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News Archive--September 2010

NEWS--WVNA Letter Published in Newspaper

After the Hot Springs' City Directors voted 6-1 on September 21, 2010 to seek federal monies to fund improvements to the Valley's own Whittington City Park, the WNVA Board of Directors sent a thank you letter to the newspaper with copies to each City Director. Today our letter appeared in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record on the opinion page.  To read our letter, click here (note: letter is 282 KB and is in pdf format; it may take a minute or longer to download and will open in a new window).
To learn more about the planned park improvements and review a timetable of when the work will be completed, see story below.
- Posted 9/29/10 by MT

NEWS--City Directors Vote To Seek Funds To Improve Valley Park

On Tuesday night, September 21, 2010 the Hot Springs Board of Directors voted to include improvements to Whittington City Park in the City’s 2011 Community Development Grant request with the Federal Government. The Community Development program funds projects to improve the quality of life in low and moderate income neighborhoods; and under Federal guidelines the Valley is designated such a neighborhood.
The proposed improvements in the Valley's own neighborhood park include replacing the existing bathrooms with new
drop-in-place, vandalism-resistant handicapable family-style restrooms. The new bathrooms will be usable by all, including those with mobility issues--and will allow parents to assist their small children in the restroom.
In addition, new playground equipment will be installed in the park. The new playground equipment will be geared toward children 5-12 years of age. The actual equipment to be installed has not yet been chosen but the Parks Department and the Neighborhood Association are working together to select modern, safety-oriented yet "FUN" play pieces. In addition, plans call for upgrading the park’s existing swing set. A new ADA-compliant seat will be installed and a new safety base will be placed underneath the swing set. Finally, an overhead power line will be removed, bringing the park up to current safety standards.
Whittington City Park's existing swing set will soon undergo a major facelift. An ADA-compliant safety surface will be placed under the swing set and an ADA-compliant seat (with back support and seat belt) will be installed.
Admittedly the process for obtaining the funds to improve the park will take time. Over the next month, hearings will allow for public comments regarding the proposed project. The City will then submit a completed grant application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will review and score the City’s application. It is expected that the Federal review of the grant application could take six to eight months. The best estimate is that the money to improve the park will be released to the City in July 2011. According to Jean Wallace, Director of the Hot Springs Parks and Recreation Department, as soon as the money is made available the City will start soliciting bids and move as expeditiously as possible to complete the project. With any luck, the new playground equipment and bathrooms should be in place by September or October 2011.
Having to wait a year to see these improvements installed in the park could be seen by some as disheartening. On the other hand, as the City struggles to close ongoing budget shortfalls, no other municipal park in Hot Springs will see new equipment or facilities for the foreseeable future. Under these circumstances, this is a definite win for our neighborhood (and by extension, the city of Hot Springs). As Jean Wallace recently said in an email: "I wanted to thank everyone for your commitment to improving our city parks system.... P&R [The Parks & Recreation Department] appreciates the positive publicity generated by the WVNA and would like to commend you all for the well documented exhibit of community support for the project. P&R looks forward to working with you all on this project next year and even more projects in the future. Thanks again!"
- Posted 9/27/10 by MT

FYI--Association Makes Art Donation to Alligator Farm

On a recent rainy Wednesday morning, members of the Neighborhood Association's Board of Directors meet with Jack Bridges, owner of the Arkansas Alligator Farm. During this meeting, the Association donated to the Alligator Farm a painting by local artist Jon McWilliams. The donated painting shows three hungry alligators being enticed at feeding time by a raw chicken--hence the painting’s title "Singing for Your Supper" (the painting is shown below).
The painting is one of several original pieces appearing in a fund-raising cookbook published by the Neighborhood Association. "It only made sense to have that particular picture on display at the Alligator Farm," said Darthy Tyrity, Association Treasurer. The Neighborhood Association solicited artwork from many local artists for inclusion in its cookbook. The cookbook contains recipes from area residents while also telling much of the Valley’s storied and colorful history. "Everyone has been very enthusiastic about our cookbook," said Darthy Tyrity, one of the those responsible for putting the cookbook together.
 The Neighborhood Association donates original painting by artist Jon McWilliams to the Arkansas Alligator Farm. Pictured, left to right, Darthy Tyrity, WVNA Treasurer; John Lewis, WVNA President; Jack Bridges, Owner Arkansas Alligator Farm; Mark Toth, WVNA Vice President; and Gayle Gantner, WNVA Secretary. Overhead is "Petunia," a preserved onetime resident of the Alligator Farm--a ten foot long and 500 pound alligator that died in 1981.
Located at the west end of the Valley's Federal Park, the Arkansas Alligator Farm is the oldest continuously operating tourist attraction in Hot Springs. A long-standing institution in the Valley, the Alligator Farm began life in 1902 and was created as a way to entertain tourists who came to take hot mineral baths in the Spa City. Over the years the farm has undergone a name change and expanded, but the alligators have remained a constant fixture. The feeding of the alligators, a favorite subject of photos and cards over the years, remains a stellar draw to this day. The Farm’s live alligator shows are world famous and allow visitors to watch over 170 alligators consume some 600 pounds of chicken each week.
The donated painting was done by local artist Jon McWilliams. A Hot Springs resident, McWilliams has lived in Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee. He attended Memphis College of Art focusing on metal arts. His work as been featured at the Henry County Art Center in New Castle and he is represented by Verdigris in Hot Springs.
- Posted 9/15/10 by MT

UPDATE: WVNA Art Donation Reported In Newspaper

On September 26, 2010 the
Hot Springs Sentinel-Record published an article in their
"Arts, Etc." section about the Association's art donation to the Arkansas Alligator Farm.
-Posted 9/26/10 by MT


FYI--Valley Resident to Perform in Hot Springs Jazz Festival

Phyllis Emert-Rogers, a talented jazz pianist and Valley resident, will perform twice during Hot Springs' upcoming JazzFest. The festival, which will run from September 14th to the 19th, will offer the public the opportunity to enjoy live musical performances at a variety of venues throughout downtown Hot Springs.
On September 15th, Phyllis will perform with guitarist Ed Smith and bassist Bill Huntington at the historic Quapaw Baths and Spa, 413 Central Avenue, starting at 6:00 pm. Hors d'oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will offer refreshments. There is a ten dollar cover charge for attendees. Then on Sunday, September 19th, Phyllis will perform at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as part of a very special Sunday Service with live jazz music. St. Luke’s is located at 228 Spring Street.
Phyllis' career in music includes leading her own jazz trio, recording two jazz trio albums, recording three albums of original music, and playing on many recording sessions.
For a schedule of all the events at the Festival, visit the JazzFest's website at and click on the "Schedule" tab at the top of the page.
- Posted 9/9/10 by MT
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