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July 01, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JULY 01, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by saying that in order to have high school and college sports this fall that masks need to be worn. The Governor did not give any criteria that would need to be met in order for there to be sports. Governor Hutchinson reported that the total cases statewide had increased to 21,197. That's an increase of 420 from Tuesday. The good news is that the Active Positives in the state declined by 219 to 5,757. Hospitalizations also declined by 15 to 275. The death toll due to COVID-19 increased by seven to 277. 

The Governor said there would be an "important announcement" at the Thursday briefing but gave not hint what is was about.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
420 new cases
21,197 cumulative cases
275 hospitalized (down 15 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
277 total deaths
2/3 of all deaths have been nursing home residents
5,757 active cases (153 in nursing homes, 525 in prisons, 5,079 in the community)
7,993 tests yesterday (over 180,000 tests in June)
6.7% overall positive rate
15 new nursing home residents positive
11 new nursing home staff positive
72 on ventilators (up 5 from yesterday)
275 hospitalized (down 15 from yesterday)
15,163 recoveries (up 632 from yesterday).

Of the 420 new cases, 69 were in Lee County, 49 in Pulaski County, 48 in Washington County, 28 in Yell County, 20 in Benton County, and the other counties had less than 20 each.

Dr. Smith also discussed non-respiratory symptoms now being seen among COVID-19 patients.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 248 positive cases with 201 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 83 positive cases with 29 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. The Health Department Website reported in 21 cases in Ouachita County, however the number has been reduced to 20 positives. One case moved to another county but are not sure where. These numbers will be updated later today

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,658,324 cumulative cases, 720,631 recoveries, and 127,681 deaths. Globally 10,538,577 cumulative cases, 5,395,571 recoveries, and 512,689 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/hsaPOp8fTic

Again, the good news is the number of Active Positives in the state declined by 219 to 5,757. Hospitalizations declined by 15 to 275. However, the deaths due to the coronavirus increased by seven to 277. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.


CROSSETT MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Tracy Wright Jr., age 25, of Crossett, Arkansas, was sentenced on June 30, 2020 to 70 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for one count of being a Felon In Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

On or about July 27, 2019, deputies with the Ashley County Sheriff’s Department and officers with the Crossett Police Department encountered Wright, a convicted felon. Upon contact with law enforcement, Wright was immediately recognized by law enforcement, who were aware of an active warrant that had been issued for Wright’s arrest. After Wright was taken into custody, a search of his persons resulted in officer’s locating two handguns in his pants pocket.

Wright was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2019, and entered a guilty plea in January of 2020.

This case was prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justices Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, which is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of firearms and improving the safety of residents in the Western District of Arkansas.  Participants in the initiative include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

This case was investigated by the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office, the Crossett Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Fire, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the United States.
 

COTTON, TILLIS INTRODUCE NDAA AMENDMENT ON CONFEDERATE RENAMING
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) have introduced an amendment to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would create a commission to study all Department of Defense assets that are named after or commemorate the Confederacy or anyone associated with the Confederacy. The commission would submit a list of those assets to both Congress and the Secretary of Defense, who would then decide how to move forward on possible renaming.

"The language in the current NDAA is too broad and gives too much power to an unaccountable and probably unconstitutional commission. My amendment will ensure we carefully study each property and that Congress determines the best way forward," said Cotton.

"Instead of mandating the renaming of military bases, including Fort Bragg, we need a thoughtful and constructive process that includes the input of our military communities. Our amendment accomplishes that goal," said Tillis.

 

RUTLEDGE URGES SENATE TO PASS LAW TO FIGHT SHELL COMPANIES
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge led a bipartisan letter signed by 42 attorneys general urging the U.S. Senate to pass S. 2563, the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act. The letter was sent to Sen. Mike Crapo, Chairman, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ranking Member, of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. The ILLICIT CASH Act updates the federal framework for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, which has not been comprehensively reassessed since its inception in the 1970s. It creates new tools for information sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement. Along with that, the Act requires a covered entity to report its “beneficial owners,” the actual people who benefit from or control the entity.

“By passing the ILLICIT CASH Act, Congress would increase transparency in the American financial system,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This increased transparency would make it tougher for criminals to use shell companies to launder money from crimes like drug trafficking, terrorism and tax evasion and give law enforcement the resources they so desperately need.”

The letter led by Attorney General Rutledge recognizes that many states do not have the ability to track information on the actual people who control or benefit from corporations and other entities doing business there. Without that information, states cannot know if an entity is a shell for concealing the illicit proceeds of criminals like drug traffickers, terrorist financiers, tax evaders and corrupt government officials.

Under the ILLICIT CASH Act, certain business entities will have to disclose a “beneficial owner” to the federal government. A beneficial owner is a “natural person” who controls an entity, owns at least 25% of it, or receives economic benefits from it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) will then keep all the disclosed beneficial ownership information in a federal registry. The Act requires FinCEN to release beneficial ownership information to law enforcement agencies, including at the local and state levels.

Rutledge led the letter with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, which was signed by attorneys general in: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
 

FAULKNER COUNTY MAN WANTED IN CONNECTION WITH SOUTH ARKANSAS MURDER
JUNE 30, 2020
Lavern Blackmon, 57, of Conway is wanted in connection with the abduction and murder of a Desha County woman.


Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were requested yesterday (Monday, June 29th) to lead the investigation after local law enforcement authorities were notified of a body being discovered along Kirtley Road northeast of Dumas.  The body was later identified as Viola Davis, 56, of Mitchellville (Desha County).

Davis’ body is being examined at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to determine a manner and cause of death.

State police special agents have obtained arrest warrants for Blackmon, charging him with kidnapping and capital murder.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Blackmon is asked to contact the nearest Arkansas State Police office.

 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST DOCTORAL PROGRAM IN RURAL AND DIVERSE EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIPMAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is now approved to offer the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Rural and Diverse Educational Leadership according to a recent decision by its regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission.

SAU’s first cohort of doctoral students will be admitted for Fall 2021. The program will be offered fully online, and requirements can be completed in as little as three and a half years.

Establishing SAU’s first doctoral program was a key vision set forth during Dr. Trey Berry’s first year as SAU president. Reacting to final approval of the degree program, Dr. Berry remarked:

“This news marks such an important point in SAU history! To be the first university south of Little Rock to offer a doctorate through a College of Education is a responsibility we take very seriously. 

“Over the past few years, our students have benefited from the university establishing academic programs that are unique to south Arkansas,” said Dr. Berry. “The creation of the Ed.D.is yet another example and a natural progression of the expanding academic mission at SAU.

“We are excited to be providing the opportunity for an advanced, terminal degree to equip our educational and community leaders for the future,” Dr. Berry concluded.

To explore achieving this goal, a 2017 feasibility study was conducted by SAU, and a survey was administered by the-then Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE). The survey affirmed high, regional demand for the potential opportunity.

Stakeholders consisting of building and district-level K-12 administrators, college and university faculty and staff, and non-profit and public agency personnel took the survey and indicated a strong (96.5%) preference to hire applicants holding the doctoral degree. More than half of the open positions within their district, school, or agency required applicants to have doctoral training, and an overwhelming number of survey participants (94.6%) wanted the program to be offered entirely online.

These results gave SAU a sense of urgency to formally develop the Ed.D. program and to deliver it entirely online.

After receiving approval from the Arkansas Division (then-Department) of Higher Education, SAU applied for regional approval of the change in the University’s role and scope to the Higher Learning Commission, the Chicago-based agency that accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in a number of states, including Arkansas. 

The process, which began in Fall 2016, concluded with the May 8, 2020, affirmative decision by the Commission.

The program’s launch comes at a critical time for Arkansas and rural America. Educators and community leaders who serve rural and diverse communities face sharply changing demographics, reduced populations, and economic upheaval as industries relocate and rural manufacturing declines.

These challenges affect schools and students at every educational level, as well as the organizations serving them. The newly-approved SAU Ed.D. program provides advanced training in research and practice for professionals holding or seeking leadership positions.

Dr. David Lanoue, SAU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the University “is eager to begin the process of developing the next generation of educational leaders in south Arkansas.

“Under the leadership of Dean Kim Bloss of the College of Education and her outstanding faculty and staff colleagues, this program will have a transformative effect on our students, our region, and rural educators across the nation,” said Dr. Lanoue.

Complete program details will be available September 1, 2020. For the latest information, and to join the SAU Ed.D. contact list, please visit web.saumag.edu/EdD.

THE ARKANSAS ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION (AAA), THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF HIGH SCHOOLS (NFHS), AND EKNOWLEDGE CONTINUE SPONSORSHIP OF SAT AND ACT POWERPREP™ PROGRAMS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS
The are pleased to announce that the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) continues its support of the National SAT/ACT Prep Project through the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and eKnowledge. Because of this association, Arkansas students receive a 95% discount on SAT or ACT prep courses. This is a community-service, no-profit-project and all student fees are reinvested to improve the program and reach more families. The project has already assisted almost 300,000 families and has over 45,000 5-star reviews. The Project started over 15 years ago and is supported by more than 300 groups, organizations, and professional athletes. A significant moment happened about 10 years ago when The NFHS (a non-profit 501(c)(3)) began to sponsor the project and it is now the official program for all 19,500-member high schools and 12 million students.
How to request a sponsored SAT/ACT Prep Program Parents of high school students in the State of Alabama may request their 95% discounted SAT or ACT PowerPreptm Program at www.eknowledge.com/ArkansasAA or Telephone, 951-256-4076 (Reference: Arkansas News) About the SAT/ACT PowerPreptm Programs The online SAT/ACT PowerPrep is accessible from any device. It has hundreds of hours of student classwork, 50+ hours of detailed video explanations, 360+ multimedia/video lessons, 29 automatically graded progress quizzes with detailed answers and much more.

LOCKHEED MARTIN AWARDED $226,254,087 CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $226,254,087 modification (P00006) to contract W31P4Q-19-C-0077 for a 44 M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, Texas; New Boston, Texas; and Camden, Arkansas, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2023. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $226,254,087 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet Thursday, July 12 at 12:00 at  Catherine’s Bistro. The program wll be presented by Charlotte Young who will discuss The Drive Thru Farmer’s Market and The Fireworks Guidelines for the Star Spangled Spectacular.



LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN APPLAUDS U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SCHOOL CHOICE
Says, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision 'marks an important win for children, their parents, and the communities where they live' LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement:

"The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue marks an important win for children, their parents, and the communities where they live. The Court correctly ruled that a State cannot bar private schools from school choice programs simply because they are religious. Equipped with this ruling, I look forward to working with the Arkansas legislature and the governor to take bold action and further expand educational freedom for parents and children in the 2021 session."  

 
 
 

JUNE 30, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – JUNE 30, 2020
As of 1:30 p.m. there were 20,777 COVID-19 cumulative cases. There have been 270 deaths in Arkansas. There are currently 5,976 active cases. There have been 14,531 recoveries.
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that Secretary of the Department of Corrections Wendy Kelley has submitted her resignation effective July 30, 2020. The Governor thanked Secretary Kelley for her work.

The Governor also announced that the state financial situation was much better as the fiscal year comes to an end than had been anticipated.

The Governor announced that he has authorized a 2.2% merit pay increase for state employees.Governor Hutchinson, responding to a reporter's question, said that the state is not ready for Phase 3 which would allow for contact sports.

Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
520 new cases (18 in prisons, 502 in the community)
20,777 cumulative cases
5,976 active cases (120 in nursing homes, 548 in prisons, 5,308 in the community)
11 new nursing home residents positive
8 new nursing home staff positive
40,000+ tests in nursing homes (residents and staff) as of June 29th
290 hospitalized (down 10 from yesterday)
67 on ventilators (up 4 from yesterday)
270 deaths (up 5 from yesterday)
14,531 recoveries (up 465 from yesterday)
4,048 tests yesterday
171,944 tests this month as of yesterday .

Dr. Smith also reported that the CDC team continues to work in northwest Arkansas. Dr. Smith added that a second CDC team would begin working to mitigate the spread of COVOD-19 in nursing homes.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 20 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 247 positive cases with 200 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 29 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. The Health Department Website shows Calhoun County with 0 cases however one of the cases that was reported in Ouachita County yesterday was actually a Calhoun County resident according to reports. These numbers will be updated later today.

As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,612,259 cumulative cases, 705,203 recoveries, and 126,512 deaths.Globally 10,368,165 cumulative cases, 5,284,524 recoveries, and 507,188 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

<span data-lynx-mode=">https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

https://youtu.be/Jyw7xPCqGZg

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE INDEPENDENCE DAY PRESS RELEASE
The Independence Day Holiday weekend is a big holiday for travel, water activities and celebrations. Many of us will have a long week-end to enjoy. We spoke with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office who said that they are expecting the river to be a popular spot this weekend. All boaters are reminded that if you are drinking, there should always be a designated captain in the boat. The same penalties apply to drunk drivers on the water as they do to motorists. Always have a life preserver for everyone in the boat. If you are traveling, be sure someone knows your estimated time of arrival at your destination as well as the route you will be taking. Always carry a cell phone whether on the water or the road in case you find yourself in need of assistance. The Sheriff’s Office will be out on patrol all week on the river and on the county roadways. Check points will be set up throughout the county. Always be sure to follow all traffic laws and if alcohol is involved in your celebration – have a designated driver. If you need assistance call 231-5300 or dial 911 for any emergency that might arise. The entire Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day Holiday.


The Sheriff's Office is decorated with American Flags for Independence Day
 


 

 


 

STATE TROOPER IDENTIFIED IN SATURDAY SHOOTING INCIDENT
JUNE 29, 2020
Sergeant Marcus Daniels, a 13 year veteran of the Arkansas State Police, is identified as the Arkansas State Trooper who shot Aloysius Keaton Saturday evening, only seconds after Keaton stabbed an Arkansas Highway Police Officer while fleeing from police.
The shooting incident occurred outside a gas and convenience store at Roosevelt Road and the I-30 westbound access ramp.
Keaton was wanted in connection with an aggravated robbery (carjacking) that had occurred minutes earlier in southwest Little Rock.
After Keaton stabbed the highway police officer, still brandishing the weapon, he moved toward Sergeant Daniels who fired an electronic control device (TASER) in an attempt to stop Keaton.  The ECD was ineffective, leading Sergeant Daniels to order Keaton to stop and drop the weapon.  Keaton failed to comply with the order and charged toward the trooper leading Sergeant Daniels to shoot Keaton with a handgun.
Keaton was pronounced dead at a Little Rock hospital.

Sergeant Daniels, a Highway Patrol Division, Troop A post supervisor, remains on paid administrative leave while an investigation into the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer continues.  The investigative case file will be reviewed by the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney who will decide whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas Law.

SAFETY A MUST FOR FIREWORKS FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS
Safe Surgery Arkansas issues eye safety warning ahead of fireworks season

LITTLE ROCK – Every year, dozens of Arkansans are rushed to the emergency room for eye injuries caused by fireworks. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe, but the truth is that most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children. This includes fireworks such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, Safe Surgery Arkansas is sharing these tips:
Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family. 

Don’t pick up duds and misfires: Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal. 

Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator.

Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year across the country. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers.

“Consumer fireworks, grilling, and apple pie are in our Fourth of July celebration fabric, but we must remember to respect the danger fireworks present if used improperly or carelessly,” said Dr. Laurie Barber, chairman of Safe Surgery Arkansas. “If you experience an eye injury as a result of fireworks, you should seek medical attention immediately and consult your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”

In order to minimize the damage to the eye after a fireworks accident, ophthalmologists recommend the following:

Seek medical attention immediately.
Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse.
Do not attempt to rinse the eye.
Do not apply pressure to the eye.
Do not remove objects from the eye.
Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help.

About Safe Surgery Arkansas:
Safe Surgery Arkansas was formed in 2019 to repeal Act 579 of 2019, a new law that would allow non-medical doctors to perform certain eye surgeries. These non-medical doctors did not attend medical school, nor do they have the surgical residency training necessary to perform these delicate and complex surgeries. Learn more at www.SafeSurgery2020.com

AGHERITAGE FARM CREDIT SERVICES TO HOLD ANNUAL STOCKHOLDERS MEETING

The AgHeritage Farm Credit Services Annual Stockholders meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 21, at the Arkansas Waterfowl Association Event Center in Lonoke. The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. where reports of the association will be presented and the election process for directors and the nominating committee will be opened.

The Annual Meeting Information Statement was mailed to stockholders on or about June 26.

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is a financial cooperative with owned and managed assets of approximately $1.54 billion as of December 31, 2019. The company provides credit and related services to more than 3,100 farmers, ranchers and producers or harvesters of aquatic products in 24 Arkansas counties. 

Branch offices are located in Batesville, Brinkley, Lonoke, McGehee, Newport, Pine Bluff, Pocahontas, Searcy and Stuttgart.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT DECISION ALLOWING FEDERAL EXECUTIONS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the resumption of federal executions:

“Daniel Lewis Lee is a white supremacist responsible for the heinous slaying of an entire family in Arkansas, including an 8-year-old girl. Twenty years after a jury imposed the death penalty for these crimes, the Supreme Court has rightly allowed justice to proceed.”

RUTLEDGE'S STATEMENT ON SCOTUS SPLINTERED DECISION RULING AGAINST LOUISIANA'S REASONABLE ADMITTING PRIVILEGES STATUTE
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s splintered decision narrowly ruling against Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (Act 620) which would require any physician who performs abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Reflecting the weakness of the abortion practitioners’ position, there was no majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts who provided the deciding vote explained that he had only voted to strike down Louisiana’s requirement because he believed this case was identical to an earlier case.

“Abortion is a serious medical procedure that can often have complications and, if not adequately addressed, can leave women with long-term health issues including death,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Despite today's technical decision against Louisiana’s law, the Supreme Court reaffirms common sense laws that ensure protection of women’s health and welfare.”

The Court’s decisions comes after Rutledge led a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in support of Louisiana’s case to protect the safety and welfare of women by requiring admitting privileges to all clinics located in Louisiana. The brief argued the Supreme Court should not allow abortion practitioners to challenge health and safety laws, like those in Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana and other states on behalf of women.

In March, the case, June Medical Services, LLC. v. Russo was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

JUNE 29, 2020

COVID 19 – MONDAY JUNE 29 UPDATE
During the Monday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the total cases in Arkansas had now topped 20,000. The total number of COVID-19 cases increased by 439 from Sunday to 20,257. The number of Active Positives is now 5,926. Hospitalizations increased by seven to 300. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by one to 265. Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Washington County with 92, Pulaski County with 56, Benton county with 48, Sevier County with 31, and Sebastian County with 22.
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by reporting that he had been on a conference call with other governors and Vice President Pence today discussing concerns about compliance of social distancing and other directives. The Governor asked that Arkansans practice social distancing and wear masks when shopping.

Governor Hutchinson reported that 60,000 additional masks have arrived in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson says it now is the time to support local businesses around the state, but to do so in a respectful manner by wearing cloth face coverings into the business.

The number of Active Positive cases in the state seem to be leveling out now. The number of recoveries recorded per day now almost equal the total new cases. But the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend will be important as groups will gather for various events. Although the Governor plans to address the importance of following the safety guidelines during the holiday weekend later this week, he mentioned in his Monday press conference that we all will need to work together.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 245 positive cases with 196 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 28 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 9 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. These numbers were from the Sunday afternoon update. Totals will be updated later today.

Again, there are now over 20,000 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, and hospitalizations have now reached the 300 mark. The death toll stands at 265.
As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,564,163 cumulative cases, 685,164 recoveries, and 125,928 deaths.

Globally 10,199,798 cumulative cases, 5,169,421 recoveries, and 502,947 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/uC6i7wDA6AE

<span style=">https://youtu.be/uC6i7wDA6AE

We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

ARKANSAS PUBLIC POLICY PANEL TO DISCUSS Covid-19’s impact on public education – JOIN DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK LIVE AND ZOOM
 As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Arkansas, parents of children enrolled in public schools across the state are being asked to make tough decisions about their children's return to the classroom in a very short amount of time. And they're lacking vital information on which to base their decisions regarding their school's execution of these options.

If you have questions or concerns about returning to the classroom in August, join  tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on Zoom and Facebook Live as we discuss public education and a return to classrooms amid the coronavirus crisis.

Register to participate here: https://arpanel.nationbuilder.com/education_webinar


SOUTH CENTRAL SERVICE COOPERATIVE FLIPS THE SWITCH ON SOLAR POWER
SCSC unveils 100 kW fixed-tilt solar array at their headquarters

The South-Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) solar array, located at their headquarters, is now commissioned and operational Dedicated to innovation and 

sustainability in reducing their carbon footprint, the SCSC solar project was designed to offset the energy use of the campus.  

Projected to supply nearly 99 percent of the SCSC's energy consumption, the system is capable of producing over 185,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually.

SCSC Director, Karen Kay McMahen said that, “This project exemplifies partnership and investing in our community.”

The project, now consisting of 324 panels, began when the director reached out to their local utility, Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC), seeking a solution to lower energy bills.

Once OECC conducted an evaluation of the SCSC facilities, it was suggested that SCSC consider solar energy as a power alternative.

“Our goal at OECC is to help our members receive the lowest cost, most sustainable and most efficient energy available,” said Mark Cayce, CEO/General Manager of Ouachita Electric Cooperative.

Choosing North Little Rock's Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) as its energy partner, the agreement with TPI is a win-win for SCSC, OECC and surrounding school districts.  The savings from the purchase power agreement are to be reallocated to services for the local  school districts, children and SCSC and OECC's local community .

“We are excited to partner with SCSC as they fulfill their mission” said Michael Henderson, President of Today’s Power, Inc. “Embracing leading edge technology so all of their member schools receive benefits of lower cost and contributing to a cleaner environment is sending the right message to the 15,954 students they represent,” he added.

Today’s Power, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives. Today’s Power, Inc. offers turn-key solar photovoltaic systems, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and charging stations for all sizes and applications.

South Central Service Cooperative is committed to empowering our schools and communities to meet their educational goals by striving toward strong academics, innovative strategies, and knowledge of skills necessary to impact effective citizenship and economic productivity.

Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation is a non-profit rural electric utility cooperative headquartered in Camden, Arkansas, with a district office in Hampton, Arkansas. The Cooperative was organized in 1938. The Cooperative serves portions of five counties in the state of Arkansas, in a territory generally surrounding Camden and Hampton.
 

COUNTY RESIDENTS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Drew, Grant, Hot Spring, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties affected by the severe storms and straight-line winds on April 12, 2020, may be eligible for disaster assistance through the State of Arkansas Individual Assistance program. 

Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable will be able to apply for assistance beginning Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 and continuing until Wednesday, July 15th, 2020.  In order for homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must first apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration as well as through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program.  Homeowners and renters in Drew, Hot Spring, Ouachita and Phillips Counties are not required to apply through the Small Business Administration, however, they are required to apply through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds.

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal, and personal property repair.  Businesses, second homes, vacation homes, vehicles, shed and outbuildings are NOT eligible for disaster assistance funds. 

Affected residents can apply by contacting the call center hotline weekdays 8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 1-888-683-ADEM (2336).  Applicants will need to provide the address of the damaged home, insurance information, social security number and detailed damage information.  Residents will also be asked to provide a phone number and email address.

COTTON CONDEMNS SCOTUS’S OVERTURNING LOUISIANA ABORTION LAW
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law today requiring that individuals who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital:

“Americans hoping for justice for women and unborn babies were let down again today by John Roberts. The Chief Justice may believe that he’s protecting the institutional integrity of the Court, but in reality his politicized decision-making only undermines it.”
 

COVID 19 – SUNDAY JUNE 28 UPDATE
As of Sunday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had grown to 19,818. That's an increase of 508 from Saturday. Active positive cases are now at 5,918. The death toll due to Covid-19 increased by five from Saturday to 264. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, displayed a map in the latest COVID-19 Press Conference Friday afternoon showing where churches are located that have been hot spots for the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Smith says that the churches who are following the guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks have not been experiencing problems. But the churches who have not been following the guidelines have seen a dangerous COVID-19 spread.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday afternoon that as an additional compliance resource and to supplement the Health Department inspection units, he was directing the Arkansas Alcoholic and Beverage Control officers to be engaged and to report to the Health Department any restaurants or bars that are not complying with public health directives.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 21 positive cases with 17 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 245 positive cases with 196 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 84 positive cases with 28 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 9 positive cases with recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

 Again, there are now 19,818 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Active cases stand at 5,918. The death toll increased by five from Saturday to 264. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

20TH ANNUAL STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR AT THE CAMDEN AIRPORT IN CAMDEN, AR
Rules for Safety During the Show
Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy the evening with great musical acts ending with the largest professional fireworks Display in South Arkansas.

This year’s event is brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local business and industry.

The evening will start with local talent from the McKelvin Brothers kicking off at 6:30PM, they will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by The Voice contestant L. B. Crew ending the evening the headliner, America’s Got Talent winner Kris Allen. There will be special parking and recognizing of local veterans (past and those presently serving).

COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Event attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.

Please be aware of the following rules to follow for the Star Spangled Spectacular.
Spectators may sit outside their vehicles, however you must stay in the area of your vehicles.  No sitting in groups in the field.

Anyone who must use porta potties will need to wear a mask from the time they leave their vehicle area until they return.

All social distancing guidelines must be utilized during the entire time.

If you have had a fever, cough, or exposed to anyone testing positive for COVID-19, do not enter the field.  You may choose to park along one of the side roads or lots and tune in to listen.

Also, please be respectful and place all litter in trash bins or take home for disposal.  We are very thankful for AR Dept of Health for approving our fireworks, so we want to make sure we respect

All guidelines that they have ask from us.  It is our desire to provide a safe environment to allow our citizens to enjoy the fireworks and music on the evening of the 4th of July.
This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment.

This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment. The entire evening will be aired live on KCXY, Y95.3 FM so that you can listen to all the happenings on your car radio or Andriod or IPhone App. 

Brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden A&P Commission and local business and industries.

Contact:
Charlotte Young
Call or Text: 870-807-1468
charlotte@jcproductions.tv
explorecamden.com

SUSPECT DEAD FOLLOWING CARJACKING AND ASSAULT ON HIGHWAY POLICE OFFICER
JUNE 28, 2020
Aloysius Keaton, 58, of Little Rock died last night at a Little Rock hospital.  An Arkansas State Trooper shot Keaton yesterday (Saturday, June 27th), about 7:08 PM, after Keaton stabbed an Arkansas Department of Transportation, Highway Police Officer.  Keaton was wanted in connection with the carjacking of a taxicab on 7620 Baseline Road only minutes prior to being approached by a state trooper and the highway police officer near Roosevelt & I-30 in south Little Rock.

Keaton had abandoned the taxicab after losing control of the vehicle while exiting I-30 onto Roosevelt Road and crashed into another vehicle.

Area law enforcement agencies and officers on patrol had been alerted in a message from Little Rock Police about the carjacking.  A state trooper had spotted the stolen taxicab and approached Keaton who fled on foot a short distance where he encountered the highway police officer who attempted to arrest Keaton.

Keaton used a weapon to stab the highway police officer as the state trooper approached the scene.  Keaton, still brandishing the weapon, moved toward the state trooper who fired an electronic control device (TASER) in an attempt to stop Keaton.  The ECD was ineffective, leading the trooper to order Keaton to stop and drop the weapon.  Keaton failed to comply with the order and charged toward the trooper leading the trooper to shoot Keaton with a handgun.

Emergency medical personnel transported both the Highway Police Officer and Keaton from the scene.  The officer had sustained non-life threatening injuries and was treated, then released.  Keaton died at the hospital.

Keaton’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where an autopsy will be conducted.

The Arkansas State Trooper remains on paid administrative leave and will be identified once he has had the opportunity to meet with family and seek initial spiritual or professional guidance.

Questions relating to the identity of the Highway Police Officer should be directed to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Office of Highway Police.

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES ROB FINLEY AS NEWS GAME AND FISH COMMISSIONER 
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Mountain Home businessman Rob Finley as a
member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He replaces Chairman Ken Reeves. 

Governor Hutchinson announced the appointment and introduced Mr. Finley today at the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center.  

“Rob’s love of the outdoors is in his blood,” Governor Hutchinson said. “His grandfather owned a fishing and bait store on Portia Bay, and by the time he was four, Rob was fishing from his grandfather’s boat launch. Rob and his cousins spent hours with their grandfather learning about fishing and hunting. His love of the outdoors inspired a passion for conservation. He and his wife, Nicki, have been successful in a variety of businesses, including outdoor retreats and lodges. In Rob, I found the perfect mix of attributes that make him a logical pick to serve as a Game and Fish commissioner.” 

Mr. Finley was born on Eaker Air Force Base in Mississippi County, graduated from Cotter High School in Baxter County, and followed in his father’s footsteps to join the U.S. Air Force. After his service, he returned to Mountain Home, where he worked in the banking industry and developed a credit-insurance program for financial institutions. They own Route 66 Warranty in Mountain Home and Cranor’s White River Lodge in Cotter. 

“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is a body of seven stewards of the people’s property,” Mr. Finley said. “I take that very seriously, and I will work diligently to protect it. If I could drop the gavel 84 months from now with an increase in hunter/fishing participation and youth involvement numbers on the rise, I would consider my term a success.” 

He and Nicki live in Mountain Home and have a daughter and three sons. 

Governor Hutchinson thanked outgoing Chair Ken Reeves for his service on the commission. 

“Arkansas is a better place because of Ken Reeves’s work as a Game and Fish commissioner,” Governor Hutchinson said. “He has been steady at the helm and charted a good course for those who love and want to preserve Arkansas’s forests and waterways.”

June 26, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 26, 2020
At the Friday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of cases had grown to 18,740. That's an increase of 678 from Thursday. Of those 678 new cases, 669 were in the community. That's the largest single day increase in the community cases as yet. Active positive cases are now 5,707. Hospitalizations remained the same at 284. The death toll due to Covid-19 increased by seven to 249. 

Governor Hutchinson and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, displayed a map showing where churches are located that have been hot spots for the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Smith says that the churches who are following the guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks have not been experiencing problems. But the churches who have not been following the guidelines have seen a dangerous COVID-19 spread.

Governor Hutchinson announced Friday afternoon that as an additional compliance resource and to supplement the Health Department inspection units, he was directing the Arkansas Alcoholic and Beverage Control officers to be engaged and to report to the Health Department any restaurants or bars that are not complying with public health directives.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 18 positive cases with 16 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 237 positive cases with 118 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 72 positive cases with 26 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 4 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

Again, there are now 18,740 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. The increase of 669 community cases since Thursday is the largest single day increase as yet. Active cases stand at 5,707. The death toll increased by seven to 249. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

COTTON TO INTRODUCE THE WASHINGTON-GRANT HISTORIC PRESERVATION ACT 
Washington, D.C. -Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) will introduce the Washington-Grant Historic Preservation Act, which would amend the Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act to provide for a one-year mandatory minimum for those who injure or destroy monuments dedicated to our most gallant American heroes.

"Vandals are defacing and tearing down of statues of our esteemed forefathers such as George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant with reckless abandon. At a minimum they should face one year in prison for this crime," said Cotton.

 

COTTON BILL TO SUPPORT SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING IN U.S.
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) have introduced the American Foundries Act of 2020, a bill that supports the production and development of microelectronics in the United States. The Senators aim to include the bill as an amendment in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

Bill text may be found here. Additional details may be found below.

“The United States revolutionized the microelectronics industry, which is essential to our safety and security today. But by ceding semiconductor manufacturing and development to countries like China, the United States has fallen behind and given the Chinese Communist Party dangerous leverage over our nation’s future. Our bill invests in the microelectronics industry here in America, where it belongs,” said Cotton.
“America’s technological advantage played a decisive role in our victory in the Cold War, and it will be equally important to our ability to outcompete China over the coming decades. This bill strengthens that advantage by bringing semiconductor manufacturing back to the United States, and it does so in a way that will create jobs and revitalize communities across our nation,” said Hawley.
“As home to one of the world’s foremost chip designers, Idaho has played a key role in the United States’ leadership in the semiconductor industry, driving forward our world-class innovation,” said Risch. “With the Chinese Communist Party’s continued efforts to dominate the rest of the world’s microelectronics industries through theft and coercion, it is critical that we work swiftly to strengthen domestic production of semiconductors and maintain our strategic competitive edge.”

“Semiconductors are not only essential to keeping our country on the cutting edge of technology, but are also vital to maintaining our national security,” said Collins.  “Although the U.S. semiconductor industry has been an international leader for decades, aggressive incentives by foreign governments and unfair business practices have eroded America’s dominance in this crucial sector.  The targeted investments provided in our bill would help spur the research and development necessary to keep U.S. semiconductor companies at the forefront of the industry while also preserving the good-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs they create.”

“America’s technological prowess is a key source of economic innovation, and a vital building block of our national security – we cannot and must not undercut either by outsourcing the manufacturing of semiconductors,” said King.  “We need to be investing in these capabilities, to ensure that we are able to remain leaders in the world of microelectronics and to support good, high-paying jobs in communities across the country.”

“Our nation is in an economic crisis. Investing in microelectronics manufacturing and the semiconductor industry will create high paying manufacturing jobs for hard working Americans at a time when our country needs it most. The American Foundries Act of 2020 would expand our advanced manufacturing workforce and invests in cutting edge research and development. Additionally, this bill helps to strengthen our microelectronic domestic supply chain, prioritize American owned businesses over foreign production, and keep our country safe,” said Gillibrand.

Background:
The United States revolutionized the microelectronics industry, inventing many of the key technologies that drive the economy today. However, it is at risk of falling behind in manufacturing or “fabricating” semiconductors at home as countries in Asia, especially China, have made significant investments in their microelectronics sectors. Seventy-eight percent of cutting-edge wafer fabrication capacity is now located in Asia; North America fell behind China in this benchmark for the first time in 2019.

The American Foundries Act makes critical investments in commercial and defense-related microelectronics projects to ensure the United States remains a world leader in the industry. The bill includes the following measures:

Support for Commercial Microelectronics Projects: Authorizes the Department of Commerce to award $15 billion in grants to states to assist in the “construction, expansion, or modernization … of microelectronics fabrication, assembly, test, advanced packaging, or advanced research and development facilities.”

Support for Secure Microelectronics Projects: Authorizes the Department of Defense to award $5 billion in grants “for the creation, expansion, or modernization of one or more commercially competitive and sustainable microelectronics manufacturing or advanced research and development facilities capable of producing measurably secure and specialized microelectronic” for defense and intelligence purposes. This funding may go to primarily commercial facilities capable of producing secure microelectronics.

R&D Funding: Authorizes $5 billion in R&D spending to secure U.S. leadership in microelectronics. Requires agencies that receive this funding to “develop policies to require domestic production, to the extent possible, for any intellectual property resulting from microelectronics research and development as a result of these funds.”
$2 billion for DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative
$1.5 billion for the National Science Foundation
$1.25 billion for the Department of Energy
$250 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Microelectronics Research Plan: Establishes a subcommittee of the President’s Council on Science and Technology to produce a report each year “to guide and coordinate funding for breakthroughs in next-generation microelectronics research and technology, strengthen the domestic microelectronics workforce, and encourage collaboration between government, industry, and academia.”
Safeguards: Prohibits firms owned, controlled or otherwise influence by the Chinese government from accessing funds provided by the legislation.

 

ARTIST KATIE HARWELL HOSTS NEXT ONLINE ART CAMP AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Virtual Summer Camp will continue June 29-July 3 with videos from artist and new SAAC instructor Katie Harwell. Katie will work alongside her eight-year-old daughter, Millye, as she guides students through a week of virtual lessons focused on the principles of design and creative problem solving.
This summer, all of SAAC's camps are presented via the tuition-free Virtual Summer Camp, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each week, an additional artist's video lessons will be added to the library, available at SAAC's website at www.saac-arts.org. Lessons can be completed on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

Katie's videos will begin on June 29, with an outdoor project called "Organic Mandalas," which uses items from nature to build a Mandala design. Next, students will "Wreck The Rainbow" using mixed media to discover the color wheel. On Wednesday, Katie will offer instruction on a crayon resist flower drawing. Thursday and Friday's lessons will delve into the work of two noted artists: Victor Vasarely and Paul Klee.

"I love watching students discover art, and I believe with my whole heart that creative problem solving is a critical skill that should be offered to every student," Katie says. "Art not only brings my students happiness and improves their self-confidence, but it also opens up a new world of career possibilities."

A native of El Dorado, Katie has 16 years of teaching experience and currently teaches Visual Art at El Dorado High School. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a bachelor's degree in Interior Design and worked as a Registered Interior Designer in Shreveport and Dallas before returning to her hometown to pursue her passion for painting, printmaking, and teaching.

The final three weeks of SAAC's Virtual Summer Camp take a deeper dive into skill-based instruction. After Katie's lessons on creative problem solving, ballet instructors Elizabeth Wood and Cami Lowrey will facilitate a week of advanced ballet practice, and theatre instructor Jacob George will offer students a chance to hone their audition skills.

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. By registering, SAAC will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.
For more information about Virtual Summer camp, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEETS IN SPECIAL SESSION
The Camden City Council met in a special session Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

 The only item on the agenda was a Resolution to authorize the mayor and the Water and Sewer Commission to execute a power purchase agreement with Scenic Hill Solar, LLC and for other purposes.

There were some changes to the original contract the Council had seen. City Attorney Michael Frey gave a lengthy explanation as to why the changes had been made. He also explained how the whole agreement would work as to the money it would cost, how much money the City will save, rates and all the ins and outs of the 29 page agreement.

The packet also had several exhibits including projected energy purchase rates for the next 20 years, early termination amounts for the next 20 years, a description of sites and a description of the premises. There was an exhibit that described the project, the insurance requirements and finally an exhibit showing estimated electricity production for the next 20 years which was for reference purposes only.

The Resolution passed unanimously.
 

KEEP YOUR FREEDOM THIS INDEPENDENCE HOLIDAY: STAY OUT OF JAIL – DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
(LITTLE ROCK) – As Arkansans prepare for the approaching July 4th Independence Day holiday weekend, many families will include plans to travel across the state for cookouts and the customary summer festivities.  However, experience and records tell us, some drivers and their passengers won’t make it to their destinations or return home.  Drunk or impaired driving will be to blame.

Arkansas law enforcement officers will be participating in the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” operation.  The mission will be devoted to stopping drunk drivers before tragedy strikes.   State police, along with city officers and county deputies across Arkansas will increase their patrols along the roads and highways with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.  Motorists should expect to see more sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols involving a unified police force working to keep the roadways safe.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving accounted for 29% (10,511) of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths during 2018. Additionally, drunk driving can be attributed to 40% (78) of the 193 traffic fatalities over the July 4th (2018) holiday period.

“Making the choice to drink and drive can be deadly.  It’s irresponsible behavior, and we will be out in full force to put a stop to it,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Make no mistake, if you’re caught drinking and driving, you will be arrested.”

If travelers plan to consume alcohol, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office offers these reminders.
•   Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage.
Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
•   If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
•   If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
•   If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get the person safely to their destination.
•   Always buckle up.  Your seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver.

For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  Information about Arkansas’ ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic deaths can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.  



NORTHEAST ARKANSAS MAN WOUNDED IN GUNFIRE EXCHANGE WITH POLICE AND DEPUTIES
JUNE 25, 2020
The Arkansas State Police has been requested to conduct an investigation into the use of deadly force by three northeast Arkansas law enforcement agencies.  The investigation arises out of an incident near Hardy last night (Wednesday, June 24th) when a local resident exited a home with a gun and fired at police and sheriff’s deputies.
Hardy Police initially responded at 6:45 PM to 3440 Highway 62/412 where Jerod White, 28, of Ash Flat had been seen outside with a gun.  As police arrived, White reportedly fired the gun at an officer.
The officer was not injured, but retreated from the area and requested additional law enforcement assistance.  Meanwhile, White entered a camper trailer located on the property.  Law enforcement officers eventually made contact with White by telephone and attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
Almost three hours later, minutes before 10 PM, White exited the trailer brandishing a gun and fired a second time at officers and deputies who returned fire, wounding White who was then airlifted to an area hospital.  White was reported to be in stable condition when taken from the scene by emergency medical personnel.
At least two police officers, one from Hardy, the other from Highland and two Sharp County sheriff’s deputies, fired guns at White.  None of the law enforcement officers were injured.
Questions relating to the names of the local police officers and sheriff’s deputies, as well as their administrative status with the respective department, should be directed to the chief law officer at each department.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are conducting the investigation that will be used by the county prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of deadly force by the officers and deputies was consistent with Arkansas law.

 

BOOZMAN, TESTER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EXPAND VA BENEFITS FOR VIETNAM VETERANS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Forgotten Vietnam Veterans Act to expand wartime benefits to veterans who served in the Vietnam War and have been ineligible for assistance because of differences between the war era dates at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Currently, DoD recognizes the Vietnam War era as November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 while the VA recognizes the Vietnam War era as February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This discrepancy has prevented members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) from qualifying for wartime veterans benefits like the veterans pension. MAAG is a designation for U.S. military advisors sent to other countries to assist in the training of conventional armed forces and facilitate military aid. More than 3,200 MAAGs served during the Vietnam War.

“Expanding the VA’s statutory definition of the Vietnam War era will ensure MAAG veterans are eligible for benefits they earned. Our legislation will correct the error that has prevented them from receiving benefits they are rightly due,” Boozman said.

“As a nation, we have an obligation to ensure that the men and women who served in Vietnam are properly recognized—and honored—for their sacrifices,” said Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tester. “Our bipartisan bill will alter the federal government’s timeline to reflect our country’s official involvement in the Vietnam War, rightfully extending wartime benefits to veterans previously excluded from receiving the benefits they deserve.” 

The legislation is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America.

“More than 3,000 veterans served in Vietnam from November 1, 1955 to February 27, 1961, ten of whom were killed in action,” said Matthew Doyle, Deputy Director National Legislative Service of VFW. “However, veterans who served in Vietnam prior to February 28, 1961 are not considered wartime veterans and likewise are ineligible for certain VA benefits. The VFW is proud to support this legislation, which would change the statutory definition of Vietnam veteran to include those who served in the Republic of Vietnam beginning on November 1, 1955.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman TJ Cox (D-CA-21).

Click here to read the Senate bill.

JUNE 25, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 25, 2020
At the Thursday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of cases had climbed to 18,062, an increase of 687 over the previous day. The number of Active Positives stands at 5,695. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to 284. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 increased by two to 242. A total of 6,652 tests were administered in the previous 24 hours with a positivity rate of 6.5%. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by reading a post from a nurse at WRMC named Cheyenne Bright about the seriousness of COVID-19.

"To the people who think Covid isn’t real or isn’t “serious”. I just want to let you know it is very real and very serious. I spent the day comforting my dying patient, so they would know they weren’t alone. This patient, who was perfectly fine 6 days ago. This patient who didn’t have underlying conditions, this patient who is now not perfectly fine. Covid doesn’t care about your age, your gender, where you’re from, or what ethnicity you are. If you have lived a good healthy life, or if you haven’t. It doesn’t matter. It can affect anyone.
So be safe and be mindful. Wear your mask, if not for yourself do it for others."~Cheyenne Bright

Benton and Washington Counties in Northwest Arkansas have been driving the increase in COVID-19 cases in the state in the past couple of weeks. The new cases have now begun to flatten out in those two counties. Governor Hutchinson praised the Springdale Chamber of Commerce for starting a campaign called: "Protect and Respect. Wear a Mask". Businesses have been displaying signage with that campaign theme at their entrances. Governor Hutchinson says there are other factors that communities have done to flatten the curve in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Hutchinson says if the state is going to contain the spread of COVID-19, word is going to have to get communicated to all members of the community to get tested.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 18 positive cases with 13 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 232 positive cases with 183 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 72 positive cases with 25 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 4 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.
As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,398,491 cumulative cases, 656,161 recoveries, and 122,238 deaths.

Globally 9,494,571 cumulative cases, 4,782,924 recoveries, and 484,155 deaths.

More data is available on the ADA site. (Link below.)
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 18,000 on Thursday. Active positives stand at 5,695. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to 284. The death toll grew by two to 242. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

FUTURE FIT PRODUCTION OPERATOR/ASSEMBLER TRAINING CLASSES OFFERED FREE
There will be Future Fit Production/Assembler classes offered at the SAU Tech main campus. Classes will be Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 PM. The Program will last for 9 weeks, excluding Holidays. Classes will begin July 20, 2020.

For more information, contact Karmen House at khouse@sautech.edu or call 870-574-4769. Deadline to register is July 15, 2020.

ARKANSAS SKILLS GAP TRAINING PROGRAM: FUTURE FIT WHAT IS FUTURE FIT?

A study by the Manufacturing Institute showed that nationally 80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission conducted more than 1,800 face-to-face meetings with local Arkansas companies to evaluate the extent of the skilled worker shortage in Arkansas. It was found approximately 10,000 unfilled jobs, of which 26.2 percent require no formal education and 52.5 percent require a high school diploma or GED.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ENROLL IN FUTURE FIT?
Future Fit is designed to accommodate a diverse group of people:
High school graduates that do not plan to enroll in college
Military veteran
Unemployed or underemployed
Non-violent offenders released by law enforcement

There will be no enrollment cost to qualified students during the initial pilot program. Applicants must have a High School Diploma or a GED and have earned a Bronze level ACT National Career Readiness Certificate as a minimum qualification to enroll.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: BUSINESSES TARGET HISPANIC COMMUNITIES TO FRAUDULENTLY SELL COVID-19 TREATMENTS
LITTLE ROCK – As the pandemic continues and Arkansans attempt to get back on their feet, scam artists see opportunity uncertainty the virus has caused. A new scam has been identified by the Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office seeking to target the Hispanic population in Arkansas where businesses are charging exorbitant amounts of money for COVID-19 tests and for “immunity boosts” that will prevent or treat COVID-19, with no credible proof from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the Arkansas Health Department.

“Snake oil salesmen are taking advantage of vulnerable Arkansans by using fear to sell their expensive immunity boosts with some over $3,000,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “When a vaccine is approved by the federal government, the information will be shared far and wide, but until then Arkansans are urged to avoid anyone peddling fake, expensive COVID-19 cures.”

Rutledge is currently investigating Arkansas companies, including chiropractic and medical practices, that are peddling preventatives, treatments and cures for COVID-19 that are not approved by the FDA. These are often advertised as “immunity boosting” treatments. Unfortunately, there are currently no cures, treatments, lotions, or potions to treat COVID-19.

Attorney General Rutledge has offered the following tips for consumers about fraudulent COVID-19 cures and treatments.
Avoid paying exorbitant fees for COVID-19 tests. Instead, visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s website to find locations of mass testing and clinics offering COVID-19 tests at no cost to consumers.
Be cautious of health providers who claim they can cure, prevent, or lessen the effects of COVID-19 while charging high fees for their false claims.

For questions about COVID-19, including where to find testing locations, call the Arkansas Department of Health at 1-800-803-7847.

Find accurate information about COVID-19, including information about how it spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, what to do if you are sick and frequently asked questions, on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.  

IIf you have been scammed by a business or suspect a scam related to the COVID-19 cures, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

CAMDEN A&P COMMISSION MEETING CANCELED
The Camden A&P Commission will NOT meet on June 30, 2020 due to a lack of Business to be conducted.

 

NEW ADDITIONS TO MAIN STREET ARKANSAS-CAMDEN INCLUDED
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is pleased to welcome several new Downtown Network programs and one new Main Street to the Main Street Arkansas program.

Having completed all the requirements, Calico Rock, Camden and Lonoke are new Arkansas Downtown Network programs. Main Street Paris moved up from Network status to designated Main Street this spring after completing the annual Main Street University course.

“We are delighted to add Paris to our roster of outstanding Main Street programs,” said Scott Kaufman, director of AHPP. “Downtown Network Communities are steppingstones to becoming designated Main Street programs. These programs play an important role in the revitalization of historic downtowns.”

Paris joins the following Main Street programs:
Argenta Downtown Council (North Little Rock)
Main Street Batesville
Main Street Blytheville
Conway Downtown Partnership
Main Street Dumas
Main Street El Dorado
Main Street Eureka Springs
64.6 Downtown (Fort Smith)
Main Street Helena
Downtown Jonesboro Alliance
Downtown Little Rock Partnership
SoMa 501(South Main Little Rock)
Main Street Osceola
Main Street Ozark
Main Street Paragould
Pine Bluff Downtown Development
Main Street Russellville
Main Street Searcy
Main Street Siloam Springs
Main Street Texarkana
Main Street West Memphis

Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas's traditional commercial areas.

The Main Street Arkansas team works closely with the 22 local Main Street programs and 18 Downtown Network Communities across the state. Main Street Arkansas staff members include: Greg Phillips, director; Susan Shaddox, interior design consultant; Hannah Ratzlaff, exterior design consultant; and Mark Miller, small business consultant. Main Street focuses on a four point approach as laid out by Main Street America which centers on Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization.
Learn more about Main Street Arkansas at https://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Main-Street-Arkansas/main-street-mission-history.
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. 

