COLUMN- Christmas Time


Lt. Governor's Column
By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr

By now in the news, I'm sure you're worn out from hearing the term "fiscal cliff". This is the phrase used to describe what may happen in Washington if Congress and the White House don't come to an agreement soon on whether to increase taxes, make spending cuts, or draft some sort of compromise budget plan. I think it's ridiculous what is going on in our nation's capital. The simple fact is we are taxing too much and spending too much. At some point, it has to stop. President Ford said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." We now have a government trying to do both. For the sake of our country, our leaders need to realize they are setting America up for failure. America's greatness is not insured. We are not exempt from history. We need real leadership and real solutions because we have real problems. I hope that wisdom will prevail in these deliberations.

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Last week, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned expansion of the Millard-Henry Clinic in Russellville. Part of St. Mary's Regional Hospital system, the Clinic has been serving patients in the River Valley since 1945. Serving over 130,000 people a year, their current facilities are about 40 years old and in need of updating as well as additional capacity. This new three-story facility, expected to take about a year to construct, will allow them to add staff and plan future expansion.

Once finished, it will be one of the largest multi-specialty clinics in Arkansas. The new clinic will house more than 30 physician practices including specialties in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, orthopedics, and general surgery as well as radiology and laboratory services. They are an excellent example of how private healthcare providers are seeking to improve care for the people of Arkansas. And, they have a great incentive program to attract and retain doctors, so that their needed talent and expertise will remain there in the community for years to come.

I was honored to take part in the groundbreaking. I was very impressed with the people who work there. Several doctors came to the microphone and said a prayer over the ground, the staff, and all of the patients who will be served there. It was a moving display of faith and compassion.

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Speaking of faith and compassion, Christmas is coming upon us next week. I love this time of year. It's a time I greatly enjoy spending with my family and a time that enriches my faith. I know many of you are enjoying parades and light displays and holiday events all over the state. Many of you are also ringing bells for the Salvation Army and donating to food banks and toy drives and giving your time and treasure to your fellow Arkansans. Kim and I will be praying for you all this holiday season. We hope that God will bless you and your family and that you enjoy a time of peace. Merry Christmas!