Archive for June, 2014



Sammy Lee Mills, JR.  May 9, 1935 – June 14, 2014



Gang Violence in Little Rock …

It was my first year as Mayor and Little Rock was stunned by a growth of gangs and gang violence.  Situated at the crossroads of Interstates 30 and 40, Central Arkansas has long been a corridor of commerce … in the case of gangs, a corridor of drug commerce. Unlike most forms of legitimate competitive commerce, the marketing of drugs brought with it competing gangs, territorial claims and violent turf wars.  Faced with 77 homicides the previous year …  mostly youth on youth … businesses and neighborhoods were demanding action from City Hall.  What are you going to do, Mr. Mayor ?



Victim’s Outreach and Sammy Mills …

City Hall did respond … responded with more police, more neighborhood partnerships, more direct connections with youth plus a series of Prevention, Intervention and Treatment programs.  However, there was still a nagging question in my mind as to what I could personally do, not what City Hall could do but, as the city leader, what I could do.  Enter Sammy Mills … and the formation of the Victims Outreach Program.  

I had known Sammy thru his community involvement and respected him for his willingness to help and work with others … always with a giving and caring spirit.  I asked Sammy if he would work with me to visit the homes and families of each youth killed in gang violence in our city.  Whether right or wrong I felt a personal visit by the Mayor to the home of each victim’s family would have some benefit … at a minimum letting families know the Mayor cared.  To keep this from appearing politically motivated, I asked the media to never show up or report anything about this outreach … the media respected my request.

Sammy made all the arrangements for each visitation.  In addition, he noted the needs of the family and did the follow up to meet those needs.  Many of these were very poor families … Sammy, working with Patsy Gatlin in the Attorney General’s Office, provided burial assistance.  Sometimes there were needs for clothing, just so family members could attend the funeral.  Maybe their electricity had been turned off … we worked with the utilities.  The needs were many, the families were hurting and The Victim’s Outreach Program provided spiritual, physical and emotional attention.  

Over nearly three years, Sammy and I visited nearly 100 families.  I know we made a difference and I know I could not have done it without Sammy.  In his eulogy yesterday, Pastor Al Montgomery used a stop watch to remind us “time is running out” and the importance of how we use our time.  My friend, Sammy Mills, used his time well !!! His warm, gentle smile will be missed but how he spent his time will be remembered by me, his family and the countless numbers he touched during his 79 years.

Thank you my friend and Local Hero, Sammy Mills.



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Susan Morrison and Randy Woodward … All about Art 

For more than three decades I’ve been blessed to know and follow the incredible careers of Susan and husband, Randy.  Together this Eureka Springs Couple has dedicated every waking moment capturing the beauty of our Arkansas wilderness, the animals of America and permanently preserving them on canvas in a manner comparable to that of John Audubon.

I had two reasons ten days ago to connect with Susan and Randy … one because I was invited to stop by the Gallery and the other to be part of a dinner at the Queen Anne Mansion.  Upon arriving at the gallery, Randy rounded up Susan and excitedly escorted me to the third floor of their in town apartment/studio. Was I ever in for a surprise!  In the far end of the room was a large flat vertical surface … almost as big as a 4’x 6′ plywood board … covered with a cloth.  “Are you ready?” Susan asked and before I could answer she whipped back the cover exposing one of her most awesome works ever … A nearly completed full size head and shoulders of a wild mustang.


Lata and Steve Lovell … Queen Anne Mansion and Arkansas Club

The second part of the wonderful weekend in Eureka was a dinner and evening with friends at the impeccably restored Queen Anne Mansion.  Thanks to Lata and Steve Lovell, this magnificent mansion has been completely and fastidiously restored inside and out.  Much like Crystal Bridges, the Queen Anne stands as a testament to individuals willing to leave a legacy of art, architecture and history for decades … maybe centuries to come.


Steve and Lata bring Susan and Randy to the Queen Anne …

There could not be a  better blending of two Arkansas Treasures than the Susan Morrison Art showcased in the Lovell’s Queen Anne  Mansion. In fact there are 90 pieces of Susan’s Masters Legacy works on permanent display in the Mansion.

Thank you Susan, Randy, Lata and Steve for your contribution to Arkansas … today and tomorrow!!!  Thanks also to David and Beth for one of the most enjoyable evenings … ever!!!







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