Entries - Time Period: Modern Era (1968 - the Present) - Starting with O

Obesity

Obesity is a complex issue impacting every segment of the population and having many roots. The drivers and health effects of obesity are not fully understood but may be contextualized within the United States’ transition from a farm-based to an industrialized economy. Arkansas consistently ranks as one of the most obese states in the United States. Historically, most efforts to combat obesity have focused on individual-level interventions. Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003, which created the Child Health Advisory Committee, was among the first and most comprehensive statewide legislative initiatives to combat childhood obesity by focusing on creating healthier public school environments. Similar initiatives have proliferated since obesity has become a global health issue. Although widely discussed as a major risk …

Oil Town Festival

Smackover’s Oil Town Festival, which is held the third weekend in June, is one of the state’s oldest festivals and attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year. The first festival was held in 1971 and was sponsored by the Smackover Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. The year 1971 was the fifty-year anniversary of the Busey No. 1 well, which was being celebrated in neighboring El Dorado, so the town of Smackover (Union County) organized a celebration of the Smackover oil field discovery well, the Richardson No. 1. Over the years, the festival has grown in size and events and has changed locations to accommodate the growth. Originally held in downtown Smackover, the festival has moved to Tennyson Park, which …

Old Independence Regional Museum

The Old Independence Regional Museum, 380 S. 9th Street, was established in Batesville (Independence County) in 1998 to serve the twelve-county region of northeast Arkansas that was included in Independence County in 1820. Detailed maps describe the region’s historic sites and museums, leading visitors to continue their journey into the other counties in the region, which include all or part of Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff counties. Organization of the museum began in the fall of 1991, when the Independence County Historical Society formed a museum-planning committee of sixteen people. The committee learned from museum operations experts; drafted planning documents; and created a statement of purpose, a mission statement, goals, and a set …

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

The OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology of Fayetteville (Washington County) began its work as a traditional peace advocacy organization before moving into local community engagement linked to state, national, and global networks. The organization’s mission is as follows: “OMNI Center educates, empowers and connects, for a world that is nonviolent, sustainable and just.” The OMNI Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The OMNI Center’s founders were James R. (Dick) Bennett and Dana Copp. When Bennett retired from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville in 1998, after a forty-year career as a professor of English, he wanted to start a peace organization and change the world. Copp agreed to help, and in the spring of 2001, they set …

One False Move

One False Move is a 1992 thriller co-written by Arkansan Billy Bob Thornton, who was born in Hot Springs (Garland County). Running for one hour and forty-five minutes, the R-rated film stars Thornton, his future wife Cynda Williams, and Bill Paxton, known for roles in the hit films Apollo 13, Twister, and Titanic. The director of One False Move was Carl Franklin, who went on to direct Denzel Washington in 1995’s Devil in a Blue Dress. The screenplay was written by Thornton and Tom Epperson, a native of Malvern (Hot Spring County). One False Move was a low-budget independent film that became popular through word of mouth as well as critical raves from film critic Roger Ebert and his reviewing …

One With Others

One With Others is C. D. Wright’s 2010 book of investigative, documentary poetry chronicling the life of her mentor, Margaret Kaelin McHugh, otherwise known as “V.” The “nom de guerre” of V. was given to McHugh by a “gaggle of unsolicited student acolytes,” among them Wright, who took McHugh into their student housing in Memphis, Tennessee, after she was exiled from her hometown in eastern Arkansas for her role in the 1969 March Against Fear from West Memphis (Crittenden County) to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taking as its subject the “stuck clock of history,” the book switches between 1969 Big Tree, the fictive name Wright gives V’s hometown, and 2004 Hell’s Kitchen, a Manhattan neighborhood, as V. is dying. While …

Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point

Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point is a summer program that trains opera singers and stages performances at Inspiration Point, overlooking the White River seven miles west of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The company has always performed in repertory style, with each student learning several roles over the season. Generally, three operas make up the summer season, with at least one being performed in the original language. Charles Mowers, a German-born engineer and inventor, came from Texas to the Ozark Mountains around 1900 to hunt wild game. He bought the land known as the Big Rock Candy Mountain in 1928 and began construction of a “castle” based on his memories of buildings along the Rhine River. Using stone quarried on …

Operation Iraqi Freedom

The armed conflict called Operation Iraqi Freedom began with an invasion of Iraq, led primarily by the United States with the assistance of Great Britain and other allies; the conflict lasted from 2003 to 2011. The invasion was initiated based on intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and that Saddam Hussein was harboring and supporting al-Qaeda terrorists. The lack of evidence of any WMDs later became a political flashpoint. One goal of the invasion was to overthrow the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein to establish a free and independent Iraqi government, democratically elected by its people. Significant opposition arose in 2002–2003 during the run up to the war, with sixty-three percent of Americans desiring a diplomatic solution …

