Mike McNeill’s Diary for Tuesday, July 5, 2022: Developing Dorcheat Bayou for Tourism | Diary of Mike McNeill


One of our readers, commenting on a recent article about plans for a Magnolia wading pool, suggested that people could go swimming in the Dorcheat Bayou. We assume the comment was sarcastic. In dry weather, there is not enough water in the Dorcheat to fill a pot. In wet weather, it is a challenge for potential athletes. The Arkansas side of the Dorcheat has never been treated with the respect for its tourism potential with which it stands on the Louisiana side of the line. Webster Parish authorities regularly promote the Dorcheat as a place to explore Louisiana’s natural side. More could be done to create structures that would allow the Arkansas side of the bayou to hold enough water for longer periods of time, so that it becomes more accessible to shallow-draught watercraft and promote fishing. Accessibility is a big issue. There are few good ways for the public to enter the bayou. We are issuing the development of Dorcheat’s tourism potential as a challenge to the next county judge.

I jumped down a geographic rabbit hole over the weekend when we saw photos of the surveyor’s marker at the point where Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas intersect. Too bad no one was interested in making this point a real roadside attraction.

The reactivated Arkansas School Safety Commission is meeting today in response to the Uvalde School Massacre. We wait unhelpful of this commission unless it recommends massive amounts of funding for mental health screening and treatment programs, increased online surveillance of young people with violent intentions, and the passage of red flag laws .

Magnolia Needs bowling.

The current poll we launched over the weekend seeks to find out more about our readers’ favorite outdoor activities. About an hour into the survey, we realized we had missed some popular options. So, we came back and added them. On reflection, we realized that we had also left out boating and swimming. Our evil. We will be running the current poll throughout the day today.

We can’t give you a direct link for legal reasons, but we can tell you that on Friday the Washington Post published an article by Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kostiantyn Khudov headlined, “US-provided HIMARS changes the reckoning on Ukraine’s front lines.” Although he does not mention that HIMARS vehicles are built by Lockheed Martin in East Camden, he does say the long-range rocket launch system has made a real difference in defending Ukraine against Russian attackers. Ukrainian troops praise the HIMARS for its reliable targeting capabilities.

The Arkansas Times last week reported potential enrollment numbers for struggling people Henderson State University. Current graduate and undergraduate enrollment for the fall semester is 1,643. The number this time last year was 2,325. Cutting about a third of majors and a similar number of teachers will. Henderson State had 2,914 enrollment in the fall 2021 semester.

We would normally feature in our Tuesday column a local news event from five years ago. Today we republish these comments from our Journal from five years ago. This is among our top reviews:

Every once in a while we get email replies from a guy who likes to overturn some of the opinions we offer in this space. On Wednesday, we reflected on the new Arkansas Children’s Hospital campus in northwest Arkansas and the fact that the hospital has built a clinic in southwest Little Rock. “Maybe the time is right for Magnolia to start campaigning for a clinic location in southern Arkansas for Children’s Hospital of Arkansas. There is no cost to ask,” we wrote. Our friend replied, “That will never happen. Total waste of time and effort. Southern Arkansas is not good enough to get ACH. Another notion of pie in the sky. Well on his last point, he’s absolutely right. Ours is a totally pie-in-the-sky notion. In fact, our first draft of Wednesday’s column was for our own ACH brand hospital, but we wrote it at a clinic in an effort not to make our eyes too big for our stomachs. Having an ACH clinic in Magnolia takes a lot, and it may be PITS, but – will it ever happen? Total waste of time and effort? Southern Arkansas not good enough? Oh come on. Here are a few things we’ve learned from decades of reporting on events in small towns across the South.

Nothing happens without vision. It takes a person (or a small group of people) with an idea that they are willing to work for years or decades to bring to fruition, and who often understands that their dream takes years – or even beyond their lifetime – to see done. But we have seen many of those visions come to life, here and elsewhere.

There is no complete waste of time and effort, because it is impossible to know where something will lead. Let’s take the example of our clinical wish ACH. Suppose the idea catches fire. The community offers free land for a clinic in a good location, offers a positive study to match the need, and even sets up a set of financial incentives. We come to the brink – and everything fails in the end. But what if all the activity convinces a few pediatricians that there’s more need for their services in southern Arkansas than they ever imagined, and they set up a practice? What if ACH decided that Magnolia might not be the perfect location for a clinic, but Camden was perfect? Things don’t always go as planned, but they can still turn out positive for a community.

Action beats inertia. Momentum is a real phenomenon. People are naturally drawn to activity. Businesses are attracted to people. The more active a community is or appears to be active, the more active it is.

Yes, a clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Magnolia is a vision we have. We want patrons to establish a well-funded Magnolia School District Foundation. We would like Southern Arkansas University to establish a college of veterinary medicine. But these are some of our aspirations for our community. Other people have other visions. In the past, these visions have included bringing McNeil’s railroad to Magnolia, and later to Emerson and Louisiana. Other visions encouraged Magnolia to secure a public agricultural high school, establish banks and businesses, and build industrial parks. Our city has incredible public art, an arts center and a small but promising arts scene. We have developed and continue to transform natural resources. We turned a boy scout camp into a state park. We turned a creek into a massive impoundment that saved us from serious problems that other areas have had.

We are ok with the fact that things are going differently than we expected. We’re even okay with failure as long as we get a fair share of success.

We disagree with people who lack vision, who think nothing can ever be accomplished, or who think that southern Arkansas and its people don’t matter. Daily experience over time proves them otherwise.

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 870-904-3865. All opinions expressed in this column are his own. Why people feel the need to criticize public entertainment they receive for free puzzles us.


About Author

Comments are closed.