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KJW

Question/observations from my corner of NW AR

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- I live in east Bentonville but our store is in Centerton (immediately west).

When you're in a high growth area you always hear rumors. Here's one that I heard from an individual whose lived here for awhile, who knows more people than I and whose words I trust...the Home Depot has bought a chunk of land west of Centerton for a store. (We're already getting a McDonald's and our first W-M is supposedly on the way right behind it (literally, on the town's east central side.)

- The Bentonville schools, crowded to the gills last year with 9,000+ in the district, just announced that they'll have over 10,000 in the district when classes start tomorrow. They've picked up 1,000 students in the past year, and they're almost doubling the size of the district when one figures in the development between B'ville and Centerton (also in the district).

- We see the "Atlanta effect" (a metro area growing like a blob of spilt ink on a piece of paper as it soaks up the liquid) here all over. As of today, when one "googles" the phrase "Northwest Arkansas" growth you get the home page for the "Eagles Bluff" development, midway between Rogers and Eureka Springs, and almost to the Barry County, MO line. McDonald County, Missouri (immediately north of Benton County) is now part of the metro area, but seeing this go as far as this (northern Barry County has some school districts that are essentially part of far suburban Springfield, MO) is fascinating indeed for one who grew up in the Ozarks.

- Speaking of McDonald County (I know that's for the midwest forums), this was one of the most scenic but supposedly was the poorest county in Missouri. Now, at the spanking new Wal-Mart supercenter across the state line one can see any day black, asian, hispanic and Punjabi Indian families shopping in what had to be a very NON-diverse place as recently as two decades ago or less.

- Note Gravette, AR, a town of (currently) around 2,000 farther NW of Bentonville. An article in the paper two weeks ago said 400 homes are planned for there.

- Now note Sulphur Springs, AR, north of Gravette and just below western McDonald County. There are $400,000+ log homes being built in an exclusive development (led by the former Wal-Mart executive Tom Coughlin) west of Sulphur Springs...apparently they've already got a lodge/visitor's center already up for the place.

- There may be some intriguing (though not directly development-related) news coming this next week which I'm privvy to...if it happens I'll post it here.

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(BTW, they're also building 400 - 500,000 dollar homes in McDonald County as well, on land that not too long back could be acquired for $500 or less per acre.)

My question...supposedly there was a study done that said that within a certain time period there would someday be 1.5 to 2 million people living within a 50 mile radius of the Rogers, AR public library. (That radius would NOT include Tulsa, Springfield or Fort Smith, apparently).

I've heard many people cite it...is there anyone who knows the veracity of this particular claim? (Though it wouldn't surprise me.)

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Welcome to the board KWJ. Nice to have someone else from northwest Arkansas here. I've noticed a lot of what you mentioned. There is a trend of people now moving to the smaller towns. Bentonville's growth actually slowed down quite a bit last quarter but other areas like Centerton seem to making it up. I think there's some culture shock going on up here. People aren't used to the area being so large. I think it will take a little time for people to get used to the idea of this being a more urban area. Just like a lot of people apparently really didn't like the idea when that study recomended that I-540 be widened to 6-8 lanes. Slightly different topic, but since you live in Benton County. What do you think of the wet-dry issue?

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Mith, thanks for the welcome.

Actually, I'm a teetotaler so I'm probably the wrong guy to ask on the issue as I'm never looking for alcoholic beverages.

We moved here from the Atlanta suburbs (though my wife and I are from nearby Springfield, MO and her Mom lives between Gravette and Decatur so it was a homecoming of sorts for us) but I'm HOPING DEARLY they get I-540 up to 6-8 lanes real quick (won't happen realistically).

I don't think this area knows what's about to hit it when that area between Rogers and Lowell fills in with the new Mall, St. Mary's/Mercy, their own new Home Depot, etc.

Strangely, this area is like suburban (not downtown) Atlanta to me. I can't count how many transplants to the area I've met. You see college shirts, bumper stickers, etc. from across the nation. There are families from India, east Asia, African-American families, eastern European families all throughout my one little subdivision. (Though I did meet a lady the other day who moved to NWA from DeQueen. ^_^ )

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Mith, I don't think it hurts Benton Co much as the approach they've taken is similar to many areas of DFW that are dry but sell liquor by the drink. In the not so distant past, though, it really hurt Benton Co as all of the restaurants were all in Fayetteville and Springdale (mostly the former). It sure didn't hurt, for instance, Richardson - where the Telecom corridor of Dallas is located.

