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Russellville Reflects on the Solar EclipseLock Icon

1 min read

Russell Jones, the interim president of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, had a busy weekend.

Russellville was a happening place since it was in the middle of the path of totality during the April 8 solar eclipse.

“In case you haven’t heard, we are going to have one today,” Jones joked the morning of the eclipse.

The university and town hosted 24 scientists from the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, as well as three astronomers from the Paris Observatory — the one in France. Jones said the university took advantage of the popularity of the city’s prime eclipse location by offering its parking lots to eclipse-viewing visitors.

“Everybody has leased out their houses as bed-and-breakfasts, leased out parking spaces,” Jones said. “We actually sold 185 parking spaces on campus. It was nice seeing all the downtown businesses open and busy with waiting lines outside the doors to most of the shops. It has really revitalized the downtown area.”

One of the unique celebrations Russellville experienced was a mass-wedding ceremony with hundreds of couples tying the knot during the eclipse. It made Jones consider a new occupation.

“I thought, ‘Maybe I should be the lawyer handing cards to those that need me later,’” Jones said.

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