Tracy Harris needs our help
Echols hired as Maumelle Middle principal, Entergy files complaint against Maumelle, Neal Moore offers up his take plus headlines
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Preston Echols was hired as the new principal at Maumelle Middle School at the Pulaski County Special School District School Board meeting on Tuesday night.
Echols was previously an assistant principal at Conway Junior High and started in that position in 2017.
A native of Forrest City, Echols was a standout football player at the University of Central Arkansas, where he was a four-year letterman from 2006 through 2009. He got a bachelor’s degree from UCA in 2010 and then went on to get master’s degrees from UAPB in 2012 and then another in 2017 from Harding University.
The Maumelle High School principal vacancy is expected to be taken up at the August meeting of the School Board.
In other business, a nearly $60,000 expense was approved for new weights at the Maumelle High School fieldhouse.
While just a fraction got approved, a total of 23 restaurants in North Little Rock and Maumelle received money through the Small Business Administration's Restaurant Revitalization Fund earlier this year. The numbers were released this week by the SBA and the total amount for those 23 was $6,209,880.51 but two operations got a little more than 40 percent of that total as each received more than $1 million. Read more by clicking Maumelle, North Little Rock restaurants receive federal funding
BASEBALL ON BROADWAYis the weekly newsletter that spotlights the Arkansas Travelers. It is published on Monday and click the link to give it a read.
If you had the power to take out a terrorist that was threatening your country, state, city and family, would you? Of course you would. That is where we are with Covid-19 and the deadly Delta variant. We have been warned that this terrorist is all around us, especially in Arkansas.
Now we are finding that even those who have been fully vaccinated are getting sick. Those who have already had the virus are getting sick again. So, should we give up? Of course not. We must remain vigilant and do what we can to help control this awful plague.
What do we have to lose? Consider going back to where we were. Football season is coming up. Maybe. Our kids return to school in about a month. Maybe. Can we continue eating out and attending concerts and movies? Maybe. Can we continue attending the church of our choice? Maybe. Too many maybes.
Arkansas once again is battling Mississippi for the least-vaccinated state in the nation.
So, as with everything in this life as a frail human being, we face dangers and adversities. But we can give ourselves a fighting chance against this terrorist by getting vaccinated and continuing to wear a mask.
Lowery, Price Jump Into the Same Race
Two Maumellians have decided they want to be Arkansas’ next secretary of state. Soon-to-be former State Rep. Mark Lowery and Joshua Price have declared their candidacy in recent news conferences. Two observations: I don’t think Lowery can beat Republican incumbent John Thurston, and Price, a Democrat, will have a big challenge garnering support in a mostly red state.
The good news is that Lowery can do less damage out of the legislature with his record of voter restrictions/suppression and school curriculum tampering/manipulation. Price has had experience with the Pulaski County Election Commission and working with the Delta Regional Authority. He mounted an unsuccessful candidacy in 2018 for Lowery’s District 39 seat but lost in the Democratic primary.
Lowery’s support in District 39 is not very solid. He only won the last two elections by just over 1,000 votes (52 percent).
The two key areas managed by the secretary of state are overseeing the state’s election process and taking care of the Capitol and its grounds. The pay is just shy of $100,000 a year.
The next big question is who will run for Lowery’s seat? I know there are a few folks looking at it, including a Maumellian, but no one has made the commitment. You’ll know when I know.
Governor’s Race Gets Interesting
One of the most impressive entries to a political race took place a few weeks ago in Arkansas. Two Black Americans -- both with doctorate degrees, both ordained ministers -- have put their name in the hat to be governor of Arkansas. Chris Jones and Anthony Bland are both worthy candidates, but Jones introduced himself to the people with a powerful bio video. I would encourage you to watch it. Check it out at www.chrisforgovernor.com.
They will both fight for the Democratic nomination to face the likely Republican candidate, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders has raised a ton of money and will be hard to beat in a pro-Trump state.
So far there are eight announced candidates. I predict it will be Jones versus Sanders in the general election.
Maumelle Gets Its First Adult Boutique
The Maumelle Chamber of Commerce announced it had a new business member, The Pink Door Secret Desires. I checked out their website as I usually do when I hear of a new business locating here. To say they are a bit different and eclectic would be an understatement.
They list photography among their services, including glam and boudoir shots. They also offer life coaching, yoga, adult “toys,” yoni steam and lingam steam. I’ll let you do your own research on the steaming procedures. They are located at 301 Millwood Circle. More details at www.pinkdoordesires.com.