It DOES hurt Conway and Jonesboro, especially Conway, which haven't allowed liquor by the drink. Until recently everyone in Conway, a city of 50k, had to drive to Little Rock 30 min away to go to a decent restaurant. Outback and Chili's finally decided to move in anyway and now liquor by the drink may find its way in as a new restaurant dowtown is being allowed to do it. Conway is growing in a similar fashion to NWA and Faulkner Co has been the 2nd fastest growing co in the state (behind Benton) but this has been its major handicap, particularly in attracting and retaining major employers. White-collar employees at places like Acxiom don't get excited about moving to a place where Cracker Barrel is the nicest place in town to eat. Hopefully, they're starting to adapt to this.

Ultimately, though, traffic on I-40 between Conway and Little Rock will choke off Faulkner Co's growth somewhat. If you think I-540's bad you should try that commute at 8 AM or 5 PM, mixing in all of those commuters with the nation's busiest east-west interstate.

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If you think I-540's bad you should try that commute at 8 AM or 5 PM, mixing in all of those commuters with the nation's busiest east-west interstate.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I-40's the busiest east-west?

Adds fuel to that "I-49/I-40 will make Fort Smith explode" fire... And in the Atlanta area, high traffic never seemed to choke off growth, but then again, we didn't have a big river running to our east as well (then again, Lake Lanier was as big as any American river could be, just about...)

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Doesn't sound like much, but this is big news to southern part of McDonald County, Missouri. The paper said McDonald's has also bought an acre of land above the new W-M (I'll be interested in the theme of that one) and that KFC, Long John Silver's, Ryans and Pizza Hut have all been in discussions there as well.

This was a corner of Missouri that had a couple of state line liquor stores and that was pretty much it two decades ago.

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Mith, thanks for the welcome.

Actually, I'm a teetotaler so I'm probably the wrong guy to ask on the issue as I'm never looking for alcoholic beverages.

We moved here from the Atlanta suburbs (though my wife and I are from nearby Springfield, MO and her Mom lives between Gravette and Decatur so it was a homecoming of sorts for us) but I'm HOPING DEARLY they get I-540 up to 6-8 lanes real quick (won't happen realistically).

I don't think this area knows what's about to hit it when that area between Rogers and Lowell fills in with the new Mall, St. Mary's/Mercy, their own new Home Depot, etc.

Strangely, this area is like suburban (not downtown) Atlanta to me.  I can't count how many transplants to the area I've met.  You see college shirts, bumper stickers, etc. from across the nation.  There are families from India, east Asia, African-American families, eastern European families all throughout my one little subdivision.  (Though I did meet a lady the other day who moved to NWA from DeQueen.  ^_^  )

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If you can't tell from my posts I'm obviously not a teetotaler. But I'd still like to get your opinion. Would it matter to you if they voted the county wet? And yes Benton County is certainly becoming rather diverse. With all of Wal-mart's vendors moving in being the main impetus. But I guess I hadn't realized just how diverse it's getting up there. I do know there seems to be a group around Bella Vista from around Iowa and Minnesota. We have a lot of Californians here in Fayetteville.

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Mith, I don't think it hurts Benton Co much as the approach they've taken is similar to many areas of DFW that are dry but sell liquor by the drink.  In the not so distant past, though, it really hurt Benton Co as all of the restaurants were all in Fayetteville and Springdale (mostly the former).  It sure didn't hurt, for instance, Richardson - where the Telecom corridor of Dallas is located.

It DOES hurt Conway and Jonesboro, especially Conway, which haven't allowed liquor by the drink.  Until recently everyone in Conway, a city of 50k, had to drive to Little Rock 30 min away to go to a decent restaurant.  Outback and Chili's finally decided to move in anyway and now liquor by the drink may find its way in as a new restaurant dowtown is being allowed to do it.  Conway is growing in a similar fashion to NWA and Faulkner Co has been the 2nd fastest growing co in the state (behind Benton) but this has been its major handicap, particularly in attracting and retaining major employers.  White-collar employees at places like Acxiom don't get excited about moving to a place where Cracker Barrel is the nicest place in town to eat. Hopefully, they're starting to adapt to this.

Ultimately, though, traffic on I-40 between Conway and Little Rock will choke off Faulkner Co's growth somewhat.  If you think I-540's bad you should try that commute at 8 AM or 5 PM, mixing in all of those commuters with the nation's busiest east-west interstate.

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You are correct on Benton County. The biggest hinderence was that all the good restaurants used to be in Fayetteville. Although I do think Benton County is losing business and money, particularly to McDonald County in Missouri. And I do know what you mean about I-40 between Conway and Little Rock. As much as I'd rather we get more road funding here in northwest Arkansas, they really do need to widen I-40 between Conway and Little Rock.

