Protecting the United States and our interests is a fundamental responsibility for the federal government. Our founders made this role clear when they wrote the Constitution with the intent to, in part, “provide for the common defense.”

Americans have long called on Washington to cut inefficiencies in federal programs and modernize them for the 21st century. Yet rarely, are those calls heard on Capitol Hill.

An investigation by the U.S. Supreme Court has failed to identify who leaked a draft court decision that signaled the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling the legalized abortion at the federal level. 

More than four years ago I used this space to share the ongoing efforts to preserve the Butterfield Overland Trail, a piece of Arkansas’s history that helped shape westward expansion. Now there is more to celebrate as legislation I championed to designate this landmark pathway as a national historic trail has been signed into law.

Well, well, well, President Joe Biden finds himself in quite the political mess.

A new year gives us an opportunity for a fresh start and to make positive changes to the way we live. No matter what our resolutions are, we can agree on hoping 2023 will be better than the past. It’s also the beginning of a new Congress which is another reason to be optimistic because we will have expanded options to hold the Biden administration accountable and advance policies important to Arkansas.

So is the past week a glimpse into what the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives will be like for the next two years? If so, I’m not sure anyone comes out as a winner.

Having seen the effects of the disease up close, I can clearly report that dementia sucks, in a big way.

As a son of a Master Sergeant in the Air Force who served for 23 years, I understand the unique challenges veterans and their families experience and how Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, programs and care are critical for men and women called to serve in our nation’s uniform. This is what drove me to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and work with Arkansas veterans and Veterans Service Organizations in our state and nationwide to improve services and benefits veterans earned. Through our collaborative efforts, we’ve made positive reforms and updates to VA care and benefits.

I hope everyone made it through last weekend’s plunge into the arctic. Bitter cold temperatures, a bit of winter precipitation and near blizzard conditions hit much of this country, including our neck of the woods.

Each year at this time I put out a Christmas wish list. Some are serious in nature, while others are just whimsical wishes. 

It’s common to hear from Arkansans all over the state about their friends and family members in need of help regarding a problem with a federal government agency. 

We had a nice visitor to The Record last week drop by to thank us for reporting the news in an unbiased way. We always enjoy hearing from the public.  

I saw a young boy with a yellow hat on, the kind of hat worn by actor Bob Denver as the lead role in the TV show “Gilligan’s Island.” The boy was looking at underwear or some other item of clothing while the hat sat atop his little head. I saw two young girls who eyed a sparkly, red dress. I saw a boy trying on a pair of shoes with the concentration a man of my age has when looking at new tires for his car. One young boy was excited about some socks. Another was thrilled at a T-shirt in camo pattern. Another girl giggled as she picked out not one, but two pair of leggings that matched a new shirt.

Growing up in a military family, Richard McKinney learned at an early age about service and sacrifice. These lessons inspired him to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the U.S. Air Force after graduating from Greenwood High School.

I took in my first basketball game last Tuesday at the new AT & Georgia Mae Smith Activity Center. The beautiful facility still has the “new-car” smell to it. The Huntsville School District and those who voted for a millage increase to build it should be very, very proud of the activity center.

When my daughters were growing up they were very active in 4-H and would show livestock we raised on our property in Benton County. To help develop their handling skills, the girls would put harnesses on the lambs and walk them on the sidewalks around town. This drew many curious looks, and with surprising frequency, questions about what breed of dog the girls were walking.

A week ago I wrote about the surprise discovery that there used to be an indoor pool and spa in Huntsville. The pool used to be in the same building as the skating rink, where today the Open Arms Food Pantry is located on West Street. The pool is still there, beneath the floor. It was covered up many years ago.

Our country is shaped by individuals who take initiative to serve others. In Arkansas, we can give thanks for all these givers who are willing to serve causes greater than themselves.

I love history, especially on a local level. I’ve heard, seen and read a lot about Madison County and Huntsville since coming to work at The Record in 2017. But, last week I heard something I knew nothing about.

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