“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Greetings! What a fun week I’ve had—most of it. My week began with an informational meeting to discuss a study of the broadband delivery system to Arkansas’ public schools (K-12). The idea is usage of a comprehensive study of each school district to establish their Internet needs problems. The meeting was interesting, but I’m not sure we need another server when we have one already. I’ve always heard “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” I’m not sure we need to fix it.
Friday this study proposal went before Legislative Council and was approved. You can read the comments of Speaker-elect Gillam in Saturday’s paper. I think it a wise move by the speaker. I believe we need to proceed cautiously before we make a decision to “change horses in midstream”.
Tuesday was a day of special significance—and the first “fun” day. The Ashley County 4-Hers who participated in a Leadership Day camp in Hamburg last month topped off their studies with a day in the Capitol. They toured the Governor’s mansion, the Capitol itself and the Clinton library. They also had a great lunch at the famous Cotham’s restaurant. I’m sure that they had a marvelous time! I know I did.
I met them at the Capitol and enjoyed their tour with them. I mention this because I was so pleased and proud of them. Parents and community, you should be so proud of them! They were such a nice, orderly, mannerly and well-behaved group. They were attentive and asked good questions and seemed very eager to learn. They were “perfect” students. I really enjoyed visiting with them and their accompanying 4H leaders and parents. Their attitudes and behaviors reflected so positively on our community. Congratulations to you all and thank you, 4-Hers and staff. Y’all were fun. Great kids!
Wednesday, the second fun day, I was back in southeast Arkansas for the 66th annual rodeo and parade in Crossett. The parade was a blast—and not as hot as last year! The rodeo was fun too. In fact, it was all fun and exciting. If you haven’t seen a calf scramble “live” though, you’ve missed a treat.
I want to thank the Crossett Riding Club and all those who work so hard to make this event so successful year after year. It is an amazing amount of work and yet there seems to be no lack for volunteers—and cheerful ones at that! They show a love of the sport and the entire event itself. To all those involved, I say a heartfelt thank-you for all your time, work, efforts and enthusiasm for the rodeo. Congratulations on another successful event and 66 years of continuing success. Salute!
Drew County’s Miss Abby Searcy won the ladies barrel racing quite handily at the rodeo Wednesday night. Congratulations, Abby (and her proud parents and grandparents). She did a beautiful job—quite literally.
In other revelations this week, despite its reported budget woes, AHTD announced recently that they will set aside $2.7 million in their budget to purchase “dynamic message signs, traffic cameras” and other “intelligent transportation system equipment” to monitor and improve traffic flow along Arkansas’ highways. They also will hire a consultant to more fully develop its intelligent transportation systems architecture and develop a statewide automated work-zone information system for active and planned construction projects and come up with recommendations for a statewide traffic management center. In all, the department has committed $27 million over the next 10 years to “intelligent transportation systems”. They also plan to emphasis maintaining the existing highway system.
In other news another positive recognition for Arkansas has been released. In a Gallup poll last year, Arkansas ranked 49th in the country, with only Texas faring worse, in the number of our citizens covered by health insurance. Then in January, Arkansans began receiving coverage under the state’s Private Option. Now, in a new Gallup survey, while Texas still remains 50th, Arkansas is no longer 49th. In just six months, we have jumped ahead of half the country and are now tied for 22nd place with New Hampshire in our percentage of insured residents. Our 10 percent drop in the number of our uninsured population was the greatest of any state in the nation!
In a report given to Legislative Council on Friday, Arkansas has now enrolled 192,210 in the state’s insurance program. We are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to get more Arkansans the health insurance they need and improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of Arkansans, while reducing the burden of uncompensated care on our hospitals and health-care system. I have had several hospital administrators tell me personally the positive effects our new healthcare system has had on their “bottom lines” in cutting their uncompensated care losses, including our new CEO at Drew Memorial.
There may never be a “perfect” healthcare plan, but we can tweak the program to enhance it and make it more efficient. Last week new proposals were introduced by DHS that should change, and further improve, some parts of the Private Option. Under these proposals many participants in Arkansas’ Medicaid programs would be required to contribute monthly to health savings accounts and would face new limits on transportation for non-emergency services. You will be hearing more about this.
Congratulations to Monticello’s Gene Norton for receiving UAM’s Spirit Award this year. Gene does have such a wonderful spirit and attitude about nearly everything. He is an inspiration to all who know him and a true “good spirit”. Congratulations, Gene!
Have a great week—and pray for our country as more trouble comes from the Middle East and Russia.