Rock to participate in National Night Out
Next Tuesday, Oct. 4, is National Night Out and North Little Rock is among the cities across the country participating.
The theme of National Night Out is “Give Crime a Going-Away Party” and will include cookouts, block parties, children’s events and ice cream socials will occur simultaneously throughout North Little Rock.
Participating community organizations include, by ward, are:
Dark Hollow CDC, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Lorene Joshua Park, 800 E. 14th St. Activities include: music, games, and food. For more information contact: Belinda R. Burney, 214-597-7309.
Historic Park Hill Neighborhood Association, 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Idlewild Park, 3411 Idlewild. For more information contact: John Gregan, 501-364-6296.
Baring Cross Neighborhood Association, 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Vestal Park (across from Boone Park School). Activities include: fun, fellowship, come meet your neighbors, North Little Rock Police and Fire officers. For more information contact: Harlan Hunter, 501-541-1591.
Argenta Boosters, 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Argenta Plaza. Activities include: Music (DJ or band), give-aways, palm reader, police and fire departments. For more information contact: John Pflasterer, 501-553-8671.
Rose City Neighborhood Association & Business Association, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at School St. Neighborhood Park. Activities include: free food and events for children and residents. For more information contact: Martha Capps, 501-580-1079.
Stone Links Neighborhood Association, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Stone Links Club House, 110 AR 391. Activities include: Police, Fire and Rescue, maze, laser tag, face painting, car show, food and games. For more information contact: Marie Hollowell, 404-259-2957.
Amboy Neighborhood Association, 6 p.m. Amboy United Methodist Church Parking lot, 311 E. Military Drive. Activities include: DJ, bouncy house, carnival type games. Police, Fire, and EMS on site. Serving hot dogs, chips & soda/water, dessert. For more information contact: Angelica Barnard 501-297-8720.
Scenic Hill Neighborhood Association, 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., location TBD. Activities include: cookout and meet and greet. For more information contact: Randy Naylor, 501-350-8775.
Cobblestone Crime Watch Group, 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at 623 Cobblestone Circle. Activities include: Food and drinks, meet and greet first responders and members of crime watch group. For more information contact: Suni McClelland, 501-920-5330.
Windsor Valley Neighborhood Association, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the south end of Coleridge Dr. at the Covington intersection. Activities include: 2 food trucks, free bottles of water, kids coloring and beading area, NLR police, fire, and city officials. For more information contact: Brandi Legate, 501-951-0778.
Saturday, Oct. 8: Melrose Community Outreach, 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Melrose Community Park. Activities include: drive through block party. For more information contact: Tammy Small, 501-541-3703.
50 by 50-ish
The goal was 50 states by age 50, and things were on pace for that goal to be achieved.
Then the pandemic came and things got trapped in amber, as life crawled to a stop and so many plans were put on hold.
But on a recent trip West, that all changed with a visit to Utah and Idaho, my 49th and 50th states.
It isn’t super clear to me when I decided that 50 by 50 was a goal. It was more than a minute ago, and 50 then seemed like an almost impossible age, but it was a goal and it seemed a good one.
My wife recalls that in one of our very first conversations, before we had even gone on a date, I talked about my 50 by 50 goal, and it turned out that it was one for her as well, even though the idea hadn’t fully crystallized in her mind at that point.
Travel is good and fun and it was my goal, so I made the rules.
Any state visited before 16 didn’t count (she disagrees on this point). The reasoning being if you weren’t able to drive, then it shouldn’t count, and also if you were a toddler and don’t even remember going to Mount Rushmore that doesn’t count.
The other rule was airport layovers counted as a visit. So did train stops. As long as you got out of the conveyance and at least walked around for a bit. It also helped to buy a local paper or a lottery ticket to cement your visit.
Also some airports and train stations are really nice and worth a look around.
So with all that in mind, the next thing you need is a way to keep track of where you’ve been. And there’s an app for that, as Callie Sterling pointed out several years ago. On her recommendation, I immediately downloaded the app “Been” and is seen below. Callie and her husband Jaison are also avid travelers and also working around to hit all 50.
I was also given a scratch-off map that proved to be very useful.
The next thing you need to do is start tallying where you’ve been.
This part is easy, and if you’ve managed to leave the county where you were born, it is extremely likely you’ve already racked up a fair number of states.
First, the states where you’ve lived.
Then the states where you have been for work or for a friend’s wedding.
Then family vacations and trips with friends.
Suddenly you’ve been to way more states then you realized.
So, for me, I live in Arkansas and have also lived in Tennessee. I’ve taken various work trips to New York, Georgia, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois. Weddings for friends knocked out Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Also Washington D.C. and it isn’t a state but that's certainly a place you should visit.
