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Archive for the ‘Tributes’ Category

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Credit for this photo goes to Ben Crain of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette

In 2002 the Little Rock Marathon Started in my office …

Well, it didn’t exactly “start” in my office. However, the Dream, the Vision, the Spirit, the Fire did get ignited that day in 2002 during my third term as Mayor.  I will never forget the moment two smiling, supercharged young women, along with then Parks Director, Bryan Day, appeared in my office with the simple statement … “Mayor, we want to start the Little Rock Marathon”…               Gulp!!!

I had run marathons, 10Ks and some bicycling events.  Even as a participant, I knew a little bit about how much it takes  to put on any event, much less a 26.2 mile marathon.  I mean, we were talking about closing streets, water stations, medical teams, police and city staff overtime  … and … Volunteers Galore!!!  My gosh, what was I about to say “yes” to?

Thank God, I did say “yes” 

And thank God as well, Gina and Geneva are still at it in 2014.  Because of these two fun loving, dedicated, high energy leaders, the Little Rock Marathon has become one of the most successful in the United States drawing over 15,000 this year from all over the world.  From that first office visit, not only has the marathon grown, but the signature Marathon Medal has grown.  I must admit I will no longer be a candidate for the Big Medal but I proudly accepted my smaller medal for completing the 10K on the most miserably cold, windy and wet day of the year.  In fact, because of thunder and lightning the race was cut short for the first time in history. Sure it was disappointing for some but a wise decision regardless.

Thank you Gina and Geneva and thank you volunteers …

With over 2000 volunteers, 15,000 entrants and 40 – 50,000 family members, friends and supporters, The Little Rock Marathon has become huge, not just huge in numbers, not just huge in medal size but huge in community spirit.  I believe the benefit goes well beyond  Marathon day.  I believe it is carried in each of our hearts, memories and passions as we come together to create a better Little Rock and a better world.

Thanks again to my special friends … the untiring Dynamic Duo … Gina and Geneva.

You are  …………..   MY LOCAL HEROES !!!!!

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Thank You Arkansas Park’s staffer, Richard Smith …

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At 8:34 AM I pulled into the parking lot at Pinnacle Mountain State Park and decided to make a pit stop at the men’s room before hitting the trail.  Richard Smith, pictured above was cleaning the restrooms and emptying trash containers.  I acknowledged him, said “thanks for keeping the park and restrooms clean” and asked if I could take his picture to be highlighted in my blog as another of my Local Heroes. Permission granted I took the picture and headed for the trail.

Over the next 90 minutes of hiking, my mind bounced back and forth between enjoying the beauty of this iconic park to thinking about Richard and the important job he performs so we may have a pleasant visitor experience.  Upon returning to my car, I noticed Richard was still fastidiously going from picnic area to picnic area picking up trash, emptying containers and installing new plastic bags all in preparation for another full day of new visitors.

I write this in hopes each of us will think about, appreciate and say “thanks” to  the hundreds, maybe millions of Richard Smiths who make our world a better and more enjoyable place to live, work and play,

Richard Smith … You are my local Hero !!!!

Now a couple of shots from the hike …

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I think Bigfoot roams the Pinnacle trails … with this beauty, one can certainly understand.

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An Arkansas Treasure … and my recent visit as a Parks Commissioner

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Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond producing place in the world where the public can actually dig for diamonds and keep those that are found. With a long history of private ownership and attempts in the past to do commercial diamond mining, the Crater of Diamonds is now owned by the state of Arkansas and is preserved for the enjoyment. education and hope of finding the most valued gem in the world … all this right here in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

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My first visit in about 40 years …

I was hoping to find a picture of a visit some forty years ago with my family and another family of friends.  What I most remember, other than finding no diamonds, was the heat.  It was a typical Arkansas July or August summer day … probably in the upper 90’s with 90% humidity.  In spite of the weather, this anxious group of four adults and six under ten children excitedly spread out with state of the art garden tools …  each person fully expecting to be the first to scream “I found one”.  Unfortunately it didn’t work that way … however, we did make a memory.  

My only other trip, until last week, was with my two sons.  We played it a little smarter in that we made the visit when it was not quite as hot, we spent less time in the sun and we opted to bring back a bucket of processed diamond gravel to be examined at our leisure.  Once again, no diamonds … once again, made a memory.  Incidentally each visitor is still allowed to take home up to a five gallon bucket of processed gravel.

