Boasting a diverse array of natural attractions, Arkansas has long been heralded as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Last month, the Northwest Arkansas region received a new accolade for its outdoor offerings. With two outstanding biking communities in Bentonville and Fayetteville, Northwest Arkansas has been announced by the International Mountain Biking Association as the very first “Regional Ride Center.” With this new international designation, Northwest Arkansas is expected to serve as a model for other cycling-centric communities.
To learn more about the region’s cycling community (and its roots), we turned to Highroller Cyclery. From their flagship location on the corner of Spring Street and School Avenue in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the employees and patrons of this local bike shop have watched the cycling community grow over the past 40 years.
According to fit specialist Branton Moore, cyclists in the 1970s purchased bicycles both as a recreational pastime and an energy-saving alternative to cars, a sentiment still mirrored in today’s biking culture. In order to better serve its burgeoning clientele, the Highroller Cyclery opened a second shop in Rogers, Arkansas, just off the Razorback Greenway near Horsebarn Park in 2013.
The 37-mile Razorback Greenway was completed earlier this year and runs from Fayetteville to Bella Vista, connecting various on-road and off-road biking communities. Moore says the Greenway has encouraged local municipalities to incorporate multi-use trails into their infrastructure, and has also given more people access to cycling.
“Those who might have been intimidated by riding on the streets now have a safe and controlled environment to experience cycling,” Moore explains.
If you find yourself intimidated by the cycling world, even with the luxuries of Razorback Greenway, Moore says not to worry.
“We see all types of riders,” he says. “Cycling is available to all those interested. We sell everything from a child's first balance bike to recreational fitness bikes, to top of the line competition bikes.”
Thanks to passionate riders, business owners and local officials, Northwest Arkansas cycling has evolved into a rich culture that includes all ages and demographics. If you’re interested in getting started in the Northwest Arkansas biking scene, Moore and the rest of the Highroller team welcome you to stop on by.
“We have a very professional staff whose focus is to help all riders no matter what type of riding they enjoy. Our service departments are also manned by experienced bicycle mechanics who are both knowledgeable and accessible.”
NWA Airport Announces Nonstop Service to San Francisco
Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport announced it would have nonstop jet service from northwest Arkansas to San Francisco.
The direct flight from United Airlines, which will be operated by SkyWest Airlines, will begin Oct. 25. Kelly Johnson, XNA’s director, said officials have been working for a while to obtain a direct flight to San Francisco... Read full article at Arkansas Business.
Financial Quarter Planned to Revitalize More of Downtown Little Rock
With hopes of revitalizing more of downtown Little Rock, studioMAIN is leading an effort to create the Financial Quarter, an area stretching from Sixth Street to the Arkansas River and Main Street to Broadway.
According to Glen Woodruff, director of business development for Wittenberg Delony & Davidson Architects and the studioMAIN coordinator for the project, the goal of the Financial Quarter is to draw people out of their offices and on to the streets. He said that right now, employees go into the parking decks, take the elevator to their offices and leave when 5 p.m. comes around... Read full article at Arkansas Business.
Recent recognition of trails expected to increase Northwest Arkansas tourism
The International Mountain Biking Association has given Northwest Arkansas a new designation recognizing the region's trail systems and can be used as a marketing tool to increase tourism, according to officials... Read full article at Arkansas Online.
Why Wal-Mart, an icon of suburbia, had to urbanize its hometown
BENTONVILLE, Ark.— When Jerome Lynch first met a Wal-Mart recruiter at a conference in Washington D.C., he had no intention of joining up. He couldn’t even guess where it was based.
"I said ‘I don’t know, Texas?' She said 'no, Bentonville, Arkansas.' I kind of wrote it off right and there,” recalled Lynch, 23. "The first thing that popped in my mind was cows, and trees, and probably people hiking.” Not something he was used to in his hometown of Miami, where he’d arrived from Jamaica as a toddler. "I was a little nervous from that standpoint,” Lynch said... Read full article at The Washington Post.
Conveniently located off the old Frisco Trail along the Regional Razorback Greenway, Arsaga's at The Depot is becoming a hub for the local biking community. Within walking distance from the UofA, this charming coffee shop and restaurant is also a popular post-game Sunday morning brunch spot. Tucked beside Dickson Street and the Fayetteville Entertainment District, Arsaga's at the Depot epitomizes Northwest Arkansas character in a dynamic blend of natural beauty, historic charm and culinary excellence.
In addition to its convenient trailside location, the Arsaga's depot building has long been one of Fayetteville's cultural landmarks. Built in the 1900's, the building once housed freight for the Frisco Train Yard. In the early 2000's, the Frisco Trail was developed, providing pedestrians and cyclists safe access to Fayetteville's Entertainment District.
“I was very excited about this building, especially once I found out that the trail was right here,” says owner Cary Arsaga.
