News

Worth Sparkman
17 hours ago - News

Flood prevention is part of Crystal Bridges' planning

Screen shot of Flood Factor's satellite image of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and potential flood patterns.
Flood Factor's satellite image of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and potential flood patterns. Courtesy: Flood Factor.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is at extreme risk of flooding in the next 15 years, according to Flood Factor.

  • The website, developed by First Street Foundation, is designed to help the public learn more about flood risk in their areas.
Worth Sparkman
Oct 15, 2021 - News

Arkansas' violent crime rate hits all-time high

Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals

Last year, the estimated number of violent crimes in Arkansas spiked to its highest level in more than three decades. In fact, it exceeded the national rate for the 16th straight year, according to recent FBI statistics.

Behind the trend: Social and economic changes sparked by the pandemic likely contributed to the spike in violent crime nationwide, legal experts tell Axios' Russell Contreras.

  • Zoom in: Population growth in the state's small cities — like Conway and Jacksonville — is likely a contributing factor to rising rates too, Grant Drawve of the University of Arkansas tells us.
Alex Golden
Oct 14, 2021 - News

Bentonville library's $14.9 million expansion includes art gallery and outdoor space

Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Designs are in the works for Bentonville Public Library’s expansion.

Why it matters: Bentonville residents want more out of the library. About 77% of Bentonville voters approved $4.97 million for the library in the April bond election.

Details: Site plans show a 28,555-square-foot addition to the existing 38,500-square-foot building — as well as some outdoor program space.

  • Feedback from the library staff and the public indicated large meeting room space is needed, Kristilyn Vercruysse of MSR Design said last week at a library meeting.
  • A community hub will have resources for local events and social services.
  • The design team is also looking to incorporate into the plans more study rooms, an activity room for all ages, more space for genealogy and makerspace.
  • The idea is to have spaces be as multifunctional as possible, Vercruysse said.

1 cool thing: Expect the library to embrace the arts and cycling communities. It will have a gallery space highlighting local artists, plenty of bicycle racks and outdoor space with drinking fountains for cyclists.

What's next: Construction could start as soon as early 2023 and will likely take 16 months.

Go deeper: Read the full library needs assessment here.

Flashback: The Fayetteville Public Library completed a major expansion earlier this year. Read about it here.

Worth Sparkman
Oct 13, 2021 - News

Arkansas' flood risk rises

Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Arkansas buildings and infrastructure are at increased risk of flooding — severe enough to knock them offline in the next 30 years, a new study finds.

  • Of the state's 75 counties, 71 will have increases in flood risk during that time, though changes will mostly be below 1%.
  • Pope County, which borders the Arkansas River, will see the largest increase at 2.6%.

What's happening: The study is the first national inventory of flood risk that takes into account climate change-driven increases in sea levels and heavy precipitation events at the community level.

  • Researchers include homes, commercial property, critical infrastructure (like fire and police stations) and social infrastructure (like churches) in the calculations.

Why it matters: The report, from the First Street Foundation, has a warning for communities of all sizes: the U.S. isn't ready for the climate of today — let alone the extreme weather and climate events coming in the next few decades, writes Axios' Andrew Freedman.

  • Specifically, during the next 30 years as the climate continues to warm, the flood risk situation will grow more dire, the report warns.

Zoom out: About 25% of critical infrastructure in the U.S. and about 2 million miles of road are currently at risk of being made unusable due to flooding.

  • Nearly a million commercial properties, 78,000 social infrastructure facilities, and 12.4 million residential properties also have "operational risk," according to the analysis.
  • Over the next 30 years, an additional 1.2 million residential properties and 2,000 pieces of critical infrastructure will also be at risk of becoming inoperable.

Zoom in: Here's a look at the Arkansas cities with the highest proportion of risk of becoming inoperable due to flooding:

  • Helena-West Helena — 66.7% of its infrastructure.
  • Clarksville — 47.4% of its social infrastructure.
  • Rockwell — 44.2% of its roads.
  • North Little Rock — 26.7% of its residential and 51.8% of its commercial properties.

Of note: All of these cities are adjacent to large bodies of water.

The bottom line: The report warns the severity and frequency of flood events increase with a changing environment.

  • In Arkansas, an additional 1,763 residential properties, 451 miles of roads, 173 commercial properties, 6 infrastructure facilities, and 20 social facilities will be at risk of becoming inoperable.

What's next: The organization is making the new data available to the public via its Flood Factor website.