A Parting Shot
According to the Arkansas Department of Health: 1,476 new cases of COVID-19 added on Wednesday, July 13. 15 more have died.
“We’ve got to put aside this ideological difference or differences thinking that somebody is forcing you to do something. The public health officials, like myself and my colleagues, are asking you to do something that will ultimately save your life, and that of your family and that of the community.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, PJ
When I heard that a suburban Little Rock legislator was quoted in The New York Times, I grew mildly curious. A quick search led to the article, “How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections.”
The few paragraphs about Arkansas described the new legislation enacted by Arkansas Republicans “that allows a state board of election commissioners — composed of six Republicans and one Democrat — to investigate and ‘institute corrective action’ on a wide variety of issues at every stage of the voting process, from registration to the casting and counting of ballots to the certification of elections. The law applies to all counties, but it is widely believed to be aimed at Pulaski, one of the few in the state that favor Democrats.” The Times reported the sponsor of the new law “said it was necessary to remove election power from the local authorities, who in Pulaski County are Democrats, because otherwise Republicans could not get a fair shake.” The article quoted him directly as saying, “Without this legislation, the only entity you could have referred impropriety to is the prosecuting attorney, who is a Democrat, and possibly not had anything done.” He was quoted further, “This gives another level of investigative authority to a board that is commissioned by the state to oversee elections.” Lastly, responding to a question about last year’s election, he said, “I do believe Donald Trump was elected president.” Finding and reading the new legislation, the Arkansas Balloting Integrity Act of 2021, confirmed The Times reporting about the new law.
The Times article also reported that Republicans in other states are legislating more vagueness and partisanship into their election laws. Some states are going even further and criminalizing violations of election administration.
Since the Republicans in these states are now better positioned to give Republicans a fair shake, one should ask how the new election laws might be used. The first opportunity to apply them belongs to the incumbents, currently the Trump Republicans, who put them in place. Having legislated more partisanship into the administration of elections, incumbents may have the incentive to use partisanship to hold on to statewide offices and legislative districts in the 2022 and 2024 elections. After all, partisan tinkering with elections is now lawful in these states and, if the incumbent Trump Republicans lose their hold on authority, then Democrats would take over and could use their partisanship to administer the election laws to their advantage.
As one tries to see future applications of the new election laws, one might consider the foreshadowing observed in the wake of the November 2020 U.S. presidential election. While Americans and the world watched, Trump Republicans repeated the fantastical, unsubstantiated narrative that Trump had won reelection as they worked to flip legitimate election results. All they needed to do was change a local election vote tally here and reverse a statewide election certification there to tip the victory from Joe Biden to Donald Trump. Americans and the world watched as Trump failed to persuade state election officials to find him more votes and as Trump Republicans failed to decertify election results that favored Biden. Trump Republicans have revealed how far they will go to flip a legitimate national election. Now they are legislating ways to go even further after future elections.
To paraphrase David Frum, “If Trump Republicans become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon Trump. They will reject democracy.” If you think this is farfetched and couldn’t possibly happen in America, remember what happened on January 6.
The context for the new laws is partly defined by two converging trends. The first, a long-term trend, describes the two major political parties accumulating more and more influence over members of their party who are elected to fill positions in, and operate, the government. As a result of this trend, highly partisan agendas are pushed by both parties creating gridlock and crippling effective governing. The second, a shorter-term trend, describes the spread of Donald Trump’s brand of leadership. The result is the increase in the number of Trump Republicans who embody the political style of their namesake. These two trends are reflected in the states with the new election laws: Trump Republicans are granting themselves new statutory authority that gives them greater influence over elections while pushing an agenda that elections are not secure.
Our friend Tracy Harris, a favorite on the Arkansas State Golf Association circuit for more than 30 years now, needs our help.
Harris, who will turn 58 in August, was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and is being evaluated at UAMS to see whether he is a candidate for a transplant.
“That’s the only thing that will solve it,” he told an old friend Sunday.
According to www.healthline.com, people who have a liver transplant have an 89% chance of living after one year. The five-year survival rate is 75%.
Harris was the ASGA’s Amateur Player of the Year in 1997, Mid-Senior Player of the Year in 2011, ‘12, ‘14 and ‘16 and Senior Player of the Year in 2018. Other career highlights include state titles for amateur, mid-amateur, mid-senior, public links and state four-ball; Mid-South 4-ball in Laurel, Miss.; Panamanian International Amateur; three USGA state team competitions and two International Team Amateur events in Lima, Peru.