But the building didn't come without its drawbacks. Excitement fizzled once the remodeling process began, and Cary and his wife Cindy weren't sure how to proceed. The building was worse for wear and exuded a stale, depressing atmosphere. Once the Arsagas decided to tear everything out, the building's true character was revealed. After tearing away layers of drywall and removing the lowered ceiling, the bare bones of the charismatic warehouse took center stage. Today, the bare brick of the depot's walls add a loft-like quality to the restaurant's atmosphere.
“We just started scraping off the paint and just left it. People have an emotional response to the architecture and history of this building” says Cary.
The Arsagas anticipated that many of their customers would arrive by the trail, so the remodel of the old train depot focused on the trailside entrance as the main attraction. The back patio has a grand staircase with a long, covered porch and ample seating. Bike racks line both sides of the stairs and a wrap-around ramp provides a casual ascent from the trail to the porch. Landscaping, including a garden with vegetables and herbs, borders the trailside of the building. Picnic tables offer additional seating beneath shade trees .
Designed to be a focal point and attraction to people utilizing the trail, business owner Cary says the trailside entrance is doing just that.
“We get a significant amount of business from the trail,” he says.
We visited Arsaga's at the Depot to find out what brought guests to the restaurant. One mother and her two sons got dropped off near Wilson Park where Skull Creek transitions to Frisco Trial, just so they could ride their bikes down to the Entertainment District. Another couple uses the trail several times a day – to walk their dog, bike to work or have an afternoon stroll with their young son, Franklin. They frequent Arsaga's at The Depot for the casual ambiance and quality offerings.
“It's a nice environment. They have refreshing beverages, and it's nice to get a seat inside to cool off,” says Claudia Vilato.
Claudia teaches English Composition at the University of Arkansas and her husband, Bret Lehmer, works in astronomy and astrophysics at J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The couple recently moved to Northwest Arkansas from Washington D.C. and have visited Arsaga's at The Depot several times since arriving last month.
“People can get a drink or a meal in the middle of town and sit on the back deck and feel like they are in the country,” says Cary Arsaga.
The kitchen serves the same menu all day, which gives patrons the option of having breakfast for dinner and to enjoy the sweet or savory crepes at anytime. In addition to the seasonal drink menu, the coffee bar serves beer, wine, Bloody Mary's with sake and other specialty cocktails.
Music lovers will be happy to hear that Arsaga's at the Depot showcases live music on the weekends. If you're interested, you can find the line up on the Arsaga's at the Depot Facebook Page.
“In September, our musicians in-residence are Allison Williams and Willi Goehring. They will be playing every Saturday from 7-9 p.m.,” says general manager Déa Self.
As long-time supporters of the arts, we were delighted to discover that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was selected as the backdrop for the NorthPark Center's 2015 fall campaign.
Banowetz + Company, the agency producing the work, recently released a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot, which featured fresh designs from Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Burberry, Mulberry and Ferragamo (among others).
Photographed in the midst of American masterpieces, models Zhenya Katava and Daniel de Wolf took center stage in front of the camera while Maxine Helfman worked her magic behind the lens.
The campaign will be published nationally next month in Harper’s Bazaar, W, and WWD, as well as the Dallas-based publications PaperCity, FD and Modern Luxury.
The article compliments the five-century span of artwork appearing in the museum’s eight galleries and the three miles of trails cutting through the property’s 120 acres. It also recommends extending the art experience by staying at Pratt Place Inn and Barn in Fayetteville to see their international decor... Read the full article at 5 News.
NWA Free Health Center renamed ‘WelcomeHealth’
Fayetteville-based free and affordable healthcare provider Northwest Arkansas Free Health Clinic has a new name.
Officials recently announced the nonprofit clinic is now called WelcomeHealth.
According to Monika Fischer-Massie, executive director for the organization, the new name better reflects the clinic’s mission following changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)... Read the full article at the Fayetteville Flyer.
Rogers School District Completes Land Purchase
ROGERS -- The School District last week completed a real estate deal in which it acquired four acres across the street from Heritage High School for $475,000, said Jim White, the district's chief operations officer.
The undeveloped property connects two other pieces of land the district owns on the block defined by South Eighth and South Sixth streets and West Ash and West Olrich streets. It increases Heritage's property to about 47 acres. Rogers High School, in comparison, sits on about 60 acres... Read the full article at the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
JBU Breaks Ground on $6M Health Sciences Building
John Brown University broke ground Monday on a $6 million Health Sciences Building scheduled to be complete by fall 2016.
The building will include three classrooms, four exam rooms with computer-operated, interactive mannequins that simulate urgent care scenarios for student education, two health assessment labs, a computer lab, offices and study lounges, according to a news release from JBU... Read the full article at Arkansas Business.
