Daddy Warbucks

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R.I.P. – To a grand gentleman
Johnnie B. Hunt, the Mr. J.B. Hunt of the transportation company of the same name. A native of near Heber Springs, Ark., he will be missed for all the things he has done and his vision for NWA. And for all the many stories – like those of Sam Walton—that live on.

One of the best J.B. Hunt stories was the time he stepped onto a crowded elevator at the transportation company headquarters one spring day as a gaggle of young secretaries had just come from a wedding shower in the company break room. The soon-to-be-bride showed Mr. Hunt her new dazzling engagement ring and told him of the impending nuptials. Mr. Hunt, the story goes, reached into his pocket, extracted a roll of bills and peeled off five or six $100 bills and handed them to the bride-to-be, saying that he’d received his first Social Security check and didn’t know what to do with that instant windfall. He wished a happy time on her honeymoon and then everyone went back to work.

There is also the story of Hunt happening upon one of his drivers broken down on an Arkansas highway. Hunt stopped and asked if he could “call someone” to assist in changing the flat tire. The driver unaware of who he was talking to, asked this Good Samaritan to just lend him a quick hand in changing the flat tire. About an hour later, the tire was changed. As the driver tried to pay the unknown passerby, Hunt would take no cash and instead handed the driver one of his business cards and away he drove.

New “Mini” Yellow Pages waste of trees

Have the phonebook printing giants lost their minds? The SBC, er AT&T Yellow Pages have been thumped down in area driveways in Northwest Arkansas recently. Aside from their delivery (and that is a redundant term) there is a new “mini” Yellow Pages. It has most of the ad buyers in the Washington and Benton County markets in the teeny, tiny publication. The book is split with one half upside down to the other half – so if you are in looking for something in Bentonville/Rogers you have to turn the book one direction. If you are searching for Fayetteville or Chickendale businesses, the book must be turned the other way. Sheese. The regular “white” pages has a book for both. And as usually the attorneys outnumber all the rest of the ads. But  Razorback fans take pride – the 2006-2007 issue is the OFFICIAL YELLOW PAGES DIRECTORY OF RAZORBACK ATHLETICS. One has to stop and wonder how much “jack” Coach Broyles stuck them for that little Red Hog on the cover…. plenty, I will bet. As always, especially in recent years, there are fewer and fewer personal phone numbers in the book – most cell phones are not listed. Others in the information business, newspapers among them – take a dim view of paying big bucks for their inclusion. This year’s book has an imaginative cover. There is an architectural mock up of a building soon to be built on the UA campus with ghostly shadows of trees that could be interpreted as the trees that have been chopped down for this new building superimposed on the art work. SBC doesn’t know the heartbeat of the Fayetteville market from any other spot on its vast economic roadway to the bank, but showing folks in this Washington County hamlet ghostly images of once majestic trees…. well them is fighting words.

ELDERLY BENEFITS
Arkansas is getting grayer with the Baby Boomers turning 60, but that is a good thing. Some 34 firms that sell car insurance in the state have dropped their rates, due to the good driving records of Arkansans. State Farm, for example, dropped its rates some 4.4 percent, Yahoo. Good old folks make them rates drop.

LESS TAX ON FRUCTOSE
The Republic of Mexico has seen fit to reduce the tax it charged on soda pop made with artificial sweeteners. The tax was once as high as 20 percent. The tax rate will be set at 5 percent in 2007. There is difference in the taste. Have you noticed there is a large number of soda in area grocery stores made with cane sugar for those new to the United States?

AUTO JOBS ARE A PLUS
Arkansas is one of 15 states that showed a positive growth of jobs in the auto manufacturing sector since 1986. The state showed a 15 percent increase in jobs amounting to a couple of thousand over what it held in 1986. The United States, as a whole, fell some 9 percent in job losses over the same time period. Other southern state, notably, Kentucky (152 percent) and Alabama (108 percent) and South Carolina (105 percent) were on top with triple digit growth. New York showed the biggest decline, losing 52 percent of its jobs over the same time period. Michigan, once a leader, lost 34 percent of its auto jobs in the same time period.

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