He was to have been inducted into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame last fall, but the ceremony was postponed until September because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Full disclosure: This reporter covered golf for the old Arkansas Gazette from 1985 until the newspaper died in 1991 and later as a freelance writer for the Conway Log Cabin Democrat and the old North Little Rock Times and Maumelle Monitor. I’ve walked many a course following him and the other ASGA regulars and have been friends with many of them for years.
So this one is personal.
According to www.myclevelandclinic.org, cirrhosis of the liver affects about one in 400 adults in the country — about one in 200 aged 45 to 54. It causes about 26,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 25 to 64.
Harris was diagnosed with NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to www.gethealthystayhealthy.com, the condition occurs “when the fat buildup in the liver leads to inflammation (hepatitis) and scarring.” The website indicates the disease is probably under-diagnosed, but 3% to 5% of the world’s population is estimated to be affected by it.
“I never drank a day in my life; I’ve never smoked, never done drugs,” Harris said.
In April, however, he noticed a loss of appetite.
“I got out of the shower one morning and thought, ‘Man, my old stomach’s big,’ and I hadn’t been eating much of anything,” he said. “I finally got to see my family doctor. Normally I weigh about 230, 232, but that day I weighed 245.”
His platelets were low, so his doctor sent him to an oncologist, who did an ultrasound.
“I said, ‘Feel my stomach,’” Harris remembered. “It was as hard as a rock. He told me I had liver disease.”
Because fluid couldn’t filter through his liver and kidneys, it had backed up into his abdomen. A couple of days later, medical staff drained five liters — the maximum possible. He has now undergone eight such procedures, totaling 40 liters, and is to have another probably five liters drained Friday.
“Last time I had it done, two or three weeks ago, I weighed 215, and when I got through with the procedure I weighed 201,” he said. “I weighed 221 this morning, and I haven’t been eating much — no appetite. My taste buds are terrible.”
He has no family history of the condition, but he said his Type II diabetes probably contributed to the fatty liver.
Obviously, the diagnosis was a shock.
“The first thing you wonder is, ‘Am I going to die?’ he said, choking up. “They finally just told me that the only solution is to have a transplant. They say you’ll be off work for like six months.
“It was scary, and it still is.”
Now that the shock of the diagnosis has worn off a bit, he has been buoyed by hearing the positive results of other liver transplants.
“I’ve talked to two or three people, and they came through with flying colors,” he said. “One person told me, ‘You’ll feel so much better, you won’t believe it.’ And they lead a normal lifestyle. One thing I’ll have to keep doing is to stay on a low-sodium diet.”
UAMS will be his home base throughout the journey. One man told him that his wife had a liver transplant about 10 years ago and had to go to Denver for it.
“She does perfect now,” Harris said.
Also helping him are the calls and texts he’s received from people all over the state.
“To be honest, it’s been a little overwhelming,” he said. “I knew I had a lot of friends and a lot of people that cared about me, but I didn’t know I had that many. They’ve been supporting me, checking on me and praying for me.”
Now he’s in the midst of several weeks of assessments to determine whether he is a good candidate for a transplant. His age and years of physical activity — besides golf, he officiated football and basketball games for a number of years — would seem to bode well for that decision.
According to www.mayoclinic.org, about 8,000 liver transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2017. At the same time, approximately 11,500 people were registered on the waiting list.
Once on the list for a transplant, which would come from a cadaver, Harris will be on call 24/7.
“They tell you to pack a bag and make sure your phone is charged, and no matter what time it rings to answer it even if it says it’s an unknown caller or spam — answer it,” he said. “Then you go and have it done.”
He said blood and body type would determine the match.
“They’re not going to take a liver out of somebody 4-11 who weighs 100 pounds and put it in me, or somebody who’s 6-6 and 400 pounds,” he said.
After the transplant, he would be hospitalized in intensive care for a couple of days and then moved to a room for three to five.
“They’ll get you up and moving,” he said. “Then when you come home, for at least two weeks, you have to have somebody with you 24/7 because they’re afraid of you falling. Then you’ve got to go back to the hospital once a week to make sure that your new liver is being accepted by your body.
“You can’t drive for a while; you’ve got to have somebody to drive you. I’ve got lots of friends to do that, so I think I’ve got that covered.”
Among those friends is Little Rock’s Jay Fox, executive director of the ASGA.
“We have been friends since the mid-1980s,” Fox said. “We’ve played lots of golf together and won a few tournaments, including Mid-South 4-Ball with teams from six states. We traveled to Peru and Colombia to play in tournaments.
