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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Crypto mine caves in

by Mike Masterson | June 3, 2023 at 3:50 a.m.

Members of the Harrison Planning Commission tossed the hot potato that was Green Digital's application for a crypto-mining conditional use permit to the City Council the other day, only to have the company withdraw its application.

In other words, one could rightly say it caved in.

Thus, the matter of creating the facility hundreds of irate Harrison residents opposed for two months ended with the announcement of that sudden withdrawal during a special council meeting. Other Arkansas communities face similar choices.

Mayor Jerry Jackson, who opposed the mine proposed for the outskirts of Harrison, stood with scores who'd gathered in the large applauding audience as he announced Green Digital's sudden decision before shouting to cheers: "This thing's over!"

I feel certain the planning commissioners who'd faced an outspoken overflow crowd at their public hearing about the mine two weeks earlier were equally relieved to hear Jackson's announcement.

No details were shared about Green Digital's wise decision, except to say it may reapply after conducting studies on the noise emitted by the mining process.

I say wise because it could be difficult at best to launch and operate a business in any Ozarks community where so much public opposition is expressed upfront.

Perhaps the biggest complaint was the noise bitcoin mining operations generate day and night. The incessant whine is shrill enough, they say, to affect the psyches and property values of all who live nearby. Residents also expressed concerns about the enormous amount of electricity such a facility requires and any possible impact on the community.

Three employees and what modest tax revenue a crypto mine might offer weren't nearly enough to overcome residents' concerns.

While some states have not warmed toward accepting crypto mining, the Arkansas Legislature was the first this past session to pass the "Right to Mine Bitcoin Bill," signed into law by Gov. Sarah Sanders.

That act protects miners from discriminatory regulations and taxes, and defines terms related to digital asset mining. In contrast, I've read that the Texas legislature has passed legislation to remove incentives for Bitcoin miners. New York imposed a two-year moratorium on new permits for some cryptocurrency mining operations.

For now, communities across the state likely will weigh the pros and cons of embracing a crypto mine amid such concerns. Although Green Digital has the right to reapply for a conditional use permit in Harrison, I'll be more than surprised, after a month of weathering public outcry, if it does. The seat of Boone County certainly has left no doubt where it stands.

Tucker's tenure here

With so much about Tucker Carlson's travails at Fox News and his subsequent move to land his rocket with Elon Musk at Twitter, I've wondered how many valued reader remember Carlson worked in this department of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for two years.

He was an opinion writer for the paper from 1993-1995 after having worked at both CNN and MSNBC early in his career.

As such, his editorials would not have been signed, leaving him relatively unrecognized in his work on the editorial page. Little did he know such anonymity soon would end in a meteoric rise to the national forefront.

I found this written about him the other day: "A new survey by Gallup and the Knight Foundation reveals that Tucker Carlson, recently ousted by Fox News despite being their top show host, is the 'most followed or watched public figure in the United States for information,' dominating legacy media news names like NBC's Lester Holt and ABC's David Muir.

"Carlson edged out Rachel Maddow, the leftist weekly host on MSNBC, in the poll of 3,821 adults by Gallup and the Knight Foundation. It was conducted in October, well before Carlson lost his job."

Friends make difference

Friends from Harrison and those I've made in nearby Springfield over the past eight years have repeatedly encouraged me to rejoin them on the golf course this spring.

Never one to deprive the fellas of the unsurpassed joy of my presence, I've lately agreed to venture from behind the self-imposed curtain of good-and-bad-day cancer recovery back to the links.

I realized how much I'd missed by spending so much time behind walls and not nearly enough amid the sunshine and greenery of spring with those who make me laugh, especially at myself.

One thing I've learned over the past 10 months (as do so many who endure the effects of longer-term rehabilitation), is how easy it is to fall into a malaise that saps energy and desire.

It is during that period I've discovered just how vital it is to have not only a spouse devoted to seeing your improvement but friendships that endure through and past this readjustment to a new normal.

While regular golf games were normal just a year ago, for me they've become occasional rides in a cart and cheering on everyone else. That in itself has kept a smile on my face and got me back to feeling like I am part of something far larger than my medical issues. The competitive part, so much a part of our sharing not long ago, has been replaced by gratitude for their friendship.

Those friends from Springfield have taken it a step further. Knowing my left shoulder is without feeling after having my left vagus nerve removed during surgery on my neck, they wanted to come to Harrison just to have a match along with my Harrison friends where I'll only putt.

Afterwards, Charlie Foss of Springfield, known for his flavorful sandwiches with razor-thin slices of tri-tip steak, wants to come to the house and prepare a late lunch for everyone. While I won't be able to enjoy that gift because of my inability to swallow, it will be a treat being surrounded by so many friends who will. I'll find lots of happiness in seeing everyone taking their valuable time to be here to enjoy friendship and their enjoyment.

Their efforts also makes me further realize how much it means to have those who care enough to want to be around us, especially when they invest a day to make a 200-mile round trip and bring lunch to boot. I've been fortunate enough to have seen such kindness and friendship time and time again since this battle began a year ago.

So, valued readers, I encourage you to invest time and effort in building close relationships. When you need friends, there's nothing more uplifting to the spirit and motivation than what they provide.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

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

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