The Year in Quotes 2004

"I think someone's going to be the last person on the chain letter up there..."

Johnny Allison, chairman of Home Bancshares of Conway, on the holding company's decision to invest in former Arvest banker Gary Head's new Signature Bank rather than trying to enter the northwest Arkansas market from scratch.

"This is not a layoff because these people do have other opportunities."

SBC spokesman Ted Wagnon, on the 25 people whose jobs were eliminated when a call center in Jonesboro was closed. They were eligible to apply for other jobs in the company.

"I was offended at the thought Arkansans wouldn't appreciate good beer."

Russ Melton, founder of four-year-old Diamond Bear Brewing Co. in Little Rock, which turned its first profit in November.

"I don't comment on pending investigations. I'm going to hang up the phone now."

C. Dwayne Plumlee, assistant prosecuting attorney for Fulton County, when asked if he should have recused himself from a case in which night deposit cash was stolen by a teller at the Bank of Salem, where Plumlee is on the board of the directors. At the time, the Arkansas State Police said the case was closed.

"I'm not going to do no newspaper crap. If I'm going to tell anything, I'm going to have to get me a lawyer."

Sandra Layne, the teller Plumlee declined to prosecute, apparently hadn't even engaged a lawyer, even though she had admitted to a state police investigator that she repeatedly stole from night deposits.

"I learned from Dad if you leave your light on and the door unlocked some more business might come in."

Russellville native Ronny Clay, who with fellow Arkansan Frank Burge, turned around troubled Destin Bank in Florida and then sold it to Whitney Holding Corp. of New Orleans for an eye-popping 5.7 times book value.

"You may be asking 'so what is the catch?' There is none."

From a brochure touting the 90 percent savings on federal income taxes available to investors in Clearwater Consulting Concepts, a business in the U.S. Virgin Islands operated by attorney Teddy Skokos and CPA Lance Talkington, both of Little Rock. An investor included the pamphlet in a lawsuit he filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court after the tax benefits failed to materialize and he found himself in arrears on estimated tax payments to the IRS.

"You don't find poor Arkansans claiming residency in the Virgin Islands. We're talking about people of considerable means."

John Theis, assistant revenue commissioner with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, on the number of Arkansans who may be improperly claiming USVI residency to enjoy big tax benefits.

"Our church is praying for her. We hope and pray that she can get everything straightened out and she'll take care of her obligations and put herself right with the Lord."

Jerry Terrell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Scott, on Mary O'Hanlon-Smith, owner of Global Title Co. of Sherwood. O'Hanlon-Smith handled the refinance of the church's mortgage, but the original debt was never paid off, leaving the 16-member congregation with two bank loans to repay.

"You know it's bad when you go to Wal-Mart and you stand in the toy aisle for 30-40 minutes looking for something you don't have. You know something has gone wrong there."

C. Ann Fleming, chief operating officer of Fleming Electric and mother, on the challenge of raising financially responsible children in affluent families.

"We have more and more clients show us those pictures and say, 'We want our garage to look like this. But behind the doors, it's just as cluttered as it used to be, but now it looks tidy."

Little Rock architect Scott Smith.

"I never dreamed I would be designing multimillion-dollar homes in the state of Arkansas, but I am. All I can say is thank God I'm not swinging that mortgage."

Fort Smith architect Anthony Leraris.

"There is no negotiation with the state's largest health insurer. Take it or leave it."

David Wroten, assistant executive vice president of the Arkansas Medical Society, on increasing physician unrest with the reimbursement rates offered by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

"I've always been willing to push the envelope, to take chances. And if we didn't get our heads handed back to us on a platter, it gave us confidence."

Steve Williams, iconoclast founder of Maverick Transportation Inc. of North Little Rock and current chairman of the American Trucking Associations.

"We're purposefully trying to downsize the portfolio over time. But we're not going to let someone come in and buy a property in a fire sale."

David Malone, executive director of Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, on the pension fund's retreat from the real-estate investing habits of his disgraced predecessor, Bill Shirron.

"All these ducks are being eradicated up North and what we have is this older, hunt-smart duck."

Ducote Haynes, chairman of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation's duck committee, explaining the declining number of ducks being killed in Arkansas.

"This is home. I guess it never occurred to me to do it somewhere else."

Billionaire businessman Warren Stephens on his decision to build his dream golf course, Alotian Club, west of Little Rock.

"Just sitting around playing golf or fishing seven days a week isn't very fulfilling for me... It would get boring..."

W.E. Ayres, 73, former chairman of Simmons First National Bank, on why he keeps an office and continues to work and serve after reaching retirement age.

"I hope they do fantastic. But not being pessimistic but being brutally honest, the only thing that has ever survived here has been us and arena football."

Bill Valentine, general manager of the Arkansas Travelers, on the chances of success for auto dealer Larry Crain's minor-league basketball team, the Arkansas RimRockers.

"Anyone 'amongst the folks' knows that racial terms and jokes are still acceptable conversational coin with some people. It seems to me, however, that when a person accepts an important position of trust with the entire University of Arkansas system, he would purge his vocabulary of such words — and work on his heart and mind in the same vein."

William R. "Bill" Wilson, U.S. District Judge commenting on testimony in which a former chairman of the UA Board of Trustees and a current board member admitted that they use the word "nigger" and tell racial and ethnic jokes.

"They think they are moving to the end of the world."

Dr. Tim Martin, chief of pediatric anesthesia at Arkansas Children's Hospital, on what a tough sell he has in trying to recruit anesthesiologists to the state.

"Down here in Arkansas, we're looking at all those visitors like a fox gazing into the hen house."

Joe David Rice, Arkansas' tourism director, on trying to entice the 6 million tourists who go to Branson each year to cross over the Missouri border to Eureka Springs.

"We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. How bright that light is remains to be seen."

Frank Cox, then CEO of the state's largest advertising agency, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, commenting in January on the what looked to be the end of a tough advertising market in a stagnant economy. In November, Cox resigned from the firm.

"We are uncertain at this time about the best use for this site."

Tom Schneider, executive vice president for development for Simon Property Group, on abandoning the Summit Mall project.

"If I had known he was not going to appear, I would have certainly tried to advise him that this is very, very ill-advised."

Chuck Banks, former U.S. attorney and former lawyer for Keith Moser, who failed to appear in a Detroit federal court for a scheduled guilty plea.

"Lemurs are wonderful."

Keith Moser, chatting with federal prosecutors about some of the wildlife he saw before he was apprehended on Madagascar.

"Everyone that knows Keith — his family and friends — they know what a great person he is. And to make him out as a racketeer and a money launderer, that's just not him."

Valerie Moser on her husband, who was on the lam in Madagascar as she spoke.

"We're doing some stomping."

Joseph Post, vice president of sales at Post Familie Winery, after a 25 percent sales increase in 2003.

"You don't stay in this business long by dinking people around."

Butch Hanby, talking about Berryville's Hanby Lumber Co, which has been in business since 1856.

"I was screaming when it hit $1.10, $1.20, $1.25, $1.30."

Don Keathley, explaining the effect of the dollar's tanking value against the euro on his business, Antique Warehouse at Botkinburg.