$15M in Walton Family Grants Fuel Culinary Expansion at NWACC
NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville said Tuesday that its Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management will expand thanks to three grants totaling $15 million from the Walton Family Foundation.
The college said the money will help pay for new facilities, enhanced programming, professional development, a new program identity, equipment, new leadership and more faculty... Read the full article at Arkansas Business.
Walnut Farm Montessori School in Bentonville, Arkansas, is the first and only Montessori school in the state accredited by the American Montessori Society. Working with toddlers and elementary-aged children, Walnut Farm Montessori offers a mixed-age environment that emphasizes discovery, social sensibility, reasoning and imagination.
Established in 1991, the Walnut Farm Montessori School provides students with a full Montessori Curriculum as well as enrichment programs in music, art and Spanish. With the mindset that learning is an experience, the Montessori philosophy adheres to the belief that education is a natural, interactive process between children and their environment.
[caption id="attachment_4680" align="aligncenter" width="563"] “Children need nature for healthy development of their senses, and, therefore, for learning and creativity.” Richard Louv, author of “The Last Child in the Woods.”[/caption]
Q & A with Amy Davis
Accreditation Specialist at Walnut Farm Montessori
First of all can you explain more about the Montessori philosophy?
The Montessori philosophy acknowledges that every child is unique and is naturally driven to learn and grow. Simply stated, “Follow the Child.” The process instills an intrinsic drive to do meaningful work and a love of learning. At the core of Montessori philosophy is a respect for self, the physical environment and others.
How would you explain the benefits of this education style to a new parent?
There are thousands of benefits to the Montessori method, so I would like to focus on the benefits of hand to brain development. Simply put, if you want your child to learn about geometry do you want the child to draw a square or have a weighed cube in her hand?
When students hold Montessori materials in their hands there is a direct imprint on the brain. These materials are designed to spark the interest of the child in any given area of the curriculum. They are also designed in a way that leads to meaningful, purposeful work, without the traditional “teacher” telling a child what they should or should not be working on. This “follow the child” format leads to an intrinsic drive to learn that is unmatched in other education methods. Do you want your child to work out math problems because they seek the answer or because they get a smiley face or sticker on their worksheet?
Could you illustrate the average classroom experience at Walnut Farm?
One of the important elements of an authentic Montessori experience is the uninterrupted three-hour work cycle. A child may come into the prepared environment, greet friends and the Montessori guide then choose purposeful work. For example, a five-year-old may use materials to work on dynamic division for the entire work cycle, or a younger child may work on a variety of materials in the curriculum. Practical life, sensorial and basic language work would be visible at all times in the beehive community of the classroom. Children have many opportunities to have a snack, assist younger children with beginning lessons, and even spend time in our outdoor classroom for gross motor skills. All of these wonderful tasks can be viewed or, for the child, experienced during a classroom work cycle.
How do teachers manage the different needs of each learner?
The Montessori guide is specifically trained in the skill of observation. All children have their own set of interest. By observing the child in the prepared environment of the Montessori classroom the guide is able to spark the learning process through each child’s shown interest.
What is so special about the discovery process and how does it relate to Montessori?
Montessori emphasized learning through all senses. Children in a Montessori setting learn at their own pace, and are carefully guided through their own choices. This can lead to an exciting discovery process, which in turn leads to a strong intrinsic drive to learn. This drive to learn supports and builds on a high level of concentration at a very young age.
Lastly, can you tell us about the outdoor classroom and the natural playground at Walnut Farm Montessori? How does this type of environment contribute to higher learning?
The outdoor environment at Walnut Farm is an incredible, unique experience for our community. Our campus is made up of over eight acres of natural, wooded area. We have an outdoor classroom that is a one-of a-kind for a school in our area. Students may work in our outdoor classroom as part of their routine work cycle. What a joy to have the opportunity to problem solve while sitting under a tree! If the need is large movement, or high concentration, it can be found and witnessed in Walnut Farm’s outdoor classroom.
The Walnut Farm playground is also a unique asset for our student body. We have a natural setting with boulders, wooden decks and an oversized sand pit. The playground even has theatre type setting for community gatherings.
Limited spots for full and half-day enrollment are currently available in the Walnut Farm Montessori toddler program. Interested parents are encouraged to take a tour of the school. To learn more about Walnut Farm, visit http://www.walnutfarmmontessori.com/.
Amy Mills, VP and Executive Broker at Steve Fineberg & Associates, is Vice President of the board of trustees at the Walnut Farm Montessori School. Learn more about Amy Mills and the rest of Steve Fineberg & Associates team by visiting the Our Team Page.
Home Sales in Arkansas Large Markets Up Nearly 7% in First Half of 2015
The first half of 2015 ended strong for home sales in Arkansas’ four largest markets, with the number of homes sold up almost 10% and the value of the... Read the full article at Talk Business & Politics.
