Axios Northwest Arkansas

Picture of the Fayetteville skyline.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Hey, there. It's Monday again. And Flag Day.

β˜€οΈ Get some sunblock. Looks sunny with highs in the low 90s.

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Today's newsletter is 896 words, about 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Push to expand internet access

A pair of Ethernet plugs signifying Internet connections

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

A coalition of groups across the state is launching a public awareness campaign to get more Arkansans access to discounted internet. It's all thanks to a relatively new pandemic-era program, according to a Monday news release.

Why it matters: More than 1 million Arkansans don't have internet. That's about a third of the state.

What's happening: Arkansans who struggle to afford internet are eligible to apply for the Federal Communications Commission's Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

  • The program, which launched last month, gives discounts of up to $50 a month on home internet and up to $100 toward a laptop, computer or tablet.
  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Broadband Office, Bentonville-based nonprofit Heartland Forward, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, and the Arkansas State Library, among others, are trying to get the word out to low-income Arkansans through ads and community outreach.

Yes, but: The $3.2 billion program is temporary and will end when money runs out or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic.

What they're saying:

"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed how many Arkansans still lack internet access, and how critical it is to invest in closing the digital divide in our state."
β€” Gov. Hutchinson in a news release

Details: One member of a household must meet at least one of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in assistance programs like SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC's Lifeline program
  • Receives free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's low-income or COVID-19 program

Of note: Heartland Forward is promoting the program as part of its three-year Connecting the Heartland initiative focused on ensuring families and businesses have access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.

2. Arkansas ends postseason

Head Coach Dave Van Horn of the Arkansas Razorbacks after a game at Baum-Walker Stadium on June 7, 2021.  Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Head Coach Dave Van Horn of the Arkansas Razorbacks after a game at Baum-Walker Stadium on June 7, 2021. Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The No. 1 ranked Razorbacks lost 3-2 to North Carolina State last night, ending the team's postseason.

  • It's disappointing, but it was a great season for Hog fans.
  • The first day of play for CWS is Saturday, June 19.

3. πŸš΄β€β™‚οΈ Fayetteville rides mid-pack on list of top bike cities

Data: League of American Bicyclists. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: League of American Bicyclists. Chart: Axios Visuals

Saddle up, NWA. Fayetteville is the sixth most bicycle-friendly city in the U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists.

  • The city has 30 registered bicycle-friendly businesses (BFBs).
  • By comparison, Bentonville has 11 BFBs, and Rogers has four.

Why it matters: Bike-friendly communities are attractive to a growing number of tourists and professionals looking for places to live in the new work-from-home economy.

  • Cycling reduces traffic, parking needs, CO2 emissions and is good for physical and mental health. Plus, it's fun.

The criteria: The league maintains a national registry of BFBs. It awards bicycle-friendly status to businesses based on certain standards, including offering encouragement, education, and resources to help commuters bike safely and confidently.

  • Application fees range from $50 for small businesses to $500 for businesses with 1,000 or more employees.

πŸ’¬ Our thought bubble: Bentonville's Walmart Stores Inc. is a BFB and has the largest employee-related impact in NWA with 23,000 employees.

  • But, c'mon, can't the city that calls itself the mountain bike capital of the world tie with Fayetteville? Challenge made.

4. Your week ahead

photo of George's Majestic Lounge

George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville on June 12, 2021. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Here's what's on tap this week:

Fayetteville City Council meeting β€” 5:30pm Tuesday at City Hall or online here.

🎸 George's Majestic Lounge:

🎀 Groundwaves β€” hip-hop and rap open mic and mentorship program Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 214 S. Main St. in Springdale. Hosted by Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange.

🎭 "My Father's War" β€” at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Ticket prices vary. Get them here.

🎟 A Thousand Ways: Part Two β€” A performance that requires audience members to participate. Details here. Various times Wednesday at The Momentary in Bentonville. Tickets are $10.

πŸ³οΈβ€βš§οΈ In Real Time Community Discussion: The State of Arkansas and Transgender Futures β€” online discussion hosted by Northwest Arkansas Equality and Crystal Bridges at 7pm Wednesday. Register for free here.

πŸ› Curated Goods β€” pop-up vintage market 12-6pm Thursday at Brick & Mortar in downtown Rogers.

🎬 Black Arkansas Film Showcase β€” screening of five short films at 5:30pm Thursday at Crystal Bridges. Free but registration is required.

πŸ₯¬ Bentonville Farmers Market β€” 4-7pm Thursday at the Bentonville Square.

5. A quick bite: Saiwok Vietnamese street food

Photo of a sandwich from Sai Wok in Rogers

The pho au jus at Saiwok in Rogers. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

πŸ₯ͺ Worth here. Had one of my favorite sandwiches in NWA recently: a pho au jus from Saiwok in Rogers.

  • This is sliced brisket, onions, cilantro, hoisin sauce, sriracha and jalapeΓ±os. With a side of warm and savory au jus.
  • It's the perfect lunch to break up a cold bike ride, BTW.

In case you don't know: Saiwok has been around for a while but is tucked away in the back of a strip center on Walnut Street. It's easy to miss if you're not looking.

  • The eatery offers a variety of bao sandwiches, shareables and customizable bowl line-ups.
  • Everything I've ever tried on the menu was worthy of my time and money.

Guilty pleasure: If you're feeling just plain naughty, try the smoked pork belly fries.

  • They're topped with scallions, fried egg, kimchinase sauce and mozzarella cheese. Yeah, they are.

Pro tip: Share these, and don't get back on a bike afterward.

🎭 Alex saw this over the weekend.

πŸ•Ά Worth is enjoying time on the deck.

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