Axios Northwest Arkansas

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It's finally Friday!

🌤️ Mostly sunny today with highs near 70.

😎 Situational awareness: Our national team will hit your inbox Sunday with a special solar eclipse newsletter focused on science, folklore and culture … and a playlist!

Today's newsletter is 934 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Police departments look beyond state lines for recruits

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Representatives from police agencies across the region are traveling to Texas and California to find new members.

Why it matters: NWA police departments have many openings, and the region's growing population is compounding a national trend of law enforcement agencies struggling to fill roles, police told Axios.

Background: A coordinated effort to recruit in Los Angeles and Fort Worth among the Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville police departments, as well as the Washington County sheriff's office, is aided by the Northwest Arkansas Council.

  • "We didn't want them to compete against each other," Rob Smith of the council told Axios.
  • The NWA Council hosts representatives from public safety entities at a quarterly meeting.

By the numbers: The Fayetteville Police Department has 156 officer positions, of which 23 are open, public information officer Stephen Mauk told Axios.

  • Ten of Springdale's 152 positions are unfilled, public information officer Matt Ray said.

What they're saying: Mauk said Fayetteville mostly needs more officers to respond to increased calls because of the city's growth, noting the city approved more school resource officer positions that are vacant. The department also has openings in patrol and investigations.

  • In addition to NWA being a desirable place to live, the community and Fayetteville's city government staunchly backs its police, Mauk said. The department has had success recruiting from other areas where police may not have as much support.
  • Ray also said population-driven calls are up in Springdale; meanwhile, some officers have recently retired and taken jobs in the private sector.

Keep reading

2. Hogs' Musselman bounces for USC position

Eric Musselman is the new men's head basketball coach at USC. Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Arkansas men's basketball coach Eric Musselman is leaving for the University of Southern California, ESPN reported.

State of play: News of Musselman's possible move circulated Wednesday. Whole Hog Sports reported he would owe Arkansas a $1 million buyout if he leaves for another job. His current annual salary is $4.2 million.

  • He replaces Andy Enfield, who left USC for Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Background: Musselman led the Razorbacks to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2021 and 2022, and the Sweet 16 in 2023. The 2024 season was Arkansas' first losing campaign on his watch.

  • Musselman graduated from the University of San Diego and has held three head coaching jobs in California.

Zoom out: The departure also means NWA is losing Danyelle Musselman, who is married to the coach. She's been active in the community and serves on the board of directors of homelessness-focused nonprofit New Beginnings.

What's next: USC announced that Musselman will be formally introduced at an event with media today.

3. Kitchen Sink: No hogwash

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💧 A private contractor struck the main water line serving Bentonville and Cave Springs on Tuesday, creating the need for an emergency connection with Rogers. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

🩺 Springdale-based Community Clinic recently acquired Community Physicians Group of Siloam Springs, adding seven clinics and 130 employees. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

🏠 Older LGBT residents in Arkansas are struggling to find stable housing. (Arkansas Advocate)

4. Your weekend plans

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

It's not just eclipse weekend. Here are some other ideas.

🎭 See a play — Arkansas Public Theatre's production of "Into the Woods" is on stage at Victory Theater in downtown Rogers. Showtimes include 8pm today and Saturday, and 2pm Sunday. Get tickets ranging from $46-$55.

🎬 Discover a local filmmaker — The Arkansas Filmmakers Showcase will feature 10 short films curated by Fayetteville Film Fest. The event begins at 8pm Saturday at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Get tickets for $15.

⚾️ Take yourself out to the ballgame — The region's Class AA minor league baseball team, the Naturals, will kick off their season this weekend with a three-game series against the Tulsa Drillers. Game times are 7pm today, 6pm Saturday and 2pm Sunday at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale. Get tickets for $9-$17.

5. ICYMI: Beatles, "Blackbird," Beyoncé and Beals

The Little Rock Nine being escorted by federal troops after school. Photo: Getty Images

Little Rock Nine member Melba Pattillo Beals, 82, said Beyoncé's take on The Beatles' song "Blackbird" brought new meaning to the lyrics, the Washington Post reported.

Driving the news: Beyoncé's new country-and-Western album "Cowboy Carter" dropped on March 29, broke streaming records on several platforms and is currently No. 1 on Apple Music.

  • "Blackbird," the second track on the album, is sung by Beyoncé and Black female artists Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts.

Flashback: The Little Rock Nine are a group of Black students who enrolled in Little Rock's all-white Central High School in 1957. They eventually were escorted by federal troops to class.

The bottom line: Beals told the Post that Beyoncé's version is a meaningful inclusion.

  • "Paul McCartney said by writing that song, 'I hear you. I may not be able to rescue you, but I hear you singing in your dark,'" she said.

Go deeper: Hear the original.

Share with a music lover

6. Eclipse prep: Merch

How will anyone know you saw the total eclipse of the sun if you don't have the T-shirt?

  • Good thing there's no shortage of merchandise to prove it.

What's out there:

Special mention: A portion of purchases of a Bigfoot Steals the Eclipse shirt will be donated to the Arkansas Food Bank.

The bottom line: The best merch you can get is likely free — a proper pair of viewing glasses.

Thanks to Fadel Allassan for editing and James Gilzow for copy editing this newsletter.

💸 Alex is reading about "green bank" funding.

☕️ Worth is drinking a cup of Airship's Black Bear blend gifted to him by his friend and colleague, Alex.