13 Art Trips You Need To Take
One of our favorite things to do on a trip is to visit a top-notch museum, whether we see a blockbuster exhibit by an internationally known artist or we stumble upon a little-known institution with an exciting collection. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors give you the list of new exhibits, museum openings and hidden gem museums that should help you craft your own masterpiece of an art trip this year... Read the full article at Forbes.
Arkansas Solar Projects Get Turn in Limelight
Utilities around the state are turning to solar energy-generation projects as the cost of wrangling the sun’s rays becomes more economical.
Driven by the declining cost of installation and construction, three projects in the state aim to be online in the next few years... Read the full article at Arkansas Business.
Arkansas Sees Increase in Construction Jobs
PINE BLUFF — Construction employment in Arkansas increased more than nine percent between June 2014 and June of this year, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
The association reported that 4,400 new construction jobs were added during the period, the fourth highest in the country... Read the full article at Arkansas News.
We wanted to use our free time wisely this summer. We discussed our AP experiences as juniors – the good and the bad – to determine how best to prepare for college. We created Aspire Higher to help other students advance their education.
What was it like spending an entire summer teaching?
Teaching is hard work! We empathize with the teachers more than we did before. It takes a lot of organization to provide instruction. We went beyond giving advice and tutoring and found that it’s hard to create good test questions. But it’s a great way to study. If you can teach a subject, you know it. Returning to the material, some of our own personal struggles turned into “Aha” moments. We underestimated the amount of work that would be needed, but we grew as much from the experience as the students did. We got to know the other students really well and made friends.
Making an A in an AP class boosts your GPA, sure, but the AP experience – the lab materials, the teachers, the students – it is ideal for college preparation. When you are surrounded by excellence, you are motivated to be excellent.
Admittedly, the classes are far from easy A’s. But if you make a B in an AP class, you can still graduate with a 4.0. The AP courses at BHS count as college credit, so we have the opportunity to save money during our undergraduate years.
With such a low student-to-teacher ratio, you get a lot of one-on one-guidance from AP teachers. They genuinely care about your success and will push you to do better. Even after the classes end, our teachers continue to help us advance our education.
What typically deters students from taking AP classes?
A lot of smart kids don’t take AP classes because they are afraid or unmotivated to take on the challenge. It also takes a semester of pre-AP coursework to qualify for AP-level courses, so there are scheduling limitations as well. Students are seriously discouraged from taking AP classes without the prerequisites. Skipping pre-requisites is an extensive process with a lot of red tape.
What is it like to take a class without taking the prerequisite first?
You might feel stranded at first. We’ve all experienced roadblocks over the years. The goal of Aspire Higher is to help students circumnavigate those roadblocks. We learned from seniors who were in the same boat.
What can a student expect from an AP class?
Atharva: I started AP Chemistry without any background. The class was conducted like a college class: self-paced. The tests are very rigorous and are graded on a curve. Lab reports will essentially make or break your grade in AP Chemistry. In Pre-AP, you don’t learn to write lab reports.
What’s next for Aspire Higher?
In November, we’re offering another ACT session. We’re hoping to teach a SAT prep course next semester. Sameer begins class at the UofA next week, and most of us graduate next year. Moushumi will be around to carry the torch next year, and we hope we can make it back next summer. We still have brothers and sisters in our schools, and we want to help the community understand the benefits of early exposure so we can bring that high-achieving mentality out of the shadows.
Last April, a handful of upperclassmen at Bentonville High School banded together to help fellow students prepare for college entrance exams. Each teacher holds an ACT test score of 32 (or higher – Shahul Alam landed a perfect score last year), but the students who run Aspire Higher have a lot more in common than test scores.
These high achievers have encountered the red tape of taking advanced courses without prerequisites – and the cramming that comes along with it. Thanks to their parents, students and teachers, these students have gained a firm footing in the demands of AP-level coursework.
In an effort to empower other students, the Aspire Higher group spent the 2015 summer break teaching Northwest Arkansas students condensed, high-level courses (dubbed “crash courses”) in the following subjects:
AP Calculus AB
AP Calculus BC
AP Physics C: Mechanics
Aspire Higher is headquartered at 2618 SE J Street, Suite 10 in Bentonville. The group offers tutoring courses 100% free of charge.
Walton Family Foundation donates more than $15 million for project
BENTONVILLE -- Grants totaling more than $15 million are reshaping Northwest Arkansas Community College's culinary program and fueling Bentonville's growing foodie culture.
The school plans to move its Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program from a 14,800-square-foot space at the Center for Nonprofits in Rogers to 27,500 square feet in the former Tyson Foods plant at 801 S.E. Eighth St. in Bentonville. The goal is to open in the new location for the fall 2016 semester...