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    Arkansas Queen Riverboat ceases operations in North Little Rock

    12:13 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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    NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - THV 11 is learning more about a story first told on Monday-the Arkansas Queen is leaving the North Little Rock Riverfront.

    It's been a Riverfront staple since March of 2006. But on Tuesday, the general manager issued a formal statement to the media about the boat's departure.

    News about the Arkansas Queen leaving North Little Rock made its way into the downtown bar crowd Tuesday night.

    "I'm pretty sad about it. It was a pretty big staple in our community," Casey Martindill said.
    For almost seven years, the Arkansas Queen offered dining and special event cruises, day and night.

    "I've been on it. My parents have been on it. We all enjoyed it when we went," Martindill said.

    General Manager Roger Odell sent a letter to city hall this week, announcing the riverboat's departure. Odell claimed it's all tied to a 2005 lease agreement with the city. He argued that the city violated the contract by never replacing a barge, used below a restaurant, which sunk a few years ago.

    "In my non-attorney opinion, I think we've done everything we could possibly do to make them successful," Mayor Joe Smith said.

    North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith said previous administrations reached out to the Arkansas Queen several times regarding the barge. And, while there is still no replacement, Smith said, "The breach part of the contract, I would disagree with that, and I wish them well. It's my opinion that we had leased the barge to them, and it was their responsibility to make sure it didn't sink."

    Back at the bar with Martindill, she said she's just hoping something similar takes the Arkansas Queen's place.

    "I think it's something that's fun to do. You get to see things that you normally don't get to see if you didn't go on it," Martindill said.

    THV 1 did reach out for an on-camera interview with the Arkansas Queen general manager but the call was never returned. The city attorney was not available for comment.

    As for the boat's future and where it's headed, Mayor Smith said it could end up in New Orleans, but there is no official word from the management of the boat. There is also no official word on when it's leaving.

    Mayor Smith did say that he's had early talks with a developer about a new riverboat. And he said he will now check in with that developer again now that the Arkansas Queen is officially leaving.

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