 

FCC WILL VOTE AT JULY MEETING ON FINAL RULES DESIGNATING ‘988’ AS 3-DIGIT NUMBER FOR NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE
Rules Would Help Combat Rising Suicide Rates by Making It Easier for Americans in Crisis to Obtain Assistance from Trained Counselors

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2020—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today presented his colleagues with draft rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors.  The rules, if adopted by the Commission at its July 16 Open Meeting, would require all phone service providers to begin directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.  While this transition takes place, Americans who need help should continue to contact the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats.

“988 will save lives.  Helping Americans in crisis connect to counselors trained in suicide prevention is one of the most important things we can do at the FCC,” said Chairman Pai.  “We believe that 988—which has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number—will help people access mental health services.  Establishing this special purpose number will also highlight the urgency of addressing rising suicide rates in America and reduce the stigma too often associated with seeking assistance from suicide prevention and mental health services.  I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these final rules.  By doing so, we would send a message to every American:  You are not alone.”

If adopted, these rules would apply to all telecommunications carriers as well as all interconnected and one-way Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers.  They would be required to complete this transition by July 16, 2022.  The draft final rules reject a request from phone service providers for a longer transition period.  But they also reflect the real challenges of such a nationwide effort including the need for widespread network changes and providing time for Congress, other federal agencies, and local call centers to prepare for the expected increase in the volume of calls.  Under the proposed rules, calls to 988 would be directed to 1-800-273-TALK, which will remain operational before and after the 988 transition is completed.

An FCC staff report to Congress in 2019 proposed establishing 988 as the three-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Staff analyzed various options and determined 988 was the best option for increasing access to crisis resources and ensuring the fastest possible transition. 
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of approximately 170 crisis centers.  The centers are supported by local and state, public and private sources, as well as with Congressional appropriations through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

 

COTTON BILL TO LIMIT OVER-POLITICIZING OF SPECIAL PROSECUTORS
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) introduced a bill to require at least a 7-year gap between an individual’s serving on a special prosecutor team investigating a president or presidential candidate and that individual’s appointment to a Senate-confirmed position. By instituting a “cooling-off period,” the Restore Integrity of Special Prosecutors Act would eliminate the political incentive for individuals to use investigations as political weapons.

Elise Stefanik (R-New York) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Mueller investigation, General Flynn’s prosecution, and the initial sentencing memo of Roger Stone each reflect the danger of using political prosecutors in politically charged investigations. Just this afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee hearing featured Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky—a prime example of a partisan prosecutor seeking favor with the Democratic Party. Our bill would restore public trust in future investigations by eliminating the opportunity for political gain in exchange for a partisan inquiry,” said Cotton.

“Special counsels and their staffs are to pursue the truth with unwavering integrity,” said Loeffler. “As we’ve recently seen, that mission has been clouded by self-interest or political bias for some. To prevent that from happening in the future, the Restore Integrity of Special Prosecutors Act will create a seven-year cooling-off period between an individual's appointment to a special counsel investigation or prosecution and when that individual could be nominated to a Senate-confirmed position. I'm proud to cosponsor this legislation that seeks to reestablish public trust in our federal justice system.”

“I’m proud to introduce the House companion bill to Senator Cotton’s legislation, which mandates a 7-year cooling off period for individuals who work on special counsel investigations of a sitting president or presidential candidate before they could be appointed to a Senate-confirmed position,” said Stefanik. “Using a special counsel investigation as a partisan tool and a means for career advancement is corrupt and the very definition of swampy.”
 

THE ARKANSAS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. COMMISSION ANNOUNCES INITIATIVES IN LITTLE ROCK AND HOT SPRINGS COMMEMORATING THE 55TH ANNIVERSARY MILESTONE OF THE PASSAGE OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission partners with several agencies to kickoff statewide voter registration outreach

LITTLE ROCK - In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized a voter registration drive in Selma, Alabama. That day ended in violence, however, it set the foundation for the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

There are many advantages to partnerships in the community, especially in the area of community awareness. As a state agency organized to teach Arkansans about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Commission honors this historic event by cordially inviting the public to assist us by participating in our 2020 Statewide Mass Voter Initiative G.O.T.V. (Get Out to Vote). The Commission will launch G.O.T.V. – “Get Out to Vote”, a nonpartisan, cooperative initiative to register more voters in response to recent reports of low voter turnout in local elections. The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission is a division of the Arkansas Department of Education. The events will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2020 in Little Rock and Hot Springs. Both are free and open to the public.

Little Rock -11:00 AM-2:00 PM, Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, 906 Broadway, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Hot Springs- 5:00 PM-6:30 PM, Hot Springs Farmers Market, 121 Orange Street, Hot Springs, Arkansas 71913

“Grandma once said, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.  Therefore, it’s time for a change, says DuShun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. The “Get Out to Vote” campaign will be a nonpartisan collaborative effort in partnership with The State and Little Rock Branches of the NAACP, the Urban League, Arkansas Talks Broadcasting, Arkansas Better Dads, and The STAND Foundation to encourage citizens to vote or get registered to vote to commemorate this great and important event in history. We will host outreach programs and initiatives in all four corners of the state. Dr. King, once said, “the most important step we can make is that short walk to the ballot box.” Well-spoken by Dr. King who walked fifty miles from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.”

This will be one of several events commemorating The Voting Rights Act of 1965 which applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote.  The Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson.  It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
During the G.O.T.V. Statewide Mass Voter Initiative – Getting Voters to the Poll  the AMLKC is sponsoring free adult memberships for the first ten (10) to sign up to join the NAACP Little Rock Branch and the first five (5) to sign up to join the Urban League of Arkansas. Arkansas Better Dads will be on hand to provide fatherhood packs to all fathers who attend.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission welcomes Angela Harrelson

His name was George Floyd.  In life, he was a single father of three, stood six feet, seven inches tall and had just moved to Minneapolis to start a new life.  His death shocked the world, sparking protests, discussions of race relations and community interactions with law enforcement around the world. Floyd was laid to rest in Houston, Texas next to his mother. 

Angela Harrelson is the maternal aunt of the late George Floyd. She promised his late mother that she would look after him. She talked to Floyd regularly after he moved to Minneapolis. Mrs. Harrelson will share her personal reflections and memories of her nephew.

Other confirmed special guests for the Little Rock event include:
State Representative Joy Springer, District 34
State Representative Denise Ennett, District 36
State Senator Will Bond, District 32
State Representative Tippi McCullough, District 33

Each public official will speak about the importance of voting and voter education. 

June 24, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 24, 2020
At the Wednesday afternoon COVID-19 Press Conference, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the number of cases in the state had climbed to 17,375, that's an increase of 697 from Wednesday. Hot spots include a correctional facility in Malvern and a nursing home facility in Magnolia. The number of Active Positives stands at 5,567. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 267. The death toll due to COVID-19 grew by three to 240.

Of the new cases yesterday, the highest numbers were in Hot Spring County with 168 (likely most in the Ouachita Prison Unit), Washington County with 79, Benton County with 67, Pulaski County with 51, Sebastian County with 40, Faulkner County with 29, Yell County with 26, and Columbia County with 26.

Governor Hutchinson announced that he has ordered the number of contact traces to be doubled to 700 at a cost of $22 million. 

The state topped its goal of 120,000 COVID-19 tests administered during the month of June. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. For the month of July, Governor Hutchinson set a goal on Wednesday afternoon of 180,000 tests. That represents 6% of the state's population.
At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 13 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 232 positive cases with 182 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 44 positive cases with 24 recovered and 3 deaths, Dallas County is showing  6 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.


As of 2:00 p.m. in the US, 2,364,874 cumulative cases, 647,548 recoveries, and 121,662 deaths.Globally 9,323,932 cumulative cases, 4,677,740 recoveries, and 479,215 deaths.

Again, there are now 17,375 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. 5,567 are considered Active Positives. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 267, while the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus increased by three to 240. We'll continue to keep you update, so stay tuned.


CENTRAL ARKANSAS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL TO DISTRIBUTE FOOD BOXES
The Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute food boxes to qualifying families in Benton AR in Saline County on July 1, 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM. Anyone living in CADC's Service Area may participate. Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier, and Union Counties.

Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) whose mission is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential, and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action will be holding an emergency food distribution in Saline County at the Saline County Fairgrounds on July 1, 2020. Food boxes will contain over 50 pounds of food, including meat, beans and vegetables. Central Arkansas Development Council hopes that by holding this distribution, we can alleviate some of the uncertainties many in the community are currently facing at this time. Customers will be asked to show I.D. and will be limited to one box per family. Families will have to meet income eligibility guidelines to qualify. Distributions will occur beginning at 9:00 AM until supplies run out. Anyone living in CADC’s service area is eligible to participate in the food distribution including those living in Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier, and Union Counties.

CADC would like to invite all news and media outlets to join and share in this event as we intend to bring joy, happiness, and much needed supplies to families across Arkansas during this pandemic. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” Ghandi.

Founded in 1965, Central Arkansas Development Council is a private nonprofit community action agency operating in 19 counties in the state of Arkansas. CADC is a local force in the War on Poverty providing a hand-up, promoting self-help in our neighborhoods and for our families. We are committed to providing opportunities for empowerment for individuals, families and communities. For more information on the distribution, visit our website at www.cadc.com, or contact your local CADC office.
 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT TO REOPEN SELECT RECREATION AREAS AT ARKANSAS LAKES JUNE 24
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will reopen select recreation areas at its Arkansas lakes - Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake - and incorporate preventative health measures beginning June 24.

Beaches and swimming areas will reopen, and visitors to these areas are encouraged to follow all guidance from local, state and federal officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That guidance includes practicing social distancing and wearing face masks when not in the water.

Picnic shelters, pavilions and group use areas will reopen, and information about the number of visitors in a group will be requested during the reservation process. Visitors to these areas must follow state directives for gatherings at large outdoor venues.

Signs with information about COVID-19 symptoms, measures to prevent the spread of the virus and social distancing have been installed in key locations at each facility, including shower houses, comfort stations, fee booths, bulletin boards, beaches, access roads, day use area parking lots and pavilions. Park rangers and other lake personnel are taking recommended precautions to reduce risk for visitors as well as themselves.

"After consulting with our local and state partners and other USACE offices, including the Little Rock District, we have decided to reopen select recreation areas at our Arkansas lakes," said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. "The health and safety of our team, our community and our visitors remain our top priority, and we are taking measures to reduce risk. The pandemic is an ongoing and fluid challenge, and we will continue to monitor conditions and adjust operations as needed. We are eager to welcome visitors back to our facilities and thank them for their understanding."

Campgrounds and their accompanying amenities at Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake reopened May 20, and reservations and payments for select campsites must be made in advance at Recreation.gov. For up-to-date information about campgrounds and other recreation operations, please visit the following link: https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2FxwfVT&amp;data=02%7C01%7C%7C01ff6fc18403464a9c2908d8184d8b88%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637286069540205332&amp;sdata=WTfg2KMzlEGYJhBSg0wRvCSWpalTXvTef3POik9kmN8%3D&amp;reserved=0.

Boat ramps, nature trails and fishing areas as well as nearby amenities remain open. Applications for special use permits will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. The collection of all day use fees has been suspended until Oct. 1.

All playgrounds, visitor centers, field offices, amphitheaters and drinking fountains will remain closed until further notice. Interpretive programs will remain suspended until further notice. The USACE Vicksburg District temporarily closed select recreation site attractions across Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to the public in March.

For more information about operational changes, the public may contact the following:
* Lake Ouachita: 501-767-2101
* DeGray Lake: 870-246-5502
* Lake Greeson: 870-285-2151

Located in southwest Arkansas, Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake are flood control reservoirs with multiple additional missions, including hydropower, water supply and wildlife management. At these USACE recreation sites, and unlike sites managed by others, employees are responsible for the protection and maintenance of these critical missions.

The USACE Vicksburg District owns and operates more than 100 recreation areas across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana where millions of visitors enjoy fishing, camping, hunting, boating, hiking, swimming, geocaching and more every year. The district's 10 flood control reservoirs across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana provide numerous benefits to the region, including flood risk management, hydropower, water supply, wildlife management and recreation.

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
 

ARIZONA ADOPTION ATTORNEY PLEADS GUILTY TO ALIEN SMUGGLING FOR FINANCIAL GAIN
Fayetteville, Arkansas – Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas, Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office and Peter Kapoukakis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Miami Field Office announced today that Paul Petersen plead guilty to the offense of Conspiracy to Smuggle Illegal Aliens for Commercial Advantage and Private Financial Gain. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks accepted the plea in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.

“This plea agreement is one more step on a long road towards putting an end to the illegal adoption practices that have long plagued the Marshallese community in our District,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Fowlkes.  “It is my sincere hope that this plea sends a strong message to those who would seek to take advantage of some of the more vulnerable members of our community.  We will continue to investigate these cases and will continue to seek justice for all the parties involved.  We will also continue to work to end this illegal adoption practice which is nothing more than a sophisticated scheme to not only take advantage of the Marshallese community, but also to swindle prospective adoptive parents out of large sums of money.”

According to the Plea Agreement filed in this case, the FBI, the DSS and local law enforcement, have been actively investigating the criminal activities of Paul Petersen, 44, of Mesa, Arizona, for several years. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement determined that the defendant, Paul Petersen, among other things, orchestrated the travel of several pregnant women from the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the Western District of Arkansas.  The purpose of this travel was for Petersen to arrange adoption of their children by families living in the United States.  

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) is an island country near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line.  In 1983, the United States entered into a Compact of Free Association (hereinafter, the “Compact”) with the RMI government.  The United States and the RMI signed an Amended Compact in 2003, which Congress codified at Public Law 108-188.  Section 141 of the Compact grants RMI citizens the ability to freely enter and take up employment within the United States.  Section 141(b) prohibits RMI citizens from entering the United States under the Compact agreement if their travel is for the purpose of adoption.

According to the Plea Agreement, the Defendant, Paul Petersen, is a licensed attorney who practices law in Arizona, Utah, and Arkansas.  During the course of the investigation, FBI and DSS agents discovered that Petersen used credit card accounts that he controlled to purchase airline tickets for several women, all citizens of the RMI who did not have official authorization to enter or reside in the United States, to travel from the RMI to the Western District of Arkansas.  This travel arranged and funded by Petersen was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act because the women were all citizens of the RMI and were not eligible for admission into the United States under the terms of the Compact.  According to State of Arkansas Circuit Court records, the families who adopted these children paid Petersen significant sums of money for him to act as a legal facilitator of the adoptions.  Finally, also according to the Plea Agreement, witness interviews conducted by the agents investigating Petersen revealed that it was part of the conspiracy that Petersen’s co-conspirators offered the women $10,000 to induce them to travel to the United States and consent to the adoptions.

“By preying upon both pregnant women from the Marshall Islands and loving Arkansan couples who wanted to adopt children, Mr. Peterson acted in a despicable manner and profited off individuals who simply sought to enrich their families,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “We were proud to work alongside our partners at the Diplomatic Security Service on this investigation, and we hope Mr. Peterson’s case will serve as a warning to others who seek to financially benefit from illegal adoption practices.”

"The Diplomatic Security Service would like to thank our partners in this case, including the RMI government,” said DSS Special Agent in Charge Kapoukakis.  “Together, we have prevented further victimization of Marshallese women and abuse of the Compact of Free Association between our countries that permits visa-free travel to the United States under certain conditions. The DSS remains firmly committed to leveraging our worldwide reach and partnerships to prosecute anyone who willfully violates federal law to exploit innocent and vulnerable families.”
Petersen’s sentence will be determined by the court at a later date. Petersen faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for alien smuggling.

The FBI and the DSS conducted the investigation. Acting U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes, Deputy Criminal Chief Kim Harris, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Butler are prosecuting the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division also assisted in the investigation.

OUACHITA COUNTY JULY 4TH HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Offvice will be closed Friday July 3rd in observance of the 4th of July Holiday.

DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM RAPIDLY APPROACHING

The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program is ONLY 6 DAYS away on June 30th. To apply for a forgivable PPP loan, and join over 40,000 Arkansas businesses who have been able to keep countless Arkansans employed, we encourage you to contact your lender TODAY.

If you were not granted funding the first time around NOW is the time to consider contacting your lending officer and getting in line. If you already applied you shouldn't have to reapply but verify with your lending officer that you are still in the right spot in the que. One way to verify if your original application was submitted and received is you should have received a pending loan number.

Breakdown of the additional funds:
PPP/EIDL
· $250 billion unrestricted for PPP
· $ 60 billion in PPP set aside for smaller institutions:
· $30 billion for assets less than $10 billion
· $30 billion for assets between $10 billion and $50 billion
· $60 billion for EIDL
· $50 billion for EIDL loans
· $10 billion for EIDL Advance grants
 ·$2.1 billion for SBA administrative expenses 

Health
$75B for hospitals (same language as PHSSEF from CARES)
$25B for testing ($11B distributed to states, rest will go to federal agencies for research, development, and testing)

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) INFORMATION SHEET:
BORROWERS The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:
· The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
· Employee and compensation levels are maintained. Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.
When can I apply?
· Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
· Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
· Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program. Where can I apply? You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders. Who can apply? All businesses – including nonprofits, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors – with 500 or fewer employees can apply. Businesses in certain industries can have more than 500 employees if they meet applicable SBA employee-based size standards for those industries (click HERE for additional detail). For this program, the SBA’s affiliation standards are waived for small businesses (1) in the hotel and food services industries (click HERE for NAICS code 72 to confirm); or (2) that are franchises in the SBA’s Franchise Directory (click HERE to check); or (3) that receive financial assistance from small business investment companies licensed by the SBA. A
dditional guidance may be released as appropriate.

What do I need to apply?
You will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender that is available to process your application by June 30, 2020. Click HERE for the application. What other documents will I need to include in my application? You will need to provide your lender with payroll documentation. Do I need to first look for other funds before applying to this program? No. We are waiving the usual SBA requirement that you try to obtain some or all of the loan funds from other sources (i.e., we are waiving the Credit Elsewhere requirement). How long will this program last? Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap and lenders need time to process your loan. How many loans can I take out under this program? Only one. What can I use these loans for? You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:
· Payroll costs, including benefits;
· Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
· Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
· Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020. What counts as payroll costs?

Payroll costs include:
· Salary, wages, commissions, or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee);
· Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
· State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
· For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

How large can my loan be?
Loans can be for up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount. That amount is subject to a $10 million cap. If you are a seasonal or new business, you will use different applicable time periods for your calculation. Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?
You will owe money when your loan is due if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 8 weeks after getting the loan. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. You will also owe money if you do not maintain your staff and payroll.
·Number of Staff: Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount.
· Level of Payroll: Your loan forgiveness will also be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.
· Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020. How can I request loan forgiveness? You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. The lender must make a decision on the forgiveness within 60 days. What is my interest rate? 0.50% fixed rate. When do I need to start paying interest on my loan? All payments are deferred for 6 months; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period. When is my loan due? In 2 years.

Can I pay my loan earlier than 2 years? Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

Do I need to pledge any collateral for these loans? No. No collateral is required. Do I need to personally guarantee this loan? No. There is no personal guarantee requirement. However, if the proceeds are used for fraudulent purposes, the U.S. government will pursue criminal charges against you.

What do I need to certify?
As part of your application, you need to certify in good faith that:
· Current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.
· The funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.
· You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.
· You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan.
· Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
· All the information you provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate. Knowingly making a false statement to get a loan under this program is punishable by law.
· You acknowledge that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted. You affirm that the tax documents are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives, including authorized representatives of the SBA Office of Inspector General, for the purpose of compliance with SBA Loan Program Requirements and all SBA reviews.

JUNE 23, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 23, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson held his Tuesday afternoon Press Conference in Mountain Home in North Central Arkansas. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas stands at 16,678. That's an increase of 595 from Monday. 212 of those new cases are located in correctional facilities. 5,221 cases are considered Active Positive. That's an increase of 158 from Monday. Hospitalizations increased by 11 to 248. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by 10 to 237. 

Governor Hutchinson discussed the UAMS modeling forecast, which predicts a peak in Arkansas around September 30th. The modeling predicts on September 30th that the total cases would be at 133,056, with 3,326 hospitalizations. The Governor says the goal is to beat that model forecast.

Dr. Nate Smith, the Secretary of the Department of Health, also spoke about the UAMS modeling forecast. Dr Smith says that COVID-19 can spread very quickly, especially when the safety guidelines are not being followed.

At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 227 positive cases with 180 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 43 positive cases with 23 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas grew by 595 to 16,678. Of those new cases since Monday, 212 were in correctional facilities, and 383 were in the community. Active Positives stand at 5,221, an increase of 158 from Monday. The death toll grew by 10 to 237. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Tyler Merle Cable, age 34, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced on June 22, 2020 to a total of 84 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the fall of 2019, Detectives with the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force launched an investigation into drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  In September of 2019, detectives conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine and a firearm from Cable.

Cable was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019 and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

CITY OF CAMDEN INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Public Works Department, City of Camden and Transfer Station will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020 in observance of Independence Day.
Trash pick-up will run on regular schedule routes on Friday, July 3, 2020.
If you have questions, you can call the City of Camden Sanitation Department at 870-837-5573.


 

EMERSON NATIVE JOEY BAKER GIVES BACK TO SAU WITH ENDOWMENT
MAGNOLIA -- A desire to generously give back to his community in a significant way inspired Joey Baker (77) to endow the Emerson, Arkansas Scholarship for students from his hometown who choose to make Southern Arkansas University their college home.

“Emerson School and SAU helped shape who I am today,” Baker said. “I want to give back to them both in a meaningful way.”

Baker, who graduated from Emerson High School in 1973, still identifies with those students today. “I see them in the same way that I was in 1973. Money was such a big issue. I want to be able to help out.”

Scholarships will be awarded to Emerson graduates based on academic and financial need, as determined by SAU’s Scholarship Committee. There is no essay requirement.

Baker chose Southern State College for its proximity to his home as well as affordability. (The college changed its name to SAU in his senior year.) He majored in marketing and obtained his BBA in 1977 – a memorable year in his life.

That year, Baker served as president of the student body at SAU. It was also the year the bell tower was constructed on campus and that Dr. Harold Brinson was welcomed as president. A family tragedy, however, showed Baker firsthand the commitment to caring for students that SAU has always demonstrated.

“The students, faculty and administration were unbelievable in their support for me and my family,” Baker said. “It is examples like this that set SAU apart from other institutions.”

He can attest to the true “family feel” of SAU and observes that this “culture of caring” continues today. “They really do care,” Baker said of faculty and administration.

Richard Samuel, a marketing professor at SAU, mentored Baker. “He was instrumental in me getting my foot in the door for the education field,” Baker said. “One day, Mr. Samuel asked me if I would be interested in teaching marketing at El Dorado High School. At the time, I was a college graduate working in the oil field construction business. It was during the recession of the late 1970s, and I took whatever work I could find. I jumped at the chance to teach.”

However, Baker lacked the education credit hours to go with his business degree. “Mr. Samuel said, ‘no problem, I will work with our Education Department to get you the hours you need while you are teaching.’” For the next couple of years, Samuel helped Baker obtain the necessary credits to become a certified teacher. “I applaud SAU for thinking outside the educational box,” Baker said.

Teaching at El Dorado introduced Baker to the education field, but he soon moved on to politics. “I left teaching to work for Arkansas Secretary of State Paul Riviere when he ran for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District,” Baker said. “Another person that I happened to meet on that campaign was Dr. Trey Berry.”

After politics, Baker went to work for the Pharmacists Mutual Company providing insurance and financial services for Arkansas pharmacists for 28 years. He has been teaching as an adjunct professor at UAMS College of Pharmacy for 21 years. “I teach a personal finance course for third-year pharmacy students.”

He also teaches personal finance at Harding University’s College of Pharmacy. Utilizing his teaching and life experiences, Baker has written a book to be published later this year, Baker’s Dirty Dozen Principles for Financial Independence. He believes that giving back will make one healthy in heart, body and soul.

He and his wife, Brenda, who retired as a math teacher from Benton Public Schools, have two daughters, Lindsey and Brooke. Lindsey holds an undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University and a MAT from SAU. She teaches middle school social studies at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock. Brooke also has an undergraduate degree from OBU and a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a social studies teacher at Kent Place School in Madison, N.J., and has been accepted into the doctoral program at UCLA to study Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Baker received his MBA from the University of Central Arkansas.
 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE JOINS PARTNERSHIP TO SUPPORT FULL CIRCLE FARMCORPS MEMBERS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently partnered with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas to grow the center’s national service program, Full Circle FarmCorps. Full Circle FarmCorps is a state AmeriCorps program that promotes food security and strengthens communities through farming, teaching, and outreach. This summer 20 AmeriCorps members will serve 675 hours each at school and community gardens throughout Pulaski County.

“It was a natural fit for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to partner with the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.  “Farm to school education is a triple win for our state: our children learn about agriculture and locally grown food, our Arkansas farmers are supported, and our local economy thrives.”
Farm to school programs include some combination of school gardening, local food procurement, and traditional or garden-based education about food, nutrition, agriculture, and/or natural resources. Farm to school improves public health, strengthens the local economy and local communities, improves food access and food abundance for all, and protects the environment.

St. Joseph Center is excited to see so many pieces of history come full circle for this former orphanage, school, and farm,” said Sandy DeCoursey, Executive Director of St. Joseph Center.  “Full Circle FarmCorps carries on this historic mission of planting hope, sowing knowledge, and growing lives in the communities they serve.”

"Since January, Full Circle FarmCorps has harvested nearly 13,000 pounds of produce,” said A.B. Stewart, Program Director of St. Joseph Center. “These summer members have signed on at a critical time to further increase our community response in tackling hunger.”
Joining eight others who began their service term earlier, the 20 new AmeriCorps members will spend 50% of their time at a school and 50% of their time at a community space where they will support gardens, teach nutrition, and engage volunteers.

The AmeriCorps members will be serving at the following sites: Gibbs Magnet International School, Immaculate Conception, Lake Nixon Preschool, Pulaski Heights Elementary, Forest Park Elementary, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Dunbar Community Garden, Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, Heifer International Urban Farm, North Little Rock Fit 2 Live, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Centennial Garden, Woodruff Community Garden, Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, and the St. Joseph Center of Arkansas.

At these sites, members will serve on teams to grow gardens, leverage volunteers, educate children through Growing My Plate, a curriculum created by Apple Seeds, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, and UAMS.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov.

The St. Joseph Center of Arkansas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based out of a historic 56,000-square-foot building and resting on 63 acres.  Its mission is to preserve and restore the historic property through sustainable farming, food production, education, agri-tourism, and community development.  To get involved, visit stjosephcenter.org.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement.  The Arkansas Service Commission, known as EngageAR, manages state AmeriCorps subgrants, and seeks to empower communities through service.  For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

PRIDE NAMED NEW ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF LEARNING SERVICES
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key is pleased to announce that Dr. Kiffany Pride has been named the new assistant commissioner for the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Learning Services division. Pride will assume her new role July 1 after the departure of Stacy Smith.

“Dr. Pride brings a wealth of experience to our leadership team, especially in the area of literacy,” Key said. “During the brief period she was assigned as a literacy coach for LRSD under the Office of Coordinated Support and Service, the schools in which she worked saw dramatic improvements in student outcomes. Since coming to the agency, Dr. Pride has helped build and maintain the momentum of the RISE Arkansas reading initiative. She is a dynamic leader of learning, and we are excited to have her leading the Learning Services team at the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.”

Pride started working for DESE as a Response to Intervention coordinator for literacy, a position she held from August 2018 until February 2019. She then served as a R.I.S.E. (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) assessor until August 2019, when she assumed her current role as the director of curriculum and assessment. 

Prior to joining DESE, Pride was the program administrator for the Pulaski County Special School District’s Department of Learning Services from July 2012 to June 2018. Her previous experience also includes serving as a teacher, literacy coach, and athletic coach for the Little Rock School District. 

Pride has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Hendrix College in Conway, a Master of Science in Middle Childhood Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Master of Science in Reading and Literacy from Walden University in Minneapolis, and an Education Specialist in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership from Harding University in Searcy.

In addition, Pride is a member of several professional organizations, including the Mid-South Educational Research Association, the Arkansas Reading Association, and the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators.

COTTON URGES ATTORNEY GENERAL TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST VIOLENT MOBS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging the Department of Justice to bring charges against mobs toppling statues across the country. The letter follows a floor speech by Senator Cotton on the danger of mob rule earlier on Monday. The full text of the letter is below .

Dear Attorney General Barr,
Violent mobs have, in recent weeks, defaced and torn down statues, memorials, and monuments around our country. These criminals masquerade as protestors exercising their lawful right to peaceably assemble, but there can be no right to destroy public or private property. To borrow from Abraham Lincoln-whose Memorial in our nation's capital was also defaced-"there is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law."

On Friday, this mobocratic spirit reached an absurd conclusion with the tearing down of a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco. That would be General Grant, the commander of the Union forces, who destroyed the Confederate Army and whose very initials captured his tenacious, unrelenting approach: "unconditional surrender." And it would be President Grant, the statesman who smashed the Ku Klux Klan, signed the first major civil-rights legislation, and presided over passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. When the mob tears down a statue of U.S. Grant, it's not about the Civil War-it's because they hate America.

And that's just one example. Elsewhere, mobs have also destroyed monuments to George Washington, Francis Scott Key, Saint Junipero Serra, and Christopher Columbus, among others. It's past time to stop the mob; these vandals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, local authorities, who normally would prosecute such crimes, have proven unwilling in many cases to uphold the rule of law. In some cities, it appears that feckless politicians have directed police to stand idly by while mobs rampage.

Thus, I urge the Department of Justice to bring charges against these criminals. They aren't exactly criminal masterminds, typically filming their crimes and posting the videos on social media. Federal laws such as the Anti-Riot Act and the Veterans Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act should cover some crimes. Other federal laws may also apply.

I commend your efforts against rioting and looting earlier this month. Regrettably, there's more work yet to quell the mob. The country is fortunate to have an Attorney General up to the task.

June 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 22, 2020
In his Monday afternoon Press Conference, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide had reached 16,083. The number of Active Positives climbed to 5,063. While hospitalizations decreased by seven to 237, the death toll rose by two to 227. 

Governor Hutchinson reported that the total coronavirus tests administered in June exceeded the goal of 120,000 for the month, as the testing total reached 120,053. That represents about 4% of the state's population being tested during June. The positivity rate is 6.3%. Governor Hutchinson says that he and his team continue to take COVID-19 very seriously.

Governor Asa Hutchinson said that testing would continue in July and that goal would be set and announced soon. The Governor announced that of the new cases, counties with the highest numbers were Washington with 124, Hot Spring with 85, and Benton with 78. Most, if not all, of the new cases in Hot Spring County are in the Ouachita Prison Unit.

Most of Monday afternoon's Press Conference centered around hospital capacity. Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, says that he's encouraged with the number of available hospital beds, Intensive Care Unit space, and the number of ventilators that the state has. Plus, Dr. Smith says that the state has the capability to expand this capacity even more if needed.

Officials with Baptist Health, CHI St Vincent's, and UAMS agreed that the hospital capacity is available if needed. The representatives from three of the bigger hospitals in the state say that regular patients are now coming back to the hospitals for elective medical procedures and surgeries that many had delayed from having earlier. 

At this time Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 224 positive cases with 176 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 38 positive cases with 22 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 6 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas topped 16,000 on Monday. The number of active positive cases topped 5,000.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

To watch the video of today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/I1FZvHJaOns
We'll continue to keep you updated. So, stay tuned."

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE, in Camden. The agenda includes Audience Participation, the Approval of Minutes and Financial Reports from May 2020. James Lee Silliman will rundown an Overview of Contacts he has made. There will be a Workforce Project Update and an update on the AEDC's Competitive Communities.

Please wear a mask if you have one. There will be hand sanitizer available. Social distancing will be observed in seating. The doors to meeting area will be open. There will be packets on tables.

RSVP will be required. RSVP to 836-2210 and leave a message or email oped@att.net  by June 23rd by 2:00 p.m. to allow OPED to prepare for social distancing seating.

There will be reserved space for media. Please do not attend if you have a cough or fever. Reminder to maintain a minimum six-foot distance from other people. Do not shake hands or engage in any unnecessary physical contact.

The next scheduled Board Meeting  will be July 22, 2020

COVID-19 WEEKEND UPDATE
The coronavirus count in Arkansas topped 15,000 over the weekend. The state's death toll due to COVID-19 increased to 224 as of Saturday afternoon. Locally in Ouachita County, the total cases reached 17 Saturday afternoon, with five considered active positives. In Union County, the total cases climbed to 223 on Saturday, with 36 currently active, and 13 deaths have been recorded. Columbia County has 32 total cases with nine active currently, and a death toll of two. Nevada County has 87 cases, with 25 currently active, and two deaths. Clark County is up to 50 cases, with seven active positives. Dallas County is up to six cases with four currently active. Calhoun County is still the only county in the state to not report a COVID-19 cases as of yet.

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened up the most recent press conference on Friday afternoon with some good unemployment news. The unemployment rate in Arkansas for the month of May declined by 1.3% to 9.5%. With the national unemployment rate at 13.3%, Arkansas is fairing better with job numbers compared to other states. 
Governor Hutchinson also had good news for Emergency Medical Service workers Friday. The state CARES Act Steering Committee has approved payments for E.M.T.'s and paramedics that will total over $12 million dollars. Governor Hutchinson says that over five thousand E.M.T.'s and paramedics will benefit from bonus payments covering the weeks of April 5th through May 30th. The amount paid will be $125 per week for those who worked 20 to 39 hours, and $250 per week for those who worked 40 hours or more.

Governor Hutchinson reported that the positivity rate from COVID-19 tests thus far is 6.5%, again that's well below the national average. The state is on track to achieve the goal of testing over 120,000 Arkansans during the month of June. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. 
Governor Hutchinson also announced Friday afternoon that the Arkansas Department of Health has posted new guidelines on its website recommending that Arkansans wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor environments where they could come within six feet of people who are not from their household.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said Saturday that the recent growth of cases among the Hispanic community appears to be accelerating. Hispanics make up less than 8% of the state's population but accounted for 23% of the state's total cases as of Saturday, according to the state website. Dr. Dillaha says a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in the state analyzing Health Department data to study how transmission is occurring among Hispanics and Marshallese, who have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Dr. Dillaha added that physical distancing and wearing masks have not been commonly used in those populations as protective measures, and the state is trying to determine what can be done to help communicate the need for that. In addition to outbreaks connected to Hispanic communities, Dr. Dillaha said the Health Department has traced infections to church gatherings, funerals, and other community events, adding that it shows when people don't wear cloth face coverings and don't maintain social distancing, it's very easy for spread to occur.

Again, there are now over 15,000 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas has now increased to 224 through Saturday. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

CHILCOAT NAMED DIRECTOR OF ARKANSAS STATE LIBRARY
LITTLE ROCK — Jennifer Chilcoat has been named the next director of the Arkansas State Library. Chilcoat, the current deputy director, replaces Carolyn Ashcraft, who is retiring July 1. 

Chilcoat brings 30 years of library experience to the position, including 28 years at Arkansas public libraries. She has served as the deputy director of the Arkansas State Library since August 2018, where she oversees the Library Development Department, the Information Services Department, and the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.
Chilcoat also has served as the library’s state data coordinator for Arkansas and has spearheaded statewide efforts to maximize the power of libraries in achieving a complete count for the 2020 Census.

“When I hired Jennifer as my deputy director in 2018, it was with the understanding that I was looking to retire in a couple of years,” Ashcraft said. “She has been like a sponge, soaking up as much information as possible, learning about state government and our agency, and preparing for the opportunity to be the next state librarian. There will be a time of transition, but I know she has the skills necessary to lead our agency into this next decade.”

Before joining the staff at the State Library, Chilcoat spent 28 years at the Central Arkansas Library System, where she served in various capacities, such as a reference librarian, branch manager, head of human resources, construction coordinator, and interim deputy director.
“The move from CALS to the Arkansas State Library was natural for me because I get energized by empowering other librarians to do their best work,” Chilcoat said. “At ASL, I get to empower librarians around the entire state, not just those in my local community. Now, as director of the agency, I can ensure that the issues we face in our state are heard on the national stage.”  

Chilcoat earned bachelor’s degrees in English and German, as well as a Master of Science in Library and Information Science, from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She currently coordinates a Parenting of Teens class at Second Presbyterian Church and serves as an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America Troop 30, both in Little Rock.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL TO HOLD BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2020 AT 10:00 AM.
Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) whose mission is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential, and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action will have a board meeting Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held by Zoom and/or conference call. The public is invited to join the meeting and may contact 501-315-1121 for information to join the meeting.

Founded in 1965, Central Arkansas Development Council is a private nonprofit community action agency operating in 19 counties in the state of Arkansas. CADC is a local force in the War on Poverty providing a hand-up, promoting self-help in our neighborhoods and for our families. We are committed to providing opportunities for empowerment for individuals, families and communities. For more information on the distribution, visit our website at www.cadc.com, or contact your local CADC office.

June 19, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 19, 2020
703 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday afternoon in Arkansas to increase the overall total to 14,631. It's the largest increase among community cases in a single day so far. Hospitalizations statewide increased by five to 231. The death toll due to the coronavirus increased by six to 214. Counties with the largest number if new cases yesterday were Washington with 112, Pulaski with 53, Sevier with 44, Sebastian with 26, Faulkner with 27, and Yell with 21.

Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the briefing by recognizing that is was Juneteenth and announced that he had signed a proclamation for the important day.
with some good unemployment news. The unemployment rate in Arkansas for the month of May declined by 1.3% to 9.5%. With the national unemployment rate at 13.3%, Arkansas is fairing better with job numbers compared to other states. 

Governor Hutchinson also had good news for Emergency Medical Service workers. The state CARES Act Steering Committee has approved payments for E.M.S. workers that will total over $12 million dollars. Governor Hutchinson says that over five thousand E.M.S. workers will benefit.

Governor Hutchinson reported that 5,167 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hour period. The positivity rate thus far is 6.5%, again that's well below the national average. The state has conducted over 92,000 tests in June, and is on track to achieve the goal of testing over 120,000 Arkansans during the month. That represents roughly 4% of the state's population. 

Governor Hutchinson also announced Friday afternoon that the Arkansas Department of Health is issuing new guidelines for face coverings.

Ouachita County is showing 17 positive cases with 12 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 218 positive cases with 174 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 29 positive cases with 20 recovered and 2 deaths, Dallas County is showing 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County is still showing 0 positive cases. These numbers will be updated later today.

Again, there are now 14,631 total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. That's an increase of 703 from the previous day. It's the largest single day increase yet among community cases. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas has now increased to 214. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

20th STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR - CORRECTED
The regions largest 4th of July Fireworks Display and Live Concert event returns for the 20th annual CAMDEN STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR on Saturday July 4th in Camden, AR. Camden, Ark.,– Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy an evening with great live music, a special recognizing of our Veterans, all ending with the largest professional fireworks display in South Arkansas.  Live musical entertainment will be featured throughout the evening with local talent, the McKelvin Brothers, kicking off at 6:30PM. They will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by NBC’s The Voice finalist, L. B. Crew, and ending the evening with the headliner, American Idol winner, Kris Allen. Local veterans (past and those presently serving) will enjoy special VIP parking. COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.    This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment. All the programs and entertainment will be broadcast live on KCXY, Y95, 95.3FM. The Fireworks show will feature patriotic music to be broadcast on 89.5 FM, KCAC SAU Tech Radio.  This year’s event is brought to you by our title sponsor, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and the Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local businesses and industry.

 

NEXT WEEK AT SAAC: CAMP WITH MR. JORGE
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Virtual Summer Camp will continue June 22-26 with videos from artist Jorge Villegas. Mr. Jorge will take students through four visual art activities focusing on the beauty that can be found in the world around us by using our own four senses.
This summer, all of SAAC's camps are presented via the tuition-free Virtual Summer Camp, which can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Each week, an additional artist's video lessons will be added to the library, available at SAAC's website at www.saac-arts.org. Lessons can be completed on your own schedule, and at your own pace.

Jorge's videos will begin on June 22, with each video delving into discovering art within an aspect of the natural world. Mr. Jorge will offer instruction and inspiration for the creation of a paper butterfly, trees created from natural shapes, and observations of the natural beauty. Finally, students can create their own interpretation of Notre Dame cathedral's famous rose window.

"I am thrilled and honored to have the chance to be a part of this video project," said Jorge. "The South Arkansas Arts Center is in so many ways a vital part of this community, by providing an outlet for expression. That outlet is essential for emotional good health, shaping who we are, and providing identity."

Jorge, who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a talented multidisciplinary artist and educator. A master drawer, he has created everything from large-scale murals and theatrical backdrops to detailed portraits in his own career. He became an American citizen in 1993, and he has been an arts educator for more than 40 years, working with adults and children of all levels of ability to help them see the world just a little differently.

"What is art? Art is many things," says Jorge. "Art is seeing, feeling, and thinking about the world. Art lets you use your mind and all your senses. I cannot think of a more important time to unleash the power of our own creativity, and the possibility to produce a healthy harmonic change in our lives." 

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. By registering, SAAC will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.

For more information about Virtual Summer camp, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY HOLDS IN-STATE UNDERGRADUATE TUITION
MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees met Thursday, June 18, 2020, in the Reynolds Center Grand Hall on the SAU campus. The Board approved the 2020-2021 University system budget as presented. 

SAU held the in-state undergraduate tuition constant showing no increase per credit hour, and mandatory student fees were unchanged but reflected a temporary transfer of $1 from the student activity enrichment fee to the health services fee.  Tuition and fees for off-campus undergraduate students were held flat. The food service contract rose by 3.1 percent, precipitating a slight increase to student meal plans.

The University budgeted expenditures $6,762,722 lower than the previous fiscal year. Due to a forecasted decline in enrollment, state funding reductions, and contractual increases, the University took many actions to balance the budget. Unfilled positions were frozen or restructured to help offset the anticipated decline in revenue. Additionally, budgeted expenditures for graduate assistants, student and contract labor were significantly reduced. Other savings were captured by reductions to non-fixed or non-contractual supply and service accounts and to travel budgets.

The University prioritized essential operations and employee retention throughout the budget process. While currently there are no workforce reductions due to decreased revenues, changes were implemented to employee benefits to balance the budget. Employees will see an increase in health insurance premium contribution rates, and SAU will reduce the employer retirement match to state levels. The freeze on unfilled positions comes at a cost to existing employees to create the robust experience students are accustomed to having at SAU but with fewer resources, a situation the institution hopes to improve as the economy improves.

The Board-approved SAU-Tech budget included no increase in tuition for the sixth straight year and left student apartment rates unchanged. The Tech balanced budget included major reductions to supplies and services, travel, equipment, contingency funds and institutional funded student labor to offset projected decreases in funding.

During his opening comments, system president Dr. Trey Berry said SAU is working tirelessly to ensure that students return to campus safely and to the quality they expect. He expressed his gratitude to faculty and staff for their efforts to successfully reopen the campus. “We are going to get through this together, and we’ll be stronger for it.”

SAU is reopening in phases, with the first having begun on June 15 and the second to begin July 6. Two committees were established to make sure the reopening adheres to all safety guidelines. Berry praised the committees for their hard work, noting the risk-management team has met several times to discuss the over-arching situation. “They have done a wonderful job,” he said.

A re-opening committee consisting of faculty and staff and led by Dr. David Lanoue and Dr. Donna Allen has met frequently to establish policies and procedures for the fall. “They have spent hours looking at state and federal guidelines to get us ready,” Berry said, thanking all committee members.

He informed the Board that the fall semester will begin a week earlier than normal, on August 11, and end before Thanksgiving, to keep students as safe as possible. Spring and Summer Commencement will be held on Aug. 7-8 in Wilkins Stadium. “We look forward to celebrating the achievements of our graduates,” said Berry. Social distancing will be observed during the ceremonies.

Berry said SAU has purchased hundreds of personal protection devices for the fall including masks, hand sanitizers, testing machines and plexi-glass shields for use in high-traffic areas. People will also be required to wear masks inside buildings.

Regarding the upcoming year, Berry thanked the budget committee for its work over the past few months. “It has been a very unusual budget process. The committee has had many frank discussions,” Berry said. “We have a tremendous faculty and staff, and we have all learned a lot about our priorities.”

He informed trustees that Josh Kee, Vice President for Advancement, and his team have established the Mulerider Strong Fund, which will assist SAU in times of emergency. “We have been amazed at what our alumni and friends have done already,” Berry said, promising additional information on the fund in the near future.

Berry pointed to Mulerider heroes who have made a positive difference during the pandemic. The College of Science and Engineering has used its 3D printers to create shields used at local health care facilities, including Magnolia Regional Medical Center. He thanked the College for providing this service to health workers.

Berry recognized 2005 SAU alum Grant Smith, who has led the State of Arkansas’ efforts to make it possible for all state employees to work remotely. This included getting laptops to all state workers so that they could work from home. Berry also praised Zachary Shealy, a 2018 SAU nursing program graduate, who quit his job in Tyler, Texas, to work on the pandemic’s front lines in New York City. “He saw the huge problems they were having and ran to the fire,” Berry said. “We have Muleriders doing this all over the country.”

Another Mulerider hero who Berry singled out for praise is Colorado resident and 1942 Southern State alum Ray Burns, who has begun a campaign to raise money for the COVID-19 crisis by walking 100 miles by his 100th birthday in August. “He is a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” said Berry, lauding Burns’ effort.

Berry also noted that SAU has received a grant totaling almost $700,000 from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) for the restoration of historic Bussey Hall. Work to restore the residence hall to its proper glory is expected to begin in July.

In his comments, Dr. Jason Morrison, chancellor of SAU Tech, said the college is working to ensure a safe reopening in the fall. He also recognized the retirement of David McCleane, vice chancellor of student services, who served SAU Tech for 15 years. McCleane thanked Morrison and the Board for the opportunity to serve students.

In other agenda items, the Board approved SAU’s request to add six new academic programs, supporting the institution’s mission to educate students for productive employment in a global environment. The programs approved included a BSE/MBA and BS Engineering Physics program, a 4+1 LBPH/MPA program, an Educational Examiner Licensure program, and two Graduate Certificates in Data Analytics and Business Leadership.

Approved program changes for SAU-Tech included the additional areas of emphasis in Associate of Arts in General Education for Math, History, Psychology and English, as well as Associate of Applied Science in Health Science for Phlebotomy and Pharmacy Tech. A degree name change was approved, changing the Associate of Applied Science in Engineering to Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology. Additionally, trustees approved the creation of a Certificate of Proficiency in Mechanical Maintenance.

Under the SAU Appropriation Act of 2020-2021, new provisional positions were granted to sustain the new academic programs, including additional staff, faculty and classified pool positions based on the needs of student service. The motion to increase the provisional request for SAU was approved up to the statutory limit of 70.   SAU-Tech was approved a request to continue the 15 current provisional positions they currently have and to fill any remaining positions needed by the institution. The Board’s approval of these positions will go to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for certification to the Legislative Council.

The Board approved and adopted athletic budgets as presented, including the renewal of a $19 athletic fee for SAU. The SAU Tech budget included a $9 per credit hour fee, with eighty-eight percent of the fee allocated for athletics and twelve percent for student activities.

In other business, a change of accounting policy was approved, shifting from a straight-line method of depreciation to the State’s uniform depreciation policy. This change is expected to reduce the University’s annual depreciation expenses.

The Board authorized the University to refinance 2013B and 2015 Student Fee Secured Capital Improvement Bonds, at interest rates 2.0-2.5% below current rates, saving the institution almost $700,000 over the life of the bonds. Terms of the refinanced bond issue will not exceed the remaining 25-year maturity date of the original issue.

Amendments to the Faculty Handbook proposed by the Handbook Committee of the Faculty Senate were approved.

After the Board adjourned from Executive Session all personnel changes were approved and the meeting adjourned.
 

33 STATE POLICE RECRUITS COMMISSIONED INTO SERVICE AT GRADUATION CEREMONY
(LITTLE ROCK) - Thirty-three Arkansas State Police Trooper Recruits received their certified law enforcement certificates tonight during a graduation ceremony at the Arkansas State Capitol.  The new troopers will report to their Highway Patrol Division assignments across the state next month.
The recruits reported to the Arkansas State Police Training Academy at state police administrative headquarters January 26th this year.  Since that time the recruits accumulated more than 1,000 hours of specialized classroom and practical training.

Governor Asa Hutchinson, Jami Cook, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police each addressed the class during the ceremony.  The recruits affirmed the Oath of Arkansas State Trooper to Judge Meredith B. Switzer of Hot Springs.

