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From the highway, LJ's Liquor at Pyatt looks like others you'd pass along the highways. But usually when least expected, things there become anything but ordinary. The store's front door bursts open and young females wearing nothing but big grins come streaking through the aisles laughing and shouting.

The bizarre scene is the last thing devout Ozark Mountain folk would expect to encounter in such a rural setting.

"The first time it happened 13 years ago, I was shocked. What was there to say, except you've got to be kidding," said Lee Kosh, who manages the family's store.

That initial group consisted of seven females. And they've keep it up every year as they aged. Then over the years came another group of five girls. Interspersed between their appearance, a single female streaker or two also have been known to rush in and out of the store, including one just last month who rushed through as her boyfriend waited in a vehicle outside, said Kosh.

Pyatt being a small community, the store's employees knew the streakers and saw it as youthful exuberance in search of something new and different to do on a summer's day.

Most recently an elderly slender man and local character was the first male to strip down and sprint through LJ's. The store day manager, Charlene Ply, had jokingly complained previously that there never been a male streaker.

Rather than become hard-nosed about what has become a ritual about eight times annually at LJ's, Kosh said he's taken it in stride, with a sense of humor evidenced by the sign on the front door which reads: "No clothes, no problem."

After one streaking episode, an older incensed female customer called the sheriff's office. Several patrol cars arrived and, Kosh said, one officer remarked, "We heard there were naked women running around here!" The girls by then were long gone.

"It's just something that started from out of nowhere 13 years ago and girls from around Pyatt have kept it going," Kosh told me. "You just never know when they will show up from out of the blue. And when they do, they just come bursting in, run up and down the aisles screaming and laughing, then they streak back out."

Just goes to show, valued readers, with enough moxie and imagination, life in little Pyatt can be as lively as any place in America.

Bethel Heights bailing?

Some of the frustrated folks in Bethel Heights who've spent at least five years surrounded by pools of E. coli bacteria from the community's ineffective sewage plant say they are circulating a petition that would allow their town to be annexed to adjoining Springdale.

If sufficient signatures are gathered in both Bethel Heights and Springdale, the matter would qualify to be placed on the ballot.

And now, the Benton County prosecutor has given town leaders 30 days to get started on getting the mess fixed or face possible criminal charges.

Bethel Heights' sewage treatment system originated in 2003, has been out of compliance for years, thereby threatening health, local waterways, livestock, future development, as well as requiring exorbitant costs to correct. Most recently, tests showed unhealthy levels of E. coli collecting in pockets around the treatment facility. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (cough), perspiring 'neath the glare of public scrutiny, gave the city only a matter of days to put a plan in place.

These same environmental regulators for years allowed sewage leaking from buried pipes to accumulate on city and private property adjoining the treatment facility. Plant operators have been steadily releasing wastewater underground with too many contaminants while the state has relied on the city to self-report problems, although numerous state inspections noted the city failed to do so.

Resident Lawrence Bowen told a reporter the city has been illegally dumping wastewater through a pipe onto his property for years, and that the runoff deposits sewer sludge in his backyard.

"I've put up with it for five or six years," Bowen said. "Every time I talked to them they said they were going to fix it but it's never been fixed. It just gradually got [worse] all the time."

Joe Brooks said he tested the water when three cows died after drinking from a pond on his property. The Department of Environmental Quality finally showed up to perform its own tests, which showed the level of harmful bacteria was "about four times worse than that. It was so bad that they couldn't even record it," he said.

One reader's views represented the widespread displeasure with the city and the state's role in the contamination, seemingly with no end in sight, except perhaps now by being adopted into Springdale with its functional sewage treatment facility, or those in Bethel Heights responsible for fixing it possibly being criminally charged if they fail: "There's money to put out a stump fire [in Bella Vista], but there's not money to help communities with their sewage problems? Even [though] they are out of compliance with ADEQ?"

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 08/04/2019

Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: Streak of streakers

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