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Old 07-07-2007, 01:10 PM
 
4 posts, read 23,257 times
Reputation: 17

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I grew up here, but lived all of my adult life in northern CA, and returned here a couple years ago to be near an elderly parent. Here's what I've found in Clarksville AR, and the surrounding area.....There has been little or no cultural progression or growth here in the past 3 decades. The poultry industry has detsroyed or heavily degraded the water quality of every stream, creek, pond, river and lake in the entire region of the Ozarks. Most of the wildlife that was abundant when I was a teenager is missing, largely due to unchecked cutting of private and some public lands. What the poultry industry hasn't impacted, a myriad of small, pseudo-cattle farmers are destroying with literally thousands of acres cut and turned into pasture. Fauna like quail, and cottontails are visisble, but at a fraction of their former numbers. The chicken plants DO stink, sometimes REALLY bad, and what's worse that few people here have mentioned, the mostly privately owned poultry houses (confined factory farms) smell almost as bad, and get this, are totally unregulated. If someone owns the land 20 feet from your windows and wants to put up a poultry house, the government here supports that kind of crap. You have zero legal vector to abate this.

The people - in the river valley, deeply evangelical christians with simple, mostly repressed lifestyles. Rampant drug use in every county and town, with few diversion programs or modern methods of dealing with it. Every hick with a 5 gal bucket and 20 cold pills is classified as a "meth" lab - and there are a lot of people doing that kind of thing - and still making it to church on Sunday. The schools of Clarksville specifically are a fraction of the quality of 30 years ago. The econmic viability of the town, previously based on farming, is gone, replaced by low level blue colllar jobs, a giant Wally Mart, and essentially it's become a fast food stop on the I-40. There is a very high divorce rate, a lot of people under 35 on their 2nd or 3rd marriage. The younger generation is just as religiously repressed as the old. i.e. - They all go to mostly Baptist churches 2 or 3 times a week, bashing things like a bottle of wine with dinner, and won't allow alcohol in the county, not uncommon here, but then they drive by the hundreds if not thousands, about 10 miles over to the next county and buy cheap American beer in cans which they dipsose of out the windows of their cars as though it were fertilizer for the countryside. (Actually here in Johnson County, the litter problem is totally out of control, and completely ignored by local law enforcement while they look for 5 gal buckets with 20 cold pills and lighter fluid or something in them.) And the city government of Clarksville is a bizarre joke.

And yes, the local government is a good old boys bed of corruption. Much of the river valley area is similiar, but this is especially noticeable in Johnson and Franklin county's. In a nutshell, call it what is, the Clarksville area is not a good choice for quality of life, rasing children, or employment. Russellville is more progressive economically, has a larger 4 yr college, (the U of O in Clarksville is merely a Presby money shelter, although oddly well ranked in it's size group), and actual shopping. There is no shopping in Clarksville, and no restaurants to mention. Ft. Smith is a larger version of the swelter and stink of the river valley poultry industry, and also not economically viable for prgressive business. Take a look at the local CBS affiliate out of Ft Smith, ironically owned by the NYT Media Group. It's almost as if they were broadcasting to Sunday school class. They rarely cover actual news outside the area, and you wouldn't know professional sports even existed, with nearly every broadcast headlined with some useless information about Razorback this or that, football mostly, EVERYDAY. If it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious. DishTV is a must for actual news, it's not in the Ft Smith paper either, the AR Demo-Gazette is the state's only paper.

Just to the north of here is a very different situation. The upper Ozark plateau is cooler, less humid. You can live in near wilderness across upper Franklin, Johnson, and the southern parts of Madison and Newton, and have something close to real shopping in Fayetteville. There are many features to make a triangle area from Fayetteville across to Harrison and bordered on the south by Highway 16, and the east by Highway 7. You can find real food there, groceries that don't come from ConAgra, basics. You can go out for a drink, see music, etc. Little Rock is absolutely horrible place to live, and it would appear the regions intellect and resource is rooted in the northwest area of the state. Avoid the river valley if you like clean water, fresh air, shopping, education, or hope to have a neighbor who can hold a conversation about something besides the weather in a 5 mile radius.

