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  1. County Cleanup Ordinance Passes

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    April 17, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    Abandoned trailers in a junkyard a mile south of West Fork on scenic Highway 71 (Photo by Steve Winkler)

    The Quorum Court on Thursday passed an ordinance that will allow the county to clean up properties deemed “unsightly and unsanitary” by a county judge. According to the ordinance, if a complaint is made, the landowner will be given 30 days to clean the land. If the property is not cleaned within that time period, the county will do the job, billing the landowner. Though rules and ordinances have been made in the past, this will give the county the power to go in and clean up the property, county attorney George Butler said. The 30-day grace period was designed to give landowners notice, Butler said. “[Going onto a property], the intention is for that to be the last resort,” he said. The ordinance passed unanimously, but JP Tom Lundstrum had reservations about the bill only affecting land not zoned for agriculture. Butler said that wording was already state law, according to the City Wire. With cities like Fayetteville and Springdale already enforcing similar laws, giving the county an enforcement mechanism was necessary, JP Barbara Fitzpatrick said in an interview before the vote. “For the benefit of the entire community there are laws that say if it’s visible from the …

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  2. Three’s a Crowd: Third parties still vying for recognition in 2012 election cycle

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    March 26, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    If you’re not a Democrat or Republican, this election cycle is going to be hard to take — no matter who wins. To say third-party voters are “disenchanted”  is a misuse of the word. It gives the impression that the bloc was exiled from some Washington D.C.-Disney-fantasy land, when in reality the plane never left Arkansas. “Every election season the group of bottom feeders is scummier and dirtier than the last,” said John Gray, the 2010 Green Party senate candidate and former mayor of Greenland. State law dictates that in order to appear on the ballot as a recognized party, leaders must collect signatures from 3 percent of qualified electors, or 10,000 signatures. Predictably, with historically low approval of the congress, third parties want the chance to make their case. Their request: automatic ballot access. The ACLU filed suit after the Green Party won 20 percent of the vote in the 2008 senate election. Success did not transfer in 2010, however, and the 11th Circuit Court in St. Louis ruled the law was not unreasonable. Nevertheless, the Libertarians and the Green Party met the signature requirement this year. “We are an official political party in Arkansas,” said Casey Copeland, a …

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  3. Trailblazing: Progress with Area Routes Connecting Many, If Not All, Residents

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    March 15, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    WASHINGTON COUNTY – Progress is being made on the 36-mile long Razorback Greenway trail system, officials said. The trail system is meant to act as a “spine” to existing trails, connecting Bentonville, Rogers, Lowell, Spring- dale, Johnson and Fayetteville, said John McLarty, Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Committee Chairman. When all is said and done, various entities will have spent around $38 million on the project, with $15 million coming from federal stimulus funds. The Walton Family Foundation matched $3.75 million initially and will provide an additional $1.25 million for additional expenses, McLarty said. The initial $20 million will cover a 16-mile stretch of the trail from Lake Fayetteville to the New Hope Road in Rogers. Tentatively, $10 million more will come from the Walton Foundation and municipal funds. Local officials plan to launch a fundraising operation to collect the final $8 million. A 14-mile stretch near Crystal Bridges in Bentonville has already been completed. The project was put into jeopardy last year when congressional Republicans tried to strip out funding. This year, congressional leaders may try again, but the funds are expected to come in in June. The bidding process will start this month, McLarty said. Regardless, local business owners anticipate …

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  4. Spanish Speakers Still Without Voter Registration Forms

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    February 28, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    Partisan proxy wars concerning the 2012 election process are underway. Spanish-speaking citizens in Northwest Arkansas are still without up-to-date voter registration forms, said Maria Hicks, the Vice Chair of the Third District Democrat Hispanic Caucus. The oversight is causing confusion and could be in violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act and the Arkansas Constitution. “They’re not available … they have no forms in Spanish,” said Hicks, who is running for Washington County Justice of the Peace, District 7. “I was just there today and they said they were working on getting me the Spanish one. I told them it was a violation of the state constitution and they were surprised by that.” When Hicks had the same problem on Feb. 27, she said she called the Secretary of State’s office and was told that they were working on translating a new version. “They are going to be made available,” said Alex Reed, a spokesman for the Secretary of State. “What the issue was was they made some changes with the voter registration application, and so we’re working on getting them translated. But we are going to make them available and going to make them available shortly.” Though there are …

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  5. Democrats Preparing for Another Tea Party Uprising

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    February 28, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    While the Tea Party seemed like a surprise guest during the 2010 election, this time around, local Democrats are ready for a fight. “We had no clue the tidal wave of GOP and Tea Party that would take us out,” said Tyler Clark, Washington County Democratic Committee chairman. With help from local and national Tea Party groups, Republicans made historic gains from the County level to the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2010 election. But, as the 2012 election draws near, the question is whether or not the Tea Party can duplicate the successes it had two years ago. Issue after issue, the uncompromising Tea Party is what will drive the Democratic base in 2012, Clark said. Clark believes that a “number of people are pissed off, so we are coming back with a vengeance. We spent the last couple of years getting really organized.” Part of the county party’s strategy is preparing earlier this year. Typically, the election office headquarters does not open until July; this year it will open next month. Event fundraising, too, is starting earlier, he said. Clark also wants to be more efficient in explaining his party’s platform. Coordinating closer with the state party …

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  6. Can the Tea Party repeat its 2010 gain as Democrats prepare for a comeback?

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    February 24, 2012 by Jack Suntrup

    WASHINGTON COUNTY – With help from local and national Tea Party groups, Republicans made historic gains from the county level to the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2010 election. But, as the 2012 election draws near, the question is whether or not the Tea Party can duplicate the successes it had two years ago. “I’ve seen articles saying the Tea Party is fizzling out,” said Jeff Oland, Chairman of the Washington County Tea Party. “It may be that it’s fizzling out, that the numbers at a Tea Party meeting are reducing, but that’s because many of these people are involved in other groups … What they’ve done is they zeroed in on specific local challenges.” A main part of the Tea Party’s strategy is to consolidate the resources of other groups around the area. Some, Oland said, branched out from the Tea Party. Other groups, like Northwest Arkansas Citizens For a Better Government (NWACFBG), popped up without Tea Party affiliation. The NWACFBG organized in response to Fayetteville’s Streamside Ordinance and has focused on other issues like the U.N.’s Agenda 21. “We do share some common interests,” NWAFBG chairwoman Debbie Beckerdite said. “We believe in smaller government, don’t like taxation. …

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