Graduates of the Arkansas State Police 2020 Troop School are:
Justin Parker, 33, 2020-A Recruit Class Leader, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Garland County.  He is a graduate of Lake Hamilton High School, Southern Arkansas Tech and the American Military University. Trooper Parker served as recruit class leader. 
Jonathan Arnold, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Stone County.  He is a graduate of Arkansas Education Alliance.
Jacob Byrd, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Garrett Byrd, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of Creekwood High School and John Gupton College in Tennessee.
Maria Galan Duarte, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Washington County.  She is a graduate of Northside High School.
Austin Duncan, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Benton High School.
Ronald Elkins, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Sebastian County.  He is a graduate of Van Buren High School and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
Dairren Evans, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Phillips County.  He is a graduate of Marion High School.
Matthew Foreman, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School.
Korbyn Freeman, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Bryant High School and the University of Central Arkansas.
Philip Gonten, 35, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Boone County.  He is a graduate of Mountain Home High School.
Jacob Graham, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Carroll County.  He is a graduate of Berryville High School.
Martino Green, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Arkansas County.  He is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School.
Trip Hensley, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, St. Francis County.  He is a graduate of Paris High School.
Rand Lace, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Prairie County.  He is a graduate of Cross County High School.
Tyler Langley, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Conway High School and the University of Central Arkansas.
Issac Lawson, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County.  He is a graduate of Living World Christian Academy.
Tate Ledbetter, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Lee County.  He is a graduate of Acorn High School.
Jackson Little, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Washington County.  He is a graduate of Harrison High School.
Jeb Little, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Warren High School and Ouachita Baptist University.
Quinton Maag, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County.  He is a graduate of Highland High School.
Mason Marrone, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of the National University Academy in Vista, California.
Paul Matthews, 32, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, Johnson County.  He is a graduate of North Crowley High School, in Forth Worth, Texas.
Kayla Mean, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  She is a graduate of Mat-Su Central High School and the University of Alaska.
Hugo Meza, 35, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Union County.  He is a graduate of Prepa-Ameza High School and the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.
Blaine Middlecoff, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County.  He is a graduate of Hoxie High School.
Walker Morphis, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Chicot County.  He is a graduate of Cornerstone Christian Academy and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Ian Nelson, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Little River County.  He is a graduate of Valliant High School and Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma.
Brian Palmer, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Columbia County.  He is a graduate of Magnolia High School.
Seth Smedley, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Pike County.  He is a graduate of Fountain Lake High School and Henderson State University.
Zackery Smither, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, St. Francis County.  He is a graduate of Ozark High School and Arkansas Tech University.
Matthew Walker, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of the Camden Fairview High School and Southern Arkansas University Tech.
Michael Whitman, Jr, 34, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Jefferson County.  He is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School.
Special recognition and awards were presented to the recruits who attained the highest scores within the respective training categories listed as follows:

Academics
1st place – Tyler Langley
2nd place – Ronald Elkins
3rd place – Austin Duncan
Physical Fitness

1st place – Tyler Langley
2nd place – Justin Parker
3rd place – Martino Green

Firearms
1st place – Ronald Elkins
2nd place – Matthew Walker
3rd place – Brian Palmer
Upon reporting for duty at their respective troop headquarters, the new troopers will be placed with a certified departmental Field Training Officer (FTO).  Each graduate will work in tandem with their respective FTO for a transitional period prior to being released to their assignment.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced the following appointments:
Steve Sutton, Marion, to the State Board of Education.  Appointment begins July 1, 2020, and expires June 30, 2027.  Replaces Diane Zook.
Dr. Beatrice Reed, Little Rock, to the State Board of Optometry.  Appointment expires April 26, 2025.  Replaces Dr. Robert Smalling.
Daryl Bassett, Little Rock, to the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Public Employees’ Retirement System.  Appointment expires March 9, 2026.  Reappointment. 
Dennis Wiederkehr, Altus, to the Arkansas Wine Producers Council.  Appointment expires March 1, 2023.  Reappointment. 
Frank Wilson, Rison, to the Arkansas Forestry Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2029.  Reappointment.
Ed Spaeth, Greenbrier, to the Arkansas Manufactured Home Commission.  Appointment expires September 1, 2023.  Replaces Dewight Mack.
Katherine Holmstrom, Little Rock, to the War Memorial Stadium Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Replaces Brenda Scisson.
David Mattingly, Benton, to the War Memorial Stadium Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2027.  Replaces Kevin Crass.
Dan York, Foreman, to the Red River Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2027.  Reappointment.
Dwayne Raper, Ashdown, to the Red River Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Reappointment.
Robert Liner, Fort Smith, to the Oil and Gas Commission.  Appointment expires February 20, 2025.  Replaces Lee Dawkins.
Frank Morledge, Forrest City, to the Oil and Gas Commission.  Appointment expires February 20, 2026.  Reappointment.
Robert Passwaters, Bryant, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Craig Reinhardt, Little Rock, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Sheri Rogers, Hot Springs, to the Governor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.  Appointment expires June 1, 2024.  Reappointment.
Anne Canada, Subiaco, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2027.  Replaces Sammie Benjamin.
Ann Clemmer, Benton, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2022.  Replaces Philip Hathcock.
Annette Herrington, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.  Appointment expires March 23, 2028.  Reappointment.
Stephen Horton, Maumelle, as a Special County Judge in the County Court of Searcy County, for the case styled Searcy County Court Case No.: CO-19-1.  Replaces Judge Jim Harness, who has disqualified himself from the case.

SENATE PASSES BOOZMAN-SUPPORTED RESOLUTION HONORING JUNETEENTH
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) praised Senate passage of a resolution designating June 19, 2020, as “Juneteenth Independence Day'” in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which Union General Gordon Granger brought the news of emancipation to Texas. Boozman, a cosponsor of the resolution, released the following statement in celebration of Juneteenth.

“I’m pleased to join with Arkansans and all Americans to celebrate the anniversary of the welcome news of the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is a milestone in our nation’s history that brings us together to reflect on the struggles of the past and the challenges that remain in pursuit of equality. This day symbolizes hope, reminds us of the progress we’ve made, and represents opportunities we have to make a brighter future for all Americans.”

JUNE 18, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 18, 2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has increased by 322 to a total of 13,928. The number of active cases stands at 4,344. The hospitalizations have increased by nine to 226. The death toll in Arkansas due to the coronavirus has increased by 11 to 208. Of those 11 additional deaths, ten were in the age category of 65 and up. 
Governor Asa Hutchinson held his Thursday afternoon press conference at the U.S. Marshall's Museum in Fort Smith. Governor Hutchinson recognized the newly created Law Enforcement Task Force, which held its first ever meeting on Thursday at the Marshall's Museum. The Governor used the opportunity to announce that he has lifted earlier than scheduled his 30-day emergency order that he had imposed earlier due to the civil unrest that resulted in mobilizing parts of the National Guard. 

But back to COVID-19, Governor Hutchinson said he was extending the Public Health Emergency for another 45 days, and the Governor encouraged the importance of moving forward together as a state.

The Governor's comments were directed at the City of Fayetteville, which had passed a strict law earlier this week imposing the mandatory wearing of face coverings in public. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease expert, took the opportunity though to strongly encourage the wearing of face coverings in public for the safety of others and to help prevent the continued spread of the disease.

Again, there are now 13,928 total cases and 4,344 active cases of COVID-19 in the state of Arkansas. The death toll has now topped 200, with eleven additional deaths raising the total number of deaths to 208. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

SAU TECH PREPARES FOR FALL SEMESTER
Camden, AR-Since the middle of March when the COVID-19 restrictions started, SAU Tech has been adapting to the limitations and safety precautions recommended by the CDC and the State of Arkansas to keep both students and employees safe.

To address the impact of COVID-19 on daily operations, Dr. Jason Morrison assembled a Pandemic Task Force comprised of the College’s executive officers, deans, and directors. Morrison commented about the group saying, “This group has been at the forefront of moving forward to where we are in Phase II of reopening the campus, and I could not be prouder of a group of individuals. They have provided leadership and have made it their personal goal to ensure that that our staff and students are safe during this unusual time for our campus. ” The Pandemic Task Force is currently finalizing a document to be published on the College’s website that addresses all aspects of operations as they relate to preventing the spread of COVID-19 while still providing quality educational services.

As the College moves forward to the fall semester, with the first wave of student-athletes returning to campus on June 28, SAU Tech is implementing a comprehensive pandemic response plan. Part of the plan includes a partnership with the CABUN Clinic in Hampton, Arkansas. The Clinic is assisting with student health assessments and COVID-19 testing for the duration of the pandemic. Representatives from the Clinic met with the Pandemic Task Force on Tuesday, June 16, to review the College’s plans for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

The Southern Arkansas University System announced this week some changes to their fall schedule, most notably ending the semester at Thanksgiving break. SAU Tech will follow a similar academic schedule to reduce the risk of students going home for thanksgiving and returning to the campus with possible illnesses or exposures to the virus.

Students who were impacted by the precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and met the US Department of Education’s eligibility requirements have received a spring CARES Act payment from SAU Tech. Those who are continuing in classes this summer and into the fall will receive two more payments from the College out of the CARES Act funding. The College has also received CARES Act funding to assist in the implementation of virtual delivery of courses for the fall and to recoup some of the costs associated with moving the majority of the College’s classes online in March. The funding is restricted, and the College must account for all funds spent with reports back to the US Department of Education. More information about SAU Tech’s CARES Act funding is available at www.sautech.edu/cares.

Morrison says he is confident that the College will continue the training necessary to provide skilled graduates for the College’s workforce partners and to provide transfer students with a holistic college experience while following the CDC’s guidelines for a safe campus. The National Junior College Athletic Association is expected to announce its guidelines for resuming athletics on June 19. SAU Tech will share that information with the public once it becomes available.

For updates related to COVID-19 preparation and procedures at SAU Tech, go to www.sautech.edu/cv. The College’s updated academic calendar can be found at https://mycollege.sautech.edu/ics.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF CODING COMPETITION 
LITTLE ROCK — After multiple rounds of competition on the regional and state levels, students from the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale were named winners of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s All-State Coding Competition. Due to COVID-19, Hutchinson announced the winners via a video, which is available at https://youtu.be/1ImZZAAIcys.

As winners, James Cassady, Benjamin Easterling, and Lucas Kellar will receive 529 College Savings Plan scholarships totaling $2,000, each. Owen Bell, Julian Sanker, and Ganer Whitmire from Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville placed second, and each will receive $1,000 scholarships deposited into 529 plans. The third-place team of Tyler Lacroix, Ethan Peck, and Addison Zheng from Cabot High School will each receive 529 College Savings Plan scholarships of $500. In addition to these individual scholarships, the schools that sponsored the winning teams will be awarded $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000, respectively, to support their computer science programs.

A total of 135 teams from across the state first participated in 15 competitions held regionally. The top 16 teams from the regional competitions, along with a team from last year’s first-place school, competed in the All-State Competition that was held virtually on May 2.

Verizon, a four-year sponsor, donated $50,000 to ARCodeKids to support the competition this year. The company announced it would also contribute $35,000 to sponsor next year’s competition, bringing Verizon’s five-year commitment to $225,000.00.

"We could not be more impressed with the talent shown in this year's competition,” Dave Wengel, co-founder of ARCodeKids, said. “Once again Verizon has shown a commitment to support our state's computer science education efforts, and these students are the real winners because of it."

To learn more about Arkansas’ Computer Science Initiative, visit http://bit.ly/ARKidsCanCode.

FCC ISSUES $10,000 FINE IN ARKANSAS PIRATE CASE
Says Gerald Sutton claimed Communications Act does not apply to him
From RadioWorld
BY Paul McLane
PUBLISHED: JUNE 18, 2020
An Arkansas man must pay $10,000 for alleged illegal broadcasting, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Gerald Sutton has been directed to pay within 30 days, after which the FCC says his case may be referred to the Justice Department.

The investigation began in summer of 2018 when the FCC says it received a complaint about an unauthorized FM station in Alma, Ark. It says an agent subsequently observed a signal on 103.1 MHz, traced it to an address in Alma and found that it exceeded allowable limits under Part 15 of the rules. An agent identified Gerald Sutton as the operator, said he refused an inspection, and said the signal disappeared after the agent’s arrival but was turned on again later.

According to the commission summary, Sutton subsequently wrote to the FCC at the end of 2018 to say that the federal Communications Act did not apply to him.

The Enforcement Bureau issued a notice of apparent liability against Sutton in August 2019, and now says he never replied to it.

“Pirate radio stations undermine the commission’s primary mission to manage radio spectrum,” wrote Ronald Ramage, acting field director of the Enforcement Bureau, summarizing the commission’s longstanding stance on this issue.

“Such illegal operations can interfere with licensed communications, including authorized broadcasts and communications by public safety entities. Moreover, such illegal operations pose a danger to the public because they interfere with licensed stations that inform their listeners of important public safety messages, including Emergency Alert System transmissions that provide vital information regarding weather and other dangers to the public.”

ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCE 2019-2020 AWARDS
2019-2020 Arkansas Bar Association President Brian Rosenthal selected the following association members as award recipients for their outstanding work and service to the Association. The awards were presented virtually during the association’s annual conference on June 10.
Presidential Awards of Excellence:
Maggie Benson, Littler Mendelson, Fayetteville, for work as Public Service Academy Co-Chair.
Nikolai DiPippa, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, for work with the Public Service
Academy.
Joe F. Kolb, j. kolb, Little Rock, for work as Treasurer and Annual Meeting Co-Chair.
Nathan C. Looney, Arkansas Children’s Foundation, Little Rock, for work as Public Service Academy Co-Chair.
Dean Skip Rutherford, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, for work with the Public
Service Academy.
Aaron L. Squyres, Wilson & Associates, PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Parliamentarian and Chair of the Bylaws Redrafting Committee.
Golden Gavel Awards:
Speaker Matthew J. Shepherd, Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, State Representative, District 6, Law Offices Shepherd & Shepherd, P.A., El Dorado, for Leadership and work on the Steering Committee of the Public Service Academy
Kandice A. Bell, Office of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, White Hall, for work as Co-Chair of the Disaster Preparedness Task Force.
Howard W. Brill, School of Law, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, for work as Steering Committee member and Speaker in the Public Service Academy.
Beverly I. Brister, The Brister Firm, Benton, for work as Chair, Law Related Education Committee

Judge Earnest E. Brown, Jr., Circuit Judge, Pine Bluff, Judicial District: 11th West, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties, for work
on the Steering Committee of the Public Service Academy.
Tim Cullen, Cullen & Co., PLLC, Little Rock, for work on  Legislative Drafting and Constitutional Research.
Representative Carol Dalby, State Representative, District 1, Texarkana, for Leadership and Service to the Association.
Bob Edwards, The Edwards Firm, PLLC, Little Rock, for work on association sponsorship.
Bob Estes, Law Office of Bob Estes, Fayetteville, for work as Chair, Redistricting Task Force.
Julie DeWoody Greathouse, PPGMR Law, PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Emeritus Attorney Rule.
Heide Harrell, Director of Marketing & Business Development, Rose Law Firm, Little Rock, for work as Marketing Advisor, Branding Task Force.
Heather Haywood, APR, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodard, P.L.L.C., Little Rock, for work as Marketing Advisor, Branding Task Force.
Glen Hoggard, Hoggard Law Firm, North Little Rock, for work as Secretary.
Chris Hussein, Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., Springdale, for work as Interim Young Lawyer Section Chair.
Jamie Huffman Jones, Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, Little Rock, for work as Co-Chair, 

Jurisprudence and Law Reform Committee.
Sarah C. Jewell, McMath Woods P.A., Fayetteville, for work as Mid-Year Planner.
Sean T. Keith, Keith Law Group, Rogers, for work as Co-Chair,  Jurisprudence and Law

Reform Committee.
Cindy Kolb, Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C., Little Rock, for work as Co-Chair, Annual Meeting.
Jeffrey E. McKinley, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Branding Task Force.
J. Cliff McKinney II, Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, Little Rock, for work as Chair, Legal  Hall of Fame Task Force.
Anthony L. McMullen, Associate Professor of Business Law, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, for work as Chair, Mock Trial Committee.
Regan Gruber Moffitt, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Little Rock, for work on the New Student Initiative.

G. S. Brant Perkins, The Perkins Law Firm, P.A., Jonesboro, for work as Chair, Constitution

Information Advancement Committee.
Jordan Bates-Rogers, Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, Little Rock, for work on

Emeritus Rule Drafting.
Scott C. Trotter, Trotter Law Firm PLLC, Little Rock, for work in Legislative Drafting and

Constitutional Research.
Samantha Vital, The Herrera Law Group, Rogers, for work as Co-Chair, Disaster Preparedness Task Force

 

20TH ANNUAL STAR SPANGLED SPECTACULAR AT THE CAMDEN AIRPORT IN CAMDEN, AR
Join us at the Camden Municipal Airport on Saturday, July 4th for the 20th annual Star Spangled Spectacular. Enjoy the evening with great musical acts ending with the largest professional fireworks Display in South Arkansas.

This year’s event is brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden & Ouachita County Ministerial Alliance, Camden A & P Commission and local business and industry.

The evening will start with local talent from the McKelvin Brothers kicking off at 6:30PM, they will be joined at 7PM by Shanna Dorey for the singing of the National Anthem, followed by The Voice contestant L. B. Crew ending the evening the headliner, America’s Got Talent winner Kris Allen. There will be special parking and recognizing of local veterans (past and those presently serving).

COVID-19 guidelines will bring some changes to this year’s event. Due to guidelines this year’s show will not have inflatables for the kids or concessions. Event attendees are encouraged to bring your own drinks and snacks. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit by your vehicles as you enjoy this year’s event.

This year will bring a larger professional fireworks display for your enjoyment. Come on out to the Camden Municipal Airport to enjoy a very special evening of entertainment.

Brought to you by Title Sponsor Aerojet Rocketdyne, Camden A&P Commission and local business and industries.

Contact:
Charlotte Young
Call or Text: 870-807-1468
charlotte@jcproductions.tv
explorecamden.com

 

LA BODEGA MEAT LLC RECALLS BEEF PRODUCTS DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT BENEFIT OF IMPORT RE-INSPECTION
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2020, La Bodega Meat LLC, a Farmers Branch, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 83,038 pounds of raw beef products that were not presented for import re-inspection into the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The various raw beef items were imported on June 2 and June 3, 2020. The following products are subject to recall:

51.90-lb. boxes containing various cuts of beef, including:
“Boneless Ribeye Roll”
“Flank Steak”
“Fresh Boneless Brisket”
“Fresh Eye Of Round”
“Fresh Flap Meat”
“Fresh Inside Skirt”
“Fresh Outside Round”
“Fresh Top Sirloin”
“Inside Round”
“Outside Skirt”
“Peeled Knuckle”
“Shoulder Clod”

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “ESTABLISHMENT 5” inside the foreign mark of inspection. The boxes also contain shipping marks 0671-20 or 0627-20. These items were shipped to distributor locations in Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas for food service and retail sales. Product at the retail level will not have any unique identifying labels.

The problem was discovered during routine FSIS surveillance activities of imported products.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.  

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in distributors’, retailers’ and consumers’ refrigerators or freezers. Distributors in possession of these products are urged not to further distribute them. Retailers who have obtained these products are urged not to sell them. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

Consumers and members of the media with questions about the recall can contact Jose Torres, Director, La Bodega Meat LLC at (214) 402-4966.
Consumers with food safety questions can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or live chat via Ask USDA from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Consumers can also browse food safety messages at Ask USDA or send a question via email to MPHotline@usda.gov. For consumers that need to report a problem with a meat, poultry, or egg product, the online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at https://foodcomplaint.fsis.usda.gov/eCCF/

 

RUTLEDGE ALLOCATES OVER $2 MILLION TO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY FOR CRIME VICTIMS
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the allocation of $2.1 million from the Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund to the Department of Public Safety for the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program. The funds for the program will be used by the Crime Victims Reparation Board to compensate victims and family members of victims of violent crimes as well as ensuring forensic tests can be completed.

“Life is precious and it is tragic that a program like this is necessary,” said General Rutledge. “Arkansas families need to know they will be taken care of even after a violent crime has happened to a loved one.”

“I am deeply grateful to our Attorney General for her compassion to make sure that our child and youth victims of crime get the necessary expert medical forensic exams and lab work to aid not only their legal cases, but to assure them of their well-being and wholeness to start the healing of their hearts and souls,” said Arkansas’s First Lady Susan Hutchinson.

“As a law enforcement officer, I’ve seen first-hand, the hopelessness left in the eyes of people who were victims of a criminal act and even though justice was meted out, the victims are left to rebuild their lives. All too often, these victims are our precious children,” said Secretary Jami Cook. “The Children’s Advocacy Centers provide an invaluable service in the pursuit of justice for our young victims. The compassionate allotment from Attorney General Rutledge will ensure the Crime Victims Reparations Board can help restore some small degree of hope to those who did nothing wrong.”

The Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Program was transferred in the Governor’s reorganization to the Department of Public Safety and was previously administered by the Office of Attorney General until 2019. The program provides financial compensation to victims and family members who have suffered personal injury or
death as the result of violent crime.

For more information contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8983 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DENISON TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CALLING IN BOMB THREAT TO THE MENA POST OFFICE AND FOR SETTING FIRE TO A MENA BUSINESS
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Samuel Green, age 26, of Denison, Texas, was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $145,272.25 in restitution on one count of Making Willful Threat by Mail or Telephone and one count of  Maliciously Damaging and Destroying or Attempting to Damage and Destroy Real or Personal Property. The Honorable Judge P. K. Holmes III presided over the sentencing hearing today in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.

In the early morning hours of August 3, 2019, the Mena Police Department received a telephone call on its non-emergency phone line there was a bomb in one of the Postal Service vehicles at the Mena Post Office and when someone opens the door of the vehicle, it will blow up. Mena police officers responded to the Mena Post Office and while they were investigating, one of the officers noticed a fire had been set in the "Just for Kids" resale store located across the street of the post office. Police officers called the fire department, which were able to put out the fire after substantial damage to the building and its contents had occurred. At all relevant times, the resale store was operated by the Polk County Developmental Center which is a nonprofit corporation and the proceeds from the resale store were and are used to provide services for individuals with disabilities. During the investigation, officers were able to identify Green as being the caller and were able to trace the phone back to a hotel room in Mena that had been registered in Green’s name. Officers were able to locate and interview Green.  During the interview, Green admitted to calling in the bomb threat and to setting the business on fire.

Green was indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2020 and entered a guilty plea in February 2020.

This case was investigated by the Mena Police Department, Mena Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, United States Postal Service, ATF and the Fort Smith Bomb Squad. Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hawkins prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

SAAC WELCOMES HELENE LAMBERT AS JUDGE FOR JULY'S EXHIBITION OF QUARANTINE ART 
Local artist and retired art educator Helene Lambert will serve as judge for an upcoming exhibit and competition at the South Arkansas Arts Center. "Under Quarantine: Art During Unprecedented Circumstances" is an open-invitation, no-fee event which provides our community an outlet to share their results of creative expression while under quarantine. The artwork will be on display July 1-28.
"We have been anticipating this exhibition since the beginning of the quarantine process, and it's exciting and intriguing to see the work that has been created by South Arkansas' creative community during this strange period in our history," said SAAC executive director Laura Allen. "Helene has served on our Visual Arts committee for several years, and we are thrilled to bring her expertise to the judging of this exhibit."
Any artist age 18 and up is eligible to participate. Art is accepted in any medium, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional work will both be accepted. Artists may enter one or two pieces of artwork created while working at home during the quarantine, started on or after March 14, and completed by the delivery date. SAAC requests artwork to be preregistered through the "Under Quarantine" portal on the website, saac-arts.org, then deliver the work to SAAC by June 29.
Lambert recently retired after teaching art for 34 years in Union County, including "31 wonderful years" at Barton Junior High School in El Dorado. Upon retirement, she received the El Dorado Education Foundation Middle/Junior High School Teacher of the Year Award. Lambert attended school in Hampton and received her BSE at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff where she studied art under the notable Henri Linton and Terrance Corbin.
Lambert's studio in Hampton is where she experiments with what she calls "free range art." She said, "I am on a mission to find myself and paint what I feel. I love what I do-whatever it is-because all of my works are sketches in pursuit of happiness." Lambert currently works with Arts Integration Services and is Arts In Education (AIE) teaching artist.
Gallery manager Kelly Campbell said about the exhibition idea, "A friend of mine called me on the first Saturday that we went into ‘quarantine' with the idea for this exhibit, and the idea of a competition came at the very end of our conversation. She was so excited about the possibility of artists who could share the art they were creating during these strange times, and I just jumped right in there with her."
Prizes are: Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize.
Visit saac-arts.org/artist-exhibit-entry-form/ to enter artwork in the exhibit. For more information on this competition, please email Campbell at kelly@saac-arts.org, or call SAAC at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON INTRODUCTION OF JUSTICE ACT
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the introduction of the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act:

“The anger and frustration brought on by the horrific deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of those charged with protecting the public have pointed a spotlight on the need for reform.

President Trump took the first step by signing an executive order that directs more attention and resources toward best practices in police training, recruiting and community engagement. The introduction of the JUSTICE Act builds on that idea.

I appreciate the exhaustive effort my colleague Tim Scott put into crafting this bill. Senator Scott has personally experienced instances of abuse, but he also emphasizes the important role of law enforcement in our society and rejects the false choice between supporting police officers or supporting communities of color. He is well suited to lead the Senate’s attempt to propose meaningful reforms.

His work has produced a bill that focuses on training and tactics that lead to the de-escalation of force, accountability for instances of officer misconduct and greater public transparency within the criminal justice system.

With the exception of those parroting extreme ‘abolish the police’ talking points, members of both parties, in each chamber, are closer than most realize on these issues. There is a consensus that reforms that promote transparency, accountability and procedures that lead to safer interactions between officers and the community are the key to real reform.

The vast majority of officers are good, honest individuals who provide a valuable service. We can help foster better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve through proper reform. That is why I am a cosponsor of this legislation.

I am optimistic my colleagues across the aisle will vote to move this bill to the floor for debate. I expect and welcome a thorough and honest discussion during floor consideration. The American people deserve that much.”
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF HISTORIC PUBLIC LANDS CONSERVATION BILL WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting in support of the Senate-passed Great American Outdoors Act, historic legislation that will support investment in the conservation and preservation of public lands: 

“The Great American Outdoors Act ensures America’s national treasures will continue thriving for future generations to enjoy. This landmark legislation allows us to conserve and preserve public lands and support the pastimes of Arkansas hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Natural State residents are proud of the resources in our backyard that bond us to nature, attract visitors from around the world and support economic growth. Passage of this legislation brings us one step closer to ensuring that we can experience these resources for years to come,” Boozman said. 

The Great American Outdoors Act invests in the repair of national parks and public lands infrastructure, and protects and provides future recreational access by permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

The LWCF has been used to improve public access and protect Arkansas federal recreation areas like the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, and the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. The LWCF also provides grants to states to develop parks and other recreation areas. The Department of the Interior reports that funding has been provided to every county in the country since the program was established in 1965.

The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

JUNE 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 17, 2020
Family members of residents in Long Term care facilities will now be able to see their loved ones in person as Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced visitation to nursing homes will be permitted in Arkansas on July 1st. The announcement came during the Governor's daily COVID-19 press conference Wednesday.

The decision comes with many requirements, as Governor Hutchinson says nursing home visitors will be required to wear masks and make visitation appointments in advance. Space will be sanitized between each visit. Other requirements include a maximum of 2 visitors per resident, masks are to be worn. Guidance also includes expanding activities, beauty salons for residents and communal dining. If cases are present, facilities will work with AD Hans will have to close again before re-opening again for families to visit.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health announced the COVID-19 case update and reported that the total number of documented Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 13,606. Of the total cases, 4,413 are considered active and 8,996 people have recovered. Hospitalizations in the state have increased to 217 with 53 of those patients on a ventilator at this time. The death toll by COVID-19 in Arkansas has reached 197.

Jerry Sharum of the Department of Human Services oversees the long term care division, and during Wednesday's press conference he reported that the department has been focusing on making sure facilities have been compliant with COVID-19 safety protocol and also conducting infection control studies over the last three months.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 13,606. Of the total cases, 4,413 are considered active, and 8,996 people have recovered. Hospitalizations in the state have increased to 217, with 53 of those patients on a ventilator at this time. The death toll by COVID-19 in Arkansas has reached 197. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

CRASH CLAIMS LIVES OF TWO HAMPTON RESIDENTS
At about 1:00 am Monday morning a single vehicle accident claimed the lives of two Hampton residents. The driver, Jody L Ream, was traveling southbound on state highway 275 near Banks in Bradley County. Ream failed to negotiate a right-hand curve.  The 2000 Mercury traveled across the center of the roadway through the opposite traffic lane exiting the roadway and entered the northbound ditch. The front of the vehicle made an impact with a tree where it came to rest against the tree.  Erin Minks was a passenger in the car. Both Ream and Minks lost their lives in the crash.

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY SETS COMMENCEMENT DATES
MAGNOLIA – To honor the hard-won achievements of its May and August 2020 graduates, Southern Arkansas University announced that it will hold Summer Commencement ceremonies at Wilkins Stadium on August 7 and August 8 with some special considerations for gathering.

The time schedules for each college will be as follows:

Friday, August 7, 2020
8:30 a.m. College of Liberal Performing Arts
11 a.m. College of Education
7:30 p.m. School of Graduate Studies

Saturday, August 8, 2020
8:30 a.m. College of Science and Engineering
7:30 p.m. College of Business

A commencement and pinning ceremony for graduates of the Department of Nursing will be held at Story Arena at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 8.

As SAU will follow guidelines issued by the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Health, every attendee over the age of 10 will be required to wear face coverings, and social distancing procedures will be observed. Seating areas will be marked for use, and extensive cleaning procedures will be observed between ceremonies.
Following state COVID-19 guidelines for attendee limit, a ticket will be required for entry.

Each graduate can receive a maximum of eight tickets with individual seating information denoted on each ticket. Further information for graduates will be provided by the Office of the Registrar.

“We are excited to bring our graduates back to campus for these Commencement ceremonies,” said Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU. “Having commencement in Wilkins Stadium will provide a safe and healthy environment for families and students as we celebrate their achievements.”

Caps and gowns will arrive on or around July 27, and graduates may pick them up at the SAU Bookstore. Prior to each ceremony they may be picked up at the track under the SAU tent. 

In case of inclement weather all ceremonies will be moved to Story Arena.
 

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 6 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Dylan Lee Hooks, age 24, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced June 15, 2020 to a total of 77 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance that Contained Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the fall of 2019, Detectives with the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force launched an investigation into Hooks for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  In September of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Hooks.

Hooks was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in February of 2020. 

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville and the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE SUES JIM BAKKER FOR PEDDLING COLLOIDAL SILVER PRODUCTS TO CURE COVID-19
Arkansas Consumers have purchased over $60,000 on silver products for false COVID-19 cures
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a lawsuit against Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show, as well as Jim Bakker and Sherrill Sellman, for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Jim Bakker has exploited Arkansas consumers by leveraging COVID-19 fears to sell over $60,000 worth of their products that do nothing to fight the virus,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”

Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.

In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.

Rutledge is seeking restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Violations of the ADTPA may be assessed with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

Rutledge is urging all consumers who have purchased products from Bakker or Sellman to contact the office immediately at (800) 482- 8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

COURTHOUSE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION RESTORATION GRANTS
Ouachita, Dallas, Nevada and Bradley Counties Included
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program announces the fiscal year 2021 Courthouse and Historic Preservation Restoration Grants. 

“The work of preserving historic structures across Arkansas is a duty we take seriously at Arkansas Heritage,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of Heritage. “I admire and appreciate the work from the applicants, their committees and teams of experts, and our grant selection committee. Every year we not only look forward to awarding this money but seeing the progress photos and reports that come into our office. The real winners in all of this are the citizens of our state.”

The County Courthouse Restoration Grant is an annual grant that has been in existence since 1988. It is funded primarily by an annual grant to the AHPP by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) using Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) funds. The purpose of the County Courthouse Restoration Grant program is to encourage and promote the preservation and continued use of Arkansas’s historic courthouses by providing financial assistance for restoration, selected maintenance and accessibility projects.

This year, $1,671,349 in grant funding was given out to 16 worthy recipients who completed applications for consideration.

The courthouse recipients, the proposed projects and award amounts are:
Arkansas County, Stuttgart, ADA ramp installation, $61,664
Bradley County, Warren, clock tower roof/cupola restoration, $85,000
Carroll County, Berryville, condition assessment report, $13,750
Chicot County, Lake Village, water drainage system exploration, $22,150
Clay County, Piggott, roof replacement, $222,660
Conway County, Morrilton, replace entry doors, $67,318
Dallas County, Fordyce, cornice repair, $80,250
Franklin County, Ozark, masonry pointing and repairs (parapet courses), $175,000
Hot Spring County, Malvern, 100% repoint masonry, $222,900
Lee County, Marianna, roof replacement, $108,000
Miller County, Texarkana, roof - phase 2, $216,653
Ouachita County, Camden, clock tower restoration, $90,500
Poinsett County, Harrisburg, masonry cornice repairs, $70,686
Polk County, Mena, HVAC and steel window restoration, $142,310
Prairie County, DeValls Bluff, roof replacement and soffit repairs, $60,113
Woodruff County, Augusta, repair lobby floor over abandoned staircase, $32,395

The purpose of the Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant program is to encourage and promote preservation of Arkansas’s historic resources by providing financial assistance for restoration of historic properties. The program is financed through proceeds of the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

This year, $796,460 in grant funding was given out to 22 deserving applicants. The amount of funding fluctuates each year depending on the taxes collected.

The Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant recipients, the proposed projects and award amounts are:
Conway County, Morrilton, Big Cuppa, LLC, restore window - 205 Broadway, $8,950
Pulaski County, Little Rock, Pulaski, Jane E. Anderson, remove artificial siding and restore original siding - 404 Louise St, $10,000
Clark County, Arkadelphia, City of Arkadelphia, replace tile roof – depot, $70,700
Prairie County, Hazen, City of Hazen, masonry pointing, wood repair and painting - Rock Island Depot, $44,897
Polk County, Mena, City of Mena, ADA restroom - Mena Depot, $13,487
Drew County, Monticello, City of Monticello, capstone repair and masonry pointing - Monticello Post Office, $63,317
Mississippi County, Osceola, City of Osceola, fire damage repairs - Old Post Office/City Hall, $22,000
White County, Searcy, City of Searcy, replace roof - American Legion Hut #106, $60,000
Washington County, Springdale, City of Springdale, replace roof and repair soffits - Rabbits Foot Lodge, $62,238
Monroe County, Clarendon, Clarendon First United Methodist Church, roof and stained glass window repairs, $19,998
Nevada County, Emmet, Emmet United Methodist Church, roof replacement, $37,775
Carroll County, Eureka Springs, Eureka Springs Historical Museum, repair chimneys, roof & windows, selective masonry pointing, $14,836
Baxter County, Galatia, Galatia Community Building Inc., roof replacement and siding repairs, $32,200
Ashley County, Hamburg, Hamburg First United Methodist Church, reset limestone capstones and masonry pointing, $27,178
Carroll County, Eureka Springs, Heart of Many Ways, replace roof - former First Church of Christ Scientist, $20,000
Newton County, Jasper, Newton County, replace roof - former Newton County Jail, $26,667
Crawford County, Winslow, Ozark Folkways, exterior repairs and restoration - Muxen Building, $17,575
Boone County, Paris, Paris First United Methodist Church, restore entrance steps and preservation plan, $57,455
Garland County, Hot Springs, People Helping Others Excel By Example (P.H.O.E.B.E.), continue masonry and replace low slope roof(s) - John L Webb House, $78,251
Sebastian County, Fort Smith, St. John's Episcopal Church, restore stained glass window, $42,644

Independence County, Batesville, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, roof repair, $58,240
Nevada County, Moscow, Nevada County Depot & Museum, monument restoration - Moscow Cemetery, $8,052

To learn more about the application process for AHPP awarded grants, visit  http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Funding/grants-programs. For more information about Courthouse and Historic Preservation Restoration Grants, please contact Joia Burton, Grants Administrator, at 501.324.9883. 
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.  

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, June 18th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Robyn Yarbro General Manager at the Camden News. She will talk about the Camden News 100th Anniversary.   

You are required to wear a mask while entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one you be will provided with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you’ll sign in and report your temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
 

MEMBERS OF ARKANSAS DELEGATION ANNOUNCE $40 MILLION DOT AWARD FOR US 67 UPGRADES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford and French Hill—announced the Arkansas Department of Transportation will be awarded $40 million to reconstruct and improve two sections of US 67 northeast of Little Rock.

The project will widen US 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

“Arkansas has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make Highway 67 an interstate-quality road. This major award from the Department of Transportation will help facilitate the ongoing upgrade of Highway 67 to meet interstate requirements. Completion of this project is key to encouraging economic development in neighboring communities,” said Boozman, who authored the language to designate the portion of Highway 67, from North Little Rock to Walnut Ridge, as “Future I-57.”

“An interstate-quality road system enables faster movement of people and goods—an important asset for any community. This important investment from the Department of Transportation will make the towns of northeast Arkansas even more attractive places to live, work, or start a business. I worked hard to help secure this grant for the Natural State, and I’m pleased that the administration is keeping its promise to invest in rural America,” Cotton said.

“This INFRA grant puts us one step closer to I-57. This grant is the latest in a series of Federal investments in Arkansas and I applaud Secretary Chao’s leadership in ensuring rural America is included in the national infrastructure conversation,” Crawford said.

“This major grant from the DOT will go a long-ways towards improving Highway 67. The ‘Future I-57’ will enhance economic opportunities in communities throughout central Arkansas by promoting commerce and encouraging job growth. Improving infrastructure throughout the state helps all Arkansans and will bring more visitors in to enjoy our Natural State,” said Hill.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao noted that this grant was part of a larger announcement to fund critical surface transportation projects across the nation.

“This Administration is focused on infrastructure improvements and this $906 million in federal funding would improve major highways, bridges, ports, and railroads across the country to better connect our communities, enhance safety and support economic growth,” said Secretary Chao.

 
 
 

June 16, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 16, 2020
COVID-19 continues to rise in Arkansas as the total reported cases in the state has now reached 13,191. According to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, the number of cases reported during Tuesday's COVID-19 update was an increase of 274 from the previous day.

Hospitalizations have also increased in the state as the number of patients admitted to Arkansas medical centers for treatment of the virus is up eight from Monday to Tuesday, with a total of 214. The state death count by COVID-19 has reached 188.

As previously reported, Governor Hutchinson announced a goal to conduct 120,000 tests for COVID-19 among residents across the state throughout the month of June. With more than 4,000 additional tests conducted in the last 24 hours, officials report the state is on track to meet that goal. Since testing for the virus began in the early stages of the pandemic on March 11th, a total of more than 208,000 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted throughout the state.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha attended the press conference Tuesday to provide a breakdown of the rates at which each age group in Arkansas has been contracting COVID-19. According to Dillaha, Arkansans age 25-44 have the highest case rates for the state with 38%:

Arkansas Economic Development Director Mike Preston spoke at the press conference to provide an update on the financial front for the state. In a report of good news, Preston says the number of those filing for unemployment numbers has steadily decreased over the last four weeks.

Again, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 13,191.  The number of cases reported during Tuesday's COVID-19 update was an increase of 274 from the previous day. Hospitalizations have also increased as the number of patients admitted to Arkansas medical centers for treatment of the virus is up eight from Monday to Tuesday, with a total of 214. The state death count by COVID-19 has reached 188. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

NEW ADDITIONS TO MAIN STREET ARKANSAS 
LITTLE ROCK— Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is pleased to welcome several new Downtown Network programs and one new Main Street to the Main Street Arkansas program.  

Having completed all the requirements, Calico Rock, Camden and Lonoke are new Arkansas Downtown Network programs. Main Street Paris moved up from Network status to designated Main Street this spring after completing the annual Main Street University course. 

“We are delighted to add Paris to our roster of outstanding Main Street programs,” said Scott Kaufman, director of AHPP. “Downtown Network Communities are stepping stones to becoming designated Main Street programs. These programs play an important role in the revitalization of historic downtowns.” 

Paris joins the following Main Street programs:  
Argenta Downtown Council (North Little Rock) 
Main Street Batesville 
Main Street Blytheville 
Conway Downtown Partnership 
Main Street Dumas 
Main Street El Dorado 
Main Street Eureka Springs 
64.6 Downtown (Fort Smith) 
Main Street Helena 
Downtown Jonesboro Alliance  
Downtown Little Rock Partnership 
SoMa 501(South Main Little Rock) 
Main Street Osceola 
Main Street Ozark 
Main Street Paragould 
Pine Bluff Downtown Development 
Main Street Russellville 
Main Street Searcy 
Main Street Siloam Springs 
Main Street Texarkana 
Main Street West Memphis 

Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas's traditional commercial areas.  

The Main Street Arkansas team works closely with the 22 local Main Street programs and 18 Downtown Network Communities across the state. Main Street Arkansas staff members include: Greg Phillips, director; Susan Shaddox, interior design consultant; Hannah Ratzlaff, exterior design consultant; and Mark Miller, small business consultant. Main Street focuses on a four point approach as laid out by Main Street America which centers on Economic Vitality, Design, Promotion and Organization. 
 
Learn more about Main Street Arkansas at https://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Programs/Main-Street-Arkansas/main-street-mission-history
 
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.   

 

COTTON BILL TO REWARD POLICE OFFICERS EXEMPLIFYING BEST PRACTICES
Washington, D.C.— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced a bill that would recognize and reward state, local, and tribal police officers who exemplify the very best policing. The Better Community Policing Recognition Act would establish a $5 million annual fund for the Department of Justice to administer, choosing the best nominees from approximately 18,000 police departments nationwide.
Officers eligible for these rewards would be those who either exemplify best practices, innovate to reduce the excessive use of force, or improve community policing strategies. Those officers who excel in making their communities safer for everyone would be eligible for nomination by their local police department or by their state attorney general. Text of the bill may be found here.
“Police officers are being unfairly demonized across the country as calls for defunding departments grow, despite the fact that the vast majority of officers are selfless public servants who are already underfunded. It’s never been more important to recognize those officers who exemplify the best kind of policing. My bill will reward the policemen and women who are working hard to improve their service and win the public’s trust,” said Cotton.

BOOZMAN PRESSES FCC CHAIRMAN ON COLLABORATION WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES TO EXPAND RURAL BROADBAND
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continued his commitment to strengthening rural broadband and helping expand telehealth and distance learning opportunities.

In a hearing before the Senate Committee on Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, Boozman questioned Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on the level of collaboration among federal agencies as it relates to information about high-speed internet access and efforts to bring the service to more Americans

As more Americans are taking precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19, they are relying more on at-home broadband to connect to health providers and teachers, as well as for teleworking.

“Is there a formal working group that’s talking about how to share information?” Boozman asked.

While Chairman Pai said collaboration has been occurring, Boozman urged the FCC to create a formal way to share information in a reliable and timely manner given how quickly the work environment has changed this year.

Boozman is a founder and co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus. He is a cosponsor of critical legislation to expand broadband to rural areas that includes the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 and the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDERS ON MEDICAL IMMUNITY, BUSINESS LIABILITY, AND WORKERS COMPENSATION COVERAGE
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson issued executive orders today that clarify Workers Compensation Law during the public-health emergency, protect health care providers from liability, and exempt businesses from liability related to the spread of COVID-19.

“I want to thank the General Assembly for its leadership in securing support for limited immunity legislation and for requesting action by the executive order versus calling a special session during the pandemic.” Governor Hutchinson said. "I also want to thank Steuart Walton and the Economic Recovery Task Force for their work on these important issues." 

Executive Order 20-33 regarding employers and businesses orders that:
All businesses and their employees shall be immune from civil liablity as a result of exposure to COVID-19.
Immunity does not apply to willful, reckless or intentional misconduct.
A presumption that the actions are not willful or reckless if the business owner substantially complies with public health directives.
Immunity does not extend to worker compensation benefits.
Immunity is effective from today until the emergency is terminated.

Executive Order 20-34 regarding immunity for health care providers orders that:
Health care workers and providers are authorized to use crisis standards of care to respond to treat COVID-19 patients.
The health care providers as emergency workers are immune from civil liability.
Immunity does not extend to willful, reckless, or intentional misconduct.
Immunity is effective from today until the emergency is terminated.

Executive Order 20-35 regarding workers compensation coverage orders that:
Assures workers compensation coverage for employees. 
COVID-19 is considered an occupational disease under the law.
COVID-19 shall be an exception to prohibition on compensation for ordinary diseases of life.
There must be a causal connection between employment and the disease.
Extends during the public health emergency.

Executive Order 20-33 can be viewed here.
Executive Order 20-34 can be viewed here.
Executive Order 20-35 can be viewed here.

20 GUARDSMEN TO SUPPORT ADH WITH COVID-19 CASE MANAGEMENT
Medics from 77th CAB, 87th Troop Command, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade, MEDCOM
20 Guardsmen with the Arkansas National Guard will support the Arkansas Department of Health with COVID-19 case management.

By order of the Governor, the Arkansas National Guard has mobilized 20 Medic Guardsmen from the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, 87th Troop Command, 142nd Field Artillery Brigade and Medical Command

The Guardsmen will be assisting ADH from June 15th until July 1st at the Arkansas Department of Health, 4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, Ark.

 Arkansas National Guardsmen will assist the Arkansas Department of Health with COVID-19 positive case management in line with state and federal guidelines outlined by the designated ADH supervisor. They will report to ADH Tuesday, June 16.

In addition to the 20 called to duty yesterday, 11 Guardsmen are still providing the following support to state agencies. Six Guardsmen are providing logistics support to distribute personal protective equipment. Five Guardsmen are providing cemetery maintenance at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

 The Arkansas National Guard assumes support roles to augment civil authorities, where needed and directed by the Governor, to help in a crisis.

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES FALL SEMESTER TO BEGIN AUGUST 11
MAGNOLIA – In response to the COVID-19 situation, Southern Arkansas University has modified its calendar for Fall 2020. Classes will now begin Aug. 11, 2020, and end Nov. 20, 2020.

“We are truly excited to welcome our students back to campus,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU’s president. “Over the past few months we’ve heard from countless students about their eagerness to return to campus and resume their lives, their classes, and their relationships. We felt it would be prudent to start the semester early and to finish the semester before Thanksgiving to better assure the health and safety of our entire campus.”

Activities centered around the start of the fall semester are outlined below:
Wednesday, Aug. 5 – Saturday, Aug. 8 – Returning Students Move-in
Sunday Aug. 9 – New Student Move-in and Mulerider Roundup (Orientation) begins (register at  https://web.saumag.edu/orientation/mulerider-round-up)
Monday, Aug. 10 – Mulerider Roundup continues
Monday, Aug. 10 – Tuesday Aug. 11 - Late Registration and Advising
Tuesday, Aug. 11 – Classes begin
Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Last day of entrance and course additions
Monday, Sept. 7 – Labor Day (virtual class day)
Tuesday, Nov. 17 – Friday, Nov. 20 – Final Exams
Saturday, Nov. 21 – Fall Commencement

To better accommodate students and practice proper social distancing, move-in will occur over several days and allow only 10 students to move in every 30 minutes to each residence hall and apartment complex.

Students will receive a Move-In Packet through their SAU email which will include a link to reserve their housing move-in time. Due to the large number of people coming to campus during this time, students will be limited to two guests to assist them in the move-in process.

SAU will observe the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, Sept. 7. Virtual classes will meet on this date. There will be no fall break this year.
Final exams will begin Tuesday, Nov. 17, and the semester ends Friday, Nov. 20. Fall commencement will be Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, June 19, 2020 at
11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden, Arkansas.

LOTTERY SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO AUGUST 1
LITTLE ROCK, AR –The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has announced that the deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship has been extended to August 1 with modified eligibility requirements deemed necessary because of COVID-19.  

Unlike in prior years, students who have a sufficient number of hours and have earned satisfactory academic progress before March 27 are automatically eligible for the scholarship for the 2020 fall semester.

“COVID-19 greatly disrupted our educational processes, particularly in terms of in-person learning,” said Maria Markham, director of the Division of Higher Education. “We felt it necessary, therefore, to modify the requirements for those students who might have experienced a setback through no fault of their own.”

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery provides tuition assistance to traditional and non-traditional students attending universities and two-year colleges, public and private, in the state. Since its inception in 2009, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has raised more than $954 million in scholarship proceeds and awarded more than 542,000 scholarships to students.

“The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was started with the primary goal of helping Arkansas students realize their higher education goals,” said Bishop Woosley, director of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. “We have never deviated from that mission and are proud that more than 92 cents of every dollar raised through the sale of lottery tickets goes to scholarships, prizes, retailer commissions and other expenses.”

Traditional students must score at least 19 on the ACT to qualify for the scholarship. The latest ACT score accepted by Arkansas Department of Higher Education will be from the July testing. Students who have yet to achieve a score of 19 on the ACT may take the Accuplacer test remotely as a substitute.

Freshman students at four-year colleges receive $1,000 from the scholarship.  Second-and third-year students receive $4,000, and senior level students are awarded $5,000 per year. 

At two-year colleges, first-year students receive $1,000, while second-year students are awarded $3,000. To maintain eligibility, students must keep a 2.5 GPA.

