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Elk spotting in Arkansas
Maumelle Planning Commission meets tonight; Contested races abound locally; Thanksgiving less expensive this year; CAC hosts Nashville this Friday in the playoffs plus sports and headlines
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Pandemic deaths back up
The state Department of Health, on its Covid dashboard, showed that in the past week, there were eight new deaths reported. The numbers were updated Tuesday, Nov. 14.
The total number of reported dead Arkansans now stands at 13,360 or the state’s 30th largest city. Passing Harrison’s 13,338.
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 North Little Rock School Board has its regular November meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight. The Maumelle Planning Commission meets at 6:30 p.m. tonight and the Maumelle City Council meets at 6 p.m. next Monday night at City Hall.
Events: Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Plan accordingly. For more, keep on scrolling.
Something to read: The New York Times and KFF Health News are collaborating on an extensive, lengthy project titled Dying Broke: A new jointly reported series on America’s long-term care crisis. It is a sobering read, especially if you’re older or have older people in your life. Read the first installment here Facing financial ruin as costs soar for elder care
Maumelle Planning Commission meets tonight
With next week's Thanksgiving holiday, the November meeting of the Maumelle Planning Commission is at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Maumelle City Hall.
To view the agenda, click here.
There's no old business and just three items of new.
The first is a revised plat of two tracts of land at 114 Valley Creek Drive, the second is a replat to combine two tracts into one at 125 Majestic Circle and the third is a variance request for a yard setback at 2 Platte Drive.
The commission will also set the calendar of meetings for 2024 as well.
Contested races abound locally, across the state
The filing deadline for next year's elections was Tuesday and a suddenly revived Arkansas Democratic Party has fielded candidates most everywhere.
In Maumelle, state Rep. Brandon Anchor (R) will face a challenge from Cassandra Greene (D) in the race for District 71 while state Rep. David Ray (R) has an opponent in Kwami Abdul-Bey in District 69.
In other North of the River races, state Rep. Carlton Wing (R) is being challenged by Alex Holladay (D) in District 70.
North Little Rock School Board member, and former legislator, Tracy Steele (D) is running unopposed in District 72.
For a complete list of candidates, click here.
Below are some notable upcoming dates for the 2024 election.
FEB. 19, 2024: Early voting begins for the Preferential Primary Election. Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
MARCH 5, 2024: Preferential Primary Election; Nonpartisan General Election; Annual School Election (If held in March)
APRIL 2, 2024: General Primary Election ; Annual School Runoff Election (If election was held in March ) Ark. Code § 6-14-121
OCT. 21, 2024: Early voting begins for the General Election. Early voting hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
NOV. 5, 2024: General Election; Nonpartisan Runoff Election; Annual School Election (If held in November)
DEC. 3, 2024: General Runoff Election (County and Municipal); Annual Runoff School Election
Thanksgiving less expensive this year
In its annual report, the Arkansas Farm Bureau said the average cost for Thanksgiving dinner for 10 is $61 this year.
Down from last year's cost of $64.
Nearly half of that expense is the turkey, and turkey prices have been dropping.
The Farm Bureau said the drop can be explained by, "a decrease in avian influenza cases" which means more turkeys and more turkeys means cheaper prices.
A 16 pound turkey had an average price of $27 and it is worth noting that the secret shoppers the Farm Bureau sends out across the state don't take advantage of sale prices or discounts.
The shopping list includes:Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
The surveys have been done annually since 1986.
Read more about the national survey by clicking here.
On the road?
AAA also released its annual pre-Thanksgiving survey of holiday travelers and they forecast 55.4 million Americans to be on the road next week.
The survey is for those traveling 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving.
The forecast has 49.13 million driving, another 4.69 million flying and 1.55 million using some other form of transportation like a bus or train.
Last year, 54.1 million people traveled, while in 2019, the last holiday before the ongoing pandemic began, 55.99 million people were on the road.
The good news is that gas prices are going down significantly with the Thursday morning cost of a gallon of gas at Sam's Club in west Little Rock and Costco are both at $2.69.