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Doesn't sound like much, but this is big news to southern part of McDonald County, Missouri.  The paper said McDonald's has also bought an acre of land above the new W-M (I'll be interested in the theme of that one) and that KFC, Long John Silver's, Ryans and Pizza Hut have all been in discussions there as well.

This was a corner of Missouri that had a couple of state line liquor stores and that was pretty much it two decades ago.

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It is interesting to see the changes in southwest Missouri. Although I do wish there were better opportunities for other areas in Arkansas to get this kind of growth. I really think southwest Missouri was a rather forgotten area of the state to the most of the people in Missouri. It wasn't until recently that I think much of the rest of the state realized the potential that southwest Missouri has. The bypass around Bella Vista had been on the backburner for quite a while because Missouri didn't place much significance on it. Then months ago they suddenly moved the project up to the top of their list to be completed as soon as possible. With lower taxes and such I think there will be a lot of future growth in southwest Missouri. Maybe Ft Smith can try to take advantage of being near the southern end of the metro. Although the Ozark National Forest and the Boston Mtns will probably keep the metro from extending down to Ft Smith.

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It's funny...I'd heard last year that Arkansas couldn't get their stuff together on the bypass idea, then I heard from a developer two days ago that Arkansas was waiting on MISSOURI to get finished.

Here's more tidbits:

- On that same map, Siloam Springs and Gentry are growing together in an area right above Siloam called Dawn Hill. (There's a country club of some sort there in a beautiful area...looks like Bella Vista south.) Siloam is now estimated to be at least 15,000 people strong.

I was looking at some huge homes being built on a hillside just south of the Club. The developer there is offering them for 200,000+ - 330,000 but that price won't last for long the way things are appreciating. He said it's almost scary...his company builds and builds and pretty much relies on the banks to give them financing. He said with all the explosive growth he wonders about a slowdown, but the banks (whom he said he feels have a pretty good eye on the economic growth and factors in the area) say "keep on building".

- I talked with another developer who says he estimates the current population within the limits of Bella Vista at 30,000. It was estimated at 18,000 in 2002.

- My biggest concern for this region...the schools. (Well, that and infrastructure of highways, but we're talking that elsewhere). I said that the Bentonville schools picked up 1,000 new students OVER the number they started with last year.

Again, I'm not exaggerating...in the four miles between Bentonville and Centerton (all in the Bentonville district) they are carving out street after street after street with homes aplenty going in...it appears they are literally physically DOUBLING the size of Bentonville, although part of these developments are in Centerton and Cave Springs to the southwest.

If they're so stretched now, what are they going to do with double the amount of people in their district in the next, say, two-three years?

- Speaking of schools, look at (on the map above) Decatur, several miles west of B'ville. When I first moved here in 2002, they were talking about closing and consolidating that district. Now it's on the grow and they're scrambling to find new land for new buildings.

- In Highfill, AR (just SW of XNA) they've approved a subdivision which could house up to 14,000 people. It appears that growth is heading out diagonally to the southwest of B'ville through Centerton/Cave Springs through Vaughn (an upscale apartment complex is on the rise there now, with a new Wingate inn having opened a mile south of the city), to Highfill and then to Gentry/Siloam.

- XNA just got direct flights to Orlando, becoming the second Arkansas city after LR to do so.

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Mith, ditto for your thoughts on Ft. Smith. I've heard there are a lot of Washington County residents who commute to FSM to work (and there have to be many heading north of the tunnel as well).

Ft. Smith/NWA are in the same Nielsen dominant market area for TV viewing purposes, and the local newspapers treat them as the same metro area as well. But they almost remind me of Greenville/Spartanburg-Asheville, NC...same TV DMA, but separated by hills. (Albeit a much bigger one between the latter metro areas.)

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I'm not surprised McDonald County is the poorest county in Missouri. People in Missouri I knew in KC made fun of us from being from AR, my God when you crossed from Benton Co into McDonald Co it seemed like you went back in time 40 years. Still, there are tons of old refrigerators in yards, shacks, etc. Of course, I remember when Benton Co was little different but it seems eons ago.

Benton Co sprawl is a good thing. I'll say it again, in Benton Co's case sprawl IS a good thing where in places like Dallas and Atlanta it probably isn't. There's no downtown commercial district to worry about decaying (well, not much but the square in Bentonville). What NWA really needs is for things to develop off the I-540/US 71 axis and places like Centerton, Highfill, Cave Springs, etc are going to do that. More East-West development will ultimately help tremendously.

As for the schools, I think Benton Co schools have managed very well, considering their growth. I have two nephews that came from the Rogers school district, one's still there.