Additionally, students seeking certification for high-demand occupations such as in healthcare and information technology may apply for the Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship, which is also funded by lottery revenue. Students must apply at least 30 days before enrolling in an eligible program.

Students may apply online for both scholarships at scholarships.ADHE.edu.
 

COTTON APPLAUDS KYLE HAUPTMAN’S NOMINATION TO NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION BOARD
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the nomination of Kyle Hauptman to be a member of the National Credit Union Administration Board.

Hauptman currently serves as Senator Cotton’s economic policy advisor and as the staff director of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy.

“Kyle Hauptman has been my trusted economic advisor since 2017. I congratulate Kyle and commend President Trump on the nomination. I regret to see Kyle go, but I know he will serve our country with distinction in this important role.”

JUNE 15, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 15, 2020
Monday's daily COVID-19 press conference update held by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson began with the signing of three executive orders involving workman's compensation benefits, Arkansas businesses liability, and healthcare workers across the state.

Governor Asa Hutchinson provided a breakdown of the three orders during Monday's press conference. The orders will be in effect for those whom are directly affected by the relevant information during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Hutchinson, the executive orders are effective as of June 15th but will be addressed again by the legislature in January. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that there would not be a Special Session of the Legislature. The Governor signed three Executive Orders during the briefing today, with the overwhelming support of the Legislature, to address things a Special Session would have dealt with. Covered by the Executive Orders: Immunity for heath care workers, immunity from civil liability for businesses and employees opening back up during the pandemic, and Workers Compensation coverage for employees who contract COVID-19 on the job. The Speaker of The House, President Pro Tempore, and other legislators were on hand for the signing and briefing.
The Governor also commended Walmart for the donation of 7,000 masks to residents across Northwest Arkansas this month.
A record number of COVID-19 tests were conducted in a single day period recently as well. Officials say 7,063 tests were conducted in the 24 hours prior to Monday's press conference.

As far as the case update goes, COVID-19 continues to rise in Arkansas as the total number of documented cases has now reached 12,917. There were 416 new cases reported today. There are reportedly 8,352 residents who have recovered from the illness, but the hospitalization number continues to rise. Officials say 206 patients are now hospitalized from COVID-19 in Arkansas, and the state death toll has reached 182. We'll continue to keep you updated with COVID-19 coverage, stay tuned.

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IS BACK!
Friday, June 19 • 4 PM – 6 PM
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR will hold the “Camden Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, June 19th from 4 PM till 6 PM on Jefferson St in downtown Camden.

Vendors will be on hand selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, honey, jam & jelly, baked goods and flowers. Jefferson St. will be turned into a one-way street for the market. Customers may enter Jefferson Street at the courthouse and head East to Adams Ave.

Be sure to watch the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR Facebook page to see which vendors will be present along with what items each one will have for sale on that evening.

Pricing will also be listed on the Facebook Page to assist customers in being prepared prior to getting to the market. Many vendors will also be taking pre-orders to make the purchasing go smoother.

Customers will not get out of their vehicles. They will simply pull up to any vendor they wish to purchase from and hand off will be made off from the vendor.
Watch the Facebook page for specials being offered from downtown businesses during the time of the farmer’s market.

Farmer’s Markets will be held on the 3rd Friday on the month. See you there!
For More Information:

Call or Text: 870-807-1468
email: firstfridaycamdenar@gmail.com
FirstFridayCamden.com
www.facebook.com/FirstFridayCamdenAR

GENERAL DYNAMICS, TODAY'S POWER PLAN MAJOR SOLAR PROJECTS IN CALHOUN COUNTY
There was a big announcement for Calhoun County today. General Dynamics has partnered up with with Today’s Power Inc. of Little Rock and Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. to build two solar power plants in Calhoun County. Between these two power plants over 4 million kilowatt-hours of sun power a year will be produced.

General Dynamics’ Ordnance & Tactical Systems is a global aerospace and defense company with major operations in East Camden, has signed a deal with Today’s Power for solar services and electricity from two 1-megawatt arrays to be built near General Dynamics’ facilities on two campuses near Little Caney Creek, along Highway 203 and County Road 15. Today’s Power, in a news release, said the power plants should be operational by the third quarter of this year. Construction is expected to start this month and end in August.

“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with TPI and OECC to expand our usage of renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint at the General Dynamics-OTS Calhoun County facility,” said Eric Ellis, vice president and general manager of precision systems for the defense contractor. Ellis’ remarks came in a prepared statement.

Ouachita Electric will lease and operate two on-site 2.4MW battery storage systems as part of the project, under an energy storage services agreement. The battery systems will store the electricity from the two solar arrays.

The project is the 10th major renewable energy project in and around Camden in recent years and is designed to mitigate part of OECC’s peak demand, said Mark Cayce, General Manager of Ouachita Electric. He said the project would help General Dynamics “lower their cost of operations while at the same time lowering costs for all members of our cooperative.” He called it “a great example of how industry and utilities can work together to protect the environment, lower cost, and improve the reliability of the electric grid.”

“It’s a pleasure working with one of the most innovative companies in the world,” Today’s Power President Michael Henderson said in the news release. “TPI is honored to work with General Dynamics-OTS to ensure our nation’s defense is operated with clean, sustainable energy.”

The contractor develops and manufactures munitions, weapons and tactic systems “to empower the United States armed forces and its allies,” the company says. Today’s Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. of Little Rock, the wholesale power co-op owned by the state’s 17 power distribution cooperatives, including OECC.

BOOZMAN CALLS FOR PAPERWORK RELIEF FOR PPP PARTICIPANTS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) signed a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza urging the administration to ease paperwork requirements for small businesses seeking loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The letter, signed by 44 senators, specifically requests the loan forgiveness application for loans under $250,000 be no longer than one page in length.

“While the Small Business Administrator was also given the ability to require additional documentation necessary to verify proper use of PPP funds, we believe it is beyond the program’s intent to require the information solicited in the 11-page forgiveness application that the SBA recently released,” senators wrote in the letter. 

More than 41,000 loans worth more than $3.2 billion have been approved for Arkansas small businesses through the PPP.

“Many of our constituents and the financial institutions who processed their PPP loan applications have reported that the existing forgiveness application will be difficult to complete and could cost business owners several thousand dollars in professional tax advice,” senators continued in the bipartisan letter.

The letter can be found here or below: 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza:

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been critical for helping small businesses remain viable and keeping Americans employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we would like to make you aware of a serious problem with the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application. We have received feedback from a number of businesses and lenders that the forgiveness application is difficult to understand and to complete. We ask that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) urgently revise the application so that it is no longer than one page for any loan under $250,000.

When Congress created the PPP, its purpose was clear: get immediate funding into the hands of small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic so their employees could stay on the payroll and maintain benefits and so that businesses could resume normal operations as soon as it was safe to do so. Given the innumerable challenges that small business owners face, PPP loans were designed to be forgiven to prevent small business owners from incurring additional debt, provided employees were kept on payroll.

The text of the CARES Act, which was approved unanimously by the Senate, specified three criteria that the PPP forgiveness application was required to include:

1.     Documentation verifying the number of full-time employees on payroll and their respective pay rates;

2.     Documentation verifying payment of mortgage, lease, and utility payments for which the business owner sought PPP funds; and

3.     A certification that the information presented in the forgiveness application is true and correct.

While the Small Business Administrator was also given the ability to require additional documentation necessary to verify proper use of PPP funds, we believe it is beyond the program’s intent to require the information solicited in the 11-page forgiveness application that the SBA recently released. We appreciate the interest in appropriately auditing the use of government money. However, the loan forgiveness application – which understandably needs more information for loans worth significantly more than $250,000 – is three times longer than the original application for the PPP. Many of our constituents and the financial institutions who processed their PPP loan applications have reported that the existing forgiveness application will be difficult to complete and could cost business owners several thousand dollars in professional tax advice.

The Administration’s intentions to scrutinize PPP loans above $2 million is an appropriate oversight of taxpayer resources. Failing to streamline the loan forgiveness application for loans that are worth a mere fraction of that will not only leave millions of small business owners without the relief that they were promised by Congress, but it will also introduce a needless complication to our nation’s economic recovery. 

We look forward to continuing to work with you and the Administration in supporting our country’s small businesses and their employees during this difficult time. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

 
 

JUNE 12, 2020

ARKANSAS DELEGATION SUPPORTS GOVERNOR'S REQUEST FOR MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATON FOR CRAIGHEAD COUNTY
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties due to extensive damage as a result of severe storms on April 12, 2020.“We believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation,” members wrote. 

The letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. President: 

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request to declare a major disaster, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act, as a result of severe storms and tornados which took place on April 12, 2020. 

Based on Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs), conducted by FEMA, at least 59 homes were destroyed with an additional 109 homes sustaining major damage. In total, over 531 homes were affected by the storms, of which an estimated 50% of the affected homes are uninsured. In total, eleven Arkansas counties sustained significant storm damage, leaving thousands without power for up to two weeks. Unfortunately, the eleven counties who sustained major storm damages have a total of 22.3% living below the poverty line.  

Simply put, we believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events, hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation.   

Arkansas is still recovering from historic flooding events that took place last year, and is currently dealing with the increasing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, Arkansas was in the midst of recovering from multiple disasters before COVID-19. Since January 2018 the state of Arkansans has had 13 Gubernatorial Declared disasters and numerous federally declared disasters. 

Recent Presidential Major Disaster Declarations for Arkansas

  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds (DR 4544) May 8, 2020
  • Arkansas COVID-19 (DR 4518) April 3, 2020
  • Arkansas COVID-19 (EM 3461) March 13, 2020 
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Straight-line winds, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4460) Sept. 13, 2019
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and flooding (DR 4441) May 29, 2019
    • Record breaking flooding along the Arkansas River that included EM 3414
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4318) April 26, 2017
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4270) March 08, 2016
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4254) Dec. 23, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4226) May 8, 2015
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4174) April 27, 2014
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4160) December 5, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms and Flooding (DR 4143) August 8, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4124) May 30, 2013
  • Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4100) December 25, 2012
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4000) May 24, 2011
  • Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 1975) April 14, 2011

Without the assistance of the Federal government, we fear the burden will be too much for the state of Arkansas to bear alone. As losses mount, the people of our great state hope the federal government will join in restoration efforts. Federal government resources are critical in the aftermath of these devastating events, and coordination between the federal government and state and local officials is crucial to begin the process of recovery and rebuilding. 

We are eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.
 

RUTLEDGE FILES COMPLAINT IN ONGOING ANTITRUST PRICE-FIXING INVESTIGATION INTO GENERIC DRUG INDUSTRY
Names 26 Corporate Defendants, 10 Individual Defendants in Conspiracy to Fix Prices and Allocate Markets for at least 80 Generic Topical Dermatological Drugs
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 51 states and jurisdictions in filing the third lawsuit stemming from the ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States. This new Complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The Complaint targets Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Perrigo, New York, Inc., and Sandoz Inc., along with 23 other corporate Defendants and 10 individual Defendants.

“Generic drug companies have been manipulating drug prices that directly harm Arkansans’ pocketbooks,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Drug prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to fraudulent agreements between generic drug companies and their competitors and this litigation will hold these companies accountable for their illegal collaboration to reap massive profits.”

The topical drugs at the center of the Complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies.

Between 2007 and 2014, three generic drug manufacturers, Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz) sold nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products dispensed in the United States. The multistate investigation has uncovered comprehensive, direct evidence of unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. Based on evidence gathered from a massive document database of over 20 million documents, phone records, and the cooperation of several witnesses, the Complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor, and to prevent “price erosion” due to competition.

The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.

The Complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General has referred to as possibly the largest domestic corporate cartel case in the history of the United States. The first Complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate Defendants, two individual Defendants, and 15 generic drugs. The second Complaint, also pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The Complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. The States are currently preparing for trial on that Complaint.

Rutledge joined attorneys generals in the lawsuit, led by Connecticut, from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin in filing the complaint.

 
 

Playlist

June 11, 2020

GOVERNOR’S HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 11, 2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state of Arkansas has now reached 10,816, This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Press Conference Update Thursday afternoon.

Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active, with 140 from nursing homes, 199 are sourced out of correctional facilities, and the remaining 2,955 linked to community spread.

There are currently 187 people who have been hospitalized with the illness, and 45 patients remain on ventilators at this time. The state death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now at 171, and 7,351 residents have reached recovery status.

As far as testing numbers go, the state is trending at 1,000 cases more than anticipated at this time, with a goal of conducting 120,000 tests throughout Arkansas in the month of June.

Officials acknowledged the top three counties in the state with the highest cases reported during Thursday's press conference as well. Washington, Benton and Pulaski counties were listed as areas with the most Coronavirus cases in Arkansas. According to Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health, 93% of the cases in the Northwest region are located in the city of Springdale.

The Center for Disease Control will be sending representatives into the Northwest Arkansas area Friday in order to assess the region's outbreak of the illness and to work with the community on containing the spread.

Governor Asa Hutchinson's main focal point of Thursday's news conference was education for Arkansans, as the "Arkansas Ready For Learning" initiative was unveiled. Hutchinson confirms that normal, on-site instruction, with internet curriculum to be implemented as needed is on the horizon for Arkansas students and educators.

To elaborate on the Arkansas Ready For Learning Plan, The Governor called upon Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, Deputy Commissioner of The Arkansas Department of Education, to speak on the outline of the plan for students this fall.
Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state of Arkansas has now reached 10,816. Of those cases, 3,294 are considered active, with 140 from nursing homes, 199 are sourced out of correctional facilities, with the remaining 2,955 linked to community spread.

There are currently 187 people who have been hospitalized with the illness, and 45 people remain on ventilators at this time. The state death toll from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now at 171, and 7,351 residents have reached recovery status.We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

LOCKHEED MARTIN AWARDED CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $1,042,250,000 modification (P00001) to contract W31P4Q-20-C-0023 for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment, and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing, and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles. Bids were solicited viamthe internet with one received. Work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; Grand Prairie, Texas; and Lufkin, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2024. Fiscal 2020 missile procurement, Army; and Foreign Military Sales (Bahrain, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates) funds in the amount of $1,042,250,000 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.

LIFESHARE BLOOD DRIVE SCHEDULED
There will be a Blood Drive sponsored by the Ouachita County Medical Center Wednesday, June 17th from 12:00 to 6:00 pm. The LifeShare Bus will be at the Express Clinic in Camden. Help control crowding by scheduling your appointment today! You may make an appointment at donor.lifeshare.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/212467. Donors will receive a LifeShare T-Shirt while supplies last. Contact Cathy Hailey at 870-836-1322 for more information. Help save lives!!!!



MULERIDER MARKET PROVIDING FREE FOOD AND PERSONAL ITEMS TO STUDENTS
MAGNOLIA -- In response to the extraordinary financial challenges faced by college students, those in need of food and/or personal items will find a valuable resource in the FREE Mulerider Market, located in the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the campus of Southern Arkansas University.

Macye Plunk, SAU + VISTA Campus & Community Engagement Fellow, said students are welcome to come directly to the counter (located in Reynolds 107A, next to the post office) and pick out items or they can submit a package request using the form on the Mulerider Market web page,  www.saumag.edu/mulerider-market.

Items can be picked up during operating hours. Students will receive an email notifying them when their package is ready for pickup.

According to Dr. Katherine Berry, SAU+VISTA Director, “Research tells us that many college students live in poverty and face persistent food shortages. When we realized the likely intersection of our high rate of Pell-eligible students and the current economic realities, we decided not to wait until Fall to open Mulerider Market.

“Our summer enrollments are holding strong, students live on campus and in Magnolia, and we had an idea-in-the-making to meet those needs now,” she said. “Trey and I are often asked in what small ways community members can connect with the needs of SAU students. Mulerider Market will be a wonderful way to make this connection in a very helpful, tangible way.”

Students picking up items from Mulerider Market must:
Present a valid SAU ID;
Pick up only one package per week, per student;
Order a maximum of 15 items (of student’s choice) per package;
Order a maximum of only five of the same item.

The Mulerider Market inventory includes canned vegetables, soup, fruit, Ramen Noodles, and cereal. Personal items include toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body soap, feminine products, baby diapers and wipes, deodorant, and more. Inventory will vary throughout the year according to donations. Mulerider Market will accept donations periodically throughout the year. Anyone wishing to donate non-perishable items may do so during those occasions or may contact SAU at 870-235-4922. Please see the web page for a list of current needs.

SAU+VISTA is federally-funded through AmeriCorps. The SAU+VISTA mission is to increase college completion – a proven factor in the elimination of poverty. SAU currently hosts eight full-time SAU+VISTA Fellows and 24 Summer Associates. For more information, see www.saumag.edu/vista.

WRF BOARD MEMBER APPOINTED TO STATE POLICE REFORM TASK FORCE
The mission of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) is to relentlessly pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic, and racial equity for all Arkansans. Based on our mission, a nearly 50-year history of support for social justice in Arkansas, and the legacy of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, a champion for racial equity, we unequivocally state that Black Lives Matter.

As the world responds to the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, WRF stands with those who have lifted their voices to speak out against systemic policies that lead to over-policing of Black communities, over-criminalization of Black people, and the long-standing, disproportionate impact of state violence against unarmed Black citizens.

We are encouraged by the appointment of Rosa Velázquez, Latinx community organizer and WRF Board member, along with several other leaders of local uprisings, to the recently formed Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. Rosa is the Advocacy Director for Arkansas United and has served on the WRF Board for six years. 

We commend Governor Asa Hutchinson on his quick action to establish this task force. The inclusion of several young leaders of color gives us confidence that the recommendations of this group will be inclusive of community voice. WRF further supports the recent call for state-level hate crime legislation that would be equitably applied. Arkansas is one of only six states in the country who do not have hate crime legislation. We can change that immediately.

There is more that can be done quickly at the local level. We call on every Arkansas municipality to immediately adopt the “8 Can’t Wait” policing policies that have been shown to significantly reduce the use of excessive force by police and save lives. Policy changes that include a ban on strangleholds and codifying the affirmative duty for police officers to intervene when policy is being violated can save lives and help rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities most impacted by unwarranted police violence. Trust building is the first step towards the more extensive changes needed to remake our police departments into the community-centric institutions we all desire.

Black Arkansans and other residents of color deserve to live lives with the full confidence that the systems supported by their tax dollars are working in the interest of their safety. Today, many do not. There is still much work to do to ensure that our state economy works for all, that our education system produces excellent outcomes for every child, and that every community member can thrive and prosper.

Over 50 years ago as the world grieved the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Governor Rockefeller said that he hoped the tragedy would “awaken the eyes, the minds, and the hearts and the souls of the people, throughout our state and throughout the nation.” 

Over the last two weeks, we have witnessed an international awakening. Now that we’re awake, we should move to immediate action.

ARKANSAS HEALTH & WELLNESS, ARKANSAS TOTAL CARE SUPPORT LITTLE ROCK CARES COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND
(Little Rock, AR) June 11, 2020- As Arkansans continue to cope with the threat of the novel coronavirus, Arkansas Health & Wellness, together with Arkansas Total Care, continues to support our community through a donation of $15,000 to the City of Little Rock’s ‘Little Rocks Cares COVID-19 Community Relief Fund’. The Little Rock Cares Fund helps provide food relief to Arkansas residents and personal protective equipment to health care professionals and first responders in Little Rock. 

"We are extremely grateful for this donation to the Little Rock Cares Emergency Relief Fund," Mayor Scott said. "The COVID-19 crisis, unfortunately, is not behind us. These funds will assist us in continuing to ensure our first responders and healthcare workers receive the necessary equipment to continue meeting the needs of Little Rock residents and patients who need health services in our city."

The Little Rock Cares Fund is committed to helping feed Little Rock residents. Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care share that commitment, which is why we recently partnered with Jimmy John’s to provide lunches to the workers of the City of Little Rock Solid Waste Department.  These outreach efforts and our recent contribution of $100,000 to the Arkansas Foodbank reaffirms the company’s continued commitment to serving Little Rock and the state of Arkansas.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Little Rock Cares Fund and all Arkansans with this donation during the COVID-19 crisis.  It is critical that we continue to care for those who are most vulnerable during this time.  Together we can Help Arkansas Live Better.” – John Ryan, President and CEO, Arkansas Health & Wellness, Arkansas Total Care.

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS NEARLY $170 MILLION RELIEF FUND PAYMENTS FOR SAFETY NET HOSPITALS, MEDICAID & CHIP PROVIDERS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding nearly $170 million to Arkansas Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers diagnosing, testing or caring for individuals with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

HHS distributed a total of $169,908,060 to eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers on the front lines of Arkansas’s coronavirus response. The award was made available through the Provider Relief Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed—with the Arkansas delegation’s support—to address the coronavirus crisis.

“The providers receiving funding through this award treat the most vulnerable in Arkansas. These vital resources will ensure our medical community can continue to provide high-quality treatment and services to every Arkansan as the state enters phase two of reopening,” members said.    

ARKANSAS DELEGATION SUPPORTS GOVERNOR’S REQUEST FOR MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to support Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Arkansas, Bradley, Cleveland, Dallas, Desha, Drew, Grant, Jefferson, Lincoln, Ouachita and Phillips Counties due to extensive damage as a result of severe storms on April 12, 2020.

“We believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation,” members wrote.

The letter can be found below:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the State of Arkansas, we are writing to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request to declare a major disaster, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief Act, as a result of severe storms and tornados which took place on April 12, 2020.

 Based on Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs), conducted by FEMA, at least 59 homes were destroyed with an additional 109 homes sustaining major damage. In total, over 531 homes were affected by the storms, of which an estimated 50% of the affected homes are uninsured. In total, eleven Arkansas counties sustained significant storm damage, leaving thousands without power for up to two weeks. Unfortunately, the eleven counties who sustained major storm damages have a total of 22.3% living below the poverty line.

Simply put, we believe the severe magnitude of these weather events warrant supplementary Federal assistance. The state of Arkansas has already been dealing with financial hardships due to extensive damages from previous extreme weather events, hurting local businesses and agricultural enterprises. This, coupled with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have put the state of Arkansas in a dire situation. 

Arkansas is still recovering from historic flooding events that took place last year, and is currently dealing with the increasing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, Arkansas was in the midst of recovering from multiple disasters before COVID-19. Since January 2018 the state of Arkansans has had 13 Gubernatorial Declared disasters and numerous federally declared disasters.

Recent Presidential Major Disaster Declarations for Arkansas
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds (DR 4544) May 8, 2020
Arkansas COVID-19 (DR 4518) April 3, 2020
Arkansas COVID-19 (EM 3461) March 13, 2020
Arkansas Severe Storms, Straight-line winds, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4460) Sept. 13, 2019
Arkansas Severe Storms and flooding (DR 4441) May 29, 2019
Record breaking flooding along the Arkansas River that included EM 3414
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4318) April 26, 2017
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4270) March 08, 2016
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4254) Dec. 23, 2015
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-line winds, and Flooding (DR 4226) May 8, 2015
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4174) April 27, 2014
Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4160) December 5, 2013
Arkansas Severe Storms and Flooding (DR 4143) August 8, 2013
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4124) May 30, 2013
Arkansas Severe Winter Storm (DR 4100) December 25, 2012
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 4000) May 24, 2011
Arkansas Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding (DR 1975) April 14, 2011

Without the assistance of the Federal government, we fear the burden will be too much for the state of Arkansas to bear alone. As losses mount, the people of our great state hope the federal government will join in restoration efforts. Federal government resources are critical in the aftermath of these devastating events, and coordination between the federal government and state and local officials is crucial to begin the process of recovery and rebuilding.

 We are eager to assist in any way possible to ensure expedited evaluation of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions. We thank you for the support you have already offered, and respectfully ask for your continued attention and assistance in providing the resources necessary to ensure the safety of Arkansans.
 

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET - CONTINUED
The Camden City Board of Aldermen met Tuesday night at the Ouachita Business and Technology Center. There was room for 50 people to attend the meeting and maintain social distancing. All in attendance were required to wear a face covering.

The Agenda included Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. This is the Third and final reading. There is an issue at City Hall with people just wandering into the building. The worst of it involves some that come in, sit down in the break room barefooted and drink coffee. In the current climate, security needs to be in place to protect our City Employees and Elected Officials. The Bid was for security doors. There was no bid for electronic entry for the doors. After some discussion and questions from the aldermen were answered. The Board voted unanimously to pass the ordinance. Once the doors are in place, a phone will be place outside the doors with a City Directory posted. Anyone needing access to a City Office to do business will simply pick up the phone and dial the proper extension for the Office they have business with and someone from that office will come let you in.

Ordinance No. 14-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 2-10 assessing a lien on certain property Located at 322 Barrett St. SW. was the other item on the agenda. This was the Second reading. After a short discussion, the Council voted to suspend the rules and passed the Ordinance unanimously.

There was an open discussion among the Council which included a plea from Kevin Franklin, Public Works Director, who passionately stated that he does not have the resources to do the work needed to do his job. More money is needed to do street work and compensate employees as they are grossly underpaid. He only has $56.00 a year budgeted for training. Franklin said that he couldn't buy gas to get to training for that. There isn't the money in the Street budget to re-do streets that need work. All they can do is go fill the pot holes and next time it rains, they are right back to square one and have to go refill potholes repeatedly.  This plea came after Alderman Chris Aregood stated that he had several constituents call him about street conditions. The residents told Aregood that when they called Public Works they were told to call their Alderman. While Alderman Aregood has no issue taking calls from his constituents he was asking the question that those that called him had asked which is the job of an Alderman. Franklin answered that Public Works gets countless calls each day. While he has not instructed employees to call their Alderman, someone may well have told them that. He will see to it that no one else is told that. Several other Aldermen spoke regarding the situation and understand that something needs to be done.

There is a recording of the entire meeting above.

STEPHENS TO HAVE COVID-19 DRIVE THROUGH TESTING
There will be drive through testing Friday, June 12, 2020 from 10 am to 2 pm at the St. Stephens Baptist Church. The Church is locater on Highway 79 South across from the Dollar General in Stephens, Arkansas. If you want a test, you can get a test. Bring you identification and insurance card. There will be no out-of-pocket expense even if you don’t have insurance. Allow 7 days for results. Sponsored by the Ouachita County Medical Center.

SCHUMER OBJECTS TO FUNDING POLICE, JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD
Washington, D.C.— Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) opposed a resolution introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) calling for justice for George Floyd and opposing recent calls to defund the police. The resolution may be found here.

Senator Cotton spoke on the floor in favor of the resolution before Senator Schumer’s objection. A video of the speech may be found here, including Cotton’s exchange with Schumer. Full text of Cotton’s speech before their exchange may be found below.

Co-sponsoring the resolution with Senator Cotton are Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Mike Lee (R-Utah) Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Martha McSally (R-Arizona), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), David Perdue (R-Georgia), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi).

A free society depends on the rule of law, which is the foundation for public order and peace.

Police are the indispensable guardians of that law. We rightfully honor them for the risks they assume every morning when they put on their badge—and sometimes the bulletproof vest—knowing they may not come home that night to take them off.

But police have a sworn duty to wield their power with justice. They take an oath never to betray their “character or the public trust.” They must hold themselves to the highest standard—and overwhelmingly do so. But in cases when they do not, the consequences can be devastating.
What happened to George Floyd in Minnesota was horrific. He was killed by police officers—dying at the hands of men who pledge to protect and serve their communities.

I’m glad that justice appears to be moving swiftly in George Floyd’s case. The officers who participated have been terminated from the department, and the criminal process is well underway.

But this is little consolation to many Americans, including many black Americans who feel they have experienced unjust, unequal, interactions with law enforcement. Many have protested peacefully for change, in the finest tradition of our country—and in sharp contrast to the rioters and looters who have exploited this tragedy for their own purposes.

We must now seek to rebuild national unity from the wreckage of broken trust and broken glass on our streets. To do this, we’ll need to be guided by our nation’s noblest principles, while rejecting the anti-American suggestions of radicals who want a revolution.

Every American deserves to be treated equally by their government, as guaranteed by our Constitution and our country’s most fundamental principle—that “all men are created equal.” There is no greater bulwark to tyranny and injustice than that old, simple proposition.

But we must reject efforts to scapegoat and demonize all police for the actions of a few. And we must reject radical proposals to dismantle and defund police departments, as some have suggested.

These proposals are offered in the spirit of revenge. They would lead only to more crime, more lives lost, and more sorrow. The communities that would be hit the hardest by the disappearance of police would be the most disadvantaged.

When police are understaffed and under-trained, there is greater risk of mistakes and misconduct—not to mention higher rates of crime. By contrast, a well-staffed, well-trained, and well-respected force is a blessing to its community—and a scourge to criminals who threaten it.

Defunding the police would be deadly. It isn’t a solution but an insult to good officers, and a new threat to law-abiding citizens.

Americans are not blind to injustice. We all understand the hard work that’s needed to repair trust in this country. But defunding the police is not the answer.

We need the rule of law—and equal justice under law. We need them both.

I urge my colleagues to join with us in passing this resolution—which calls for justice for George Floyd and other victims of excessive use of force, while also honoring the law-enforcement officers who keep us safe.
 

BOOZMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN RURAL AMERICA
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation to expand telemental health services in rural areas. The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 would establish a grant program for health providers to expand telemental health services for those specifically in rural populations working in farming, forestry and fishing industries.

“Telehealth provides an opportunity for Arkansans to get help while protecting themselves and medical professionals from potential exposure to COVID-19. Providing resources to support the mental health needs of rural populations is necessary as we continue to address the ongoing pandemic and the challenges facing rural America,” Boozman said.

 This legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth of the Health Resources and Services Administration, in coordination with the Rural Health Liaison of the Department of Agriculture, to award grants to entities to establish demonstration projects for the provision of telemental health services for rural populations, specifically those working in the farming, fishing and forestry occupations. It would authorize up to $10 million for each fiscal year through 2025, using current funds.

The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 was introduced by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN). In addition to Boozman, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
The bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The recent pandemic, challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. Farm Bureau supports the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act and thanks Senators Mike Rounds and Tina Smith for their leadership in addressing the topic of mental health in rural communities,” said RJ Karney, Director Congressional Relations, American Farm Bureau Federation.

Boozman is also a cosponsor of the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act that would bolster funding for health care providers in rural areas for the expansion of broadband and telehealth services.
 

BOOZMAN QUESTIONS VA LEADERS ON COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS
Urges Implementing Measures to Strengthen Supply Chain
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, questioned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials on the department’s COVID-19 preparedness and urged implementation of measures to enhance efficiency of its supply chain.
“The demand of supplies continues to be a huge problem,” Boozman said of personal protective equipment (PPE). “It does make me think of the importance of having a stockpile like we used to have.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has put stress on the VA’s PPE stock and other medical supplies.

In a hearing Tuesday, Boozman asked if Congress needs to provide additional authority to the VA to ensure its reserve of medical equipment is sufficient for a future wave of COVID-19 and other medical emergencies.

Dr. Richard Stone — the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration –– said it would be beneficial for the VA to be allowed to partner with the Department of Defense which already has the authority to work with manufacturers to ensure medical PPE supplies in storage are rotated so that they are ready and usable when needed by medical professionals.

JUNE 11, 2020

RICHARD STEPHENS WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP AUGUST 7-9Nationally renowned watercolorist Richard Stephens returns to SAAC for “Watercolor Painting and Design” in August. The workshop for all experience levels will meet 9am-4pm on August 7 and 8, and then meet for a recap/last notes 9am-noon on August 9. Cost for the workshop is $175 per person (supplies not included), with a maximum of 15 participants.

Kelly Campbell, SAAC staff member, said, “I have been in Richard’s workshops more than once, and I can tell you that he is a fabulous instructor. He always brings something new, and he’s great with new painters as well as those who are more experienced. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to be in a workshop with him again this summer!”

For more information on Stephens, you can visit his website raswatercolors.com.

Below is Stephens’ list of supplies and comments:

BRUSHES: For this class you will need only a few basic brushes. Synthetic brushes are less expensive and will work just fine for our projects and exercises.
• 1” Flat(or larger) • 1/2” Flat(or smaller)
• Large Round(# 6,7,or 8) • Small Round or Rigger(For making fine lines)
I do a lot of my painting with round squirrel mop brushes. If you have them already please bring them. If you don’t have them I don’t require you buy them as they are rather expensive. If you are a more experienced painter I’m sure you will have a variety of brushes. I will also bring extra brushes for students to borrow.

PALETTE: Nothing fancy required here. Actually a white dinner plate or butcher tray will do. Inexpensive plastic palettes with “wells” for keeping colors separated are available at local art supply stores or on line. These come with lids that keep your pigment from drying out and would be worth the investment.

PAINT: Tube colors are strongly recommended but cake or pan colors will do if that is what you are used to. For the sake of expense we will work with a minimum of colors. You certainly can purchase all the colors you want but the following will be all you actually need for this class.
Reds: Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red
Blues: Ultramarine, Cobalt and Cerulean
Yellows: Yellow Ochre and Lemon Yellow
Browns: Burnt or Raw Umber
Small tube of White Gouache or Titanium White WC
Optional Colors: Sap Green, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Gold and Turquoise

PAPER: I suggest 140 Lb. Cold Press watercolor paper. Full sheets are 22” x 30”. We will cut these into 1/2 and 1/4 sections for most of our projects. Watercolor blocks or pads are acceptable and come in a variety of sizes. You will also need a small SKETCH PAD( 8” x 10” or 11” x 14”) for designing and value sketches.

ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS: The following items are things you probably have around the house but are important tools in the painting process:
• Water resistant gatorboard, masonite, coated plywood, plexiglas, formica or lucite. Needs to be slightly larger than 15” x 22”(1/2 sheet w/c paper). Or slightly larger than 30” x 22” if you plan on painting on full sheet.
• Water container that will hold at least a pint of water and wide enough for your widest brush
• Sponge
• #2 Pencils
• Masking Tape
• Spray Bottle
• Paper Towels or Tissues
• Kneaded Eraser
• Fine Line, Medium and Broad Tip Black Magic Markers(optional)

PLEASE BRING PHOTOGRAPHS OR OTHER IMAGES FOR SUBJECT MATTER:
I will bring many, many photos that students are welcome to use for their painting subject if they do not have something of their own. I will also have several original paintings in plastic sleeves that students can use. I have no problem with students copying another painting for educational purposes. Obviously one would not claim them for their own or enter them in shows.

 

BOOZMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN RURAL AMERICA
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation to expand telemental health services in rural areas. The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 would establish a grant program for health providers to expand telemental health services for those specifically in rural populations working in farming, forestry and fishing industries. 

“Telehealth provides an opportunity for Arkansans to get help while protecting themselves and medical professionals from potential exposure to COVID-19. Providing resources to support the mental health needs of rural populations is necessary as we continue to address the ongoing pandemic and the challenges facing rural America,” Boozman said.

This legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth of the Health Resources and Services Administration, in coordination with the Rural Health Liaison of the Department of Agriculture, to award grants to entities to establish demonstration projects for the provision of telemental health services for rural populations, specifically those working in the farming, fishing and forestry occupations. It would authorize up to $10 million for each fiscal year through 2025, using current funds.

The Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act of 2020 was introduced by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN). In addition to Boozman, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). 

The bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The recent pandemic, challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. Farm Bureau supports the Home-Based Telemental Health Care Act and thanks Senators Mike Rounds and Tina Smith for their leadership in addressing the topic of mental health in rural communities,” said RJ Karney, Director Congressional Relations, American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Boozman is also a cosponsor of the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act that would bolster funding for health care providers in rural areas for the expansion of broadband and telehealth services.

JUNE 10, 2020

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET TUESDAY, JUNE 09, 2020
Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm Tuesday night. Reverend Kevin Tate, Pastor of New Beginnings Church gave the invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. City Clerk, Donna Stewart, called the roll. All Aldermen were present with the exception of Chip Simmons. The minutes of last month came up for approval. Alderman L.E. Lindsey requested that the Mayor’s speech from last month be added  to the minutes. He passed out copies of the Parham Report. The Mayor stated that it wasn’t his speech. Alderman rebutted that what was in quotations were his speech.  Again, the Mayor stated that it wasn’t his speech. Alderman Lindsey reserved the right to get the recording of the speech and present it word for word to add to last month’s minutes at the next meeting. The minutes passed. The financial reports for last month were passed.

The meeting then moved to audience participation.

Rashel Moore spoke about the protest march that took place over the weekend. She talked about the need for change. Jaqueline Hall the spoke to the Counsel regarding a marker honoring Mildred McKinney’s who has passed away. The marker is currently located at a house that has been sold. She asked that the marker be moved to Carnes Park. It was recommended that the marker be moved to Carnes Park so the City Lashaunda Traylor then spoke. She is new to Camden. She served in the military and stated that she served everyone. She stated that it’s time for the City to unify. Scott Bodemhiemer talked about the March on Sunday. He questioned the Council regarding OPED and their transparency and accountability. Counselman James Bell stated the the financials are open to the public at all times. The Mayor went on to say that OPED was budgeted $100,000.00 for the year 2020. There was other discussion regarding OPED and it has been determined that the budget will be posted on the City website for download. Jacovis Davis complimented the Mayor on his running of the City. He thanked the community at large for the support for the March. He noted that the young people of Camden participated and he commended them. Bishop Davis said he looked forward to working with the Mayor and the Council and everyone in the city that, as his sister said “who’s looking to do what’s necessary to cause us to be one Camden under one God.”

The Mayor started with noting the Flags in Camden were flying at half-staff in honor of a fallen Officer Scott Hutton. Alexander Police Officer Scott Hutton died at a Little Rock area hospital after he was found shot Wednesday night outside a residence in Alexander, Arkansas. The Mayor went on to thank those that participated in the March Sunday for a peaceful protest. He then talked about racism and looking for a way to fix the problem. He then addressed Covid-19 stating that it is still an issue. Dr. Braden, County Judge Robbie McAdoo and Mayor Lott are putting out the best good information that they can. He then urged everyone to make sure they are registered to vote. He also encouraged any that are interested in running for office should do so. The Mayor then turned to the Census and encouraged all to go to the website and fill out the census and stated that if you don’t do so, someone will come to your house.

Radio Works will continue this story tomorrow to include the ordinances that were on the agenda.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 10, 2020
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Arkansas, as Governor Asa Hutchinson announced during the Wednesday afternoon press conference that 288 new positive Coronavirus cases have been documented since the previous update.

 Despite the increase in cases, officials have still made the decision to continue lifting additional COVID-19 precautionary restrictions as Phase II of reopening the state's businesses begins.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas has now reached 10,368 with 3,087 of those cases considered active. There are now 7,116 Arkansans who've recovered from the illness and the number of hospitalized patients continues to rise. Currently, Arkansas has 181 residents hospitalized with COVID-19, and 49 of those patients are on ventilators. The state death toll has reached 165.

Although phase two will begin soon, Social Distancing and Mask wearing will still be encouraged. The Governor says Phase II will affect the capacity for which businesses allow patrons, and the change will begin next Monday, June 15th. Dr. Nathaniel Smith, Secretary of the Department of Health, provided a list of the counties with the most active cases throughout the state. Dr. Smith says tests conducted so far are nearly 1/3 of the way toward reaching the goal of 120,000 coronavirus tests for the month of June.
Arkansas Surgeon General, Dr. Greg Bledsoe, attended the Wednesday afternoon press conference to speak, and he confirmed his support for the Governor's decision to begin Phase II of lifting restrictions. Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 10,368 with 3,087 of those cases active. There are now 7,116 Arkansans who've recovered from the illness, and the number of hospitalized patients continues to rise. Currently, Arkansas has 181 residents hospitalized with COVID-19, and 49 of those patients are on ventilators. The state death toll has reached 165. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, June 11th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Toni Greenlee. She will be talking about the Summer Feeding Program

You are required to wear a mask when entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you’ll sign in and report your temperature. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
 

FOR THE HEART OF THE COMMUNITY
Multi-platform personality Steve Harvey is using his star power to bring heart, encouragement and inspiration to those who need it most.

Harvey recently launched a virtual mentoring session to help ease anxiety for young men amid COVID-19. The program is an extension of The Steve Harvey Mentoring Program for Young Men, which offers guidance and words of encouragement to young men ages 13-18 from fatherless homes. Available across his social media platforms, Steve Harvey Virtual Mentoring Mondays have received more than 3.5 million views to date.

Additionally, Harvey recently participated in a two-hour event called “Show Me Your Walk H.B.C.U. Edition.” Hosted by comedian Kevin Hart and featuring a number of African American luminaries including Harvey and former President Barack Obama, Common, Vivica Fox and Chris Paul, the virtual graduation ceremony streamed live via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to more than 27,000 graduates of the nation's historically black colleges and universities. Harvey also joined forces with Facebook and Instagram to celebrate grads from all over the country for #Graduation2020!  You can hear the Steve Harvey Morning Show on Magic 104.5 Monday through Saturday for 6 am to 10 am.


BOOZMAN URGES TOP HEALTH OFFICIALS TO SWIFTLY DISTRIBUTE EMERGENCY COVID-19 FUNDS TO HOSPITALS
SERVING LOW INCOME, VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of senators in requesting the Trump administration act swiftly to distribute emergency funding allocated in federal COVID-19 packages to hospitals that overwhelmingly serve Medicaid and low-income patients. Without adequate federal funding, these hospitals will be unable to effectively treat Arkansas’s most vulnerable communities. 

“To date, the distribution methodology used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not sufficiently addressed the needs of hospitals and health providers who disproportionately serve Medicaid and low-income patients,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. 

In normal times, these hospitals face high-uncompensated care costs and bring in significantly lower revenue than other hospitals; the pandemic has severely exacerbated these disparities. The senators also noted that the patients these hospitals serve face underlying health conditions and barriers to quality health care, meaning they’re at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

“If we are to implement a successful comprehensive national response to COVID-19, we cannot leave anyone behind,” the letter continued. “Our safety net hospitals currently lack the funding they need to effectively treat the nation’s most vulnerable families and individuals.”

The letter was led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and also signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), David Perdue (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear Secretary Azar and Administrator Verma: 

We write to you today to ask that you consider the economic impact on hospitals who serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and low-income patients as you distribute future congressionally appropriated COVID-19 related funding.  We sincerely appreciate the funding that has reached our states to date, we also appreciate the responsiveness of your staff when addressing issues related to distribution of initial tranches of funding.  However, we remain concerned that, to date, the allocations have not sufficiently targeted providers tasked with caring for vulnerable populations.  As such, as you distribute the remaining funding in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, we respectfully request you consider a separate, targeted distribution of funding for health providers who make up the health care safety net in our states. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Congress acted swiftly to provide emergency funding for hospitals and health providers.  Specifically, Congress provided $100 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136), as well as an additional $75 billion under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139).  In our states and across the country, Medicaid providers are on the frontlines of this pandemic as they often are under more normal circumstances.  As such, Congress explicitly articulated in the CARES Act that PHSSEF eligible health care providers include “Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers.”  

To date, the distribution methodology used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not sufficiently addressed the needs of hospitals and health providers who disproportionately serve Medicaid and low-income patients.  We appreciate the urgency with which HHS acted to make initial funding distributions and the continued efforts to address the needs of health care providers impacted by COVID-19.  However, the decision to distribute funding based on net patient service revenue in the $50 billion general distribution, combined with the $2 billion in targeted funding for disproportionate share hospitals, did not adequately capture the financial strain safety net providers face in the current environment.

The safety net hospitals in our states and across the country have minimal privately insured patient populations, and they overwhelmingly rely on government payers.  On a pre-pandemic basis, these providers face high-uncompensated care costs and bring in significantly lower revenue than other hospitals.  COVID-19 has severely exacerbated these disparities. We are concerned about the future financially viability of our hospitals who help care for the sickest, lowest-income, and costliest patients. These hospitals stand at the frontlines of our health care system for many of our disadvantaged communities and operate on razor thin margins under the best of circumstances.

Moreover, Medicaid recipients and low-income populations face particular health challenges, due to underlying health conditions and barriers to accessing care.  This makes them all the more susceptible to dangerous outcomes during a pandemic.  A report recently released found that 35 percent of non-elderly adults with household incomes below $15,000 are at increased risk of serious illness if infected with coronavirus, compared to just 16 percent of adults with household incomes greater than $50,000.[1]  If we are to implement a successful comprehensive national response to COVID-19, we cannot leave anyone behind.  Our safety net hospitals currently lack the funding they need to effectively treat the nation’s most vulnerable families and individuals.

We fully appreciate the challenges involved in quickly and equitably distributing funding to health providers, however we urge you to consider a separate, targeted distribution of funding that prioritizes the particular financial strain facing our hospitals who serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and low-income patients.

We thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to your response.
 

SENATORS CALL FOR U.S. TO WELCOME HONG KONGERS FLEEING CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Todd Young (R-Indiana), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today encouraging the United States to work with the United Kingdom and Australia to welcome Hong Kongers seeking refuge from Beijing’s authoritarian rule after recent actions effectively ended Hong Kong’s autonomy from China.

“We stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers as they fight to defend their basic democratic rights and remain free from the oppression that Beijing seeks to impose. While evaluating next steps for a broader response to the evolving situation in Hong Kong, we must recognize the immediate concern that some Hong Kongers are no longer safe living there and are seeking refuge outside of the region. As China becomes increasingly assertive, we must provide an alternative for those who desire to live in a land that shares their democratic values, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law,” the Senators wrote.

“We commend the recent actions by the United Kingdom and statements by Australia to welcome Hong Kongers who are seeking to live outside of Beijing’s authoritarian rule. We strongly encourage the United States to follow suit and work arm in arm with our allies to find a solution to this challenge,” they added.

 The full text of the letter is available below.

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

On this 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, we write with great alarm regarding the continued efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to rule by fear and oppression. The recent actions taken by the National People’s Congress has effectively ended China’s “one country, two systems” policy and, as you certified to Congress, Hong Kong no longer maintains a high degree of autonomy from China.

We stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers as they fight to defend their basic democratic rights and remain free from the oppression that Beijing seeks to impose. While evaluating next steps for a broader response to the evolving situation in Hong Kong, we must recognize the immediate concern that some Hong Kongers are no longer safe living there and are seeking refuge outside of the region. As China becomes increasingly assertive, we must provide an alternative for those who desire to live in a land that shares their democratic values, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law.

We commend the recent actions by the United Kingdom and statements by Australia to welcome Hong Kongers who are seeking to live outside of Beijing’s authoritarian rule. We strongly encourage the United States to follow suit and work arm in arm with our allies to find a solution to this challenge. 

Now is the time to send the message to the Chinese government that the United States stands with those who believe in basic freedoms, democracy and human rights. During these critical times, the United States must explore new avenues to support those who share our core values of freedom and democracy.

Please provide the undersigned with an update for your plans in this regard no later than June 12, 2020. We look forward to working with you in the coming days to find a solution to this challenge. 

Sincerely

June 09, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE - JUNE 09, 2020
A brief COVID-19 press conference update was provided by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith live from Pine Bluff in Jefferson County Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Arkansas has officially surpassed 10,000. Dr. Nathaniel Smith confirms there have been 10,080 coronavirus cases in the state since the first one was reported out of Pine Bluff back in March.

The number of cases currently active is 3,044 and 6,875 people have reportedly recovered from the illness. There are 173 Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19, and 44 of those patients remain on ventilators at this time. The state COVID-19 death toll is now 161.

Last month in May, the goal of 60,000 tests was not only met but surpassed, with over 67,000 COVID-19 swabs conducted across the state of Arkansas. In order to continue tracking the number of cases in the Natural State, a new goal of 120,000 tests has been set for the month of June.

Governor Hutchinson says the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Arkansas so far to date have the state on track to exceed the testing goal this month.

With no additional speakers attending Tuesday's press conference, Dr. Nathaniel Smith was able to provide a focus on the breakdown of the new cases, including how many are sourced from Correctional Facilities and Nursing Homes, and how many are from active community spread.

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Arkansas has now officially  surpassed 10,000 as Dr. Nathaniel Smith confirms there have been 10,080 coronavirus cases in the state since the first one was reported from Pine Bluff back on March 11th.

The number of cases currently active in Arkansas is 3,044 and 6,875 people have reportedly recovered from the illness. There are 173 Arkansans hospitalized with COVID-19 and 44 of those patients remain on ventilators at this time.

The number of Arkansans who have died from COVID-19 has reached 161. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ARKANSAS HEALTH & WELLNESS, ARKANSAS TOTAL CARE SUPPORT LITTLE ROCK CARES COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND
(Little Rock, AR) June 9, 2020- As Arkansans continue to cope with the threat of the novel coronavirus, Arkansas Health & Wellness, together with Arkansas Total Care, continues to support our community through a donation of $15,000 to the City of Little Rock’s ‘Little Rocks Cares COVID-19 Community Relief Fund’. The Little Rock Cares Fund helps provide food relief to Arkansas residents and personal protective equipment to health care professionals and first responders in Little Rock. 

