- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette, June 6, 2016

Muhammad Ali: Boxing legend left his mark on the world - and in Texarkana

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali died Friday at the age of 74. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s syndrome for more than three decades and just before his death came down with pneumonia.

Since news of his death broke, there have been countless stories relating his accomplishments in newspapers, televisions, radio and online. There have been scores of tributes from celebrities in the sporting, film, TV and music worlds.

Even world leaders, including President Barack Obama, have expressed their condolences.

What more could we add here?

Just a small story. An anecdote. A simple act of friendship and kindness that brought the greatest boxer the world has ever known to the Twin Cities.

Back in 1975, local resident Leo DeLaRosa was working at the Federal Correctional Institution. DeLaRosa, who still makes his home in Texarkana, had first met a young Ali in Chicago when they were both amateur boxers fighting in Golden Gloves competition.

DeLaRosa got the idea of bringing the champ to FCI for a boxing exhibition. It took some doing but he got in touch with Ali and asked him to come to Texarkana.

And Ali was more than happy to oblige.

The big day came. Ali arrived at Texarkana Regional Airport. He was taken to FCI, where he sparred with inmates and some invited guests. The Greatest also put in an appearance at a T-shirt shop DeLaRosa had opened on the Arkansas side, and that evening he was feted at a reception at a private home on the Texas side.

Ali paid his own expenses. He came to town because a friend asked him to. That says a lot about Ali.

Muhammad Ali made some controversial choices in his life. He has his detractors.

But he made a lot of friends in the Twin Cities that day back in August of 1975. And we know there are many who remember meeting a legend and still have fond memories of the day Muhammad Ali came to Texarkana.

Rest in peace, champ.


Camden News, May 24, 2016

Lockheed Martin keeps achieving

Congratulations to a key member of the Camden industrial and business community on a milestone as well as embarking on a fresh start to a formerly-produced system.

A May 17 ceremony marked 1 million operation hours of Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

The magnitude of the HIMARS performance record was pointed out by Colin Sterling, Camden Operations director of Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control. “A million is 114 years,” Sterling said. “It was accomplished by the 420-some-odd vehicles that have been up and running for the combined equivalent of 114 years. I think about what means from a production standpoint, from a design standpoint, and it just blows me away. Truly amazing.”

Yes, it is amazing. But we and the U.S. military have come to expect “amazing” from Lockheed’s Camden operations and its outstanding employees. Lockheed amassed the record of HIMARS performance, doing it with a readiness rate of 99 percent, in about a 10-year span.

Such workmanship and efficiency earned Lockheed Martin the Department of Defense’s System Level Performance Based Logistics of the Year Award in 2006 and 2009.

The talent, dedication and workmanship of the local operations was saluted by Frank St. John, vice president of Tactical Missiles and Combat Maneuvers at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Orlando, Fla. “The million hour operational milestone is a testament to the Camden workplace that produces these reliable systems and the many field service reps that serve our customers around the globe. Your dedication to quality and workmanship enables the performance of HIMARS,” St. John said.

That high level of local production skill inspired Lockheed Martin officials to choose the Camden Operations to restart production of a system that had ceased at Horizon City, Texas, due to slowed demand at the time. When it came time to restart production of its Tactical Missile System, the company selected the facility and workers here.

“I know I speak for the entire corporate leadership team when I say that Camden is one of LM’s premier production sites,” St. John said.

So Lockheed Martin’s local production brings not only high praise for what it has accomplished, it has also earned the opportunity to embark on a new endeavor.

Again we congratulate the local folks for their outstanding work and recognition.

And we thank the local organization for its many contributions to the local community through public service work and thousands of volunteer hours donated by employees. Camden is a much stronger community with Lockheed Martin in it and we are very proud and grateful and for all they do.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 5, 2016

The Arkansas Way

The feds are getting involved in another matter that the states can, or should, handle themselves. Welcome to 2016, or maybe 2009. This administration hasn’t met an overtime rule or even a bathroom it can’t ignore. Now it wants to get involved in the payday loan scam.

Well, at least this time its bureaucratic heart is in the right place. Those payday loan joints (which used to blister the Arkansas landscape like litter on the highways) feed on the poor and desperate. Like any other loan shark. An unfortunate soul in a tight spot might have to get a $500 loan for two weeks to pay an unexpected bill. But then two weeks later he might have to pay off that loan and take out another to pay the rent. Then two weeks later pay off the second loan and take out a third to pay the car note. It’s a downward spiral. And when you add up all those weeks he’s had to re-do the loan, the yearly interest rate could add up to hundreds of percents.

So the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing to change some rules to keep folks from this cycle of debt. It wants to force payday loan shops to make sure borrowers can afford to pay off the loans. Somehow this agency wants to make a rule so that the loan shops give each customer a Full Payment Test, which is supposed to verify that the borrower can make the loan payment and still meet basic needs. How this’ll work in the real world is anybody’s guess.

Another rule change would curtail rollover loans, and maybe even set a time limit so that borrowers have to wait a couple-three weeks before going back for seconds. Yet another rule would make it more difficult to automatically go into a borrower’s bank account and debit funds.

OK. But there is a better way. Get rid of the whole business.

Arkansas - with the help of the state Supreme Court, the Ledge, and the current and previous attorneys general - have all but shut down the storefront payday lenders in this state. Want to know what Arkansas’ downtown streets used to look like? Go south and visit Louisiana. Once you cross the state line, the place looks like a payday loan sign factory. As if that were an improvement for the Louisiana scenery. Give us old oak trees and Spanish moss any day.

Unfortunately, payday lenders still poke their tentacles into this state via the Internet. The attorney general’s office might make more progress playing Whack-a-Mole than shutting down the Internet and out-of-state lenders.

Ah, but the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. Shutting down the storefront payday loan shops certainly helped a lot of Arkansans, and could help Louisianians, Texans, Floridians, and folks all across the nation.

Arkansas has shown the way. It’s up to other states to follow.

If they only will.

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