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Seeking an investment opportunity? Have I found a deal for you.

North Arkansas College in Harrison is offering the handsome five-story, 44,000-square-foot tower and attached atrium just off the city's historic downtown square for perhaps as little as $1. At least that's what college President Randy Esters told me his Board of Trustees might consider under the right circumstances.

Naturally, one can't buy that much valuable real estate for $1 without some inevitable hitch. The tower was found to have a mold problem that requires extensive remediation, repairs and remodeling.

Depending on estimates (and an owner's resourcefulness) that could cost into the millions, yet not nearly as much as the college would have to shell out due to bureaucratic red tape. The interior of each floor would have to be stripped to the outer walls then remodeled to suit the new owner or owners.

"Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited resources and funds," said Esters, adding that his goal is to transfer ownership of the tower, which is attached to Harrison's Durand Center, while improving the local area "so we can make the best of this situation for North Arkansas, Harrison and for the college."

Potential owners will be asked their plans to contribute to the local economy and provide proof of financial resources capable of satisfactorily completing repairs to the tower. The sprawling Durand Center, a popular venue for numerous events, is connected to the tower at the ground floor, but is not included in the offer.

But great Scott, folks, what can you expect at 44,000 square feet for a buck or so? What does that come to? A fraction of a penny per square foot? Our state just spent about $2.6 million tax dollars for a new 3,150-square-foot welcome center on the northern outskirts of town.

Up in smoke

Speaking of potentially spending millions of dollars with nothing but anticipated clean air to show for it, the latest estimates to extinguish that perpetually smoking nightmare in a Bella Vista neighborhood range as high as a blistering $37 million.

Residents living in the Trafalgar Road area near what had been a dump for stumps and downed trees have lived with unhealthy air levels since last summer when the now-closed dump leased by the Bella Vista Property Owners Association began continually belching feathery plumes of smoke from beneath the ground.

No one seems certain just how far beneath the surface whatever mess is burning. Estimates range as deep as 50 feet.

The latest news account says it likely will cost between $1 million and $1.3 million just to prep the site before the real work of smothering the blaze can begin. The cleanup process could take up to six weeks. So far, the upfront costs are coming from state coffers (i.e., our taxes).

I see readers have suggested extinguishing this threat to health with everything from abundant water to nitrogen pumped beneath the ground. Best leave that problem to the expensive experts.

But it seems common sense to me and others that the Bella Vista Property Owners Association, which leased the property to use as a brush and tree stump dump for 13 years, and the private companies who illegally dumped there, should morally and legally own this expense.

Property Owners Association' Chief Operation officer Tom Judson was quoted in a news account saying his association leased the property from December 2003 until the end of 2016 when the site was covered with soil. Nobody monitored it during the final few years it was open. Staff would remove trash when possible, Judson said. The property is now owned by Brown's Tree Care.

The way I see this smoldering calamity, taxpayers certainly weren't legally responsible for setting the blaze on private property, or continually dumping over 13 years whatever choking concoction lies beneath, were they?

What of our kids?

I just read 225,000 American children have a military parent who is currently deployed.

I read further that, on any given day, 438,000 U.S. children are in the nation's foster care system. On average, they remain wards of the state for nearly two years. Six percent have lived in the system for five or more years.

Finally, I read that 2.7 million American kids have an absent, imprisoned parent, amounting to one in every 28 children. Plus, the number of parents held in state and federal prisons increased 79 percent between 1991 and mid-2007. Fifty-two percent of the mothers and 54 percent of the fathers in state prison said they were their children's primary providers before incarceration.

Sadly enough, that totals just over 3.3 million kids.

So forgive me if I can't hyperventilate over 2,000 or so children temporarily separated from their parent or parents who chose to try to enter this country illegally (and bring their children into such uncertainty) regardless of how badly many in the mainstream media might want me to.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at

Editorial on 01/27/2019

Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: What a deal


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  • Jfish
    January 27, 2019 at 7:20 a.m.

    Good points on the Bella Vista dump fire.

  • Delta2
    January 27, 2019 at 8:52 a.m.

    Terrible way to end what was a half decent column. Must be those Midwestern Harrison values shining through.

  • JakeTidmore
    January 27, 2019 at 8:54 a.m.

    Cynical and hypocritical covers the disgusting comments made by MM at the close of this piece. Here's a guy who yearly goes on about the death of one person, Janie Ward, and cries for justice. Then tells us that justice for 2000+ children doesn't mean a hill of beans to him.
    MM goes senile at the end and finishes off with his premium brand of robust insipidness and transcendent vacuity.
    MM - don't ever write about Janie again. It'll only prove that you're a liar.

  • GeneralMac
    January 27, 2019 at 12:46 p.m.

    TIDEMORE......apples to oranges

    How many of those ILLEGAL kids are dying ?

  • GeneralMac
    January 27, 2019 at 12:47 p.m.

    The last part of MM's columns nailed it !

  • WhododueDiligence
    January 27, 2019 at 7:40 p.m.

    Once again as usual Masterson attacks the mainstream media. Now he seems to be claiming the mainstream media wants him to hyperventilate badly. Why would the mainstream media badly want him to do that? That really would be bad.
    If it weren't for America's mainstream media exemplified by America's excellent mainstream newspapers like the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, We the People would be in the dark. If the mainstream media was defeated by the fringe backwater swamp media, We the People would be in a much worse mess than we already are. The truth would be hidden in the muck where the sun doesn't shine. Truthfully, separating however many thousand innocent children from their parents is bad. And it won't help them one bit whether Masterson can hyperventilate about it or not.

  • mrcharles
    January 27, 2019 at 10:16 p.m.

    Our kids, is that like thise who say my church? Surely you heard the children song about Jesus loves the children of the world..not just our kids. Guess that slipped your Harrison mind.

    Thank you MM. You came right out and exposed a ADG editor choice, a NW ark type, a argue gop, and your kind of dirty system believer. No beating around the Bush, you made clear your mindset.
    You went to some effort in research to get numbers to offset the smaller number of separated children at the border. You then went biblical to describe the sins of the parents mean the children suffer. It is not the parents so much a decent human being grieves over, it is the children.
    No one asked you to hyperventilate over the children. Sadly you said not one word of sadly their situation. But that is just you, as a poster boy as earlier described. Gen mac is of your ilk but the ADG doesnt give him the free rein to spout dispicable thoughts.
    Brenda did a column on civility, but I say how can a person be civil when you see such loathsome words in a state wide paper.
    If you have any integrity you will stick to hog poop and never again comment on morals. Care, empathy , sympathy, or especially your deity stuff including Angel's. The middle to the left Christian's who post here and my Christian friends have a different view of who many call the the Prince of Peace....
    I now know a real goat as described in the book of Matthew. Shame, contempt, slight disregard, as civil as I can be , do I say to you.
    Forgive you...well i have in mind another word.