Discover more from Arkansas Newsroom
North Little Rock schools, Rock Region Metro look at partnership
Barbieheimer is almost here; Navigating Aging; Arts notes; Education news and notes; American Legion State Baseball Tournament starts plus sports and headlines
Note to subscribers: An annual or monthly subscription is billed to your debit or credit card as ARKANSAS.SUBSTACK.COM and if you have questions, please email email@example.com. Thanks for reading and subscribing!
Pandemic deaths make big jump
The state Department of Health, on its Covid dashboard, showed that in the past week, there were 29 new deaths reported. The numbers were updated Tuesday, July 18.
The total number of reported dead Arkansans remains at 13,205 or the state’s 31st 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 North Little Rock City Council will meet next Monday night at City Hall. The North Little Rock School Board will have a regularly scheduled meeting at 5:30 p.m. tonight. To view the agenda, click here.
Events: Barbieheimer is almost here. For more on that double feature, keep scrolling. The American Legion State Baseball Tournament begins pool play today in Hot Springs and Conway. For more on that, also keep scrolling.
North Little Rock schools, Rock Region Metro look at partnership
The North Little Rock School Board will hear a proposal tonight to shift some of the district's transportation needs to Rock Region Metro.
Listed on the agenda for information purposes, meaning the board won’t take any action tonight is an item that would “ provide high school students a fare-free universal transit pass which provides card holders with unlimited bus rides for one year.”
The pass would be good for the 22 fixed routes Rock Region runs connecting North Little Rock, Maumelle, Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville. Those routes cover 51,000 miles weekly and would also include the four express routes. The transit authority also operates a paratransit van system as well as the downtown trolley system that links North Little Rock and Little Rock.
Included in the agenda was a powerpoint from Justin Avery, who serves as CEO of Rock Region.
It lays out some of the particulars that the agreement would be for two years, starting Aug. 1 and would be for North Little Rock High School students.
Cost wasn’t covered, but the presentation notes, the first year would include a “50 percent discount.”
Rock Region also noted that it “has partnered with other local school systems to provide high school students a fare-free universal transit pass.”
Barbieheimer is almost here
There’s plenty of summer blockbusters this year, as there are most years, and there’s been plenty of times where two big movies have come out on the same day.
But there’s never been a summer blockbuster that saw movies like Barbie and Oppenheimer coming out on the same day.
Barbie is more familiar because, you know, it is a toy beloved for decades by millions around the world and the characters in the candy coated, pink toned film are surely recognizable to most Americans.
Then there’s Oppenheimer, as in Robert Oppenheimer, who is neither candy coated or pink toned, and the scientist recruited by the government to create the atomic bomb. He was, as you know, successful.
He’s a fascinating character, played by a heavyweight actor, in a cast full of heavyweight actors, and directed by maybe the best in the business in Christopher Nolan.
It started on the internet, as dumb things do these days, as the idea was to see both movies, back-to-back, double feature style, for reasons.
Mostly because it is funny, and what else are you going to do?
So, as a trustee in the Ramon Escobar Fund for the Cultural Arts, and something of a movie buff, I decided to see both, back-to-back.
More on that experience after the fact, but the plan is to see Oppenheimer first, at 11 a.m. at the Movie Tavern in Little Rock on Saturday. Then, see Barbie at 2 p.m.
There’s other theaters and more screenings available but the Movie Tavern has been consistent, and the food there surprisingly good for a movie theater. Way past buckets of popcorn and lukewarm hot dogs, but actual entrees, sandwiches and pizza. The food can be comfortably compared to a decent chain, like a Chili’s or Applebee’s.
There’s no prizes involved. And if you make the attempt, Oppenheimer is three hours long and Barbie checks in at 1:54. That doesn’t include trailers and the commercials they show before every movie now, but those tend to run 20 minutes. So, this is roughly six hours, in a movie theater seat, even a comfortable recliner, can be tough, so pack a cushion.
