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Category Archives: Ozarks arts and culture

Judge corrected for merging both Carroll County judicial districts



Eureka Springs and Berryville, both towns in Carroll County, Arkansas, are just eight miles apart, separated by the valley of the Kings River. The Arkansas legislature in 1883 created a judicial district for the county west of the Kings River and the another judicial district on the east side of the river.

But in 2010, for reasons not explained in the Arkansas Supreme Court’s opinion, Parker v. Crow, Eastern District Judge Gerald Crow ruled that henceforth there would be only one judicial district in Carroll County.

Eureka Springs, west of the Kings River, is a tourist town and art colony, known for its Victorian architecture, with bathhouses, galleries and restaurants in a setting of steep hills and narrow streets, all maintained with strict building controls.
Berryville sits on a stretch of prairie east of the Kings River, surrounding by rolling hills and cattle and poultry farms. A Tysons poultry processing plant and a Walmart Supercenter are among the town’s largest employers.

In 1869, as northern Arkansas began to recover from the ravages of the Civil War, Boone County was created from the eastern portion of Carroll County, with Harrison as the county seat. Carrollton, a settlement 20 miles southeast of Berryville, was no longer at the center of Carroll County, and Berryville’s boosters succeeded in having the county seat established in Berryville in 1875.

In 1883, the Eureka Springs Railway was extended south from Missouri, and Eureka Springs quickly blossomed into a small city of hotels (quaint and magnificent) and bathhouses, fed by the waters of dozens of springs. The same year, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 74, creating two judicial districts for Carroll County.

Judge Crow’s bold attempt to merge the two districts probably left the Arkansas Supreme Court dumbfounded, but the opinion restoring the two districts simply cites some basic principles of American government to indicate the degree that Judge Crow’s opinion was off-base.

Judge Crow’s first contention was that the 1883 act of the legislature creating the two districts was unconstitutional because it attempted to create a new county, even though the language of the statute specified that the districts were to keep separate records as though they were in different counties, but that Carroll County should in all other respects “be one entire and undivided county.”

Judge Crow also determined that at 1997 legislative act, among other laws, repealed the 1883 act by implication. The Arkansas Supreme Court recited the rule that repeal by implication “is never allowed except where there is such an invincible repugnancy” that the old and new laws “cannot both stand together.” The 1997 law, and the others, may be messy and partially inconsistent, but they did not specifically repeal the 1883 act.

Almost as an afterthought, the Arkansas Supreme Court examined the Arkansas constitution, noting that the power to establish or dissolve judicial districts was a legislative power, not something that a judge could do.  Quashing Judge Crow’s attempt to merge the two judicial districts, the Supreme Court said that his order “shows a plain, manifest, clear and gross abuse of discretion.”

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Check out these new Ozarks news channels


Two journalism professors in Springfield–Andrew Cline of Missouri State and Jonathan Groves of Drury–have guided their students (and others, in Groves’s case) to create online publications presenting local news and views. Both got off the ground and online this month.

Cline’s project is Ozarks News Journal, which describes itself as:

a laboratory for discovering how to make the best use of the World Wide Web and social media for producing journalism. Students in the JRN378 Multimedia Journalism class seek to understand more than just how to make the web and social media tools work for news gathering and publishing. They seek to understand how to use these tools to fulfill  the primary purpose of journalism: To give citizens the information they need to be free and self-governing.

Professor Groves has taken a different tack with SGF News, seeking content from members of the community. Groves hopes that SGF News will serve as a community forum on specific topics (currently 2010 elections), but with explicit guidelines, called Ground Rules:

  • No profanity.
  • Be civil. Don’t resort to personal attacks.
  • Support your arguments. Offer links to supporting material, and support your conclusions with facts.
  • Join the community. As citizens of the Ozarks, join the conversation and offer your thoughts so the best will bubble to the top.

Is it necessary to affirm the right to hunt and fish in state constitutions?


“I liked it better when I was hunting birds there,” said the mediator, when he figured out the location of the garages at a Branson condominium. Seven attorneys gathered to attempt to resolve a dispute over rights to use four garages at the condominium.

As the Ozarks and much of rural America becomes suburbanized, many people want to protect their cherished traditions of hunting and fishing. In ten states, citizens have amended their constitutions to affirm the right to hunt and fish. Oklahoma has done so and the proposal is being considered in Arkansas and Tennessee.

As I hear people in the Ozarks express themselves about land and water and fish and game, I hear the same arguments that have been made to affirm the rights of native peoples to continue their hunting and fishing traditions, some of which have been protected from state regulation by federal law.

The Ozarks have been populated by people of mostly European ancestry for nearly 300 years. After many generations, it’s no wonder that members of old Ozarks familes feel like they need to assert themselves to hang on to their culture. And those whose families haven’t been around as long would naturally want to feel secure in their adopted traditions.

“Years of combined experience” : how does it add up?


My wife and I have been married 36 years. I suppose you could say that we have 72 years of combined experience being married. Does that mean that I should be a marriage consultant?

Judging from the use of “years of combined experience” in advertisements, many people must think that combined experience adds up to expertise, even in the Show-Me State, where people are not sheeple but skeptics. Here are some samples: Read the rest of this entry

Getting outside in the Ozarks


Within a week, the heat wave will have run its course and we’ll surely have a little rain. Then we can get moving again in the wonderful Ozarks outdoors and watch the greens become gold, orange and red.

Here are some links for outdoor activities Read the rest of this entry

“Winter’s Bone” and the image of the Ozarks


This summer, people around the country will be seeing the movie version of Daniel Woodrell’s 2006 novel, “Winter’s Bone.” They’ll wonder if the movie shows life in the Ozarks as it really is. The movie was filmed in Taney and Christian counties in Southwest Missouri, during the winter of 2009. You can see the trailer and read a synopsis of the plot.

This movie, with its glowing reviews and big success at the Sundance Film Festival, raises a couple of interesting questions: Read the rest of this entry

Branson lakefront deal goes from good to bad. Not what you’re thinking, though.


You know the story. The City of Branson gives a great deal to a private business to create an attraction on the Taneycomo lakefront. A few years later, the City doesn’t think the deal is working well for the City. The political winds have changed. Now there’s a lawsuit. Here’s how it went down, more than a half-century ago.

Jim Owen–not to be confused with the singer–played a major role in putting Branson on the tourism map. A consummate promoter of float fishing on the James and White rivers and tourism and commerce in the Branson area, he was unstoppable. Born in Webster County, Missouri (east of Springfield), he came to Branson in 1933, already experienced with public relations.

Soon Jim had built a movie theatre and started a float fishing business that got national attention and was also a banker and farmer. Some fine person posted this promotional silent film of one of his trips (11 minutes long) Read the rest of this entry

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