Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Bentonville, Arkansas – Now a Nationally Recognized Tourist Destination.

The opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and its recognition as a major art institution have spurred much growth in other travel-related industries: the C21 Luxury Hotel opened nearby, many new restaurants have opened on or near the Bentonville square, and the Wal-Mart Museum has grown and expanded.

Travel and Leisure called Bentonville one of the top tourist destinations (worldwide) in 2012, and the Huffington Post has just named it to its 5 top “up and coming” tourist destinations.

Bentonville, the heart of Benton County, is a lovely, small city (less than 40,000 residents) in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Everyone over the age of six knows Bentonville is the home of Wal-Mart. But, how many have considered what that means to the economy and culture of the city and the whole of Northwest Arkansas?

Apples provided the main economic base in the late 1800s to 1920s. When apple production slipped from its heyday, poultry took over. Millions of broiler chickens are still raised in Benton County.

The beginning of dramatic changes for Bentonville occurred in 1962 when Sam Walton opened his first Walmart store in neighboring Rogers, Arkansas. No one, not even Sam Walton, could possibly have foreseen the changes that event would create.

By 1971, Wal-Mart’s first distribution center and home office opened in Bentonville. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Major corporations that supplied wholesale goods to Wal-Mart started sending major representatives to live in NW Arkansas where they could make decisions on the spot. As people and families arrived from all over the country, the need for housing, schools, churches, stores, recreation facilities, and the arts increased exponentially.

The lack of cultural events and the arts seemed to be the major complaint from newcomers. They loved the climate and natural beauty of the Ozarks but greatly missed events they were accustomed to in larger cities.

In time, the Walton Arts Center was built in Fayetteville, bringing Broadway shows and talent of all genres never before seen in NW Arkansas. A 600-seat expansion is underway.  

An even larger center for performing arts will soon be built in Bentonville.

2014 saw the opening of The Walmart ArkansasMusic Pavilion (AMP) in neighboring Rogers. As AMP is an open air venue, shows are limited to the warmer months.

The biggest and possibly the best cultural setting is the dazzling Crystal Bridges of American Art in Bentonville. It opened November 11, 2011 to great fanfare and continues to amaze and enthrall all who visit. The permanent collection is open for viewing at no charge thanks to a $20 million endowment from the Walton Family Foundation.

An exciting exhibition now on display is called The State of the Art and represents the work of current artists from all over the country. To make this exhibit, the curatorial team visited over 1000 artists nationwide and logged over 100,000 miles. The result is nothing short of stunning in terms of variety and quality of the arts today, as gathered in the exhibit. But you’d better hurry—it only runs through January 19 of 2015.

Another ambitious project of the museum was to dismantle a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and move it piecemeal from New Jersey to the museum grounds, where it is being re-built and restored. And a further project under construction is a children’s museum called the Amazeum.

Some other upcoming temporary exhibitions Crystal Bridges plans 2015 include:

Van Gogh to Rothko: Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
February 21 through June 1, 2015
Some of the featured artists in this exhibit are Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Joán Miró, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Game Fishes of the United States
April 4 through August 10, 2015
This classic collection elegantly conveys the drama of sport fishing and highlights the exploration and celebration of nature in American art.

Warhol’s Nature
July 4 through October 5, 2015
This exhibition from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh will explore the artist’s surprising, lifelong engagement with nature.

Jamie Wyeth
July 25 through October 5, 2015
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and will examine Jamie Wyeth’s distinctive approach to realism over the course of six decades. It will feature the artist’s portraits of subjects such as his wife Phyllis, John F. Kennedy, Rudolf Nureyev; and Andy Warhol.

Once-quiet, agricultural Bentonville has become a destination for art lovers. Most of the changes would have been unthinkable a few years ago. With the population of NW Arkansas currently about 500,000 and expected to reach a million people by the year 2025, these assets are welcome and appreciated.

And the impetus for the cultural creations can be credited in large part to the Walton Family Foundation and Sam Walton’s daughter Alice Walton.

Monday, October 06, 2014

It's NW Arkansas Craft Fair Time Again!

Northwest Arkansas is known for its numerous arts and crafts shows held each year in mid-October. This year is no exception. Handmade, unique items will be displayed for sale throughout the entire area from Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale, and War Eagle. 

Buyers and sellers travel hundreds of miles to participate in the festivities. The gorgeous fall weather is usually cooperative but it’s good to know some shows are indoors.  

All shows offer free admission. 

