Daddy Warbucks

The last year, yeah, the one that just fell to the floor, may be one that most of us wish would indeed hurry up and become history. High gasoline prices, a crashing housing and credit market are unsettling things to recall, even here in relatively economy “safe” Northwest Arkansas.
But, we did see housing prices fall and home building come to an abrupt halt. There is a certain music to the sound of nail guns and hammers on wood, but that chorus has almost hushed and lots of local folks are out of work in this industry.
Gasoline prices, which caused pain in the pocketbook has eased. As President Bush is leaving office, the price at the pump is the lowest it has been in five years. But it was also the highest it had been under his watch. Locally there are some scatter shooting statistics and events for 2008 to be chewed over once more. So here ya go.
QUESTION: Got any idea what the most expensive bottle of Champagne opened on New Year’s Eve was? Answer at the bottom.
Wal-Mart’s bid to buy grocery chain D&S S.A. of Chile will make it that country’s largest retailer. Join the rest of the world Chilians.
Leland Tollett is back at the helm of Tyson Foods. Richard “Dick” Bond quit, rather abruptly Monday after almost four years as head of the world’s largest protein supplier. Tollett, former chairman and CEO of the company, will be interim president and CEO until a permanent successor can be found.
Among those closing their doors in 2008 in Fayetteville: Circuit City, Toothpicks, The Dart Room, Korean BBQ, Sonic on College, Ez-Mart on North College, Boston Mountain Grille, O’ Charley’s, Meaux Dads, Larry’s Pizza, Sook and Sung, Steak Escape and most recently The Urban Table. The old Staffmark Building on Futrall Drive, that last served as a satellite office for Tyson Foods is vacant. Wonder where they all went?
The economy, stupid. Heard that before? A recent Gallup poll showed that the economy is the No. 1 issue, with 55 percent of Americans believing it is the biggest problem facing the U.S. And at least 55 percent of Arkansans believe that too, according to a Daddy W’s Man-On-The-Street Poll. Just watch, those numbers will rise before Jan. 19, Bush’s last day in office.
Unemployment sucks. Plants in Arkansas have laid-off lots of folks. Here are some of the biggies in 2008. The Pilgrims Pride bankruptcy, led to the layoff of more than 1,000. Baldor Electric of Fort Smith plans to cut around 900 jobs. Whirlpool has laid-off 700 and Riverside Furniture in Fort Smith let 250 workers go. Superior Industries in Fayetteville and Rogers laid off more than 250 folks and Franklin Electric in Siloam Springs shed 200 jobs.
Bad news has been the news from Dillard’s in 2008. Stock price dwindled, sales continued to fall and management was hounded by an activist shareholder group. Rumors about closing one of the NWA spaces will just not let up.
NWA banks seem to have escaped the national trend of failing banks with only the failure and mess of ANB back in May. Still, several hundred families and shareholders were hurt by the high-flying bank’s demise and shareholder lawsuits are not over yet. But ANB, sadly, is finished. Pulaski Bank out of Little Rock, took over most of ANB’s buildings and what accounts were left.
Few have suggested this, but if the University of Central Arkansas’ books are not balanced and the ship righted soon, some veteran legislators have whispered about a plan that would “fold” UCA into the UA System. Sounds far fetched. Sit back and watch.
Some folks, despite the economy, are in the remodeling mode. Among them the Sonic on Sixth Street. Roger’s Rec, The Gypsy, which is now in the old Dart Room, El Camino and Greenhouse Grille.
Cheers is apparently making it on that Sycamore and North College corner where many a restaurant/bar/club have folded. Other new openings included Pig-N-Whistle, Zaxby’s on Sixth Street, Savor, Chick-Fil-A on Sixth Street, two Walgreen’s, Pho Quyen Soup House, Inta Juice, Advance Auto and Candlewoood Suites.
The Memphis-based Lenny’s Subs is back. And back again is an attempt by the E-Z Marts to sell beer. More on this later.
Several influential local folks passed on in 2008. Among them: David Lashley, an accountant and a mover and shaker in areas where the lives of people are changed for the better and very little public notice is given. Lashley was one of the pillars of Butterfield Trail Village. He was a tireless volunteer for kids, coaching youth football teams for decades and was a staunch supporter of all things FHS Bulldogs and the local Youth Center, now the Boys and Girls Club.
Sid Sargent, artist and philosopher and former Free Weekly cartoonist.
Bob Gaddy, local Fayetteville businessman and inventor, another moving force in several nonprofits.
Gaylord Willis, a curmudgeon of a restaurant and bar owner who was loved for his opinions and his love of good food and a good time. His legacy remains at Uncle Gaylord’s Mountain Cafe. He was outspoken on, well most any topic. If you chose one side, he would choose the other.
Cyrus Sutherland, University of Arkansas architecture professor and historic preservationist.
The kind and jovial John Williams, who founded the University of Arkansas School of Architecture.
And down Little Rock way, Will Etta “Willie” Oates, 90, a luminary in the Arkansas nonprofit community whose elaborate hats became her trademark. She was a former UA cheerleader who was always at UA Homecoming Games. In 1989 the Arkansas Legislature named her the Hat Lady of Arkansas.
Big Answer
A limited edition bottle of Perrier-Jouet that retailed for $6,485 was toasted on New Year’s Eve, in where else but New York City.

Categories: Legacy Archive