"We are extremely grateful for this donation to the Little Rock Cares Emergency Relief Fund," Mayor Scott said. "The COVID-19 crisis, unfortunately, is not behind us. These funds will assist us in continuing to ensure our first responders and healthcare workers receive the necessary equipment to continue meeting the needs of Little Rock residents and patients who need health services in our city."

The Little Rock Cares Fund is committed to helping feed Little Rock residents. Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care share that commitment, which is why we recently partnered with Jimmy John’s to provide lunches to the workers of the City of Little Rock Solid Waste Department.  These outreach efforts and our recent contribution of $100,000 to the Arkansas Foodbank reaffirms the company’s continued commitment to serving Little Rock and the state of Arkansas.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Little Rock Cares Fund and all Arkansans with this donation during the COVID-19 crisis.  It is critical that we continue to care for those who are most vulnerable during this time.  Together we can Help Arkansas Live Better.” – John Ryan, President and CEO, Arkansas Health & Wellness, Arkansas Total Care.
 

BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET IN REGULAR SESSION
The Camden Board Of Aldermen will meet in regular session tonight at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Building.  

Due to the Covid -19 Virus special protocol is in place.
1. No Public will be allowed
2.  Mask must be used or you will not be allowed to enter
3.  Social Distancing a must
4.  Everyone please bring your own paper and pencil with you and take it home with you
5.  Hand sanitize before entering and again upon exiting

The Agenda includes Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. This is the Third and final reading and Ordinance No. 14-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 2-10 assessing a lien on certain property Located at 322 Barrett St. SW. This will be the Second reading.

As the Council Meeting is not open to the public to attend at this time, it will be live, on air, on KBEU, 92.7 FM.

 

RETIRED STATE TROOPER INVOLVED ACCIDENT
A retired Arkansas State Police trooper and his wife from El Dorado were seriously injured Monday afternoon in a two-vehicle accident in Grant County. The accident lefy Anthony Bishop Heard, 59, of Sheridan dead.  

According the Arkansas State Police report, Anthony Bishop Heard, 59, of Sheridan was driving a vehicle north on Arkansas 35 northwest of Sheridan when he lost control while attempting to negotiate a curve, crossing the center line and colliding with a second vehicle near the southbound ditch.

Driving the second vehicle was Glenn Charles Sligh, 65, was driving the second vehicle. His wife, Cathy W Sligh was a passenger in the car. Both were injured.

The Slighs were taken to Saline Memorial Hospital in Benton, and Mr. Sligh  was later transferred to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Both sustained serious injuries.

The report said that heavy rain was falling at the time of the wreck at 1:25 p.m. Cpl. Edward G. Church investigated the accident for the Arkansas State Police.

 

SURVEY: SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM REBOUNDS, EARNINGS TRENDS DECLINE
The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased to 82 in May 
LITTLE ROCK (June 9, 2020) – The Small Business Optimism Index increased 3.5 points in May to 94.4, a strong improvement from April’s 90.9 reading. Eight of the 10 Index components improved in May and two declined. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased seven points to 82. Reports of expected business conditions in the next six months increased 5 points to a net 34%, following a 24-point increase in April. Owners are optimistic about future business conditions and expect the recession to be short-lived.

“As states begin to reopen, small businesses continue to navigate the economic landscape rocked by COVID-19 and new government policies,” said NFIB’s Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “It’s still uncertain when consumers will feel comfortable returning to small businesses and begin spending again, but owners are taking the necessary precautions to reopen safely.”

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “The past few months haven’t been easy, but our members are determined to get through this.”

Real sales expectations in the next three months increased 18 points to a net negative 24%. Expectations about future sales are beginning to rebound after April’s lowest reading in survey history of a net negative 42%.

Fifty-two percent reported capital outlays in the last six months. Of those making expenditures, 35% reported spending on new equipment (down one point), 20% acquired vehicles (down one point), and 15% improved or expanded facilities (up two points). Five percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion and 10% spent money for new fixtures and furniture.

Twenty percent of owners are planning capital outlays in the next few months. Any extensive damage from recent protests will produce significant expenditures that were unexpected for some small business owners.

A net negative 19% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, down eight points from April. Retail sales have declined significantly in the past three months. Consumer income was up significantly due to government programs assistance, but consumers, for the most part, could not get out to spend it unless they spent it online. The change in spending behavior produced a record-high savings rate of 33%. As the economy opens, this money will be spent.

Other key findings from the survey include:

Earnings trends declined six points to a net negative 26%. Among owners reporting weaker profits, 46% blamed weak sales, 12% blamed usual seasonal changes, 9% cited price changes, 4% cited labor costs, and 4% cited material costs.

Five percent of owners reported thinking it’s a good time to expand, up two points from April.

The net negative percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes improved 18 points to a net negative 24% of owners.

A net 14% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation (down 2 points) and a net 10% plan to do so in the coming months (up 3 points).

As reported in last week’s monthly jobs report, the small business labor market weakened further in the February-April period, with May survey respondents reporting reducing employment by 0.17 workers per firm in the prior three months. Most of the workers that were displaced (about 80%) expect to be rehired according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, generous unemployment benefits are making it harder for some firms to re-call workers and fill open positions.

A seasonally-adjusted net eight percent plan to create new jobs in May. The creation is driven in part by the forgiveness portion requirements of the Paycheck Protection Program and owners planning to re-hire workers as the economy is reopened.

Click here to view the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey.

WINNERS OF GREAT ARKANSAS HISTORY VIDEO GAME CODING COMPETITION ANNOUNCED 
LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education's Office of Computer Science are pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural Great Arkansas History Video Game Coding Competition. 

This competition was open to all Arkansas students in grades 4 through 8. By emphasizing storytelling, state history, and coding, this competition allowed students to demonstrate their coding abilities, while supporting literary growth and expanding their knowledge of Arkansas history. The theme for this year’s contest was the impact of the Civilian Conservation Corps on the development of the state park system. 

Students at Hellstern Middle School (Springdale School District) are the winners of the contest. Each of the winners will receive a $1,000 award, and the school will receive a $2,500 award. 

Arkansas Arts Academy Team 1 and Team 2 won second place and third place, respectively. Honorable mention was awarded to Murfreesboro Elementary School. All of these students will receive a #CSforAR prize kit.

Every student who participated this year will receive a Circuit Playground Express coding device.
This contest will start anew this fall with a brand new topic and will provide Arkansas middle schools a new opportunity to compete. For more information about the upcoming competition, please visit http://bit.ly/ARCSHistComp. This year's winning submission is playable at https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/365192281

Arkansas is recognized nationally and internationally as leading the computer science education movement through Governor Hutchinson’s #CSforAR / #ARKidsCanCode initiative. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/ARKidsCanCode.
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF DR. RAY HULL
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the passing of Dr. Ray Hull:

“I am very saddened by the news of Dr. Ray Hull’s passing. 

A leading figure in northwest Arkansas’s medical community, Ray began practicing medicine in northwest Arkansas when only a handful of physicians were in the area. He was extremely kind to my brother Fay and I as we began our practice in Rogers, and became a dear friend to so many of us in the medical community. 

Not only was he an excellent doctor, but he was also a great example of a life dedicated to love of family, community and the Lord. He touched countless people in so many ways, both professionally and personally.

 Not only will my family and I miss Ray, the entire region will as well. We lost someone who we should all strive to be more like.” 

 
 

June 08. 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 08, 2020
As of Monday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased to 9,740, an increase of 314 from Sunday. The number of cases considered to be active stands at 2,955 statewide. Hospitalizations increased by 26, up to 171. The death toll now stands at 155, up one from Sunday. 4,131 tests were administered in the previous 24 hours, and the state is on target to exceed the goal of 120,000 tests conducted during the month of June. 

In his press conference Monday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson says he's not ready to allow any regions of the state to reach Phase Two status for reopening. The Governor says he'll continue to evaluate the data, and will leave his options open as far as possibly allowing some regions of the state to reach the Phase Two status for reopening earlier than other regions in the future.

The Governor outlined six criteria that we know for sure moving forward. He says these six things that we know will guide him in the future decisions that he makes.

Steurt Walton, the chairman of the Arkansas Economic Recovery Task Force, says that Arkansas is doing better than surrounding states in regards to economic recovery. Walton stressed a campaign called: "Good For You, Good For Arkansas" that details the importance of social distancing, wearing face coverings, and other health-related tips.

Walton says as we move forward as a state, he's concerned, but optimistic.

Again, there are now 9,740 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, with 2,955 considered active. The death toll stands at 155. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

 

ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $1,947,778 IN PHASE 2 ADAPTATION GRANTS TO 119 ORGANIZATIONS STATEWIDE
 Little Rock, Ark. (June 5, 2020) – Arkansas Community Foundation has awarded the second phase of funding from its COVID-19 Relief Fund to help organizations statewide adapt to new and increased demands of the pandemic.

These grants of up to $25,000 totaled $1,947,788 made to Arkansas nonprofits. When added to the 678 $1,000 Phase 1 Mini-grants made to organizations in 67 counties in April and May, more than $2.6 million in grants have been made from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund in the 11 weeks since the fund was created.

“These Phase 2 Adaptation Grants help organizations who are adapting their operations to meet the ongoing needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shore up critical systems like healthcare, education and food distribution,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation.“

Grant recipients for Phase 2 were selected by a committee of reviewers based on criteria designed to determine the best use of COVID-19 Relief Fund assets. A list of the organizations that received grants is available at www.arcf.org/covid19.
More than $3.4 million has been donated to the COVID-19 Relief Fund from the Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals. A list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19. The Foundation is currently determining the criteria for additional rounds of grants to be awarded later in the year.

“It was astounding to see the depth and breadth of need for operational change caused by COVID-19 described in these grant proposals,” Larkin said. “For example, one grant will allow a city to purchase supplies and provide training for local businesses to help them re-open in compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Another will help a nonprofit healthcare clinic modify its patient intake areas to allow for better social distancing.”

Priority for the Phase 2 Adaptation Grants was given to organizations addressing the following services:

Adapt their operations to meet new needs in the community that have arisen from the pandemic or

Deliver services in new ways to accommodate social distancing and other health and safety guidelines or

Serve an expanded client base, i.e. reaching individuals who are experiencing new economic hardships due to the pandemic.

Uses of this funding also include:
Modifying or upgrading technology systems to serve clients remotely.
Modifying facilities to enable greater social distancing among essential personnel and clients.
Implementing changes to operating procedures necessitated by COVID-19.
Scaling up service delivery to support increased demand.

The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created March 18, 2020. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Community Foundation’s fund as a way for Arkansans to best help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties jointly requested donations to the fund.


REGULAR HOURS OF OPERATION RETURN FOR PEEL FERRY
MARION COUNTY (6-5) – Peel Ferry operations have returned to their normal schedule, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.

The current Peel Ferry hours of operation are 6:40 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. The Department continues to encourage social distancing practices and reminds travelers to remain in their vehicles while on the ferry. The number of motorcycles will be limited in order to remain six feet apart.

ARDOT officials are working closely with other state agencies and will continue to take measures as necessary to safeguard employees, the traveling public and Arkansas’ transportation infrastructure. Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter @myARDOT
.

SAAC VIRTUAL SUMMER CAMP CONTINUES WITH ARTIST MARIA VILLEGAS
The South Arkansas Arts Center will continue their free Virtual Summer Camp videos June 8-12 with artist Maria Botti Villegas, who will offer a series of video lessons in visual art. As previously announced, this year's camps will all be held online, and all kids are welcome to join in on the tuition-free fun and learning via your computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Maria's video lessons will begin June 8, focusing on two-dimensional and three-dimensional visual art. Students will draw, paint, cut, and paste paper in a series of interactive activities inspired by the art of Hawaii, Japan, and other spots around the globe. Maria, who originally hails from Argentina, brings the beauty of all the artistic disciplines to her approach to visual art, singing and telling stories as she takes her students through the projects.

"I am thrilled to be able to be part of this incredible group of wonderful artists who able to share their talents and learn from this experience," said Maria. "And of course, I love all the kiddos!"

After training in art, dance, and music in her native Argentina, Maria came to the United States to exhibit as a pen-and-ink illustrator in New York City. She came to El Dorado in 1993, and quickly fell in love with her surroundings and the artistic community. She has participated in numerous exhibits and competitions in Arkansas, Louisiana, and other states, and she has painted more than 30 murals in the region. In 2001, Maria received the Arkansas Committee of The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. scholarship.

In El Dorado, Maria has been a teaching artist at The South Arkansas Arts Center Arts Academy and an Arts in Education (AIE) artist in the school system, for more than 25 years. She also teaches and offers art therapy at her studio, which she shares with Lulu and Krishna, her cats.
Students can continue to register throughout the summer. By registering, we will be able to keep you informed of new camp announcements and program updates. Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the information needed to complete the projects in their videos.
Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student. For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

June 05, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON'S PRESS CONFERENE - JUNE 05, 2020
During the Friday afternoon COVID-19 press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the number of cases had increased by 226 to a total of 8,651. The number of hospitalizations stands at 147, an increase of ten from Thursday. The death toll increased by one to 152. The total number of COVID-19 tests administered in the previous 24 hours was 3,846, with a positivity rate of 3.1%.

Governor Hutchinson and Dr. Nate Smith broke down the statistics surrounding the 190 new cases reported on Monday, June 1st, after contact tracing had been conducted. 39 of the 190 new cases reported on Monday were poultry plant employees, while 52% of the 190 new cases reported on Monday were from the Latino community. Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an Infectious Disease Specialist, explained the importance of contact tracing in helping to contain the spread of the disease, as well as how contact tracing works.

"Dr. Dillaha explained that when a person goes into isolation for a ten-day period after the onset of symptoms, the person is monitored daily.

"Governor Hutchinson displayed graphs that showed that the rate of testing for COVID-19 has been conducted rather equally throughout all five regions of the state. This graph was in response to the Governor's comment on Thursday that certain regions of the state might reach Phase Two status for reopening faster than other regions of the state. Governor Hutchinson summarized what Arkansans need to continue to do to slow the COVID-19 spread in the state.

"Again, there are now 8,651 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. Hospitalizations have increased by ten to 147. The death toll is now 152. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

ROGERS BANKER JON HARRELL NAMED ARKANSAS BANKERS ASSOCIATION CHAIRMAN
By Talk Business and Politics
The Arkansas Bankers Association (ABA) installed Rogers bank executive Jon Harrell as the organization’s 2020-21 chairman. The one-year term began in April.

Harrell is the chairman and CEO of Generations Bank and president and CEO of the holding company, Harrell Bancshares Inc. Both are headquartered in Rogers.

Harrell is the fifth generation of Harrell family bankers to lead the company since its founding in October 1907. The company relocated its charter from the tiny south Arkansas town of Hampton to Northwest Arkansas in 2019.

Harrell started his banking career with the Arkansas State Bank Department in 1988. He is a graduate of The Graduate School of Banking at LSU, and previously served a three-year term on the ABA board of directors and was the 2019-20 chairman-elect.

A cabinet member of the St. Mary’s Heritage Society, Harrell attends and is active in the NWA Fellowship Church community where he and his wife, Sheila, serve as Community Group coaches.

Other ABA officers installed for the upcoming year include chairman-elect Jim Cargill, Arvest Bank, Little Rock; vice chairman Randy Scott, Farmers Bank and Trust, Blytheville; and treasurer Tom Grumbles, First Service Bank, Greenbrier.

The Arkansas Bankers Association was established in 1891. It is the state’s largest and oldest banking industry organization and represents banks, bank holding companies and savings & loans in Arkansas with a variety of member services, including educational programs, products and services, publications and a comprehensive government relations program.

CANCELED HATCHERY FISHING DERBIES RESULT IN BONUS CATFISH STOCKINGS THROUGHOUT ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK — Precautions to limit the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 have forced the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to cancel the annual fishing derbies held at its five fish hatcheries in June, but anglers throughout the state will still be able to enjoy some quality time chasing catfish. AGFC hatcheries are delivering thousands of pounds of catchable-sized catfish to small, publicly accessible ponds throughout Arkansas to prepare for Free Fishing Weekend, June 12-14.

“We didn’t want to cancel our hatchery derbies, but we really didn’t see a way to do them without breaking social distancing precautions,” said Tommy Laird, assistant chief of fisheries for the AGFC. “We host thousands of participants each year on that day, and there just isn’t space for people to spread out properly on the ponds we can designate for the derby.”

Laird says all hatchery staff are disappointed with the cancelations but are working hard to make sure everyone has a good time on Free Fishing Weekend.

“This is the one time of year where we get thousands of visitors to show them all the work we do to produce fish for Arkansans,” Laird said. “The events are just as important to us as they are to the people who come to fish. They even compete for bragging rights on what hatchery has the most visitors and best response from surveys taken during the derbies.”

Each of the AGFC’s four warm-water hatcheries has a surplus of catchable-sized catfish that were raised with these derbies in mind. Those catfish now will be delivered to small ponds throughout the state for anglers everywhere to enjoy. Staff worked hard to distribute the 24,000 pounds of catchable catfish evenly throughout the state.

“We are stocking 6,000 pounds of catfish to each of the four quarters of the state,” Laird said. “The amount stocked per pond will be determined by the size of that pond and the number of people who normally fish it, but we worked hard to divide this surplus evenly.”

These stockings are in addition to the normal stockings the AGFC conducts through its Family and Community Fishing Program.

“Those locations all will receive their normal stockings, these are just some additional locations that normally don’t get these extra stockings,” Laird said.

Anglers are advised to continue practicing social distancing while enjoying all fishing locations. Maintain a 6-foot distance (one fishing rod’s length) from your nearest neighbor who is not in your immediate family and wash your hands thoroughly after touching any surfaces that someone else may have touched.

“It’s always a good idea to have some latex gloves, a hand towel and some hand sanitizer or water with you while catfishing anyway,” Laird said. “Most anglers probably already carry some of these items to clean up after they unhook a fish.” 

The following list of ponds will receive extra stockings before June 12:
Southwest Arkansas
Arkadelphia — Youth Sports Complex Pond
Camden — Camden Fairview High School Pond
Columbus — Grandview Prairie Education Pond
Jesseville — Jesseville Work Center Pond
Mena — Rich Mountain Community College Pond
Mt. Ida — Womble-Mt. Ida Work Center
Nashville — Nashville City Park Lake
Sheridan — Sheridan Community Center Pond

 

ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $1,947,778 IN PHASE 2 ADAPTATION GRANTS TO 119 ORGANIZATIONS STATEWIDE
Little Rock, Ark. (June 5, 2020) – Arkansas Community Foundation has awarded the second phase of funding from its COVID-19 Relief Fund to help organizations statewide adapt to new and increased demands of the pandemic.

These grants of up to $25,000 totaled $1,947,788 made to Arkansas nonprofits. When added to the 678 $1,000 Phase 1 Mini-grants made to organizations in 67 counties in April and May, more than $2.6 million in grants have been made from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund in the 11 weeks since the fund was created.

“These Phase 2 Adaptation Grants help organizations who are adapting their operations to meet the ongoing needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shore up critical systems like healthcare, education and food distribution,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation.

Grant recipients for Phase 2 were selected by a committee of reviewers based on criteria designed to determine the best use of COVID-19 Relief Fund assets. A list of the organizations that received grants is available at www.arcf.org/covid19.

More than $3.4 million has been donated to the COVID-19 Relief Fund from the Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals. A list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19. The Foundation is currently determining the criteria for additional rounds of grants to be awarded later in the year.

“It was astounding to see the depth and breadth of need for operational change caused by COVID-19 described in these grant proposals,” Larkin said. “For example, one grant will allow a city to purchase supplies and provide training for local businesses to help them re-open in compliance with COVID-19 regulations. Another will help a nonprofit healthcare clinic modify its patient intake areas to allow for better social distancing.”

Priority for the Phase 2 Adaptation Grants was given to organizations addressing the following services:
Adapt their operations to meet new needs in the community that have arisen from the pandemic or
Deliver services in new ways to accommodate social distancing and other health and safety guidelines or
Serve an expanded client base, i.e. reaching individuals who are experiencing new economic hardships due to the pandemic.

Uses of this funding also include:
Modifying or upgrading technology systems to serve clients remotely.
Modifying facilities to enable greater social distancing among essential personnel and clients.
Implementing changes to operating procedures necessitated by COVID-19.
Scaling up service delivery to support increased demand.

The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created March 18, 2020. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Community Foundation’s fund as a way for Arkansans to best help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties jointly requested donations to the fund.
 

RUTLEDGE LEADS NATIONAL EFFORT TO EXPOSE ILLEGAL ROBOCALLERS
Says, ‘critical to identifying, investigating and stopping illegal robocallers’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has filed comments regarding proposed rules under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would facilitate continued collaboration among state attorneys general and telecom companies in tracing back illegal robocalls to their source. Rutledge, along with the North Carolina Attorney General, is leading the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group to submit these comments to the FCC.

“I urge the FCC to swiftly enact these proposed rules which are critical to identifying, investigating and stopping illegal robocallers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Through the trace back process, illegal robocallers and the telecoms that facilitate these illegal calls will finally be exposed and held accountable for the harm they cause Arkansans.”

For the last few years, the State Attorneys General Robocall Technologies Working Group has encouraged the telecom industry to increase the number and speed of trace back investigations. Many telecom companies have joined this effort and are working hard to stop illegal robocallers. Recently, trace back investigations have become more urgent than ever because of coronavirus-related robocall scams, including scams related to coronavirus relief checks, pitches for coronavirus test kits, health plans offering coronavirus testing, work-from-home offers preying on job-seekers, and scams offering relief on utility bills, student loans, taxes, or other debt.

In May, Rutledge also submitted comments to the FCC on proposed rules regarding the implementation of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act). Rutledge’s comments urged the FCC to impose the mandate to implement the caller ID authentication technology, STIR/SHAKEN, on all types and sizes of telecommunication providers, to establish robust standards for any exceptions to this obligation, and that the costs to implement this technology should not be passed on to the consumer.

Rutledge has actively called for telephone carriers to aggressively block illegal robocalls before they reach consumers through ongoing collaborations with the FCC, telecom industry representatives and a coalition of state attorneys general. Rutledge was also instrumental in developing the Anti-Robocall Principles for telecoms to reduce the number of unwanted and illegal robocalls reaching the American people, which was adopted by 51 attorneys general and 12 major telecom providers in August 2019.

In Arkansas, Rutledge continues to lead the fight against robocalls by working with stakeholder to implement Acts 677 and 1074 of 2019 that requires telecommunication providers to submit annual reports to the Arkansas Public Service Commission to certify that all available and applicable technology is being employed to identify and block illegal robocalls and spoofing.

Arkansas is joined in submitting today’s comments by the attorneys general of all 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

PRESIDENT WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON BIRTHPLACE HOME NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE TO BEGIN PHASED ACCESS TO THE HISTORIC SITE
Hope, AR – President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site will continue to operate under the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.  The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis. Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidance, the historic site grounds will remain open. 

Beginning Monday, June 8th 2020:
The historic site visitor center will be open 10:00-4:00 pm.  To continue practicing social distancing we’re going to limit access to the visitor center; 10 visitors every 30 mins.  Encouraging visitors to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing at least 6’ apart. Restrooms will be open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

With public health in mind, currently the following facility remain closed and will be phased back into operation during the month of June based on risk assessments from best available data:

President Clinton Birthplace Home
The National Park Service is a public service agency of the Federal Government, our mission is to protect the natural and cultural resources of the park, while providing for the enjoyment of the park by the public. We hold this mission dear to our hearts. We also understand that the historic site supports the health and well-being of the Nation and can help Americans during this emergency by giving them outdoor spaces to enjoy while following Health Department and CDC guidance.  “This is a challenging situation for all of us and we want to do our part to prevent the spread of infectious disease,” said park superintendent. “We will continue to monitor and modify our programs to better protect the health and safety of our staff and visitors. 

Visitors can click on the link below for a guided virtual tour of the birthplace home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt3LppkkPWs and to view the historic site film (trailer) “Hope to History” at https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=A88984D7-0B8E-8A79-05E7EE56D6010C1D.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site is our number one priority. We will notify the public when we phase facilities back into operations and resume full operations by providing updates on our website and social media channels.  

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.   For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.   

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. For more information and updates, visit our park website at www.nps.gov/wicl or follow us on social media.

 
 

JUNE 4, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON'S PRESS CONFERENCE - JUNE 04, 2020
At the Thursday afternoon press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had grown to 8,425. That's an increase of 358 from the previous daily update. The number of active cases stands at 2,355. The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized is 137. The death toll stands at 151. 

 The number of tests being administered continues to increase. 4,350 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 5.2%. 

Governor Hutchinson discussed the need of getting to Phase Two in regards to re-opening the state. Part of the federal criteria of getting to Phase Two is no evidence of a rebound in the number of cases. Governor Hutchinson says that Northwest Arkansas is just now seeing its first peak.

Governor Hutchinson says there is a possibility that different regions of the state could be allowed to get to Phase Two status at different times. The Governor says they'll evaluate that possibility over the weekend, and perhaps make an announcement as early as next week.

During the question and answer session at Thursday afternoon's press conference, the Governor says he is concerned that the number of protests going on around the state could drive the COVID-19 numbers up.

Again, there are now 8,425 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. 2,355 are considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus now stands at 151. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."


STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING SHOOTING INCIDENT INVOLVING ALEXANDER POLICE OFFICERS
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the death an Alexander Police Officer, Scott Hutton, 36, of Bryant.

Saline County Sheriff’s Deputies were sent to 15458 Evergreen in Alexander about 7:12 PM (Wednesday, June 3rd) where they found Hutton wounded by a gunshot and lying outside the residence.  Life saving measures were being administered to Hutton by an Alexander police officer.
 
Hutton was transported to a Little Rock hospital where physicians pronounced his death.

Two people who were at the residence at the time of the shooting have been questioned by state police special agents assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.  One of the individuals is an Alexander police officer.
 
Hutton’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of death will be determined.

The state police investigation is continuing and upon being completed will be presented to the prosecuting attorney of jurisdiction to determine whether any criminal charge should be filed or if the shooting was accidental.
 
Questions relating to the duty status of either officer at the time of the incident, or the administrative status of the surviving officer should be directed to the Alexander Police Department.

 

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Terry Gibbons, age 43, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to a total of 120 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In November 2018, a Hot Springs Police Officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle operated by Gibbons. While speaking with Gibbons, the officer observed a firearm in the storage compartment of the driver’s door. A check of the firearm determined that it had been reported stolen. Gibbons was placed under arrest and searched, at which time the officer located several baggies of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. 

The suspected methamphetamine was submitted to the Arkansas State Crime lab for testing and tested positive for methamphetamine with a total weight of 219.4 grams.

Gibbons was indicted by a federal grand jury in June of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in October of 2019. 

This case was investigated by the Hot Springs Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

SAAC TO HOST "NIGHT SKY" CORKS AND CANVAS WORKSHOP ON 2 DATES • JUNE 16 & JUNE 18
It's time to register for the June virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas - Night Sky Watercolor Workshop - hosted by artist Chris Stone! There will be two sessions to choose from - Tuesday, June 16 at 6pm, or Thursday, June 18 at 6pm. Choose whichever date fits your schedule best! Each session is limited to 10 participants.

All of the art supplies you need to create watercolor "Night Sky" will be available for pickup at SAAC Monday thru Thursday 10am to 4pm beginning Monday, June 8. SAAC staff will even provide curbside pickup upon request. The fee for this special Corks & Canvas is $30, and you get to keep the watercolor set provided in the supply kit.

Stone, one of our most popular Corks & Canvas instructors, said, "I really enjoy teaching Corks & Canvas at SAAC - I love being able to share what I know and new things I've learned. This will be my first time teaching through Zoom, but I know we'll still have a great time!"

To register, go online at saac-arts.org to make a reservation for the workshop. For more information, please email Kelly Campbell at kelly@saac-arts.org. The South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Link to the Corks and Canvas Reservation Portal https://saac-arts.org/corks-and-canvas/
 

COMBINED POLICE FORCE JAILS 79 FROM OVERNIGHT PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS 
A combined police force of nine federal, state, county and city law enforcement agencies arrested 79 Arkansas residents Tuesday night, June 2nd, who have been among a protest demonstration group in Little Rock since last Saturday.  During the demonstrations the group has called for justice reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month.

The arrests followed repeated warnings to protesters roaming Little Rock streets they were in violation of an 8 PM curfew imposed yesterday by Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott.

The unified law enforcement crackdown on protesters was authorized Tuesday afternoon in an executive order signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson.  The order declared a state of emergency following three previous nights of demonstration protests and marches that ended with incidents of vandalism to the state capitol building and downtown businesses, fires and burglaries.

The arrests occurred about 10:30 PM after a large group of protesters were told they were in violation of the city curfew and departed the Governor’s Mansion at 1800 Center Street.  As the protesters walked north from the mansion district along Broadway Street, a glass doorway at the McDonald’s Restaurant near 7th Street was shattered by an unidentified person among the group.

As the protesters approached 2nd Street and Broadway, the group was believed to be responsible for vandalism at the Pulaski County Courthouse.  Law enforcement officers assigned to the unified team converged on the group near the Broadway Bridge and began making arrests.

At least two of those taken into custody had been armed with pistols and one attempted to conceal the gun before being escorted by police into the Pulaski County Detention Center.

The joint operation team was comprised of law enforcement officers from the Arkansas State Police, Little Rock Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Sherwood Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas Highway Police, Arkansas Game and Fish, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Drug Enforcement Administration.
 

COTTON APPLAUDS U.K.'S HONG KONG ANNOUNCEMENT
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the United Kingdom announced it would allow three million people from Hong Kong to live and work in Britain in response to China's National Security law:

"I applaud the U.K.'s decision to open its arms to Hong Kongers fleeing the tyrannical regime in Beijing. Hong Kongers shouldn't be left to fend for themselves as the Communist Party destroys the city's freedoms.

BOOZMAN BOASTS LOAN FLEXIBILITY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported adding flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make it more accessible for Arkansas small businesses in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate-passed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act updates the PPP, a program that provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.  

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the PPP. According to the SBA, it has approved more 40,591 loans worth more than $3.2 billion to Arkansas small businesses. 

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been critical to helping Arkansas small businesses weather this pandemic. This legislation builds on its success and strengthens the PPP, so we can support the changing needs of small businesses as they continue to face challenges through the phases of reopening. Providing flexibility is a commonsense step to ensuring small businesses can utilize these loans to stay afloat and keep their workers employed,” Boozman said. 

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act:
Increases the covered period of a loan from eight weeks to 24 weeks and extends the rehiring deadline;
Increases the current limitation on nonpayroll expenses for loan forgiveness from 25 percent to 40 percent;
Extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to December 31, 2020;
Extends loan terms from two to five years; and
Ensures full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that accept PPP loans.
The House of Representatives passed this legislation last week. It’s headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
At the end of May, the SBA reported approximately $140 billion remained available for PPP loans. Small business owners can find local SBA-approved lenders here.

 

RUTLEDGE APPOINTS LITTLE ROCK ATTORNEY TO ETHICS COMMISSION
Says, ‘Denese will provide competent, fair and unbiased judgment’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is proud to appoint Denese Fletcher of Little Rock to the Ethics Commission. The purpose ofFletcher 2020 appointment the Ethics Commission is to serve as the compliance and enforcement agency regarding Arkansas’s standard of conduct, as well as disclosure laws concerning candidates for public office, state and local public officials, lobbyist and committees, and individuals involved with initiatives.

“I am honored to appoint Denese to this Commission,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “She is a legal expert with an exceptional career and I believe Denese will provide competent, fair and unbiased judgment when considering matters brought before her as an Ethics Commissioner.”

“I appreciate this opportunity to serve on the Ethics Commission given to me by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge,” said Denese Fletcher. “I am honored to serve the citizens of Arkansas in this capacity.”

Since 1997, Fletcher has practiced law as a civil and criminal trial attorney with expertise in criminal defense in juvenile, district, circuit and federal courts. She served as an Arkansas Deputy Public Defender from 2001 to 2009 and she served as a defense attorney for the U.S. Criminal Justice Act Panel from 1997 to 2014. Fletcher also worked as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Pulaski County in the early 90’s.
 

Fletcher received her juris doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She currently serves as President of the W. Harold Flowers Law Society and has been a girl scout leader at the St. Mark Baptist Church for over 10 years. Fletcher is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. where she currently chairs the HBCU For Life Committee which promotes HBCUs throughout the state of Arkansas.

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS $2.5 MILLION TO HELP HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS RESPOND TO COVID-19
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding $2.5 million to Arkansas to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19.

In this latest round of funding, HHS distributed a total of $2,553,240 to hospitals and other health care entities in the state to train workforces, procure supplies and equipment, and expand telemedicine in response to COVID-19. It comes from legislation Congress passed, with the Arkansas delegation’s support, to address the coronavirus crisis.

“The risk for additional coronavirus outbreaks in Arkansas continues to be a high concern. These funds will help increase provider preparedness, safeguard those on the front line and ensure our medical community can continue to provide high-quality care during this public health emergency,” members said.
  

BOOZMAN BOOSTS LOAN FLEXIBILITY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported adding flexibility to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make it more accessible for Arkansas small businesses in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate-passed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act updates the PPP, a program that provides low-interest loans to small businesses to use for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, with a portion of the loan eligible for forgiveness.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the PPP. According to the SBA, it has approved more 40,591 loans worth more than $3.2 billion to Arkansas small businesses.

“The Paycheck Protection Program has been critical to helping Arkansas small businesses weather this pandemic. This legislation builds on its success and strengthens the PPP, so we can support the changing needs of small businesses as they continue to face challenges through the phases of reopening. Providing flexibility is a commonsense step to ensuring small businesses can utilize these loans to stay afloat and keep their workers employed,” Boozman said.

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act:

  • Increases the covered period of a loan from eight weeks to 24 weeks and extends the rehiring deadline;
  • Increases the current limitation on nonpayroll expenses for loan forgiveness from 25 percent to 40 percent;
  • Extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to December 31, 2020;
  • Extends loan terms from two to five years; and
  • Ensures full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that accept PPP loans.

The House of Representatives passed this legislation last week. It’s headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

At the end of May, the SBA reported approximately $140 billion remained available for PPP loans. Small business owners can find local SBA-approved lenders here.

June 03. 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 03, 2020
The focus of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference Wednesday was establishing efforts to curb outbreaks among the elderly population of the state, specifically those within nursing homes and long term healthcare facilities.

A plan has been set up through a partnership between the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Healthcare Association, with the purpose of testing up to 18,000 long-term care center residents and up to 20,000 staff members.

The Governor says the purpose of the mass testing for nursing home residents is to protect the state's most vulnerable population who also represent loved ones of friends and family.

As far as cases go, there are now 8,067 total COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas with 2,208 of those considered active. There are currently 138 hospitalized with the corona virus in Arkansas, and 30 of those patients remain on a ventilator. The state COVID-19 death toll has now reached 142.

The number of Arkansans who have recovered from COVID-19 is now over 5,700.

Rachel Bunch of The Arkansas Healthcare Association confirms Arkansas nursing home statistics fair well in comparison to the National numbers. Bunch also says no long-term care facility staff members have died from COVID-19 as of yet.

Again, there are now 8,067 total COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas with 2,208 of those considered active. There are currently 138 hospitalized with the coronavrius in Arkansas, and 30 of those patients remain on a ventilator. The state COVID-19 death toll has now reached 142.

The number of Arkansans who have recovered from COVID-19 is now over 5,700. Ouachita County is reporting 10 positive cases with 10 recoveries. Union County is reporting 173 positive cases with 139 recovered and 9 deaths. Calhoun County is still reporting no positive tests. Columbia County reports 22 positive cases, 17 recovered and 2 deaths. Dallas County is reporting 3 positive, 1 recovery and no deaths. Clark County is reporting 39 positive cases with 37 recovered and no deaths. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON – SPECIAL PRESS CONFERENCE TO ADDRESS PROTESTS
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called a special press conference Wednesday afternoon to address Unified Law Enforcement response in protecting peaceful protests throughout the state.

The protests have been called in response to George Floyd who died after Police Officer Derek Chavin killed him last week. Chavin and the other officers involved have since been charged for the incident. However, outrage and reaction have continued to spread throughout the country, and Arkansas has been no exception.

Governor Asa Hutchinson says he has begun conversations with community members about ensuring Arkansas is a state that does not allow Law Enforcement to partake in any discriminatory actions.

The Governor was joined by Arkansas State Police Director Bill Bryant, who reported troopers will continue to protect protestors when peaceful as well as protecting citizens against activities that turn violent. Bryant also confirmed many of the attendees at recent events were found to have out-of-state license plates.

More information about The Arkansas State Police and Law Enforcement Regulations in Arkansas, visit https://asp.arkansas.gov/

ARTIST GAY BECHTELHEIMER TO JUDGE KITCHEN TABLE ART, STUDENT ART COMPETITION AT SAAC 
The South Arkansas Arts Center has announced the judge and extended entry deadlines for Kitchen Table Art, a showcase and competition of artwork begun at home during the school closures and recently completed. First step: Go to www.saac-arts.org and register artwork. Second step: deliver ready to hang/display work to SAAC 10am-4pm Wednesday, June 2 - Thursday, June 4, or 10am-noon on Friday, June 5. 

Gay Bechtelheimer will judge the divisions of K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Bechtelheimer is the recently retired art teacher at Northwest Elementary. She says, "When we nurture creativity in children, we are preparing for the future. We are providing then with tools to excel in all arenas: math, science, social studies, and of course, art. A creative thinker is able to see all facets of the crystal and is empowered to solve problems with a variety of solutions and become more tolerant of diverse ideas." She has recently worked with MAD to provide art experiences via virtual engagement.

The event is free and open to all students. Please enter in the grade level most recently completed. Artwork is accepted in any medium, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional work will both be accepted. Artists may enter one piece of artwork created while working at home during the quarantine, started on or after March 14. No entry fee or SAAC membership required. Linda and Louis Hall have sponsored the competition, and awards in each division are: First Place $75; Second Place $50; Third Place $25. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prizes.

Next up in the gallery will be "Under Quarantine: Art Under Unprecedented Circumstances," an exhibit and competition open to all adults age 18 and over. Both exhibits will be open to small groups for viewing in the SAAC galleries. For more information on these two fun exhibits, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

June 02, 2020

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 02, 2020
The highest single day increase of Community COVID-19 cases was reported during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily update Tuesday as 375 new reports were announced. Officials say only one of the newest cases was sourced from a correctional facility and the remaining 374 new cases are considered community spread.

In total, the state of Arkansas now reports 7,818 COVID-19 cases with 2,115 considered active. There are currently 132 people hospitalized with the illness and 31 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time. The number Arkansans who have recovered from the illness is now 5,567 and the COVID-19 death toll has reached 136.

Dr. Nate Smith reported the counties with high numbers of COVID-19 being reported. Dr. Smith called out each county that has documented cases with double digits.  Counties with the highest number of cases: Benton, Pulaski, Washington, & Sevier. June testing goal is 120,000.

Dr. Jose Romero, who is set to serve as Interim state health secretary upon Dr. Smith's departure, provided an update on how the Latino community is handling the rise in cases among the state's Hispanic community.

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 7,818 COVID-19 cases with 2,115 considered active. There are currently 132 people hospitalized with the illness and 31 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time. The number Arkansans who have recovered from the virus is now 5,567 and the COVID-19 death toll in Arkansas has reached 136.  Ouachita County is reporting 10 positive cases with 10 recoveries. Union County is reporting 173 positive cases with 132 recovered and 8 deaths. Calhoun County is still reporting no positive tests. Columbia County reports 23 positive cases, 16 recovered and 2 deaths. Dallas County is reporting 1 positive case and 1 recovery. Clark County is reporting 39 positive cases with 35 recovered and no deaths. 23 positive cases, 16 recovered and 2 deaths.

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO  MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, June 4th at 12:00 at  Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Gary Steelman who will give an update on school during COVD-19.

You are required to wear a mask while entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one, they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, and you’ll sign in and you will report your temperature. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
The Golf Tournament is this weekend, June 6th. If you know someone that needs to be asked about hole sponsors or anyone that wants a team please let the Club know.  There is a nice 2020 Ford Ranger displayed at the club for the lucky person who hits a hole-in-one! If you see a Facebook live from Jim Dick, please share it! Also, remember that additional volunteers will be needed at the golf tournament because we can't depend on Key Club to be there due to it being after school is out.

SURVEY: MOST SMALL BUSINESSES NEARING THE END OF THE PPP 8-WEEK FORGIVENESS PERIOD
Majority of businesses reporting their 8-week period will end by the end of June
LITTLE ROCK (June 2, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today updating the utilization and financial assistance of both small business lending programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. The survey also explores the familiarity of the Main Street Lending Program and the prevalence of COVID-19 related to employee leave.

“The majority of small businesses are still negatively impacted by the economic crisis,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Adding flexibility to the PPP loan forgiveness is one thing our elected officials can do to ease the burden on small businesses nationwide.”

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “This vital source of funds has proven critical to keeping businesses open and Arkansans working.”

Key findings to the survey include:

The majority of small businesses have applied and received a PPP loan.
Over three-quarters (77%) have applied for a PPP loan and 93% of those have received the loan.
Most small businesses interested in the loan have already applied. Most small businesses are currently in the middle of their 8-week forgiveness window, with some nearing the end of it.
The 8-week period ends for 7% between now and June 8th, another 23% report their period ends between June 8-14th, and just over one-third (36%) will move through to the end of their 8-weeks the second half of June.
The remaining 24% of borrowers are still in the early weeks of using their loan, with their 8-weeks ending in July.

The vast majority of small business owners (67%) who have a PPP loan have found the loan very helpful in financially supporting their business. 
Another 14% report that the PPP loan is moderately helpful and 11%, somewhat helpful. 
Only 2% said that the PPP loan is not at all helpful and 7% said that it is too early to tell. Borrowers are interested in the forgiveness provision and anticipate using most of their loan within their 8-week period.
Almost one-quarter of borrowers who have received a loan have already used at least 75% of the proceeds, with 4% reporting they have used the loan entirely. 
Over one-third (34%) have used between 50-75% of the loan and another 25% have used between 25049% of the loan to date. 

To receive loan forgiveness, small businesses are required to complete an application and submit for approval. About half of owners are using a CPA or similar professional to help fill out the application.

About 60% of borrowers have reviewed the application and 40% have not. 
Just over half of borrowers are filling out the application themselves or are having someone on staff fill it out.
Fifty-four percent of borrowers are using an Excel workbook to keep track of expenses, 47% are not. About 35% of respondents applied for an EIDL loan; the majority of them has been approved.
Thirty-eight percent have not heard back yet, and 5% were denied.
About 36% have received the loan, up from 21% who had received the loan as of May 18th. 
Sixty-nine percent of those who requested the EIDL emergency advance have received those funds. The Main Street Lending Program is very unfamiliar among small business owners.
Only 12% report that they are somewhat familiar with the program.
The vast majority (88%) were not at all familiar with it. 
Just 1% of respondents anticipate applying for a loan and 21% are not sure yet. 
Very few employers have had an employee take leave due to COVID-19.
Only about 13% reported having employees take leave.
Of those who have had an employee take leave, 30% of those employers have claimed the tax credit for reimbursement of those costs and 70% have not.

The full survey is available here.
 

RUTLEDGE'S STATEMENT ON FEDERAL COURT'S DECISION UPHOLDING ARKANSAS' LETHAL INJECTION PROTOCOL
Says, ‘Today’s final judgment reaffirms the constitutionality of Arkansas’s execution protocol’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Arkansas’s three-drug lethal injection. That protocol uses midazolam, vercuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. For years, convicted murderers and death-penalty opponents have waged a legal battle against Arkansas’s lethal injection protocol to prevent just and lawful sentences from being carried out. The decision follows Rutledge’s previous successful defense of that protocol on appeal in April 2017.

“As the Attorney General, I enforce the laws in the State and bring justice for families who have long been devastated at the hands of these murderers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Today’s final judgment reaffirms the constitutionality of Arkansas’s execution protocol.”
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON INCREASED VIOLENCE AGAINST POLICE
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after reports of violence increased in American cities overnight, especially attacks on police officers:

“Violent anarchists and insurrectionists were once again allowed to rule the streets last night in too many cities. In places like St. Louis, they responded by shooting, beating, and running over police officers who weren’t given the support they deserve to restore order. In Las Vegas, an officer was shot in the head. The only way to end this insurrection is the overwhelming display of force.”

PLANNED PROTEST IN CAMDEN SUNDAY AFTERNOON
From Little Rock protests to Camden, a post went out over social media Saturday evening for people to meet at 2 PM Sunday at the old Walmart parking lot with signs and voices to protest the death of George Floyd.  Camden Police Chief Bo Woody became concerned about the part of the post that says wear a mask, cover tattoos, and scars, also, bring first-aid kits.

Police Chief Bo Woody says that he can’t guarantee the post is authentic, but it looks like, cause of the talk back and forth on it.  “It says peaceful, but it also worries me because it says to bring a mask and first-aid kit.”  The property management for the old Wal-Mart location, called the Camden Police Department and said they did not want anyone on the property, and to arrest anyone who is caught trespassing.  Whomever organized this protest, didn’t file for a permit either.  Chief Woody instructed his Officers to barricade tape the parking lot and not allow anyone access.  Chief Woody called on Clayton Richard of The Arkansas State Police and Sheriff Norwood to assist.  Chief could only assume everyone was to meet at the old Wal-Mart parking lot, but if the Protesters were detoured by CPD early presence, Chief feared they may setup somewhere else, like go out on the four-lane. 

Chief Woody requested the help of Religious Leaders in the community to keep this peaceful.  Maybe pray with the Protesters during these trying times, and there just isn’t enough of that going around.  Camden Mayor Julian Lott along with the Chief are hoping they can meet the person the person who is leading this, to have a private conversation and help him or her organize this the right way, and make the event safe for everyone.

The Mayor explained how George Floyd’s death did not happen in Camden, but “People are feeling it in Camden, and I don’t want it in Camden, but people are fearing it in Camden, but today is not the time. It’s got to be addressed, but people need to clear their heads, and give the City a little more time to figure out a little bit more and organize this properly and find somewhere that is right, where we can all talk, be as loud as you want, be heard, bring your signs, bring your bullhorns, and when that moment is over, if you don’t have a manifesto, or some kind of goals in writing, you’ve wasted your time, but if that what you want to do for that two or three hours, it won’t make any difference if you don’t vote, get involved in school boards, politics and elections.”  The Mayor followed up with, “If that’s all you want to do is make a lot of noise, that is permissible in the City of Camden.  What will not be permissible is damage or destruction to any business or property in the City of Camden.”

Just before 2 PM, Sunday afternoon, Chief Woody and Mayor Lott arrived at the old Wal-Mart parking lot.  The area had been clearly marked off with the Police tape.  Camden Police vehicles where staged around entry and exit points of the parking lot.  State Police were staged three vehicle in the East Bound lane of the bypass just after KFC, and before Popeye’s.  There were two other Arkansas State Police vehicles facing West bound of the bypass in front of Victory Church.  Ouachita County Sheriff Norwood was also there on scene, and had dispatched his Deputies to the Courthouse and down town area to patrol. 

Some people drove by in curiosity to see what was playing out.  Others yelled obstinacies at the officers from their vehicle window as they drove by.  There were a few vehicles with Texas plates there to join the protest.  There was a small gathering of people standing at the parked cars in the parking lot on the Atwoods side, where the parking lot end at Rent A Center to join the old Wal-Mart parking lot.  The Mayor and Chief were there talking with bystanders and answering questions from what’s going on, can we not protest, to why is the City Parks closed? 

The Mayor stood from the curb where people were parked and looked on,  and listened to the Mayor’s prepared speech.  The onlookers where intrigued with his message, up till the Mayor asked, are you involved in your community?  Do you participate in Civic Clubs and organizations?  Do you to the Quorum Court meetings?   Are you attending City Council meetings?  Do you go the OPED meetings?  Many of the crowd of about 18 people muttered  words of disappointment there wasn’t going to get to be a Black Lives Matter Protest and left as Mayor Lott was inviting the captive audience to attend the Roundtable public discussion at the Business Incubator on Adams Street at 10:00 AM, June 2nd, with Mayor Lott and Chief Woody.

People appeared to have lost interest in the post to protest just after 3 PM, and slowly left and the Camden Police Department relieved Officers from their parking lot assignment one at a time. 

ACLU OF ARKANSAS WARNS OFFICIALS TO AVOID EXCESSIVE FORCE, RESPECT FREE SPEECH IN PROTEST RESPONSE
LITTLE ROCK – The ACLU of Arkansas has condemned the use of tear gas, pepper balls, rubber bullets and military tactics against protesters demonstrating against police abuse and the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and urged state and local law enforcement to use de-escalation and community policing techniques rather than excessive, militarized responses.

Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas interim executive director and legal director made the following statement: 

“Tear gas has been banned in warfare and has no place in our communities. The outpouring of anger and frustration we’re seeing in our streets is a direct result of the epidemic of racial terror and police brutality that has been perpetrated against Black people for centuries. An aggressive and escalating militarized response by law enforcement threatens the lives and well-being of protesters and journalists and reinforces the cycle of violence and brutality that spurred these protests in the first place.  We urge enforcement agencies to respect the constitutional rights of demonstrators and use proven de-escalation and community policing tactics to protect the safety and well-being of our communities.

