'It's a Total Mess': Best Quotes of 2021

'It's a Total Mess': Best Quotes of 2021
A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.  (noamgalai / Shutterstock)

“I did not anticipate how difficult it would be for many people to grasp the scope of the pandemic and embrace public health strategies for mitigating the impact.”

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, state epidemiologist, medical director for immunizations and medical director for outbreak response at the Arkansas Department of Health

“It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in a statement on the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, after an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, prompting lawmakers to evacuate ahead of a vote to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race

“I’ve never seen the levels of burnout and depression and stress on people in my entire career. We’ve identified staff that have been literally suicidal over the last year, and that’s terrible.”

Gary Paxson, president and CEO, White River Health System of Batesville, speaking after the summer surge of the COVID-19 delta variant

“We’ve been working 12-hour days for 18 months, and we’re tired.”

Birch Wright, COO of Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, on the continuing plight of frontline medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

“It’s a total mess.”

— Lexicon CEO Patrick Schueck, describing the same dilemma for employers

“It’s a huge mess.”

Stuart Jackson, a labor lawyer with Wright Lindsey Jennings of Little Rock, describing conflicting federal rules requiring COVID vaccines for some employees and an Arkansas law making vaccine requirements illegal

“We talk to churches, civic groups, all sorts of people, and a lot of them have bought into hoaxes about the vaccine, which is safe. It’s the safest and best vaccine ever. We know it is; we’ve given 80,000.”

Carl Collier, owner of Collier Drug Stores of Fayetteville, whose eight stores led the vaccine effort in northwest Arkansas

“These legislators are making us look like the Archie Bunker of America. I would sum it up by saying that blatant bigotry nullifies beautiful bike trails. We’ve gone backwards in history probably 15 or 20 years.”

— Attorney Tom Mars, venting about the reputational and tourism impacts of a state law passed this year banning some health treatments for transgender minors

“The drugs we were using in March are not even close to what we’re using now. We’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the disease.”

Dr. Nikhil Meena of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which was among Arkansas hospitals conducting clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments early this year

“I think you would be hard-pressed to find this anywhere in the U.S., probably in the world.”

Gerry Snyder, executive director of the University of Arkansas School of Art, speaking about the Windgate Foundation’s successive multimillion-dollar gifts to institutions around Arkansas to construct arts buildings

“I think a lot of the people got out of the service industry so they wouldn’t have to have contact with other humans and they found good jobs that were safer for them. And some of those jobs had benefits, and I don’t think a lot of those people will be returning to the service industry.”

Gio Bruno, co-owner of Bruno’s Little Italy restaurant in Little Rock

“I was struck by Mr. Easterday’s demeanor during these meetings. While he did get a little teary-eyed at times ... he did not show the remorse that I expected from someone who had defrauded our company out of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Kevin Hueser of Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., a subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc., discussing cattle producer and feedlot operator Cody Allen Easterday of Mesa, Washington, who pleaded guilty in March to one count of wire fraud and agreed to pay $233 million in restitution to Tyson

“I don’t know how long it takes to raise cattle to have them slaughtered, but at some point, auditors should go out and look and make sure there’s actually something there.”

Scott Schumacher of the University of Washington School of Law, speaking about Tyson’s failure to have auditors verify that Easterday’s cattle were there

“I’ve never had a holiday named after a development before.”

Blake Jackson, founder and managing partner of the Monde Group, when Oct. 4 was declared Esplanade Day in North Little Rock

“There is nothing that is free about name, image and likeness.”

Judy Henry of the Wright Lindsey & Jennings law firm, after college athletes rushed to sign NIL endorsement deals

“I have debt up to here. No, I’m not rich. It’s a different kind of wealth ... I’m not picking cotton.”

Tom Dees, founder and president of Holiday Island Development Corp., who has spent a half-century developing and nurturing a slice of the Ozarks in Carroll County, Holiday Island

“If you find them, let me know. There is not a lot of data specifically geared toward women in banking compared to male counterparts.”

Natalie Bartholomew, Arkansas banker and author of the Girl Banker blog, on difficulties in tracking progress by women

“If I could explain everything that happened, I might be an expert, but I might be making some things up, too.”

Steve Anthony, president of Anthony Timberlands Inc. of Bearden, after the pandemic led to a “stratospheric” spike in lumber prices

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but once people see the success of this building and see what’s possible, nothing breeds success like success.”

Pace Burt of Albany, Georgia, regarding his $25 million-plus redevelopment plans for the old VA Hospital in Little Rock.

“Where some come asking for incentives, Amazon didn’t. It is refreshing.”

Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, regarding Amazon eschewing a financial handout to buy land for its $208 million distribution center.

“We’ve seen a mixed bag of residents including people making no effort to pay the rent. That’s what’s frustrating to me. Some people are just giving us the finger. But the day of reckoning is coming.”

David Wilson, owner of Tower Management in Hot Springs, regarding some apartment dwellers gaming the pandemic relief system’s no-eviction mandate.

“We’re not a nonprofit, but we definitely are a company with the public good in mind.”

Dana Deree, president of Arkansas Global Connect, which provides American employers with an efficient pipeline of reliable seasonal workers from abroad.

“I was basically minding my own business, and I had three offers come out of nowhere.”

William Kerst Jr., president of Community First Trust Co., on would-be buyers interested in his Hot Springs venture.

“I’ve never had a holiday named after a development before.”

Blake Jackson, founder and managing partner of the Monde Group, when Oct. 4 was declared Esplanade Day in North Little Rock.