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An anniversary night out
4th Fest this Tuesday for Fourth of July holiday; Search for new 'athletics director' gets wide range of applicants; Arts notes; Education news and notes plus headlines and sports
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Pandemic deaths at ‘zero’
The state Department of Health, on its Covid dashboard, showed that in the past week, there were no new deaths reported. The numbers were updated Tuesday, June 27.
The total number of reported dead Arkansans remains at 13,175 or the state’s 32nd largest city.
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:
Wear a mask
Meetings: The Maumelle City Council will meet next Monday night.
Events: The Fourth of July is Tuesday and city offices in Maumelle and North Little Rock will both be closed that day due to the holiday. Both, however, will be open on Monday, so no four-day weekend for either city’s employees.There’s a confusing mishmash of laws regarding fireworks use: Not legal in North Little Rock, OK in Maumelle but only on certain days and times, while it is anything goes in the county. Fireworks are nice but leave it to the professionals as there’s plenty of opportunities to watch them light up the night sky, as the Travs have shows planned for Friday, Sunday and Monday nights, in addition to the events planned for Tuesday night. Also, don’t forget, because of the holiday, trash and recycling routes wll run one-day delayed for most of next week.
Fourth Fest: Maumelle’s annual 4th Fest Celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday with a parade and will cap with fireworks that night at Lake Willastein. The event is put on by the city’s Parks & Rec department and you can still participate in the parade by clicking here. The theme is :”DOG gone it” and the parade will begin at the corner of Audubon Drive and Millwood Circle.
For more check the flyer below for a complete schedule of events.
The Heat is On: There’s an Excessive Heat Warning for most of Arkansas today and Friday with highs well over 100 forecast and heat indexes, in some places, expected to be over 115 degrees. Maybe even in excess of 120 degrees. So, stay inside, enjoy the air conditioning and be sure to drink plenty of water. Some relief is expected to come by the weekend and it could be pleasant, relatively speaking, 89 degrees on Tuesday for the holiday celebrations.
ICYMI: The Crystal Hill Saga
Fireworks watch party fundraiser set
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little will be hosting its annual Pops on the River fireworks fundraiser watch party this comine Tuesday, July 4,. Tickets are $15 per person and parking passes are $10, per vehicle to park inside the sea wall.
Tickets can be purchased online at https://tinyurl.com/p6r3ff5v (make an account before selecting the number of tickets) or in person during business hours. The museum is located at 120 Riverfront Park Drive in North Little Rock.
Gates will open at 7 p.m. and the fireworks are scheduled to start around 9:30 p.m. The museum will be selling a limited selection of food and drinks and no outside food and beverages will be allowed.
For more information, call 501-371-8320.
Construction camp held in North Little Rock
The National Association of Women In Construction Greater Little Rock hosted its second annual Youth Construction Camp at the Associated Builders and Contractors, Arkansas Construction Trades Academy Facility in North Little Rock. There were 40 who attended and participated in various hands-on activities to introduce them to the construction trades and teach them new skills.
North Little Rock: Search for new 'athletics director' gets wide range of applicants
A total of 20 people have applied to be the new “Director of Student-Athlete Development and Academic Engagement” at North Little Rock School District.
The position replaces the more conventional, and better known, athletics director and was described in the job listing as a “newly reorganized role is responsible for enhancing all aspects of student-athlete development in the classroom, on the practice and event field, and in the community for all student interscholastic activities as outlined by the Arkansas Athletic [sic] Association (AAA).”
The list of 20 was released by the district after a Freedom of Information Act request and the listed salary range is $81,881 to $116,108.
Among the applicants are some familiar names as well as some with widely divergent backgrounds, but all have at least some roots in coaching and education.
Whomever is hired will be replacing Gary Davis, who spent 43 years at the district, before retiring this past May. The district hasn’t released a timeline of the hiring process and they’re also seeking a new football coach, to replace Randy Sandefur, who left the school after 40 years to be the new director of Parks & Rec for the city of North Little Rock.
As for the familiar names, that’s Wes Bilon.
Currently an assistant principal at the high school, Bilon is a former basketball coach, who was a long-time assistant for the ‘Cats while also leading the wildly successful junior program that spent most seasons undefeated.