Thank you Park Interpreter, Margi Jenks, for an informative tour:

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Margi is just one of a number of friendly, helpful and hospitable staff I met … starting with the wonderful young ladies at the front desk.  Margi is a Geologist that moved here from Idaho and now spends her time with educational programs and bringing smiles to the faces of the thirty of so visitors per month who actually do find a real diamond.

I plan to go back … when the weather is a bit more pleasant.

I was so impressed with the park, the museum, the staff and the fact a Water Park has been added.  I was fascinated with the history of this place, the geology of this volcanic crater and the knowledge our Arkansas Crater of Diamonds is preserved, wonderfully staffed and maintained for our citizens and visitors from all over the world.

Let’s go dig for Diamonds !!!!

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(above) The Museum and Visitor Center as seen from the mine fields

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Above … an early washing pan from the first mining plant

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Happy Birthday Aunt Marguerite … Happy 107                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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I must say, it’s hard to fathom living to one hundred but to live past the Century mark is unimaginable. Well, it did happen and 107 years ago yesterday Marguerite Alford was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. An earlier post related my wife, Patti, shown above with her sister, Suzanne, taking her aunt to her birth home on 12th Street in our Capitol City.

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While thinking about this remarkable lady and this true chronological miracle, my mind began to reel as I considered the happenings during her lifetime … she almost made it for the Wright Brothers flight in 1903, she was there for the start of WWl in 1914, was a young adult during the Great Depression, the stock market crash of 1929, the early days of automobiles, the Right to Vote for Women, the Pearl Harbor Attack, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a man walking on the moon and the assassination of JFK.

Meanwhile, Back to 2013 and the Birthday Party

In spite of her age, this amazing lady, still sharp as a tack, with a present and past memory better than most twenty somethings, was fully alert, completely aware and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the celebration. She had loved ones, friends and family members from other states, from various ages … but all present to celebrate a beautiful life of a beautiful lady.  May God continue to bless us with Birthday 108

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Amchitka Island, Alaska …

This small seemingly God forsaken 42 mile long, 3 mile wide volcanic island is one of the Western most members of the Aleutian Islands Chain. Amchitka is remembered more for the three underground detonations of nuclear bombs in the 60’s and 70’s than for the vital role played in WW ll.

On this Memorial Day I take personal pride remembering Amchitka, remembering those who served, remembering that without Amchitka the Japanese might easily have had a path to mainland Alaska, remembering that in spite of extreme weather, impossible terrain and enemy bombings the Navy Seabees constructed the first of three air strips in an unbelievable 34 days. My dad, Dalton Dailey was one of those Navy Seabees protecting our freedom in 1943 on Amchitka Island.  

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Let us never forget those who gave all …

Fortunately my dad returned home, fortunately my uncles returned home, fortunately my son returned home … unfortunately there are so many who did not.

I don’t recall having such emotion and connection to the history of preserving our freedoms as now.  I was a child during World War ll, and remained state side during the Vietnam War.  My unit, the 142nd Army Medical Evacuation Unit was called up during the Berlin Crisis, came close to call up during Vietnam but I never had to experience the fear and separation thousands “then and now” experience.  On this day I thank each of them for protecting our Nation, its principles and our freedoms.

God Bless our Men and Women in Uniform … may there soon be Peace in the World.

I mentioned other family members who served and found these two pictures …

My Uncle Frank Dailey who was a pilot and my son D.J. with my dad, both Navy men. Frank, now a retired doctor is front row, second from the left.  I think you can make out which is D.J.

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Logorrhea …

Got your attention ? …  Logorrhea ?

Okay, I either got your attention, stimulated your curiosity or caused you to question the wisdom of reading any farther. Let me explain.  First, just in case you are scrambling for the dictionary, the definition of logorrhea is … “excessive, often incoherent wordiness.”  Well, this is precisely how I describe this blog entry … excessive, maybe even incoherent but bear with me, I’m hoping it will be fun as I quote almost word for word from my journal entries made while on my Arizona Journey.  Remember, I started in the South at Bisbee and finished in the North at the incredibly unique canyon lands of Page, Az.

