Catching up with ... Gary Burton Jr.
Academics Plus plans Covid vaccination clinics, Kendall Donnerson a real Saint, Stacey Bowers doing a bang-up job in North Little Rock, Neal Moore offers up his take plus news and sports headlines
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Academics Plus Charter Schools in Maumelle and Scott, along with Achor Family Pharmacy, will be offering Covid-19 vaccinations on Thursday, Aug. 12, at the schools.
The Maumelle clinic will take place at 8:30 a.m. and in Scott at 1 p.m. The clinic is available to students ages 12 and older, as well as any person in the community who wishes to receive a vaccination.
“There must be a minimum of 30 individuals committed to receiving the vaccination in order to have the clinic,” said Rob McGill, executive director. If you are committed to getting a Covid-19 vaccination, please contact the school by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and a link for a sign-up form will be sent to you.
Interested participants should complete one form for each individual by noon on Monday, Aug. 2. Once all responses are received, more information will be sent to the email address provided.
ICYMI: In the arts, the Sound of Music sets auditions
Multiple media outlets are reporting the New Orleans Saints signed Maumelle’s Kendall Donnerson to a contract on Monday. Donnerson, previously an NFL free agent, was with the Carolina Panthers earlier this year.
Donnerson, who starred at Maumelle High School and graduated from there in 2014, played collegiately at Southeast Missouri State University and was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in 2018.
His time with the Panthers was for mini-camp and he has also been with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Raiders, when they played in Oakland.
A 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end and linebacker, Donnerson compiled 135 tackles in his college career with 32.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. In his junior and senior years at Maumelle, he combined for 220 tackles and 45 sacks as dominated the offensive lines of opposing teams.
He was twice named all-state in football and was a 2013 nominee for the Hootens.com Farm Bureau Defensive Player of the Year award. He also played basketball, and was named all-conference as a junior and senior.
BASEBALL ON BROADWAY is the weekly newsletter that spotlights the Arkansas Travelers. It is published on Monday and click the link to give it a read.
Lord, help me be totally oblivious.
I don’t want to know about the increase in virus deaths and sickness.
I don’t want to hear about how full the hospitals might be.
I don’t want to know about a few idiotic legislators who promote their version of freedom over common sense safety.
I don’t want to know that even national Republican leaders have now advocated the vaccine. I got my rights and the gummit can’t tell me what to do.
I don’t want to worry about thousands of kids returning to school in just a few weeks and that our regressive state has a LAW that doesn’t allow local school districts to mandate masks. They know better.
I don’t want to hear about the upcoming cancellations of sporting contests, concerts, church services, classes at our schools and meetings. I don’t want to know that restaurants will again be shutting down to protect customers and their employees. I prefer to stay at home and not mix with others.
I don’t want to trust science and get a vaccine that could stop the spread of a vicious disease.
As a matter of fact, I want to be Captain Oblivious and command my own army of other Oblivions. Seems the majority of Arkansans agree with me. Club meetings will be held in intensive care units all across the state — with complimentary ventilators while supplies last.
P.S. I also refuse to believe that the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol was anything more than casual tourists taking a look around.
The Costco Concept
I’ve never liked the concept of pay-to-play. I’ve never joined any club that gives you a discount if you pay a fee. It dates back to the days when you would visit Barnes & Noble and they would ask you to pay a fee in order to join their club and get a discount. Why don’t you just give me a discount because I shop here regularly. It just felt wrong, and it still does.
Now, the new kid in town wants us to pay to play to shop at Costco. I’m proud for them to get people to not only pay $60 a year for the privilege of buying something and standing in line to do it. It’s the same concept as Sam’s Club, which encouraged us to buy in bulk. I suppose you’ll eventually need 50 rolls of toilet tissue and a 10-pound bag of frozen chicken nuggets.
I wish them well, but I’m not biting.
Rich Boys Space Program
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had two billionaire boys’ rockets leave Earth for a 10-minute or so ride in space. The most egocentric was the launch of the phallic-like rocket hauling the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos.
While they both claimed they were helping advance the possibility of consumer driven flights, they were really the most expensive PR stunts in history. But they were adorable in their little flight suits and cowboy hats.
To even equate their achievement with real astronauts is ludicrous. The real astronauts were some of the best and brightest. True space cowboys.
Bezos, Richard Branson and their crews were merely passengers who took a rich man’s carnival ride.