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As far as the bypass around Bella Vista, Arkansas had set aside money a while back ago for the project but obviously it would be a waste if it simply stopped at the Missouri line. Missouri didn't seem to act as if it were very important and had it pretty far down on their list of things to do. Eventually Arkansas put the money into other projects since Missouri didn't seem to be in any hurry. Then a few months ago Missouri suddenly decided southwest Missouri was important and jumped the project up to start work almost immediately. Of course Arkansas had already used the money set aside since Missouri didn't act like they were going to work on it anytime soon.

Siloam Springs has been growing but it was far enough away that it wasn't growing anywhere at a rate of the rest of northwest Arkansas. But I figure that will eventually change as the rest of the metro grows out. I just wonder if that little section of Ozark National Forest will keep it from eventually being a closer part of the metro.

I see your point on sprawl Aporkalypse. I guess I still worry that once it starts happening that it won't stop. I do want the metro to grow, and outward is obviously one direction to go. But I also hope that the metro grows upward too eventually. I'd hate to see sprawl keep going and eventually spread further and further out into the Ozarks. I certainly would hate to see Newton County eventually become a bedroom community for northwest Arkansas.

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As far as the bypass around Bella Vista, Arkansas had set aside money a while back ago for the project but obviously it would be a waste if it simply stopped at the Missouri line.  Missouri didn't seem to act as if it were very important and had it pretty far down on their list of things to do.  Eventually Arkansas put the money into other projects since Missouri didn't seem to be in any hurry.  Then a few months ago Missouri suddenly decided southwest Missouri was important and jumped the project up to start work almost immediately.  Of course Arkansas had already used the money set aside since Missouri didn't act like they were going to work on it anytime soon. 

Siloam Springs has been growing but it was far enough away that it wasn't growing anywhere at a rate of the rest of northwest Arkansas.  But I figure that will eventually change as the rest of the metro grows out.  I just wonder if that little section of Ozark National Forest will keep it from eventually being a closer part of the metro. 

I see your point on sprawl Aporkalypse.  I guess I still worry that once it starts happening that it won't stop.  I do want the metro to grow, and outward is obviously one direction to go.  But I also hope that the metro grows upward too eventually.  I'd hate to see sprawl keep going and eventually spread further and further out into the Ozarks.  I certainly would hate to see Newton County eventually become a bedroom community for northwest Arkansas.

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I like your urbanist views, don't get me wrong. If I move back to AR and end up in NWA instead of Little Rock I'll live in Fayetteville and love it because Fayetteville has more of a condensed, urban feel. Since Dickson has grown up this is even more true. Fayetteville is quite different than the cities North of it because it is more liberal, urbanist, and zoning isn't a four letter word. Benton Co's haphazard growth is going to have a negative impact at some point - there is no doubt. However, there's really no way around it. Places don't grow this fast without having lots of "cookie cutter" sprawl. I just don't think it's wise to cluster this around I-540 and 71.

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I like your  urbanist views, don't get me wrong.  If I move back to AR and end up in NWA instead of Little Rock I'll live in Fayetteville and love it because Fayetteville has more of a condensed, urban feel.  Since Dickson has grown up this is even more true.  Fayetteville is quite different than the cities North of it because it is more liberal, urbanist, and zoning isn't a four letter word.  Benton Co's haphazard growth is going to have a negative impact at some point - there is no doubt.  However, there's really no way around it.  Places don't grow this fast without having lots of "cookie cutter" sprawl.  I just don't think it's wise to cluster this around I-540 and 71.

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I think Benton County is already starting to question some of their haphazard growth already. I don't think they are ready to go to Fayetteville extremes but I do think at least in some ways they are starting to question things and not just simply accept any development they can get. I think at first they were taking any development they could get so they didn't have to do everything down here in Washington County. But I also doubt any of the other areas will ever be as liberal as Fayetteville is either. But I guess having the university here helps that out.

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I think Benton County is already starting to question some of their haphazard growth already.  I don't think they are ready to go to Fayetteville extremes but I do think at least in some ways they are starting to question things and not just simply accept any development they can get.  I think at first they were taking any development they could get so they didn't have to do everything down here in Washington County.  But I also doubt any of the other areas will ever be as liberal as Fayetteville is either.  But I guess having the university here helps that out.

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My brother's an architect working in Fayetteville and living near Rogers. The biggest criticism I heard of Benton Co is that there is no zoning buffer around the city so that the city can control zoning on county land that will likely be part of the city eventually. This is unpopular in western Pulaski Co near West Little Rock because nobody likes to be told how to build but it certainly is effective. At the very least it keeps trailers out of the city. It also ensures everything is built up to city code standards.