Local students graduate from Missouri State University
Missouri State University awarded 2,953 degrees to students in spring 2023.
The commencement ceremonies took place May 19, at Great Southern Bank Arena. The following North of the River students earned degrees:
Jennifer Henington of Maumelle graduated with a Master of Science, Project Management.
O'Shayla Muldrow of North Little Rock graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Film and Media Studies.
Missouri State is located in Springfield, Missouri.
UA Little Rock TRIO students visit Atlanta
A group of UA Little Rock students involved in the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program had the opportunity to take a free cultural enrichment and graduate school preparation trip to Atlanta.
SSS is a U.S. Department of Education program designed to provide services for students who are first-generation, low income, and/or have disabilities. It gives students the chance to partake in unique activities they wouldn't have access to otherwise, giving the students necessary support and tools to help them succeed.
"It gives students the opportunity to prepare for life after they graduate," said Dr. Desarae Nelson, director of TRIO Student Support Services at UA Little Rock. "The trip is important because it opens students up to possibilities to attend graduate school as well as experience cultures from different cities and universities."
During the June 1-4 trip, students toured Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. They also visited museums and cultural sites like the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Historic District, Mary Mac's Tea Room, the last of 16 tea rooms in 1940s Atlanta, and Trap Museum, dubbed as the world's first hip hop museum.
North of the River UA Little Rock students who went on the trip include:
Richard Schingler of North Little Rock
YaSheika Hart of North Little Rock
Tashiba Harris of North Little Rock
Mikiya Smith completes IMPACT and enrolls at Troy University
Mikiya Smith of Sherwood, has completed IMPACT new student orientation and enrolled at Troy University for the Fall 2023 semester at the Troy Campus.
The fall semester for the Troy Campus starts on Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Todd appointed to American Legion Arkansas Boys State Commission
The American Legion Department of Arkansas announced the appointment of Col. Nathaniel “Nate” Todd (Ret.) of Pine Bluff to serve on the Arkansas Boys State Commission.
Todd, above, who was previously the Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs and is a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, served a 37-year career in the Army and Army Reserve and said he is eager to continue building Arkansas Boys State's legacy in Arkansas.
Doubt: A Parable part of the ACANSA Arts Festival of the South
The Judy Kohn Tenenbaum Argenta Community Theater announced a production of John Patrick Staley’s DOUBT a Parable starting on Sept. 13.
The performance’s run will end on Sept. 23 and it will be held September 13-23 at ACT II Sharon Heflin Performing Arts Education Center.
The production will be part of the eighth annual ACANSA Arts Festival of the South and some performances will be part of the theater’s dinner theater program. There’s a total of nine shows included in the run with the Sunday matinee beginning at 2 p.m. Dinner theater shows will start at 6:30 p.m. and theater seating will start at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are on sale at ArgentaCommunityTheater.org, and prices start at $38.
Vincent Insalaco will serve as director and will feature Greg Fallon as Father Flynn, Karen Clark as Sister Aloysius, Kristen Phantazia-Smith as Sister James and Verda Davenport-Booher as Mrs. Muller.
2024 Delta Triennial Exhibition set
The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts recently announced that the first Delta Triennial will be on view from June 14, 2024, through August 25, 2024, in the Harriet and Warren Stephens Family Gallery.
The exhibition will be juried, with online submissions opening in January of 2024. Artists recommended by partner institutions will also be invited to participate in the Delta Triennial.
Additional details regarding the Delta Triennial submission process will be released in the coming months.
Rent starts this month 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 are going fast with some shows sold out. Prices start at $28 and can be purchased online at www.ArgentaCommunityTheater.org.
Brandon Box-Higdem will serve as director.
The production contains adult themes and references and is not recommended for younger audiences.
In older adults, a little excess weight isn’t such a bad thing
By Judith Graham / KFF Health News
Millions of people enter later life carrying an extra 10 to 15 pounds, weight they’ve gained after having children, developing joint problems, becoming less active, or making meals the center of their social lives.