Bisbee Coffee Company

It’s 6:30 AM and I’m am sitting in the Bisbee Coffee Company having a cup of freshly brewed java and an egg bagel.  This place is decorated like an old mine … after all this is a copper mining town … corrugated metal roof line behind the bar, black and white photos of old west and mining characters plus the artifacts of the foundational industry. In spite of this it has an air of sophistication …  gourmet beverages, alternative music and diverse clientele.  A few look like visitors … dressed in up to date jeans and brand label athletic wear.  Others appear to be locals with a bit more weathered look … one couple sitting in front of the window with the backdrop of Main Street look like they have just been trekking in the Himalayas … wool hand woven stocking caps, leather vests … see for yourself below.

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Beautiful Scenery but truly interesting people … some I call my heroes.

In Bisbee I met a waiter in Rokas, a very fine downtown restaurant. Daryl was originally from Tulsa, had been hooked on drugs, came West to find himself, did that and now lives a much more satisfying and simple life.

In a Denny’s restaurant Courtney was my waitress and simply touched my heart with her friendliness and attention to her job … I thanked her for the important job that she does every day.

At a Gas Station along the route there was a young lady, Michelle, petite, attractive … could be a candidate for a “My Fair Lady” makeover.  She was cleaning the huge nasty restrooms with a smile on her face and as I was leaving she smiled again as she was carting heavy bags of trash to the dumpster.

Then there was Aaron at McDonalds  … a young man with an obvious physical disability.  When I commented that he was doing a great job of cleaning the tables and the service area, he said “Thank you … I do the best I can to keep this place clean.”  Wow … what a wonderful attitude.

Fooled you didn’t I … you thought I was talking about interesting people like business heads, government leaders and the traveling public.  I did meet a bunch of these too but the most interesting and most amazing to me were those like Daryl, Courtney and Aaron … they do their jobs every day, usually for small pay, do it well and smile as they serve the rest of us.  Daryl, Courtney and Aaron … you are my heroes!!!  Thank you for the jobs you and others like you do for us.

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This is the Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico … 

This awesome hotel in Historic Las Vegas is on the square and has recently established a Wine and Wifi Bar.  Of course I had to make a visit.  And, in this place I met a couple of means from Santa Fe.  I’m not declaring them heroes like the ones above but we did visit and visit and visit and finally shut down the comfortable wine/wifi wing of the hotel. The notable point to this meeting is again the realization of how small our world actually is. Peter and Jacqueline and the hostess named Precious talked about everything from religion to Little Rock Airport land acquisition to KKK in the Delta of Arkansas.  Peter has done work in Arkansas and knew more about our state and its history than I do.  Better be on your game when you travel … it is a small world.

As I attempt to wrap up this lengthy logorrhea blog, I merely mention a little more Lagniappe of the trip … The Sights of Historic Route 66

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Wigwam Village in Holbrook,  Josephs since 1956 in Santa Rosa and Miz Liz in Flagstaff. Etc, etc, etc … smiles and miles.

 

 

 

 

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Overdue Update and overdue hero recognition …

Some months ago, I wrote about 106 year old Marguerite Alford returning to her birth home on Twelfth Street in Little Rock.  In that blog I recognized a young couple as local heroes because with their own hands they had restored this historic home in a struggling inner-city neighborhood.  They were truly “making a difference.”

In this blog entry I have two objectives: Post a photo of Marguerite in front of her birth home and acknowledge another local hero of mine.

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First objective is fairly simple … post the photo  …  Done.

The second objective, naming my hero, is much more personal and very much overdue.  To make my point, Marguerite will be a central character.

Until just a few years ago, Marguerite was completely self sufficient, drove her own car and lived alone in an apartment on Kavanaugh.  Two events changed all that.  First a fire she accidentally started in her apartment and next being pulled over by a policeman for stealing a car. (I promise I’m not making this up).   She had backed into a VW at the grocery store, it became attached to her rear bumper and she was dragging it behind her own vehicle.  As much as she loved her independence it was time for a change and she is now in a wonderful assisted living home.

