Arkansas Business: The Best & Worst News of 2012

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

Clockwise from top left: Mr. Dunderbak's makes its return to McCain Mall, Arkansas Children's Hospital makes grand plans, Gus Malzahn returns to Auburn from a one-year stint at Arkansas State, Jon Brawner thought it was wild goose season and Oxford American makes some changes in its masthead.

Arkansas State University’s Red Wolf Club took out an advertisement in the Jonesboro Sun to welcome new coach Bryan Harsin to town. Only problem? Harsin’s first name was misspelled in the ad. ASU folks tell us a corrected ad was submitted but didn’t run. Newspaper sources say the ad was submitted after the deadline.

Best Bookstore News

In the uncertain world of independent bookstores, it’s always good to hear something positive. This year, it came from That Bookstore in Blytheville, a longtime institution — and favorite of Arkansas native author John Grisham — in downtown Blytheville. Mary Gay Shipley, who has owned the shop since its genesis in 1976, sold it to Grant Hill of Mountain Home in November. Hill, 22, said he plans to move from Mountain Home, noting that he had “always dreamed of” owning a bookstore. Shipley sold the shop for a nominal price of $35,000.

Best Example for the Kids

DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home decided to share its CEO, Darren Caldwell, with Delta Memorial Hospital in Dumas after Delta’s CEO resigned.

Worst Example of Speedy Justice

In March 2010, the Arkansas Insurance Department moved swiftly to suspend the license of insurance agent Steve Standridge of Mount Ida after accusing him of falsifying the collateral he used when he bought Gibraltar National Insurance Co. of Little Rock. The department alleged fraud involving premium finance loans. It wasn’t until about 2½ years later that Standridge was charged in federal court with 12 felony counts related to alleged fraudulent premium finance loans. He has pleaded not guilty.

Worst Divorce

After a partnership that spanned more than three decades, Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute Inc. and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences decided to part ways earlier this year. The reason? UAMS saw CARTI’s announcement to build its own cancer treatment center as a threat to UAMS’ own cancer treatment center. It cost UAMS about $20 million to leave the relationship, which included buying out CARTI’s lease agreement with UAMS and replacing CARTI’s machines.

Worst Confession

Jon Brawner told his wife, his lawyer and police that he had helped bury the body of John Glasgow, the construction executive who vanished in January 2008. But an intensive search of the Lonoke County beanfield he identified as the burial spot yielded nothing. Brawner, 44, who served 202 days for his role in an attempted kidnapping in 2009 that left an accomplice dead, is currently doing time in the Tucker Unit for stalking his now ex-wife — but the Arkansas Department of Correction estimates that he’ll be back on the street in March, a year after he was given a 10-year sentence.

Worst Probate Case

Or maybe just the longest. The legal wrangle over the estate of Little Rock Ponzi schemer M. David Howell celebrated its 10th anniversary in October and still wasn’t quite done. When the last half-million dollars is distributed, the estate will have paid about 6 cents for every dollar of the $38.3 million in approved claims from friends and friends-of-friends who believed Howell was an investing genius. Another $34.8 million in claims were disallowed.



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