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Four inductees named for state business hall of fame

Posted: September 29, 2012 - 5:58pm

The Arkansas Business Hall of Fame has named its 2013 inductees. The event, hosted by the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, is slated for Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. This year’s honorees include:

• Thomas E. Boyer of Amarillo, Texas, owner and founder of Micro Images and a graduate of the business college at the University of Arkansas, where he was an All-American basketball player.

• W.C. “Buddy” Coleman Jr. of Little Rock, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Coleman Dairy. Coleman passed away in 2011.

• William L. Cravens of Little Rock, a certified public accountant and professional engineer who retired after a long career in banking and telecommunications management. He continues to serve as a director of the Oaklawn Jockey Club.

• Frank Fletcher Jr. of North Little Rock, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Frank Fletcher Companies, a holding company that owns or controls 20 separate corporations.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. announced an expansion of its food facility in Russellville on Monday, adding more than 80 jobs with total investment in the plant of more than $100 million. The Russellville facility is expanding as a result of ConAgra Foods’ recent acquisition of the Bertolli and P.F. Chang’s Home Menu frozen meal business from Unilever. Through the Russellville expansion, production lines will be added to produce these two new items. With the additional 80 employees, ConAgra Foods will employ more than 1,430 people at the Russellville facility.

The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs could soon close, ending a unique outdoor theatre production of Jesus’ last days. The production has been seen by some 7.5 million since 1967. Along with the iconic Christ of the Ozarks Statue, the Passion Play faces “declining numbers and difficult times,” according to a statement from Keith Butler, chairman of the board of directors that oversees the operation.

“The Great Passion Play offers a unique and affordable opportunity for visitors to experience the events in the last week of Christ’s life performed by over 150 actors and live animals,” Butler said. “However, the opportunity for people to witness the Scriptures come alive first-hand is under threat. These difficult economic times have led to declining attendance. Under the strain of rising costs and a tight budget, The Great Passion Play needs help.”

University of Arkansas researchers say that this summer’s drought had an estimated $128 million negative impact on the state’s cattle industry, but the number is certain to climb. According to a newly released study, “Estimate of Economic Impact of Drought on Commercial Beef Cow/Calf Operations in Arkansas,” Arkansas beef cattle ranchers altered their herd management, land use, and spending income.

The study noted:

• 73 percent would sell their calves earlier than in a typical year

• 49 percent had reduced their herd size by selling more mature cows than usual

• 41 percent planned to sell more mature cows this fall

• 3 percent said they would sell all their livestock

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Pediatrics and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) announced Thursday the opening of the Centers for Children in Jonesboro. The center, which is initially offering neurology and cardiology clinics, will eventually provide additional pediatric services. The new UAMS/ACH Centers for Children location at 520 Carson Street in Jonesboro is expected to reduce travel requirements to Little Rock or Memphis for key evaluations and services.

Capella Healthcare, parent of National Park Medical Center, and Mercy Health, parent of Mercy Hospital and Mercy Clinic in Hot Springs, have signed an asset purchase agreement for the two Hot Springs organizations to merge under Capella’s ownership, officials announced.

The proposed affiliation was initially announced in April 2012, with the signing of an agreement in principle between the two organizations. The deal must go through customary required regulatory approvals. This final phase is expected to take 60 to 90 days, subject to regulatory and Vatican approval.

Ritter Communications, a provider of telecommunications services and broadband technologies to businesses and residential customers in northeast and north central Arkansas, has entered into definitive agreements to acquire west Tennessee-based Millington Telephone Company, Inc. and Millington CATV, Inc. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisitions are subject to regulatory approvals and other customary conditions to closing.

Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His e-mail address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his Web site address is www.talkbusiness.net <http://www.talkbusiness.net> .

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