REX NELSON: High expectations for 2022

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Here are some of the things I would like to see happen in our state in 2022: I would like to see Governor Asa Hutchinson devote his final year in office to economic development. On his first day as governor, Hutchinson spent several hours calling business executives asking them to consider investing in Arkansas.

In this eighth year in office, Hutchinson thankfully only has one budget session of the Legislature to deal with, not last year’s free-for-all general session, a session that has gotten wildly out of control and has become the worst of my life. . Arkansas is well positioned for serious economic gains in 2022, and the governor should focus on securing deals.

I would love to see the voters of Arkansas say they are fed up with the Know Nothings in the legislature, those boisterous members who play with the social media crowd rather than do the hard work of putting together a state budget. effective. Fortunately, a few of the worst offenders show up for jobs statewide and are sure to lose.

Meanwhile, business leaders are raising money to take out other Know Nothings in their party primaries. An encouraging sign came during last month’s special session when their colleagues showed much more courage than they had done earlier in the year. They refused to let the Know Nothing point the state ship in the wrong direction.

I would love to see Sarah Huckabee Sanders have the maturity to realize that her cynical calls for out-of-state money from ever-gullible Trumpians have worked and that she no longer needs to lead these silly social wars on Twitter. She has more than enough funds to be our next governor and can now focus on how best to unite the Arkansans and increase the state’s per capita income after taking office in 2023.

If Sanders is as smart as I think she is, she will treat 2022 like a graduate seminar, learning as much about Arkansas, its history, and its people as possible. It will show that she really wants to be a great governor. If the social media culture wars continue, however, it will prove that his interest is in making money and playing the national political game after he leaves office. What a wasted opportunity that would be.

I wish the mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott, would realize that he can’t just listen to three or four people. Scott has the talent to point the largest city in the state in the right direction. It’s time for him to convene a summit of the city’s private sector leaders and listen to their suggestions.

The rise of northwest Arkansas is one example of the fact that places are not built solely by the government. The private sector must be involved. It takes cooperation. Scott must ask these people how best to get them to invest additional capital in the capital and then remove government barriers to private sector growth.

I would like to see more landowners become partners in the quail habitat restoration efforts undertaken by Quail Forever and the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission. Quail hunting was once an integral part of the state’s culture. Current efforts, which are starting to bear fruit, will not only lead to the return of bobwhite quail, but will also help songbirds and pollinators.

Either we want it to be the natural state or it’s just an advertising slogan. God has blessed us with enormous natural resources. It’s time to protect and restore them.

I would love to see members of the University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University systems boards realize that an annual Razorback-Red Wolf football game at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium can be the centerpiece of a weekend festival featuring all things Arkansas.

There may be an associated food and wine festival, concerts by Arkansas musicians, and more. This will provide the people of Arkan with something to look forward to each year and will also help university systems promote their various institutions – both four and two year schools – at a time when we need more people to get there. diplomas.

Selfishly I would like to see more Arkansans subscribe to this newspaper. We’re pretty much the last man standing when it comes to newspapers that attempt to cover news, business, and sports in every county in a state. A strong statewide newspaper can serve as a unifying force and a necessary government watchdog, but we need to have your subscriptions to do it.

Please consider giving memberships as a gift to friends and family. The Arkansas government has never had a greater need for snooping journalists than it does today.

I would like us to stop ransacking this state. Let’s create dozens of new Keep Arkansas Beautiful affiliates with thousands of volunteers who pick up trash, plant wildflowers, and do other things that improve our quality of life. Outside of the state’s natural beauty, the things that strike me the most when I travel to Arkansas every week are the garbage in the backyards and the garbage along the freeways. Some days I want to put the car on the side of the road and cry. We can do better.

I would also like us to do a better job of keeping the state streams clean. We have an abundance of rivers, streams and bayous. We have polluted and channeled too much. Later this year, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Buffalo River by Congress as the first national river. This anniversary will be a good time to convince groups and individuals across the state to embrace other trends. AGFC has a program called Stream Teams which can facilitate such efforts. If we are the natural state, we should have the strongest such program in the country.

I would like those who make politics to stop starving our higher education institutions. In the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, we need to have more people with an associate’s degree from any of the state’s 22 two-year schools or a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate from the state. one of its four-year colleges or universities. . We will not increase per capita income until this happens.

I would love to see the remaining small daily and weekly papers across this state thrive with the handful of radio stations that still focus on local news. Democracy in Arkansas is suffering without media watchdogs in all 75 counties. These are the people who oversee school boards, city councils and county quorum courts. Here at the Democrat-Gazette, we cannot cover everything.

I would love to see Little Rock’s business and city leaders develop a coordinated plan to restore Capitol Avenue. It should be the largest boulevard in Arkansas, a beautiful, busy street leading to the Steps of the State Capitol.

Much like it was when I wrote about this a year ago, it’s more of a route filled with sticky surface parking lots and empty buildings. It’s time to better market these buildings while adding landscaping, lighting, banners, etc.

I wish Hot Springs business and city leaders would put that same kind of emphasis on Central Avenue. Nothing is still happening where the Hotel Majestic once stood. We are still waiting for the Arlington and other downtown hotels to renovate. The Former Army and Navy General Hospital, DeSoto-Howe Building, Dugan-Stuart Building, and Former Velda Rose Hotel are still empty.

With more and more people choosing vacation spots that don’t require air flights, now is the time to thrive for Hot Springs, as it is easily accessible by car for those who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. . But as you can see, Hot Springs has a lot of work to do.

I would love to see the growing number of wealthy people in Benton and Washington counties look east to Eureka Springs in Carroll County and invest some money in this unique Arkansas attraction. Eureka Springs has a authenticity that a place like Branson, Missouri cannot touch. It just needs big capital investment to polish the jewel.

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Rex Nelson is editor-in-chief at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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