March 28, 2007 Edition

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Frankly speaking...

John Bland
Publisher

Driving through Walnut Ridge early Friday evening, the town seemed especially quiet. Maybe it was because we knew it was the beginning weekend of spring break for all schools in Lawrence County and the ending weekend of spring break for Williams Baptist College and many other area schools and colleges.

We know of two groups from Lawrence County who were spending part of their spring break touring Washington, D.C. That was the destination of Hoxie High School's traveling classroom, and Lloyd Clark, a Walnut Ridge social studies-geography teacher, also led a tour there. TD intern Kemberly Roberts, a student at Williams, visited there last week.

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Newspaper people tend to do whatever it takes, despite misfortune or disaster, to publish their paper. With the use of a generator, The Dumas Clarion put out an excellent edition following their town's March 3 devastating tornado. That Southeast Arkansas town was preparing to host the 4A girls division of the state high school basketball tournament, a big undertaking that had the whole community involved. The Dumas girls team was also to play in this state tournament in front of a home crowd, a once in a lifetime experience for them.

The tornado changed all that, and the tournament had to be moved to Bald Knob. Of course, The Clarion had to change its focus, too. Rather than welcoming tournament visitors to Dumas and telling them of the great places to eat there, the newspaper columnists wrote about their experience with the tornado. Clarion publisher Terry Hawkins was taking a Saturday afternoon nap and slept through it, only to awake to the shock of the aftermath. Another staffer drove in from a nearby town and began trying to navigate through the debris to take photos.

Dumas' business district was hit especially hard, and as is typical with tornadoes, some structures were untouched while the structures beside them were destroyed. It is a miracle that no one was killed. Being a Saturday afternoon, people were out and about. The Mad Butcher supermarket there looked as though it had been bombed.

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce just heard from Jim Wooten of Beebe earlier this month. He told how the 1999 tornado that hit Beebe was the catalyst for good things for that city. Dumas has a history of strong community involvement, and we hope they can rebuild better than before.

Thanks to Marla Helms of Smithville, former TD and Clarion reporter, for sharing a copy of the Dumas newspaper.

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I hope you enjoy this week's special section on home improvement. Spring weather is a great time for cleaning up and fixing up. The section advertisers offer many products and services, and the stories offer great tips for getting it done. It is amazing how completing a small home-improvement project can make you feel better. Let's clean up, fix up and beautify Lawrence County this spring!

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