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  1. Hooray! It’s Lent!

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    March 16, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Steven Worden Some folks eagerly anticipate Mardi Gras:  goofy parades, garish costumes, beads imported from Chinese sweatshops, and of course, high levels of substance abuse.  College students have even been known to beg off from class to go down to New Orleans, as if it were an educational field trip or a study abroad experience. Other folks oddly anticipate a good old Ash Wednesday:  forehead daubed with a black cross and the somber intoning of, “Remember, oh man, thou are dust and to dust thou shall return.”   Or, the alternate, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”  Not exactly the kind of talk that pumps more money into entertainment districts or draws students from classes.  Don’t expect it to spur sales tax receipts, either.  Nevertheless, there remains a certain severe beauty in the ancient practice, the rhythm of Lent. C.S. Lewis once observed that human beings love change.  Staleness, routine, “the Same Old, Same Old” weary almost everyone after a while.  But, Lewis argued, novelty, in the sense of newness for the sake of newness, might be something to be wary of as it becomes an end in itself.  Instead, we need a “rhythm.”  The …

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  2. Will The Real Nodie Williams Please Stand Up?

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    March 16, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Susan McCarthy Nodie Williams stood last Friday among four walls that showcased her watercolor and acrylic paintings, chatting with people from as far away as Springdale about her style of painting.  It was opening night for a three week show at Ozark Folkways on Mount Gaylor.  As she talked, one might easily imagine that art is at the center of her life, but the real Nodie Williams is more like a stream of consciousness…ever changing, complex and without knowledge of what might happen next. She was easy to pick out of the crowd that night. She is a tall woman with silver running through her long thick hair, and was sporting western-styled jewelry and a pair of pointy cowboy boots.   Her long skirt was belted with a massive Texas-sized belt buckle.  That belt buckle was a tell-tale sign that there was more to this woman than just art.  And so was her dog, “Spike” that walked through the crowd on his hind two legs quietly posing for treats. Turns out that belt buckle couldn’t be bought, but had to be won and Williams did it by winning the Texas State Championship in 2009 for Cowboy Mounted Shooting.  She …

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  3. Early Birds

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    March 12, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Joe Neal Spring is already here, bird-wise. I had my first Fish Crow on February 15. It flew over giving it’s soft — and to my ear southern-accented —  AH-AH. We have two crow species here: American Crow, present all year, and Fish Crow that heads south for the winter, and only returning when daffodils push up first green. Fish Crows beat daffodil flowers this year. American Woodcocks also migrate north during that part of the year we deem winter. At dusk on February 19 I relaxed in an open field with others from Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society and waited for the opening of intricate male woodcock sky dances performed for the females. As light faded, we had over-flights by Wood Ducks, just returned to the Ozarks. I slapped my first mosquito of the season. Chorus frogs and spring peepers were tuned up in pools left over from the big snow. Then, here came the woodcocks! As we get into March my early bird list includes Ozark arrivals of Black-and-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Louisiana Waterthrush. I find myself drawn especially to Devil’s Den State Park, which is something of a magnet for these early birds. You don’t have …

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  4. Lot Split Approval Process Raises Questions

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    March 10, 2011 by wcobserver

    Planning Commission Last Met Two Years Ago By Susan McCarthy WEST FORK- The status of lot splits approved over the past two years may be in question after it was discovered 17 lot splits were approved by a city employee without the review of the city’s planning commission.  City officials have been unable to provide documented proof of a city ordinance authorizing anyone other than the planning commission to approve lot splits. According to West Fork’s Municipal Code, Title 13, Planning, ordinance 357, only the planning commission has the authority to authorize lot splits.  The city’s last recorded date for a meeting was January 22, 2009, more than two years ago.  Arkansas state law requires planning commissions to meet at least quarterly. Records in West Fork City Hall and the Washington County Planning Office reveal that in the absence of an active planning commission, a total of 17 lot splits were approved by Business Manager Michael “Butch” Bartholomew during 2009 and 2010.  The lot splits include nine within the city’s planning area and eight within West Fork City limits. Copies of the lot splits filed with Washington County Planning each contain a letter on City of West Fork letterhead stating …

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  5. Here Come the Yankees, There goes the Neighborhood

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    March 10, 2011 by wcobserver

    By Steve “Grits” Winkler Northwest Arkansas has been a population magnet for several decades. The combination of economic vitality, year around climate, education and recreational opportunities have lured people to the area, adding to the rich population diversity. Some people come here, stay for a while and move on. Others come, like what they see and build their lives here. These “newcomers” often bring a fresh perspective and a jolt of energy to the community that enriches the lives of us all. This is the story of a “Yankee” couple who like hundreds of other transplants are making their mark on the small business, environmental and rural life of our community. Jack and Patti Besser are New Englanders who met in Florida and moved to rural Washington County seventeen years ago. Growing up in Rhode Island Jack recalls, “ My mom always sang ‘hit the road Jack’ and my dad called me the rebel so as soon as I was old enough, I was programmed to head south…so I’m really a rebel with a Yankee accent, that’s all.” Patti’s upbringing was in a small historic Massachusetts agriculture town. The Observer wondered if that prepared her for rural life in Arkansas.  …

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  6. “The Lucky One” by Nicholas Sparks

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    March 6, 2011 by wcobserver

    Logan Thibault (pronounced “T-bow”) is an ex-marine who survived three tours of duty in Iraq. While in Iraq he finds a laminated picture of a young woman half buried in the dirt. He posts the picture in a common area at the base, hoping that the soldier who lost it will claim it. After it becomes obvious that no one is going to claim the picture Logan carries it in his pocket. (Click on the book cover to read the entire article.)

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  7. Grow Your Hair Long, Pull Out the Tie-Dye; It’s Counterculture Time

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    March 5, 2011 by wcobserver

    As our masthead proudly proclaims this paper serves “Greenland, West Fork, Winslow and the World.” In reporting the public business in the three towns and two school districts in Observerland, we attend a lot of meetings and one can’t help but compare the tone, temperament accomplishments of these different governmental bodies.  Each has its own understandings of what is going on; a shared perspective on reality. Each city or school district has inherited both a physical and social history through which they interpret and evaluate the present and visualize the future.  Each city council, school board, parks and planning commission has its own way of trying to manage chaos. Each of these organization’s values, norms, goals, and expectations, no matter how nuanced, is reflected in the line of action they take.  This is what is referred to by social scientists as the organization’s “culture.” The significance of that culture is derived through interaction and those involved always feel they are doing it the right way.  But culture is dynamic, inherently symbolic and can get pretty fuzzy sometimes. Culture’s not a rule book.  We suggest that looking at these groups through the lens of culture is useful in answering that basic …

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