Days and hours are listed below:

1991 Forest Hills Drive (intersection of AR 279 and AR 340)
October 16-18
Thursday - Saturday 8 am – 5 pm
Sunday – closed
(479) 855-2064

Now in Bella Vista (formerly in Bentonville)
October 15-19
Wednesday – Saturday 8 am – 5 pm
Sunday 9 am – 4 pm

11045 War Eagle Road
October 16-19
Wednesday – Saturday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Sunday 8 am – 4:30 pm

Beside historic War Eagle Mill
October 16-19
Wednesday – Saturday 8 am – 5 pm
Sunday 8 am – 4 pm
$3 per car parking fee

(next to War Eagle Fair – see above)
October 16-19
Wednesday – Saturday 8 am – 5 pm
Sunday 8 am – 4 pm

Frisco Station Mall (Indoors) 
100 N. Dixieland, Rogers
October 16-19
Thursday – Saturday 10 am - 9 pm
Sunday 10 am - 4 pm

Ozark Regional Shows (3 locations) 
(1) John Q. Hammons Center (Indoors)
3303 Pinnacle Hills Pkwy, Rogers
October 17-18
Friday – Saturday 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday - closed

(2) Northwest Arkansas Convention Center (Indoors)
1500 S. 48th St., Springdale
October 17-18
Friday – Saturday 9 am – 9 pm
Sunday – closed

(3) Washington County Fairgrounds
2536 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville
October 16-18
Thursday – Saturday 9 am – 6 pm
Sunday – closed

922 E. Emma Av., Springdale
October 16-18
Thursday - Friday 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday 9 am - 6 pm

Sunday - closed

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Heads Up! Arkansas State Sales Tax Holiday August 2-3 Only

It's that time of year again. Everyone, whether you have a child in school or not, can purchase a multitude of items without paying sales tax this weekend. The offer is good for only two days. If you want best selection without a crowd, you can start at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday (actually Friday night at midnight). The 48-hour sales tax ‘holiday’ ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 3.

This is the third year Arkansas has declared this sales tax holiday. The tax break has been a welcome savings for Arkansans.

Here are the basics of what you need to know…

The sales tax holiday is primarily meant for back-to-school supplies and clothing. However, the categories are so broad, people from all walks of life can avail themselves for two days of buying without sales tax added on.

All Arkansas retailers are required by law to observe the sales tax holiday. This includes the University of Arkansas bookstores.

Here’s a partial list of eligible purchases:
  • ·         All the usual school supplies, including calculators and art supplies, without limit.
  • ·         All clothing, footwear, underwear, coats and jackets, swimsuits, up to $100 per item.
  • ·         Diapers, disposable and non-disposable.
  • ·         Jewelry, handbags, briefcases, sunglasses, accessories, hair notions, cosmetics, up to $50 per item.
  • ·         Wedding apparel, up to $100 per item.

Get your shopping lists prepared. This bonanza will not be back for a whole year!

Rules, lists of eligible and non-eligible items, and examples are available here:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Reminder: Bikes, Blues and BBQ Rally September 24-27, 2014

Just want to remind you that Bikes, Blues and BBQ Rally is just around the corner. Why not mark your calendars now for September 24-27, 2014, so you will have time to schedule the events that are most important to you. It might not be possible to see and do everything due to the magnitude of happenings this year.

BB and BBQ grows bigger and better every year. Springdale has events on tap for the first time. Beautiful Arvest Ball Park will be the site of a motorcycle rally, car show, live music, steak cook off, and a vintage bike show, sponsored by the Ozark Vintage Motorcycle Association on September 27. Sign in for some of those activities is September 26.

Arvest Ball Park is easily accessible from I-49 (formerly I-540). Use brand new Exit 71.

BB and BBQ has become one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country. Best part of all is that proceeds go to local charities.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Pocket parks--another part of NW Arkansas' quality of life equation

As my regular readers know, I write a lot about the high quality of life in NW Arkansas. And the reason is that there's a lot here to make living enjoyable. I have lived here for over 20 years now, and there's always some new idea or development to improve things and make life better for residents of the area. The newest manifestation of this tendency that I have become aware of is the recognition that pocket parks are an important part of the development strategies here.

The definition of pocket parks is as varied as the spaces they occupy and the amenities they offer. Some pocket parks are made up of paved ground with manufactured play stations for children. Other parks might offer natural green surfaces enhanced with tables and seating for picnicking or communing with nature. Perhaps a park might have a water feature such as a stream or a river bank. Some offer walking trails, pavilions, or zip lines.

