Archive for the ‘Mayor Jim’ Category

For years Patti and I have intended to visit the Little Portion Hermitage near Berryville. Well yesterday we did just that … and what a special treat it was. This Catholic Community of Brothers and Sisters of Charity live a monastic life of prayer, service to the poor and the neighboring communities.

In my role as Arkansas Tourism Director, I was the keynote speaker at the Berryville Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet.  Following the dinner, a spirited … and I do mean spirited … woman named Viola, cornered Patti asking “where is that tourism guy?” From the moment I met her she was a bundle of energy backed up with a bundle of printed cards and information on the Hermitage and it’s 40th anniversary celebration happening over the next few days.

Below are a few pictures from our visit. The first picture includes monastic community founders, Viola and John Michael Talbot. Viola has an idea for Tourism. She suggested a Road Trip Trail including the Little Portion Hermitage, Saint Elizabeth Bell Tower entry Church in Eureka Springs and the Passion Play. I think this is worthy of discussion.




This past weekend was a wonderful example of an Arkansas Discovery Road Trip.  You will hear lots more about road trips on our web site:  Arkansas.com

Randy and Gayla Wolfinbarger, owners of the Inn of the Ozarks,  made the weekend even more special. Breakfast at the Inn was great.

Finally, I must mention that we stopped to check out our new Arkansas Welcome Center in Harrison, Arkansas.  This building is beautiful, functional and loaded with friendly staff and info …  all there to make your Arkansas experience the best possible.

For further info regarding the Hermitage … services, bakery, tours, etc. go to littleportion.org


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2018 Gridiron production a phenomenal success.

Last night with our friends Nancy and Steve, Patti and I attended the 2018 Gridiron performance at the beautiful Arkansas Repertory Theatre in downtown Little Rock.  The performance was awesome … what with humorous and pointed political musical scripts and a cast of characters representing familiar State, National and International leaders, an hour and a half literally flew by.  Circuit Judge Mary McGowan was the producer … well done Judge.  Craig Wilson was an amazing President Trump, Janis Kovalscik had the audience cheering with her representation  of Sarah Huckabee Sanders singing “Stand by this man” and our neighbor Judy Trice singing “I’m Still Here” hit a home run portraying Nancy Pelosi.

Yes … a great night in a packed house!  Now, the reality check … the Rep announced earlier this year that the theatre is closing due to financial struggles.  Last night was a reminder of how good it has been and how blessed we are to have the Repertory Theatre all these years. 

It’s not too late to SAVE THE REP … BUT IT WILL TAKE ALL OF US.

Founding Director, Cliff Baker reminded us last night that many have stepped up to contribute and great progress is being made toward  reopening and financial stability. There are some major donors but the long term success depends on the broader community support … a few dollars donated now and then the purchase of season tickets once reopened.  This certainly has gotten my attention … Patti and I commit to do our part.  I encourage each of you to do the same.  Thank you and Long Live the Rep!


In the photo above, one can see world leaders and Presidential Press Secretary singing “Stand by this Man”.  My thanks to all of the 75 performers and volunteers.

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I have visited Batesville several times in the past two months … once for a speaking event, once for a Regional meeting and last week for a Parks and Tourism Commission meeting.  This energetic city of just over 10,000 is a real winner.  With a strong economy, an excellent educational system, an active downtown with great restaurants, an amazingly restored Melba Theater and maybe the finest community aquatics center in any Arkansas city … Batesville has got it going on. Mayor Rick Elumbaugh  has led the charge with vision and city resources but he is quick to remind us that this positive momentum would not be happening without motivated citizens.


Interior of the Melba Theater in downtown Batesville.  This was a community effort with volunteers reupholstering the 400 seats … lots of “hands on”.

Following the Commission meeting we went for lunch at Natalie’s.  Wow! some of the best home made sandwiches, salads and personal service. Top left picture in the group above.  


Above and below are pictures of the awesome Jacksonport State Park Visitor Center.  From the outside, the contemporary glass and steel structure represents a riverboat from the past.  Inside is the historic museum and 360 degree views of the river and natural surroundings.  Personally, I think this will be one of the signature State Park Visitor Centers in the state.



While I am wrapping up, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that Arkansas has 52 state parks.  If you are up for a rewarding road exercise … that’s just one state park a week to see all of them in a single year.  Happy Trails!

For more information, go to:  Arkansas.com

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Black and white photography captivates me.  I am not that accomplished but thoroughly enjoy creative moments when black and white seems to fit the objective.

In particular the photo of Horseshoe Canyon on the Colorado River or falling snow in a wooded forest or an Historic Train engine. The shot of my granddaughter on a cold winter campout is a favorite as well.

I have mostly taken color shots during some 50 plus years.  However, expect to see more of my black and white in the future.

Enjoy and comment if you wish.  Oh, one other point … you can click on the small pictures and they should zoom in for a larger/closer view.

Finally, there is one picture I did not take … the old picture of me when I was a young president of the National Office Products Association way back in the 1980’s.


Aspen trees B&W



The photo above is obviously not black and white.  However, this photo on the Buffalo National River near Jasper, Arkansas is one of my all time favorites.  In fact the colorless winter scene is only slightly enhanced by the curtain of always green bamboo along the river’s edge.  This will soon be a large photo blowup hanging on my office wall in the Arkansas Tourism Office.

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Patti and I are blessed to have had such wonderful fathers.  Though both are gone, we take a moment on this special day to remember and be grateful.  Both men were loving, hard working Christian role models … as community leaders and as family leaders.  Our world is better because of them.   

Happy Fathers’s Day to Dalton and to Joe.  

With much love and thanks,

Patti and Jim




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Amazing what a creative farmer can do with 5 bales of hay!  Amazing what one can see driving the Blue Highways of Arkansas.  

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Searcy, Arkansas is a mid-size city of 25,000 located roughly 50 miles North of Little Rock.

I’ve always appreciated Searcy as a growing center of commerce and education in White County.  My opinion was even more reinforced last week when I was invited to meet with long time Mayor David Morris and other community leaders.  This city has a lot going on.  However, what prompted me to blog about this visit is the City/Community commitment to Historic Preservation … namely restoring and reopening the 1920’s Rialto Theater.



The theater is open for family friendly movies Monday to Friday in the evening and Saturday-Sunday with show times 2:00 and 6:30.

I was so touched by the leadership that would save and actively reuse this awesome historic building … right downtown on the square across from the County Court House …  that I wanted to feature it.

Well done Searcy … more another day about Pioneer Village, Holiday of Lights etc. etc. 

Now for Higginson, Arkansas …

On my way back to Little Rock, I decided to take the blue highway (remember William Least Heat Moon) and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Kensett, Mcrae, Cabot and Beebe.  Most of all I enjoyed my visit with Mayor Randell Homsley of Higginson.

I simply love small towns and I love small town Mayors.  In the larger cities, Mayors have staff to run departments and do most of the heavy lifting.  In small cities like Higginson, the Mayor is  “the Mayor” plus part time volunteer fire fighter, manager of the sewer and water and “whatever it takes”.  In Higginson the Mayor and City Council did most of the work building City Hall and managed to do it for $50,000.  Wow!  In my eye, this is a $200,000 dollar building … maybe more and they did it for $50K.  Take a look!


As the new Arkansas Tourism Director,  I have said that every city has a story to tell. What I hope to do is help share these stories in some meaningful way that relates to tourism and brings visitors to look, listen and learn.  The real heart of America and of Arkansas is in the grit of small towns.  We stand tall on their shoulders!




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