Political dollars and sense

February 5, 2010 When Monday night rolls around, the Independence County Quorum Court will be taking up a discussion continued from last month about whether to give themselves — and all the other elected officials as well as the county’s employees — a bonus.In January, County Judge Bill Hicks proposed giving bonuses for all county employees, from road crews and courthouse employees to the elected officials. The bonus idea came about because a 3-percent cost-of-living wage increase would cost more than $132,000, but the bonuses would be roughly half of that.

Cycle of cosmic catastrophes

February 4, 2010 It always bothered me that no one had a feasible explanation for mammoths being found frozen, having been encased in ice for centuries or millennia, with freshly chewed grass in their stomachs — and, in some cases, I believe, even in their mouths. And that grass was of a lush, tropical style.

Interview with Punxsutawney Phil

February 3, 2010 Every Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, is pulled from a tree stump. If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, spring is just ahead. As I spoke with Phil about a recent controversy involving People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), he wore dark sunglasses, smoked an unfiltered Camel cigarette and sipped bourbon.

Past comes back to haunt

February 3, 2010 I’ve always heard that one’s past can come back to haunt them.Mine has.And it’s a woman.She’s blonde and blue-eyed and apparently can recall certain things from the late ’60s and early ’70s with clarity and, for her, a lot of humor.The fun started for her after I accepted her as a friend on Facebook. After we caught each other up on jobs, relationships, kids and grandchildren we got around to other topics.Enter my Tammy Wynette days.“Remember when you stood on Grandma Rand’s front porch and would sing ‘Stand By Your Man?’” she wrote.

Drinking problem

February 2, 2010 I think I have a drinking problem.Well, a drinking glass problem, anyway. It all started one daywhen my pal Mary Jo Shivey came into the Guard and spotted a Tervis Tumbler on my desk. “Wow! How neat! They’ve been around for years,” she said. “It’s an expensive glass.”Ooooh-Kaaaaaay, I thought. What’s the big whoop?She ranted and raved over it enough that it piqued my interest. I had to Google it.

Election fights for 2010

February 2, 2010 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Want a preview of Arkansas’ top election year fights in 2010? Step into the state Capitol.The House speaker is running for a congressional seat that’s being eyed by at least three other lawmakers. The Senate president has been flirting with a run for U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s seat. Several northwest Arkansas Republicans are considering running for a seat now held by Rep. John Boozman, who also will enter the U.S. Senate race. A handful of east Arkansas lawmakers are considering runs for Rep. Marion Berry’s post.

Looking at education factors

February 1, 2010 LITTLE ROCK — The number of college students who need remedial classes rose significantly this year, from 51.3 percent to 54.6 percent.One factor in the increase has been a sharp rise in the number of non-traditional students over the age of 25 who are going to college. In the current slow economy, many adults are trying to improve their job skills and marketability by getting a college degree. However, they’re finding that they are not prepared for college level course work so they must first take remedial classes in math, reading and English.