Trips with friends also took care of Nevada (Vegas, baby!), Arizona, Florida and Georgia. There are also repeats in that category, but not counting double or more trips.
To knock out the rest required some planning, along with a willingness to travel and lots and lots of windshield time. Because, yes some states you’re going to fly to get to, but most you’re going to need a car, either yours or a rental. You’ll also need an atlas. Not everywhere in this beautiful country has cell phone service, and a paper map seems like a throwback but has saved the day on multiple occasions.
Also, your phone will get it wrong. For example, if you say Hampton Inn in Kansas City, you might end up on Hampton Road out in the middle of nowhere.
So, do you want to do this?
If you decide visits to all 50 states is a goal, then below are some tips and tricks that will help get it done.
First, you need to decide if this is a personal goal or a family endeavor. I made it a personal goal, but I’ve also been to 48 of 50 states with my wife. She says 47. But I count Ellis Island as our visit to New Jersey, since the island is considered to be both New York and New Jersey. We’ve also missed Alabama and Pennsylvania, even though we’ve been perilously close to both.
The ‘easy’ state
Arkansas, duh. There’s a 99.9 percent chance you live here now or have lived here if you’re reading this. The thing is, if you read about this elsewhere, you’ll find Arkansas is considered one of the harder states to mark off. Not on a coast. No major airport or major national park. No major league sports franchise, as hitting every big league stadium is a thing for some folks, as are the national parks.
Arkansas does have some exceptionally good state parks and there’s plenty of hunting and fishing and hiking and such to keep people occupied.
The border states. They’re all about two and half hours away from Little Rock. So they’re all day trips. And easy, if boring, drives. The goal isn’t necessarily doing something while you are there, just going to the state and getting out. Preferably taking a picture at the welcome to the state sign.
If you do, you’ll see they’re festooned with stickers as others on this path have left their mark. You can have custom stickers made up, and that’s fun. I might have done that, if I knew it was a thing.
These are the states in a roughly six-hour radius of central Arkansas that aren’t on the border, and you can knock out Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Alabama.
Pick a destination and get a couple of states on the same trip. Google is your friend here. First, you can plot out multiple stops using Google Maps. You can also find some fun things to do. Kentucky has a bourbon trail where you visit various distilleries. Alabama has a golf trail. There’s all manner of festivals out there that you’ve never heard of but could be a terrific time.
These are the trips that you plan on a week for but all by car.
One example is going to Mount Rushmore. It will take most of the daylight, but if you leave in the morning, you can be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that night on a route that takes you through Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.
Then drive the width of that state the next day with a stop in the Badlands and Wall Drug before getting to a hotel or cabin near Mount Rushmore for a few days. You of course see Mount Rushmore while you’re there, but you can also take a day-off excursion and get Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota marked off.
Also helpful to note that the Dakotas have bathrooms by the state line signs and excellent highways.
On the way back you loop through the far western edge of South Dakota’s dinosaur country. Then you get to Nebraska and go east before turning south to Kansas, then Oklahoma before making it back to Arkansas.
So in a week’s trip, that’s nine states.
If you’re willing to drive the east-bound length of Tennessee, you can get to Virginia, then D.C., Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
You could head to Nashville then turn south to go to Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.
A multi-stop drive north could get Minnesota, Wisconsin and so forth.
The same can be said of Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia.
Fly and drives
One could, as we did, fly to Seattle, then drive down the Pacific Coast, into Oregon and that beautiful coast and continue into Northern California.
A recent flight to Salt Lake City and a couple of days at Yellowstone took us to Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
A flight to Boston and a rental car means that the smallish states of the Northeast can all be visited in a single day.
A trip to Las Vegas gets Nevada and if you do the Hoover Dam tour, you literally walk into Arizona.
Going there just to go
New Mexico is a bit much to drive. But Albuquerque has an excellent airport and Colorado could be a day trip.
New Mexico and Arkansas are both in the same category and viewed as the “hard states.”
If you’ve been keeping track, you may have noted that very sketchy itinerary has knocked out 48 of the 50.
Best for last?
By air: Hawaii is a flight and worth every penny. Oahu and Maui are the most popular of the islands for tourists. If you want to save some money, think about multiple airlines. From Little Rock, you can get a direct flight to Las Vegas, then Hawaiian Air flies non-stop from there to Honolulu. The flights will take most of a day regardless.
By boat: Yes, you can fly to Alaska or even drive it, but our Alaska journey was a cruise that started in Vancouver and took most of a week as we made our way up the Canadian and Alaskan coast. Anchorage isn’t your destination port, though. That would be Seward. There’s also multiple stops along the way and really lets you see quite a bit of Alaska that way and, blessedly, no driving.
