The Friday Wire: A resigning mayor and a Rice-Holland matchup

by The City Wire staff ( 4 views 

A legal turn for same-sex marriage, Coon Supper politics, shuffling money for a sports complex and the push for a third high school in Fort Smith are part of the Jan. 17 Friday Wire for the Fort Smith region.

• Gay-marriage ban
A ruling this by a Federal Judge in Oklahoma that overturned a voter-approved amendment banning same-sex marriage generated a lot of national attention. U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern, based in Tulsa, said the gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2004 violated the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment under the equal protection clause.

Don’t be surprised if Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage experiences the same fate. This highly divisive issue will likely be a talking point at all ballot levels in the 2014 election cycle, even though the U.S. Supreme Court may have the final say on the issue.

• The Wright move
The folks at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art have cranked out pleasant surprises on a regular basis from the day the museum was first announced. But deconstructing and moving a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home almost 1,100 miles from New Jersey to the museum grounds in Bentonville will be hard to top.

The home, built in 1954 and known as the Bachman Wilson House, will be placed near the museum along its 3.5 miles of trails and 120 acres, with views overlooking the native woodlands and the Crystal Spring – the natural spring from which the museum takes its name. Plans are to begin site prep in the spring and have the house move completed by early 2015.

One of these days, the folks at Crystal Bridges are going to mess up and create a world-class museum that draws millions of visitors. Oh, wait …

Following are a few stories posted this week on The City Wire that we hope you didn’t miss. But in case you missed it …

• Sports complex money
The on again, off again River Valley Sports Complex project appears to be back on again following a study session of the Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (Jan. 14). But how the project will be constructed may change following disagreements during Tuesday's study session about the use of engineering firms for the project.

• An early primary fight
The region appears to have a major primary shaping up as Rep. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) that he would challenge Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, for the District 9 Senate seat.

• Political money haul
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross' campaign is starting to sound like a broken record after the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor announced fundraising figures for the fourth quarter of 2013 and a record-breaking 2013.

$65 million: Estimated cost to construct a third high school in Fort Smith. According to Superintendent Dr. Benny Gooden, the need for a third high school is real as enrollment has continued to increase across the district.

$445,000: The amount of money raised by the Asa Hutchinson for Governor campaign during the last three months of 2013, the campaign's largest fundraising haul to date in a quarter typically marking some of the lowest giving during an election cycle.

120: Number of megawatts of power saved by customers of Oklahoma Gas & Electric who use smart meters.

• Emergency room emergency
People seeking urgent medical could face longer wait times and other challenges as demand increases under Obamacare, U.S. emergency doctors said in a report on Thursday that gives the nation's emergency infrastructure a near failing grade. States with the best emergency care include Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska and Colorado, while Kentucky, Montana, New Mexico and Arkansas rounded out the bottom, just above Wyoming.

• No love for Petrino
Not only has Petrino managed to land another big job, he’s going to be coaching at the school where he first built his reputation for selfishness, dishonesty and opportunism.

• Chicken laws and the commerce clause
The country is awash in legislative efforts to increase regulation of agriculture, but only California has had the chutzpah to impose the preferences of that state’s voters on the rest of the country.

"It is not in my nature to quit a job before it is completed. But given my medical problems and the toll that this job has taken over the past two years I owe this decision to my family."
resignation statement from Del Gabbard, who resigned as Greenwood Mayor effective Jan. 13

"This skill set is in demand not just n the tech sector, but in banking, entertainment, medicine and virtually every area. Whether our children want to be farmers, doctors, teachers or entrepreneurs, they will all benefit from the creativity and problem-solving skills that are the essence of creating computer software."
– statement from GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson on his plan to promote computer science education

“It’s probably my last Coon Supper. I started here 32 years ago as their state senator, running for their state senator. And this is the place that really kicked off my campaign. Even though I was from Searcy, Gillett may have had more to do with starting my first political campaign than any place in Arkansas.”
– Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe during a speech at the 71st annual Gillett Coon Supper