Bilon would also be the most conventional choice and has among his references most of the current athletic department.
There’s also some strong applicants like Nick Newman, a former All-American football player at the University of Central Arkansas, and current athletics director at Vilonia schools, as well as some strong contenders with current collegiate experience.
There’s also several who currently work for the state Department of Education.
List of applicants
Tyler Chenault, Department of Education, former North Little Rock teacher and coach
Jasmin Davis, Counselor, Conway schools
Eric Redmon, Teacher and coach LRSD, who also applied for football job
Jerry Bruce, Teacher and coach PCSSD
John Anderson, Teacher and coach PCSSD
Wes Bilon, Assistant North Little Rock High principal, former teacher and coach
Terry Lawson, Teacher, LRSD
Nick Newman, Athletics director Vilonia
Karissa Campbell, Teacher/coach Fayetteville public schools and former college adminitrator
Daniel Muilenburg, Department of Education
Donald Thomas, Teacher and coach, Decatur schools
Belford Williams, University of Oklahoma, Student Athlete Development & Well Being Coordinator
Charles Kinser, Administration, Sheridan schools
Desha Parker, Parks & Rec director, city of West Memphis. Is also a lawyer and former Quorum Court member
Nick Anderson, Assistant principal and athletics director LRSD
Arron DeGracia, Administration at Pulaski Tech
Fredrick Holmes, Assistant AD for Compliance and Academics, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Jessica Hickman, Department of Education
Jamie Carter, head coach football coach at Osceola, former NFL player
Dale (Chip) McDonald, Coach and teacher Calico Rock
Rent to start in July at Argenta Community Theater
The first Rent show at Argenta Community Theater will start July 26 and the run will come to an end on Aug. 5.
There’s a total of 10 shows scheduled so far, with evening performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinee will be at 2 p.m.
Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased online at www.ArgentaCommunityTheater.org.
Brandon Box-Higdem will serve as director.
Starring in the show are Lucas Bachus, Annslee Clay, Caelon Colbert, Amaya Hardin, Jeremiah Herman, Ladarius Jamerson, Skyler Matthias and Kristen Phantazia Smith. Music direction is by Christian Waldron, technical direction by Sara Cooke, costumes by Stacey Herrison, choreography by Brian Earles and Allison Stodola Wilson, assistant direction by Kenneth Gaddie, stage management by Kristen Knight, set design by Michael Klucher, lighting design by Dena Kimberling, sound by Nathan Abshire and props design by Lauren Nicholas.
The production contains adult themes and references and is not recommended for younger audiences.
Audition workshop set
Rebekah Bruce will be teaching a workshop on how to audition on Tuesday, July 11.
The workshop will be held at the Argenta Community Theater and will begin at 5 p.m. Cost is $35 and for those 13 and over.
To register, email: email@example.com.
Museum welcomes new board members
The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts recently announced that it had added Amy O’Connor, Elizabeth (Betsy) Rhodes, and Mary Ritchey to its board of trustees.
Departing the board are Kaki Hockersmith and Terri Snowden who combined for a total of 26 years as trustees.
O’Connor, above, grew up in Arkansas and is the Business Development Director for McFarland Eye Care She is an active volunteer with Access Schools, National Charity League, and Episcopal Collegiate School.
Rhodes, above, is from Memphis and has worked as a publicist for Yves Saint Laurent and L’Oreal among others. She is a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral..
Ritchey, above, grew up in Little Rock and has worked as an art consultant for Kay-Hannah Associates in San Francisco and was previously on the board for the Washington Project for the Arts.
Board of Trustees
Officers: Stan Hastings, President; Le’Kita Brown, Vice President; Gary Cooper, Treasurer; Paul Parnell, Secretary andVan Tilbury, Chairman
Dr. Laurence Alexander, Dr. Loren Bartole, John Bethel, Beau Blair, Khayyam M. Eddings, Maribeth Frazer, Diane Gilleland, Jim Hugg, Mike Marquez, Larry Middleton, Odell Nickelberry, Amy O’Connor, Jacqueline Retzer, Betsy Rhodes, Mary Ritchey, Steve Ronnel, Gordon Silaski, Derrick Smith, Rebecca Smith, Mary Olive Stephens and LaRand Thomas
Frank Scott, Jr., Mayor of City of Little Rock; Terry Hartwick, Mayor of City of North Little Rock; Kenya Eddings, Junior League of Little Rock; Ericka Mays, Junior League of North Little Rock and Susan Day, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Docents
Students graduate from Arkansas's Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
Several North of the River students recently graduated this spring from the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas.
