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News Archive--January 2012

NEWS--Habitat Dedicates New Valley Home

Undeterred by cold and cloudy weather, more than fifty friends, family members and well-wishers gathered mid-morning on Saturday, January 21st , 2012 to dedicate a new house in the Whittington Valley. The three bedroom, one bath residence, built by Garland County Habitat for Humanity, is located at the west end of the Valley on Hembree Lane, just across from the city park. The comfortable house--with light blue siding, dark navy shutters and a covered front porch--will be home to Fedett Johnson.
More than fifty people came out on a cold January morning for the
dedication of Habitat for Humanity's newest house in the Whittington Valley.
Steve Trusty, Board president of Garland County Habitat for Humanity, began by welcoming everyone. After the pledge of allegiance and flag raising by members of the VFW Post 2278, Habitat Executive Director John Goodman introduced the new homeowner, Fedett Johnson, to the assembled group. Goodman explained how Johnson’s application into the Habitat program had been accepted in October 2010 and how long it took to finally offer the completed house to the new homeowner. Goodman credited Johnson’s positive attitude throughout the long process.
Fadett Johnson (center), the new homeowner, is introduced to the assembled guests by Garland County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director John Goodman (right) and Assistant Director Sue Ann Albers (left).
The dedication began with a dance by “Sisters ‘n Praise” featuring one of the new homeowner’s granddaughters. Several guests then presented housewarming gifts. Glen Phillips, of the Arkansas Rice Depot explained that his organization had stocked the refrigerator with frozen food and had provided other stables. Marilyn Wilson and other members of the "Sew What" Quilting Bee gifted a beautiful handmade quilt to Ms. Johnson, adding that on cold day one can really appreciate a warm quilt.
Members of the "Sew What" Quilting Bee present Fadett Johnson with
a handmade quilt as a housewarming gift.
Pat Hern of the "Brush Strokes" artist group presents Fadett Johnson
with an original painting as a housewarming gift.
Pat Hern of the “Brush Strokes” artists group presented a large original painting to the new homeowner. The Community of Christ Church presented Ms. Johnson with new dishes and flatware. A representative of the Whitfield Garden Club told how they had planted a wonderful blooming plant in the yard which will grow more beautiful over time. And WVNA Board President Mark Toth presented the new homeowner with a “Welcome to the Valley” gift bag containing homemade brownies, a set of the Association’s handmade greeting cards, note paper and other gifts.
Mark Toth, Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association President (left) presents a "Welcome to the Valley" gift bag to new homeowner
Fedett Johnson. Also pictured, Habitat Executive Director John Goodman.
Next, John Goodman thanked the Hot Springs Master Gardeners for their hard work in landscaping the yard. Steve Trusty, Habitat Board President, then presented Johnson with a new bible. Finally, Gordon Hegg, Habitat’s Construction Supervisor, handed Johnson the key to her new home.
Presiding Elder Marilyn Briggs lead the assembled group in prayer. The new homeowner, Fedett Johnson, then addressed her friends and neighbors. “I thank God for this blessing. I thank everyone, the volunteers, friends and family. I am so grateful. I was hoping for sunshine today during the dedication, but it’s a beautiful day anyway.” Johnson also thanked Habitat for Humanity for providing her with a wonderful new home. Finally Goodman closed the dedication by encouraging everyone to tour the new house and enjoy the supplied refreshments.
Refreshments served at the dedication included a decorated cake.
Construction of the house was underwritten by six Hot Springs area churches and Habitat’s ReStore--a building materials and home furnishings resale center operated by Garland County Habitat for Humanity. Goodman explained that the ReStore sponsors construction of several Habitat homes each year. Goodman added that the ReStore had recently relocated to a new store at 350 Malvern Avenue.
Since 1996, working with volunteers in the community, Garland County Habitat for Humanity has built safe and affordable houses for families who otherwise might never own a home. Each new homeowner is required to invest “sweat equity” in their house, spending at least 100 hours working on their residence--with family and friends allowed to make up the balance of the 350 required hours of “sweat equity.”
This is the ninety-fifth house built by Garland County Habitat for Humanity; and their forty-fifth home in the Whittington Valley. Habitat sells each of its houses to its new owner; with the sale being financed by a twenty-year, zero percent mortgage. Garland County Habitat for Humanity expects that it will complete its 100th house sometime in 2012.
- Posted 1/30/12 by MT

FYI--Trash Collection Delayed One Day Due to MLK Holiday

The Hot Springs' Sanitation Department reminds all Valley residents that trash will be collected curbside in the Valley one day later than normal, on Tuesday, January 17th this week due to the Martin Luther King holiday. All City offices, excluding public safety, will be closed on Monday.
Valley residents are reminded to have their trash cans curbside by 7:00 am on Tuesday to ensure pick-up.
- Posted 1/14/12 by MT

