Dear Mahatma: Why in the world were the trees in the Interstate 30 median around Hope all being cut down? It always makes me feel safer to have a median with trees between me and the other lanes. Also there are barrels for miles in that area. Is that a major redo? -- Hope Springs Eternal
Dear Hope: We, too, have seen this on a trip to Texas earlier this summer. The reaction of all people in our vehicle was -- Holy Hardwood, all those trees are being cut down! This was disturbing, because we are tree weenies. We can even identify on sight an American sycamore.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation shared with us a press release about the matter.
Quoteth the press release: "As part of an Interstate Rehabilitation project on Interstate 30 between Emmett and Gurdon, crews are clearing a portion of the trees and vegetation along the sides and median of the interstate."
Tree clearing provides these benefits, the department says: "A wider clear zone for vehicles that lose control and depart the roadway; a reduced chance of trees falling across the roadway; improved clearing of snow or ice from the pavement after weather events; and more sunlight for roadside wildflower habitats that enhance beauty and benefit pollinators."
All that sounds swell, but it sure does look awful while in progress. That's our opinion and we're sticking to it. Let's go hug a sycamore.
Dear Mahatma: When we take the picture for our driver's license at the Revenue Office, what happens to the proof? I have never been asked could my glossy be kept and I DARE NOT bring any attention to myself by asking to sign a waiver relative to its disposition. What is the implication here? -- Privacy Concern
Dear Concern: We asked the Department of Finance and Administration about this. Specifically, we asked if the photos were kept and, if so, how might they be shared with other government agencies.
The answer came back, as usual, from Scott Hardin, the agency's fielder of such questions. As fielding goes, he has an extremely high average.
Yes, he said, the photos are kept in the Arkansas Integrated Revenue System. Naturally, Hardin said, the photo is put on the license.
Also, the Arkansas Crime Information Center has access to the photos through the department database.
Also, if an Arkansan gets a medical marijuana patient card, the state Department of Health requests the photo from Finance and Administration.
Also, same process for concealed carry permits and the Arkansas State Police.
In these second and third cases, the finance department pulls the photo from its database and transmits it electronically.
This got us to thinking. A resident with a medical marijuana card, a concealed carry permit, and a driver's license would have the same homely photo in three different places in his wallet. Can this be good for self-esteem?