This is where my hero, Patti Dailey comes in.   Just like she did when our daughter gave birth to quads and she took the 5AM shift, just like she did when a friend broke her leg and she became taxi and meal provider, just like she did to become another daughter to my mom when my dad died, just like she has done and continues to do day in day out bringing smiles to me into the lives of others,  once again she unselfishly stepped up … this time to become the local family caregiver for Aunt Marguerite. Anyone who has filled this role knows the demands are emotional and physically tiring.  I know this is true but I also know the gift of care is given out of endless love and is a blessing and example for all to behold.

Patti Murphy Dailey You Are My Hero.

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My favorite Little Rock home decked with Christmas Lights and more.

I do love Christmas Lights.  I love them so much that I almost hate for the season to end and realize the lights are coming down.  This year I decided to drive a different route each evening coming home from the office … WOW … I have seen some wonderful decorations.  However, my pick of the season is the home above and I simply had to share my choice.  So, if you feel as I do and really appreciate the Christmas Spirit with Christmas Lights … then just drive East of University on Cantrell a few short blocks and look down the streets to your right … you can’t miss it.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas to All.

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In my most recent blog entry I recognized Dave and Jeanette Fitton as local heroes.  Below in his own words is a tribute by Dave recognizing another hero from Harrison, Arkansas.

The Ultimate Volunteer … Ken Bailey

Ken is one of those rare individuals that seeks out community needs, identifies solutions and then puts those solutions into action through his own efforts.

In 1996 The Historic Lyric Theater was in need of rescuing. It had been an operating movie theater from 1929 – 1976 but had remained fairly dormant for the better part of 20 years. During that time it had fallen into a state of considerable disrepair. Ken was one of the founders of the Ozark Arts Council with the Mission to enrich lives by promoting the arts in Harrison and North Arkansas through exhibitions, performances, and education. Ken headed up the drive to raise money to purchase the Lyric and completely renovate this historic treasure.  In addition, he served as the initial Executive Director of the Council without pay for several years. Today the restored Lyric serves as the venue for 6 – 8 community produced & directed plays, the Ozark Children’s Choir, concerts, children’s’ workshops, films and other special events.

As if that was not enough for hero designation, Ken’s most recent community project has been the establishment of Harrison’s first homeless shelter, The House of Hope.  Again, Ken has been the primary catalyst behind the successful opening of this facility. He was able to secure a city owned building and headed up a successful fund raising effort to equip and operate The House of Hope. He currently serves as director on a volunteer basis.

The House of Hope provides showers, laundry facilities, two wholesome meals per day, internet access, job search/contact assistance and transportation for Harrison’s homeless population. This is why I proudly join Dave and Jeanette in congratulating and thanking …

The Ultimate Harrison Volunteer … Ken Bailey … our man from Art to Heart.

Note from lastpairofboots:  Don’t miss a visit to the Lyric Theater … a walk down history’s lane.

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In a previous blog entry, I wrote about the importance of downtowns.  Important because they represent the community heart.  Important because they usually reflect the history, the architecture, the “sense of place”, the place where people come together. Important as well as a center of Commerce and Trade.

Harrison has a long history as a regional trade center drawing from as far away as 50 miles.  Over the past 15 – 20 years It has lost some of that energy due to the growth in Fayetteville area and the huge retail development and tourist industry growth in Branson, Missouri. Harrison was losing ground, was on a downward spiral and the future was looking pretty bleak. Well, “enough of that” became the battle cry from a few motivated, energetic folks who decided “to do something about it.”

From a few… now many… the leaders, businesses and citizens of Harrison have come together and are reversing the trend.  They have formed a group called CORE with committees, weekly and monthly meetings, specific action steps to improve, revitalize and build for the future. They are now capitalizing on the obvious proximity of our nation’s first National River … The Buffalo National River … and are promoting Harrison as “The Gateway to the Buffalo”.

To my earlier point about the importance of downtowns, this community is successfully bringing new retail business development and entertainment events to the historic downtown square. For my money, “Harrison is coming back”.

How do Dave and Jeanette Fitton get my nod as heroes.  Very simple … not only have they been advocates, not only have they been leaders and organizers but every day, every week, every month they have been the glue that has held this movement together.  There are bigger names involved, but no one has done more to stay consistently engaged, to send the reminders, to publish the minutes, to follow up than this couple.

Harrison is on the move once again thanks to a bunch of people but my choice for the hero designation goes to:

Dave and Jeanette Fitton of Harrison Arkansas

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