NWA EDITORIAL | THURSDAY’S THUMBS: Is building a top-notch shooting range in Northwest Arkansas a long shot?

It’s Thursday and another chance to fire off a few up or down thumbs about some of news developments in our neck of the woods and elsewhere:

[THUMBS UP] The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s vision for a top-notch shooting range in Northwest Arkansas sounds so impressive the agency itself recognizes it can’t get it built without some help. Considerable help.

Commission Director Austin Booth says the type of facility the commission is shooting for (see what we did there?) will cost an estimated $15 million to $20 million, and maybe more. And no, that doesn’t even include the gold-plated bullets.

Ah, we eat. But it’s clear this range, if it’s ever built, isn’t just for shooting tin cans off fence posts. Booth described a shooting range capable of hosting national competitions but also supportive of the high demand for recreational shooting in Northwest Arkansas — trap and skeet ranges, pistol and rifle ranges, archery facilities, and an Olympic-style bunker trap set-up. To get that, the agency anticipates needing 150 acres of flat land. If one factors in ease of access and the necessity that it be distant from neighbors, the land alone could be hard to find and quite expensive.

So, what to do? The agency says it will try a new approach: Asking for proposals in August for any local or regional group — private, public or some combination — to offer up a package of land and money to cover at least some of the building costs.

Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t, but it sounds like a bang-up facility for Arkansans and those who would respond to one more reason to visit Northwest Arkansas.

[THUMBS DOWN] It’s somewhere beyond ironic that officials in the US House of Representatives say they simply don’t have time to consider a bill to keep daylight saving time all year long. If approved, the change would mean the end of Americans having to change their clocks forward and backward twice a year. Americans, at least most of them, seem to hate the practice and would appreciate the ability to see it and forget it when it comes to their clocks. Alas, they’ll have to wait as leaders from both parties say there’s no chance for a vote soon on a measure the US Senate has already passed. Congress apparently has more important issues to deal with. Granted, this really isn’t the highest-priority issue facing Congress, but it also shouldn’t be so terribly difficult to resolve. Regardless, for the time being, make plans to lose an hour on Nov. 6.

[THUMBS UP] It’s great to hear news that the people who lived near the Bella Vista “stump dump” when it caught fire underground and fouled the air nearby for months have reached a legal settlement that will provide $6.3 million to about 85 households (minus attorney’s fees once all the legal smoke clears, of course). The subterranean blaze started in July 2018 and plagued the area nearby for months before crews working for the Bella Vista Property Owners Association put out the fire. The association, which operated a dump for tree waste and similar materials for years, will pay $4.8 million (with $3.8 million covered by its insurer) and two other private businesses paying the rest. The totals seem like fair compensation for the avoidable disruption the fire caused in people’s lives.

[THUMBS DOWN] We’re sorry to see school districts again struggling to find the number of drivers they need to deliver schoolchildren to school and back to their homes once school starts for the fall. It seems they have to go on the hunt every year. It’s not an easy job. It’s not like they’re hiring people to transport widgets. These are our school kids. So it is critical that drivers pass background checks and have excellent driving skills. And it’s hard to find people who can drive at the appointed times — early morning and mid-afternoon. Count us thankful for the folks who make driving a bus work and do a good job safely transporting kids to and from school. Our schools and our kids need them.