Ledge update

May 9, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — The federal government has given Arkansas approval to make dramatic changes in how Medicaid operates.If plans go according to schedule the changes will take effect in July of next year. Other states will be watching Arkansas closely to see how effective the changes work. Their purpose is to hold down costs. Other states would likely follow suit if the changes in the Arkansas Medicaid program prove effective.

Secession decision nearing

May 6, 2011 One hundred and fifty years ago, Arkansawyers faced an imminence of having to choose sides in the ever-increasing conflict between the United States and the Confederate States governments. As noted in an April 1861 edition of an Arkansas newspaper, “This morning we reared a pole, towering 110 feet, and from its lofty summit stretches out our southern flag, the star of Arkansas in the distance, like the swift comet, seeking to form one of those brilliant seven that are shedding light upon the independent pathway of our Confederacy.”

Amid all the bad there is still good

May 6, 2011 April brought us many things to be thankful for but also, with all the death and destruction, the knowledge that life is so fragile. As people in our state and across the South try to regroup after an onslaught of tornados and flooding, we realize how things can change in an instance, which is just one more reason to be thankful.1. OK. So we had a little fun with April Fools’ Day. Thank goodness most people have such a wonderful sense of humor.

Round the world joke

May 5, 2011 If you didn’t have, say, a sense of smell, and 3,000 people all informed you Casablanca Lilies were pleasantly fragrant — you’d rely on that information and assume they were right. Now if you didn’t have, say, a sense of humor, and 3,000 people around you all guffawed uncontrollably at jokes about you —best you’d rely on that information and at least smile. This would cloak your defective funny bone and lack of self-irony. You’d appear affable instead of culturally tone deaf.

‘River Rat’ info was correct

May 5, 2011 Charles McKenzie’s information that resulted in my column last week about the upcoming blowing of the Birds Point Levee to ease flooding on the Mississippi River at Cairo (pronounced Kay-roh), Ill., was right on target.McKenzie, of Evening Shade, worked for 17 years for the Ingram Barge Co., where he was a riverboat chief engineer. He certainly proved his sources among the “River Rats” on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers know what they are talking about.McKenzie now owns McKenzie Monument Co. (formerly Stone Monuments) near Pfeiffer.

Photos paid for

May 5, 2011 Osama bin Laden is dead. Of that, I have no doubt. To question this statement one would have to question the skill and bravery of the Navy SEALS and believe that the master terrorist who occasionally appears in propaganda videos and audio recordings is capable of perpetually eluding all human and technological intelligence.

Visitors welcome

May 4, 2011 Dear editor:Sunday, May 8, 2011, is a very special day. Not only is it Mother’s Day, but it also is the first day of National Nursing Home Week. This year’s National Nursing Home Week theme — “Fulfilling the Promise” — like the uniquely American phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — is all about living life to its fullest potential.

Senator missing?

May 4, 2011 Dear editor:Where is our Senator?Mr. Boozman:The office doesn’t bring character and honor to the man, but the man brings character and honor to the office.You are a voice for the people. We have not heard your voice since the election.The economy is so bad that a lot of people have no jobs and are losing their homes. Yet, no voice from you. Gas prices are so high that people are deprived of essential and necessary things they need to survive; yet no voice from you.

Five lessons learned

May 4, 2011 Just as most of us will never forget where we were on Sept. 11, 2001, most of us will never forget where we were on May 1, 2011, the evening that the world was told that Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for causing so much unforgettable pain on 9/11, was dead.For many Americans the announcement brought some element of closure. For others it brought back the pain of that day. Nearly 10 years later we are a nation still living under the ghost known as grief.

American spirit now from abroad

May 4, 2011 I know a fellow from Lebanon who is more American than most Americans.In 1977, when I was 14, I rode my bike, played ball with my friends and enjoyed a safe and happy American existence.During that same year at the same age, the Lebanese fellow I now know was dragging dead bodies into the street and setting them on fire.As civil war raged in his country — as Beirut was bombed every night —many dead bodies lay in the streets. The stench was so great, he and his neighbors dragged the bodies into a pile and burned them.