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Opinion : Daddy Warbucks

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Can it be, a recession, is upon us

Well, Daddy W. thinks the R-word, yes, “recession,” is once again popping up on the American economic scene. Why? The ripple affects of the sub-prime loan foreclosures has caused the nation’s homebuilding slowdown (yes, Virginia, even here in NW Arkansas), rising gas prices and add to that a volatile stock market that has spooked even the most savvy investors, and you’ve got a recipe for a recession.

Others disagree. “It’s the election, stupid,” said one economic forecaster aiming to blame the nation’s skittish economic woes on not knowing who will be the next president. Well, maybe. But let’s leave that process to the voters, not the economists.

Folks in NW Arkansas will be seeing more vacancies in strip malls (Burnett’s Fitness Center and Dollar Tree are departing the strip mall near the northwest corner of Mission and Crossover, but a new Walgreen’s will be going in on the corner soon), there will be fewer business start ups, and yes, Daddy W.’s reading more and more stories about how local banks, once so glad to loan money to any builder, developer or contractor with a pulse, are now suing clients in a barrage of legal filings.

Stable in NWA is a relatively low rate of unemployment since most of the employment here is not factory related. But watch, that figure will rise. And even if NW Arkansas has a low unemployment rate that just means that folks from other areas where unemployment rates are high are going to move here.

More people moving here and crowding the roadways. Ugh! But let’s not read too much doom and gloom into these gray, blah days of winter. Spring is coming and hopefully some economic relief, even here in NWA, which what was once considered to be a bullet-proof economy.

R.I.P.
Featherfest, the signature downtown celebration in Springdale, is no more. The Chamber of Commerce pulled the plug on the three-day celebration, citing declining attendance and declining revenue. Since its inception, not much has been done to change the event, another unstated reason for its demise.

MOVING TREND
The Dickson Street area once had a “bad reputation” based in part on the number of head shops. That once popular trend faded on Dickson Street, but now just a few blocks away, at the gas station on North College and Lafayette, you can find some of those head shop specialties.

QUARTER GAMES
And out at Betty Jo Korner and elsewhere, some of those controversial quarter slide games have come into vogue. You know the type. You drop in a quarter and hope it pushes more quarters out into the cash dish for your continued enjoyment. Along with 25-cent pieces, there’s some rolled folding money and other prizes. These are on the cusp of being illegal. Watch the TV news for raids.

CAJUN RAVE
Meaux Dad’s, the Cajun restaurant that just opened in the old O’Charley’s building in the Target parking lot, was packed on opening weekend. And no wonder. The food’s good, the prices are right and the servers and kitchen are on-the-ball.

HOG TICKETS
With the release of the 2008 football schedule, Daddy W. sees that there are some interesting new teams added: Texas, Tulsa and someone called Western Illinois. Watch for a little bump in ticket prices.

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