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

Valentine, Bill, Jr.

aka: William Terry Valentine Jr.
William Terry Valentine Jr. served as general manager of the Arkansas Travelers baseball team in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1976 until 2009. During his tenure, the organization underwent many changes that included leaving the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm organization for the Anaheim Angels’ and reaching an agreement to relocate the Travelers from historic Ray Winder Field, one of the oldest professional baseball parks in the country, to a new ballpark on the riverfront of downtown North Little Rock (Pulaski County). In his first five years as general manager, he instituted a new promotional program that dramatically increased attendance. Valentine was also a professional baseball umpire who was fired for trying to organize an American League umpires union. Bill Valentine was …

Van Dyke, Jerry

Jerry Van Dyke was a famous comedian and actor who lived in Arkansas; he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in 1998. He was perhaps most noted for his Emmy-nominated performance as Luther Van Dam on the television show Coach. Van Dyke and his wife, Shirley Jones, owned a ranch in Hot Spring County, and, in the late 1990s, they purchased and renovated a city block in Benton (Saline County), including the Royal Theatre and a soda shop that bears his name. Jerry Van Dyke was born in Danville, Illinois, on July 27, 1931, to Loren and Hazel Van Dyke. Loren Van Dyke was a traveling salesman for the Sunshine Biscuit Company. Both their sons had successful …

Varner Unit

The Varner Unit is a detention facility run by the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is located in the Choctaw Township of Lincoln County, along U.S. Highway 65, about thirty miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Varner Unit was constructed in response to the state’s fast-growing inmate population; other state facilities had been expanded prior to Varner’s construction. When it opened in 1987, it could accommodate 300 prisoners; its capacity was increased to 700 and then later to around 1,700. The Varner Unit is made up of two separate units: the Supermax Unit and the Varner Unit. The Supermax Unit was opened in 2000 and in 2003 became home to all the state’s male death row inmates. In …

Vertac

The Vertac site in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) is one of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites and Arkansas’s most publicized Superfund site. Cleanup of the area after its abandonment by its corporate owner took more than a decade, and the name “Vertac” soon became synonymous in Arkansas with the fear of industrial pollution, similar to how New Yorkers view Love Canal. The Vertac site was originally part of the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP), a World War II–era facility that manufactured various components of explosive devices, such as primers and detonators. In 1946, the federal government offered the AOP facilities for sale to private companies. The future Vertac site was purchased in 1948 by Reasor-Hill Company, which produced pesticides, as did …

Vietnam War Markers and Memorials

A number of markers and memorials to Arkansans who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War are located in communities throughout the state. Vietnam veterans are also memorialized on a number of other monuments that recognize service members from other wars. Most monuments are located at county courthouses or other public spaces. Funding for these monuments came from a variety of sources, with the placement of the monuments typically organized by local citizens and members of various veterans’ organizations. The Arkansas Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is located on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dedicated on March 7, 1987, by retired U.S. Army general William Westmoreland, the memorial includes a circular wall listing …

Village Academy Beavers

Village Academy was a fictitious private school in Arkansas that was created by two members of the staff at Jessieville High School in Garland County in 1985. Fake scores for the school’s football teams were printed from 1985 to 1988 in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat before anyone at either of the Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers caught on. It is considered one of the classic pranks in modern Arkansas history and was the subject of a lengthy feature story in the 2015 edition of Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine. Soon after that story was published, the Little Rock–based company Rock City Outfitters began selling Village Academy Beavers shirts. Bob Sivils, the band director at Jessieville High School at …

Villines, Floyd Galloway “Buddy”, III

Buddy Villines, who retired in 2014, was a longtime public official in central Arkansas. Following service on the Little Rock Board of Directors, he became the city’s mayor before serving for over two decades as Pulaski County judge. Over that time, he oversaw a significant transformation of Arkansas’s capital city. Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines III was born on June 23, 1947, in Roxboro, North Carolina. Nicknamed Buddy at an early age due to his pleasant demeanor, he was one of three children born to Floyd Villines and Hazel Villines. As his father was a Methodist minister who served numerous counties all over the state, the family led a nomadic existence, moving frequently during Villines’s youth. In 1969, he graduated from …

Vining, Peggy Sue Caudle

Peggy Sue Caudle Vining was appointed Poet Laureate of Arkansas in 2003 by Governor Mike Huckabee. She was the sixth poet laureate since the creation of the position by concurrent resolutions of both houses of the Arkansas legislature in 1923. Peggy Sue Caudle, the oldest of three daughters, was born on March 4, 1929, in Greenfield, Tennessee, to Clayton R. Caudle, a salesman and later owner of a farm equipment company, and Winnie May Moore, a schoolteacher prior to their marriage. Caudle’s father was a deacon at the Greenfield Baptist Church, and she learned hymns and Bible verses at an early age. Caudle left home to attend college at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1946. She earned her elementary …

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA)

aka: VISTA
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) is a national welfare program begun in 1965. The volunteers were recruited from all over the country and sent to help people in poverty-stricken areas, including Arkansas. Some of the first areas to receive assistance were Yell County and Texarkana (Miller County). Not only did volunteers help many Arkansans, the written accounts from the time they spent in Arkansas are of great historical value because they describe many details of the rural Arkansas culture of the twentieth century. The program was begun during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency with the “War on Poverty.” The VISTA program was included in the larger program, the Office of Economic Opportunity, originally called National Service Corps. VISTA was described as …