As for Clarksville, you can bank (at least sort of - only one prime bank - Regions), you can mingle with church types, shop at Wally Mart, hear plenty of racist jokes, see a lot of people who need to lose about 60 to 80 lbs, and oh yeah - virtually everyone smokes and they do it a lot. There's a lot of 70ish hairstyles fronted by several ounces of questionably applied cosmetics, and they breed early and often with apparently no plan for the outcome. Pregnant teenagers are everywhere, and it is not uncommon to meet a 25 year old caucasian girl with 3 or 4 children. At 35 to 40, when a lot of women in CA and such places are just starting a family, here they are literally grandparents. Be sure you have a reason to live here, or if you're an intellectual, bias your location towards the Fayetteville area. The entire region is affordable, but don't believe anything any real estate agent here says - this market is saturated with stick built - brick facade on slab buildings that they call houses in this part of the country. NOTHING is worth the asking price, with the exception of unimproved mountain acreage. The craftsman building that used to be here is gone, and in the case of places like Clarksville, as one agent here put it, "The whole d*mn town is for sale".

Last edited by Hillbilly60; 07-07-2007 at 01:28 PM.. Reason: spelling

 
Old 07-07-2007, 02:01 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 15,900,945 times
Reputation: 7531
I wish you would entitle this "Johnson or Franklin Counties" or "Specifics on Clarksville" - I don't believe as a river valley resident I fall into any of your categories - religious fanatic, meth head, obese, repressed, drunker litterer, racist, a weather or Wally World freak, or uneducated...does this make me NOT an intellectual, that I would choose to live in such a horrible region?

Please - you are speaking of one small area, and yet your title indicates this is widespread - and I personally don't think Little Rock is the cesspool you make it out to be, although it's not my first choice for home.

I'm thrilled that you've seen fit to return here to take care of your elderly parent but find this whole negative diatribe a little bit disconcerting - and the people of Arkansas wonder why you didn't take momma or daddy home to sunny Cali to live since there's so much more to offer.

We're sorry we didn't live up to your expectations - I'd hazard a guess that some folks just might see things a little differently than you.
 
Old 07-07-2007, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
136 posts, read 557,049 times
Reputation: 68
I'll pass on judgment of the River Valley, since it's a place I've only visited. I lived in N.W. Arkansas for 6 years, though, with a private chicken farm right at the top of the ridge behind my house. about 1200 feet away. And I never once smelled it. It was northwest, a prevailing wind direction. Sometimes I heard its fans in the summertime; that's it. As I understand it, the private farmers have to meet strict requirements of the large companies they do business with. Places like Tyson and Henderson Farms rule their operations. That's one reason there are so many old, abandoned chicken farms in this State; they didn't measure up and were left to rust. These are eyesores, true. And it's true that chicken farm run off has polluted the waters. Oklahoma sued due to pollution of the Illinois River running into Oklahoma from Arkansas. I doubt anyone likes pollution; no one wants to see clear cutting of woods, either. Your sorry woods might be attributed to the necessary clearing of red oak forests ruined by the Oak Bore Beetle infestation in Arkansas. I'm not defending poor land husbandry practices; I agree that we've not been good stewards and much has been lost, in Arkansas and all across America. But consider all of us part of that problem, turn an eye towards saving what's left, and excuse no corporation that continues to pollute or degrade based on a profit motive. And still have your bacon and eggs in the morning? How do we balance this? Truth is, there is no ShangriLa. But Arkansans aren't stupid. They love their State too and they need ideas on fixing problems, not fingers pointing at how backward they are.
 