Is a Health Pass Next?
The French may have something. As they deal with a surge of the virus, their people might need proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from Covid to enter most museums and cinemas. Their lawmakers will debate whether to extend its use in August for entry to cafes, restaurants and shopping malls.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the plans for a health pass earlier this month, as well as compulsory vaccination for all health workers by September. Surveys suggest there is widespread vaccine hesitancy in France. Sound familiar?
I would gladly flash my vaccination card to be granted admittance to public venues.
Made a couple of visits to the recently opened Pizza House. One of my grandbuddies and I dined in and had a pizza and a Stromboli Calzone. Both were very good.
They don’t wait on you; it’s all counter service and you can order by the slice or order a whole pizza. And their drinks are either cans or bottles. I prefer a drink on ice when I dine in a restaurant. You can get a pizza up to 16 inches and the calzones are quite large and could easily be shared. Also, I found it difficult to eat a calzone with plastic tableware.
My only real complaint was the salads. They are overpriced and underwhelming. We had the large Caesar for $8.50 for a serving of Romaine, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few less-than-crunchy croutons. The dressing is a small, prepackaged pouch. I asked for a second pouch, and they said it’s normally an extra charge. He gave it to me anyway after I gave him a “you’ve got to be kidding” look.
I will certainly go back but I won’t order a salad until they retool and reprice.
“We have met the enemy, and they are us.” -- Pogo, April 22, 1970
See you on the Boulevard.
More news at www.ArkansasNewsroom.com.
Neal Moore is a public relations consultant and resident of Maumelle. Send your Maumelle news or comments to email@example.com. Thanks, PJ
The first thing you need to know is that Betty isn’t doing the design work for Bang-up Betty.
Betty isn’t a woman, or even a human.
Betty is actually Stacey Bowers’s cat and it is Bowers who is the artist behind the North Little Rock-based jewelry design business, Bang-up Betty.
For the curious, not judgmental types, you can follow Betty’s adventures on Instagram @bettyisaboy.
As for Bowers, she started making jewelry in 2013 on the side and that turned into her sole occupation and full-time business some eight years later.
“When I started,” Bowers said, “I made jewelry at night and on weekends after I got off from work, but eventually Bang-Up Betty grew so much that I decided to focus all my attention on it.”
Her jewelry roots started years before that.
“I’ve been making jewelry since I was in middle school,” she said. “One of my first jobs was at Argenta Bead Company when it was in North Little Rock, and I learned the basics of jewelry there.”
She also described her work.
“Right now I mostly create stamped jewelry featuring custom words and funny phrases and figural cast bronze and sterling silver jewelry,” Bowers said. “Some of my latest collections are my Siren Collection inspired by Greek mythology, my Gallery Collection inspired by art history, and my brand new Seven Seas Collection inspired by sea creatures.”
To get a better idea, click here to see her website.
Bowers, who grew up in North Little Rock, will open her storefront at 429 Main St., in September.
“I’m excited to bring something fun and quirky to Argenta when I open Bang-Up Betty in a few weeks,” she said. “You’ll be able to shop my locally made jewelry, get something stamped onsite if you like and pick up unique gifts in a gorgeous space.”
In the meantime, there’s a book club at Laman Library that starts in August, to keep people busy.
Described as a “book-club-meets-scavenger-hunt” it is hosted by both branches of Laman Library and Bowers wrote on a blog post that “anyone can participate.”
One just needs to follow Bang-Up Betty on Instagram, @bangupbetty, or on Facebook, @bangupbettyjewelry.
Bowers will post clues on those social media channels that will then take readers to her “favorite titles on the shelves” and when you check out with the books, you’ll “get biblio-centric gifts to take home.”
Some readers, “will also get nice surprises when they open books they’ve checked out from Laman Library.”
Anyone who lives in Pulaski County can get a library card for Laman Library and the book club/scavanger hunt will continue through the Fall.
Gary Burton Jr. graduated from Maumelle High School in 2015 and then went on to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.
Burton, an all-state football and basketball player for the Hornets, also played football at Arkansas Tech, where he was a defensive end and four-year letterman. He graduated in 2020 with academic honors and was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He’s now a nightside broadcast reporter for WJTV in Jackson, Mississippi and you can follow him on twitter @GaryB_WJTV.