Two things the parks have in common are the fact that the parks are small in size compared to what we generally think of as a park and that they generally serve pedestrians. Many of the parks do not offer parking for vehicles.

The parks provide opportunities for exercise, rest and reflection, recreation, and socialization. They enhance neighborhoods by providing comfortable and accessible places for neighbors to meet and engage in activities.

The parks serve the areas in which they are located. Often the park is custom made to provide solutions to local wants and needs. Some parks are built specifically with adults in mind and do not contain children’s playground apparatus.

In addition to some of these spaces within neighborhoods and subdivisions, Bentonville already has several:  Austin-Baggett Park, Enfield Park, Gilmore Park, Northwest A Street Park and Wildwood Park. Rogers lists 7 neighborhood parks on its parks webpage, and Springdale has one planned near Shiloh Square, adjacent to the Razorback Greenway. Many of the 35 parks and other natural spaces in Fayetteville can also be included in these definitions.

Pocket parks are not a new concept.  They started originally in inner cities like New York where there was little green space and have spread to suburban areas. There may be one located near you or soon coming to your area. Enjoy...

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

It's Rodeo Time in the Ozarks!

The Rodeo of the Ozarks at Parsons Stadium in Springdale will officially open tomorrow for four nights of cowboys and cowgirls in competitions featuring, horses, bulls, and much more. Rodeo is an American classic and there is no better place to see it than Parsons Stadium in Springdale.

This will this be the 70th consecutive year for the Rodeo of the Ozarks. For the past several years, it has been ranked in the Top 5 Outdoor Rodeos in America. That’s pretty good for a small rodeo that started out as a patriotic celebration of Fourth of July weekend way back in 1944.

Here’s a quick summary of activities:

July 1 at 5:00 p.m. Rodeo “Slack” Performance
No admission charge for a preview of the next 4 nights of activities. “Slack” is the performance of contestants that are not scheduled to appear during the rodeo.

July 2 at 3:00 p.m. Rodeo Parade
The parade features a patriotic display of cowgirls, bands, floats, entertainment, and candy for kids. Parade starts at Parsons Stadium and heads west on Emma Avenue through downtown Springdale.

July 2-5  70th Annual Rodeo of the Ozarks
6:30 p.m. Mutton Bustin’ for kids (riding sheep)
7:30 p.m. Rodeo featuring professional cowboys and cowgirls from all over the U.S.

July 2-5  Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks Queen Pageant
Over the course of four days young ladies will compete in horsemanship, interviews, speeches, modeling and more to vie for the title.

July 5 at 10:00 a.m. Rodeo Parade
The parade features a patriotic display of cowgirls, bands, floats, entertainment, and candy for kids. Parade starts at Parsons Stadium and heads west on Emma Avenue through downtown Springdale.

July 5 Fireworks Display

Saturday, June 28, 2014

University of Arkansas Fayetteville Garners More Recognition

Northwest Arkansas would not be what it is today were it not for the presence of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The cultural and economic impact is so large as to be difficult to quantify, but definitely contributes to our high quality of life.

A few recent, very disparate happenings--which some might find surprising--have attracted national attention to the university and our corner of the world.

First, James Patterson, internationally acclaimed New York Times best-selling author of mysteries and children’s books, has created eight additional teacher-education scholarships at the University of Arkansas for academic year 2014-15. Mr. Patterson gifted the first eight James PattersonTeacher Education Scholarships to U of A in 2013-14. Arkansas is one of 20 universities nationwide that is the recipient of these scholarship funds.

Recipients will receive $6,000 each. In order to be eligible, a student must be enrolled full time in an education program in the College of Education and Health Professions and have expressed an interest in pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher with a focus on reading and literacy.

The deadline to apply is July 21. More information is available by emailing llfoste@uark.edu.

Next, Jingyi Chen, assistant professor of physical chemistry at U of A, has been included in a list of the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2014. The list, Highly Cited Researchers, is compiled annually by Thompson-Reuters.

To make the list, scientists must rank among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.

Dr. Chen works in the field of nanomaterials. (A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter - approximately 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.)

And lastly, Bob Harrington, professor and 21st Century Endowed Chair in Hospitality in the Bumpers College at U of A and an expert on food and wine pairing, has been filmed for a documentary due out later this year. The documentary focuses on the evolution of current thoughts on wine and food matching.