Old 07-07-2007, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,278 posts, read 79,469,982 times
Reputation: 38646
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hillbilly60 View Post
I grew up here, but lived all of my adult life in northern CA, and returned here a couple years ago to be near an elderly parent. Here's what I've found in Clarksville AR, and the surrounding area.....There has been little or no cultural progression or growth here in the past 3 decades. The poultry industry has detsroyed or heavily degraded the water quality of every stream, creek, pond, river and lake in the entire region of the Ozarks. Most of the wildlife that was abundant when I was a teenager is missing, largely due to unchecked cutting of private and some public lands. What the poultry industry hasn't impacted, a myriad of small, pseudo-cattle farmers are destroying with literally thousands of acres cut and turned into pasture. Fauna like quail, and cottontails are visisble, but at a fraction of their former numbers. The chicken plants DO stink, sometimes REALLY bad, and what's worse that few people here have mentioned, the mostly privately owned poultry houses (confined factory farms) smell almost as bad, and get this, are totally unregulated. If someone owns the land 20 feet from your windows and wants to put up a poultry house, the government here supports that kind of crap. You have zero legal vector to abate this.

The people - in the river valley, deeply evangelical christians with simple, mostly repressed lifestyles. Rampant drug use in every county and town, with few diversion programs or modern methods of dealing with it. Every hick with a 5 gal bucket and 20 cold pills is classified as a "meth" lab - and there are a lot of people doing that kind of thing - and still making it to church on Sunday. The schools of Clarksville specifically are a fraction of the quality of 30 years ago. The econmic viability of the town, previously based on farming, is gone, replaced by low level blue colllar jobs, a giant Wally Mart, and essentially it's become a fast food stop on the I-40. There is a very high divorce rate, a lot of people under 35 on their 2nd or 3rd marriage. The younger generation is just as religiously repressed as the old. i.e. - They all go to mostly Baptist churches 2 or 3 times a week, bashing things like a bottle of wine with dinner, and won't allow alcohol in the county, not uncommon here, but then they drive by the hundreds if not thousands, about 10 miles over to the next county and buy cheap American beer in cans which they dipsose of out the windows of their cars as though it were fertilizer for the countryside. (Actually here in Johnson County, the litter problem is totally out of control, and completely ignored by local law enforcement while they look for 5 gal buckets with 20 cold pills and lighter fluid or something in them.) And the city government of Clarksville is a bizarre joke.

And yes, the local government is a good old boys bed of corruption. Much of the river valley area is similiar, but this is especially noticeable in Johnson and Franklin county's. In a nutshell, call it what is, the Clarksville area is not a good choice for quality of life, rasing children, or employment. Russellville is more progressive economically, has a larger 4 yr college, (the U of O in Clarksville is merely a Presby money shelter, although oddly well ranked in it's size group), and actual shopping. There is no shopping in Clarksville, and no restaurants to mention. Ft. Smith is a larger version of the swelter and stink of the river valley poultry industry, and also not economically viable for prgressive business. Take a look at the local CBS affiliate out of Ft Smith, ironically owned by the NYT Media Group. It's almost as if they were broadcasting to Sunday school class. They rarely cover actual news outside the area, and you wouldn't know professional sports even existed, with nearly every broadcast headlined with some useless information about Razorback this or that, football mostly, EVERYDAY. If it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious. DishTV is a must for actual news, it's not in the Ft Smith paper either, the AR Demo-Gazette is the state's only paper.

Just to the north of here is a very different situation. The upper Ozark plateau is cooler, less humid. You can live in near wilderness across upper Franklin, Johnson, and the southern parts of Madison and Newton, and have something close to real shopping in Fayetteville. There are many features to make a triangle area from Fayetteville across to Harrison and bordered on the south by Highway 16, and the east by Highway 7. You can find real food there, groceries that don't come from ConAgra, basics. You can go out for a drink, see music, etc. Little Rock is absolutely horrible place to live, and it would appear the regions intellect and resource is rooted in the northwest area of the state. Avoid the river valley if you like clean water, fresh air, shopping, education, or hope to have a neighbor who can hold a conversation about something besides the weather in a 5 mile radius.

