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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton will hold Wednesday evening's public meeting at Springdale High School after being turned away by Bentonville School District officials.

After his Northwest Arkansas office was picketed early this month, Cotton promised that he would meet during Congress' Washington's Birthday recess with Ozark Indivisible activists who oppose President Donald Trump.

But the Republican from Dardanelle had struggled to line up a large enough venue for the meeting.

Last week, Cotton said the event would take place at the Jones Center in Springdale. But on Sunday night, Cotton tweeted that the event was being moved to the Arend Arts Center at Bentonville High School.

On his Facebook page, Cotton said the location had been changed "to accommodate as many Arkansans as possible."

On Monday, Bentonville School District officials backed away, saying the "tentatively scheduled" event would not take place there "due to insufficient time to make arrangements for the visit."

"It is the responsibility of Bentonville Public Schools to ensure the safety of students, staff, families, and visitors when in District facilities," the district said in a press release. "After consulting with law enforcement, we determined that we would not be able to safely accommodate the number of people expected at this event and informed Senator Cotton's office today."

In an interview, Bentonville district spokesman Paul Stolt said Cotton's office had been in contact with the district but "there hadn't been any paperwork filled out, that I know of, to rent the facility."

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The arts center can hold about 1,200 people, he said. Members of Ozark Indivisible said about 1,200 people had indicated on a Facebook event page that they planned to attend.

"With a couple of days [to prepare], we just weren't going to be able to put everything in place to handle the numbers that were planning on attending," Stolt said.

Hours after Bentonville announced its decision, Cotton said in a press release that the meeting would be moved to Springdale and would still take place from 5-6:30 p.m. It couldn't be determined Monday evening how many people the performing arts center on the Springdale campus can accommodate.

"I look forward to welcoming Arkansans at Wednesday's town hall at the Pat Walker Performing Arts Center on the Campus of Springdale High School [101 S. Pleasant St.] and I appreciate your patience as we've changed venues over the past few days," Cotton said. "On Sunday evening, the Bentonville school board approved the use of the Arend Arts Center, but they withdrew their offer after the Bentonville police chief expressed concerns over security. I'm grateful the Springdale School Board has made their larger facility available, and I want to encourage as many Arkansans as possible to come to what should be an engaging and informative event."

The campus won't open to visitors until 4:20 p.m. The arts center's doors will open to the public at 4:45 p.m., Cotton added.

"No firearms, large bags or backpacks, food, or drink, will be permitted in the Pat Walker Performing Arts Center," the press release added.

Caitlynn Moses of Ozark Indivisible, the group pushing for the meeting, welcomed news that a meeting location has been found.

"I"m just glad to have a solid venue, a real space," she said. "Hopefully, this hasn't messed with people too much and they'll still come."

Metro on 02/21/2017

Print Headline: Cotton's forum changes venue

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Comments

  • ERNIE66
    February 21, 2017 at 7:11 a.m.

    Maybe if he keeps changing the venue folks will give up!

  • Skeptic1
    February 21, 2017 at 7:59 a.m.

    He should hold it in a nursery school so the cry babies will feel at home.

  • PopMom
    February 21, 2017 at 8:07 a.m.

    He needs to have one in Little Rock or is he too chicken?

  • Skeptic1
    February 21, 2017 at 8:14 a.m.

    Populistmom...have you requested one or are you just slinging mud?

  • hah406
    February 21, 2017 at 8:46 a.m.

    People expressing their concerns about losing their healthcare coverage isn't crying. People expressing outrage at the way the dangerously unstable man in the oval office is conducting business isn't crying. People wanting to know the truth about Trump and his campaign's involvement with Russia isn't crying. People demanding that their elected officials hear their concerns isn't crying. Maybe we should deport you to a country you can't remember living in and see how you like it.

  • nrb
    February 21, 2017 at 9:55 a.m.

    Libertas2u, you are not very nice.

  • BirdDogsRock
    February 21, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    No firearms allowed? The hypocrisy about carrying firearms is over the top. It's OK for conservatives to force firearms into college campuses against the will of those colleges, but it's not OK for firearms to be at Senator Cotton's public events, nor in the Arkansas Legislature. I thought well-publicized "gun-free zones" were anathema to conservatives.

  • mrcharles
    February 21, 2017 at 12:21 p.m.

    I want to know if norman talks back to the fly in his room. Also we need to know how do you kill small children of terrorist he supports killing their family.

    birddog you just don't understand the brain of a conservative. Though they don't either I would add in your defense. Perhaps when we all have guns we can shake hands with the POTUS, all politicians and in courthouses and in police stations when we as citizens go to places that our tax dollars support.

    Uncle Joe wants to know his position on which Christians who are heretical when we determine who is a Christian to let in this country. I like Mormon door knockers but I heard from Rev Floyd they are not Christians- do we let missionaries back in USA or just Utah.

    I would also like to set and talk to him about Jesus and the military budget.

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