Tulips in bloom
Masks are still on in Maumelle and North Little Rock, Neal Moore offers up his take plus news and sports headlines
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What a mixed bag of a week. The good news: anyone over 16 can get the vaccine. The bad news: the governor removes the mask mandate.
There are Covid hot spots in states all over the country and there are new variants in Arkansas. It’s too early to make people think that masks are unnecessary and that we have beaten the pandemic. Two-thirds of Arkansans remain unvaccinated.
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I don’t even know where to start on the actions of the General Assembly. As usual and consistently, the lawmakers passed or proposed bills that will affect the lives of human beings that none of them even remotely understands and evidently don’t care about. Yes, I’m talking about transgender children.
First, the legislature decided that transgender children should only play sports in the classification of their birth gender. According to several reports, this is a problem that does not exist and something that the Arkansas Activities Association should handle. The AAA governs all high school athletics in the state.
And finally, the legislators are trying to let physicians refuse to provide medical care for these transgender children if the doctors object for moral, conscience or religious reasons.
I don’t care how you feel about transgender people, this is morally wrong. It’s now up to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto this horrible bill.
And here in Pleasantville, we are still worried about the dog breed ordinance. Social media, especially NextDoor, has gotten ugly, with both sides volleying in support of their viewpoints. I hope the City Council will let the people vote. It’s the right thing to do. Surely, they can find something more pressing and meaningful to focus on.
And I didn’t even mention the voter suppression bills…
Rally Around the Hogs
It’s a good time to be a Razorbacks sports fan. The women’s basketball team made a trip to the NCAA tourney, our men’s team made it to the Elite Eight in their tourney, our baseball teamis still ranked No. 1 in most polls, our softball team is ranked No. 11 and our women’s track team just won the national championship.
Since I’ve been vaccinated, I am cautiously visiting a few eateries around town. My latest visit was to the Overtime Lounge. Had a really good, giant cheeseburger and plan to visit again.
There are several posts showing a sign on the Asian Buffet showing they are set to open Thursday, April 1. It will be interesting to see how they handle the self-serve buffet. Let me know if you go and share your experience.
Thought for the Week
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky went off script at a briefing Monday and made an emotional plea to Americans not to let up on public health measures amid fears of a fourth wave of the Covid pandemic.
"We’ve just got to hang in there a bit longer," she said. "I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and the increase that I hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up." From Axios News.
I’m going to keep wearing my mask. I hope you will as well. It’s not about rights; it’s about respect for others.
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.
HOT SPRINGS -- Flowers stretch as far as the eye can see at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs.
The botanical garden operated by the University of Arkansas covers not quite five miles along Lake Hamilton and near the mouth of the Ouachita River.
Ending in April is Garvan’s Daffodil Days & Tulip Extravaganza, and while the daffodils looked to be in more of a daze, the tulips were blooming, vibrant in a range of varieties.
On a recent visit, the colors were extraordinary and seemed to cover every bit of the rainbow.
The Gardens, like much of everything else, made changes in these pandemic times, and precautions are in place like mask wearing while in line and expectations of social distancing. At the entrance, instead of going in through the visitors center, a single file, masked-up ticket line formed in the parking lot.
The customary hand stamp or rubber bracelet indicating you paid was replaced with a receipt that you were supposed to keep. Hours are also a bit limited and start at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
Admission is $15 for those 13 and up, $5 for those 4 to 13 and free for those 3 and under. They’re also charging a $5 admission per dog, in case you choose to bring your canine companion.
Once you get inside, the general layout of the Gardens remains the same, though some additional walkways will be noticeable to those who have been before. In the koi pond area, the path loops down to Lake Hamilton, and the trail that once cutoff at the waterfall by the pond now extends to the other side.
The Gardens are also running golf carts again. The gravel cart paths are also open to pedestrians, but most of the trails are paved and ADA compliant.
Another big change is the addition of more flowers. More than 150,000 Dutch tulips cover the grounds along with camellias, azaleas and a canopy of trees.
The Gardens bills itself as “the biggest display of color between Dallas and Memphis all season.”
Getting there is easy enough. Just drive to Hot Springs and take the exit that is marked for Garvan Gardens.
The address there is 550 Arkridge Road and the phone number, in case you need to call, is 501-262-9300.
HOT SPRINGS -- Lake Catherine State Park started its life as a gift.
The lake was formed in 1924 with the construction of the Remmel Dam. In 1935, Harvey Couch, who founded Arkansas Power & Light, now Entergy, donated 2,048 acres of lakefront property to the state, and the area was designated as a state park on Aug. 22, 1935.
The lake was named after Couch’s daughter, Catherine. She later married Pratt Remmel, the great-nephew of Col. Harmon Remmel, who was Couch’s friend and got his name on the dam.
Pratt Remmel later went on to be mayor of Little Rock. Remmel Park, near the airport, is named after him.
The state park has 20 cabins along the lakefront, along with extensive areas for tent camping and day use and plenty of spots for recreational vehicles to spend a night or two, or a week, for that matter.
The cabins were started in 1937 as a work project for the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Depression-era work program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The CCC’s handiwork is still evident around the state in cabins that are still standing at Petit Jean State Park and White Rock Mountain Recreation Area, among many others.
That’s not the complete story, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
With cabins and other projects still in progress, World War II and its need for soldiers meant that the CCC was done. But that didn’t stop Lake Catherine, as the park was converted to a prisoner-of-war camp for German soldiers captured by the British in the North Africa Campaign during the war.
Arkansas started with 173,000 German prisoners who were housed at what was then Camp Chaffee near Fort Smith, Camp Robinson in North Little Rock and another camp in Monticello before being sent to smaller camps across the state.
Lake Catherine State Park had “213 imprisoned enlisted men guarded by about 16 American soldiers,” and their work is still there. A 210-foot long, 9-foot tall stone retaining wall along the lake and near the foundation of the original lodge remains solidly in place, as well as an outdoor stone oven beside the visitors center. The oven and retaining wall are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Both are also marked with a “P.W.” meaning Prisoner of War even though there’s no signage at the park to note the significance of the initials or that German POWs were kept there.
On a recent overnight visit, the cabins are up to par with other state parks, but have the added bonus of the waterfront.
Our cabin was a duplex studio unit, with a screened-in porch that came with rocking chairs. The entire cabin is built over the water and also features a private pier for fishing or lounging around. The interior of the cabin was around 800 square feet, with about two thirds of that for a single room that included cooking and dining areas, along with a queen-sized bed and chairs.
It also meant a fairly spacious bathroom that ran the width of the cabin and featured a combination shower and soaking tub.
Besides lake access and a marina, the park also features the Falls Creek Trail, which is about two miles in length and features the falls. When you park at the trailhead, take the red-blazed trail to the left and towards the lake. It is quite a bit flatter and easier to hike then the right branch of the trail loop that is more uphill and rockier.
Either way, it is enjoyable but not ADA compliant and not stroller friendly, either.
Another park trail, the Slunger Nature Trail, is paved and makes a roughly half-mile loop. And it is very much ADA compliant.
Reservations are, of course, required for cabins. Book as far ahead as you can. The park fills up fast.
The address for the park is 1200 Catherine Park Road, Hot Springs. For more information, call 501-844-4176.