I reviewed most of the columns I wrote in 2017 just to remind myself what happened in a pretty topsy-turvy year. Maybe all years are like that are but this one seemed a little out of the ordinary. History reminds us if we don’t look back, we are prone to repeat our mistakes.
The biggest story of 2017 will most likely the biggest story of 2018 as Maumelle voters will decide on March 13 the fate of the one-cent sales tax that will fund the new interchange or the third entrance as its been to referred to for years.
Although I had to read about it in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, it seems the first of what possibly may turn out to be two public forums will be held on at 6 p.m., Thursday, January 18, at First Baptist Church in Maumelle. The meeting is sponsored by the Maumelle Chamber of Commerce and will feature a presentation by the Maumelle Vision for the Future group. I have been asked to moderate the meeting, which will allow questions from the public after the presentation. More details next week.
This past year, the Maumelle City Council discussed the possibility of sending a 1-cent hamburger tax for advertising and promotion to the voters. The idea went over like a lead balloon. It was dead before it got to the third reading.
Another big story in 2017 was the coyote controversy. A few coyotes had been spotted in the area and had killed a few dogs, so city officials hired a trapper and got four of the wily creatures. The trappings occupied the agenda of a few City Council meetings and the attention of a few zealous Maumellians pro and con, but seems to have dissipated.
Of course, the biggest news of the year was the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. We are only one year into his four-year term and it stands in my memory as the most bizarre presidency in history. No need for me to dig into that. There has been plenty of coverage and there will be plenty more.
We got a new judge in Maumelle District Court this year, with the election Judge Rita Bailey as the first African-American female judge in our short municipal history.
The Maumelle-area food scene is ever changing and we watched the closing of Dickey’s BBQ, Cock-of-the-Walk and Nashville Rockin’ Grill. On the other hand, Gigi’s replaced Nashville Rockin’ Grill but has already stopped serving lunch and appears to trending toward being a full-time music venue.
We had the opening of a long-awaited Chick-fil-A and the new and improved U.S. Pizza and Sonic Drive-In and playground. Bobby’s Café moved closer to Maumelle just off Interstate 40, and for those who prefer to drink their food, the Maumelle Hub recently opened and has a wide array of Herbalife drinks designed to curb your appetite and decrease your waistline. Popeye’s Chicken is only weeks away from opening. I predict it will be a huge hit.
The month of May marked an important month for this paper when the publishers decided that the Times of North Little Rock, the Maumelle Monitor, Sherwood Voice and Jacksonville Patriot would become one paper operating under the nameplate of The Times of North Little Rock.
Many Maumellians expressed their disappointment with this development as Maumelle news has been relegated to one page, primarily this column.
Sadly, in July, longtime Monitor Editor Bill Lawson passed away. Bill’s contributions to the paper and community were immense.
We’ll keep our eye on the upcoming elections in 2018, including the race for Little Rock District Court Criminal Division with our own JaNan Arnold Davis in the race.
We will also be making a decision for Maumelle mayor, several City Council seats, the city attorney job and the city clerk position. None of the incumbents has confirmed their reelection plans.
We might be able to legally buy medical marijuana in Maumelle sometime in 2018. The tedious and political process of awarding the cultivation privileges should happen in February, with retail sales possibly happening in the fall.
A few things that will still be in the news will include the sales tax on Internet sales. This should have already happened and should be looked at again in 2018 by our legislature.
One thing you can count on is that, come June of next year, I’ll again protest the legal explosion of fireworks on our city streets.
Our library closed recently but will reopen with changes and renovations in March — or so they say.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remember our nationally ranked archer, Bailey Mason, who ably represented Maumelle at the World Archer competition and finished second place overall. Best of luck to her as I’m sure she’ll continue to compete on a national level.
And best of luck to Maumelle as we turn the corner and look ahead to a new year with new challenges and opportunities.
Happy New Year, Maumelle. See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, Maumelle news tip or if you’re just irritated about something, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.