“In this moment of national civil uprising, elected officials – and all of us – have an obligation to confront and address the systemic racism that has terrorized Black communities and fueled a centuries-long scourge of police brutality and violence. The ACLU of Arkansas will remain committed to combating institutionalized racism and dismantling white supremacy once and for all.” 

AUDUBON ARKANSAS: LONG-AWAITED SOLAR RULING IS A WIN FOR CLEAN ENERGY - FORECASTS SUNNY DAYS AHEAD FOR THE NATURAL STATE.
LITTLE ROCK – This afternoon, the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s (PSC) long-awaited ruling will retain the full retail credit for all residential and business customers with solar installations up to 1 Megawatt through the end of 2022.

The ruling was the final order in the PSC’s multi-year docket to determine the future of customer-owned solar compensation. Audubon Arkansas has participated as an active stakeholder advising the PSC since the beginning of the docket in 2016, calling for market choice and fair treatment for Arkansans who wish to install solar at their homes and businesses.

“While we are still sorting through the details, it appears to be a big victory for solar in Arkansas,” said Gary Moody, National Audubon Society’s director of state and local climate strategy and an Arkansas native. “Throughout this process, Audubon delivered hundreds of pages of evidence from national experts and thousands of comments from Arkansans who wanted Arkansas to live up to our potential as a solar energy leader. Today’s decision rejects utility efforts to undermine solar’s financial viability in Arkansas. The commission has created a stable environment for Arkansans who want to go solar.”

The ruling locks in a 1:1 net-metering credit for the next two-and-a-half years, and after that puts the burden on utilities to prove the need for any future changes. It also guarantees 20 years of a 1:1 net-metering rate grandfathering for customers who adopt solar before December 31, 2022. The ruling also provides a pathway for large customer-owned solar from 1 MW to 20MW with the inclusion of a “grid charge” initial set to $0 but adjustable through future proceeding.

In addition to stimulating the economy and creating jobs, opening up the market for solar energy will also benefit Arkansas’s environment by protecting our wildlife and preserving our natural resources.

“By creating smart clean-energy policies, we protect birds and the natural habitats they need,” said Moody. “To protect Arkansas’s birds we must clean up the ways we make and use energy, and the ability for Arkansans to choose to affordably install solar on the roof of their homes or businesses is a critical part of that solution.”
In March of last year, the Arkansas State Legislature, with overwhelming, bipartisan support, passed the Solar Access Act of 2019 (Act 464). The Solar Access Act, crafted and supported by an Audubon-led coalition, established a gold standard for Arkansas solar energy by opening up the state’s market and providing more choices for consumers.

“While it may not be perfect, the PSC’s ruling is tremendous news for Arkansas consumers and businesses alike,” said Moody. “Equally important, this ruling carries forward the positive momentum achieved by the passage of the Solar Access Act. We appreciate the diligent work of the PSC and the leadership of Chairman Thomas through this process.”

The full order can be found here.

Prior to 2019, Arkansas’s policies regarding solar energy had not been updated in nearly 20 years. For more information about the Solar Access Act, click HERE.

About Audubon Arkansas: Audubon was established in 2000 as a state office of the National Audubon Society. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at ar.audubon.org.  

JUNE 1, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – JUNE 01, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reported the latest COVID-19 update for the state from the Northwest region in Rogers Monday afternoon. Governor Hutchinson briefly addressed the protests that have emerged in Little Rock, West Memphis, Fayetteville, Conway, Jonesboro and other areas around the natural state in response to the Murder of George Floyd in Minnesota last week.

Although the Governor stated he believes the protests are justified, he also said no violence against others or destruction of property is acceptable, as he feels it is counterproductive to the message of peace and unity that many protestors are trying to call for.

As far as the COVID-19 update, officials report that cases are up to 7,443 in Arkansas, and 1,909 of those are considered active. There are currently 121 people hospitalized with the illness, and 26 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time. At the time of the press conference, no new coronavirus deaths had been reported within the last 24 hours, and 5,401 people are now considered to be in recovery.

The Governor also noted that he has met with leaders of the poultry industry recently to address the issue of coronovirus spreading within the working environments of poultry plants. Although many of his comments were referencing Northwest Arkansas plants, he did note that many industry leaders have taken great precautions to protect against community spread of the illness while also working to keep up with the demand of the supply chain.

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 7,443, and 1,909 of those are considered active. There are currently 121 people hospitalized with the illness, and 26 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time. At the time of the press conference, no new coronavirus deaths had been reported and 5,401 people are now considered to be in recovery.  We will continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SENDING PREPAID DEBIT CARDS
LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that they have begun to release Economic Impact Payments in the form of prepaid debit cards, instead of the paper checks many were anticipating. In accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the assigned amount of funds will be placed on prepaid debit cards and sent out to eligible taxpayers. 

“My Office has received numerous calls from concerned Arkansans who have recently received the Economic Impact Payments in the form of a prepaid card,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans should know these prepaid cards in a plain envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services are actually from the federal government.”

If you receive an Economic Impact Paymecnt Card, it will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.”  The free prepaid cards are issued with detailed instructions on how to easily activate the card. Recipients can transfer the funds from card to an existing bank account without any transaction fees. Funds can also be withdrawn at the ATM, but a transaction fee may apply. The prepaid card can be used anywhere Visa is accepted and provides fraud protections for consumers. Each card gives cardholders the ability to check their balance online, on the mobile app or over the phone without incurring fees.

Rutledge provides the following tips when activating the prepaid card:
Follow the directions provided with the prepaid card and visit EIPCard.com to activate the card.
When activating the card, make sure to have a secure PIN number and do not share the number with anyone.
Watch out for sites requesting your card number and PIN.
Use the EIPCard.com site to search for surcharge-free ATMs, view the fee schedule and cardholder agreement information.

For more information about Economic Impact Payments, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center. If you suspect online phishing scams related to the Economic Impact Payments, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.


RUTLEDGE ISSUES STATEMENT ON LITTLE ROCK PROTESTS
LITTLE ROCK - On Saturday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued this statement following the protests in Little Rock related to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

“Every American deserves justice, and I will always defend and protect our right to protest peacefully; however, we cannot tolerate violence and destruction. Arkansans, now is the time for civil discourse and not civil unrest.” 
 

COTTON LEADS COLLEAGUES IN SUBMITTING AMICUS BRIEF ON BEHALF OF GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN
Washington, D.C.—Today Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) will file an Amicus Brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting General Michael Flynn’s Petition for a Writ of Mandamus. Senators Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) joined Senator Cotton’s brief. Senator Cotton released the following statement on the brief:

“Judge Sullivan is abusing his judicial power for political purposes. It’s time for General Flynn’s nightmare to end. I’m confident our court system will address this injustice swiftly.”

Background: Last month, the Department of Justice asked Judge Sullivan of the D.C. District Court to dismiss their case against General Michael Flynn. The facts uncovered showed General Flynn did not commit the offense he had pled to and was the victim of biased and corrupt investigators. Instead of granting the government’s request, Judge Sullivan allowed the case to continue and announced he would appoint an outside party to explore perjury charges against General Flynn. General Flynn then petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for a Writ of Mandamus.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON THE PRESIDENT'S ACTIONS AGAINST CHINESE AGGRESSION
Washington, D.C. — On Friday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below after the president’s announcement of several actions against Chinese Communist aggression, including denying visas to Chinese students affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, withdrawing from the World Health Organization, removing special privileges afforded to Hong Kong that had enriched the Chinese Communist Party, and protecting American investors from lawless Chinese companies.

Senator Cotton has long advocated for visa restrictionswithdrawing from the WHO, and protecting American investors from rule-breaking Chinese firms.   

“I applaud the administration for its vigilance against the Chinese Communist threat. In particular, I’m pleased the administration will be adopting policies similar to my PLA Visa Security Act. America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines shouldn’t have to face Chinese weapons systems designed by individuals trained in the United States, incorporating technology stolen from the U.S. military. I look forward to working with the administration to implement further measures to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression.”

Background:
Last year, Senator Cotton introduced legislation that would prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States. This week, Cotton also introduced new legislation banning PRC nationals from studying in STEM fields at the graduate level. Cotton earlier this year called for the United States to withdraw from the World Health Organization. Cotton also introduced legislation last year banning rule-breaking Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges, and cosponsored a similar measure which passed the Senate earlier this month.

SAAC HOSTS FIRST SUMMER VISUAL LEARNING CAMP JUNE 1-5 WITH ARTIST MIKE MEANS 
Summer is finally upon us, and it is time for SAAC’s Virtual Summer Camps to begin!  As announced earlier, this year’s camps will all be held online, and your kids are welcome to join in on the FREE fun and learning via your computer, tablet, or smartphone!  Many of SAAC’s talented Arts Academy teachers will be available through a series of virtual class videos that students can complete on their own schedule and at their own pace.

The first virtual class will be taught by SAAC’s gifted graphic arts teacher, Mike Means, and begins on Monday, June 1.  Mike’s fun and funny nature makes him an instant hit with the kids, so don’t miss this one.

“All of the projects in my portion of SAAC's Summer Camp series will be a combination of art and science,” said Means.  “The projects will be fun ways of talking about specific themes like engineering, design, graphics, and three-dimensional art. My projects will be design plus form and function. Art and design are everywhere… let's have FUN in the process."

Originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas, Means started out as a draftsman and proceeded to the University of Arkansas seeking an architecture degree. Fate stepped in, and he was pointed in another direction: graphic arts. After studying for 2 years at the University of Arkansas, he took on another adventure by joining the U.S Navy. He spent almost 10 years as a “draftsman/illustrator” for the Navy. After leaving the service he worked as a graphic designer for several companies including International Paper in Camden, Arkansas. Still remained in the field of graphic design, Means now runs his own business, teaches at SAAC, and also does freelance design.

“Although I work in many mediums, I love to draw”, said Means. “I currently specialize in digital creations. Working primarily in Adobe Photoshop, I have been leading classes at the South Arkansas Arts Center that show kids the FUN in painting and drawing on the computer.” 

Students can continue to register throughout the summer. By registering, we will be able to keep the family informed of new camp announcements and program updates.  Best of all, students can enjoy summer camp at any time, choosing to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once in an art extravaganza. Each instructor will include a supply list of materials and all the infomation needed to complete the projects in their videos. 

The SAAC teachers are all looking forward to a fun summer of art with your kids! The illustrious and talented group of artists who will be leading online camps throughout the summer include Mike Means, Maria Villegas, Jorge Villegas, Katie Harwell, Stephanie Lowrey, Cami Lowrey, Elizabeth Wood and Jacob George.  More information and dates of specific classes will be forthcoming.

Visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to access the summer camp videos or register a student.  For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

MAY 29, 2020

RUTLEDGE SUES UNLICENSED NORTHWEST CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS FOR FAILING TO COMPLETE WORK
Says, ‘When businesses take consumers’ money and agree to do a job, they have to follow through’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced she is filing a lawsuit against Alma resident, Laura Anne Jones and her business Purple Hat Construction, LLC for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). The lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleges that in several instances between April 2019 and January 2020, Jones offered residential contractor services to consumers, obtained money before performing those services, and failed to complete those services. Jones has never been licensed by the Arkansas Contractors Board as a residential contractor.

“When businesses take consumers’ money and agree to do a job, they have to follow through,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not tolerate businesses taking advantage of Arkansans or accepting money from deceptive practices, nor will I tolerate businesses who try to skirt the law by not registering with licensing boards.”

Jones, doing business at Purple Hat Construction, contracted with customers in northwest Arkansas for home repair projects, requiring a large deposit upfront to reserve the date for work to be done. Upon the scheduled date to begin the project or shortly after the work began, Jones would contact the homeowner with excuses making her unavailable to complete the work and unable to provide a refund. Violations of the ADTPA can be assessed up to $10,000 per violation.

Rutledge is now seeking restitution for harmed consumers, civil penalties, an injunction and other costs and fees incurred by the State of Arkansas in resolving this issue for consumers.

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by similar actions or any other contractor, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit www.ArkansasAG.gov.

May 28, 2020

THE DISTRICT COURT OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY SET TO RESUME ARRAIGNMENTS AND COURT
District Court will resume arraignment sessions on June 17th and June 18™, 2020. Both sessions begin at 9:00 am with Covid-19 guidelines. These sessions have been reduced to 50 defendants each day.

The District Court plans to hold both arraignment and trial sessions in July, 2020. Due to all of the court sessions that have been rescheduled, the Court realizes many will be unaware of their court date. Many of the court notices have been returned due to incorrect addresses.

The District Court is asking the public to call the office at 870-836-0331 to inquire as to their court date and information pertaining to court reopening. Also, the public is reminded to please pay their fines according to their payment plan at either the Camden Police Department or the Ouachita County Sheriff's Department.

The City of Camden community service program has been reinstated. If anyone needs to get set up on community service or pay their probation fees, please contact probation officer Ms. Debbie Brown at 870-836-8544.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 28, 2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 6,538. This information was reported during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference update Thursday afternoon.

Additionally, officials also reported that the state has had 4,583 residents recover from the Coronavirus, and 125 Arkansans are currently hospitalized with the illness, while 22 of those patients are on ventilators. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll is now at 125.

Arkansas Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Nathaniel Smith reiterated a concern for the virus spreading within minority populations across the state, noting that Sevier County has had 11 newly reported cases with 45% of those reports among the area's Latino community.

Another area of concern expressed by Dr. Smith was the lack of symptoms shown by persons testing positive for the Virus, as he says roughly half of the total case reports in the state were "asymptomatic"residents at the time testing was conducted.

In terms of state testing, Governor Hutchinson confirms the state goal of conducting 60,000 tests in the month of May has been surpassed, as the latest testing numbers reported were around 67,500.

Before concluding the update and opening up the floor for questions from the media, The Governor tagged state Economic Recovery Taskforce Chairman Stueart Walton, who provided the group's interim report for the public:

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 6,538. Officials also reported that the state has had 4,583 residents recover from the Coronavirus, and 125 Arkansans are currently hospitalized with the illness, with 22 of those patients on ventilators. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll is now at 125. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

LYNN RAMSAY COMMUNITY CENTER FISH AND CRAWFISH COOKOUT FUNDRAISER
There will be a Community Center Fish and Crawfish cookout at the Lynn Ramsay Community Building in Holly Springs on June 6th. Orders will be carry-out only. Plates include Catfish, hushpuppies, fries, slaw, beans, dessert, and drink OR

Crawfish, corn, potatoes, dessert, and drink. Pick up time will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $10.00 per plate. Please call orders in early to Betty Gurnsey at (870) 814-5334 or Dale Castleberry at (870) 687-1305.

May 27, 2020

SHOOTING AT THE RIGHT SPOT
On Sunday May 24, 2020 at 1:45 AM, The Ouachita County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to The Right Spot Just outside the city limits of Camden. The reporting party stated that there had been several shots fired and that they had witnessed a subject fleeing the area on foot. The reporting party also stated that he witnessed several vehicles leave the establishment.

Deputies arrived on scene a few minutes after the 911 call was received. Upon arrival deputies found a vacant parking lot with only a maroon four door Jeep parked at the front entrance of the club with no one around. A few minutes later the Ouachita County Sheriff 's Department received a call from the Ouachita County Medical Center that a 16-year-old male had come in with his mother with a gunshot wound to the leg. Soon after, another subject, a 25-year-old male had come in with a gunshot wound to his elbow.

Ouachita Counties Criminal Investigation Division arrived at the Medical Center shortly and began their investigation. Neither subject gave credible information regarding the incident. Investigators spoke with the mother of the juvenile, Katalyia Willis, who is co-owner of The Right Spot. Willis stated she wasn't present and didn't know what had happened during the incident.

On Tuesday morning Investigators spoke with Taki Willis and Katalyia Willis at the Sheriff 's Office who claim to own and Manage, The Right Spot. Both stated that one victim was a member of their security and the other is Kacalyia Willis's 16 -year-old son. The Sheriff 's Department is still in the process of contacting Dennis Harris the holder of the Liquor License that The Right Spot is conducting business under.

The Ouachita County Sheriff 's Department is reaching out to the community for any information in this incident. Two people were shot in this incident, one being a 16-year-old child. The owners of The Right Spot Taki Willis and Katalya Willis have yet to produce the 16-year-old for a formal interview or to produce the whereabouts of Ryan White the member of their security. At this time the Ouachita County Sheriff's Department and the Arkansas Beverage control are investigating this matter further.
 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 17, 2020
COVID-19 is still on the rise in Arkansas as 97 new cases were reported during Governor Hutchinson's Wednesday afternoon Press Conference update from Jonesboro. The state of Arkansas has now documented a total of 6,277 coronavirus cases and 1,733 of those are currently considered active. 4,424 people have recovered from the virus and 108 people are now hospitalized with COVID-19 with 22 patients on a ventilator. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll has reached 120.

Although increasing Coronavirus cases continue to be reported throughout the Natural State, the Governor noted that Wednesday's update features less than Tuesday's, with a comparison of 151 new reports from Monday to Tuesday versus Tuesday to Wednesday reports of 97 new cases.

The Governor also reports that the goal of 60,000 tests in the month of May was surpassed and testing efforts continue to grow around the state. Arkansas is currently boasting a low positivity rate as 1.9% of the 4,033 tests conducted in the last day were positive results. This most recent report showed the second time that Arkansas has conducted more than 4,000 tests in a Single day.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith spoke on businesses that have had "clusters" of active cases emerge around the state and he says a direct correlation between an increase in cases and the re- opening up of establishments has not yet been determined. Smith also expressed concern about a rise in COVID-19 cases within minority groups, specifically noting a rise in the Latino Community.

Before opening the floor up for questions, Governor Hutchinson noted commending the workers ensuring unemployment needs in Arkansas are met, and he also encouraged residents to go back to work when the opportunity is presented.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has reached 6,277 with 1,733 cases active and 4,424 people considered recovered. There are currently 108 Coronavirus patients hospitalized with 22 on a ventilator. The Arkansas COVID-19 death toll has now reach 120. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

ARKANSAS 30 DAY FUND AND ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
Little Rock, AR - Today the Arkansas 30 Day Fund and Arkansas State University announced a partnership to help Arkansas small businesses struggling as a result of COVID-19. The fund was established by Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her husband Bryan Sanders to provide forgivable loans of up to $3,000 to help bridge the gap for small businesses until they get relief from the government or demand returns for their product or service.

Through its Delta Center for Economic Development, A-State will recruit, interview and supply student volunteers to help with the processing of applications received by Arkansas 30 Day fund.
 
"We are so grateful for this partnership and to have the support of Arkansas State in our mission of helping as many Arkansas small businesses as possible," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Other 30 Day Fund programs around the country have similarly partnered with universities in their home states including the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. 

"Arkansas State University is honored to partner with the AR 30 Day Fund by offering our students a unique opportunity to help small businesses across Arkansas recover from the financial impact of COVID-19," ASU System President Charles L. Welch said. "This partnership also provides our students a chance to gain valuable experience with a nonprofit while learning more about the financial difficulties our small businesses are facing due to no fault of their own. I am appreciative of Sarah and Bryan Sanders for giving A-State students this opportunity."

"Providing real-world experiences is a key component of Arkansas State’s commitment to our students," A-State Chancellor Kelly Damphousse added. "Engagement with the community through a project like the Arkansas 30 Day Fund also fulfills one of the goals of our proposed strategic plan.  We are excited for this partnership between the A-State Delta Center and Arkansas 30 Day Fund."

Since launching less than two weeks ago the Arkansas 30 Day Fund has received applications from all across the state and has already begun distributing funds. 

"This is about Arkansans helping Arkansans, and we are encouraged by the outpouring of support from across our great state to help our fellow Arkansans weather this crisis," said Sanders.

Arkansas businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;

Based in Arkansas and have been operating for at least one year;

Owned and operated by an Arkansas resident.

To apply for assistance from the Arkansas 30 Day submit an application here: Arkansas30DayFund.com
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: HANG UP ON PAYCHECK PROTECTION LOAN SCAMMERS
LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are contacting local business owners by email and phone, pretending to be affiliated with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the CARES Act. While these loans have been the lifeline for many businesses and their employees, the scams can result in even greater losses and financial peril.

“These paycheck protection loans are a key part to our economic recovery to assist hard working Arkansas businesses and their employees,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, it is shameful and illegal to pose as a government entity to provide false and deceptive services to businesses that are trying to use the paycheck protection loan to survive.”

Scam artists look for ways to turn a business’s or consumer’s cash into their own. Often, government-assistance programs like the PPP provide an obvious and easy target. Scammers use these governmental initiatives by pretending to be an SBA-authorized lender or similar loan program by telephone or email. In email, scammers will impersonate legitimate websites and use email addresses by changing one or two letters in the name. By telephone, scammers sometimes utilize illegal robocalls as a way to reach business owners and consumers. In both situations, scam businesses are seeking upfront payment of fees.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified tips for Arkansans to use when contacted by email or phone regarding a paycheck protection loan:

If you get an email that looks like it is from the SBA or your bank, do not click on any links. Instead, go directly to the organization's website for information;

The government will never ask you to pay up front and it will not call to ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number;

Be cautious about companies that offer to expedite or facilitate your ability to get PPP loans. If you are considering using an online provider or lender, stick with those you already know and trust;

Be wary of companies you've never heard of or that call or send you emails out of the blue; and

Check the spelling of email and website addresses, as scammers frequently utilize addresses that appear similar to legitimate ones in order to deceive.

For more information, or if you suspect a PPP government-assistance scam, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

CALL FOR ART, SAAC TO HOST QUARANTINE ART EXHIBITS
It's time for a little fun and a little art at SAAC, socially distancing, of course! The South Arkansas Arts Center invites all area artists, students and adults, to participate in two upcoming art shows focusing on art created during quarantine. It is time to get your artwork ready for "Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures" with delivery days for student artwork on June 1-2, and "Under Quarantine: Art Under Unprecedented Circumstances" with delivery days for artwork by adults on June 26 & 29, at SAAC! 

"Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures," the student exhibit and competition, will hang in the Merkle and Price Galleries for viewing June 4-26, with pickup date of June 29. Ready to hang or display artwork can be delivered to SAAC 9am-4pm on June 1-2. Divisions are Grades K-4, Grades 5-8, and Grades 9-12. These divisions should be entered as grade just completed. Awards in each division will be presented. Prizes are: First Place $75; Second Place $50; Third Place $25. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prizes. Any medium may be used, any 2D or 3D art will be accepted and only one piece allowed per student. SAAC membership not required to exhibit student work, and no entry fee is required.

To enter, select one piece of artwork created by the student while working at home during the quarantine (March 14-present). It needs to be ready to display in the gallery. That means 2D work should be able to hang on the wall — in a frame, velcro on the back, pins to hang it from. 3D work is not required to hang.

Complete the online entry form. Rather than a paper entry form, visit the SAAC website and type the information in — student's name, grade just completed, title of the work, medium, and basic contact information for the family.
And then simply drop the artwork off at SAAC on June 1-2. Be sure the student's name, an email or phone number are also on the back of the piece.

"Under Quarantine: Art Under Unprecedented Circumstances," the adult exhibit and competition, is open to all adults age 18 and over. These ready to hang or display works should be delivered to SAAC on June 26, 9am-noon, and on June 29, 9am-4pm. The exhibit will be available for viewing July 1-July 28, with pickup date of July 29. Prizes will be awarded for Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize. Any medium may be used, any 2D or 3D art will be accepted and two pieces will be accepted. SAAC membership is not required to participate, and there is no entry fee. For more information or clarification, email kelly@saac-arts.org.

To enter, just select your artwork created while working at home during the quarantine (March 14-present). It needs to be ready to display in the gallery. That means 2D work should be able to hang on the wall — in a frame, velcro on the back, pins to hang it from. 3D work is not required to hang.

Complete the online entry form. Rather than a paper entry form, visit the SAAC website and type the information: name, title of the work, medium, and price, if the work is for sale (SAAC takes 35% commission on all sales). Work not for sale may be marked NFS, or price may be left blank.

Drop the artwork off at SAAC on June 26 or 29. Be sure the artist's name, an email or phone number are also on the back of the piece. Adults over age 18. Prizes are: Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize.

Both exhibits will be open to small groups for viewing in the SAAC galleries. For more information on these two fun exhibits, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

May 26, 2020

STREET CRIMES UNIT BUSTS  CAMDEN RESIDENCE
On Friday May 22, 2020 at approximately 12:00 pm, the Street Crimes Unit (SCU), which consists of the Camden Police Department, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Task Force, East Camden Police Department, Chidester Police Department, Bearden Police Department and the Stephen’s police Department, executed a drug search warrant at 186 Walnut Street om Camden. AR. The residence belongs to a Tommy Nelson

During the search approximate an ounce of Methamphetamine was located inside the house and/or on person(s) arrested inside the house. The resident had numerous items of drug paraphernalia throughout the residence to include two loaded syringes of meth. Approximately $5,000 in cash was seized by the SCU.

Several individuals were arrested on drug charges to include Possession of a Controlled Substance with Purpose to Deliver Meth, Possession of Meth, Possession of Crack Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm by Certain Person, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Maintaining a Drug Premises and Proximity to Certain Facilities (in this case a church.)

The individuals arrested were as folio in Lindsey, Everett Forester, Russell Thibault, John Storms, Brandi Armstrong, Thurman Leak and Tommy Nelson. A First Appearance was conducted on the arrestees later that afternoon. Tommy Nelson who was charged with most of the drug related offenses was given a $150,000 secure Bond.

While at the station two of the individuals arrested at the resident obtained more charges. Thurman Leak damaged the wall in the booking room and will be taken back to court today (Tuesday) on a Criminal Mischief charge. Franklin Lindsey bit Officer Lane's fingers and will be taken back to court today on a Battery on Law Enforcement charge.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 25, 2020
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased to 6,180. That's an increase of 151 from Monday. 1,729 cases are considered active. The death toll has increased by two, up to 119. Testing continues to increase, as 2,984 tests were administered over the past 24 hours. The positivity rate remains low at 3.3%. The number of hospitalizations has increased to 107. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson praised the increased testing effort at his Tuesday press conference. The state passed the goal of 60,000 tests during the month of May. As of Tuesday afternoon, 61,922 tests had been conducted during the month of May. 

As the statistics show a second peak in COVID-19 cases is occurring, Governor Hutchinson says the state is now at a critical point. Of the 151 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, 150 of those were detected out in the community. Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, reported that there is now an uptick of cases showing up in the Latino community:"

Dr. Smith emphasized what Arkansans need to continue to do as we move forward:"

Governor Hutchinson announced Tuesday that Dr. Nate Smith will be leaving Arkansas on August 28th. He has accepted a position with the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta. Governor Hutchinson named Dr. Jose Romero as the Interim Secretary of the Department of Health. Dr. Romero is a Professor of Pediatrics at UAMS. 

Governor Hutchinson also gave an update on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The Governor says that $16.8 million has now been paid out to over 15,000 claimants, as the staff at the Department of Finance and Administration worked through the holiday weekend to process claims. 

Again, there are now 6,180 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas as of Tuesday afternoon. 1,729 are considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus now stands at 119. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – MAY 25, 2020 AM
As of late Sunday afternoon, 147 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death were reported, bringing the state's cumulative total to 5,922 cases and 116 fatalities, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Active cases, that excludes people who have recovered or died, stood at 1,658 Sunday. 

The number of new cases was in line with an increased number of infections last week in what Governor Asa Hutchinson described in his most recent press conference on Saturday afternoon as a second peak, after an initial crest in late April. In addressing five areas of concern on Saturday, Governor Hutchinson says that the number of increased COVID-19 cases are due in part to a record level of testing being conducted around the state:"

 The Governor says that increased testing has improved the early warning system, which is like radar to know where cases occur in Arkansas. Increased testing also helps improve contact tracing, the method of finding and getting in touch with Arkansans who may have been exposed to the virus, to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Hutchinson says another encouraging sign is that the number of hospitalizations has remained flat:"

Governor Hutchinson also remains optimistic because the positivity rate of testing has remained steady at about five percent - that's about half of the national rate. Also, Arkansas has one of the lowest death rates among states around the country per capita. However, Governor Hutchinson warns that residents must continue to show discipline with personal safety habits:"

In other COVID-19 news, Governor Hutchinson recognized the state employees in the Department of Finance and Administration who worked throughout the holiday weekend processing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. The Governor says that 12,930 claimants had been approved and received payments over the weekend.

To help with technical questions and initiatives related to contact tracing, Governor Hutchinson announced that he will appoint a technical advisory board. Austin Porter, the state's deputy chief science officer, will serve as its chairman. The board will evaluate new technologies being used across the country and make recommendations to the Governor. The resources could include an app to assist with contact tracing. 

Again, there are now 5,922 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday afternoon, with 1,658 considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas stands at 116. Locally, in Ouachita County, there are ten cases with nine recoveries, leaving one case still considered active. In Union County, there are 157 cases with 96 recoveries, and six deaths reported, leaving 55 cases still considered active. In Columbia County, there are 20 cases, 12 recoveries, and two deaths reported, leaving the number of active cases at six. In Nevada County, there are four cases with three recoveries. In Clark County, there are 36 cases with 34 recoveries. And according to the Department of Health, Calhoun County is the only county in the state that hasn't reported at least one coronavirus case. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."
 

FIRST FRIDAY: MONTHLY MARKET IN CAMDEN
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR is excited to announce our first ever “Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, May 29th from 4PM till 6PM on Jefferson St in downtown Camden.
Vendors will be on hand selling vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, honey, jam & jelly, baked goods and flowers.  Jefferson St. will be turned into a one-way street for the market.  Customer may enter from either Harrison Ave or Jefferson St. to travel East towards Adams Ave. 

Be sure to watch the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR Facebook page to see which vendors will be present along with what items each one will have for sale on that evening. Pricing will also be listed on the Facebook Page to assist customers in being prepared prior to getting to the market.  Many vendors will also be taking pre-orders to make the purchasing go smoother.

Customers will not get out of their vehicles.  They will simply pull up to any vendor they wish to purchase from and hand off will be made off from the vendor.

Watch the Facebook page for specials being offered from downtown businesses during the time of the farmer’s market.

Also, to compliment the market, Ouachita County Extension Service will be offering Zoom classes prior to each market on various services dealing with a farmer’s market.  Classes will be free of charge.

This next week’s class will take place on Thursday, May 28th on the subject of “Cooking with Herbs”.  Watch for times and how to sign up.

Farmer’s Markets will continue on either a weekly or every other week schedule.  Watch for future details regarding schedule.

For more information:
firstfridaycamdenar@gmail.com
Facebook:  First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR
Text or Phone:  870-807-1468

 

BOOZMAN SECURES EXPANDED CONSERVATION OF WATERFOWL HABITAT IN SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, championed federal funding for the conservation of additional waterfowl habitat at the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge in Ashley and Union Counties.

“Arkansas’s world-class duck hunting tradition is only enhanced when we preserve wildlife habitat. The expansion of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge will allow for responsible conservation efforts to ensure future generations of outdoor enthusiasts can continue participating in and building on one of our state’s favorite pastimes that also drives significant economic activity,” Boozman sad.

The Migratory Bird Conservation Commission is responsible for directing funds raised by the sale of the Duck Stamp to waterfowl habitat and hunting conservation. Earlier this month, commission members approved more than $18.4 million to conserve 9,276 acres adjacent to the existing refuge land to protect and restore habitat for wintering waterfowl.

The commission approved six Migratory Bird Conservation Act proposals and the slate of North American Wetlands Conservation Act Standard Grant proposals in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Boozman has been a member since 2018.

May 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 22, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson began Friday's COVID-19 Press Conference with an update on the Arkansas economy, as he reported the state's 10.2% unemployment rate for April 2020 sits roughly 4% lower than the National average of 14.7%.

Hutchinson also revealed that the rate equates to 102,000 Arkansans being unemployed now in comparison to two months ago.

In terms of Financial Programs, The Governor says 8,198 Arkansas Ready For Business grant applications have been approved and those funds are being dispersed today and over the weekend. Pandemic Unemployment assistance is also on the way for gig economy workers and independent contractors, as the Governor assures the website is secure despite the recent security breach that was assessed by the FBI.

As far as coronavirus cases go, the total number reported in Arkansas is now 5,612, with 1,470 of those considered active. The number of patients hospitalized from the illness is 81, with 14 on a ventilator. There are now 4,029 people who have recovered from COVID-19 in the state, and the death count is now 113.

Dr. Nathaniel Smith listed the Counties where the newest cases have been reported from, noting that 11 sourced from Sevier, 22 from Benton, 32 out of Washington, 19 came from Pulaski, 10 from Crittenden County and 8 from Greene County. All other counties announcing new cases had 5 or fewer to report.

Arkansas Parks and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Stacey Hurst provided Memorial Day updates on recently opened recreational areas and issued a reminder to watch the water levels when boating this weekend Due to recent heavy rains.

The COVID-19 update ended with words from Arkansas Veteran's Affairs Director, Nate Todd, who reports 90 Veterans tested for COVID-19 in The Department's North Little Rock location all turned up negative results recently. Todd also says Facebook live-streamed videos of Memorial Day Services will be available online Monday, May 25th as well.

Again, Arkansas now has 5,612 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 1,470 considered active and 81 patients hospitalized with the illness. There are 14 hospitalized patients on a ventilator and the state recovery count has reached 4,029. The Arkansas COVID-19 death count has now reached 113. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

CAMDEN PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES OPENING OF SPLASH PAD
Public Works Director Kevin Franklin and his staff are happy to announce the opening of the Splash Pad Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th. The Splash Pad will be open from 9 A.M. to 8 P.M. every day starting Memorial Day until May 31st. Beginning June 1st, the Splash Pad will be closed every Monday and Tuesday unless otherwise specified. Taking into account the safety and security of our community during these uncertain times, the Splash Pad will be limited to just 20 participants at a time. The staff will manage rotating two-hour play sessions with one-hour breaks between sessions to conduct cleaning. All sessions are first come first serve and any lines which form must abide by the designated social distancing recommendations.

DIRECTIVE FOR COMMUNITY AND SCHOOL SPONSORED TEAM SPORTS
Effective: June 1, 2020
The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Governor, has sole authority over all instances of quarantine, isolation, and restrictions on commerce and travel throughout Arkansas, as necessary and appropriate to control disease in the state of Arkansas as authorized by Ark. Code Ann. §20-7-109--110. Based on available scientific evidence, it is necessary and appropriate to take further action to ensure that COVID-19 remains controlled and that residents and visitors in Arkansas remain safe. 

On March 26, 2020, the Secretary of Health in consultation with the Governor placed limitations on public gatherings. This directive provides requirements for lifting limitations to community based and school sponsored team sports through a phased approach for all ages of athletes. Each phase has a set of General Requirements that apply across all team sports with specific requirements applied based on the nature of the contact required by the rules or conditions of the sport.  

This directive does not include intercollegiate athletic team sports. This directive allows bands to practice marching and the use of non-wind instruments. However, due to the potential for increased production of respiratory droplets in wind instruments, they should not be used at this time. 

General Requirements
Maintain minimum physical distancing of six feet between participants at all times, except when actively participating in the sports activity.
Athletes, Coaches, and All Staff must be screened prior to any activity by asking the following questions and excluded if the answer is yes.
Have had a fever of 100.4°F or greater in the last 2 days
Have a cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell
Had contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19 within the previous 14 days
Coaches and All Staff must have temperature checked by digital thermometer prior to entry, and those whose temperature is greater than 100.4°F must be excluded
Face coverings that completely cover the nose and mouth are required for everyone 10 years of age or older.
Athletes must wear a face covering when not actively participating in the sports activity.
Face coverings or masks must be worn in sports where a face covering is not inhibitory.
Coaches and Staff must wear a face covering at all times.
Use of communal spas, showers, saunas or other similar equipment are prohibited. Locker rooms may only be used for storage of personal items. Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained in the locker room.
An alcohol-based hand sanitizer or adequate handwashing facilities must be provided for use by all attendees.
Sports  equipment, restrooms, lockers, water fountains and other high touch surfaces must be sanitized frequently during each event. For a list of cleaning products that will eliminate the Covid-19 virus, visit https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.
Avoid non-sport related personal contact at all times. This includes, but is not limited to, huddles, high-fives, hand shaking, fist bumping, and chest bumping.
For games, competitions, tournaments, meets, and other athletic events held in a facility, the facility hosting the event must follow the current Directive for Large Indoor or Large Outdoor Venues. Spectators are covered under these Directives.
For training and conditioning held in an athletic facility, the facility must follow the current Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
Concession Stands may operate but must follow all applicable sections of the Directive for Resuming Restaurant Dine-In Operations.
Admission and gate ticket sales should be taken online when possible.

Close-Contact Team Sports
Example: Basketball, Wrestling, Football, Cheerleading, Dance, Volleyball, Soccer, Martial Arts
eam practice and/or competition is prohibited due to the close personal contact that is required or anticipated.  Individual practice is permitted.
Cheerleading and Dance may practice under the Directive for Gym, Fitness Center, Athletic Club and Weight Rooms.
Conditioning and training may occur if the following conditions are implemented, in addition to the General Requirements:
Group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever in an indoor or outdoor enclosed space.
When using weight rooms, practicing calisthenics, running, or other conditioning training where vigorous exercise occurs, must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. This may require closing or moving some equipment. 
Spotters are allowed on the outside of weight bars on each side, for safety reasons. Physical distancing must be maintained when not actively performing spotting duties.
Individual practice participants should use their own equipment, if possible.

Limited-Contact Team Sports
Examples: Baseball, Softball, Golf, Track and Field, Cross Country, Bowling, Tennis, Gymnastics, Shooting Sports, Swimming, Individual Dance Competitions
Competition is allowed for participants of any age. However, participants should refrain from competition if:
They are 65 years of age or older.
They have underlying health conditions including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, severe obesity, asthma or weakened immunity

Practice for all ages may be permitted if the following conditions are implemented:
Player group size must be sufficiently limited to maintain 6 feet between each person, including staff, whenever possible.
When using weight rooms, calisthenics, or other conditioning training must maintain proper spacing from others by working out with 12 feet between each person. (This may require closing or moving some equipment).
When appropriate, participants should provide their own equipment, if possible. If shared equipment is used, disinfection is required frequently during each event or between each use.

ADH will continue to closely monitor the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These measures will remain in place until data on the severity of the local COVID-19 epidemic indicate it is safe to further relax measures. This Directive will be reevaluated on June 30, 2020.

Resources
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
https://uamshealth.com/coronavirus/kb/expert-recommendations-and-considerations-for-high-school-athletics/
https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/coronavirus-and-youth-sports
https://wagolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Golfing-Restart-Requirements_Final.pdf
https://www.thengfq.com/2020/05/protecting-golfers-and-course-staff-amid-coronavirus-outbreak/

https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN HONORS SACRIFICE OF OUR FALLEN HEROES
Says, 'we must remain committed to honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice' 
 LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement to commemorate Memorial Day:

"On this solemn day, we must remain committed to honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom and work to ensure future generations understand the magnitude of this day and the price paid by our fallen heroes. During this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to encourage all Arkansans to continue to follow the guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and enjoy a safe holiday weekend with family and friends."

WARREN TO SERVE AS SUPERINTENDENT OF PINE BLUFF AND DOLLARWAY SCHOOL DISTRICTS
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced today that Barbara Warren will serve a dual role as superintendent of the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts for the 2020-2021 school year. Warren’s new role will begin July 1. She will replace Dr. Jeremy Owoh at Pine Bluff who is leaving to become a deputy superintendent in the Little Rock School District. 

“Ms. Warren is uniquely qualified to serve in this innovative role due to her familiarity with the community and the similar nature of the academic improvement processes in both districts,” Key said. “Progress has been made in the Dollarway and Pine Bluff School Districts, and the appointment of Ms. Warren in this dual role will ensure growth continues toward providing quality educational options for all students.”

Warren has served as the superintendent of the Dollarway School District since December 2015. Her efforts in Dollarway have stabilized the district’s finances and staffing, and the academic system has improved during her tenure through a focus on student learning through the Professional Learning Communities process. Under Dr. Owoh’s leadership, Pine Bluff is pursuing a similar trajectory in addressing financial issues and improving student learning through the PLC process. 

In the coming weeks, Warren will begin hosting community forums electronically and in person, pending Arkansas Department of Health guidance. These meetings will give the public the opportunity to provide feedback about collaboration, how the districts can improve efficiency through shared services, and plans for the upcoming school year.

Parents and students should not anticipate changes in the day-to-day operations of the districts. Both districts will continue to function as they have in the past but with a single leader.

BOOZMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce the Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act that would bolster funding for health care providers in rural areas for the expansion of broadband and telehealth services.

“Telehealth provides a critical avenue for Arkansans to access medical providers without an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for this connection to health services. This legislation will ensure more health care facilities are equipped with reliable, high-speed internet to better serve their patients,” Boozman said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the demand for telehealth services, allowing providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – do not have adequate resources to handle this surge in demand. This bill would ensure that these providers have the resources they need to improve connectivity and increase telehealth capacity.
 
The Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act will:

Provide $2 billion in additional support for the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program for the coronavirus response.

Increase the subsidy rate for RHC Health Care Connect Fund participants during the pandemic, which they can put toward additional telehealth resources.

Enable mobile and non-rural health care facilities to engage in telehealth during the pandemic under the RHC Program.

Eliminate red tape and streamline the program’s distribution of funding so that health care providers can quickly implement telehealth applications and treat patients faster.

Delay for one year the implementation of FCC rules that would severely impact support for some of the program’s most rural health care providers.

Boozman is joined in this bipartisan effort by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Ed Markey (D-MA).

“Senators Schatz, Murkowski, Boozman, King, Peters, Sullivan, Cramer and Markey are right to focus on ways Congress can invest now to increase connectivity-based health care solutions during this emergency,” said Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO of the United States Telecom Association. “Investing in broadband powered telehealth can transform and expand access to vital health care services. Like the companion legislation introduced by Reps. Eshoo and Young in the House, this plan recognizes that all of our country’s hospital systems and health care providers – no matters their zip code – should have cutting edge broadband and digital technology to diagnose and treat patients.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives last month and has been endorsed by the United States Telecom Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, America's Communications Association, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, the National League of Cities and the Fiber Broadband Association.

Last week Boozman, Schatz, Murkowski and King, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging inclusion of $2 billion in new funding for the RHC Program in the next coronavirus response legislation.

Boozman, a co-founder of the Senate Broadband Caucus, is a leader in fighting for increased access to high-speed internet in rural communities.

DELEGATION APPLAUDS HHS FOR AWARDING OVER $72 MILLION IN CORONAVIRUS RELIEF TO NURSING HOMES IN ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding over $72 million in additional relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in Arkansas to help them combat the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The investment—totaling $72,410,000—will be distributed directly to SNFs in Arkansas. It is part of the nearly $4.9 billion allocated by HHS to impacted SNFs across the country and may be used to address critical needs such as labor, testing capacity, personal protective equipment and a range of other expenses directly linked to COVID-19.

“These are particularly trying times for residents in nursing homes, their loved ones and those who work in these facilities. As concerns regarding additional outbreaks remain high, this investment will help protect the most vulnerable among us and help keep those who care for them safe,” members said.

This funding, which supplements previously announced awards, will be used to support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19. It comes from legislation Congress passed, with the Arkansas delegation’s support, to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Distribution of the funds will be based on both a fixed basis and variable basis. Each SNF will receive a fixed distribution of $50,000, plus a distribution of $2,500 per bed. All certified SNFs with six or more certified beds are eligible for this targeted distribution.

May 21, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 21, 2020
A lengthy list of guidelines for community and school sports teams were announced during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference update Thursday, and the new rules will be effective June 1st. Although some sports have been given the green light to begin practicing, others remain prohibited due to precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

Close contact sports such as wrestling, basketball, football, volleyball and soccer will not be permitted to practice or compete yet, but limited contact sports such as track, swimming and baseball will be allowed with several restrictions.

The Governor also reported Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro will be reopening this week. Hutchinson recognized the significant economic role the park plays in the Southwest Arkansas region, and COVID-19 guideline information for Crater of Diamonds can be found at ArkansasStateParks.com

As far as cases go, the largest single-day increase in Arkansas Coronavirus reports was announced Thursday as more than 400 COVID-19 cases have been added to the statewide count, bringing the total number to 5,458. Officials say the cases were already known of, but had not yet been added to the count, and more than half of them are sourced from Correctional facilities.

The number of active COVID-19 cases in the natural state is currently 1,433, with 86 patients hospitalized and 14 on ventilators. There are now 3,915 people who have recovered from the virus, while the state death count has reached 110.

The Governor called upon Dr. Jose Romero, Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, for a public announcement regarding a concerning development found in children after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Lastly, Arkansas Economic Task Force Recovery Leader Steart Walton briefly gave an update on how the group is organizing plans and resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. Walton said a summary report of the group's work is in the works, and the report will be posted to Arkansasready.com, which is the same website where Arkansans can seek needed businesses support information.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

MORE THAN 675 ORGANIZATIONS IN 67 COUNTIES RECEIVED $1,000 COVID-19 MINI-GRANTS FROM ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Little Rock, Ark. (May 20, 2020) – Two months after the creation of its COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist in pandemic relief, Arkansas Community Foundation has awarded $1,000 rapid response mini-grants to 678 organizations in 149 cities and towns located in 67 counties.

“These mini-grants support immediate, essential community needs in human services, food, health, housing and education,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Recipients range from youth basketball leagues distributing food to hungry families to summer reading programs opening early, to the purchase of software that allows child abuse hotline staff to accept calls at home.”

A list of the organizations who have received mini-grants is available at www.arcf.org/covid19.  Community Foundation Phase Two Adaptation Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 are now being processed and will be awarded by the end of May. These grants will continue to help organizations who are adapting their organizations to meet the ongoing needs of Arkansans affected by the pandemic and shore up critical systems like healthcare, education and food distribution.

The total amount raised for the COVID-19 Relief Fund has topped $3.4 million, with donations coming from the Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals. Called the Gratitude Report, a list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19.

“The response of the public to requests for donations has been amazing,” said Larkin. “Just as impressive has been the response of the Community Foundation staff, Board and volunteers who have faithfully reviewed grant applications every day since we started accepting applications. Our finance staff members have processed and mailed grant checks at a record pace.”

The COVID-19 Relief Fund was created March 18, 2020. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the Community Foundation’s fund as a way for Arkansans to best help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, the Arkansas Republican and Democratic Parties jointly requested donations to the fund.

Donations are still being accepted online at www.arcf.org/covid19 or by mailing a check to Arkansas Community Foundation, 5 Allied Drive, Suite 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202. All donations to this fund will be granted to Arkansas organizations working to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. The Foundation typically issues about 2,500 grants totaling $20 million dollars each year to Arkansas nonprofits. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps. Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $250 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 28 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

 

SURVEY: MOST SMALL BUSINESS HAVE RECEIVED PPP LOAN FUNDING, FEWER HAVE RECEIVED AN EIDL LOAN 
LITTLE ROCK (May 21, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today on the status of the small business loan programs. Among NFIB members, 80% applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and almost 90% have received the loan. Most of the loans were deposited between mid-April and mid-May. 

“Small businesses continue to face many challenges in operating their business in these difficult times,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Congress and the Administration have the authority to further lighten the burden for many of their immediate concerns, especially in offering more flexibility for PPP loans.”

Key findings from the NFIB survey include: 

The majority of small businesses expect their expenses to be forgiven. 

Over half (54%) of owners with a PPP loan are expecting all of their expenses to be forgiven. 

Twenty-seven percent of borrowers expect at least 75% or more of loan expenses to be forgiven. 

Very few PPP borrowers are interested in using the funds as low-interest, two-year loans.  

Complying with the PPP loan and loan forgiveness terms and conditions is challenging for small businesses. 

Twelve percent of borrowers report that spending the PPP loan within an 8-week forgiveness period is very difficult and 34% find the requirement somewhat difficult. 

Almost one-in-five borrowers find the forgiveness requirement that the borrower’s employee headcount match the pre-crisis employee headcount very difficult to reach since many businesses have already laid-off workers due to slower sales or suspended business activity. 

Another 28% find it somewhat difficult to maintain or return to their pre-crisis workforce level. 

The 75% payroll rule is difficult for 38% of small business borrowers to manage as 14% find it very difficult and 24% find it somewhat difficult 

Owners have questions about how to spend the funds. 

Nearly three-fourths of small business borrowers find the terms and conditions of the PPP loan difficult to understand with 22% finding them very difficult. 

Additional financial support over the next 12 months may be needed for many small business owners. Almost one-quarter of those who have taken out one or both loans anticipate that they will need additional support and another 54% do not know yet. Only 20% of borrowers do not anticipate needing additional support. 

