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Leave it to the Walton Foundation to step up with a contribution toward helping resolve the controversial plan for what to do with the failed Bella Vista Lake dam.

The inadequate dam has had plenty of critics who believe the best plan is to set Little Sugar Creek, which feeds the lake, free to once again meander through the community where its charms can be appreciated.

But others want to restore this dysfunctional dam that's been topped four times since 2008, using mostly federal money for such a project estimated to cost nearly $4 million. The hand-wringing has continued for years.

And now the Walton Foundation has given a $98,960 grant to the city of Bentonville (which gladly accepted) to retain Ecological Design Group and the Watershed Resource Conservation Center to develop a plan that might finally resolve everyone's argument through creative changes to the way this lake looks, while preserving the ambience of the creek.

Interesting how an infusion of financial resources can clear a path for better ideas and understanding. So count me among those congratulating the foundation and both sides of the debate for seeing this welcome development as a step in the right direction.

Because compromise and creativity often provide the first one.

Sanctions remain

It's good to see newly appointed 20th Judicial District Prosecutor Luke Ferguson agree with his predecessor, Cody Hiland, in determining sanctions against the community of Damascus as a speed trap should remain through 2018.

The question as to how long the town will remain under those sanctions arose after the governor recently appointed Ferguson to replace Hiland, who is now the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The original sanctions were to run until Hiland's elected term expired on Dec. 31, 2018. Ferguson's appointment runs through the same date.

We drove though Damascus along U.S. 65 the other day. The cruise control yet again was set for a mile beneath the posted speed limit. We ran that former gantlet of blue lights without seeing familiar city patrol cars with exasperated motorists pulled over at either end of town.

Story reverberates

An interesting aspect of the newspaper business is never knowing what effect your words might have on others, even nearly a half-century after publishing them.

Back in November 1973, shortly after joining the staff of the Hot Springs Sentinel Record, I wrote a lengthy feature story about the pauper's field, called Sunnyside, in that community.

Headlined "Death without dignity, a wretched end to suffering," the story described the all-but-forgotten viney hillside field owned by the city where untold hundreds of homeless and forgotten people had been interred since the late 1880s.

Some without relatives or anyone who cared were still being laid to rest in pine boxes we photographed and described. Many graves remain unmarked today. Some do bear small markers, while dozens of others were identified with aluminum nameplates.

Karen White and her husband Brian of Hot Springs happened across the 44-year-old story and, being an avid genealogist, she used it to begin researching the place. Archaeological researchers and volunteers have since spent many hours at Sunnyside in attempts to accurately determine just how many are interred, where, and for how long.

Flash forward to today and Karen says (with the city's permission) she is nominating this five-acre hillside still maintained largely by hungry goats who'll consume anything green, for the Register of Historic Places.

As for the city's responsibility? Its leaders are still deciding after more than a century (and several subsequent news accounts) what to do with that space. Fencing and regular maintenance can get mighty expensive.

Karen say she and others visualize a serene, parklike setting with flowering bushes and a simple landscape.

I'm betting most Arkansas communities have graveyards similar to Sunnyside, considering how many people in every town die alone and impoverished.

Presidential speak

Critics can say what they please about Republican Donald Trump's often awkward and considerably less than eloquent manner of speaking. He indeed does his share of repetitious word-mangling.

But I was reminded the other night while watching Ken Burns' outstanding documentary on Vietnam of former Democrat President Lyndon Johnson's cringeworthy backwoods way of expressing himself.

I watched the Texan repeatedly refer to Vietnam as "Vitnam," and remembered his shocking reported comments about having black Americans (except he used the disparaging N word) voting Democrat forever because of his civil rights legislation. Outrageous? You bet.

Also, Republican George Bush 43 certainly could be quite the mangler in his public comments often laced with, well, phrasings that made him sound dense. I'm sure we've had many presidents whose strongest qualities didn't lie in public speaking.

So while Trump's remarks often are less than flowing and articulate, I don't see him as that unusual for a president, considering our history.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at

Editorial on 10/31/2017

Print Headline: Odds and ends


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Archived Comments

  • BoudinMan
    October 31, 2017 at 6:18 a.m.

    MM. you just don't get it. It's not the way he says it, although his voice and speech patterns are nauseating, it's what he says. But, feel free to practice the whataboutism that is intended to normalize this idiot-in-chief.

  • notbot
    October 31, 2017 at 8:50 a.m.

    This column stomach churns us on the Buffalo River issue he touts. Whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent any writer worth his salt can recognize the issue more clearly. Fight the ADEQ on your own Masterson..this column indicates you’ve got more wrong than just President Bone Spur.

  • WhododueDiligence
    October 31, 2017 at 9 a.m.

    Masterson says he doesn't see Trump as that unusual for a president.
    That's strange.

    October 31, 2017 at 9:46 a.m.

    Collusion with an enemy is unusual, Mike. Stop trying to normalize treason.

  • 23cal
    October 31, 2017 at 9:50 a.m.

    Trump presents a word salad of lies. Consistently.
    That isn't normal. Stop trying to normalize this abomination.

  • TimberTopper
    October 31, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    What's the latest on your hog farm problem up there?

  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 11:24 a.m.

    Mike, Trump's language is horrible for a president. We're not talking about word mangling or intonation. We're talking about disparaging, juvenile remarks. You really do need to avoid national issues as you just don't get things. As things play out, you're going to look pretty silly for a columnist if you keep trying to weakly defend Trump.

  • Delta2
    October 31, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

    Y'all above just don't get it, Masterson has hordes of fans, just ask him. He publishes all those positive feedback comments just to prove it. No one could possibly disagree with how wonderful and insightful he is, otherwise he'd have a column full of such negative feedback...

  • RBear
    October 31, 2017 at 3:31 p.m.

    ROTFL @ Delta.

  • WhododueDiligence
    October 31, 2017 at 7:28 p.m.

    lkec2re made an excellent point about "President Bone Spur." President Bone Spur, who was granted at least one of his several Vietnam War deferments because he had a bone spur owie, was harshly critical of Vietnam War hero John McCain. Trump (now also known as President Bone Spur) said John McCain, who was blown out out of the sky over enemy territory in North Vietnam, is NOT a war hero! President Bone Spur said he likes heroes who weren't captured! And President Bone Spur received however many votes are required to become President Bone Spur!
    Well, loddy toddy body dah! President Bone Spur Deferment doesn't like war heroes who were captured! Did any other president in American history ever get elected and worshiped and fawned over and excused like today's extremists are excusing President Bone Spur for whatever anti-hero crap pops into his bone-spur-owie mind?
    No, not ever in the heretofore bone-spur-tolerating suck-it-up history of the United States of America.