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

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 Doug Stowe and his spouse Jean Elderwind, a retired county librarian, live peacefully on a forested ridge above Leatherwood Creek north of Eureka Springs. 

Late last winter, the peace was broken.

“That’s when we noticed our rock walls that my wife and I have been tending for thirty years were being pushed aside and toppled, the dirt thrown aside,” and the long-established perennials upended, Stowe says.

The couple thought it was a one-time occurrence and paid to have the damage repaired. But then it happened again. And again. They were mystified.

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.

Pages