FYI--MLK Parade to Start in Valley; Detours Expected

On Monday January 16th, 2012, Hot Springs will host its annual Martin Luther King Parade for residents and visitors alike. The parade is scheduled to start at 10:00 am. The parade is a wonderful community event for Hot Springs.
The parking lots at the corner of Whittington Avenue and Walnut Street be used as staging areas for the parade. The parade route begins at the east end of the Whittington Valley, at the intersections of Central, Park and Whittington Avenues, and will continue south on Central Avenue through downtown Hot Springs to Spring Street, and then onto Convention Boulevard.
According to a statement issued by the Hot Springs Police Department, on parade day vehicle traffic on Central Avenue through downtown will be diverted onto side streets beginning around 9:30 am. The Police Department expects to reopen Central Avenue to vehicle traffic by 11:30 am.
Vehicle traffic in and out of the Valley during the parade may be delayed or detoured. On parade day, between 9:30 am and 11:30 am, residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to use West Mountain Drive as their route into and out of the Whittington Valley.
- Posted 1/14/12 by VL

NEWS--The Hot Springs Concert Band Named WVNA’s Organization of the Year

On Monday, January 9th, 2012 the Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association presented their “Organization of the Year” award to the Hot Springs Concert Band. “Our members voted late last year to recognize the Concert Band for their efforts to promote and bring visitors to our neighborhood,” explained Association President Mark Toth. “The Hot Springs Concert Band has been a fixture in the Whittington Valley for many years, drawing thousands of concert-goers to the Valley and exposing people to the natural beauty and historic character of our neighborhood.”
The Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association presented their "Organization of the Year" award to the Hot Springs Concert Band. The award honors the Concert Band for promoting awareness of, and bringing visitors to the Whittington Valley. Pictured, front row, left to right: Elfreida Collins (WVNA Member), Darthy Tyrity (WVNA Treasurer), Nora Cole (Concert Band Board V-P), Mark Toth (WVNA President), Charles Gilmore (Concert Band Board President), and Dr. Kumar Maruthur (WVNA Member). Back row, left to right: Bernistine Kilgore (WVNA Member), Peggy Sue Garcia (WVNA Member), John Lewis (WVNA V-P) and Patricia Heibner (WVNA Member).
During the summer, the Concert Band performs free concerts under the shaded canopy of Whittington Federal Park, bringing an enthusiastic and diverse group of music-lovers to the Valley. In 2011, the Band presented an expanded summer concert series, scheduling performances every two weeks and drawing as many as 1,000 people to their concerts. Although the hotter than normal weather this past summer meant three of the Band’s concerts had to be moved indoors to National Park Community College, the Band nevertheless performed multiple times in the Whittington Valley, book-ended with their ever popular Labor Day and Memorial Day concerts.
In receiving the award, Charles Gilmore, President of the Band’s Board of Directors, and Nora Cole, Board Vice President, told of the Band’s early origins, tracing its musical heritage to 1975 when twenty local citizens formed the “CSO Senior Citizens Band” under the direction of John Melton, a retired Indiana high school band director. Over time more and younger members joined; and in 2005 the Band adopted its current moniker to better reflect its expanded repertoire, membership and role in the musical life of Hot Springs and the surrounding area.
With a very active schedule of nearly twenty performances yearly, the Hot Springs Concert Band offers something for all tastes. Musical selections vary from lighter fare performed during the Band’s Summer Park Series in the Whittington Valley to more serious musical works performed during the Winter season. To present this wide range of styles, the Band draws upon a talented pool made up of more than 85 area musicians. Currently the Band’s members range in age from teenagers to octogenarians. This diversity affords the Band a broad breadth of energy and experience, ranging from eager amateurs to currently working or former professional musicians and educators.
The Neighborhood Association’s annual award recognizes those people and organizations that have improved the quality of life in the Whittington Valley for both residents and visitors alike. The honor includes a cash award funded by dues paid by the Association’s members. In presenting their award, the Neighborhood Association also praised the Band’s efforts to expand musical education and musical appreciation in the Hot Springs community. This past year the Concert Band gave three scholarships to area high school music students. The Band also recognized three other students with honorable mentions.  “This scholarship program is one of the ways we seek to impact young musicians in our community and further the community band experience in our culture and society,” Band President Charles Gilmore explained.
“When you learn all that the Band does, not just performing but also in terms of music education and appreciation, it is clear they are an outstanding organization that works hard to benefit the entire Hot Springs community,” said John Lewis, Neighborhood Association Vice President. “All of us in the Valley are very much looking forward to the Band performing here this summer.” The Hot Springs Concert Band will kick-off their free summer concert series with a Memorial Day performance on May 28th, starting at 3:00 pm in Whittington Federal Park.
The Band will next perform on Sunday, February 19th, at 3:00 pm at the Jessieville High School Sports Area. Two other groups that operate under the auspices of the Hot Springs Concert Band will also perform: the “Village Big Band” and the “New Horizons Band.” Tickets are required and cost $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children. For a complete list of the Band’s upcoming performances, please visit their website at
- Posted 1/14/12 by MT