Harrington was selected based on his systematic food and wine pairing approach, which he presented in his 2008 book, Food and Wine Pairing: A Sensory Experience.  His approach is based on empirical relationships that seem to drive a feeling of match and is based on 12 main interacting relationships of wine and food elements.

These three examples from extremely different fields have received recognition in different ways. Perhaps you are as surprised as I was to find these people in little old Arkansas. It used to be that for almost everything, the attitude was “thank God for Mississippi”, as Arkansas ranked at or near the bottom in most lists and studies. That appears to be changing….

Thursday, June 05, 2014

More Organic Food Choices Coming to NW Arkansas

As many have no doubt already heard, the rumor that a WholeFoods Market is coming to Fayetteville has proven true. The company announced it will build a store on College Avenue – a mere two miles north of Ozark Natural Foods. Many advocates of healthier food choices welcomed the news. Since Fayetteville is a university town, which many have compared to Austin, Texas, before it grew; the idea of Whole Foods in Fayetteville seems like a natural extension for the company, which is based in Austin.

However, consumers will have to be patient. Whole Foods Market is not scheduled to open until fall 2015.

Organic foods have been available, especially in Fayetteville and Rogers, for some time. Ozark Natural Foods has been open for more than 30 years. And Cook’s Natural Market, a family owned and operated store located on West Walnut in Rogers, has offered organic foods for some time.

The Fresh Market at Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers opened two years ago and has also proven popular with customers seeking fresh, natural, organic foods.

On a local level, Wal-Mart and Harp’s offer a limited selection of products and organic produce.
Wal-Mart is expanding organic food options by relaunching the Wild Oats brand of packaged organic and natural foods. WM says prices will belower than competitors on a wide variety of products.  

So, rather than availability, the problem has been cost. It is not unusual to see prices of organic foods double the usual items at a supermarket.

I think that’s why folks are excited to learn competition is coming to the Fayetteville market.
Competition is a good thing. It forces management to look at all aspects of their business; top to bottom.

ONF and WFM have totally different business models. One is not necessarily better than the other. Much depends on management plus the perspective of the consumer.

Ozark Natural Foods is a locally owned co-op (ownership by and for its members.) Owners/members have certain privileges such as discounts and exclusive sales events not available to the general public. At the end of a particularly profitable year, patronage refunds may be paid to members.

Whole Foods Market is a publicly traded corporation operating more than 360 stores. Stock holders own the business and when finances are good, dividends are paid to stock holders.

Will WFM’s economy of size help keep prices lower than ONF? Or will ONF save money on transportation expenses by buying from local suppliers? Only time will tell.

Many shoppers will probably drive by one or both stores while running errands. Surely they will compare prices and availability and decide for themselves which store best meets their needs. 

For more information:

Friday, April 25, 2014

7 N.W. Arkansas High Schools in Top Twenty for All Arkansas

It’s always a pleasure to relate the accolades heaped upon various aspects of life in NW Arkansas. This time I’m writing about high-ranking public high schools.

U. S. News & World Report joined forces with American Institutes for Research to evaluate 31,242 U. S. public high schools.

HaasHall Academy, a charter school located in Fayetteville, earned first place in all of Arkansas according to the list published April 21, 2014. In addition, U. S. News placed the academy at a very impressive #137 in the entire country.

Six other NW Arkansas high schools placed in the Arkansas top twenty: Bentonville H.S. #3; both Rogers high schools (Rogers and Heritage) at #4 and #5 respectively; Pea Ridge H.S. #6; Lincoln H.S. #14; and Siloam Springs H.S. #16. Eureka Springs also made the list at #10. I was a little puzzled, however, as to why Fayetteville was not ranked, since its numbers were similar to Bentonville and Rogers (schools of similar size). 

In any case, congratulations to students, teachers and administrators alike. We do have excellent educational opportunities for students in NW Arkansas, another factor to make it a great place to live. Way to go! 

For more information as to how the rankings were determined, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Skyline Report on the NW Arkansas Real Estate Market

The newest Skyline Report is out. I always like to attend the special breakfast that Arvest holds to present the newest findings as they affect the housing market in NW Arkansas. They usually confirm my anecdotal perceptions, only with facts and figures. Kathy Deck of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the U of A, which prepares the report for Arvest, usually presents the highlights.