Some small business owners find themselves competing with the unemployment benefits offered through the CARES Act. 

Eighteen percent of small business owners have had an employee decline a job offer because they wanted to stay on UI. 

Another 6% of owners have increased salaries to encourage a worker to come back to their job. 

Five percent of small business owners said that an employee has remained in their job because they also received supplemental UI benefits with reduced hours.  

The full survey is available here. 

About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

 

ARKANSAS RECEIVES OVER $5 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CORONAVIRUS TESTING IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding Arkansas over $5 million in funding to expand access to COVID-19 testing in rural communities.

The investment—totaling $5,193,449—will be distributed to rural health clinics in Arkansas. It is part of $225 million allocated by HHS to expand COVID-19 testing in the nation’s rural communities.

The funds are designated for planning, implementing and conducting COVID-19 testing. The monies can also be used for testing supply procurement, employee training and data reporting, as well as the leasing, construction and retrofitting of properties, temporary structures and facilities to support COVID-19 testing.

“Rural America must not be left behind as we work to expand coronavirus testing across the nation. These communities are vital to a successful economic restart, especially in a largely rural state such as Arkansas. These funds will help state officials carry out their plan to reopen Arkansas in a safe manner,” members said.

Funding was made available with the support of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation’s approval of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that was signed into law last month.


COTTON STATEMENT ON WITHDRAWAL FROM OPEN SKIES TREATY
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after news reports of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty:

“Today the president has taken another positive step to end America’s dependence on dysfunctional and broken treaties. The Open Skies Treaty started life as a good-faith agreement between major powers and died an asset of Russian intelligence. For Mr. Putin, the treaty was just another scheme to snatch a military and surveillance advantage over the U.S. and NATO. Further, the treaty was technically defunct, as outdated and irrelevant as the VHS recorder or cassette deck. I’m particularly heartened that U.S. taxpayers won’t need to pay nearly a quarter-billion dollars in recapitalization money for our OC-135 Open Skies Aircraft fleet. Those funds would be better served strengthening our nuclear deterrent, which is a far more effective guarantee of peace between major powers than obsolete treaties.”

Background:
Senator Cotton has long advocated for a withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty:
September 12, 2018: Cotton Statement on Dispute over Open Skies
October 8, 2019: Cotton Statement on Russia’s Open Skies Treaty Violations
October 30, 2019: Cotton Resolution Calls for Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty
December 10, 2019: End the Open Skies Treaty – Washington Post Op-Ed by Senator Cotton

MAY 20, 2020

COVID 19 PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 20, 2020
"With Governor Asa Hutchinson visiting President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in Washington D.C. Wednesday, the COVID-19 press conference update was provided by Arkansas Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Nathaniel Smith.

The Coronavirus is still on the rise throughout the natural state, though no new counties have reported cases since Sunday, and only 1,044 of the 5,003 total cases reported are considered active. There are 79 people who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 16 of them are on ventilators. The death count continues to increase, as the count has now reached 107. Four out of the five latest COVID-19 deaths in Arkansas were reportedly nursing-home residents, andthe total number of Arkansans considered to be recovered from the Coronavirus is 3,852.

Dr. Smith reports single day COVID-19 testing hit a new record high with 4,396 tests conducted Tuesday, with only 1.9% of the results showing positive cases. This effort helps with the Governor's goal to test 60,000 residents for COVID-19 in the month of May.

Dr. Smith reports an added feature on the Dept. of Health website will provide information through a dashboard that will display numbers and Coronavirus updates. Visit healthy.arkansas.gov for more information.

A focal point made by Dr. Smith was the issue of controlling COVID-19 in the workplace, as job sites can be a risk for exposure to the virus, making workplace precautions crucial to limiting the spread. To address safe workplace conditions, the State Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha was called up to discuss protocol in place for handling positives results in Arkansas job environments.

Dr. Dillaha also reports that spacing workers out for social distancing, utilizing plexiglass, and sanitizing are practices that can be implemented in working environments to keep the goal of businesses staying open intact.

As far as future announcements go, Dr. Smith says the Governor will make a decision on teen sports and camps this summer at a press conference to be held later this week.

Again, there are now 5,003 total COVID-19 cases reported, with 1,044 of those active. There are 79 people currently hospitalized with the virus, and 16 of those patients remain on ventilators. The state death toll by Coronavirus in Arkansas has reached 107, while 3,852 people have recovered. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

FEEDING PEOPLE AND PETS
Please help us help others in our community during these unprecedented times. Donate can or dry goods for people and/or pet food or cash donations and we will purchase these items.  Lots of families in Camden and Ouachita County are hurting and this food giveaway will show our love for this community.

Drop Off Locations (Camden, AR):
Christian Health Center—1115 Fairview Rd
Jim Golden Ford—790 California Ave
Waggin’ Tails—1825 Fairview Rd

There is also a fundraiser on Facebook. Find Food for People and Pets to donate that way if you wish.

Date of the food giveaway will be ANNOUNCED on June 3rd on Radio Works Stations and on Facebook

When giveaway date is determined, food giveaway will be held at the Victory Church Parking lot beginning at 9 a.m.

ARKANSAS HEALTH & WELLNESS, ARKANSAS TOTAL CARE AND QUEST DIAGNOSTICS TEAM UP TO INCREASE ACCESS TO COVID-19 TESTING IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
1,000 COVID-19 test kits will be distributed each week to Federally Qualified Health Centers in Arkansas
Little Rock, AR, May 20, 2020 – Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care announced today a collaboration with Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, to increase access to real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) COVID-19 testing in critical areas of need in Arkansas. Through this collaboration, Arkansas Health & Wellness will facilitate the distribution of approximately 1,000 Quest COVID-19 test kits each week to Community Health Centers of Arkansas.  The FQHCs will conduct testing as part of a broader initiative to test persons who are symptomatic and asymptomatic in our underserved communities.

“I am delighted to hear of the partnership between Arkansas Health and Wellness (AHW), Arkansas Total Care and the Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA) to increase our real-time testing capacity in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.  “This private sector partnership plays an important role in our effort to reach 60,000 tests per month. This initiative ensures Arkansans will have access to critical testing and assist us in moving forward to our goal of Phase 2 and beyond. Together, we will keep our families safe and emerge stronger than ever..”

This collaboration leverages Health Plan’s extensive network of critical safety net providers to ensure that testing capacity is routed to where it is needed most. As part of the collaboration, Health Plan will provide oversight and training to ensure test kits are received and processed efficiently. Distribution of kits will begin in May, and Quest Diagnostics will conduct the COVID-19 testing through its network of laboratories across the United States.

“Collaborations like these allow us to leverage our capabilities to do our part in making sure our communities, including those who need it most, have access to the health care services they need,” said John Ryan, President and CEO, of Arkansas Health & Wellness, Arkansas Total Care.

LaShannon Spencer, CEO of Community Health Centers of Arkansas (CHCA), has been a strong advocate for partnering with entities to improve access for some of the most vulnerable populations around the state of Arkansas. "COVID-19 has impacted nearly every corner of the state and impacted many lives for years to come. Every day is filled with more changes of how we are to live and work. Even though the way in which medicine is practiced will change, partnerships with key business entities like Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care will be critical for our future. That's why I value such partnerships with each of these Arkansas-based health plans. "I am pleased to see Arkansas Health & Wellness and Arkansas Total Care supporting targeted statewide testing for our health centers. It is a key first step and an important investment in future sustainability in our rural health system," said LaShannon Spencer.

Arkansas Health & Wellness/Arkansas Total Care members are encouraged to contact the Community Health Centers of Arkansas at 1-833-508-0774 for additional information about testing. Members can also find more information about COVID-19 and how Arkansas Health & Wellness can support them at ARHealthWellness.com.

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE PHASE 1 OPENING PROCEDURES
The Ouachita County Courthouse has announced the procedures for the Phase 1 re-opening of the County Courthouse. If you can conduct your business outside the courthouse, please do so. If you must conduct your business inside the Courthouse, you must enter downstairs at the security door. Upon arrival, your temperature will be taken and a questionnaire will be filled out. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided for you along with hand sanitizer.

Once you have entered the building go directly to the office where you need to conduct business. No more than two in an office at a time. Those doing research should be prepared to wait.

You will exit through the Lobby Door located on the West Side of the building.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, May 22, 2020 at 11:30a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas. CODVIC-19 Precautions will be in place.

OUACHITA COUNTY MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Exension Office will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday, March 25th. The Ouachita County Sanitation will run on regular schedule. Ouachita County Officials wish you all a safe and happy Memorial Day.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES OVER $550 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH NATION'S LARGEST SUBPRIME AUTO FINANCING COMPANY
Affected Arkansans to Receive $30 Million in Direct Payments and Debt Relief
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a settlement with Santander Consumer USA Inc. (Santander) that includes approximately $550 million in relief for consumers with more relief in additional deficiency waivers expected. The settlement resolves an investigation conducted by a coalition of 34 attorneys general into allegations that Santander violated consumer protection laws by knowingly placing subprime consumers into high-risk auto loans who had a great probability of default. This settlement, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, provides close to $30 million in direct payments and debt relief for over 13,000 Arkansas consumers harmed by Santander’s illegal conduct.

“Santander’s predatory actions targeted Arkansans for high risk auto loans, and now it will pay handsomely for its deceptive practices,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The standards set by this settlement should serve as a warning to other bad actors who take advantage of financially vulnerable Arkansans: we will do the fighting for consumers and there will be severe consequences for illegal actions.”

A coalition of states began investigating Santander in March 2015. Following the investigation, the states determined that Santander, the largest subprime auto financing company in the country, used credit-scoring models designed to target consumers who were likely to default and subsequently failed to acknowledge dealer-falsified income amounts on consumer loan applications. Under the settlement, Santander will pay $65 million to the states for consumer restitution and will waive up to $433 million for consumers who still owe on their loans.

For Arkansas, there are 10,837 Arkansas consumers who are eligible to submit a claim to receive a direct restitution payment of $224.84 each, which totals $2,436,611.87 if all who are eligible submit claims. Additionally, there are 1,288 loans to Arkansas consumers in default that qualify under this settlement owned by Santander for which Santander will immediately waive the deficiency balance, totaling $15,966.00 in debt forgiveness. There are another 1,336 defaulted loans to Arkansas consumers for which Santander will attempt to buy back and then waive the deficiency balance, which could potentially forgive an additional $10,814,000 in debt relief. Overall, approximately 13,461 affected Arkansas consumers will receive or be eligible to receive restitution in the form of direct payments or debt forgiveness potentially totaling $29,216,611.90. Additionally, Santander will pay $30,000 to the state.

Among the modifications to its business practices required under the settlement, Santander will cease extending loans to consumers with negative available incomes and will monitor loan applications for false income reporting. Santander will also cease from requiring its dealers to sell vehicle service contracts and other products and will maintain policies and procedures for deferments, forbearances, modifications and other collection matters.

Joining Rutledge in the settlement led by Illinois Attorney General are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Rutledge urges anyone affected by Santander or has a consumer complaint to visit the Attorney General’s Office website at ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

COTTON INTRODUCES THE NO BAILOUTS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS ACT
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) yesterday introduced the No Bailouts for Illegal Aliens Act, which amends the CARES Act to prohibit sending future funds to states or municipalities until they certify they aren't issuing stimulus checks or other payments to those in the United States illegally.

"Congress passed the CARES Act to help workers impacted by the China virus pandemic, not to give a handout to those who broke our immigration laws. The federal government shouldn't be subsidizing states' efforts to send cash to illegal aliens," said Cotton.

Background: 

States and municipalities that refuse to comply with the certification requirement will not be eligible for CARES Act funds.

The bill will not affect any of the Paycheck Protection Program loans offered under the CARES Act to companies and nonprofit organizations.

The bill also will not affect the unemployment provisions or the relief checks offered to Americans under the CARES Act.

Yesterday, undocumented immigrants in California were able to begin filing for financial assistance in the wake for the China Virus pandemic.

 

May 19, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 19, 2020
COVID-19 is on the rise in Arkansas, as officials confirmed the total number of positive cases has now reached 4,923. Of those cases, 1,082 of those are considered active, and 3,739 people are in recovery status. In terms of the active cases, 83 are sourced from nursing homes, 369 are based out of correctional facilities and 630 come from community spread.  

There are currently 78 Arkansans who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 14 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's COVID-19 death toll is now up to 102. This information was provided during Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 press conference update Tuesday afternoon.

A focal point of Tuesday's update was providing support for those who work in long term care facilities, and the direct care payments allotted for them. The Governor announced that beginning June 1st, all staff members and residents of Arkansas nursing homes will be tested for COVID-19. The total number of tests estimated to be conducted from this effort is more than 40,000.

Rachel Bunch of the Arkansas Health Care Association commended the workers caring for the patients of the nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis. Bunch also notes that testing efforts are a priority for the safety of residents and staff alike, and more than 70 long term care residents have recovered from the virus.

Again, the number of positiveCOVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,923. Of those cases, 1,082 of those are considered active, and 3,739 people have recovered. In terms of the active cases, 83 are sourced from nursing homes, 369 are based out of correctional facilities and 630 from community spread.  

There are currently 78 Arkansans who remain hospitalized with the illness, and 14 of those patients remain on ventilators. The state's COVID-19 death toll has reached 102. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

ST. FRANCIS COUNTY MAN DIES FOLLOWING ARMED STAND-OFF
MAY 19, 2020
Robert Wayne Lawson, 64, of Forrest City was shot last night (Monday, May 18th) by an Arkansas State Trooper following an armed stand-off that had initially begun late yesterday morning involving St. Francis County sheriff’s deputies.
 
The deputies arrived at 152 county road 301 after obtaining a felony arrest warrant for Lawson who had earlier made threats to harm neighbors near his home.  As deputies approached the residence they were met by Lawson brandishing a rifle and threatening them.
                                                                                       
Sheriff’s department personnel attempted to negotiate with Lawson, asking him to surrender.  Late yesterday afternoon the sheriff’s department directed a request to the Arkansas State Police seeking assistance in arresting Lawson.
 
State police took charge of the stand-off shortly after 9 PM.  As members of a state police special weapons and tactics team approached the residence, Lawson stepped outside with a pistol and rifle and warned state troopers to leave, then fired a single shot from one of the guns.  A SWAT team member returned fire and Lawson retreated into the home.
 
State troopers subsequently placed irritant gas inside the house.  Lawson later exited the residence and was shot by a trooper at approximately 11:10 PM.  Lawson was pronounced dead at the scene.
 
Lawson’s body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.
 
No Arkansas State Troopers were injured during the armed stand-off and gunfire.
 
The Arkansas State Police is conducting an investigation into the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.  The investigative file will be presented to the St. Francis County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force was consistent with Arkansas laws.


ZERO TOLERANCE FOR SEAT BELT VIOLATORS SAY ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
(LITTLE ROCK) – As the summer season begins and families set out on their travels across Arkansas, state and local law enforcement officers are sending a clear message to motorists, Click It or Ticket.  Seat belt laws are enforced to protect drivers and their passengers from unnecessary injuries and death.
 
 A state seat belt enforcement campaign begins this week (May 22nd) and continues through June 7th, coinciding with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends each year.
 
“Our law enforcement officers see firsthand the loss of life and trauma when people refuse to buckle up,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It’s such a simple step, buckling up, when you first sit down inside a car or truck, it should be second nature.  Why wouldn’t you want to do something that increases your chances of keeping you or your family safe?”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis from 2018 documented 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes on U.S. roads.  That same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 AM - 5:59 AM) were not wearing seat belts.  The statistical study has led law enforcement agencies to place additional emphasis on nighttime seat belt enforcement.  Participating law enforcement agencies are taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, whether a violator is stopped day or night.
 
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office urges everyone to buckle up, every trip, every time, especially during the upcoming holiday when more motorists will be on the road.
     
Arkansas law requires that all front seat passengers, not just drivers, be buckled up.  It requires all children under fifteen years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  A child who is less than six years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds should be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. If the driver has a restricted license, all passengers in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.
 
For more information about "Click it or Ticket" visit trafficsafetymarketing.gov/ or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on the ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, visit TZDarkansas.org.

OUTLETS OF LITTLE ROCK IS LOOKING FOR LOCAL ARTISTS TO FEATURE IN VIRTUAL EXHIBITION #HAPPYDISTRACTION
Submissions Open through June 7, 2020
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (May 2020) - Outlets of Little Rock is calling local artists to submit a photograph

of their artwork (painting, photograph, drawing, sculpture) to include in a virtual exhibition entitled #HappyDistraction. Artists can submit an Instagram ready photograph with a one sentence description, representing moments of hope, light and color during this challenging time. Selected artists’ works will be featured on Outlets of Little Rock’s social media pages and website. Visit OutletsofLittleRock.com/HappyDistraction to submit work.

“#HappyDistraction provides an opportunity to showcase the beautiful works of local artists,” says Teresa Deen, General Manager for Outlets of Little Rock. “We can all use a ray of sunshine during these challenging times and Outlets of Little Rock is excited to share the talent of local artists to brighten everyone’s day,” she adds.

AGRISAFE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE TO RURAL NURSES
 The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas announce three scholarships available to assist rural nurses with continuing education and training that supports the unique health needs of Arkansas farmers. 

Agriculture is a diverse industry and occurs in some of the more remote parts of the country. The risks and occupational exposures associated with farming and ranching are often not familiar to healthcare workers in rural communities. Nurses are the frontline of rural community healthcare which is why Farm Credit is offering three scholarships to nurses to receive training through the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program.

The program consists of 18 hours of online, distance learning utilizing lectures, interactive question and answer sessions and group discussions. The course can be completed any time before November 13 and covers a number of topics.

Integration of ag health into a medical practice.
Special populations (youth, older adult, veterans, immigrant and migrant workers)
Zoonotic diseases

Chemical/pesticide exposure
Personal protective equipment
Skin disorders

One nurse each from western Arkansas, central Arkansas and eastern Arkansas will be awarded a full scholarship for the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program.  It covers all costs with no additional expenses for the nurse or employer.  

Farm Credit proudly provides this resource to nurses serving Arkansas farmers and ranchers. Scholarship recipients will be selected by the Agrisafe Nurse Scholarship program. Interested nurses can find application instructions at ARFarmCredit.com. Program details are also at https://learning.agrisafe.org.

With $4 billion in assets, the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across the state by financing farms, land, livestock, homes and more. 

Find branch locations at ARFarmCredit.com.

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS $78 MILLION FOR EXPANDED CORONAVIRUS TESTING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding $78 million to Arkansas to expand its testing capacity for COVID-19.

The funding is part of $11 billion from HHS to support nationwide testing for COVID-19 and the reopening of America. The investment will be used to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests as well as contact tracing.

“Expanding our testing capability is necessary to combating the spread of COVID-19 and safely getting Arkansans back to work. These funds will be used to respond to this public health emergency and ensure individuals who have been in contact with infected patients are aware of their risk,” members said.

Funding was made available with the support of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation’s approval of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that was signed into law last month.

FEMA ADVISORY – MAY 19, 2020
CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: WHOLE-OF-AMERICA RESPONSE

On May 18, HHS announced $11 billion in funding to states, territories and tribes to support testing for COVID-19. This funding is part of the Administration’s efforts to ensure that states, territories, and tribes have the resources necessary to meet their testing goals as they begin to reopen.

The CDC will provide $10.2 billion to states, territories, and local jurisdictions through CDC’s existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement.

The Indian Health Service will provide $750 million to IHS, tribal, and urban Indian Health programs to expand testing capacity and testing-related activities.

This funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will provide critical support to develop, purchase, administer, process and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts and related activities.

As of May 18, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 82.7 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 11.6 million face shields, 24.4 million surgical gowns, and 989.4 million gloves.

FEMA has procured and delivered 5.2 million swabs and 3 million units of media so far in the month of May. In support of the White House Task Force’s testing initiative, FEMA is supporting the procurement of specimen collection supplies to supplement the supplies states and healthcare providers are procuring from the private market.

As of May 18, CDC, state, and local public health labs and other laboratories have tested more than 10.8 million samples.

As of May 18, the FDA has issued 103 individual emergency use authorizations (EAU) for test kit manufacturers and laboratories, including 12 antibody tests and 1 antigen test.

On May 15, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed. The goal of this national program is to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Operation Warp Speed is a public-private partnership between components of HHS, the Department of Defense, private firms and other federal agencies. The program aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January 2021.

 
 

May 18, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 18, 2020
"Bars across the state of Arkansas can resume operations beginning Tuesday, May 19th, though the announcement comes with a stipulation, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson at Monday's COVID-19 press conference update from Forrest City. The Governor reports that the bars permitted to open this week are those located inside restaurants, and the "free-standing" drinking establishments and nightclubs will be permitted to open back up next week, on May 26th.

As far as cases go, the total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,813 with 1,068 of those considered active at this time. Out of the active cases, 378 are sourced from correctional facilities, 99 have been reported out of nursing homes, and 591 are from community spreading of the illness.

 There are no new counties reporting, since the addition of Little River County announcing it's first case on Sunday. Though 3,645 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas, the state's death toll has reached 100.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS LAUNCHES ARKANSAS 30 DAY FUND TO GIVE FORGIVABLE LOANS TO SMALL BUSINESSES AND SAVE ARKANSAS JOBS

Little Rock, AR – In an effort to save as many Arkansas jobs as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her husband, Bryan Sanders, today launched the non-profit Arkansas 30 Day Fund to provide forgivable loans to struggling Arkansas-based small businesses.

The funds disbursed to small businesses by the Arkansas 30 Day Fund are intended to provide immediate financial assistance to meet payroll, preserve healthcare coverage for employees, and save jobs. The application process is quick, easy, and free of red tape. The loans do not need to be repaid. If businesses who receive the Fund’s assistance do, at a later date, wish to “pay it forward” to another Arkansas small business in need of assistance, they may do so by directing those dollars back to the Fund. The Fund will then disburse that funding to another Arkansas business in need.

Arkansas businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

• Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
• Based in Arkansas and have been operating for at least one year;
• Owned and operated by an Arkansas resident.

Arkansas 30 Day Fund will begin accepting applications for forgivable loans today at: https://www.Arkansas30DayFund.com

"My husband and I have been looking for ways to help people during this crisis and we are encouraged by the tremendous response we have received from Arkansans who want to partner with us in this effort. The Arkansas 30 Day Fund is nonpartisan, and we hope to work with people who may not agree with us on anything other than helping people in our community in need," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "It’s about Arkansans helping Arkansans, standing together in a time of crisis, and saving jobs."

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, nearly half of small businesses don’t have enough cash to go more than a month, and more than half are waiting on government assistance.

"Our goal is to bridge that gap and help Arkansas small businesses save jobs now," Sanders said.

 

SAU FIELD PRACTICUM SENDS STUDENT INTERNS TO FOUR STATES
MAGNOLIA -- Whitney Gass, assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern Arkansas University, taught Field Practicum (internship) in the Spring Semester of 2020 in which students interned in four different states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Florida – a first for the program.

A total of 14 students were enrolled.

Kyle West, a senior Criminal Justice major from Lithia, Florida, interned with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Brandon, Florida.

Two other of Gass’ students, Andia Addy, a senior Criminal Justice major from Simms, Texas, and Avel Perez, a senior Criminal Justice major from De Queen, Arkansas, both interned with the Texarkana (Texas) Police Department.

Abby Morrow, a May 2020 graduate in Criminal Justice, interned with the David Wade Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in Homer, Louisiana.

Ten other students were dispersed throughout various agencies in Arkansas. Two of them, Reagan Pyron and Alexandria Smith, were placed with the Magnolia Police Department. Erin Brinkley, Kiarra Evans, and Kira Johnson interned with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, where they gained experience through shadowing and observation with Criminal Investigator Leroy Martin, dispatch, court and jail administration.

Jacob Brantley interned with the SAU Police Department, Kanira McCoy and Keelie Porter interned with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction in Union County and Quantiesha Coats and Autumn Faulkner earned their field experience hours with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction in Columbia County.

All students are senior Criminal Justice majors at SAU.

The Field Practicum course in the Criminal Justice program is offered every semester and designed to give students first-hand experience in one or two areas of their chosen field: institutional corrections, community corrections, courts, law enforcement, investigations, etc. Mrs. Gass discusses future plans and career goals with the students before reaching out to community contacts for possible placement.

“Our local agencies have been so accommodating and welcoming to our students,” she said. “There are some amazing agencies in this area and they work hard to make sure SAU’s students gain knowledge and experience during their internships.”

Students are required to “work” for a minimum of 60 hours. Many of these students do this while taking a full academic load and working another full- or part-time job. The class also requires a portfolio including a professional cover letter and resume. The portfolio also requires students to provide proof of such documents as Social Security card, birth certificate, and a driver’s license. All county, state, and federal agencies require these documents for the hiring process.

“I want our students to be prepared and have access to these documents so that agencies are waiting on our graduates,” said Mrs. Gass. “There is a journaling requirement for this course as well. Criminal justice professionals have a high burnout rate which means they leave the field after only a few short years. Professionals in this field deal with some heavy, sad, and disturbing issues. Having a positive outlet for their fears, frustrations, anxieties, and sadness can promote a healthy work-life balance.”

Field students are encouraged to practice self-care and recognize signs of burnout before they throw in the towel.

The final piece of the course is Arkansas’s Mandated Reporter Training where students “attend” an online course and are tested over their  knowledge of what to do in the instance of suspected or reported child abuse. Criminal Justice professionals by-in-large are mandated reporters and it is important that graduates know exactly what this means and entails before they are employed with agencies in the real world.

 
ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH FOUNDATION ANNOUNCED THE 2020 ARKANSAS OUTDOOR HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES AND ITS LEGACY AWARD
Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame inductees and its Legacy Award. These individuals will be recognized at the 2020 annual Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, August 29 in Little Rock.

MAHONEY FAMILY - EL DORADO
Prominent in law and politics since 1896, the Mahony family is distinguished in conservation circles, as well. Noteworthy members were the late Joseph "Jodie" Mahony, the late Michael Mahony and Emon Mahony, the latter having served on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 2009-15, as well as on the Arkansas Nature Conservancy board of directors and the Arkansas Soil and Water Commission. Jodie Mahony served 36 years in the Arkansas Legislature and supported laws that protected the state's natural resources. Michael Mahony was president of Union County Wildlife and chairman of the AGFC.

HANK BROWNE, De Valls Bluff
Arkansas’s most famous furniture entrepreneur, Hank Browne’s accomplishments in the world of Outdoor Hall of Fame and conservation initiatives of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Foundation. As a member of The Nature Conservancy Arkansas’s Last Great Places Society along with his wife Cathy, Browne has championed conservation via financial support, land donations and gifts of time and talents to advance the Conservancy’s work across the state.

JERRELL & PENNY DODSON, Little Rock
Jerrell and Penny never imagined their small specialty store would become the largest in a five-state area, yet that's exactly what Archer's Advantage has become. The expansive inventory, paired with 85 years of combined expertise, has resulted in Archer's Advantage consistently ranking in the top 50 in sales for national brands such as Hoyt and Matthews. The Dodsons take great pride in outfitting generations of bowhunters and serving as a trusted advisor for archery enthusiasts.

MARK DAVIS, Mount Ida
Mark Davis has always carried the banner for Arkansas and its rich fishing heritage. After years as a fishing guide, he competed in his first Bassmaster tournament at age 23 and would go on to earn Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles three times (1995, 1998, 2001). In 1995, he became the first pro to win the Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year in the same calendar year. He has also been heavily involved in youth fishing activities, most recently leading the Mount Ida High School Fishing Club to numerous titles and contributing to the birth of the Arkansas Bassmaster High School Series. In 2019, he was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC WHOLE-OF-AMERICA RESPONSe
Monday, May 18, 2020
“WE WANT TO TAKE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE MEASURES. THE PRESIDENT HAS LAID OUT VERY BALANCED CRITERIA AND APPROACHES THAT HE SUGGESTS STATES FOLLOW TO DO THAT. THAT'S THE PATH FORWARD THAT WE NEED TO TAKE.” – HHS SECRETARY AZAR

Topline Briefing Points and Messages

On May 16, the FDA announced the authorization of an at-home sample collection kit for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. The emergency use authorization was issued to Everlywell, Inc. for the Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit.  The test kit is authorized to be used by individuals at home who have been screened using an online questionnaire that is reviewed by a health care provider. Results will be returned to the patient through Everlywell’s independent physician network and their online portal.

On May 15, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed. The goal of this national program is to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Operation Warp Speed is a public-private partnership between components of HHS, the Department of Defense, private firms and other federal agencies. The program aims to have substantial quantities of a safe and effective vaccine available for Americans by January 2021.

As of May 17, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector combined have coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping: 83.4 million N95 respirators, 133.7 million surgical masks, 11.5 million face shields, 24.4 million surgical gowns, and 989.4 million gloves.

FEMA has procured and delivered 4.7 million swabs and 2.8 million media so far in the month of May. In support of the White House Task Force’s testing initiative, FEMA is supporting the procurement of specimen collection supplies to supplement the supplies states and healthcare providers are procuring from the private market.

As of May 17, CDC, state, and local public health labs and other laboratories have tested more than 10.8 million samples.

As of May 14, the FDA has issued 101 individual emergency use authorizations (EAU) for test kit manufacturers and laboratories, including 12 antibody tests and 1 antigen test.

On May 11, President Trump announced additional efforts to ensure that every state, territory and tribe has the resources they need to meet the robust testing plans described in the President’s Guidelines for Opening up America Again and the Testing Blueprint unveiled by the President on April 27.

Learn more at fema.gov/coronavirus May 18, 2020 1 of 9

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 16, 2020
As of Saturday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had climbed to 4,578. There were 65 patients hospitalized, and ten on a ventilator. The number of coronavirus cases considered to be active stood at 1,008. Of those 1,008 active cases, 370 are in correctional facilities, 101 are in nursing homes, and 537 are in the community. The death toll in the state due to COVID-19 stands at 98. The latest outbreak has occurred in the Randall Williams Unit state prison in Pine Bluff, where 75 cases have been reported since Friday. Arkansas Department of Corrections Director Dexter Payne says the facility has been placed on "lockdown.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in Saturdays press conference that a suspected security breach committed by an applicant using the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance website caused the entire system to be shut down on Friday night. Law enforcement officials were notified, along with the state's cyber-insurance carrier. Officials at the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services discovered that the website had exposed applicants' private information. A team worked over the weekend to get the system running again and to get people's unemployment benefits out the door this week. The Governor added that if there is any indication that someone's personal data was compromised, steps would be taken to notify the applicant. 

On Monday the 18th, the following industries may open for limited business under Phase One: Casinos, Indoor Entertainment Venues, and State Parks Cabins and Lodging Facilities. In Monday afternoon's statewide press conference, Governor Hutchinson will make an announcement regarding the current restrictions on Bars and Clubs. 

Secretary of the Department of Health Nate Smith warned Saturday that with these directives going away, it's more important than ever to practice social distancing, hand washing, and wearing face coverings.

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is at 4,578 as of Saturday afternoon. The total number of cases considered to be active is 1,008. The death toll currently stands at 98. Locally, in Ouachita County, there are ten cases and six recoveries. In Calhoun County, there are still no reported cases. In Union County, there are 107 cases, 66 recoveries, and four deaths. In Columbia County, there are 15 cases, 11 recoveries, and two deaths. In Nevada County, there are four cases and three recoveries. And in Clark County, there are 35 cases and 32 recoveries. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.
 

LOCAL HEALTH UNITS TO OFFER COVID-19 TESTING
Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health’s Local Health Units across the state will offer COVID-19 testing beginning today.

Testing is encouraged for all individuals who believe they have had contact with or been exposed to a positive case as well as anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Tests will also be offered to anyone with or without symptoms who lives in or has traveled to an area experiencing active transmission. 

Those seeking a test should confirm that the health unit is open and call ahead for an appointment so that staff can prepare and ensure safe spacing between patients. A list of health units is available at healthy.arkansas.gov/health-units.

Patients will be directed to self-collect specimens outside of the unit using a provided nasal swab and container. The specimens will then be sent to the state Public Health Laboratory. Results are typically made available within 48 to 72 hours, though it can take up to a week. Positive patients will be notified as soon as a result is available.

There is no out-of-pocket cost for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who have it.

 
 
 
 

May 15, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 15, 2020
On Monday, May 18th, an announcement by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be made regarding a decision to open bars and nightclubs across the state. Once bars are given the green light to re-open, all retail business in Arkansas will have returned to "open" status following closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic this Spring.

During the Friday COVID-19 Press Conference update, The Governor reported that today, May 15th is the first day lodging and cabins within the state parks system are available for recreational use across Arkansas again. Hutchinson reports that 71% of the reservations booked at state park lodging are currently held by in-state residents, and 29% are from those outside Arkansas at this time.

As far as cases go, the state has a goal of conducting 60,000 COVID-19 tests in the state throughout the month of May. Dr. Nathaniel Smith reports that as of May 15th, 29,389 coronavirus tests have have been performed in Arkansas. There are now 4,463 total COVID-19 cases documented in Arkansas, and 975 of those cases are considered active. There are 65 people hospitalized with the illness and 9 patients remain on a ventilator. The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now 3,390 while the state's death count stands at 98.

Good news was announced by State Park and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Stacy Hurst, as she revealed that the state has received nearly $500,000 in funds that can be dispersed to nonprofit groups for staff support and needed resources. Hurst also says the state park lodging reservations for this month are not far off from numbers seen this time last year.

The Arkansas Arts Council website is online at https://www.arkansasarts.org/

Again, there are now 4,463 total COVID-19 cases documented in Arkansas, with 975 of those  considered active. There are 65 people hospitalized with the illness and 9 patients remain on a ventilator.The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 in Arkansas is now 3,390 while the state's death count stands at 98.We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.\

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS AWARDS $2.4 MILLION TO CPC+ CLINICS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
(May 14, 2020) – Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield once again is financially rewarding clinics participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) program (an initiative of the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation) for their creative efforts to improve clinical effectiveness.

CPC+ provides financial resources to encourage primary care clinics to test ideas that advance patient care, improve outcomes and reduce low-value care/practices.

For meeting performance goals,113 of 123 participating CPC+ clinics (representing 562 healthcare providers) will share in more than $2.4 million being awarded by Arkansas Blue Cross. Each clinic met or exceeded its 2019 CPC+ quality measure targets by demonstrating improvement in a number of different areas, including:
Reductions in hospital admission and readmission rates
Patient-satisfaction initiatives
Quality of care
Total cost of care

“We are encouraged to see CPC+ continuing to make such a positive impact on our state’s healthcare delivery system and for Arkansas Blue Cross members,” said Alicia Berkemeyer, senior vice president of Provider Network Services for Arkansas Blue Cross. “Primary care is the bedrock of our system, and we are gratified to see collaborative and provider-led innovation bolstering it throughout Arkansas.”

About CPC+

CPC+ is a unique public/private, multi-payer initiative designed to improve primary care in America. It features two staggered, concurrent five-year rounds, each limited to specific geographic regions. Round 1 began January 1, 2017, and will run through 2021. Round 2 began January 1, 2018, and will run through 2022. Practices were able to choose from two participation tracks when applying for CPC+. Both tracks focus on the following Comprehensive Primary Care functions:

Access and continuity
Care management
Comprehensiveness and coordination
Patient and caregiver engagement 
Planned care and population health

This partnership gives practices additional financial resources and flexibility to make investments, improve quality of care and reduce the number of unnecessary services their patients receive.

CPC+ provides practices with a robust learning system, as well as actionable data feedback to guide their decision-making. The care delivery redesign ensures practices have the infrastructure to deliver better care, resulting in a healthier patient population.

Included in the Arkansas CPC+ clinics receiving performance incentive awards from Arkansas Blue Cross:
Clinic Name                                                                                                    City
Arkadelphia Medical Clinic - Arkadelphia
Bray Family Medicine  - Arkadelphia
Ouachita Valley Family Clinic _ Camden
SAMA Healthcare Services, PA - El Dorado
Collom and Carney Clinic - Prescott
St. Mary’s Physician Services, LLC - Russellville
Southwest Family Practice Residency and Clinic - Texarkana

 

May 14, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 14, 2020
COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Arkansas as the total number of positive cases has reached 4,366. This information was provided by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson during the COVID-19 press conference update on Thursday afternoon.

Of those cases, 928 are considered active, and 3,340 are considered recovered from the coronavirus. There are currently 69 people hospitalized from the illness and 10 of those patients remain on ventilators. Out of the cases reported, 305 originated out of correctional facilities, 101 are sourced from nursing homes and 522 are cited as "community spread." The number of coronavirus deaths in the state has now reached 98.

As previously reported by Governor Hutchinson, testing is considered one of the most important ways to plan and prioritize for public safety. During the month of May, a goal has been established to conduct at least 60,000 COVID-19 tests across the state. The Governor has announced that more testing locations are being added around Arkansas in an effort to track the virus and limit the spread.

For the COVID-19 economic update, Governor Hutchinson tapped AEDC cabinet secretary Mike Preston to provide the public with a breakdown of the funds being dispersed to Arkansas residents who are seeking unemployment assistance during the pandemic. Preston also reported on the status of the state's trust fund, which he says is in good shape at this time.
Resources for Arkansas business owners, employees and any Arkansans affected by COVID-19 can be found online at arkansasedc.com

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,366. Of those cases, 928 are considered active, and 3,340 are in recovery status from the coronavirus. There are currently 69 people hospitalized from the illness, and 10 of those patients remain on ventilators. The number of coronavirus deaths in the state is 98. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned. 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES DONATION OF 100,000 FACE MASKS FROM TAIWANSays: Taiwan is a 'beacon of freedom for East Asia' and 'should be allowed to participate in the World Health Organization'
LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin announced a donation of 100,000 face masks from the Taiwanese government. This donation will help increase the supply of personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"On behalf of Arkansas, I thank Taiwan for its generosity in this time of crisis. This donation will provide our frontline workers with the equipment needed to help keep them and our communities safe and healthy. Taiwan is a key partner and ally of the United States and a beacon of freedom for East Asia. Taiwan's relationship with the United States is critically important, and it is more evident all the time that Taiwan should be allowed to participate in the World Health Organization (WHO) as an observer as it did for years previously. A report by Congress' U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission indicates that Taiwan's exclusion from the WHO during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak led to critical delays and increased deaths due to COVID-19. The entire world would benefit from Taiwan's conscientious leadership."

 

THE HUB OF OUACHITA COUNTY COVID-19 GRANT APPLICATION FOR SOUTH ARKANSAS RESIDENTS
The HUB of Ouachita County has established this grant through the support of the Aerojet Rocketdyne Foundation and in partnership with Ouachita Valley Community Foundation. This grant is established to be a source of emergency relief for South Arkansas families who are facing challenges due to loss of employment, reduction of hours or loss of business due to COVID-19.  The grant amount will be determined by need, with the maximum amount granted up to $500.

Fill out the grant application and return to The Hub: (1) by mail at 1115 Fairview Road, Camden, AR 71701; (2) place in mail drop box located at The Hub - Christian Health Center in Cardinal Shopping Center; or (3) email to hub@ouachitacounty.org.  The application is also available online at www.hubofouachitacounty.org or The Hub of Ouachita County Facebook page. 
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB NEWS
The Camden Kiwanis Club Board has decided to start the weekly meetings back effective June 4th.  Currently, everyone must be 6 feet apart and masks are required. Obviously, this is subject to change and we will make the appropriate decisions if needed. Speakers at the June 4th meeting will be Betsy Thomson and Gary Steelman who will be talking about everything school related

The 7th Annual Searcy Harrell Memorial Golf Classic is set to take place on June 6th at the Camden Country Club. Format will be a 4-man Scramble with cash prizes given to the first-place team. Other prizes will be awarded to participating teams. Morning and afternoon flights are available.

Other contests will include Double or Nothing, Hit-The-Green, Closest to the Line and the opportunity to win a brand-new Ford vehicle with a Hole-In-One.


Entry fee is $400.00 per team which includes 18 holes of golf, cart fee and hamburger lunch.

For more information call  870-866-2769. Mail entry form and entry fee to Camden Kiwanis Club , P.O. Box 371, Camden, AR 71711.

If you know of someone that wants to be a hole sponsor or anyone that wants a team please let any Kiwanis Club member know.  They will be getting the new Ford Truck out on the golf course this week and Jim Dick Coleman will begin doing Facebook Live events soon! Remember that the Club will need additional volunteers at the golf tournament because they can't depend on the Key Club to be there due to it being after school is out.

All proceeds go toward local scholarships and Make-A-Wish Foundation.


ARKANSAS DRIVERS REMINDED TO USE IDRIVEARKANSAS.COM FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL INFORMATION
LITTLE ROCK (5-13) - The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) reminds drivers to “know before you go” and visit IDriveArkansas.com before traveling during the holiday season.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend you stay home as much as possible during the Coronavirus pandemic, but if you choose to travel there are several things to consider before you go. Please visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel in the US for their official guidance. If you do decide to travel during the Memorial Day Holiday (May 22 – May 25), ARDOT wishes you and your family a safe trip.

Extensive highway improvements continue through the state. With those improvements come work zones. To aid in your holiday travel, ARDOT has been working hard to open as many lanes as possible. Still, travelers will likely face work zones and possible delays due to increased traffic volume.

Traffic will be controlled by traffic cones and signage. Drivers should exercise caution when approaching and traveling through all highway work zones. Additional travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ARDOT.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter @myARDOT.

Route

County

City

Mile Marker

Distance

Lanes Closed

Time

I-530

Jefferson

Pine Bluff

35-45

10 miles

One Lane Both Directions

24 hours

Hwy 67

White

Beebe

35-36

1 mile

Outside NB Lane

24 hours

Hwy 377

Searcy

Snowball

6-7

2 miles

Alternating One Lane

24 hours

Hwy 177

Baxter

Norfork Dam

2-3

1 mile

Alternating One Lane

24 hours

I-555

Craighead

Jonesboro

39-44

5 miles

One Lane Both Directions

24 hours

I-555

Poinsett/Crittenden

Marked Tree

0-13

13 miles

Alternating SB Lanes

24 hours

 

SAAC HOSTS CORKS AND CANVAS "LITTLE FIELDS OF LAVENDER" ON 3 DATES • MAY 26, MAY 27, MAY 28
It's time to register for the May virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas - Little Fields of Lavender Watercolor Workshop - hosted by artist Kelly Campbell! There will be three sessions to choose from - Tuesday, May 26 at 6pm or Wednesday, May 27 at 6pm or Thursday, May 28 at 6pm. Choose whichever date fits your schedule best!

All of the art supplies you need to create watercolor "Little Fields of Lavender" will be available for pickup at SAAC Monday thru Thursday 9am to 1pm beginning Monday, May 18. Instructor Kelly Campbell will even provide curbside pickup on request. The fee for this special Corks & Canvas is $30, and you get to keep the watercolor set and extra paper.

If you want to be a part of this very different Corks & Canvas, just go online at saac-arts.org to make a reservation. Each of the three sessions is limited to 10 participants.

"Adults looking for some interaction with other adults should seriously consider doing this," Kelly said. "Our April sessions were such a success - we want to give everyone a chance to do it again or for the first time. We had many of our ‘regulars' and some new faces as well!"

She said, "We will be working with watercolor again - a different set of paints and different paper. The ‘Little Fields of Lavender' measures 4" x 5 ½", and each supply packet contains enough paper to do several paintings.

"These little paintings will absolutely be eligible to hang in our ‘Under Quarantine: Art Created Under Unprecedented Circumstances' exhibit/competition this summer," she continued. "Anyone who has questions about that, or about ‘Kitchen Table Art: Art Created During School Closures' for students can email me, and I'll be more than happy to answer any and all questions."

For more information, please email Campbell at kelly@saac-arts.org. Visit SAAC's website at saac-arts.org to register for the workshop. The South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.



BOOZMAN HELPS INTRODUCE BILL TO MAKE LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS ELIGIBLE FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF
WASHINGTON—
As local newspapers and broadcasters continue to struggle with the financial impacts of the coronavirus crisis, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has joined with colleagues to introduce legislation that will make these outlets eligible for relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

"Arkansans rely on the quality coverage we receive from our local newspapers, television affiliates and radio stations to remain informed throughout this crisis. Local newsrooms are reporting important details residents need that are not included in national coverage. At a time when we need this communication more than ever, these outlets are suffering from a dramatic reduction in advertising revenue leading to decisions to downsize, furlough workers or close. Ensuring the viability of local news outlets is critical to maintaining access to information," Boozman said.

Local newspapers and broadcasters have seen a sharp decrease in advertising revenue since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. In the last few months, local newspapers have lost as much as 50 percent of advertising revenue, and the National Association of Broadcasters found that some local broadcasters have reported losses of up to 90 percent. As a result, local news outlets find themselves in a precarious financial situation, putting thousands of jobs in jeopardy.

In an effort to stem the tide, Boozman signed on as an original cosponsor of the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020—authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)—which would allow local newspapers, radio and TV stations to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). An outlet would qualify as long as its individual physical location meets the separate size standard set by the Small Business Administration (SBA), which limits newspapers to fewer than 1,000 employees and caps gross receipts for broadcasters at less than $41.5 million.

The funding would have to be used to keep local reporters and those who support them on the job as they produce local news, information, content or emergency information. To that end, the SBA could require the newspaper, radio or TV station to demonstrate that the loan is necessary for this purpose. No portion of the loan could be paid or transferred to a parent company or used for other purposes.

This legislation follows on the heels of an effort Boozman joined urging Senate leadership to ensure that future legislation includes a fix to the SBA’s affiliation rule to make thousands of local newspapers, TV and radio stations around the country eligible for small business assistance under the PPP. 

 
 

Playlist

MAY 13, 2020

MAY CITY COUNCIL MEETING HELD AT THE CAMDEN BUSINESS INCUBATOR
The May 12, 2020 City Council Meeting was held at the Camden Business Incubator Building located at 625 Adams SE, Camden, AR 7170. Due to the state directives the Council Meeting was broadcast on KBEU 92.7. All City Alderman, Elected Officials & Staff were required to wear a mask and maintained a minimum of 6 feet in distance. Due to social distancing requirements was limited space for the public.  Space was provided for news outlets.  General public encouraged to listen to council meeting on radio. Comments by public may be were submitted by email.

Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Rev. Scott Knight, Pastor at Cullendale Assembly of God Church gave the invocation. It was followed by the pledge of Allegiance.

The Minutes and Financial Report of Regular Meeting held on March 10th were approved.

To satisfy the Audience Participation part of the meeting questions or remarks were sent to the City Clerk by  email. There was one email that was complimenting James Alford for a job well done.

The Mayor’s report included David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities Manager who presented Jason Holsclaw with Stephens Public Finance to give a short presentation on Camden Water Utilities’ refinancing of their 2010 and 2012 Bonds. By combining the two and refinancing the city will save some money. The Maturity date would remain the same. The Council was only being asked to look into the refinance. If the interest rate gets higher the city would not be tied into it. If rates remain the same a formal request would be made in the next Council meeting. A voice vote was taken to approve the concept moving forward. The motion passed.

The Mayor then gave his report. He spoke about re-opening businesses. He stressed the importance of following the Governor’s directives. He stated that the City of Camden Municipal Building will remain closed to the public. The Camden Police Department, Fire Department and Public works buildings will also remain closed to the General Public but continue to perform essential services throughout the city. The Camden Covid-19 Task Force has worked diligently to ensure that you get the most accurate information.

The Mayor then went on to talk about a meeting while he attended while he was still campaigning. Audio can be found above.

Old business included Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. This was the Second Reading of this Ordinance. This will move forward to the next meeting for a third reading so there can be visuals of exactly where the doors will be.

Resolution No. 15-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden. The Counsel finally agreed to fund OPED with $100,000. Audio of the discussion is above.

There were a couple of new business items. The City is going to formulate a plan as to how to conduct business and meetings should anything like the current pandemic happens again.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 13, 2020
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had grown to 4,236. That's an increase of 72 in the past 24 hours. There are 862 active cases. Of those active cases, 295 are in correctional facilities, 90 are in nursing homes, and 477 are in the community. There are currently 64 patients hospitalized, with 13 on a ventilator. The death toll now stands at 97. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson emphasized increased testing during Wednesday afternoon's press conference. The Governor has set a goal of 60,000 tests during the month of May. As of Tuesday the 12th, 23,949 COVID-19 tests had been administered. In the past 24 hours, 2,278 tests have been administered, with a 2.2% positivity rate. Governor Hutchinson stressed the importance of increased testing in the weeks ahead to help determine the direction of our future battle:"

Bo Ryall of the Arkansas Hospital Association backed the Governor by pledging the support of hospitals around the state in administering COVID-19 testing:"

Lashannon Spencer of the Arkansas Community Health Centers Association also pledged their assistance to the increased testing campaign. Spencer says that if you don't have health insurance, the community centers will test you for free:"
The Governor will make an announcement on May 18th regarding bars. On May 20th, the Governor plans to address summer camps and teen sports. 

Again, there are a total of 4,236 COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. 862 cases are considered active. The death toll due to the coronavirus in Arkansas is now up to 97. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned."