Navigating Aging focuses on medical issues and advice associated with aging and end-of-life care, helping America’s 45 million seniors and their families navigate the health care system. To contact Judith Graham, above, with a question or comment, click here.
Should they lose this modest extra weight to optimize their health? This question has come to the fore with a new category of diabetes and weight loss drugs giving people hope they can shed excess pounds.
For years, experts have debated what to advise older adults in this situation. On one hand, weight gain is associated with the accumulation of fat. And that can have serious adverse health consequences, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other medical conditions.
On the other hand, numerous studies suggest that carrying some extra weight can sometimes be protective in later life. For people who fall, fat can serve as padding, guarding against fractures. And for people who become seriously ill with conditions such as cancer or advanced kidney disease, that padding can be a source of energy, helping them tolerate demanding therapies.
Of course, it depends on how heavy someone is to begin with. People who are already obese (with a body mass index of 30 or over) and who put on extra pounds are at greater risk than those who weigh less. And rapid weight gain in later life is always a cause for concern.
Making sense of scientific evidence and expert opinion surrounding weight issues in older adults isn’t easy. Here’s what I learned from reviewing dozens of studies and talking with nearly two dozen obesity physicians and researchers.
Our bodies change with age. As we grow older, our body composition changes. We lose muscle mass — a process that starts in our 30s and accelerates in our 60s and beyond — and gain fat. This is true even when our weight remains constant.
Also, less fat accumulates under the skin while more is distributed within the middle of the body. This abdominal fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke, among other medical conditions.
“The distribution of fat plays a major role in determining how deleterious added weight in the form of fat is,” said Mitchell Lazar, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “It’s visceral [abdominal] fat [around the waist], rather than peripheral fat [in the hips and buttocks] that we’re really concerned about.”
Activity levels diminish with age. Also, with advancing age, people tend to become less active. When older adults maintain the same eating habits (energy intake) while cutting back on activity (energy expenditure), they’re going to gain weight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27% of 65- to 74-year-olds are physically inactive outside of work; that rises to 35% for people 75 or older. For older adults, the health agency recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderately intense activity, such as brisk walking, as well as muscle-strengthening activities such as lifting weights at least twice weekly. Only 27% to 44% of older adults meet these guidelines, according to various surveys.
Concerns about muscle mass. Experts are more concerned about a lack of activity in older adults who are overweight or mildly obese (a body mass index in the low 30s) than about weight loss. With minimal or no activity, muscle mass deteriorates and strength decreases, which “raises the risk of developing a disability or a functional impairment” that can interfere with independence, said John Batsis, an obesity researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
Weight loss contributes to inadequate muscle mass insofar as muscle is lost along with fat. For every pound shed, 25% comes from muscle and 75% from fat, on average.
Since older adults have less muscle to begin with, “if they want to lose weight, they need to be willing at the same time to increase physical activity.” said Anne Newman, director of the Center for Aging and Population Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.
Ideal body weight may be higher. Epidemiologic research suggests that the ideal body mass index (BMI) might be higher for older adults than younger adults. (BMI is a measure of a person’s weight, in kilograms or pounds, divided by the square of their height, in meters or feet.)
One large, well-regarded study found that older adults at either end of the BMI spectrum — those with low BMIs (under 22) and those with high BMIs (over 33) — were at greater risk of dying earlier than those with BMIs in the middle range (22 to 32.9).
Older adults with the lowest risk of earlier deaths had BMIs of 27 to 27.9. According to World Health Organization standards, this falls in the “overweight” range (25 to 29.9) and above the “healthy weight” BMI range (18.5 to 24.9). Also, many older adults whom the study found to be at highest mortality risk — those with BMIs under 22 — would be classified as having “healthy weight” by the WHO.