These students joined more than 900 undergraduate students who earned bachelor's degrees in Fulbright College and who were celebrated on Friday, May 12, at commencement ceremonies in Bud Walton Arena.
Sarah Gore of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Jumin Lee of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology.
Owen Durham of Maumelle earned a Bachelor of Arts in German.
Hannah Johnson of Maumelle earned a Bachelor of Social Work in Social Work.
Grant Smith of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a dependent major in Asian Studies. Smith also graduated with College Honors from the Fulbright College Honors Program, which is an interdisciplinary program designed for students with highest academic and artistic ambition and requires students complete one third of their undergraduate curriculum in honors courses, including an honors colloquia and undergraduate research.
Luke McClanahan of Maumelle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Mcclanahan also graduated with Departmental Honors from the Fulbright College Honors Program, which requires students complete a minimum of 12 hours of honors coursework in their undergraduate career and complete undergraduate research.
Madison Engel of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Lakyra Banks of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.
Sophie Buckley of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Savannah Cathey of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Ashton Davis of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.
Kiersten Saderup of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Laura-Jane Bentley of Maumelle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.
Mallari Jordan of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.
Nada Tolba of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Tolba also graduated with College Honors from the Fulbright College Honors Program, which is an interdisciplinary program designed for students with highest academic and artistic ambition and requires students complete one third of their undergraduate curriculum in honors courses, including an honors colloquia and undergraduate research.
Chelsea Lin of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Sarah Avery of North Little Rock earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
James Benson of Sherwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.
"On behalf of our faculty, staff, and the entire U of A community, we offer you a big congratulations, Class of 2023 - you did it," said Kathryn Sloan, interim dean of Fulbright College. "You survived the late-night study sessions, the group projects, the times of uncertainty, and so much more to reach this milestone."
Collectively, Fulbright College awarded nearly 1,200 bachelor's degrees to students this spring in areas of study that span across four academic disciplines in the college: fine arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.
Maumelle’s Millikan named to Baldwin Wallace University Dean's List
Geneva Millikan of Maumelle, majoring in acting (BFA), has been named to the Dean's List for the spring 2023 semester at Baldwin Wallace University, according to Provost Stephen D. Stahl. The Dean's List recognizes students who earn a grade point average of 3.8 or higher while enrolled in 12 or more graded hours during the semester.
Baldwin Wallace University,is in Berea, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.
Maumelle’s Nazar named to Clark University's Spring 2023 Dean's List
Sarah Nazar, of Maumelle, was named to first honors on the Clark University Dean's List. This selection marks outstanding academic achievement during the Spring 2023 semester.
Students must have a GPA of 3.8 or above for first honors or a GPA between 3.50 and 3.79 for second honors.
Clark University is in Worcestor, Mass., a suburb, sorta, of Boston.
Bromley graduates from Ole Miss
Alexander Bromley, of Sherwood, is among the more than 3,100 students who earned their degrees from the University of Mississippi in May 2023.
Bromley, who majored in Biomedical Engineering, received a B.S.B.E. in Biomedical Engineering from the School of Engineering.
McClendon named to University of Alabama Spring 2023 Presidents List
Kimberly McClendon of Sherwood was named to The University of Alabama Presidents List for spring semester 2023.
A total of 12,487 students enrolled during spring semester 2023 at The University of Alabama were named to the dean's list with an academic record of 3.5 (or above) or the president's list with an academic record of 4.0 (all A's). These driven students are making waves across UA's more than 70 undergraduate programs and 12 colleges and schools.
An anniversary night out
It was fine, until it wasn’t.
After a long and Covid-impacted relationship with the Capital Hotel, this year we decided to take our anniversary celebration out for a test drive and see what others had to offer.