Some of the findings for the NW Arkansas residential market:
  •  ·      Occupancy rates of new homes in NW Arkansas took an impressive jump during the last six months of 2013, increasing 60.7%, compared to the first six months of the year.

  •  ·     From July through December 2013, 1,279 new houses in active subdivisions in Washington and Benton counties became occupied. The January-through-June-2013-number of new homes occupied was 796.

  • ·       A look at the number of residential building permits indicates a reasonable amount of new construction taking place rather than the overabundance NWA experienced in the past, especially during the housing bubble. Benton County accounted for 725 of the residential building permits over the last six months of 2013, while Washington County accounted for 369.

  • ·      The average price for all homes sold in Benton County from July 1 to December 31, 2013 was $183,983. That’s a insignificant decrease of less than 1% from the January 1-June 30 sales of $185,500. Price per square foot also decreased 0.2% from $82.43 to $82.29.

  • ·       Meanwhile in Washington County, the average price of existing homes sold was $186,493 in last half of 2013. That’s a 7.2% increase over average price of $173,493 during the first half of 2013. Average price per square foot increased accordingly from $83.94 to $87.87, a 4.7% increase.

For multifamily housing, the vacancy rate remained low during the final 6 months of 2013 at 5.8%, although this represented an increase from the same period in 2012, which was 4.3%. There was a significant increase of units built and absorbed during this period. However, there are another 4000 units scheduled to come on line, which will be slower to be absorbed.

And for commercial real estate, some of the space has been there for awhile and is still there—it’s the wrong kind of space in the wrong place. New spaces are being more quickly occupied as they meet current demands. Nevertheless, there was a net positive absorption of 385,607 square feet in the NW Arkansas market and an overall vacancy rate of 13.6%, down from 14.6% in the first half of 2013.

Altogether, an important factor for all sectors of the real estate market is jobs. Without employment growth, there is no impetus for improvements in the housing market. More people moving into the area because of employment opportunities fuels the housing market. In the last 6 months of 2013, unemployment decreased in the area and job growth increased. There is a high degree of employment by people 55 years and older.

For more information: Residential Summary 

Monday, February 17, 2014

University of Arkansas Helps Veterans Succeed

I was happy to see University of Arkansas receive nationwide recognition for assisting veterans in the difficult task of transitioning from the battlefield to campus. Adjusting from war to a classroom is incomprehensible for anyone who has not been through such experiences. It is even difficult for many men and women to leave the military itself and change over to civilian and college life.  

BestColleges.com ranked University of Arkansas in the top 40 universities in the country for efforts to meet the needs of returning veterans. BestColleges.com first reviewed the top 200 universities as defined by U.S. News & World Report. In order to be considered in the ranking, each university had to be a member of The Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, honor ACE Credit, and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which provides veterans attending college with funds additional to those received by the GI Bill.

U of A programs take an individualized approach to counseling, academic and financial assistance and job placement. The Veterans Resource and Information Center has many veterans on staff that understand the unique needs of veterans and are willing and able to assist veterans.

Some studies have shown the graduation success rate for veterans to be abysmally low. Our veterans deserve better so it is especially gratifying to see University of Arkansas ranked in the top 40 of American universities.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Energy Efficiency Factors Will Begin Showing Up in the NW Arkansas MLS

An energy efficient home can save its owner thousands of dollars over time. That fact cannot be stressed too often. If you’ve been thinking about becoming ‘greener,’ you already know what I’m talking about.

If you haven’t given it much thought but you’re thinking about buying a new or resale home, you may want to consider the overall, long-term cost of homeownership. There are many factors to consider in addition to the initial sales price. Let’s say there are two similar homes for sale in the same subdivision. One has added insulation and Energy Star appliances and the other does not. The home that has been upgraded will probably be listed at a higher cost but the savings in utility bills after a few years will ultimately be the better buy.

Until very recently the problem was that local real estate agents had no way to search the multiple listing site for energy efficiency. That is beginning to change.

Realtors® can now specify certain features of a home when they post the listing on MLS. For example: Energy Star Certification, low-flow faucets and shower heads, energy-efficient windows and roofs, and the all-important R-values for insulation, just to name a few. R-value means resistance to heat flow of a given material. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation and the lower the utility bills. Different sections of a structure (ceilings, walls, and floors) generally require different R-values to be considered energy efficient. Ceilings require a higher R-value than floors or walls because heat rises.

As listing agents become familiar with the new search criteria possibilities and enter this information into the MLS, buyers’ agents will have more thorough information to help their buyers make the best decision. Most of these green criteria will not appear in consumer-oriented home-search websites.