The prices are cheaper elsewhere with the Sam's Club in Jonesboro costing $2.54, but in Fort Smith, it is twenty cents more expensive at $2.74.
Economic Development Lunch set for Nov. 28
The Commercial Real Estate Council of Metro Little Rock will host an Economic Development Q&A and Lunch at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. It will be held at the Wyndham Riverfront in downtown North Little Rock.
Jack Thomas, who some might remember as the standout quarterback at CAC from a few years back, is now the Little Rock Regional Chamber’s vice president of economic development and will host the Q&A session.
The meeting will focus on the progress of metro Little Rock and recent economic development trends.
Tickets are $25 for members, $40 for guests, $190 for a member table of 8, and $300 for a guest table of 8, and are available at crecmlr.org/events.
For sponsorship, ticket, or other information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-539-0582.
Public hearing set by PCSSD
Notice is hereby given that the Pulaski County Special School District will conduct a public hearing on their facilities master plan that will be submitted to the Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation as required by state law.
The public hearing will start at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14 in the Board Room of the Administration Building located at 925 East Dixon Road, Little Rock.
It is scheduled to last one hour.
The District will present information on their facilities master plan. All interested persons attending the public hearing will be given an opportunity to comment on the facilities master plan.
Elk spotting in Arkansas
BOXLEY VALLEY — As decisions go, it is a good one.
It is good for the economy.
It is good for tourism.
But, and most importantly, it is good for the elk.
In 1981, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission reintroduced elk into the state with 112 animals from Colorado and Nebraska.
A breed known as the eastern elk was native to the state but went extinct in the 1840s.
An attempt to reintroduce the elk in 1933 in northern Franklin County with 11 elk worked for a while. The herd grew to approximately 200 before the animals vanished in the 1950s.
Why they disappeared still isn't known, but the likely culprit was a confluence of "illegal hunting, natural mortality and shrinking habitat," according to Game & Fish.
Then, decades later, Arkansas tried again.
The fruits of those labors were on display on a recent trip to Newton County and the Buffalo National River.
Game & Fish estimates about 450 elk now roam 315,000 acres of rugged mountain terrain and along the river bottoms.
The area is a mix of private property and National Park Service, National Forest and Game & Fish lands.
The effort to preserve and grow the elk habitat is a joint undertaking of private groups and the state and federal governments.
Game & Fish has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, especially at the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area.
The National Park Service has also worked the 95,730-acre Buffalo National River to improve and maintain the land as an elk habitat.
The elk have free range, and NPS said the best viewing area is in the Boxley Valley that runs along state Hwy. 21 and beside the Buffalo River.
"Usually the easiest place to view elk is along the six miles of Hwy. 43 and Hwy. 21 through Boxley Valley," NPS said.
They also said there's a "better than average chance of seeing elk in the fields during the autumn months of October and November."
True and true, at least for us.
Over a weekend, we took five elk-gazing drives, with the hopes of batting .400, and instead we had five perfect outings, seeing elk Friday evening, Saturday morning, post-lunch and before dinner, then again on Sunday at dusk.
The counts ranged from a pair to herds of 15 to 20, as calves pranced in the open field on Saturday afternoon.
NPS said, "the bull elk have large antlers to show off to their harems of cow elk, other bulls and the audience of spectators along the fence line."
The elk may not acknowledge your presence, and certainly didn't for us, but "they know you are there," NPS said.
October and November is also rutting season, when the bull elk clash in the fields and bugle their triumphs.
It was quite a show to watch the bulls clash antlers, which you could hear even hundreds of yards away.
To get a better view, having binoculars really helps.
As for the leaves, the foliage was post-peak at higher elevations, but the drive up Hwy. 21 had some spectacular color popping through.
It was still a good, colorful show near the top of the ridge where our cabin was.