Orsini, Mary “Lee”

Mary “Lee” Hatcher Orsini was the central figure in two sensational murders and the ensuing media frenzy that took place in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1981–82. After many dramatic turns, including the arrest of her defense attorney on suspicion of conspiring to kill his wife, Orsini was ultimately arrested and convicted. Mary Lee Orsini was born Mary Myrtle Hatcher in Searcy (White County) on August 17, 1947, to Henry Hatcher, who raised cattle on land near Gravel Ridge (Pulaski County), and Julia Hatcher, who was a school cafeteria worker and drove a county school bus; she had two siblings. Though Hatcher later left the impression with acquaintances that she had been a refined “society” girl, she spent her early …

Oslin, Kay Toinette (K. T.)

Kay Toinette (K. T.) Oslin is a country music singer who skyrocketed to fame in her mid-forties with the hit album 80’s Ladies (1987). Her work is known for its humor and mature perspective, as she achieved success much later in life than most popular musicians. K. T. Oslin was born in Crossett (Ashley County) on May 15, 1942. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and then to Houston, Texas. Oslin considers Houston her hometown. Oslin initially performed as a folk singer with Guy Clark in the 1960s and then moved to New York, where she performed as a chorus girl on and off Broadway. She soon began doing advertising jingles, which led to appearances in …

Ouachita Mountains Biological Station

The Ouachita Mountains Biological Station (OMBS) began serving the needs of colleges and universities as a research and education center in 1962. The OMBS was the vision of husband-and-wife team Dr. Richard K. (Dick) Speairs Jr. (1920‒2004) and Dr. Betty McKnight Speairs (1925‒2018), formerly of Louisiana State University and Centenary College (both in Shreveport, Louisiana), respectively. Together they founded the Speairs Charitable Foundation for the perpetual support of the OMBS. The station hosts collegiate groups, graduate students, faculty, and researchers for any aspect of field research and biological education. It is available at any time during the year by reservation only. The OMBS is located in the central part of the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, between the towns of Mena …

Ouachita National Recreation Trail

The Ouachita National Recreation Trail, an approximately 225-mile back country trail, runs east and west the length of the Ouachita Mountains. More commonly referred to as the “Ouachita Trail,” it lies primarily within the Ouachita National Forest. Most of the trail (177 miles) is in Arkansas, with forty-six miles extending into Oklahoma. Both ends of the trail are in state parks. The eastern terminus is in Pinnacle Mountain State Park west of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the western terminus is in Talimena State Park in Oklahoma. The trail also crosses a third state park, Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Polk County. Terrain across the length of the trail is rugged, providing a variety of hiking experiences and scenic opportunities. Elevation …

Our Town [X-Files Episode]

“Our Town” was a 1995 episode of the television program The X-Files that began with a mysterious disappearance in the fictional town and county of Dudley (Seth County) in Arkansas and centered on strange happenings associated with a poultry-processing operation. Airing on May 12, 1995, “Our Town” was the twenty-fourth episode in the second season of The X-Files, a popular science fiction/mystery program that originally ran on the Fox Network from 1993 to 2002. In the episode, FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) come to Arkansas to investigate the disappearance of a federal chicken plant inspector; the conspiracy-minded Mulder is also intrigued by the report of “foxfire” in the area, though the local sheriff (Gary …

Ouzts, Perry Wayne

Perry Wayne Ouzts, a professional jockey from Lepanto (Poinsett County), is one of twenty-one professional riders to have won 5,000 races. Around horseracing tracks, he is nicknamed the “Workingman’s Hero” or, for his unique riding style, “Scoot N’ Boot.” He has also been noted for overcoming numerous potentially career-ending injuries. Perry Ouzts was born in Lepanto on July 7, 1954, but was raised primarily in Rivervale (Poinsett County). During his years in Rivervale, Ouzts began riding horses with his cousins Earlie and Jackie Fires. Earlie Fires was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame of Jockeys, while Jackie’s career ended when his body was crushed during a horse race in 1977, paralyzing him. Ouzts began riding professionally in the spring …

