Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of

This isn’t intended to make the lives of anyone harder. But we’ve said it before. If you are the member of a board of a church, civic group, sports league, water association, volunteer fire department or other non-profit or charitable organization, a small business, or even a large business, you should know that there are members or paid employees who will steal you blind. There are lots of sad stories from our own town that deal with embezzlement of funds by trusted employees. Sometimes, the thefts are so enormous that they destroy small organizations or businesses. It is the responsibility of a group’s board, directors or governing committee to have safeguards in place that makes employee fraud difficult. We can’t provide you with a direct link for legal reasons, but we can tell you that Adam Uzialko of Business News Daily updated earlier this year an article entitled “5 Signs of Employee Fraud and How to Respond to Them.” We recommend the article to anyone with oversight authority for people who handle fiscal transactions.

Our new online poll asks readers for their opinion about the recent dust-up in Florida regarding a photograph of Michelangelo’s sculpture, “David.” Apparently, there was at least one parent who objected that the classic sculpture of the male form is inappropriate for younger students. So we ask – is “David” obscene or a great work of art? Age inappropriate, or something any cultured person should have knowledge about?

Interesting news from the folks at Standard Lithium on Wednesday. The company said it has found a location in East Texas where there’s the highest concentration of lithium-bearing brine in North America. The higher the concentration, the more cost-efficient becomes the process to extract lithium from saltwater. This raises the question. If East Texas brine has a higher concentration of lithium than brine under Lafayette and Columbia counties, what does that do to the prospect that Standard Lithium will proceed with lithium extraction locally? We’ll have to wait and see. In our favor: Standard Lithium largely understands what’s available here and has already invested millions in infrastructure in Union County to process lithium.

Another article we can tell you about, but can’t provide you with a link for legal reasons. That said, we found the New York Times article by Eric Lipton, “From Rockets to Ball Bearings, Pentagon Struggles to Feed War Machine” without a paywall on Yahoo News. It’s a deep dive into the concerns of the military about the replenishment of U.S. arms that are being sent to Ukraine, and the potential of the military being caught short should we find ourselves in a conflict with China. The article mentions almost every significant product made by defense contractors in the Camden area. One takeaway from the article is that we may see more expansion by the South Arkansas military contractors than heretofore revealed. If you have an interest in the topic, read the article.

The defense industry shortfall strikes us as the opportunity for South Arkansas to recruit more small companies that feed Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Aerojet Rocketdyne, General Dynamics and others. One wonders how many little parts that go into a HIMARS or a missile are made by some small company of 20-50 people located hundreds or thousands of miles away. It would be nice if they relocated to be closer to their major customer.


The governor is out with a plan to build a 3,000-bed, half-billion-dollar prison with annual operating costs of about $31 million. It may wind up being located near Hope, and we won’t begrudge Hempstead County it’s apparent economic coup – if the anti-prison naysayers don’t beat it back. We know that plenty of people hate the idea of having a big state prison anywhere near them but we’ll repeat. That’s a dumb, dumb, dumb point of view. Columbia County took a good swing at a state prison a few years ago but it didn’t pan out. Boys and girls, the facility for which Columbia County bid in 2015 would have had 1,000 beds and brought 250 jobs. Imagine what might have happened if it had actually been built here. It would be up and running today. And we could have proudly said, yeah, we can handle 1,000 more beds. Five hundred stable jobs that aren’t going to get up and move. Almost $50 million a year in payroll and expenditures. And the state’s practically begging communities to take it. We should have remained in the contest.

Yeah, we're fairly certain the AG would like to take that Chick-fil-A/four-wheeler comment back. Type of thing a future foe would run on a continuous loop.

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of Email him at or call him at 870-904-3865. Opinions expressed in this column are his own. The governor’s anti-crime package is uncomplete without some move to restrict the availability of firearms to crazy people.

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