Time Period: Divergent Prosperity and the Arc of Reform (1968-2022)

American Airlines Flight 1420

American Airlines Flight 1420 departed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on June 1, 1999, en route to what is now Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As the aircraft landed, it ran off the end of the runway and broke apart. Ten passengers and the pilot died in the crash or from injuries suffered in the event. The aircraft involved in the crash was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82. At the time of the incident, the plane had 49,136 flight hours and 27,103 cycles (take-offs and landings). On the aircraft at the time of the crash were two flight crew members, four flight attendants, and 139 passengers. The flight originated in Chicago, Illinois, flying to Salt Lake …

Executions of April 2017

The State of Arkansas announced plans to carry out a total of eight executions over a eleven-day period in April 2017. Originally planned as four double executions scheduled for April 17, 20, 24, and 27, ultimately only four executions were carried out, including a double execution. On February 27, 2017, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that eight men would be executed in April. The men scheduled to die were Don Davis and Bruce Earl Ward, scheduled to be executed on April 17; Ledell Lee and Stacey Johnson on April 20; Marcell Williams and Jack Jones Jr. on April 24; and Jason McGehee and Kenneth Williams on April 27. The execution protocol for the state utilized a three-drug cocktail consisting of Midazolam, …

Gerber, Jennifer Sue

Jennifer Sue (Jen) Gerber is a noted filmmaker and teacher from Hot Springs (Garland County) who served as executive director of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) for six years. Her movie The Revival, filmed entirely in Hot Springs, received positive reviews from critics. Jen Gerber was born on June 25, 1979, in Wichita, Kansas. Her parents were Allen Gerber, who was a general surgeon, and Jan Gerber, a nurse. The family enjoyed spending weekends swimming and boating on lakes in the Hot Springs region, later relocating to Hot Springs. There, Gerber attended Lake Hamilton High School, where she ran cross-country and track, ultimately becoming the 3,200-meter Arkansas high school champion. She also performed in school plays, studied ballet, …

Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town

Snake Eyes: Murder in a Southern Town is a true crime nonfiction book written by Bitty Martin of Hot Springs (Garland County) and published by Prometheus Books in 2022. The book received much acclaim, garnering positive reviews, brisk sales, and requests from across the nation for the Arkansas-based author to appear on true crime media programming. Over the six years she spent writing the book and interviewing more than fifty sources, Martin uncovered underlying secrets about the death of a teenage girl in what was originally called an accident but later revealed to be a murder. The book’s title is evocative not only of the scene of the crime but also the era in Hot Springs history when it was …

Wills, Elana Leigh Cunningham

Elana Leigh Wills, a native of Jonesboro (Craighead County), practiced law at the highest levels of state government for more than thirty years, including a stint of two years as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and many years as a deputy attorney general and a member of the state’s Public Service Commission. Governor Mike Beebe appointed her to the Supreme Court upon the retirement of Justice Thomas A. Glaze in 2008. She avoided politics but served in state legal jobs under seven attorneys general; her final state job was at the utility commission by appointment from Governor Beebe. Wills’s mother was a distant cousin of Edgar L. McHaney, who served twenty-one years on the Arkansas Supreme Court, and …