Our tradition had been: stay overnight at the Capital Hotel (an annual splurge), either eat there or go to another restaurant in downtown Little Rock for dinner, have coffee or breakfast at the hotel the next morning before departing back home.
We missed a year because Covid, but even then we spent a pleasant five minutes on the sidewalk, taking pictures like gawking tourists.
Things have changed at the Capital Hotel, though, and while still a fine place to stay, it isn’t what it used to be.
So, on to the traveling roadshow.
Generally speaking, for birthdays or anniversaries or special events, we don’t go to the same restaurant. We like to mix it up.
We had never been to Table 28, which is conveniently located inside the Burgundy, billed as a “four star” hotel in west Little Rock.
The hotel offered a reasonable date night package that included dinner, a night’s stay, room service breakfast, plus some champagne and other goodies, including a very cute rubber ducky.
Seemed like a good deal, and it was fine, until it wasn’t.
Then it went back to being fine again, mostly, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s break this up into chunks.
Table 28 is a cozy space, just off the hotel lobby and down a few steps. As first-time visitors we didn’t know what to expect, but friends had described it as a “chef-y” joint, the kind of place you can get bone marrow.
A quick perusal of the menu online showed some adventurous choices, including the bone marrow, and some terrific-sounding desserts.
After being seated, we were served sliced bread and hummus gratis. The menu, seasonally based, had shifted into summer mode, and some of the heavier choices had been removed. Among the items removed was the touted bone marrow, but that was fine because the thought of eating bone marrow makes me physically ill.
Anyway, the menu really is an adventure. And the date package provided a $150 gift card for dinner, so we ordered more than we would typically. No money left on the table or the gift card.
We chose two items to start: Chicken skins with pimento cheese and pepper jelly with the other being roasted local mushrooms.
Both were good. Neither were expected.
The fried chicken skins came out like pork rinds, which was fine, but made the pimento cheese tricky to spread or scoop. The mushrooms were full of flavor. They were served with two large pieces of what could be described as savory French toast. The mushroom dish also had a dollop of ricotta, which tasted terrific.
The mains we ordered were a filet with roasted parmesan Brussels and mashed potatoes, while the other was a sauteed calamari served with rice, pineapple, peppers and onions.
It was tasty but felt like it was missing a sauce.
The steak came with Bearnaise and was well seasoned. The sprouts were the stars. Younger me would be horrified of older me and his enjoyment of Brussels, but in fairness to my younger self, everything was boiled then.
Dessert was sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and a tres leches cake with peaches.
Both were really good. There’s some significant signage in the hotel proclaiming Table 28 as the best dessert in town.
Those signs are right.
Not being British, our sticky toffee pudding experience was limited to what you get at Costco, so the restaurant version was a revelation, and an impressive contribution for a country that serves beans on toast and calls it good.
The tres leches was moist and delicious with sweet-tart peaches and a touch of cinnamon.
Now for the less good. Table 28 had, at least in my mind, street cred for fine dining. And the food certainly covered that base, but the ’80s rock soundtrack screamed Jr./Sr. Prom, class of ’88, more than a place with $60 steaks and a food bill, sans drinks, in excess of $150 for two.
It also lacked some of the little touches. The dishware was unusual yet beautiful, but the mismatched pieces of the silverware just seemed odd. The service could be charitably described as inattentive and the pacing of the meal was strange, but the hostess also brought us a happy anniversary card, which was a nice touch.
We didn’t get drinks, so no comment there. The wine list looked impressive, and the bar menu cocktails appeared as inventive as the dinner menu.
I’d also note, the portions were exceedingly ample. We chose two starters thinking they would be small. However, there’s still leftover pimento cheese in the fridge, so it isn’t a place with two-forkful portions.
Would we go again? Yes. The food was really good and the overall ambience was nice. Just tamp down any expectations in regards to a “fine dining” experience.
The manicured landscaping, glass elevator, and multi-story atrium all made a good first impression.
Though not a suite, our room was large. A separate seating area had a sectional couch and chaise lounge and its own television. The space was well appointed, and we were greeted by a rubber ducky with the Burgundy logo as well as some bottles of water.
