A newspaper conference forced me to spend the last full week of February out of town. Sponsors of the conference made it easier by having that conference in St. Petersburg, Fla. I had a vague memory of 80-degree temperatures and yes, it's just as pleasant as I remember.
The primary focus of the conference was new media and where newspapers are going in the digital age. This comes two weeks after the annual Rust Communications winter publishers' meeting where that same topic was a key part of our discussions. New, fun things will begin rolling out soon. In fact, we're kicking off one such online product with the NCAA's Final Four tournament. Lots of prizes. Stay tuned.
One evening of the conference attendees were treated to a reception by a vendor at the Salvador Dali Museum. I don't pretend to have any high-brow understanding or appreciation of art. However, I do enjoy people, performers or those who put themselves "out there," so to speak, intrigue me.
Dali certainly put himself "out there." The museum is home to what is said to be the world's largest collection of the Spanish artist's works. The building itself is a piece of art.
Should you find yourself in St. Pete looking for something to do, this could be an enjoyable couple of hours even if your artistic ability/appreciation is like mine which runs more toward the paint-by-numbers.
Dali was an interesting character, and some would say that's being kind. The art he generated showed that he thought in ways most of us can never relate to, but then, I suppose that's part of the attraction.
I thought a nice present for the folks back home would be some of those 75-80 degree temperatures. Driving in Thursday evening the temperature was nearing 70-degrees. Unfortunately, the storm that went along with the warmer temperature wasn't worth it.
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The state learned it could build a lake in the Bootheel without digging into the ground when the Department of Natural Resources built Lake Jerry Paul Combs just east of town.
DNR built the lake by making a berm and pumping water up from underground. There were a couple of hiccups along the way, but the lake got built and is an enjoyable place for a lot of folks to go fishing. It's easy to give DNR a pass for the early problem when the all the water leaked out. It's doubtful those engineers had a lot of experience with our local soil, affectionately called, "gumbo."
Too bad DNR didn't let MoDot help out with the construction.
MoDot has constructed what looks to be a brand new lake just east of Interstate 55 about a mile or so north of the Hayti exit. The lake sits right in front of the new rest area soon to be opened up which practically guarantees a lot of people will take the time to stop in and wet a line. Unlike DNR, MoDot doesn't appear to have any problems getting water to stay in its lake.
Wonder what they will stock it with?
Wonder also what MoDot will call its lake? We have the Mark Preyer Memorial Ditch alongside the expanded four-lane version of Highway 412. Is there a Lake Duane Michie in Pemiscot County's future? Commissioner Michie did a good job representing the Bootheel on the transportation commission during his time there and he should be recognized. This little attempt at humor isn't intended to poke fun at the good work he did.
However, it strikes me that there is currently no one on the state transportation commission from southeast Missouri. The six members on the commission are from St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Charles (west St. Louis), Neosho, Springfield and St. Joseph (north Kansas City in some circles).
I suggest we just withhold the state's portion of the gasoline tax until that situation is rectified.
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Most of you are aware that I share news from past editions of the newspaper sent along from Vivian Helton. This week I have one from Kay Casey Pepple. Kay has done a lot of good work on her family genealogy. Last week Kay forwarded me something from her files discovered when she was working on the Pelts family tree. No surprise that what Kay sent along was from a page Mrs. Helton has sent her a few years ago.
"Because Missouri went Republican at the last election nearly two hundred farmers of Dunklin County, which lies in Southeast Missouri, on the northeast boundary of Arkansas, have signed a petition asking the State Legislature to pass an act allowing the county to seceded and be annexed to Arkansas.
"It was not until last Saturday that the citizens of the interior of the county learned that the State had gone for Roosevelt. Immediately James Crabtree, Job Turner and S. P. Williams, farmers near Hornersville, had a petition drawn, stating that since Missouri had gone Republican respectable men could not acknowledge citizenship in the State without shame, and asking that the Legislature enact such laws as would allow the county to transfer allegiance to Arkansas.
"A similar petition has been started in Pemiscot County, and the two counties, it is said, will make a joint move for transfer.
"In 1900 the vote of Dunklin County for Bryan was 2,711 and for McKinley considerably less than half that number. This time the county cast only 1,128 votes for Parker and 995 for Roosevelt. In 1900 there were only 17 votes in Pemiscot County for McKinley."
This article appeared in the November 19, 1904 edition of the New York Times. Thanks to both ladies for this tidbit.
It was in 1818 that Little River cattleman John Hardeman Walker petitioned Congress to have the boundary drawn where it is today so his property would be included within the boundaries of the state of Missouri and not the Arkansas territory.
Some folks have been known to refer to this part of the country as "Arkansas in denial."
Bud Hunt is regional vice
president, publisher of the
Daily Dunklin Democrat, Daily Statesman, Delta News-Citizen, Missourian-News and
North Stoddard Countian.