Know a graduate of Maumelle, Maumelle Charter, CAC or from Maumelle and went to high school in Little Rock that you think would be a good subject for Catching up with …? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below is a transcript of an email question and answer session with ArkansasNewsroom.com. The transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Maumelle High?
If I had to narrow my favorite memories down to my top 3, my order would be:
The chemistry we had on the basketball and football team. There was never a dull moment. My connection with all my coaches and teammates was like no other sports team I have ever been a part of. The best sports memory would be advancing to the State Championship game my senior year. That was such a special moment.
Becoming student body president. This moment is one I will cherish forever. The whole school voted and to be chosen to lead the student body is still an opportunity I get goosebumps about.
Speaking at my graduation.
You studied journalism at Arkansas Tech, what inspired you to go that route?
I have always loved speaking and being in front of a camera and letting my personality shine.
With journalism I can do both and make an impact by telling people stories and relaying information they need to hear.
How did playing football at Tech prepare you for your career choice?
Sports in general has taught me so many lessons. I have been playing football and basketball since I was 5 years old.
At Tech, football was an eye opener to the real world because college football felt like a job instead of just playing a game I love.
Scholarships are earned and not given, and work had to be put in to maintain your scholarship.
I have always been a hard worker but the level of dedication you need to be a college student athlete is major, and that dedication has transitioned over into my career.
I am forever grateful for my time at Tech and playing for the Wonder Boys.
Did you intern anywhere while a student and how did that prepare you?
I honestly don't feel I'd be where I am in my career if I wasn't for my internship at FOX 16 and KARK 4 in Little Rock.
I interned there during the summer before senior year at ATU, and I learned so much by shadowing some amazing talent in the news business.
I don't want to name drop but from the anchors to the photographers, everyone was so willing to spread knowledge in to me and I was happy to soak it in like a sponge.
My internship was the first time I had seen the real day in the life of a reporter. It was so fast paced.
When I went back to school my senior year, I was a completely different student because I was filled with so much professional hands-on experience. And that was just the beginning.
Is Jackson your first full-time stop?
Jackson is a decent sized market, 97 [Designated Market Area], for a first stop. What do you think played a role in landing that?
Jackson is the perfect fit for me as my first stop. I have made mistakes and grown tremendously from them since I started in September 2020.
If it wasn't for the man above, I wouldn't be here.
A big role in me landing this job is a professor of mine at Arkansas Tech by the name of Christie Kellar.
I told Christie during senior year that I was applying for jobs in the 150 and below markets. She pulled me to the side and basically made me aware of the talent she saw in me.
I sold myself short, but it was Christie who gave me that boost to believe.
I know that typical or normal really isn’t a thing in broadcast but could you take a reader through what a day might be like for you? By this, I mean what’s your schedule. Do you ever anchor, or do you always do reporting? Do you have to shoot your own video or does your station have photographers, etc?
I am a nightside MMJ [multimedia journalist] reporter and when I am needed, I will fill in as sports anchor. My shift is 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
As an MMJ, I am required to shoot my own interviews, live shots, and video and edit my stories. Unless it is a severe weather day, it isn't as bad as it may sound. As an MMJ I get to bring my vision to life, which is great.
What has been one of your favorite things to report on, so far?
The Oxford Regionals at Ole Miss. I decided to wear a Razorback hat and ask people to chant WooPig Sooie. That day was the definition of having fun at work.
And I am in love with feel good stories. One of my favorite stories that I have told so far is when Michael Jackson came to Jackson.
A man that has a passion for Michael Jackson and can dance and dress like him travels from state to state and does street performances.
His message to the people he comes across is BE YOU. Sitting down and talking with him was special.
There have been countless stories that I'll never forget but his determination to spread love and make people smile stuck with me.
I think it stuck because that is the mindset I have with telling stories.
Talking about crime, covid-19, etc. are automatic stories in the news business.
Nothing is more special than sitting down with someone and talking to them about what's in their heart
How often do you get back to Arkansas?
About once a month since I am only about five hours from home. The odds of me having the luxury of being this close to family isn't ideal in this career so I'm taking advantage of it.
I have a small family with a 3-year-old nephew and seeing them is special every chance I get.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I lost my dad in 2018 and he didn't physically see any of my adult accomplishments.
I'd just like to highlight that none of this is possible without the lessons my dad and amazingly strong mother and big sister has instilled in me.
Also, I am so thankful for everyone that has played a role in my life. Whether it was a massive or tiny encounter, it was impactful.