If you go
Getting to Boxley Valley isn't terribly complicated coming from central Arkansas. From Maumelle, it is roughly two hours of easy driving on I-40 before taking the Lamar exit to get on U.S. Hwy. 64 near Clarksville, then turning north on Hwy. 21.
For lodging, there’s an abundance of cabins, short-term rentals and campgrounds, most of which are primitive, meaning no hookups, but spots for RVs and pull trailers are available.
There's not much in the way of groceries, though the Buffalo Outdoor Center and Ponca General Store both have a limited selection of food and bagged ice in Ponca.
So, the best plan is to bring groceries for the length of your trip.
In our case, we did that and also hit up Count Porkula to get a couple pounds of pulled pork for easy sandwiches. Also, of note, the impulse purchase of the sweet-and-spicy pecans at the checkout might have been the best buy.
Also, fill up that tank before you go!
Boxley Valley: As already noted, the stretch along Hwy. 21 is prime elk viewing area. But a couple of things to remember: Pull completely off the road so you don't impede traffic. Hwy. 21 is a surprisingly busy road. Also, at times, it will seem the elk are close enough to reach out and touch. That's a terrible idea! As the National Park Service noted, "elk are wild animals, do not try to get close to them" and "elk can feel threatened by your presence." Remember, some are armed with antlers!
Boxley Baptist Church: On Hwy. 21, the church has two structures along with a cemetery and playground for the church youth. The views are picturesque.
Ponca low-water bridge: The low-water, one-lane bridge across the Buffalo River is off Hwy. 21. Plenty of parking and a restroom are available, and it's a terrific spot to watch elk, as the river bottom pasture nearby was a popular place for the animals to gather, play and graze.
Ponca Nature Center: Game & Fish maintains a two-story elk information center at 4642 Hwy. 43 in Ponca. There were a surprising number of things to do there for all ages and worth an hour or two, if you make it that direction.
Steel Creek: North of Ponca, on Hwy. 74, Steel Creek is a National Park Service campground with a total of 40 campsites, 26 for tents and 14 for those with horses. I wouldn't want to pull a horse trailer up, or down, the road to the campground, but the views along the Buffalo River and Roark Bluff, above, are a treat. Just make sure your brake pads are in good working order.
Jasper: You might remember Jasper from an ’80s visit to Dogpatch. The town doesn’t appear to have changed much, but Ozark Cafe is a good place to get something delicious, and there’s also a Harp’s if you have grocery needs. Jasper is roughly 15 miles of twisty mountain road east of Ponca. The small courthouse square is picturesque, and Bubba’s Buffalo River Store seems like a good place to buy a T-shirt or other souvenir, even though we didn’t get the opportunity as it was closed on our Sunday afternoon visit.
Maumelle, North Little Rock eliminated from playoffs; CAC hosts Nashville this Friday
It was a rough first round of the playoffs as Maumelle and North Little Rock were eliminated.
Central Arkansas Christian, which had a bye, will host the Nashville Scrappers this Friday at Mustang Mountain.
This started promisingly for Maumelle in its road to Valley View last Friday, then the Blazers caught their and rolled to a 38-14 win.
Maumelle took the early lead, 8-0, on a Elijah Newell 34 yard catch and run from quarterback Andrew Bjork. That was followed by a Bjork two-point conversion with 8:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Then Valley View (10-1) reeled off three consecutive touchdowns before Bjork found Newell for a 13-yard touchdown catch. The two-point conversion was no good as the Hornets were held scoreless from that point while Valley added a first half field goal, then touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to set the final margin.
Maumelle finishes the season 7-4 under second-year coach Bryan Maupin.
Valley View hosts Shiloh Christian this Friday while Little Rock Parkview has Little Rock Mills in the second round.
Also in the second round from the 5A-Central is Pine Bluff as the Zebras host Hot Springs Lakeside.
Rogers rolled past North Little Rock, 44-6, as the 'Cats finished the year 3-8.
Rogers travels to Bryant this Friday, while on that side of the bracket, Cabot will be at Bentonville.
