It was sad to learn over the holiday weekend that Searcy-based Yarnell's Ice Cream Co. has shut down. The family-owned Arkansas company was a source of pride for our state and had been in business since 1932. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that the company, "filled its last container early Thursday, sent its workers home and shut down."
"'The company simply ran out of options,' its officials said," as reported in the Democrat Gazette. Some 200 employees lost their jobs.
By Sunday at Hays supermarket in Walnut Ridge, the Yarnell's supply of ice cream and frozen yogurt, which was on sale, was going fast.
Mother Nature often does unpredictable things. It seems we went from jacket weather to hot summer overnight in late May. The heat has continued, along with a few sudden wind and rainstorms.
Sunday night, near dark, winds started gusting, but instead of rain, the strong breezes brought cooler temperatures. The cool breezes made for ideal comfort levels for viewers of the city of Walnut Ridge fireworks display.
Rains on the morning of the Fourth of July also kept temperatures a few degrees lower than what we've been having. It was ideal for a bike ride from one end of the Rails to Trails at the trailhead in Hoxie to near the Old Walnut Ridge Road, where the paved trail ends.
We passed other happy walkers and riders along the way. Overall, the right-of-ways along the trail are mowed and well kept, and benches are now interspersed along the trail in Walnut Ridge, as well as in Hoxie.
Whether walking, jogging or biking, the trail provides fun and healthful recreation. Just remember to look carefully and stop for oncoming traffic at road crossings.
Providing shade is apparently the latest trend for playgrounds. USA Today reports that the newest trend in playground equipment is shaded tent-like structures over playground systems.
On hot, sunny days, shiny, stainless steel equipment can scald hands. More important, the thinking is that the tents could help prevent future, serious forms of skin cancers, since we tend to get our greatest exposure and skin damage from the sun during our childhoods.
"'At a time when one-third of children are obese or overweight, a movement is growing to provide more shade at playgrounds, parks and pools, both to reduce future cancer risks and promote exercise,' said Richard Louv, co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, a non-profit that encourages kids to get outside," reported USA Today.
Trees are another option to expensive tents as a means of preventing damaging sun exposure, while allowing kids to be outside and moving. Even one bad sunburn during childhood can double the risk of developing melanoma later in life, stated the article, which quoted the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Having experienced several bad sunburns growing up, I'm all in favor of providing more shade at playgrounds and pools.