Jacqueline Froelich

Reporter

Jacqueline Froelich is an award-winning senior news reporter for KUAF-91.3 FM in Fayetteville where she is a long-time station-based correspondent for NPR in Washington D.C. She covers energy, business, education, politics, the environment, and culture. Her work is broadcast locally on KUAF’s daily news magazine, “Ozarks At Large,” and statewide on Arkansas’s three public radio affiliates. She's raised a quarter of a million dollars in foundation grants for special investigative news series. With funding from the Arkansas Humanities Council, she produced an award winning two-hour public radio documentary, Arkansas Ozarks African Americans, the first comprehensive black history of the Arkansas Ozarks. She’s also written scholarly articles and reviews for “Arkansas Historical Quarterly,” and feature stories for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Times.

Ways to Connect

Jonathan Gallegos / White House

Taking a stand inside Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, President Donald Trump on March 28th signed an executive order releasing the coal, oil and natural gas industries from pollution mitigation and thresholds set forth by the previous administration.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters, including industry executives and coal miners, Trump said his Energy Independence Executive Order fulfills a campaign promise for a "new energy revolution."

"Today, I'm taking bold action to follow through on that promise. My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.  We're going to have clean coal, really clean coal.  With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations. … And we're going to have safety, we're going to have clean water, we're going to have clear air."

Jacqueline Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas Nuclear One, a few miles northwest of Russellville, is among 61 commercial nuclear power facilities in the U.S. operating ninety-nine nuclear fission reactors. Constructed in the late 1970s and currently owned by Entergy, Arkansas Nuclear One operates two pressurized light water reactors with the capacity to generate 1,776 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 355,000 homes and businesses.

The reactors are cooled by water drawn from Lake Dardanelle. Thick white steam rising from the power plant's iconic six-story hyperbolic cement tower is visible for miles. Locals, Russellville Mayor Randy Horton says, divine weather conditions from the plume. 

“In the old days, we would drive to the base of the cooling towers and fish in the hot water discharge stream. It never was threatening, never been scary.”

Jacqueline Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Two joint resolutions sponsored by Arkansas Republican Senator Jason Rapert calling for a Convention of States to propose, under the power of Article V, amendments to the U.S. Constitution to redefine marriage as between one man and one woman and that life begins at conception-- effectively banning abortion--passed the Arkansas Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives late Tuesday.

In February, Senator Rapert, District 35, Conway made his case for social change to the Arkansas Senate.

“It’s kinda like sittin’ there and somebody’s attacking the house," he said. "They’re coming through the front door, and you got a shot gun over in the corner and you know you can use a shot gun to stop the aggressor. But you don’t go pick up the shotgun to stop the aggressor. Pick it up. Article 5. Pick it up. Propose an amendment. Pick it up. And stand up for what you believe in.”

Oklahoma Geological Survey

Dirk DeTurck sits in a rocker on the front porch of his rural Conway home, nervously smoking a cigarette. The retired native New Yorker and U.S. military veteran says his neighborhood, filled with petroleum field workers, is not where he intended to settle when he moved to Arkansas. He gazes north towards the Ozark foothills. In 2004 that's where he built his 5,000 square-foot dream homestead on six acres perched atop a mountain ridge in between the towns of Guy and Greenbrier in Faulkner County.

J. Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Last May, sisters Anais, Elise and Emory Bowerman spent the night at a Girl Scout slumber camp in Lowell. The girls came home the next day covered with ticks. 

“One second my life was going great," says Anais, 11. "Then a tick bites me and it’s all ruined.”

Anais, a budding artist, says her hands started to shake. Her sisters Elise, 10, and Emory, 7, also started to feel ill.

“I threw up twice," Emory says. "I felt sluggish and my head was kind of dizzy.” 

J. Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Seventeen-year old Daniel Montgomery was born a girl but by age eleven knew he's a boy. He's always stood up for himself at school. He's bravely agreed to come forward to talk on the radio about what it's like growing up transgender in Fayetteville's public school system. But first, we discuss that pink tinge in his dyed blond hair?

“Oh that," he says. "That's way faded. I want to dye it half red, half blue but that’s so time consuming." 

Things are hectic for this high school senior with graduation on the horizon and getting ready for college. He wants to study art and German. He plans to teach high school someday. But right now he's being forced, he says, to reckon with the Trump administration's revoking of federal protections for transgender public school student school accommodations — for example bathroom and locker rooms. Montgomery, of course, prefers to use the boys restroom. And on rare occasion, he says, he's hassled. 

J. Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Eureka Springs, a nineteenth century Ozark Mountain health spa, could soon become a 21st century mecca for medical marijuana.

constitutional amendment allowing the use of cannabis for certain medicinal purposes was approved by Arkansas voters last November. And certain residents of Eureka Springs hope to brand their village as a medicinal marijuana destination.

J.Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday about whether municipal civil rights ordinances which ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity violate Arkansas law.

The case traces back to 2015 when Fayetteville and the gay-friendly Ozarks town of Eureka Springs passed civil rights ordinances banning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In response, the Arkansas Legislature passing Act 137, "The Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act."

Sponsored by state Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), Act 137   prohibits cities and counties from passing civil rights ordinances that create a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law. The Arkansas Supreme Court is now decided whether to uphold that law.

J. Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

 

Thousands of Pacific Islander children now inhabit northwest Arkansas. The youngsters are lawfully residing Marshallese migrants, brought here by their parents. Many families arrive impoverished, but with help from extended kin, parents settle in, take up factory and slaughterhouse jobs, and enroll the children in public school. 

But enrolling into the American healthcare insurance system is a major challenge for low and even middle- income Marshallese, who cannot afford workplace coverage policies or Obamacare premiums. Marshallese adults are barred from Arkansas Medicaid, known as the Private Option. And their children don’t qualify for "ARKids First!" the state's implementation of the federal children’s insurance program. But Northwest Arkansas lawmakers, along with a state children's advocacy organization, are determined to help.

Clint Schnekloth

Arkansas has never been the destination for global political and religious refugees seeking asylum that states like New York and California are. But Canopy, a new federally approved refugee resettlement agency in Fayetteville — one of more than 350 religious and secular agencies like it operating across the U.S. —plans to change that.

J.Froelich

In the autumn of 1965, on a 640-acre parcel near the tiny Ozarks community of Strickler, ground was broken on a secret nuclear fission energy test reactor operated by the Atomic Energy Commission and a consortium of 17 southern electric utilities.

After just four years, the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor went dark. It was acquired a few years later by the big university up the road 20 miles—totally decommissioned. University scientists hoped to use it for nuclear research, but the program failed to launch. The site remained sealed. Now the U.S. Department of Energy has offered money to help tear it down.

But first media — as well as hundreds of curious locals — were briefly allowed inside.

J. Froelich

Springdale resident Melisa Laelan caught the mumps last November from her kids even though she and her children were vaccinated. Her case is not unusual, one of 2,421 in Arkansas. What is unusual is that nearly half of all cases nationwide are in Arkansas.

“It was miserable,” she says. “I experienced severe pain on the side of my neck. You can’t swallow anything because if you do it hurts.”

The inflammation in her salivary glands caused her jaw to swell. She had fever and aches. The illness lasted ten days. 

“This is an epidemic,” says Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist with the Arkansas Department of Health. “Our normal case count is 3 or 4 a year. And a majority of our cases are among the Marshallese.”

Kelly Scott

The Arkansas Supreme Court in early December denied same-sex couples the right to list both parents' names on birth certificates, without a court order. So why does this legal fight over equal access to birth certificates even matter?

University of Arkansas

The historic Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor, referred to as SEFOR, located 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas will finally be dismantled, and some nearby residents are wondering what might leak out.

J.Froelich

The hand, the strap, or the paddle?

Choosing the preferred instrument of pain as well as number of strokes against the bottoms of unruly public school students remains legal in Arkansas, and twenty-one other states.

“My understanding is that it’s typically a wooden paddle,” says Kristen Garner, staff attorney for Arkansas School Boards Association. She monitors public school discipline practices.  “The most prevalent is to be spanked on the rear end.”

Jacqueline Froelich

Protests over construction of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has triggered sympathy demonstrations across the nation, including in Arkansas. But Arkansas activists are also protesting a newly permitted 440-mile long underground oil transport project called the Diamond Pipeline.

Deb Phillips

Home birth advocates claim the medical rights of childbearing women in Arkansas will be compromised by proposed new rules and regulations being considered by the Arkansas Department of Health, which licenses lay midwives in the state.

Jacqueline Froelich/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

In late September, Canopy Northwest Arkansas, a new faith-based global refugee resettlement center in Fayetteville, received final approval from the U.S. State Department to move forward with its essential mission — to accommodate as many as 100 refugees a year.