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge

Overflow National Wildlife Refuge was established on November 6, 1980, to protect one of the remaining bottomland hardwood forest tracts in the Lower Mississippi River Valley (LMRV). Located in Ashley County, it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of the Interior. These bottomland forests are used by a huge contingent of migratory birds including waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, and songbirds. Original refuge land acquisitions were limited to forested bottomlands only, as they were in eminent danger of being drained and cleared for agriculture. The refuge has been officially designated a globally Important Bird Area (IBA) by the American Bird Conservancy. Most of the land within the …

Overton, William Ray

William Ray Overton was a U.S. district judge from 1979 to 1987 and is best known for his ruling in the McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education court case, which held the teaching of creationism to be unconstitutional. William Ray Overton was born on September 19, 1939, in Hot Spring County to Elizabeth Ford and Odis Ray Overton, a mine foreman at Magnet Cove (Hot Spring County). His mother, who taught several subjects in Hot Spring County’s public school system, was known for her skill with the English language; Overton joked that he got some learning in language by osmosis. Overton was an only child. His father died in 1957 when Overton was sixteen years old. In 1963, his mother …

Oxford American (OA)

The Oxford American (OA) is a quarterly journal of Southern culture and literature. Affiliated with the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County), it publishes short fiction, poetry, and articles in a glossy format in the vein of Harper’s or the Atlantic Monthly. The Oxford American is best known for its music issue, which focuses on often-overlooked Southern musicians and includes a CD of selected songs from these musicians. The Music Issue has been featured on National Public Radio many times and has won two National Magazine Awards for Best Single Topic Issue. OA has sporadic special issues with topics including Southern art, architecture, film, and food. Founded under editor Marc Smirnoff in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1992 as a …

Ozark Foothills FilmFest

The Ozark Foothills FilmFest takes place in Batesville (Independence County) and was established in 2001 by Bob and Judy Pest. The Pests had previously operated the City Movie Center in Kansas City, Missouri, for seven years. The festival soon became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to excellence and accessibility in the media arts. The festival supports and encourages Arkansas filmmakers and strives to serve the people of north-central Arkansas. The first festival in 2002 had Arkansas native and musical icon Levon Helm as the headliner; more than 300 people attended a concert he gave. At the historic Melba Theater, festival goers also watched several films in which he appeared. Helm spoke to the audience and encouraged them to help the festival succeed, which …

Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail

The Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail is a 165-mile-long hiking and backpacking route across northwestern Arkansas. The trail’s western terminus is Lake Fort Smith State Park in Crawford County, and its eastern terminus lies within the Buffalo National River park in Searcy County. The trail runs almost entirely through the Ozark National Forest, which regulates use. The Ozark Highlands Trail (OHT), as it is often called, was created by the National Forest Service in the 1970s, though inadequate federal funding limited route planning and construction to short segments. In response, area hiking enthusiasts in 1981 formed the Ozark Highlands Trail Association (OHTA). This all-volunteer group took over trail design and construction, completing the OHT in 1984. The association, working in …

Ozark Institute [Organization]

From 1976 until its end in 1983, the Ozark Institute (OI) created job programs, provided advocacy for a dwindling population of small farmers, and worked to create community organizations and institutions to help alleviate some of the hardships of rural life. Toward these aims, the OI partnered with the Office of Human Concern in Benton County, led by Bill Brown, a longtime resident of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The OI created a host of entities and programs to aid the Ozarks region in its short life, including community canneries, the publication Uncertain Harvest, seed banks, job training programs, and the Eureka Springs radio station KESP. The roots of the OI can be traced to the Conference on Ozark In-Migration in …

Ozark Land Holding Association

Founded in 1981, the Ozark Land Holding Association (OLHA) is an intentional community—a communal living arrangement based on shared land and common interests—located in Madison County about twenty miles outside of Fayetteville (Washington County). OLHA, which is a community of lesbians, chose the somewhat vague label “intentional community” in an effort to avoid problems with the rest of the broader community. OLHA was one of several women’s land communities created in northwestern Arkansas in the 1970s and 1980s, including Yellowhammer, Sassafras, Whippoorwillow, Arco Iris, and Spinsterhaven. The community was founded by author Diana Rivers and nineteen other women based upon their efforts on the belief that a community based in land specifically set aside for women offered an opportunity for …

Ozark Mountain Folk Fair

The Ozark Mountain Folk Fair was a music festival and craft fair held north of Eureka Springs (Carroll County) in 1973 on Memorial Day weekend (May 26–28). The festival drew an audience from around the United States, with an estimated attendance of up to 30,000, and featured a diverse mix of rock, blues, bluegrass, gospel, country, and folk music performances. The rise of 1960s and early 1970s counterculture throughout America was especially relevant within the environmental back-to-the-land movement burgeoning in the Arkansas Ozarks, in which people sought a more mindful and sustainable way of life and rejected commercial aspects of society. In this culture, journalist Edd Jeffords, founder of the Ozark Mountain Folklore Association, organized the Ozark Mountain Folk Fair. …