  • Researchers hope the data will help spark conversations at the local level.
Worth Sparkman
Oct 13, 2021 - News

Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund taking applications

Illustration of the words "Y'all means all" repeated to form an LGBTQ Pride flag.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Organizations that provide critical services to the LGBTQ+ community in Arkansas may now apply for grants up to $150,000.

  • Critical services include legal, health, education and advocacy services, as well as other high-demand needs.

What happened: Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund was created in June with seed funding of $1 million from the Alice L. Walton Foundation and from Olivia and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation.

Why it matters: A record number of bills targeting trans youth have marginalized transgender people and others identifying as LGBTQ+ who live in the Natural State.

Details: Grants will be made between $25,000 and $150,000. Applicants must be based in Arkansas or have a significant presence in the state.

  • Program grants will support the costs for initiatives, activities or projects that directly support LGBTQ+ Arkansans.
  • Impact grants are for Arkansas-based grassroots organizations led by and serving LGBTQ+ communities with an annual operating budget of $150,000 or less.

The first application deadline is Nov. 22. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed in following grant rounds.

See inside the new cancer support home in Fayetteville

photo of cancer support home
The Cancer Support Home at 488 E. Longview St. in Fayetteville Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going deeper on Washington Regional’s new Cancer Support Home in Fayetteville.

Why it matters: The home is a free place to stay for people who live out of town but are receiving cancer treatment in the area.

  • This way, they don’t have to make several trips, which might be particularly taxing on someone going through chemotherapy or surgery. It also eliminates the need to pay for a hotel on top of medical bills.

The new building is a major upgrade from the former cancer support home on Woolsey Avenue.

photo of room inside cancer support home
One of eight rooms for overnight guests. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Context: NWA serves cancer patients who live in the surrounding rural areas where treatment is more scarce. Patients who stay at the home are not necessarily Washington Regional patients. They typically travel from rural Arkansas, Missouri, or Oklahoma, says the home’s director of outreach services, Jason Kelly.

Details: The home has eight hotel-like rooms with bathrooms, a community kitchen, a room for counseling services and a sunroom with a patio.

  • The home also has a boutique complete with vanity mirrors and fitting rooms where patients can choose wigs, headscarves, mastectomy bras and prosthetic breasts — at no cost to them.
  • Kelly says he often sees patients meeting and talking with each other in the community kitchen.
  • Patients must have a support person, like a family member or friend, stay with them.
The community kitchen. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Flashback: The cancer support home previously operated inside a house that was built more than 90 years ago. It only had four bedrooms, including three upstairs that were accessible by only stairs — not ideal for people going through cancer treatment.

Of note: This month, the home will provide free breast exams to the public (with an appointment) this Saturday.

photo of wig boutique
The home's boutique gives patients a place to choose wigs, headscarves and more at no cost to them. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios
Worth Sparkman
Oct 7, 2021 - News

Majority of Arkansas kids have lead in their blood

Reproduced from JAMA Pediatrics; Map: Axios Visuals

Two-thirds of Arkansas children under age 6 had detectable lead levels in their blood, a new study from JAMA Pediatrics found.

Why it matters: Exposures are much higher in children from communities with pre-1950s housing or high poverty rates, and in those who have public insurance.

Worth Sparkman
Oct 6, 2021 - News

Mapped: How Arkansas compares on weather disasters

Data: FEMA; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Arkansas has recently been better off than most of the country — and certainly its neighbors to the north, west and south — when it comes to major weather-related disasters worsened by climate change.

Why it matters: Some regions of the U.S. are safer from climate-fueled extreme weather events than others, but no region will be untouched, Axios' Ben German writes.

  • Climate change, scientists have found, is increasing the intensity and, in many cases, the frequency of these kinds of events. This is especially true when it comes to heavy rain or snow, heat waves and wildfires.

Zoom out: The map above shows major disasters declared by FEMA during the past two decades — a snapshot that ranges from hurricanes and severe storms to wildfires and drought.

Zoom in: Below, check out a county-by-county look at the weather disasters over the past two decades in Arkansas.

  • Most of our disasters have been related to severe storms, flooding and tornados.

Of note: Climate change policies adopted by NWA's global companies (Walmart, JB Hunt and Tyson Foods) have the potential to cut greenhouse gases to help mitigate global warming, especially if shareholders demand progress and accountability.

Data: FEMA; Map: Axios Visuals
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