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The Latest Chance for Pine Bluff (Editorial)

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Twitter, with its 140-character limit, is not a good medium for detail or nuance, and in careless hands those short messages can result in a lot of wasted time. Especially Congressional time that could be better spent than chasing down presidential tweets.

But Twitter, demanding concise communication, can also deliver pithy commentary, like this from a user named Allen Davenport (@SugarboyWilson) in response to Assistant Editor Kyle Massey’s recent article about efforts to redevelop the county seat of Jefferson County:

The less concise editorial writers at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also took note of Massey’s work, using it as a jumping-off point for an editorial on the importance of preserving historic buildings. That’s because the story began with candid, compelling interviews. New Hampshire industrialist Tom Reilley said his first impression of downtown Pine Bluff three years ago was a pine tree growing through the roof of the once-grand Hotel Pines. Economic developer Lou Ann Nisbett said she had tried to interest the producers of “The Walking Dead” in using some downtown buildings as zombie sets. Blowing them up, even.

Pine Bluff has never lacked for boosters, but there must be more than sentimental nostalgia for a once-great city to create real, sustainable growth. The continued loyalty of a fast-growing publicly traded company — Simmons First National Corp. — is vital. Reilley built a $230 million Highland Pellets plant there, and there’s promise in a proposal by Energy Security Partners’ to build a $3 billion-plus plant to convert natural gas to liquid fuel north of town. A sales tax proposed by the City Council — regressive, to be sure, but self-imposed if voters approve — could be a difference-maker.

Or this could be just one more story about the rebirth of Pine Bluff.

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