Since I specialize as a buyer’s agent, I would be happy to help you make the best long-term decision for your next home. Call me if you have questions or are thinking about purchasing a home in the near future.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sales of NW Arkansas Homes Mostly Up for 2013

For the first 11 months of 2013, the number of homes sold in in Benton and Washington Counties was up 17.36%. That’s the best rate in all of Arkansas. Thinking back only two years to the dismal 2011 real estate market makes it look exceptionally good.

The number of homes sold increased, the median sales price expanded, and the total value of homes sold rose. The average number of days on the market decreased.

For some reason not yet fully explained, sales throughout Arkansas dipped in November 2013. Rising interest rates may have been partially to blame. Consumer confidence was shaken due to the government shutdown in October and uncertainties about the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The December sales figures are not yet available.

Seems like a majority of real estate professionals predict mortgage interest rates will increase in 2014. My crystal ball is out for repair so I’m not weighing in on the subject right now. I do know though, that as interest rates increase, buyers are generally forced to buy a less costly home in order to keep their payments affordable.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

USA’s National Emblem (Bald Eagle) Alive and Well in NW Arkansas

The majestic American Bald Eagle, symbol of the strength and long life of United States, migrates every year to winter and raise young in NW Arkansas. With a wing span of seven feet, eagles can fly at speeds up to 30 MPH and dive at 100 MPH. Truly an awesome sight.

Males and females look alike and both sexes work hard to raise their young. They mate for life and build huge nests to which they return year after year. They refurbish and enlarge their nests over time to the point that some become as large as an automobile.

We are lucky in NW Arkansas to be able to see bald eagles (which are not actually bald) from October to February. Beaver Lake is undoubtedly the largest lake in the area and has the most eagles, but sightings occur on other lakes and reservoirs. Eagles have even been seen soaring over roadways or near chicken houses where I presume they hope to find a dead chicken.

The easiest and surest way to see bald eagles and their nests is the Eagle Cruise. For only $10/adult or $5/child (kids under 6 ride free), you can take advantage of a 90-minute pontoon-boat cruise on Beaver Lake. An interpretative guide goes along to take you to the optimum locations for success and answer questions as well.

Reservations are required so call Hobbs State Park at 479-789-5000 or stop by the Visitor Center. This could be a great field trip, not only for families with children but for anyone interested in one of our great natural resources in NW Arkansas.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Benton County Among the Best in the Country for Employment Growth

Who would have guessed that among thousands of counties in the United States, Benton County, Arkansas, would be in second place for employment? It’s true according to CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison website that publishes various data-driven analyses.

The CreditDonkey study primarily looked at employment growth, wage growth, and improving unemployment rates during the twelve months March 2012 to 2013.

San Mateo County, California was the only county ahead of Benton County. Falling behind Benton County were counties in the Denver, Atlanta, and Seattle metropolitan areas among others. That’s enough to make some of us long-time residents overjoyed. It is always exhilarating to learn that outsiders concur with what we’ve known all along.

During the study period, employment growth in the U.S. grew slightly more than 1.6%. Wage growth in Benton County increased 2.7%.
Wage growth in Benton County increased a whopping 14.3% to an average weekly pay of $1,339. San Mateo County was only one-half of one-percent ahead at 14.8%. The next best rate after Benton County was Loudoun County, Virginia, in the Washington, D. C. area at 2.4% and that’s not even close.
During the same time, average U.S. weekly wages grew by 0.6%, or $6, resulting in an average U.S. paycheck of $989.

Benton County’s unemployment rate also moves in the right direction. In January 2013, the U.S. rate unemployment rate was 7.9% and Benton County’s rate was 6%.  As of August 2013, Benton County’s rate had fallen to 5.4% and the U.S. rate was still above 7%.

Good things are happening all the time in beautiful Northwest Arkansas.

Friday, January 03, 2014

New Year Good News for Local Charities

As we pass from the season of giving into the new year it seems appropriate to take note of some great news for local charities.

The 2013 Bikes, Blues and BBQ Motorcycle Rally back in September was a big success in all respects. Held each fall in Fayetteville, the goal of the rally has always been to provide family-friendly entertainment and raise funds for local charities at the same time. As the many events have caused venues to spread to surrounding areas, the charitable giving has spread as well.