Canopy’s resettlement Director Emily Crane Linn, who is headquartered at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, says she was euphoric.

Emily Crane Linn is Canopy’s resettlement director

“It’s real,” she says. “We’ve been approved. There’s no more provisional, no more waiting. It’s happening.”

White Christian Nationalist organizers, including two groups operating in Arkansas, are lauding the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency.

After the election, Thomas Robb, founder and national director of the Knights Party, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan based in Boone County, issued a press release declaring that the white voting majority has finally spoken.

“I have been saying for a long time there’s been an anger among white middle class working class America,” Robb says, “who’ve been betrayed by the political establishment.”

Thomas Robb and his daughter Rachel Pendergraft  produce an online radio show and quarterly newspaper, host summer Klan camps for both adults and children, and sell KKK memorabilia for income. Robb concedes Trump is not a White Nationalist, but his isolationist political agenda is attractive to the movement.

“His opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, his stance on pro-life, his stand on the Second Amendment, his claim that he’ll destroy ISIS — these are all reasons that everyone should support Donald Trump. He’s altering the political landscape of America.”

Election officials across Arkansas are completing last-minute training for poll workers in preparation for next week's general election. And this election cycle presents possible challenges, including potential vigilante poll watchers concerned about a "rigged election."

SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE

Arkansas voters will decide to legalize medical marijuana November 8th. But medicinal hemp is already available for purchase over-the-counter.

Hemp, like marijuana, contains non-psychoactive cannabidiol, an ingredient in supplements and creams boasting this active ingredient are best sellers at Ozark Natural Foods in Fayetteville, says wellness manager, Carrie Hilderbrandt.

“We carry a wide variety of soft gels, liquids, oral applicators, lozenges and topical balms.”

This member-owned cooperative, the only store like it in Arkansas, sells two brands of hemp-based cannabidiol products, one organic and the other conventionally grown, ranging in price from $20 to $70.

NPS

Arkansas woodworker and a Living Treasure according to the Arkansas Arts Council, Doug Stowe and his spouse Jean Elderwind, a retired county librarian, live peacefully on a forested ridge above Leatherwood Creek north of Eureka Springs. 

A wind resource map, published by the U.S. Office of Renewable Energy, illustrates the windiest real estate in America. A vertical violet streak down the nation’s midsection indicates persistent, intense winds concentrated in places like western Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. And a private company, called Clean Line Energy Partners, plans to tap that for electricity it can immediately transport to utilities requiring a bolus of alternative energy in their portfolios.  

Vickie Kelley spends a lot of time in cemeteries. She’s founder and president of the Natural State Burial Association, which espouses sustainable burial practices in Arkansas.

“Our message is you can take a body and conduct a woodland burial or create a conservation cemetery which leaves no mark, no trace,” Kelley says.  “You decompose, you become earth, and the burial site doesn’t look like a cemetery. It looks like wilderness preservation.”

Carroll County resident Pat Costner walks under her three solar arrays this warm autumn afternoon to a shed where she keeps a collection of heavy-duty batteries.

“They’re fully charged right now,” she says, gesturing at the noontime sun above our heads.

The retired Greenpeace senior scientist operates a grid-tied solar energy system with an unusual electrical utility meter.

“It tells me if I am buying or selling,” she says. “Today is a selling day.”

Jacqueline Froelich/ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

Winter is approaching, and tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees, fleeing political and religious persecution, languish in tent encampments in Western Europe. Clint Schnekloth, a pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville is worried. Earlier this year, he petitioned the U.S. State Department to open a Lutheran-church sponsored refugee resettlement agency in Northwest Arkansas to help.

Major Evan Young, a retired U.S. Army officer, joined the military in 1989 during an era which barred him from disclosing his sexual orientation.

“I was a lesbian at that time so I was used to being in the closet,” Young says.

Just as the gay rights movement was taking root, then-President Ronald Reagan in 1982 issued a stern directive to the U.S. Department of Defense stating that anyone serving in the military who engaged in homosexual acts or professed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual would be immediately discharged.

This summer, Arkansas is fighting back.

Back against a population of blood-sucking ticks that’s abundant, active and virulent.

Scientists from a half dozen state agencies and institutions have banded together to target these tiny terrors, not for termination but for a count, a dissection at most.