The study’s conclusion: “The WHO healthy weight range may not be suitable for older adults.” Instead, being overweight may be beneficial for older adults, while being notably thin can be problematic, contributing to the potential for frailty.
Indeed, an optimal BMI for older adults may be in the range of 24 to 29, Carl Lavie, a well-known obesity researcher, suggested in a separate study reviewing the evidence surrounding obesity in older adults. Lavie is the medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at Ochsner Health, a large health care system based in New Orleans, and author of “The Obesity Paradox,” a book that explores weight issues in older adults.
Expert recommendations. Obesity physicians and researchers offered several important recommendations during our conversations:
Maintaining fitness and muscle mass is more important than losing weight for overweight older adults (those with BMIs of 25 to 29.9). “Is losing a few extra pounds going to dramatically improve their health? I don’t think the evidence shows that,” Lavie said.
Unintentional weight loss is associated with several serious illnesses and is a danger signal that should always be attended to. “See your doctor if you’re losing weight without trying to,” said Newman of the University of Pittsburgh. She’s the co-author of a new paper finding that “unanticipated weight loss even among adults with obesity is associated with increased mortality” risk.
Ensuring diet quality is essential. “Older adults are at risk for vitamin deficiencies and other nutritional deficits, and if you’re not consuming enough protein, that’s a problem,” said Batsis of the University of North Carolina. “I tell all my older patients to take a multivitamin,” said Dinesh Edem, director of the Medical Weight Management program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Losing weight is more important for older adults who have a lot of fat around their middle (an apple shape) than it is for people who are heavier lower down (a pear shape). “For patients with a high waist circumference, we’re more aggressive in reducing calories or increasing exercise,” said Dennis Kerrigan, director of weight management at Henry Ford Health in Michigan.
Maintaining weight stability is a good goal for healthy older adults who are carrying extra weight but who don’t have moderate or severe obesity (BMIs of 35 or higher). By definition, “healthy” means people don’t have serious metabolic issues (overly high cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides), obesity-related disabilities (problems with mobility are common), or serious obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease. “No great gains and no great losses — that’s what I recommend,” said Katie Dodd, a geriatric dietitian who writes a blog about nutrition.
We’re eager to hear from readers about questions you’d like answered, problems you’ve been having with your care, and advice you need in dealing with the health care system. Visit kffhealthnews.org/columnists to submit your requests or tips.
KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.
American Legion State Baseball Tournament begins today in Hot Springs, Conway
By Troy Mitchell
Fifteen teams, with the North Little Rock Optimist Colts among them, will be vying for the American Legion State AAA (Seniors) State Baseball title beginning today at Majestic Park in Hot Springs and at UCA in Conway.
Play starts with pool play with two pools at each location. Majestic Park will have two pools of four teams, while UCA has a pool consisting of four teams and another with three teams.
The top two teams from each pool will advance to the 8-team double-elimination bracket at UCA which begins on Sunday.
Admission for the tournament is $10 per day for those 16 and older. Those 15 and under are admitted free of charge.
The eight teams competing at Majestic Park include Arkadelphia, Lake Hamilton, Greenwood and Bryant in one pool, with the second pool consisting of Texarkana, Fort Smith, North Little Rock and Russellville.
Arkadelphia and Bryant will face each other on Thursday at Noon to begin things in Hot Springs, followed by Greenwood playing Lake Hamilton at 2:30 p.m., Texarkana against Russellville at 5 p.m. and Fort Smith taking on North Little Rock finishing day one at 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s docket includes Texarkana against Fort Smith at Noon, followed by North Little Rock versus Russellville at 2:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. Lake Hamilton will face Arkadelphia with Bryant taking on Greenwood to wrap up the day at 7:30 p.m.
The final day of pool play on Saturday in Hot Springs begins with Russellville and Fort Smith at Noon, followed by Arkadelphia against Greenwood at 2:30 p.m. The final two games of pool play will be Texarkana facing North Little Rock at 5 p.m. with Bryant matching up against Lake Hamilton in the final game at 7:30 p.m.