Ozark Mountain UFO Conference

aka: Ozark UFO Conference
The Ozark Mountain UFO Conference takes place each year on the second weekend of April at the Inn of the Ozarks Conference Center in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). As many as 700 attendees hear national and international researchers discuss their findings regarding unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and related topics. A typical three-day conference begins at 1:00 p.m. on Friday and ends at noon on Sunday, featuring between nine and twelve speakers, a speakers’ panel discussion, and the showing of documentary films. Nationally known speakers in attendance have included Dr. John Altshuler, Peter Davenport, Dr. James Deardorff, Richard Dolan, Linda Moulton Howe, Antonio Hunneus, Dr. David Jacobs, Dr. John Mack, Kathleen Marden, David Marler, Jim Marrs, Ted Phillips, Wendelle Stevens, and …

Ozark Natural Science Center

The Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) environmental educational organization facility in the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Bear Hollow Natural Area, located adjacent to the McIlroy Madison County Wildlife Management Area in northwest Arkansas. ONSC offers summer camps, adult and family programming, and conference facilities but is best known as the site of school excursions for more than 4,000 public and private school students from Arkansas and beyond each year. The mission of ONSC is to “enhance the understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment.” This mission is achieved by providing educational programs that immerse participants in the Ozark ecosystems and celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster conservation and stewardship, and nurture appreciation of …

Ozark Sharks

aka: Summer Shark Attack
Ozark Sharks (2016) is one of two SyFy Channel TV films about sharks set in Arkansas, both part of a series of low-budget, over-the-top shark movies. Directed by Missy Talley, Ozark Sharks (alternatively titled Ozark Shark or Summer Shark Attack) followed the previous Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015). Talley’s film has attractive scenery (filmed in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area) and mild humor about predictable characters, including brainless, selfie-obsessed teenagers; a weapons-crazed survivalist Ozarker who dislikes tourists (Thomas Francis Murphy, seemingly having the most fun of anyone in the cast); an irresponsible hippie; and a nerdy bookworm who becomes a fanatical shark killer. The plot of Ozark Sharks is relatively thin. Sharks have swum up from the sea to Arkansas …

Ozark Society

The Ozark Society is an Arkansas-based environmental organization initially founded to give organized resistance to the construction of dams on the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas. Adopting the motto “Conservation, Education, Recreation,” it soon broadened its goals to larger environmental conservation and sponsors a variety of floating and hiking opportunities for members and the general public. The Ozark Society was formed during a time of heightened interest in state conservation efforts. Individuals in northwest Arkansas and Pulaski County had contacted and investigated alliances with national groups about preventing the Buffalo River from being dammed and creating a national park to protect it; however, local activists opted to form a separate organization. On May 24, 1962, the Ozark Society held an …

Ozark Trilogy, The

The Ozark Trilogy (1981) is a science fiction trilogy by Suzette Haden Elgin set on the fictional planet Ozark. In Elgin’s story, Ozark has been colonized by twelve families from the Ozark region of Earth who name the continents Arkansaw, Mizzurah, Marktwain, Oklahomah, Tinaseeh, and Kintucky. The families fled Earth in 2012 to escape the poverty, disease, and violence of a failing civilization and its corrupt central government. The Trilogy begins 1,000 years later, as the old questions of power and the role of government resurface, and the Ozarkers must decide what kind of civilization they will be. Elgin, who grew up in the Missouri Ozarks and retired to the Arkansas Ozarks in the 1980s, draws heavily upon Ozark culture …

Ozarka College

Ozarka College in Melbourne (Izard County) opened in the fall of 1975 as Ozarka Vocational Technical School to provide vocational training to residents of Fulton, Izard, Sharp, and Stone counties. In 1973, the Arkansas Department of Education selected Melbourne as one of ten communities for vocational-technical schools. Under the leadership of the first director, Walter B. Hall, Ozarka offered classes in automotive service technology, food services, major appliance service, business education, building trades, industrial equipment technology, and licensed practical nursing (LPN). It also offered classes leading to the General Education Development (GED) diploma. The first class of forty-three students graduated in July 1976. In its early years, Ozarka grew both in the physical plant and in enrollment. In 1978, the …