The bottle of champagne was already chilling in an ice bucket on the coffee table and the mini fridge had a tray of chocolate-dipped strawberries ready to eat.
Now that’s a four-star hotel.
As for the bathroom, it was stocked with Bath and Body Works products and also had the little amenities tucked away: ear plugs, nail files and the like.
The included room service breakfast had a menu request that needed to be filled out and returned to the front desk, and like the Table 28 menu, it had some adventurous choices and looked appealing.
Storms Sunday meant no evening swim, but from our pool view room, it was alternately amusing and horrifying to see people in and near the outdoor pool as lightning crashed behind them.
The bed was king-sized with good linens and pillows.
Then morning came. And the four stars started dropping.
First, the breakfast order had been misplaced at some point between the front desk and restaurant and was discovered only after we called to check. So breakfast was an hour late. The eggs Benedict and the breakfast BLT were good, as was the coffee, which tasted like Leiva’s but I didn’t confirm the brand. The coffee was enhanced by a small pitcher of heavy cream which was just ridiculously good.
The late breakfast meant that instead of a mid-morning pool dip, it was almost noon, but no matter; the date night package came with a 1 p.m. checkout.
The Burgundy pool area is a pretty oasis, and we had it almost to ourselves.
However, after our swim, we couldn't get back inside the hotel as our key didn’t work. A helpful guest, on day 90 of his stay thanks to having his home destroyed in the March 31 tornado, let us back in.
Then we couldn’t open the room door, either, so I went to the front desk to find out what was the what. Turns out the keys automatically cut off at 11 a.m., which seems like something that should have been noted to us or simply corrected by the front desk before I drip dried in the lobby.
That soured the moment.
Back in the room, it was time to pack up and head home, where we at least had power, unlike many others in central Arkansas.
My mood brightened when a herd of unicorns was spotted in the lobby.
The Burgundy has a display wall of all its fine liquors, spirits and wines out in public view. There I spotted all three varietals of Pappy Van Winkle, the exceedingly hard to find Kentucky bourbon that’s an absolute pleasure to drink, if you’re so inclined.
Having Pappy puts the Burgundy in some rare company.
It will set you back some dollar bucks.
The date night package was roughly $375, a pretty good deal as it included two meals. Our dinner, with tip, exceeded the $150 gift card, though not by much. The included breakfast was several steps above the free breakfast buffet at say a Hampton Inn, so that was nice.
The final tab ended up near $425, with about $50 of taxes because Little Rock A&P charges for everything. Maybe A&P does something productive with that money, but those efforts aren’t readily observable.
Will we return? Possibly.
The Burgundy is owned by the Makan group. They’re the ones building the luxury hotel in downtown North Little Rock, and that place will be on the list when it opens.
Another one or two other joints could be worth checking out around town and there are casino-based options in Hot Springs and Pine Bluff that might be worth the drive.
But that’s a problem for next year.
Baseball at Dickey-Stephens this week
Homestand against Springfield
Note: This series started on Wednesday and concludes Monday, July 3. There’s three nights of fireworks on Friday, Sunday and Monday.
Thursday, 6:35 p.m.
$3 Thursday: Enjoy $3 Beer Garden Tickets and Concessions deals, including Hot Dogs, Soft Drinks, Red Bull, Cotton Candy, and a Select Canned Beer & Seltzer! | Presented By Red Bull
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
Fireworks: Presented By The Salvation Army
Noche de Diamantes: Your Travs will take the field as the Diamantes de Arkansas in salute of Hispanic Heritage! | Presented By Modelo Especial
Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
LR Hat Giveaway: Presented By Snapple | First 1,000 Fans (one item per person)
Kids Run the Bases: Presented By Museum of Discovery
Sunday, 6:35 p.m.
Operation: Military Appreciation: Service Members get $3 off General Admission and Field Reserved tickets by presenting a Military ID (only available at DSP Box Office) | Presented By Mid-South Ford Dealers
Family Sunday: Get $2 General Admission tickets by presenting a physical or digital church bulletin and only available at the Box Office.
Monday, 6 p.m.
USA Jerseys & Auction: Presented By Arkansas Urology
July 4 - 9: Road trip to Northwest Arkansas