This year’s donations total $105,000, a $15,000 increase from 2012. There is a long list of recipients. The largest donation, $28,000, was given to Northwest Arkansas Economic Development district and it included $5,000 for Meals on Wheels program in Fayetteville.

Next largest donation was $20,000 to Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club.

Several $5,000 checks were given to other local groups including Northwest Arkansas Free Health Center; Peace at Home Family Shelter; and LifeStyles, Inc. which helps people with disabilities reach their full potential within the community

Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA and Sheriff Ralph Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund also received donations.

I’m not going to take space here to list every recipient but all are worthwhile organizations that work hard to make life better for many people in our area.

Thanks to the organizers, participants, and visitors to Bikes, Blues and BBQ. Hope 2014 is even more successful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

NW Arkansas Razorback Greenway Comes to Life

Years of planning and millions of dollars are bringing the Razorback Greenway close to completion. The result will be 36 interconnected miles of paved trails reaching from south Fayetteville to Bella Vista. Untold miles of side trails will carry users to the Razorback.

Between the two cities mentioned, the trail will run through Johnson, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville.

A $15 million grant from the U.S. Transportation Department’s Investment Generating Economic Recovery Fund was offered if an equal amount in matching funds could be raised. The Walton Family Foundation, a longtime supporter of trails and greenways, pledged $15 million to make the grant possible. Additionally, the Walton Family Foundation gave approximately $8 million to hire a planning and design team early in the formation process to ensure overall guidance. Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and many of the six affected cities also provided funding.

The Razorback Greenway connects the University of Arkansas, several hospitals and schools, NW Arkansas’ big three headquarters (Wal-Mart, Tyson, and J.B. Hunt), parks and playgrounds, art and entertainment venues and much more. People will have increased opportunities to bike to jobs and use the trail for lunchtime exercise.

Some people might question the feasibility of spending so much money on trails. Yes, it’s true highways and secondary roads are needed. It’s also true that not everyone bikes, walks or runs for exercise and enjoyment.

However, the reality is that the Razorback Greenway will be a major economic boon to Northwest Arkansas. In fact, the boon has started. A few cafes and bicycle shops were the first to open businesses along the trail. That’s only natural.

Visitors are already coming to NW Arkansas to take advantage of the trail, the beauty of the Ozarks, and the friendliness of our people. When they come here, they bring money with them to spend for restaurants, lodging, recreation, and shopping. Studies show proximity to trails and open space increases property values and marketability of homes.

Need I even mention the health benefits achieved by local residents using the trail to bike, walk, and jog? Having opportunities to be outside and enjoying nature improves mental health as well. Build an accessible and safe greenway and people will use it.

Some estimates run as high as $100 million in increased revenue for NW Arkansas. I have to question how that can be determined at this early stage. But I am confident economic benefits, including job creation, will increase to a major degree. It has happened in other cities across the nation. It will happen here.

For more information:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

University of Arkansas--Growing and Getting Better All the Time

Fayetteville is on many ‘best places’ lists and part of what contributes to the quality of life here is the presence of the University of Arkansas. Academic accolades, awards, grant money and high rankings in many areas have been pouring in. Turns out Razorback sports are not the only reason the U of A shines. (But let’s face it, Razorback sports are a major force here.)

In terms of enrollment, U of A is the 13th fastest growing public research university in the country. Fall 2013 semester preliminary student count is more than 25,300 students. An earlier goal was to reach 25,000 students by 2021, in time to celebrate its sesquicentennial.

The number of minority students is also increasing. A recent count showed about 4,500 minority students enrolled, an 80% increase since 2008.

Approximately $450 million has been spent since 2011 to renovate, expand and build facilities to keep up with growth. It’s nice to see the impressive results as the scaffolding, fences, and temporary detours come down. No matter where one looks, it seems there’s no end to ‘new’ category: classrooms, enlarged dining facilities, dorms and off-campus housing to name a few.

The best part of all is that quality has not been comprised to accommodate growth. Indeed, the university’s reputation is also growing.

Millions of dollars in grants have been awarded to U of A by Dept. of Defense, National Science Foundation, Dept. of Energy and others.

New tenure track and non-tenure track positions have been added.

As U of A continues to grow, so does NW Arkansas. Adding more jobs, homes, businesses, and schools all contribute to the vibrancy of our communities.

Way to go Hogs!