As for Clarksville, you can bank (at least sort of - only one prime bank - Regions), you can mingle with church types, shop at Wally Mart, hear plenty of racist jokes, see a lot of people who need to lose about 60 to 80 lbs, and oh yeah - virtually everyone smokes and they do it a lot. There's a lot of 70ish hairstyles fronted by several ounces of questionably applied cosmetics, and they breed early and often with apparently no plan for the outcome. Pregnant teenagers are everywhere, and it is not uncommon to meet a 25 year old caucasian girl with 3 or 4 children. At 35 to 40, when a lot of women in CA and such places are just starting a family, here they are literally grandparents. Be sure you have a reason to live here, or if you're an intellectual, bias your location towards the Fayetteville area. The entire region is affordable, but don't believe anything any real estate agent here says - this market is saturated with stick built - brick facade on slab buildings that they call houses in this part of the country. NOTHING is worth the asking price, with the exception of unimproved mountain acreage. The craftsman building that used to be here is gone, and in the case of places like Clarksville, as one agent here put it, "The whole d*mn town is for sale".
I hope for your sake and others you can eventually return to your liberal state which is over run with drugs, illegals, overpriced housing which is depricating as fast as any other area and those who think they are jiust a bit above the rest of the world. I was raised in Calif, lived all over the state and yet, I would move back if someone gave me a mansion. Why are so many thinking of leaving the state for places like OK, AR, NM and a few other parts of our wonderful country if it is so wonderful.

As for smokers, that is a problem, but as long as no one is smoking in restaurants or inside where you are breathing second hand smoke, why is this bothering you?

As we are planning to re-locate to AR we have spent many hours researching to try and learn as much as we can about the state. Do they have some problems and are they a little late in progress? Sure, but what is missing I beleive is overshadowed by what they have to offer.

Now that you have vented try and focus on the positive. You are living there so make the best of it.

NM has lots of problems, probably more than AR. Do we stress over this? No, we see what is still good about the state like the beauty and the sunsets.

As for Ar being the bible belt and yet overflowing with drups? Isn't that a bit odd? How bout the drugs in Calif?

Divorce high? would you care to let us know the rate in Calif, especailly for those under 35? Well, maybe it isn't all that high, seeing people in California often choose not to bother with marriage.

Smell, I don't know what part of Calif you are from, but have you even smelt the paper mills in Eureka? OMG. thank goodness it isn't throughout the area, we lived there in the 70s, luckily our neighborhood wasn't affected by the odor.

Wildlife is dissapperaing everywhere which is sad, but don't tell me you have more in Northern Calif than there is in Ar?

Enought already. I am sure there are parts of Ar that most of us would prefer not to call home, this is true in any state.

Nita
 
Old 07-07-2007, 09:28 PM
 
4 posts, read 22,836 times
Reputation: 13
Well I am new to this board but I will say that I have lived alot of places and when I went to visit any thread about the areas I have been, most of the people paint a very rosy picture of these areas. I know its hard to really see your own area faults for some people. I have tried to make it a habit to really see things as they are. Having said this, I do agree with alot OP has said. Sadly there is not enough for the youth to do in the River Valley area once they get out of the sports minded high schools. They were the heroes to many a high school football fan only to be a has been as most are not college bound and turn to drink and drugs to dull the pain of it all. I like the River Valley area but it is not for me.
 
Old 07-07-2007, 10:59 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC (in my mind)
7,946 posts, read 14,602,573 times
Reputation: 4457
The OP's description sounds almost like a description of Ft. Smith, which is getting its 4th Wal-Mart supercenter in a town of only 80,000 and has a government that actively tries to stall growth to keep the ultra-religious small-town environment intact. There is absolutely nothing for youth to do here, which i agree is why drugs and alcohol is so rampant. Another part of the alcohol problem is that its viewed as such a horrible thing by the evangelical majority, kids don't learn to respect it or use it in moderation, but instead get trashed nightly as a way to show "rebellion". Also, this area isn't good for outsiders at all, especially if you don't fish or hunt or play high school football. If you didn't grow up here, you won't fit in. I am counting down my days until I graduate UAFS and am getting the heck out of this town!

