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Pine Bluff Mayor-elect Debe Hollingsworth is taking her new job seriously enough to raise her hand for the oath of office in her home at 12:05 a.m. on New Year’s Day.***

She told a civic club earlier this week that she continues to focus on her five platform issues: reducing crime, improving municipal government, enhancing economic development, improving the city’s image and strengthening local education.

The five admirable goals will keep her busy. They can be accomplished with the cooperation of residents who want to make our city a better place to call home.

One of the first changes she’ll implement will likely involve leadership at the police department, she hinted. That should help morale among the men and women who have taken an oath to protect our lives and property.

Hollingsworth, who defeated eight opponents in the general election, including two-term incumbent Carl A. Redus Jr., emphasized “Pine Bluff won” because the election was “not about a person” but rather “our city.”

She acknowledged she hasn’t become completely familiar with the municipal budget, but will make sure in coming months the city will become “as efficient as it can be” and deliver on improvements to be financed with “Penny for Progress” sales tax and the pursuit of new jobs.

“We’re ready to get to work,” she emphasized. Welcome words for a community looking toward the future.

Inmates share

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Jim Caldwell, executive director of United Way of Southeast Arkansas, and Carla Martin, fall 2012 campaign chairman, received a donation this week from a group of men we don’t normally think of as charitable givers.

The 12 members of the Inmate Council at the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Randall L. Williams Unit in Pine Bluff handed over a $1,000 check to the charity. They are the first incarcerated individuals in the history of the United Way campaign to raise funds to help those in need, said Caldwell, a veteran of the organization.

Ray Hobbs, director of the Department of Correction, has told individuals outside of the correctional community that inmates continue to impress others with their compassion.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that individuals serving time in prisons and jails can reach out with compassion to help others.

The donated money was raised through the sale of food items, primarily pizzas, to fellow inmates and to prison staff, over the course of the past year.

Martin expressed her delight at finding a group of inmates who were dedicated to doing what they can for the wider community that surrounds them.

The donation from the inmates means the fall United Way campaign is 52 percent towards its goal of $1.28 million, having raised $665,412 as of Thursday.

A step forward

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The staff of the State Hospital in Little Rock should be praised for bringing the hospital back into compliance after being dropped in 2011 from the Medicaid program because of poor patient care and facilities.

Federal inspectors identified numerous cases of “immediate jeopardy” that threatened the health and well-being of patients there dating back to 2010.

The 152,000-square-foot building adjacent to the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences campus replaced a mental hospital found lacking for decades.

Some individuals lost their jobs over conditions found in 2011. The staff turned the hospital around with changes in attitudes and procedures. It took time and effort.

We must always be held to a higher standard for the patients who have the greatest needs.

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*** There has been a clarification to this article. Click here to view it.