The other two games remaining in 7A are Fort Smith Southside st undefeated Fayetteville and Bentonville West at Conway.
CAC (8-2) hosts Nashville (8-3) in what could be an offensive show. The Scrappers, No. 9 in the Class 4A poll from Hootens.com are averaging nearly 39 points a game on offense, while giving up not quite 23.
The Scrappers went 3-2 in the six-team 4A-7 to finish third.
CAC's offense has been spectacular this season for 48.1 points a game while giving up 27.9. The Mustangs are ranked No. 10 in the same poll, one spot behind Nashville.
The Hootens.com prognosticators have CAC picked to win.
The winner of Friday's game will host the winner of Elkins and Monticello on Friday, Nov. 24.
A possible matchup against undefeated Harding Academy looms in the semifinals., but, arguably, the two best teams in 4A are Elkins and Harding Academy.
Both are undefeated and the other perfect team in 4A is Warren, and the Lumberjacks host Bauxite this Friday and the winner of that game will likely host Ozark as the Hillbillies face Lincoln, in a rematch from earlier this season that was won by Ozark, 44-6.
Maumelle cumulative offensive stats
Name ... Carries ... Net ... TDs ... Long
Jaiden Worsham ... 137 ... 916 ... 6 ... 80 ... 6.7
Andrew Bjork ... 107 ... 394 ... 3 ... 22 ... 3.7
Bubba Johnson ... 60 ... 294 ... 3 ... 36 ... 4.9
Elijah Newell ... 38 ... 269 ... 5 ... 31 ... 7.1
Name … Cmp / Att / Int ... Yds ... TD ... Long
Andrew Bjork 147 / 284 / 17 ... 2037 ... 20 ... 63
Name … No. ... Yds ... TD ... Long
Elijah Newell ... 45 ... 643 ... 7 ... 46
Alan Timmons ... 43 ... 605 ... 7 ... 57
Johnathan Frost ... 20 ... 262 ... 2 ... 52
Jason Barham ... 16 ... 211 ... 0 ... 24
Karsten Hilliard ... 6 ... 183 ... 2 ... 63
Cato Hunter ... 13 ... 167 ... 2 ... 34
Name ... Total points
Elijah Newell ... 90
Alan Timmons ... 77
Jaiden Worsham ... 36
Andrew Bjork ... 30
Bubba Johnson ... 26
Johnathan Frost ... 24
Friday night lights
Maumelle Hornets (7-4 final record)
Aug. 25 ... Maumelle 20, Sylvan Hills 0
Sept. 1 ... Maumelle 41, Batesville 27
Sept. 8 … White Hall 42, Maumelle 21
Sept. 22 ... Pine Bluff 41, Maumelle 25
Sept. 28 ... Maumelle 34, Mills 28
Oct. 6 ... Robinson 48, Maumelle 38
Oct. 13 ... Maumelle 26, Morrilton 14
Oct. 20 ... Maumelle 56, Watson Chapel 14
Oct. 27 ... Maumelle 44, Vilonia 28
Nov. 3 ... Maumelle 30, Beebe 14
Nov. 10 ... Valley View 38, Maumelle 14
BOLD indicates home game
For the roster, please click here.
Aug. 25 ... CAC 52, Lonoke 16
Sept. 1 ... CAC 40, Perryville 6
Sept. 8 ... CAC, 50 Bauxite 45
Sept. 15 ... Harmony Grove 43, CAC 42
Sept. 22 ... CAC 40, Little Rock Hall 27
Sept. 29 ... CAC 50, Mayflower 34
Oct. 6 ... CAC 44, Pottsville 43
Oct. 13 ... Clinton 53, CAC 50
Oct. 20 ... CAC 60, Dover 12
Nov. 3 ... CAC 53, Lamar 0
Nov. 10 ... CAC has a bye. First round of playoffs
Friday, Nov. 17 … CAC hosts the winner of Nashville in second round of the playoffs … 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24 … Third round of the Class 4A playoffs
BOLD indicates home game
For the roster, please click here.
