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The best & worst of 1997.

This publication has a lot of fun, sometimes at others' expense, with its annual Best & Worst feature. Occasionally we'll poke a little fun in this space, too.

But often the Best & Worst package, and this space, must provide serious commentary, and we offer you our opinion on the best and worst of Arkansas business in the past year.

Business in Arkansas may have seen its best moment of 1997 in the aftermath of the tornadoes that tore through the state on March 1. Beginning near Gum Springs southwest of Arkadelphia and not quitting until they had exited the northeast corner of the state, these storms inflicted an unbelievable amount of damage in the millions of dollars and left 26 people dead in their wake.

Of course, we realize that it is also in times like these that the unscrupulous sorts take advantage of an opportunity. But in the majority of cases, the help from businesses was heartfelt.

Listing them all would take up far more space than we've been allocated, but suffice it to say that from hospitals and physicians who offered free care for victims to the phone companies, banks, television stations and retailers who led donations either to the Red Cross, the United Way or some other caring organization, business was quick to try to restore normalcy to the devastated areas. Arkadelphia, Sardis and College Station, towns all in the way of the funnel clouds, received helping hands throughout the state for weeks afterward as the rebuilding picked up.

Businesses in North Little Rock and other communities also had a shining moment helping a family in need.

On the night of Nov. 7, in a fraction of a second, a young man's life completely changed through an injury suffered on the football field. Kenyana Tolbert of North Little Rock High School, who had a college scholarship awaiting him at Oklahoma State University next fall, was left paralyzed from the neck down and is now in Dallas undergoing rehabilitation to learn to breathe without a respirator.

But, from the first word of Tolbert's injury, business people were quick to step up to help Tolbert and his family. More than 300 items were donated to an auction and dinner that raised more than $70,000 for the Kenyana Tolbert Trust Fund. Donations poured in for several weeks from business people who had not heard of Kenyana Tolbert before Nov. 7.

Many times businesses find themselves caught up in their quest for success and making sure the company bottom line is sound, yet when Arkansans cry out for help, support obviously is there, as spelled out by these two shining moments of the year.
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Title Annotation:1997 The Year in Review; highlights and lows of 1997 in Arkansas
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Dec 29, 1997
Words:443
Previous Article:Hudson's fall top story of '97.
Next Article:Wal-Mart and its stock roar to new heights in 1997; Dillard's acquires 20 more stores, National Home Centers closes four.
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