Pool A in Conway includes Cabot, Clinton, Mountain Home and Sheridan, while Conway, North Central Arkansas (NCA) and Paragould will be competing in Pool B.
Four games are set for Thursday at UCA, with Conway taking on North Central Arkansas to begin things at Noon. Game two will match-up Cabot versus Clinton at 2:30 p.m., followed by Mountain Home against Sheridan at 5 p.m. Conway will play a second game on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. battling Paragould.
Three games are set for both Friday and Saturday. Clinton begins the second day of pool play against Sheridan at 2:30 p.m., with NCA playing Paragould at 5 p.m. and Cabot taking on Mountain Home at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule includes Clinton against Mountain Home at 2:30 p.m. The second game of the day will match up the first and second place teams of Pool B (Conway, NCA, or Paragould) at 5 p.m. Cabot and Sheridan will finish pool play at UCA with the first pitch set for 7:30 p.m.
The double-elimination bracket will be set at the conclusion of pool play. All eight teams advancing will play on Sunday with the first game set for Noon at UCA.
For final scores, statistics and updated schedule, click here. There will be a double elimination tournament beginning on July 23 at UCA in Conway for the teams advancing from this week’s pool play.
GAMES PLAYED AT UCA
Noon: Conway vs. North Central Arkansas
2:30 p.m.: Cabot vs. Clinton
5 p.m.: Mountain Home vs. Sheridan
7:30 p.m. Conway vs. Paragould
2:30 p.m. Clinton vs. Sheridan
5:30 p.m. North Central Arkansas vs. Paragould
7.30 p.m. Cabot vs. Mountain Home
2:30 p.m. Clinton vs. Mountain Home
5:30 p.m. POOL B1 vs. POOL B2
7.30 p.m. Cabot vs. Sheridan
GAMES PLAYED AT MAJESTIC PARK
Noon: Arkadelphia vs. Bryant
2:30 p.m.: Greenwood vs. Lake Hamilton
5 p.m.: Texarkana vs. Russellville
7:30 p.m. Fort Smith vs. North Little Rock
Noon: Texarkana vs. Fort Smith
2:30 p.m.: North Little Rock vs. Russellville
5 p.m.: Lake Hamilton vs. Arkadelphia
7:30 p.m. Bryant vs. Greenwood
Noon: Russellville vs. Fort Smith
2:30 p.m.: Greenwood vs. Arkadelphia
5 p.m.: Texarkana vs. North Little Rock
7:30 p.m. Bryant vs. Lake Hamilton
No baseball at Dickey-Stephens this week
Road trip now through Sunday at Springfield
Six-game homestand against Northwest Arkansas
Tuesday, July 25, 12:05 p.m.
Summer Camp Day | Sponsorship: Treasure Hunt Tuesday, Presented By Arkansas Auditor of State
Wednesday, July 26, 6:35 p.m.
Dog Days of Summer: Human fans can get $3 Berm tickets by bringing their dog to the game and only available at the Box Office. NOTE: Dogs are only allowed in the Berm areas | Presented By Moix RV Supercenter
Thursday, July 27, 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
Noche de Diamantes: Your Travs will take the field as the Diamantes de Arkansas in salute of Hispanic Heritage! | Presented By Modelo Especial
Friday, July 28, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, July 29, 7:05 p.m.
Nickelodeon Blue's Clues & You Night & Jersey Auction
Kids Run the Bases: Presented By Museum of Discovery
Sunday, July 30, 1:35 p.m.
Pre-Game Brunch Buffet: Get a special Brunch ticket that comes with a Field Reserved seat! Buffet will include select breakfast foods, juice, coffee, and soft drinks. (Alcohol will be available for purchase separately.) Food will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Presented By Picnic Brunch
Kids Run the Bases: Presented By Museum of Discovery
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.