North Little Rock 'Cats (3-8 final record)
Aug. 25 ... Catholic 17, North Little Rock 7
Sept. 1 ... Fayetteville 58, North Little Rock 20
Sept. 15 ... Parkview 52, North Little Rock 14
Sept. 22 ... North Little Rock 41, Little Rock Central 6
Sept. 29 ... Conway 36, North Little Rock 7
Oct. 6 ... North Little Rock 44, Little Rock Southwest 13
Oct. 13 ... Jonesboro 37, North Little Rock 7
Oct. 20 ... North Little Rock 47, Fort Smith Northside 21
Oct. 27 ... Bryant 52, North Little Rock 21
Nov. 3 ... Cabot 27, North Little Rock 13
Friday, Nov. 10 ... Rogers 44, North Little Rock 6
BOLD indicates home game
For the roster, please click here.
Maumelle Charter basketball schedule
Nov. 16 ... Thursday ... Dewitt … JHG, JHB, VG, VB … 4 p.m.
Nov 16 ... Thursday ... Episcopal Collegiate … 7G,7B … 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 17.... Friday ... at Mills … JHB, VG,VB …. 4:30 p.m.
Nov. 20 … Monday … at LR Central … JHB,VB … 5 p.m.
Nov. 27-Dec.2 …. Monday-Friday ... at Battle at the Cove … VG,VB
Dec 2 …. Saturday at Stuttgart (Jamboree) … 7G,7B … TBA
Dec. 4 … Monday at Dover … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 5 … Tuesday … Dover … JVG, JVB, VG,VB … 5 p.m.
Dec. 8.... Friday ... at CAC … JHG, JHB, VG, VB … 4 p.m.
Dec. 11 … Monday at Mayflower … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 12 … Tuesday … Mayflower … JVG, JVB, VG, VB … 5 p.m.
Dec 14 ... Thursday ... CAC … 7G,7B … 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 ... Thursday ... Malvern … VG,VB … 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 15.... Friday ... Abundant Life (Homecoming) … VG, VB … 5:30 p.m.
Dec 16 … Saturday at Perryville (Jamboree) … 7G,7B … TBA
Dec. 27-28 at Malvern Classic … VG… TBD
Dec. 27-29 at Episcopal Christmas Tournament … VB … TBD
Jan 2. … Tuesday … Danville … JHG,JHB,VG,VB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan 4. ... Thursday ... Lee Academy … JHG, VG,VB … 4 p.m.
Jan. 5.... Friday ... at Perryville … JHG, JHB, VG, VB … 4 p.m.
Jan. 8 … Monday at Lamar … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 … Tuesday Lamar … JVG, JVB, VG, VB … 5 p.m.
Jan. 11 ... Thursday ... Baptist Prep … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 12.... Friday ... at Baptist Prep … JVG, JVB, VG, VB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 … Tuesday … Atkins … JHG, JHB, VG,VB ... 4 p.m.
Jan 16 … Tuesday … Lisa West … 7G,7B … 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 18 ... Thursday ... Dover … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 19.... Friday ... at Dover … VG, VB … 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 23 … Tuesday … CAC … JHG, JHB, VG, VB ... 4 p.m.
Jan. 25 ... Thursday ... Mayflower … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 26.... Friday ... at Mayflower … JVB, VG, VB … 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 … Tuesday … Perryville (Senior Night) … JHG, JHB, VG, VB ... 4 p.m.
Feb. 1 ... Thursday ... Lamar … 7G, 7B, JHG, JHB … 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 2.... Friday ... at Lamar … JVG, JVB, VG, VB 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 3-7 … Jr. High District Tournament … JHG, JHB … TBA
Feb. 6 … Tuesday … Baptist Prep … JVG, JVB, VG, VB … 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 ... Thursday ... at Atkins … JVG, JVB, VG, VB … 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 12-17 … Sr. High District Tournament … VG, VB
Feb. 21-24 … Regional Tournament
Feb. 27- March 2 … State Tournament