NWA editorial: Thursday's thumbs

Helping dogs, turtles and each other

It's July and the temperatures outside prove it. Pardon our sweaty thumbs.

[THUMBS UP] At the Benton County jail, a place that once upon a time limited inmates to cold sandwiches, jailers are introducing socially challenged dogs into the women's inmate areas and challenging the inmates to train the dogs and help them become more social. Organizers say the program has a positive effect on both the dogs and the humans, with a side effect of fewer disciplinary issues for inmates while they're incarcerated. We won't pretend introducing an individual to a dog is a cure-all for their complicated choices, but anything that makes a person realize life is about more than just herself is a good contribution. We're pulling for all the participants

[THUMBS UP] Thumbs up to Brian Reindl of Springdale, recipient of the Arkansas Press Association's 2017 Headliner of the Year award. The honor goes annually to someone who brings positive attention to the state. Reindl, producer of the movie, "Greater," did just that. Despite having no experience in the movie industry, Reindl worked for 12 years to bring the tragic but inspiring tale of the late Brandon Burlsworth to the big screen. Burlsworth famously went from a walk-on to All-American as an Arkansas Razorback, but died in a car wreck in 1999, just weeks after being drafted into the NFL. In honor of the humble and faithful young man, Burlsworth's family and friends created a foundation in his name that seeks to encourage and assist underprivileged children. "Greater" opened last August in more than 400 theaters and grossed $2 million. Reindl hopes those who see the movie are inspired by the film's message of hope and faith.

[THUMBS UP] While we're at it, congratulations to our long-time columnist and friend, Brenda Blagg, the 2017 recipient of the Arkansas Press Association's Distinguished Service Award. Blagg's 50-year career in journalism includes stints as a reporter, columnist, editorial writer, freelancer and author. But she's also been an outspoken advocate for open and transparent government and a tireless fighter in the battle to protect Arkansas citizens' rights to observe and monitor their tax dollars through the Freedom of Information Act. The honor is well-deserved.

[THUMBS UP] Sam Totten has given local lectures, written guest columns and submitted letters to the editor on the horrors of genocide, in particular in Sudan, where war and its impact on civilians has lingered for for years. Totten, a retired University of Arkansas professor, has done far more. With his own money and support from others, he's traveled there and attempted to provide aid wherever he can whenever he can. Some might say "What can one man do?" Totten seems to subscribe to one response: "Whatever one man can."

[THUMBS UP] Help comes in small ways, too, at least when it comes to people like Joyce Hicks of Bella Vista. A transplant from Texas, she's devoted herself to rehabilitating turtles. We've all seen them at one time or another trying to cross busy roads in Northwest Arkansas. Some of them end up injured, and she looks for ways to repair broken shells or do whatever else it takes to give them a renewed chance at life.

[THUMBS DOWN] This is a story that reminds us how people sometimes don't know what they don't know, even as it seems so obvious to others. A Texas teenager died Sunday while taking a bath when she dropped her cell phone into the water. Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal, but in this case, she (and other members of her family) had made it routine to have their phones plugged in charging via extension cord while enjoying nice, warm baths. It's a tragedy others can learn from. Electrical power and water simply don't mix -- ever. Have we reached a point at which we can't even shower or bathe without screen time? Cell phones are incredible tools, but they aren't healthy as constant companions. How about some "no connection" time, such as at family dinners or when visiting with company? Whatever is there can wait. It really can.

Commentary on 07/13/2017

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