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Ready for the River! featuring John Burkhalter and Samuel Ellis



Listen to Learn:

  • The engineering required to tame the Arkansas River
  • How Samuel caught the vision to showcase Little Rock from the river
  • How the Little Rock Yacht Club started
  • How and when the Arkansas River is safe to navigate

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    This week, we’re airing a special show all about the Arkansas River, featuring Kerry’s conversation with Samuel Ellis, owner of Rock Town River Outfitters, and with John Burkhalter, engineer and developer of the new Rock City Yacht Club. Tune in to find out how you can take a sunset kayak tour of downtown Little Rock, and what amenities the new Yacht Club will bring to the shores of the Arkansas River, including boat docks, a restaurant, and a host of outdoor activities.

    John Burkhalter was born in Branson, Missouri, but his family moved to Sherwood, Arkansas, when Burkhalter was six months old. Burkhalter graduated from Sylvan Hills High School before completing his undergraduate program with a pre-medical degree at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. He also graduated in 1980 from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with a degree in civil engineering. Burkhalter and his wife have two daughters.

    Burkhalter owned U-Liner Mid-America until 1998, when he sold the company to CSR Pipeline Systems. Following the sale, Burkhalter became a real estate developer. Burkhalter served as chairman of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission from 2007 to 2011. Burkhalter served as an Arkansas Highway Commissioner from 2011 to 2013. Burkhalter ran for Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas in 2014 but lost to Republican U.S. Representative Tim Griffin...

    A Little Rock native, Samuel Ellis attended college at University of Central Arkansas. After graduating, Ellis moved to Colorado and trained to be a whitewater rafting guide for the summer. When the summer ended, he returned to Little Rock and took a position at a law firm. During a trip to Portland, Oregon, he noticed the community of sports enthusiasts that took advantage of the river that runs through that city.

    Upon returning to Little Rock, he met with the owners of Rockwater Marina and in the spring of 2017 he opened Rock Town River Outfitters, a kayaking tour business. In 2018, he bought a storefront in the River Market that rents bicycles. He kept the staff and solicited help from his friend in Oregon, who moved to Little Rock to manage the business. The bicycle space operates under the Rock Town River Outfitters umbrella. Both businesses offer unique views of the capital city...


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