“Tracy has a lot of friends who greatly support him, and we will help him get through this. We’re not done playing tournaments yet.”
So what does our friend need now?
“Just thoughts and prayers,” he said. “And if people could be organ donors, that would be great and help save somebody’s life.
There are several ways to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. When you renew your driver’s license, you have the option, which registers with the state registry. You can also register online at www.donatelife.net.
Harris has good health insurance through ARHOME, the state’s latest version of the federal Affordable Care Act.
“I’m lucky there,” he said. “I don’t want no money. Everything’s fine there.”
And he is grateful for his job at Hill Logistics in Little Rock and his boss, Jim Hill.
“You can’t believe how supportive they’ve been,” he said.
Now it’s time for the rest of us to help support him, too.
On Tuesday afternoon, Entergy Arkansas filed a complaint with the Public Service Complaint against the City of Maumelle, Mayor Caleb Morris and the City Council.
A link to the complaint can be read by clicking here.
Entergy’s reasoning was the city’s “adoption of two resolutions [Entergy] believes are unreasonable” among other things.
Adopted at the last City Council meet were Resolution 2021-17 which Council member Chad Gardner described in his City Council report as involving "a request for Entergy to disclose records regarding their business practices" and the other was Ordinance 1036, which Gardner said, "would update our franchise agreement and require public utilities operating in Maumelle to move their equipment at their expense."
Both revolve around what Gardner described as a standoff over power lines in the city’s right-of-way in the Crystal Hill Road renovation project.
“If you have traveled that way lately, you’ll know that the road has been torn up on both sides and is currently only a 1-way street to accommodate the construction,” Gardner wrote. “Construction has been essentially halted since Entergy has not been responding to the city’s requests.”
Gardner added Norris and Krebs “have made multiple requests to Entergy for information on how we can get this resolved and there has been little progress.”
Norris said Wednesday that City Attorney Melissa Krebs was working on a response to the complaint and that it would be filed with the PSC. It was not yet available but the docket can be viewed by clicking here. The only actions taken by Krebs on Wednesday were proof of service of the complaint on behalf of those named.
This story will be updated with the City’s response when it is available
The complaint against the city of Maumelle is unusual as Entergy Arkansas Communications Manager Kacee Kirschvink acknowledged in an email with ArkansasNewsroom.com, who said there’s nothing “in recent memory” of Entergy filing a similar complaint against another city.
“Entergy Arkansas is actively working to assist Maumelle in relocating poles, power lines and electrical equipment to accommodate the road widening of Crystal Hill Road,” Kirschvink said. “The City Council’s resolution, however, would require Entergy Arkansas to relocate lines at the expense of all customers statewide.”
She continued, “In working with Maumelle officials to accommodate the Crystal Hill Road widening project, we have an obligation to ensure that such relocations are accomplished in a way that does not force all other Entergy Arkansas customers outside of Maumelle to bear the costs associated with that work.”
Kirschvink added, “because the city proceeded unilaterally with a resolution that contradicts the parties’ franchise agreement, Entergy Arkansas filed an official complaint with the Arkansas Public Service Commission to preserve rights under the law on behalf of all other customers. Entergy Arkansas and Maumelle officials are discussing an amicable approach forward. We will be ready to begin work once we reach agreement, so the project can be completed for Maumelle citizens and our customers who reside in that area.”
Q&A with Entergy Arkansas
Below is the email transcript of the questions posed to Entergy Arkansas and the answers received.
Q: Is there a recent example of Entergy filing a similar complaint against another city?
A: Not in recent memory.
Q: As I understand it, the complaint is in response to a recent ordinance passed by the City Council. Did Entergy work with the city government in Maumelle to keep that from happening?
A: Yes, discussions were in progress with the city at the time of the City Council’s vote on the resolution (not ordinance). Those discussions continue at this time.
Q: The dispute appears to be over company equipment at Crystal Hill Road. Specifically power poles and the city maintains that planned road work can't be completed, so what would be [a] resolution that would be satisfactory to Entergy?
A: Both sides are trying to reach an agreement. Such an agreement would facilitate Entergy Arkansas performing the work the city has identified pending a decision on the complaint concerning whether the city or Entergy Arkansas’ customers have the obligation to pay the costs.
Q: When a complaint is sent to the PSC, what's a typical timeline for a resolution?
A: There is no prescribed timeline. However, under the law, Entergy Arkansas had to file the complaint with the Arkansas Public Service Commission within 20 days after the resolution was passed by the council and served on Entergy Arkansas.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: Not at this time, thank you.