Now, if you want to see a zoning nightmare drive up Thompson Road (71) through Springdale. Chicken plants and light industry surrounded by houses across the street from schools. It's an absolute nightmare and they still haven't figured it out - they still rubber stamp every zoning request, often just glad that someone's interested in them instead of Fayetteville. This is why old Springdale is starting to look a bit like a barrio and why I think Springdale will be the start of urban decay and flight in NWA as opposed to South Fayetteville as some would allege.

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My brother's an architect working in Fayetteville and living near Rogers.  The biggest criticism I heard of Benton Co is that there is no zoning buffer around the city so that the city can control zoning on county land that will likely be part of the city eventually.  This is unpopular in western Pulaski Co near West Little Rock because nobody likes to be told how to build but it certainly is effective.  At the very least it keeps trailers out of the city.  It also ensures everything is built up to city code standards.

Now, if you want to see a zoning nightmare drive up Thompson Road (71) through Springdale.  Chicken plants and light industry surrounded by houses across the street from schools.  It's an absolute nightmare and they still haven't figured it out - they still rubber stamp every zoning request, often just glad that someone's interested in them instead of Fayetteville.  This is why old Springdale is starting to look a bit like a barrio and why I think Springdale will be the start of urban decay and flight in NWA as opposed to South Fayetteville as some would allege.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree with you there. Springdale does approve everything because they are often ignored for the other northwest Arkansas cities. I've heard talk of them rezoning the whole county up in Benton County to try to help take care of some of this problem.

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Do to all the proposed massive multi-story buildings and one's under construction in the Pinnacle Area in Rogers, could anyone see the true urban core of Benton County being in the Pinnacle Area of Rogers?

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Do to all the proposed massive multi-story buildings and one's under construction in the Pinnacle Area in Rogers, could anyone see the true urban core of Benton County being in the Pinnacle Area of Rogers?

I think it's possible, for that matter with the way things are going I think Rogers might have a good shot at developing an urban core there rather than in Fayetteville.

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Well, one followup on a previous comment made about a possible Wal-Mart in Centerton, The Centerton Planning commission approved a Large-Scale Plan for a 184,000 Square Foot Wal-Mart Supercenter to be build near 102 and Fish Hatchery Road

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Well, one followup on a previous comment made about a possible Wal-Mart in Centerton, The Centerton Planning commission approved a Large-Scale Plan for a 184,000 Square Foot Wal-Mart Supercenter to be build near 102 and Fish Hatchery Road

I've heard a lot about Centerton's growth. I believe some have even suggested it is siphoning off some of Bentonville's growth. But I'm not sure if there's very much there though.

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Well did anyone hear about XNA's (Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport) first nonstop flight to Orlando started yesterday. Apparently it was practically sold out and the airport directors are looking in the future into adding possibly a second daily flight from there.

Kelly Johnson, Airport Director, said other cities that could be added in the future include Las Vegas; Washington, D. C.; and other Florida cities.

Any thoughts on this route or future routes from Little Rock or Northwest Arkansas?

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Well did anyone hear about XNA's (Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport) first nonstop flight to Orlando started yesterday. Apparently it was practically sold out and the airport directors are looking in the future into adding possibly a second daily flight from there.

Kelly Johnson, Airport Director, said other cities that could be added in the future include Las Vegas; Washington, D. C.; and other Florida cities.

Any thoughts on this route or future routes from Little Rock or Northwest Arkansas?

Yeah I noticed it. Thought about mentioning something about it but didn't. I had already mentioned elsewhere that they were adding flights to Orlando. XNA is slowly gaining the flights that Little Rock has and it doesn't. Although I've heard that the decision about Love Field in Dallas could affect flights at XNA. I heard that it could cut down a few flights at XNA and Ft Smith. Little Rock wasn't mentioned but I don't know if they might also potentially lose flights also.

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Yeah I noticed it. Thought about mentioning something about it but didn't. I had already mentioned elsewhere that they were adding flights to Orlando. XNA is slowly gaining the flights that Little Rock has and it doesn't. Although I've heard that the decision about Love Field in Dallas could affect flights at XNA. I heard that it could cut down a few flights at XNA and Ft Smith. Little Rock wasn't mentioned but I don't know if they might also potentially lose flights also.

I heard about that, how they want to repeal the Wright Amendment. It said that XNA would only loose 2 flights, but that the existing flights would probably get bigger aircraft. Fort Smith and Texarkana would loose between 2 and 3 flights daily. Little Rock would have it the worse, because they would loose 5 flights.

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