On the bright side, its not all bad. Scenic beauty is nice, its a short drive from true wilderness. Northwest Arkansas is also nice for shopping, only 40 minutes away.
 
Old 07-08-2007, 05:10 AM
 
4 posts, read 23,257 times
Reputation: 17
Wink A little clarification on the Arkansas river valley....

...and the surrounding area. Folks, I can see some would like a more positive spin on the truth, but call it what it is, a poorly educated population, resistant to almost any type of enlightenment. And yes there are plenty of highly degreed Californians who lack the sense of a good chicken, but what few here in the south central US realize is that much of CA is populated by people who moved from places like AR. CA is actually several very distinct areas. The SF bay area has the highest concentration of academics in the world. Southern CA is full of plastic, live for the moment idiots. The valley is much like the south central US. Nita, per capita drug use is lower in CA than AR, and it's not the kids here in AR that are abusing so much, it's their parents! The divorce rate below 35 is also lower out there, possibly because of later age at first marriage. And CA isn't liberal, I believe the correct expression is progressive. However, yes I expect serious economic difficulty there mostly due to seriously overpriced housing. We're beating irrelevant points here. And by the way, the per capita smoking rate is on the rise in AR, not on the decline, currently about 25.4%, a certain marker for a poorly educated public at 1 in 4. However, there are probably 4 or 5 idiots in CA for every 1 in AR, so you can win that one. Keep in mind we're talking about a population here that still uses burn barrels in their yards to dispose of household waste, despite a completely ignored state law against all such incinerators. The combined pollutant stream from these practices, (read plastic wrappers and everything else spewing things like dioxin from incomplete combustion), outweighs the industrial output of the region - a fact. You cannot educate these people about it, we've tried. Lot's have tried, and failed, which is why the law, like the litter laws, remain unenforced. Look into AR's new toll free 'turn in a litter bug' number, a big political fanfare from the HIckabee state government.....thousands of calls, thousands of incidents reported, and in over a year....not a single prosecution. The new smoking law???? Watered down by the state's own medical advisor under pressure from the tobacco industry.

A quick note about Nita using the word "illegals". Sounds racist to me, but get this straight - without the Mexican work force the American economy would grind to a halt overnight. Failing to understand that is naive. Who is it that does the dirty work here for companies like Tyson, (remember that fiasco with the feds over Tyson "importing" workers?) In CA you will find young Mexican men standing on the sidewalks in certain areas at 6 am looking for someone to pay them $10 an hour to use a shovel, while their caucasion counterparts have their hind end turned to the mattress awaiting their next welfare check. At 10am, the Mexican boy will still be standing there looking for work, the white boy might be up watching Jerry Springer by then. I don't care where he was born, or where he sends his pay, and I applaud him for keeping taxes away from the useless administration of the idiot that's in the white house. I honor work, not pseudo-righteous American's who are racist and too lazy to work. There's a diatribe for ya....

As for the poultry industry holding it's producers to a standard that outdates many facilities, look further into the details of this. The houses are made obsolete by an industry that likes to keep it's producers in debt, and thus obligated to produce to pay for the new facility they were required to build. Get the facts. My point was that there is zero ordinance to hold the industry to any reasonable impact standard. They do what they want. Yes, I know about the OK vs AR, and OK v (myriad producers of AR and MO) lawsuits. OK only prevailed after the US Supreme ruled that up stream polluters can be held to down stream standards, even across state lines. The poultry industry fought vehemently against it. Another huge impact to the area, especially in the river valley, is the extraction of natural gas by companies like XTO. There are hundreds of high powered compressors running 24 hours a day. In the river valley and along the base of the Ozarks, many pristine "hollow's" resound with vibration from these machines. I can hear 3 of them 24 hours a day. While they can be forced to comply with FERC limit's, (and yes I brought that down on them and they had to spend a lot of money to install things like sound walls and hospital type exhaust mufflers), few people understand such things and the compression noise is everywhere. When I moved here the noise exceeded FERC limits on this property, and the well is over a mile away! Some of the locals keep their mouths shut because XTO and other companies pay them a small (really small) royalty under leasehold agreements that are now approaching 70 years old.