FYI--The Year in Review: The Whittington Valley In 2011

This past year brought many memorable events to the Whittington Valley. All in all, it was a busy but productive year as the Association worked to promote the Valley as a great place to visit, live and play. Below is a list of the top eleven news stories from the Valley for 2011 (click on the highlighted links to go to the original news postings).
11. Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association Hosts Potlucks.
As has become something of a tradition over the past few years, the Neighborhood Association held several social events during 2011 as a way of saying “thank you” to all those who work to promote and improve life here in the Valley. The Association’s two potluck picnics, held in the spring and fall in Whittington City Park, were well attended and offered Association members the opportunity to visit and make new friends. The Association’s Christmas party included great food and a drawing for door prizes. Links: 2011 Spring Picnic. 2011 Fall Picnic. 2011 Christmas Party Photos. 
10. Association’s Website Experiences Growing Pains; Celebrates First Year.
When our website first went live in May 2009, we had no idea how much information we would soon post online. In only nine months our web presence came to consume some nine megabytes of data--enough information to fill a small bookshelf with paperback novels. Shortly after the first of the year, we learned we would need a new web host. So for about three weeks we transcribed and moved our data from one set of servers to another. We also began using a new web address, (which we still use to this day). Some five months later, in May 2011, our website celebrated its one year anniversary. Since then we’ve only expanded our presence on the web, adding more photos, documents and news postings to our website. The site has become many things: a newsletter telling our members about upcoming events in the Valley, a historical repository detailing our accomplishments and past events of importance, and a promotional tool introducing the Valley to those outside the neighborhood. Links: Website Undergoing Construction.
9. Neighborhood Association’s 2011 Fund-Raisers.
On a unseasonably hot April day, the Association held a Krispy Kreme Doughnut and Rummage Sale. The sale provided Association members with the opportunity to clear unwanted items out their houses--and all for a good cause. One of our members joked that we mostly paid a few dollars to the Association for the privilege of trading nicknacks amongst ourselves. The Association also undertook a pilot program of producing and selling handmade greeting cards. The cards feature iconic images from the Valley and are a great way to promote the Neighborhood Association and the Valley. The pilot card sales program continues into 2012. In addition, 2011 saw the end of our cookbook fund raising effort. And although we have sold all the hardback copies of our cookbooks, we continue to post recipes from the cookbook online as a means of promoting the Neighborhood Association and driving traffic to our website.
8. Progress in Obtaining Historic Designation.
In December 2009, the Neighborhood Association began working to have a portion of the Valley designated a "National Historical Register District." As of the end of 2012, a survey of the residences around the Federal Park had been completed and a determination was made that the proposed district qualified for official “Historic” designation. At the urging of the Association, a grant to prepare the nomination paperwork was secured from the state of Arkansas. It is expected that the formal nomination will go to the state review board by mid-year 2012. Link: Historic District Update.
7. Lobbying Effort Brings About Road Paving.
In April of 2011, the Association began lobbying to have a short stretch of roadway in the Valley repaved. Located at the west end of the Federal Park, this particular road is a vital connector for residents on both sides of the Valley; moreover the road had not been repaved in more than twenty-six years. After bringing our request to the attention of the Hot Springs Board of Directors, the street was added to the City’s 2011 Paving Program and was finally resurfaced in August 2011. Link:
6. Habitat Dedicates New Houses In The Valley.
Beginning in July and continuing through December 2011, Garland County Habitat for Humanity dedicated four new houses at the west end of the Valley. The new houses, located on side streets off Whittington Avenue near the city park, all have covered front porches and brings the total number of Habitat residences in the Valley to forty-four. Representatives from the Neighborhood Association attended all four house dedications and presented the new homeowners with a “Welcome to the Valley” housewarming gift bag. Habitat expects to complete two more houses in the Valley in early 2012 before starting their next housing development near Oaklawn Racetrack. Link: July House Dedication.
5. Association Makes Donations To Holiday Food Drives.
As has been the practice going on three years, the Neighborhood Association once again provided cash donations to two Valley churches for their holiday food drives. Over the past three years, the Association has donated more than $1,200 to charities that feed the hungry in our area. Links: Roanoke Baptist Dedication. Presbyterian Donation.
4. “The Home Run That Changed History.”
In March 2011, a group of about one-hundred people gathered in the Whittington Valley to hear how a single home run hit by baseball legend Babe Ruth on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 1918, would reverberate throughout the annals of professional baseball for generations to come. At that time the Whittington Valley was home to several professional baseball spring training camps and Ruth’s team, the Boston Red Sox, were playing an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ruth smashed a long-drive high out past center field, over a fence and into one of the ponds at the Alligator Farm across the street. It is estimated that the ball sailed some 573 feet. Baseball historians credit that one home run for bringing about a seismic change in professional baseball--placing ever greater emphasis on power hitters and home runs. Building upon this event, the Hot Springs Advertising Commission is currently developing plans to for a “Historic Baseball Trail” that commemorates numerous sites in and around Hot Springs (including several in the Whittington Valley) which tell of our city’s role as the nation’s early premier spring-training destination. Link: The Home Run That Changed History.
3. Musical Performances/Concerts Draws Thousands to the Valley.
The Hot Springs Concert Band has been a summertime fixture in the Valley for many years. The Band performs public concerts under the shaded canopy of the Federal Park, bringing a diverse crowd to the Valley. In 2011, the Band presented an expanded summer concert series, scheduling performances every two weeks between Labor and Memorial Day and drawing as many as 1,000 people to their concerts. Although the hotter than normal summer weather meant three of the Band’s concerts had to be moved indoors to National Park Community College, the Band nevertheless performed multiple times in the Valley, book-ended with their ever popular Labor Day and Memorial Day concerts. In addition, the Valley’s own Artchurch hosted a diverse range of musical talent this past year with their acoustic “House Concerts.” Performers at the Artchurch included, among others, Nick Charles from Australia (a guitar virtuoso), “Royal Forest” (a psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas) and touring New York artist Nicole Hale. The Valley also hosted several public performances of classical works by “Trio Arkansas,” whose talented performers include the Valley’s own Louis Menendez (a nationally renown conductor, pianist, educator, and composer). And another Valley resident, Phyllis Rogers-Emert, a gifted jazz pianist, played twice during the 20th Annual Hot Springs JazzFest. Links: Memorial Day Concert. June Concert In the Park. Trio Arkansas To Perform.
Labor Day Concert. Valley Resident to Perform in JazzFest.
1 & 2. “Winter Snow Storms Blanket the Valley in White” and “Summer Heat Proves Unrelenting” (tie).
This past year, three winter storms dropped measurable snowfall in the Valley. Two of the storms dumped several inches of snow, effectively closing down all of Hot Springs for several days. Then just a few months later, summer arrived and ironically brought extended heat waves. As daytime highs in July and August hovered at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks, the National Weather Service warned residents to remain indoors and take precautions to avoid heat stress injuries. Weather-wise, it was a wild year. Links: January Snowstorm. February Snowstorm. July Heat. August Heat.
- Posted 12/5/12 by MT

