Colorful credit

The Buffalo in fall

Did you see that an article published by USA Today lists our Buffalo National River as America's second most spectacular national park for autumn scenery? The magnificent Buffalo was rated only behind North Carolina and Virginia's Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sure hope Cargill Inc. of Minnesota appreciated the story which said the Buffalo region offers "one of America's most scenic rivers ... lined with breathtaking oak and hickory trees."

Arkansans, and growing numbers across the nation, know multinational Cargill sponsors and supports the controversial large hog factory called C&H Hog Farms at Mount Judea. That factory regularly sprays raw hog waste from as many as 6,500 swine across pastures along or around the Big Creek tributary of the Buffalo, which flows six miles downstream.

I asked Gordon Watkins, who heads the always-active Buffalo Watershed Alliance, for his thoughts on the latest honor for the river, which became the first national river in 1972 thanks in largest measure to legislation by former 3rd District Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison.

Watkins said the newspaper's second-place national rating "is a feather in the cap of the Natural State and serves to reinforce the importance of the Buffalo not only to the Ozarks and Arkansas, but to the nation as a whole."

"It also points to the serious mistake made by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality when it allowed a 6,500-head swine CAFO to be placed where it poses a very real threat to that national jewel. Dr. Van Brahana's recent dye-trace studies have shown multiple direct underground pathways from the waste-application area to the Buffalo, so this is not a hypothetical, what-if contention.

"The risk is real. I'm sure if sections of the river were to be closed for human contact due to elevated E. coli levels, our second-place ranking would change. Maybe then we would rank high on the Top 10 list of 'Most Needlessly Damaged National Treasures.'

"Surely there are plenty more appropriate locations for such an industrial facility that would not threaten what is an economic engine for our poor corner of the state and a recreational attraction for people across the nation," he said.

To that I'd add: Surely.

Hope you vote

Please show up vote Tuesday if you care about the future of this nation and the lives your children and theirs can expect to have.

All that's needed to summon my own voting wherewithal is remembering the many hundreds of thousands of young American men and women who over hundreds of years have willingly sacrificed their lives beneath the stars and stripes in wars and conflicts so we might preserve the principles of our Constitution and the sweet joys of individual liberties and freedom of choice.

I assure you they did not die to promote and implement totalitarianism, an oligarchy or Marxist principles. Those oppressive and failed political forms of imposing control over citizens were exactly the principles they fought and died to oppose.

If you are one who likes what's been happening in our nation, then I encourage you also to express that satisfaction by voting to give life to your feelings.

After all, those American soldiers died to ensure your rights, too.

Cain's travails

I'm one who thought Howard "Rusty" Cain, 70, who for decades has served as the appointed city attorney in Huntsville, would have known better should evidence at his coming trial prove him guilty of driving while intoxicated, speeding and driving left of center.

Cain, formerly a deputy prosecutor, as city attorney has represented the legal interests of the city. He's pleaded innocent to these misdemeanor charges dating back to September. Benton County's sheriff's office deputies said they pulled Cain over at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 18 as he drove along a city street in Rogers.

His attorney, Doug Norwood, filed Cain's innocent plea in mid-October. The trial is set for Jan. 9 in Rogers District Court.

This isn't the first time Cain, as a public official, made less-than-flattering headlines.

A news account from Oct. 19, 1997, by former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Michael Whiteley notes that Cain spent a lot of money to clear his name as an initial suspect in the 1994 murder of one of his former clients, Billie Jean Phillips. That was back in the days of late controversial Madison County Sheriff Ralph Baker.

We'll wait to see how Cain's latest travails turn out. I never take pleasure in hearing this sort of thing, especially when it comes to public officials we trust to preserve our laws and ensure they have consequences. Cain surely can understand that.


Mike Masterson's column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at Read his blog at

Editorial on 11/02/2014

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