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Opinion – Daddy Warbucks

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Cooling effect in NWA building market

It was bound to happen. Three dollar a gallon gasoline, a slight bump in the unemployment rates, a slower than expected retail October…Yikes! Has the Northwest Arkansas booming economy become – dare we say it – cool? Looks like with the continued decrease in the number of building permits it does indeed look like things are cooling down. The information comes from the latest Skyline Report by the Center for Economic and Business Research at the University of Arkansas that is paid for by Arvest Bank Group. There is a 33 percent decline from the third quarter of 2006. Yikes! Of all the communities in NWA, Cave Springs saw more permits issued in the third quarter of 2007 compared to the third quarter of last year, with 44 permits. Yikes, Cave Springs is the new building leader. Who would have thunk it?

Daddy W. could have predicted that Springdale would see the largest decline in residential construction with 101 fewer building permits purchased during the third quarter of this year compared to the third
quarter of 2006. Springdale’s last building boom has suddenly moved outside the city’s borders.

The study also revealed that the price of homes and land held steady. But there is, as the report states – a good supply of building lots that have not been built on – in fact a 38-month supply. So maybe things have cooled from this red-hot market. But, if national economic figures improve, look for the market to recharge and flame even hotter and better than most anywhere else in the state. Count on it.

TACO WAL-MART
Coming soon to more Wal-Marts than Daddy W. hazards to guess is the Campero USA chain of Mexican/Hispanic flavored stop-and-go eateries. The Dallas-based Campero chain has only 37 outlets now, but plans to have over 500 when the Wal-Mart deal swings through. Will the Golden Arches be gone from Wal-Mart? Time will tell.

MEAL COSTS RISE
For the second consecutive year the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner has increased, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual survey of items included in the holiday meal. That big meal we all consumed last week costs on average, $39.13, or about $3.90 a person for the 10 folks who collected around the Thanksgiving dinner table. That’s more than $5 higher than last year’s average of $33.82. Get ready to pay more for that Yule ham, too.

OCTOBER PAID
The developers who own that BIG hole in downtown Fayetteville, where every day that goes by is a day closer to the start of the 2009 Razorback football season, paid the city their October 2007 penalty check on the project because it remains undeveloped. The November check, one can only speculate, will be paid December 1. Daddy W. thinks these “fines” should be earmarked for the areas cut in the upcoming budget – not just slopped into the General Fund where they can’t be traced unless one has a CPA degree in hand.

SHOPPING TOO TOUGH
Shopping at the new Sam’s Club is too tough. Too many rules and quirks. First, you can’t buy gas or shop there unless you are a Sam’s Club member-okay fair enough. But you can by liquor there, member or not. So, why is that? They do take some credit cards, but not all of them, namely the one most folks have–Visa.

SILVER NATURE
The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas turns 25 years young this year – Wahoo. Local folks who have been making an impact in a quiet, yet
effective way in the Nature Conservancy Board of Arkansas include Ann Henry and Archie Schaffer III, both of Fayetteville; Mark Simmons of Siloam Springs, who is currently the secretary of the board, and John
Cooper and Collins Haynes, both of Rogers.

ALPACA EXPO
The University of Arkansas’ Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Arena will be the scene of Alpaca Exposition 2007 on Dec 1-2. The furry critters, much like a llama will be on hand for the two-day meet and greet and trade show.

UNEMPLOYMENT
September’s list for unemployment rates in NWA, reveal that Washington County had the lowest rate at 3.8 percent followed by Benton County, Carroll County and Madison County, all at 3.9 percent. Down south in Miller County (Texarkana) had the next lowest with 4.3 percent. Those with the highest unemployment: Lee County, Randolph County, St. Francis County, Lafayette County and Desha County, all had more than nine percent unemployment.

FIT AWARD
Lisa Morstad, one of the real unsung heroes of the Fayetteville School District, has won a national award. But the award isn’t for her expert financial skills with the district’s books, but for a fitness program she initiated, which grew to include more than 50 school district employees.

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