For more information on some of these achievements:

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Bikes, Blues and BBQ – September 18-21, 2013 -- in Fayetteville

The huge BBBQ motorcycle rally is coming to beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas, again—and soon. In fact, it is one week earlier than usual this year. Be sure your calendar is marked for September 18-21. BBBQ has become one of the premier rallies in the country. Hundreds of thousands of folks participate and watch whether they have a bike or not.

Music starts at 4 p.m., Wednesday, September 18th and doesn’t stop until midnight Saturday. Even then the festivities continue with the Miss BBB contest.

If you want an earlier start for great music, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackberry Smoke will be performing at a pre-rally on Thursday, September 12th at the AMP (Arkansas Music Pavilion) located at Washington County Fairgrounds.

The Fairgrounds is the official campground for the BBBQ rally. There you will find Beer Gardens, free music, and the barbecue contest on Friday. Free shuttle service is offered to all the Dickson Street action.

There are special events for women such as “trying on” a Harley or Yamaha. Other activities you won’t want to miss include a car show featuring customs, street rods, and vintage vehicles. Two Poker Runs will be sponsored by Fayetteville Fire Fighters. The Stokes Air Bike Show will showcase more types of bikes than most of us can imagine.

And the Parade of Power is usually incredible (you might want to bring some ear protection).

Since the first BBQ rally was held in 2000, more than $600,000 has been raised and donated to local charities. This year is no different. All proceeds will be donated to organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, NWA Free Health Clinic, Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club, Horses for Healing and many more.

It’s fair to say there is something for everyone. Music, food, sights to see, and beautiful weather join together to make the rally memorable. BBBQ has always prided itself on being family friendly so bring the kids and enjoy your time together.

For more information:

Events Schedule (be sure to scroll down to see events already scheduled)
Official Blog with information about the Pre-Rally Party

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pig Trail Named #2 on Discovery.com’s List of Top Ten Motorcycle Rides in North America

If you’ve ever been sightseeing in NW Arkansas, chances are you have driven the Pig Trail. It’s a truly scenic section of Hwy. 23, between Brashears on the north end and Ozark on the south end. It can be easily accessed from Hwy. 16 in southeast Fayetteville or from Ozark on I-40. 

Hwy 23 continues north to Missouri and south towards Little Rock but the section known as the Pig Trail is less than 20 miles long. It features curves of all shapes and sizes with inclines and declines to hold your interest. The flowering trees in spring and beautiful fall foliage are awesome. You’ll see the Mulberry River, Boston Mountains and Ozark National Forest.  The trail is paved and virtually devoid of commercial development.
Though the Pig Trail is well known in these parts, it’s interesting to note that The Discovery Channel has recently named the trail #2 on its list of Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in all of North America. That is something to brag about.

I think Bikes, Blues and BBQ Festival held in Fayetteville each September has brought more publicity to the trail. Hundreds of thousands people converge on NWA and surely many of them carried stories back home about our Pig Trail.

I’ll be writing more about Bikes, Blues and BBQ around the end of August or first week in September. Mark your calendar for September 18-21 if you want to reserve the dates. (It's a week earlier this year).

And in the "quality of life" department--check my other blog for more details on new kudos awarded to Fayetteville by Livability.com: #9 college town and #8 barbecue. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Get Ready for Shopping this Weekend: Arkansas State Sales Tax Holiday August 3-4 Only

Heads up everyone. Whether you have a child in school or not, you can purchase a multitude of items without paying sales tax for two days only: Saturday and Sunday, August 3-4, 2013. If you want best selection without a crowd, you can start at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. The 48-hour “Sales Tax Holiday” ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, August 4.

This is the second year Arkansas has declared this sales tax holiday. Last year was highly successful and saved residents a considerable amount of money. I’m happy to tell you a little more here so you do not miss out on this opportunity.

The sales tax holiday is primarily meant for back-to-school supplies and clothing. However, the categories are so broad, people from all walks of life can avail themselves for two days of buying without sales tax added on.

All Arkansas retailers are required by law to observe the sales tax holiday.

Here’s a partial list of eligible purchases:
·         All the usual school supplies, including calculators and art supplies, without limit.
·         All clothing, footwear, underwear, coats and jackets, swimsuits, up to $100 per item.
·         Diapers, disposable and non-disposable.
·         Jewelry, handbags, briefcases, sunglasses, accessories, hair notions, cosmetics, up to $50 per item.
·         Wedding apparel, up to $100 per item.

Get your shopping lists prepared. This bonanza will not be back for a whole year!

Rules, lists of eligible and non-eligible items, and examples are available here:

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