Generally speaking, for those attempting the 50 states challenge, Hawaii and Alaska when the budget allows because they’re also special occasion trips.
My wife made a fun little video to mark the occasion on social media and it is below. Note: Pandemic hair is seen and it is wild.
Maumelle High School to have groundbreaking on Oct. 7
As part of its $11 million expansion, Maumelle High School will have a groundbreaking at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 for its new athletics facilities.
The expanded facilities will include a track, indoor practice facility and fields for baseball and softball.
Among the people on hand for the groundbreaking will be:
Dr. Charles McNulty, Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent
Jason Young, Maumelle High School Principal
Kirk Horton, Maumelle Athletics Director
James Whitley, a Maumelle student and athlete
The timeline for construction is that facilities will be ready November 2023.
Following the event, Maumelle will host county rival Joe T. Robinson in football with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
Football: CAC, North Little Rock both win
It wasn’t a perfect week but North Little Rock and Central Arkansas Christian both won last Friday while it was Maumelle that lost to Pine Bluff.
All three schools are in action this week with only CAC at home but relatively short trips lie ahead for Maumelle as they travel to Little Rock Mills while North Little Rock heads north on I-40 for a game at Conway.
All three are conference games and while it isn’t even October, they have playoff implications as North Little Rock is already likely in as 7A takes six teams each from the two conferences.
That’s the not the case in 5A and 4A as Maumelle and CAC as the classes take fewer teams to the playoffs.
Maumelle at Little Rock Mills
Records: Maumelle (2-2), Mills (5-0)
Streamer: Natural State Sports
Hootens.com Rankings: Maumelle is No. 21 in 5A while Mills is No. 7.
Last week: Maumelle couldn’t get its offense going against a stout Pine Bluff defense as the the Hornets were only able to muster 93 yards of total offense and an anemic 1.9 yards per play. Things don’t get any easier this week with a trip to undefeated Mills. If you go, and the concession stand there is running the smoker, you should get something. If they’re smoking turkey legs, get two.
For highlights click here.
Aug. 26: Maumelle 28, Sylvan Hills 27 (OT)
Sept. 1: Maumelle 35, Batesville 0
Sept. 9: White Hall 44, Maumelle 24
Sept. 23: Pine Bluff 26, Maumelle 0
Friday: At Mills ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 7: Robinson at Maumelle... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 14: At Morrilton ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 21: Watson Chapel at Maumelle ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 28: At Vilonia ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Nov. 4: At Beebe ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
For the roster, click here.
Mayflower at CAC
Records: CAC (1-4), Mayflower (1-3)
Hootens.com Rankings: CAC is No. 33 in 4A, while Mayflower is right behind at No. 34.
Last week: CAC beat Little Rock Hall last week as the Mustangs won for the first time this season. Next up in fellow 4A newcomer Mayflower as both schools moved up a classification for this cycle.
Aug. 26: Lonoke 41, CAC 13
Sept. 2: Perryville 35, CAC 31
Sept. 9: Bauxite 37, CAC 14
Sept. 16 Harmony Grove 35, CAC 14
Sept. 23: CAC 21, Little Rock Hall 19
Friday: Mayflower at CAC ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 7: Pottsville at CAC ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 14: At Clinton ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 21: Dover at CAC ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Nov. 4: At Lamar ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
For the roster, click here
North Little Rock at Conway
Records: North Little Rock (2-2), Conway (4-0)
Hootens.com Rankings: North Little Rock is No. 8 in Class 7A, while Conway is No. 2.
Last week: Central got the on the scoreboard first with a safety but it was rapidly downhill from there as the ‘Cats scored 23 unanswered points in the first quarter to take the 23-2 lead and it was 39-8 at the half. Backups played most of the second half as the running clock was also in effect. Things will be different this week as North Little Rock travels to undefeated Conway in a 7A-Central showdown.
For stats, click here.
Aug. 26: Little Rock Catholic 23, North Little Rock 6
Sept. 2: Fayetteville 28, North Little Rock 10
Sept. 16: North Little Rock 28, Little Rock Parkview 27 (2 OT)
Sept. 23: North Little Rock 53, Little Rock Central 8
Friday: At Conway ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 7: Little Rock Southwest at North Little Rock ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 14: At Jonesboro ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 21: At Fort Smith Northside... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Oct. 28: Bryant at North Little Rock ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
Nov. 4: Cabot at North Little Rock ... 7 p.m. ... Conference
For the roster, click here.