FYI--Hard Freeze Predicted

The National Weather Service in Little Rock is predicted low overnight temperatures through Wednesday, January 4th. Overnight temperatures on Monday night-early Tuesday morning are expected to drop into the mid-twenties. A hard overnight freeze is predicted. Currently there is no precipitation forecast so snow should not be a problem. However ice could form on wet roadways and bridges so use appropriate caution.
Residents are reminded to take steps now to avoid cold weather damage to their plants and property. Cold sensitive plants should be moved indoors if possible. Outside faucets/hose bibs should be turned off. Garden hoses should be removed from outside faucets to avoid freezing and causing potential damage to your plumbing. You may want to open interior cabinets during the night to allow warm air to circulate around your pipes (surprisingly the air inside a cabinet mounted against an outside wall can be much colder than the air in the room).
- Posted 12/31/11 by MT

FYI--No Delay In Trash Collection Due to New Years Holiday

The Hot Springs' Sanitation Department reminds all Valley residents that trash will be collected curbside in the Valley on Monday, January 2nd. Typically, when a holiday falls on a Sunday the City will delay trash collection by one day. However in the present instance trash collection in the city will NOT be delayed day due to the New Years holiday. All other City offices, excluding public safety, will be closed on Monday.
Valley residents are reminded to have their trash cans curbside by 7:00 am on Monday to ensure pick-up.
- Posted 12/30/11 by MT
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