A tale of two cities, changes coming down the pike, miracles happen, useful tools + more.
The week that was: July 8-14, 2018.
NATURAL STATE OF MIND
Ranked among the worst, a city fights back
To what degree, if any, should we take rankings into consideration? That was the question that many Arkansans, and particularly those in Little Rock, had this week after USA Today ranked the state's capital city as being among the worst in which to reside.
An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette write-up on the national newspaper's somewhat obscure ranking process generated dozens of reader comments — and a few critiques on newsworthiness from within the journalism industry.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola's response to reporter Jaime Dunaway: "I invite 24/7 Wall Street to come down and experience for themselves our downtown renaissance, generous and welcoming people, natural beauty and comfortable way of life."
All signs point to road work
Along two major thoroughfares -- Interstates 630 and 30 -- final steps are being taken ahead of work to reinvision the highways.
On Monday, work will begin on widening I-630 from Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock and University Avenue. The highway will have four lanes in each direction by the time work is completed in late 2019 or early 2020. Democrat-Gazette reporter Noel Oman explains in today's newspaper.
It's just the start of what will likely be a hectic few years for travel through the heart of Little Rock.
This week, the final public hearing was held regarding what has been called the 30 Crossing project. The $631.7 million effort, which has sparked controversy over its scope through downtown, is set to begin early next year. Work will tentatively be done by 2023.
Similar stories — all with unanswered questions
A 71-year-old woman is believed to have been abducted during a Conway shopping trip. She was later found dead along a highway. Authorities say they believe she was forced to travel from the parking lot of T.J. Maxx to Jefferson County, where she was left roadside.
In Saline County, a 62-year-old man was discovered dead by a boat dock in Saline County. And another body was located near U.S. 67 in North Little Rock. All discoveries were made within the last week.
Tools tell of the scope
In an off-the-page feature that changes as users scroll down the page, The New York Times describes how President Donald Trump's tariffs have exploded from 18 products to 10,000 in a matter of months.
Half of the U.S. population will live in eight states 20 years from now, The Washington Post reports. Using data in graphics, the newspaper tells the story.
The best of humanity
Quite possibly the most talked about story of the week, at least in our newsroom, was the rescue of young soccer players trapped for more than two weeks in a Thailand cave. The New York Times goes in-depth into how the rescue effort (complete with route map, videos and details of the mission. In the midst of downers, the outcome was a nice pick-me-up, showing the best of humanity. And who were the 12 boys? BBC News explains.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
More of what I found worth reading this week:
- Satanic Temple asks to join suit; it is religious group, merits Capitol monument, filing says (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
- Arkansas Arts Center's chief accepts N.C. job; exit comes as museum in Little Rock plans $70M face-lift (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Texan's plans for homemade guns get OK from feds, and he says that spells doom for gun control (Dallas Morning News — Side note: I interviewed Cody Wilson, a University of Central Arkansas alumnus, back at my college newspaper. But I'll pass on sharing that story link)
Transformation photos: How Houston restaurants, bars looked a decade ago (Houston Chronicle)