Northwestern AR is a beautiful area, the remainder of the state, everything south of I-40, and east of Little Rock, is awful, and that's being polite. The river valley has poor schools, (I don't care what the statistics say, isn't AR under a federal mandate to improve the quality of it's schools? They all have fantastic football stadiums, sometimes even the middle schools. After you've checked that out, visit their library's and compare....), and there seems to be unlimited funding for teaching kids to play with balls.

I think there can be a decent quality of life here, but access to many things is limited in this region, and you have to look and ultimately source some things from out of the area. Backwoods and country are true and loveable culture's, hick is the absence of any, and very well represented across AR, OK and TX. Come here for the land where it remains, but don't buy any rosy picture that it isn't repressed in the region. There is historical disdain for education in this and other parts of the south, a sociological fall out from the Civil War area, that is part of the cornerstone of the evangelical based society present here today. And if someone wants to start a movement to "Bring Back Arkansas" - let's start with the security vapor lights that have destroyed the night sky here. The oldtimers hated those, and I can only assume that now there are a lot of folks here afraid of the dark. And it is nice to build a $200 dog house without having to have a $600 permit. In fact you can build a whole house here for less than the permit's required to build one in many parts of the SF bay area.

Last edited by Hillbilly60; 07-08-2007 at 05:20 AM..
 
Old 07-08-2007, 06:50 AM
 
154 posts, read 595,645 times
Reputation: 52
Folks - like it or not, Hillbilly is pretty much spot on with his assessment.
 
Old 07-08-2007, 07:43 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,278 posts, read 79,469,982 times
Reputation: 38646
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoILikeJello View Post
Well I am new to this board but I will say that I have lived alot of places and when I went to visit any thread about the areas I have been, most of the people paint a very rosy picture of these areas. I know its hard to really see your own area faults for some people. I have tried to make it a habit to really see things as they are. Having said this, I do agree with alot OP has said. Sadly there is not enough for the youth to do in the River Valley area once they get out of the sports minded high schools. They were the heroes to many a high school football fan only to be a has been as most are not college bound and turn to drink and drugs to dull the pain of it all. I like the River Valley area but it is not for me.
I still say this isn't all that much different than any other smaller place anywhere in the USA. I can tell the same stories about Lewisville, TX, Belen, NM, parts of central Va, etc.

Nita
 
Old 07-08-2007, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,278 posts, read 79,469,982 times
Reputation: 38646
To set a few things straight: I am so far from being a racist it isn't funny. That does not mean I am happy with illegals. Living here in NM I can assure you the families of hispanic decent who have been here for 100s of years are as upset as 70% of the country is with "illegals". Are these families racists? Hardly.

As for lack of education, that is certainly the case in much of AR. We have a granddaughter who is an honor student at University of AR, entering her senior year. She hopes to teach social science and English after she gets her masters degree. Where will she teach? AR and what does she hope she can accomplish? her hopes are, to turn as many kids as possible on to the wonders of learning.

CAlif, not liberal, call it what you want, but you know it is liberal. AS for the issue, I will buy that one, but per capita, I can't imagine what the numbers would be in Calif if the rate was the same.

Marriage; yes, I agree with less divorces but we also know there are more people in Calif that choose not to marry period. If you don't get married it is pretty hard to get divorced.

The amount of education, again, we lived in the bay area for 5 years, yes, the percentage of highly educated is very high. I do think you seem to feel those with educations are just a tad bit better than those without. Education has little to do with what kind of a person someone is or how intelligent they may be. BTW< I come from a very educated family, dating back to my grandmother who was a college graduate at the turn of the 20th century.

Intellectual snobery is the worst kind.

I am not defending Clarksville or any other part of Ar, heck I don't even live there yet. I am making a statement: you get out of anything what you put into it. Everyplace and everything has positives as well as negatives. As for not enough for kids to do. That statement really gets to me. What do some of you think kids do in the big city after highschool if they don't go on to college? The same things they do in central Ar.

Nita
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