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: ANTIBODY TESTING MARKETED TO HAVE EXAGGERATED CAPABILITIES
Says, ‘take advantage of Arkansans during the pandemic by making unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 related tests will be identified and prosecuted’ 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas is gradually opening the door and life is slowly going back to normal, but Arkansans are looking for ways to protect their families as well as neighbors and friends while reconnecting. Antibody tests, or serology tests, are thought to be a useful resource to identify asymptomatic individuals, who have recovered from COVID-19 or who may have had COVID-19 and recovered, but were never tested. However, any antibody tests on the market claiming to accurately determine antibodies may be exaggerating the tests’ capabilities to diagnose COVID-19.

“Arkansans are being thoughtful as they reconnect with their loved ones, but are also considering the risks to those in the most vulnerable populations,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Those who are trying to take advantage of Arkansans during the pandemic by making unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 related tests will be identified and prosecuted.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “serologic test results have limitations that make them less than ideal tools for diagnosing people who are sick. Depending on when someone was infected and the timing of the test, the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection.”

Attorney General Rutledge has identified tips for Arkansans to use when considering antibody testing:

  • Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose someone as currently sick with COVID-19; you should contact your health care provider if you suspect active COVID-19
  • Most health insurance pays for COVID-19 testing if a person has symptoms or has been exposed
  • Do not believe advertisements for vaccinations or medications to prevent or treat COVID-19 that are not recommended by the CDC or your health care provider
  • Tests should be administered by a health care professional – there are no approved or reliable take-at-home antibody tests
  • Do not disclose personal or financial information to an unknown person or on an unfamiliar website or social media because it could result in identity theft or fraud
  • Paying a lot of money does not make a test more accurate or keep you safe from COVID-19

For more information, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY LAUNCHES ONLINE COMMUNITY SURVEY
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has launched an online community survey to capture resident feedback about our region and how we want to guide economic development efforts over the next five (5) years. The survey is being conducted by project consultant VisionFirst Advisors, and we need your help!

During the course of the project, we are connecting the region’s strengths and initiatives into a cohesive direction that provides opportunities for all residents. For the initiative to be successful, it is important to hear from residents. The short survey poses questions on the region’s strengths and weaknesses, recruitment of industry, top goals for the region, how to retain young professionals and families, workforce and quality of life.

The survey, which should take less than ten minutes, will be open for several weeks and close on June 4, 2020. Take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DRA.  Our goal is to have 1,000 surveys completed by June 4, 2020.

Would you also please take a few moments to share the survey with your friends and colleagues or share on your social media accounts? Did you know that most people respond to online surveys within 24 hours of seeing the message? Please share once a week to help us reach our goal of 500 responses.
 

SBA ISSUES NEW REGULATIONS FOR WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL CONTRACTING PROGRAM  
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration today published Women-Owned Small Business  Federal Contracting program regulations that will provide a free, online certification and eligibility application process for women-owned small businesses and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The timeline for implementation of changes to SBA’s WOSB program has been delayed to accommodate those affected by the current pandemic.  

Starting July 15, 2020, SBA will begin to implement changes consistent with the Small Business Act as amended in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. In addition to the certification requirement for firms seeking WOSB and EDWOSB set-aside contracts, the regulations detail certification options for applicants and require authorized third-party certifiers to notify applicants of their fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.

Below are some important timelines for firms to keep in mind:

  • The current self-certification process will remain available for firms until October 15, 2020, in sba.gov;
  • Between now and July 15, 2020, WOSBs must download their documentation, currently housed in the WOSB Program Repository, from sba.gov;
  • On July 15, 2020, firms can begin submitting applications for initial processing; and
  • On October 15, 2020, SBA will begin issuing decisions on certification.

The regulations detail important changes to the certification process, including the following:

  • Allows participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center of Verification and Evaluations, provided they meet all eligibility requirements;
  • Confirms the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers; 
  • Eliminates the self-certification option from sba.gov, effective October 15, 2020; and
  • Adopts a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for individuals in the 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program). Additionally, funds invested in official retirement accounts are excluded from the analysis of an economically-disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both the WOSB and 8(a) Programs. This makes the economic disadvantage threshold and analysis consistent for EDWOSBs and 8(a) Program participants.
  • The new WOSB Program regulations will make it easier and more efficient for contracting officers to set aside and make awards to firms certified as WOSBs and EDWOSBs and will better empower agencies to meet the 5% federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.

About the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program
To learn more about how the SBA supports women entrepreneurs, visit www.sba.gov/wosb.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov

 

RUTLEDGE FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST LITTLE ROCK ROOFING COMPANY
Says, ‘Five Arkansas consumers lost a total of almost $90,000 to Greenhagen for roofing and other home improvement work’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced that she has filed a lawsuit against Chance and Samone Greenhagen and their company Greenhagen Exteriors, LLC for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). Greenhagen required large deposits and upfront payments for roofing and other home improvement projects that they did not have the intent or ability to perform as agreed.
 

“Five Arkansas consumers lost a total of almost $90,000 to Greenhagen for roofing and other home improvement work for which they failed to complete or provide refunds,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I strongly advise Arkansans to contact my office any time a contractor fails to complete a project as agreed without providing a refund for all unearned payments.”
 

Consumers have also filed complaints with the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board, which revoked Greenhagen’s contractor’s licenses and issued a cease and desist order.
 

Rutledge is now seeking restitution for harmed consumers, civil penalties, an injunction and other costs and fees incurred by the State of Arkansas in resolving this matter.
 

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions of Greenhagen or any other contractor, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982.

 
 

MAY 12, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 12, 2020
As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased to 4,164. That's an increase of 121 from Monday. 27 of those new cases came from the Forrest City area in Eastern Arkansas. The number of hospitalizations statewide is down to 59, with 12 of those patients on a ventilator. After a peak of some 1,420 active cases in the state a few weeks back, the number of active cases of the coronavirus is down now to 849. The death toll due to COVID-19 in the state now stands at 95. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson set a goal of 60,000 tests in the month of May. After 1,753 COVID-19 tests were administered on Monday, Governor Hutchinson plans to outline new plans on Wednesday as to how to get additional testing done. The Governor says that testing is important so that spikes of the coronavirus don't become outbreaks.

Governor Hutchinson set some new decision point dates on Tuesday. The Governor plans to make an announcement regarding bars and drinking establishments on Monday, May 18th. The Governor plans to address summer camps and team sports on Wednesday, May 20th. Governor Hutchinson also disclosed Tuesday that the state had received enough of a new drug called Remdesivir to treat fifty COVID-19 patients:"

Secretary of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, reminded Arkansans at Tuesday afternoon's press conference that it's important to come forward and be tested if you're showing coronavirus symptoms:"

Again, the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,164 Tuesday afternoon, after a spike in the Forrest City area in eastern Arkansas. The number of active cases stands at 849. There are 59 patients hospitalized, with 12 of those patients on a ventilator. The death toll stands at 95. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.



THE ARKANSAS SMALL BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CENTER  ANNOUNCES UPCOMING WEBINARS
Join us online for timely, relevant information your business can use during the COVID-19 pandemic. No cost to participate. Click the links to register.

COVID-19 & Workplace Protection
Tuesday, May 12

¡Calma! Continúe con su Negocio
Wednesday, May 13

Communication and Learning in a Virtual World: How Businesses Can Prepare
Wednesday, May 13

Trademark Basics: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later
Thursday, May 14

Build Your Website with WordPress (3-Part Series) with Central Arkansas Library System
Part 1 - Tuesday, May 19
Part 2 - Wednesday, May 20
Part 3 - Thursday, May 21

Suggest a Topic
We want to hear from you. To suggest a topic for us to add to our COVID-19 "Keep Calm and Small Business On" webinar series, please email Whitney Horton at wahorton@ualr.edu.

Missed a Webinar?
See our COVID-19 Webinars playlist on YouTube

Here to Help
Do you have questions about the resources available to your business? Call our Infoline at (800) 862-2040, or click the button to sign up for consulting, and one of our staff will contact you.
REQUEST ASSISTANCE

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES NEW TEXT ALERT SYSTEM TO PROVIDE TIMELY COVID-19 UPDATES
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Governor Asa Hutchinson has announced a new text alert system with the ability to provide timely COVID-19 alerts and other critical guidance directly from the Arkansas Division Emergency Management to Arkansas residents.

Arkansans can opt-in to the new system today by texting ‘COVID19ARK’ to 67283.

“This is a free service from the Division of Emergency Management and RAVE Mobile Safety that will enable Arkansans to receive COVID-19 alerts and other guidance,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Participation in Smart911 will provide first responders additional information they need to ensure your safety and wellbeing.”

Residents who have opted in for alerts will also receive instructions to sign up for Smart911, a free service that allows individuals and families to provide key context to 9-1-1 call takers and first responders.

Through the Smart911 app or smart911.com, residents can create a Safety Profile that contains critical information including pre-existing conditions and quarantine status.

As Arkansas manages the COVID-19 outbreak and a surge in 9-1-1 calls, the information in these Safety Profiles allows 9-1-1 operators to proactively identify and communicate with those at greatest risk while also providing first responders the context and foresight they need to protect themselves from exposure and arrive on the scene fully informed.

A Public Safety Announcement can be found here.
#COVID19Ark #InThisTogether #weARstrong

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ARKANSANS ACQUIRING LIVESTOCK FROM OUT OF STATE
Little Rock, AR -- The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is reminding Arkansans that they must ensure any livestock they purchase or receive from other states meets the State and Federal import requirements. The Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Poultry Division can offer assistance to ensure the animals have the proper documentation to allow movement into Arkansas.

“We appreciate the efforts of Arkansans to help alleviate challenges that animal agricultural producers have encountered due to temporary closures of processing facilities in other states,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “Our staff is available to help answer questions about safety protocols and importation requirements that are in place to protect Arkansans and our state’s agriculture industry,” said Ward.

All animals brought into Arkansas must meet the importation requirements set by USDA and the State’s Health Requirements Governing the Entry of Livestock, Poultry, and Exotic Animals. For swine, USDA interstate commerce regulations call for Premises Identification Number Ear Tags for Slaughter Swine, and the state requires that swine that are not from a qualified-validated herd be tested for Brucellosis and Pseudorabies. A Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection is also required to make sure the animal is not showing signs of illness. These rules are in place for public safety and to prevent the spread of disease within the state.

“Brucellosis and Pseudorabies are highly communicable diseases that can spread quickly from animal to animal, and in the case of Brucellosis, to humans,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Randy Chick. “We are aware of individuals planning to purchase live animals, particularly swine, directly from out-of-state producers. These rules are in place to help the Department monitor and prevent diseases that can have devastating impacts on the Arkansas agriculture industry,” said Livestock and Poultry Director Patrick Fisk.

More information about animal importation requirements may be obtained from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website at https://www.aad.arkansas.gov/Websites/aad/files/Content/5937242/Entry_Requirments_.pdf

If people are not planning to process the animals themselves, they should know that many meat processors in Arkansas are already booked for several months. Individuals planning to purchase an animal for processing should first check with local processing plants or prepare for other options such as arranging for holding the animal until it can be processed.

A list of Arkansas meat processors may be found on an interactive map at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/mpi-directory

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

OZARKS HIGHLANDS RADIO AND STONE BANK TEAM UP TO PRESENT “CABIN FEVER 2020” VIRTUAL CONCERT ON THURSDAY, MAY 28, 7:30 P.M.
(Mountain View, Ark., MAY 11, 2020) “After the annual Arkansas Folk Festival was postponed and eventually cancelled, we decided we had to get creative and try to honor the music that has become synonymous with Mountain View,” said Kevin Compton, chairman of Stone Bank, which is based in the Stone County seat.

“We have a relationship with Ozark Highlands Radio, which is produced by the Ozark Folk Center and airs on over 130 public and community radio stations all across the country,” said Kirby Williams, Executive Vice President of Stone Bank. “We help sponsor their national broadcast and their weekly broadcast on KUAR, the Little Rock NPR affiliate,” said Williams. Ozark Highland Radio is a weekly one-hour program featuring musical performances, past and present, as well as segments on the cultural history and tradition of the greater Ozarks region.

So, the idea for “Cabin Fever 2020” was born.  Working with Daren Dortin, executive producer of the radio program, a handful of area performers were chosen to perform. The online concert is scheduled to stream online on Thursday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. at www.cabinfever.stonebank.com. You can also follow Stone Bank on Facebook for the concert and for updates leading up to the event.  The performance will also be archived on the Stone Bank YouTube Channel.

The program will feature performances from some of the Mountain View area’s finest musicians including, Grace Stormont, Love Holler, the Bow Tanglers and The Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band, Pam Setser, Ed Nicholson and Stan D’Aubin.

The evening will be hosted by Ozark Highland Radio’s on-air host Dave Smith who will emcee the evening. Also featured is Ozark Highlands Radio and Mountain View personality, Mark Jones, who has a regular segment on the weekly radio show.

“We are soliciting donations to the Committee of One Hundred for the Ozark Folk Center,” said Williams. The COOH serves to promote the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View and its efforts to preserve the folk culture of the Ozarks. “Just like other venues and parks, the Ozark Folk Center has had to curtail its season of scheduled concerts,” said Williams.  Donations may be made to by check to: Committee of 100, P O Box 2111, Mountain View AR 72560.

Performers Scheduled to Appear
Mark Jones
is an accomplished claw-hammer banjo player, storyteller and sound engineer and was there when it happened at the Ozark Folk Center in the early 70’s and 80’s. He comes from a family of talented musicians and carries on the signature “Jones Style” banjo playing he learned from his father, Grandpa Jones

Love Holler is an old-time string band that hails from Batesville, AR. Twin sisters Emma and Caroline Russell and their dad, Stacy, play old time, gospel and traditional country music.

The Bow Tanglers are an old-time fiddle duo based out of central Arkansas.
Everett and Emily Elam perform traditional Ozark fiddle music around the state and accompany tunes with historical anecdotes. Both Emily and Everett hold state championship titles and above all, love to share and teach music.

Grace Stormont is a vocalist and multi-instrumental performer who plays old time, folk, gospel and jazz music. She is one of the area’s young performers who has taken hold of the traditional music of this region and brought it to a new and diverse audience.

Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band formed unexpectedly three years ago in a gravel lot near the courthouse square in Mountain View, Arkansas, a small town near the Ozark National Forest in Stone County, Arkansas. They have quickly become a favorite in the region. 

Pam Setser grew up on the Ozark Folk Center State Park stage and started playing music with her parents when the park opened in the early 70’s. She is a multi-instrumentalist, proficient on guitar, mountain dulcimer and spoons and performs frequently with the Leatherwoods among other musicians in Stone County.

Ed Nicholson and Stan D’Aubin are premier pickers from Northwest Arkansas. Ed has played with numerous groups through the years and is one Arkansas’s finest guitarists. Stan is a world-class mandolin player who also plays in several groups.

In addition to Mountain View, Stone Bank has locations in Little Rock, Harrison, White Hall, DeWitt and Gillett. Ozark Highlands Radio is produced and recorded at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, Arkansas, with major funding provided by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.  
 

COTTON SLAMS CHINESE RETRIBUTION AGAINST AUSTRALIA’S CALL FOR CORONAVIRUS INVESTIGATION
Washington, D.C.
— China has suspended beef imports from Australia’s largest meat processors after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus last month. Following the suspension, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below:

“The Chinese Communist Party is waging economic warfare on our closest allies for daring to call for an investigation into the origins of the Wuhan virus. The CCP would rather cut off trade than allow a simple independent inquiry, a telling reaction. But the United States and our allies won’t yield to Beijing’s threats as we continue to demand answers from China on the origins of a virus it unleashed on the world.”
For more on the and other stories, visit www.yesradioworks.com/news

 

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PROFESSOR ARRESTED FOR WIRE FRAUD
Fayetteville, Arkansas – Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas David Clay Fowlkes, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch of the FBI Little Rock Field Office, announced today that Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was arrested on Friday, May 8, 2020 on charges related to Wire Fraud. The complaint and complaint affidavit were unsealed this evening after Ang’s initial appearance in court before The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks at the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

In the one-count complaint, Ang was charged with one count of Wire Fraud.  The complaint charges that Ang had close ties with the Chinese government and Chinese companies, and failed to disclose those ties when required to do so in order to receive grant money from NASA.  These materially false representations to NASA and the University of Arkansas resulted in numerous wires to be sent and received that facilitated Ang’s scheme to defraud.

If convicted, Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. If convicted, Ang’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including Ang’s prior criminal record (if any), Ang’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. 

The FBI is investigating the case. Acting United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorneys Michael Eaton and Ali Ahmad from the National Security Division are prosecuting the case.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge.  The charges set forth in a complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

BUG EXPERTS CALL FEARS OF MURDER HORNETS OVERBLOWN
Insect experts say everyone should calm down about the big bug with the nickname “murder hornet” – unless they are a beekeeper or a honeybee.

The Asian giant hornets that were found recently in the state of Washington aren’t big killers of humans, although it has happened on very rare occasions. But the world’s largest hornets do decapitate entire hives of honeybees, and that crucial food pollinator is already in big trouble.

While its nickname exaggerates the human health threat, experts say this hornet is especially big – two inches long – so it does carry more and stronger toxin. Thus, it can be a nasty sting for humans.

Hornet, wasp, and bee stings kill on average 62 people a year in the United States. If anything is a murder insect, it would be a mosquito. Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide annually from malaria and other diseases.

For bees and beekeepers, this could be yet another major problem, but it is not one yet. The number of U.S. honeybees has been dropping for years because of problems such as mites, diseases, pesticides, and loss of food. The “murder hornet” can pose a different problem for bees. If they get into a hive, they tear the heads off worker bees, and the hive pretty much dies. Yet even for bees, the invasive hornets are far down on the list of real threats.

Beekeepers in the state of Washington are taking the threat seriously, based on worst-case scenarios. No “murder hornets” have been reported in or near the state of Arkansas.
 

DELEGATION ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR LOW-INCOME ARKANSANS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded Arkansas over $8 million in coronavirus relief to assist low-income families with energy costs.

The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment will receive $8,206,119 from HHS’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Congress appropriated these funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation. The CARES Act provided $900 million in supplemental LIHEAP funding to help “prevent, prepare for, or respond to” home energy needs surrounding the national emergency created by the coronavirus.

“The CARES Act takes a comprehensive approach to help Arkansans struggling from the economic toll of this crisis. This funding will help keep families safe and healthy by assisting with energy costs during their time of need,” members said.
 

BOOZMAN JOINS CALL FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH SERVICES DURING PANDEMIC
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Congressional leaders to include $2 billion in the next coronavirus relief package to help health care providers expand telehealth services by improving their access to broadband.

Telehealth allows health care providers to treat patients safely without putting themselves or their patients at risk of contracting COVID-19 and has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, many providers – especially in rural and hard-to-reach communities – lack the resources to handle this increase in demand for telehealth services.

In a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Boozman and his colleagues call for $2 billion in additional funding to the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.

“The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the need to expand telehealth. It is imperative that Congress act to ensure our front-line responders have the tools they need to combat this deadly virus,” the senators wrote.

The RHC program is the only federal program that supports broadband deployment at urban and rural health care provider locations. These new funds would expand the RHC Program to support non-rural and mobile health care providers, eliminate administrative red tape slowing down the process of obtaining broadband connectivity and provide more resources to help providers increase their broadband capacity.

Boozman is a co-founder of the Senate Broadband Caucus and is a champion for additional investment to expand broadband in rural areas.

The letter was led by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). Along with Boozman, it was signed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Angus King (I-ME).

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

We write to express our support for dedicated funding for broadband for health care providers in any future coronavirus relief package Congress considers. The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the need to expand telehealth so that health care providers can treat patients safely, without putting themselves or their patients at risk. As a result, many health care providers are facing connectivity challenges in meeting this new demand for telehealth.  It is imperative that Congress act to ensure our front-line responders have the tools they need to combat this deadly virus.


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program is the only federal program that supports broadband deployment at urban and rural health care provider locations to improve patient care and reduce health care costs. The program is comprised of two parts, the Telecommunications Program, which subsidizes the difference between urban and rural rates for telecommunications services, and the Health Care Connect Fund, which provides health care providers a 65% discount on their telecommunications and broadband costs.

Unfortunately, demand for the RHC Program has outpaced available funding over the last several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic impact will likely exacerbate this issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that health care providers use telehealth to direct patients to the right level of care for their health care needs, to conduct initial screenings of patients who may be infected with COVID-19, and to ensure that patients have access to necessary care without potentially exposing themselves by entering a hospital or physician’s office. Congress’s actions to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth in Medicare during the coronavirus outbreak in the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will also likely increase demands for telehealth and requests for support through the RHC Program.

Congress must do more for our health care providers so that they can meet telehealth needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we are writing you to request that Congress provide $2 billion in additional support for the RHC Program in any future coronavirus response. This additional support would expand the reach of the RHC Program to enable health care providers at non-rural and mobile health care facilities to engage in telehealth, eliminate administrative red tape that slows down the ability of front-line providers to obtain broadband connectivity, and provide more resources to current health care providers in the RHC Program so they can increase their broadband capacity to effectively treat their patients.

The RHC Program has been a key aspect of increasing telehealth in the United States. In this time of crisis, it is imperative we do our part to ensure the safety and security of our health care providers and patients.  We urge you to include support in coronavirus legislation to ensure that Americans can access vital care when they need it in a way that protects their health and the health of those around them.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

MAY 11, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 11, 2020
Following the announcement of Murphy Oil dissolving their South Arkansas location to consolidate to a Houston Texas-based Headquarters last week, Governor Asa Hutchinson arranged for Monday's COVID-19 press conference to be held live from El Dorado.

The Governor spoke confidently about the state's ability to recover economically and prosper, despite the pandemic and the Oil company's announcement about pulling out of the state's Southern region. Hutchinson notes that more than $700 million dollars is available in the state unemployment reserve fund, which he calls an underlying strength that helps put Arkansas in a better position than other states.

The total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas as reported by Dr. Nathaniel Smith has now reached 4,043. Only 803 of those cases are considered active, as 3,149 people have recovered from the illness, and the death toll has now reached 94.  The number of people hospitalized from the Coronavirus currently stands at 61, with 11 of those patients on a ventilator.  Of the active cases, 278 are sourced from correctional facilities, 86 are from nursing homes, and 439 are considered community cases.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke during the press conference to address the state's economic issues, and to provide financial updates. Preston says more than 100,000 unemployment claims are being processed in Arkansas this week. He also reminded freelancers and the self-employed where they can seek resources.

Again, the total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has now reached 4,043. Only 803 of those cases are considered active, as 3,149 people have recovered from the illness, and the number of people hospitalized from Coronavirus currently stands at 61, with 11 patients on a ventilator. The state death toll has reached 94. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

MAY CITY COUNCIL MEETING TO BE HELD AT THE CAMDEN BUSINESS INCUBATOR
The May 12, 2020 City Council Meeting will be held at the Camden Business Incubator Building located at 625 Adams SE, Camden, AR 71701
Due to the state directives the Council Meeting will be broadcasted on KBEU 92.7 beginning at 7:00pm.

All City Alderman, Elected Officials & Staff must wear a mask (if you do not have a mask, one will be provided) and maintain a minimum of 6ft in distance.

Due to social distancing requirements, there will be very limited space for the public.  Space will be provided for news outlets.  General public encouraged to listen to council meeting on radio. Comments by public may be submitted to email address: onecamdenar@gmail.com
 

ARKANSAS GROWN SCHOOL GARDEN OF THE YEAR CONTEST OPEN THROUGH SEPTEMBER 13
Little Rock, AR – School entries are being accepted for the seventh annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2019-2020 school year, or any school planning to start a garden in the 2020-2021 school year.

“School gardens have proven to be an effective way to help students develop healthy eating habits, while also learning about science, math, and agriculture, Arkansas’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We value our partnership with Farm Credit and appreciate their generosity in providing the funds for the awards,” said Ward.

The contest runs through Sunday, September 13, 2020. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at http://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs. Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are excited to continue our support of teachers and projects that engage Arkansas students in food production and agricultural sustainability. Through these partnerships, we can ensure that the valuable role of Arkansas agriculture remains top-of-mind for the next generation,” said Farm Credit Midsouth President & CEO, James McJunkins, on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

The 2020 contest has a new category, “Champion of Sustaining School Garden,” where schools who have previously won in a category can be awarded for their continued development and sustainability.

Applicants from public and private K-12 schools, early care facilities, and alternative learning environments are eligible to apply for the following categories:

  •        Best School Garden Start-up Proposal - $500
  •        Best Harvest Partnership Garden - $500
  •        Best Education Based Garden - $500
  •        Best Community Collaboration Garden - $500
  •        Overall School Garden Winner - $1000
  •        Champion of Sustaining School Garden - $1000

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

With $4 billion in assets, Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across Arkansas with reliable, consistent credit and financial services.    
 

BOOZMAN URGES CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR CHARITABLE NONPROFITS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is among a group of lawmakers urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to include nonprofits, charities and houses of worship in the fourth-phase relief proposal for the coronavirus pandemic.

In a bipartisan letter led by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Angus King (I-ME), Boozman and his colleagues ask Senate leadership to expand nonprofit organizations’ access to relief and support, increase unemployment insurance reimbursement for employees and strengthen incentives to encourage more charitable giving.

“Charitable nonprofits are significant employers ready to serve. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are the backbone of our communities: the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by sickness, closures, and job loss,” the senators wrote. “We will continue to rely on the experience, expertise and ingenuity of the sector during future recovery efforts. As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Along with Boozman, the letter was signed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Martha McSally (R-AZ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, Covenant House International, Ducks Unlimited, Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., Goodwill Industries International, Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, National Council of Nonprofits, United Way Worldwide, World Wildlife Fund, YMCA of the USA, Youth Advocate Program, YWCA USA and Boys and Girls Club of America are among the organizations that have offered support for this effort.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

Charitable nonprofits are significant employers ready to serve. The 12 million people working for America’s charities are the backbone of our communities: the food banks, shelters, domestic violence services, houses of worship, early care and education centers, after-school facilities, and more that are being called on to feed, house and care for people whose lives have been disrupted by sickness, closures, and job loss. Cities and states are relying on nonprofits to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic. We will continue to rely on the experience, expertise and ingenuity of the sector during future recovery efforts. As we work to build on the CARES Act in the next relief package, we cannot overlook the needs of these community-based institutions and must ensure that charitable nonprofits are fully supported in their service on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

Specifically, we urge you to include the following clarifications and provisions in the next relief package:

Expand Nonprofit Access to Relief and Support: Expand the eligibility for nonprofits to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program by modifying the current 500-employee cap or by other means. Adjust Economic Stabilization Fund or other mechanisms to implement programs to support nonprofit employers with between 500 and 10,000 employees. Provide clear guidance and maximum flexibility to private lenders to prioritize processing the applications of charitable nonprofits.

Increase Unemployment Insurance Reimbursement: Treat self-funded nonprofits fairly by increasing the federal unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits to 100% of costs. As currently written Section 2103 of the CARES Act will subject nonprofits throughout the country to crippling payments to their state unemployment systems later this year, while other employers will likely experience little or no additional costs resulting from mass COVID-19-related layoffs. The impacts will be real. States will be greatly challenged to distinguish among employers in an already overburdened system due to the unprecedented surge in new applicants. Many nonprofits will be hit with a bill for reimbursement to states at a time when they will be in the highest demand for providing services. This could actually inhibit nonprofits’ ability to perform.

Strengthen Charitable Giving Incentives: Encourage donations to the work of charitable organizations in their communities by enabling taxpayers making donations on and after March 13 (date of national emergency declaration) and before July 16 to claim the deductions on their 2019 tax filings. This retroactive application should apply to itemized and above-the-line deductions during this critical period to encourage an influx of donations when these nonprofits need them most. Also, enhance the Above-the-Line Deduction in the CARES Act by increasing the $300/person cap and extending the effective date of the incentive. 

On behalf of the nonprofit charities in each of our districts providing critical services to our constituents, we appreciate your attention to this request and believe that the inclusion of these provisions will directly help charitable nonprofits respond to the fallout from this pandemic and will continue to serve our communities in the aftermath. We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request.

Sincerely,   

 

MAY IS FOSTER CARE AWARENESS MONTH
The Mission Continues…
Little Rock, AR— May 5, 2020 — Each May since 1988, National Foster Care Month has raised awareness of the needs of children and teens in foster care across Arkansas. When children cannot stay with their families due to crisis, neglect or abuse, they enter the foster care system needing safe homes to take them in and care for them. With approximately 4,400 children and youth currently in the foster care system in Arkansas and only 1,500 homes to care for them, there is an urgent need for foster and adoptive parents to provide a refuge or a home of permanence.

The CALL in Arkansas mobilizes the Church and recruits, trains and supports church members to become foster and adoptive parents. In 2019, more than 969 CALL foster homes served 3,685 children and youth. 

Are you feeling stressed because of the Covid-19 pandemic? Scared about the future? Anxious about your family? Missing your friends? Not sure who is in charge? Out of your normal routine? Stuck where you don’t want to be? Behaving your worst? Can’t think past today? Unfortunately, this is the life of a child in foster care.

Children and teens in foster care deserve to have a home where they feel safe and secure. The CALL is working through the crisis to provide stability and offer support. At a time when others have closed their doors to remain safe, foster families are opening their homes to children at their most vulnerable.  This month, The CALL is launching a campaign to highlight foster heroes in our local communities.

For more information or to feature a local foster family in your community, contact your local County Coordinator or the state office for The CALL. The state contact is:

Jill Bobo, Development Director
501-580-1214
jbobo@thecallinarkansas.org

Heroism doesn’t demand extraordinary circumstances. Instead, it can take place in our everyday lives. For more information about becoming a hero to a child in foster care, contact The CALL at 501-907-1048.

To learn more about The CALL, visit TheCALLinArkansas.org or Facebook.com/TheCALLinAR.
 

SAAC TO HOLD ONLINE SUMMER CAMPS FOR KIDS BEGINNING JUNE 1
Summer camps at South Arkansas Arts Center will continue this year, but in a different way than ever before! In response to the Arkansas Health Department's directive that day camps cannot operate as usual this year, we are excited to offer a series of fun, flexible, and totally free online camps for students of all skill levels. The first class begins June 1, so it is time to sign up now!

Many of SAAC's Arts Academy teachers will be available directly on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, through a series of virtual class videos that students can complete on their own schedule and at their own pace. Best of all, Virtual Summer Camps and bag of art supplies will be available FREE of charge to the entire community thanks to grant funding from the SHARE Foundation and the Union County Community Foundation, as well as corporate sponsorship by First Financial Bank.

Free art supply bags are available for the first 250 students who register, as well as a free SAAC t-shirt while supplies last. Registration is not required to access the lessons, just to receive the free bag of art supplies. Sign your student up by filling out the form on the SAAC website, or register over the phone at 870-862-5474. The SAAC teachers are all looking forward to fun summer of art with your kids!

"It's hard for us to imagine a summer without our wonderful campers filling the building every day," said SAAC executive director Laura Allen. "But we are so excited about the prospect of offering our students a virtual option that will be able to fit every family's schedule and budget. These tuition-free, virtual lessons will be available to any budding artist at any age!"

Beginning the week of June 1, a new set of free virtual lessons will be released each week. Videos will be available directly on our website, www.saac-arts.org, and through our Facebook page. Students can choose to complete the lessons day by day, week by week, or save them up to complete all at once in an art extravaganza. Students will be able to access visual art with Maria Villegas, Jorge Villegas, Mike Means, and Katie Harwell, as well as story telling and ballet with Stephanie Lowrey, Elizabeth Wood, and Cami Lowrey, and performing arts with Jacob George.

The SAAC teachers are all looking forward to fun summer of art with your kids! For more information on virtual summer camps, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website to sign your kids up for this fun way to experience art in a new way. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas

HHS AWARDS ARKANSAS $4.7 MILLION FOR EXPANDED CORONAVIRUS TESTING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for awarding federal funds to Arkansas health centers for expanded coronavirus testing. 

The grants—totaling $4,766,433—were awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to 12 HRSA-funded health care centers in Arkansas. The investment will be used to expand testing and allow for the purchase of personal protective equipment; training for staff; outreach, procurement and administration of tests; and laboratory services. This funding will also support notification of contacts of patients who test positive and the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities.

“These health centers play a critical role in keeping Arkansans healthy. Providing additional resources to expand testing is key to identifying patients infected with this disease and preventing its spread in the community. These funds will help achieve the governor’s goal of conducting 60,000 coronavirus tests in the state during May,” members said.

This funding builds on a $10.5 million investment in Arkansas HRSA-funded facilities.

The following Arkansas health centers received funding from HRSA:

ARCARE

Augusta

$1,145,659

1st Choice Healthcare, Inc.

Corning

$387,229

Mid-Delta Health Systems Inc.

Clarendon

$135,739

Cabun Rural Health Service, Inc.

Hampton

$234,829

Lee County Cooperative Clinic

Marianna

$144,619

Boston Mountain Rural Health Center, Inc.

Marshall

$393,919

Healthy Connections Inc.

Mena

$292,819

Jefferson Comprehensive Care System Inc.

Pine Bluff

$230,089

Mainline Health Systems Inc.

Portland

$339,499

River Valley Primary Care Services

Ratcliff

$391,654

St. Francis House NWA, Inc.

Springdale

$693,199

East Arkansas Family Health Center, Inc.

West Memphis

$377,179


ARKANSAS DELEGATION APPLAUDS SWIFT APPROVAL OF DISASTER DECLARATION FOR CRAIGHEAD COUNTY
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced that President Trump approved a major disaster declaration in Arkansas due to extensive damage as a result of a tornado and severe storms that struck Craighead County on March 28, 2020.  

“We are pleased with this quick response from the administration which will provide financial assistance to speed up recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating tornado and severe storms that hit Craighead County. President Trump’s swift action to approve the state’s request for a disaster declaration is appreciated given the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has already taken on the state of Arkansas,” members said

The delegation recently sent a letter to the president in support of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call for a disaster declaration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement of the approval of the emergency declaration can be found here.

May 08, 2020

CAMDEN CITY BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. by teleconference due to the COVID 19 Restrictions. The agenda is as follows.

CALL TO ORDER
INVOCATION – Rev. Scott Knight, Pastor - Cullendale Assembly of God Church, 3250 Casd Road, Camden, AR.  

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1. Minutes of Regular Meeting March 10, 2020

ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
1. Financial Report for March & April 2020

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Questions or remarks should be sent to the City Clerk by 5:00p.m. on Tuesday May 12th. Send to: payroll.camden@cablelynx.com


MAYOR’S REPORT
1.   David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities Manager presents Jason Holsclaw with Stephens Public Finance to give a short presentation on Camden Water Utilities’ refinancing of their 2010 and 2012 Bonds savings on the Utility Money.

 

OLD BUSINESS
1. Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. (Second Reading)
2. Resolution No. 15-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden.  
3. Resolution No. 16-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the  City of Camden.

NEW BUSINESS
1. Resolution No. 17-20, a resolution establishing meeting protocol for the City of Camden during times of National or Statewide Emergency
2.   Ordinance No. 14-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 2-10 assessing a lien on certain property  located at 322 Barrett St. SW.

OTHER BUSINESS

ADJOURN

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ISSUES IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ARKANSANS ACQUIRING LIVESTOCK FROM OUT OF STATE
Little Rock, AR -- The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is reminding Arkansans that they must ensure any livestock they purchase or receive from other states meets the State and Federal import requirements. The Department of Agriculture’s Livestock and Poultry Division can offer assistance to ensure the animals have the proper documentation to allow movement into Arkansas.

“We appreciate the efforts of Arkansans to help alleviate challenges that animal agricultural producers have encountered due to temporary closures of processing facilities in other states,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “Our staff is available to help answer questions about safety protocols and importation requirements that are in place to protect Arkansans and our state’s agriculture industry,” said Ward.

All animals brought into Arkansas must meet the importation requirements set by USDA and the State’s Health Requirements Governing the Entry of Livestock, Poultry, and Exotic Animals. For swine, USDA interstate commerce regulations call for Premises Identification Number Ear Tags for Slaughter Swine, and the state requires that swine that are not from a qualified-validated herd be tested for Brucellosis and Pseudorabies. A Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection is also required to make sure the animal is not showing signs of illness. These rules are in place for public safety and to prevent the spread of disease within the state.

“Brucellosis and Pseudorabies are highly communicable diseases that can spread quickly from animal to animal, and in the case of Brucellosis, to humans,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Randy Chick. “We are aware of individuals planning to purchase live animals, particularly swine, directly from out-of-state producers. These rules are in place to help the Department monitor and prevent diseases that can have devastating impacts on the Arkansas agriculture industry,” said Livestock and Poultry Director Patrick Fisk.

More information about animal importation requirements may be obtained from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website at https://www.aad.arkansas.gov/Websites/aad/files/Content/5937242/Entry_Requirments_.pdf

If people are not planning to process the animals themselves, they should know that many meat processors in Arkansas are already booked for several months. Individuals planning to purchase an animal for processing should first check with local processing plants or prepare for other options such as arranging for holding the animal until it can be processed.

A list of Arkansas meat processors may be found on an interactive map at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/inspection/mpi-directory

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

LAWRENCE COUNTY HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
MAY 7, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been requested to assist Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies in the investigation of an apparent homicide.

Earlier today (Thursday, May 7th) sheriff’s deputies arrived at 50 Lawrence County Road 2741 near Smithville where the body of a man had been discovered.
 
Additional information will be provided once next of kin can be located and notified of the death.

SAAC TO PRESENT SPRING STUDENT SHOWCASE ONLINE "PREMIER"
Please join the South Arkansas Arts Center as they present the Spring Student Showcase Online "Premier" brought to you by the art and music students at SAAC. Join SAAC as we virtually "walk the red carpet" to see the students' talents in action! Under normal circumstances, SAAC would be hosting friends and families of the students in house for recitals and art receptions. But while under the new restrictions for gatherings, SAAC has decided to present their accomplishments online this year so everyone can still enjoy seeing their kids perform and show off their art masterpieces.

The virtual festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, May 10. The show will take place on South Arkansas Arts Center's Facebook page. Please log on to see executive director Laura Allen's welcome at 2:00 p.m. and then stay to see the great things the kids have done during this spring's Arts Academy classes.

“Coming together at the end of the semester to applaud our students for all their hard work is one of our favorite traditions at SAAC,” said Allen. “We couldn’t let that opportunity pass, just because we can’t gather in the traditional format. I think that this year’s Student Showcase is truly one for the history books.”

For more information, please call SAAC weekdays from 10:00-2:00pm at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

DOJ AWARDS ARKANSAS FUNDS TO SUPPORT CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE EFFORTS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—announced the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded Arkansas nearly $7 million to respond to public safety challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Providing resources to safeguard law enforcement and public safety officers is critical to the health and the wellbeing of Arkansas. This funding will allow law enforcement agencies across the state to better protect frontline workers while continuing to provide valuable services to families in our communities,” members said.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration will receive $6,926,980 to protect and support law enforcement and public safety officers. The funding can be used to purchase a wide range of resources including personal protective equipment, gloves, masks and sanitizer, as well as fund overtime and training of officers and provide/supplement medical care of inmates.

The funds were made available by the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program which provides $850 million to assist states and local governments in preventing, preparing for and responding to the coronavirus. The funding was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

COTTON, MANCHIN, CORNYN BILL ENSURES DANGER PAY FOR MARSHALS ABROAD
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act, a bill that makes U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) employees eligible for “danger pay” when serving abroad. A bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Ben Cline (R-Virginia), Lou Correa (D-California), and Doug Collins (R-Georgia).

“U.S. Marshals face the same risks as their FBI or DEA counterparts when serving abroad, but they aren’t eligible for the same pay. Our bill would eliminate that discrepancy and ensure that USMS employees receive appropriate compensation for the dangers they face serving our nation,” said Cotton.

“Every day our U.S. Marshals put themselves in harm’s way to ensure our safety. Currently, U.S. Marshals are stationed in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Columbia, all posts that would be eligible if Marshals qualified for danger pay. The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act will ensure that those Marshals who are putting themselves at risk to secure our safety are compensated for their efforts. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this commonsense legislation,” said Manchin.

“U.S. Marshals put themselves at risk every day in the pursuit of justice. This legislation would ensure those in the Marshals Service receive the pay they are entitled to while serving overseas, often under difficult or dangerous circumstances,” said Cornyn.

“We are consistently proud of the work performed by the U.S. Marshals Service every day to keep the American people safe. Yet these federal law enforcement officers fail to receive adequate pay for their work in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. FLEOA would like to thank Senator Tom Cotton and Senator Joe Manchin for seeing this inequity in federal law and agreeing with their colleagues in the House of Representatives on a fix. The Danger Pay for U.S. Marshals Act, now introduced in both the House and the Senate, will give Marshals the compensation they deserve to execute their mission,” said Federal Law Enforcement Organization Association President Larry Cosme.

Background: This bill is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Organization Association (FLEOA) and the Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE).

May 07, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 07, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson held the first COVID-19 press conference in Texarkana on Thursday afternoon since the coronavirus pandemic began in Mid March.  As far as COVID-19 cases go, the total number of cases reported in Arkansas has now reached 3,665, and 710 of those cases reported are considered active. There are 70 people hospitalized with 14 of those patients on ventilators and no new counties reporting cases. 2,867 people are now considered recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas and the state's death toll has reached 88.

Hutchinson commended local officials who provided briefings on the economic climate and status of the local healthcare situation in Southwest Arkansas. The Governor also acknowledged Texarkana Mayor Allen Brown and several others, including Senate Pro tempore elect, Jimmy Hickey, who he thanked for being apart of the delegation.

The Governor was complimentary of the efforts of Texarkana residents for their precautions against this virus.

Texarkana Mayor Allen Brown encouraged residents across the state to follow the directives in place and he commended the department of health, along with Governor Hutchinson, for their leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Again, 3,665 positive coronavirus cases have been reported in Arkansas, and 710 of those reported cases are considered active. There are 70 people hospitalized, with 14 of those patients on ventilators, and no new counties reporting cases. 2,867 people are now considered recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas and the state's death toll has reached 88. We'll keep you updated, stay tuned. 

COVID- 19 POSITIVE SUPPORT GROUPS
The Northwest Arkansas Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit, located in Washington County, is offering a tele-health support group for Arkansas residents who have tested positive for the COVID 19 virus.  We want to offer support to these Arkansans in an anonymous, secure setting, while they remain in the safety of their home. Our hope is to allow a safe place for them to share their fears and anxiety, as well as, gain strength and encouragement from each other.  Support groups are one-hour sessions offered 5 days a week.

These meetings ARE a place to share with others who have received a positive test for COVID-19.  Participants will be encouraged to offer support to each other, share ideas for ways to cope with their feelings in a healthy and positive way.

These meetings ARE NOT medical advice, group therapy, or intended for any type of mental health diagnosis or treatment.  You may be referred or encouraged to seek counseling if appropriate, but this is not a treatment group.  Any identified needs for a higher level of intervention will be quickly addressed and referred to the appropriate place, such as the patient’s PCP.

Patients must call to register for support groups.  There is no charge for participation.

If you are a resident of one of the counties listed below, here is your registration information:

Please call 479-316-7100 between 8:30a and 4:30p Monday through Friday to speak with Amanda and register for the group.

This group is for residents in the following counties in Arkansas: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Cleburne, Columbia, Conway, Dallas, Faulkner, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pope, Searcy, Stone, Union, Van Buren, Washinton and Yell.

BLUE & YOU FOUNDATION AWARDS THIRD ROUND OF RAPID-RESPONSE COVID-19 RELIEF GRANTS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 7, 2020) – The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded seven additional grants in its Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief program, which now has funded $1.7 million in grants to organizations in Arkansas working to prevent the spread of coronavirus or helping communities deal with its effects.

New Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants were awarded to:

  •       Conway Regional Health Foundation ($150,000) – to provide lifesaving treatment, protect the system's healthcare workers and minimize community risk by creating a 26-bed critical care unit with 24 isolation rooms installed with new air-filtration systems and cameras.
  •       Mercy Health Foundation, Fort Smith ($145,714) – to purchase two ventilators and lab equipment to provide fast and reliable testing, so patients with the virus in western Arkansas can receive the medical care they need.
  •       Drew Memorial Hospital, Monticello ($139,900) – to provide on-site rapid-response testing in southeast Arkansas, with a goal of producing results for attending physicians within 45 minutes.
  •        Centers for Youth and Families, Little Rock ($90,000) – to provide comprehensive behavioral health services to up to 300 uninsured or underinsured Arkansans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are struggling with the pandemic’s economic consequences.
  •       City of Eureka Springs ($44,188) – to provide hand-sanitizing stations throughout Eureka Springs and in high-traffic public areas and equip frontline city workers, law enforcement personnel and emergency responders with no-touch, digital forehead thermometers.
  •       Madison County Medical Group, Huntsville ($38,153) – to increase COVID-19 testing and telemedicine patient visits in rural areas, especially among seniors, uninsured people and the Hispanic and Marshallese communities.
  •       Nevada County, Prescott ($7,988) – to purchase personal protective equipment for frontline law enforcement personnel who work in Nevada County and in the county’s jails.

Any 501(c)(3) public charity, public school, governmental agency (city, county, state), nonprofit hospital or church in Arkansas is eligible to apply. Grants are not made to individuals. Applications must be submitted online at BlueAndYouFoundationArkansas.org. Applicants may request a grant ranging from $5,000 to $150,000. The Foundation will review applications and make funding decisions weekly. Pending grant requests will be held for consideration until final decisions are made.

“We are seeing a diverse range in the applications for the Rapid-Response COVID-19 Relief grants and are working to address as many needs as possible,” said Patrick O’Sullivan, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation. “The one thing that ties them all together is that these communities want to do everything they can to protect their citizens, and we are doing what we can to help.”

“The communities of Arkansas have always been resilient, but we know these are difficult times,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. “We will continue to support our neighbors and our state.

BILL RENAMES CHINESE EMBASSY STREET “LI WENLIANG PLAZA”
Washington, D.C.
— Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill to rename the street outside the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “Li Wenliang Plaza.” The bill honors the late Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan-based doctor who warned the world about the coronavirus before the Chinese Communist Party silenced him. Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“The Chinese Communist Party wants the world to forget Dr. Li Wenliang, who tried to warn his colleagues about the Wuhan virus and later succumbed to that very disease. We can ensure his name is never forgotten by placing it permanently outside the embassy of the regime responsible for his persecution and death,” said Cotton.

“Dr. Li’s professional ethics made him an enemy of the Chinese Communist Party and a hero to the Chinese people. Chairman Xi can try to claim Dr. Li as the Party’s own martyr, but the Chinese people know that it was Dr. Li’s selfless work and voice that the Party sought to silence. We can honor that work by renaming the street outside the Chinese Embassy after him. The street outside the embassy will draw a glaring contrast between the cruelty and lies of the Chinese Communist Party and the decency and compassion of the Chinese people,” said Sasse.

“The Chinese Communist Party may have forcefully silenced Dr. Li for informing the public about COVID-19, but Beijing’s totalitarian censorship cannot erase what the global community now knows. Renaming the street outside of the Chinese embassy ensures that Dr. Li will never be forgotten, will serve as a stark reminder to the Chinese government and Communist Party that the U.S. will stand with the oppressed and not with their oppressors,” said Rubio.

“Dr. Li took a great personal risk to tell the world about COVID-19 despite the looming threats of, and subsequent forced censorship by, the Chinese Communist Party. Even when he contracted the virus, Dr. Li continued his efforts to communicate his experience and what he knew about it. Dr. Li is a hero. In naming this street in his honor, we will show the Chinese government and the world that truth prevails and free speech is paramount to who we are as a nation. The American people are grateful for his sacrifice,” said Blackburn.

“The Chinese Government attempted to silence Dr. Li Wenliang who, at great personal risk, warned about the danger of Coronavirus. While the Chinese Communist Party caused the virus to be spread around the globe, resulting in death and economic devastation, brave medical professionals like Dr. Li spoke truth to the regime. I am honored to introduce this legislation to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy after Dr. Li. May this serve as a constant reminder to the world and to the Chinese Government that truth and freedom will prevail, that we will not forget the bravery of Dr. Li, and that the Chinese Communist Party will be held accountable for the devastating impact of their lies,” said Cheney.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 06, 2020
Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Arkansas as officials report the number of positive cases has now reached 3,568. This information was provided during Governor Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 update Wednesday, May 6th. Of the positive cases reported, only 1,374 are considered active, and 2,109 people have recovered. There are also currently 69 Arkansans hospitalized with the illness and the state's death toll due to COVID-19 has hit 85.

The capability of testing for COVID-19 will increase across the state as testing kits will be provided for Arkansas by The Center For Disease Control. Assistance was also announced for Arkansas oil and gas companies, as the Governor has issued an executive order that allows required fees to be waved due to the negative impact of COVID-19. 

Another update provided Wednesday includes the date for non-emergency dental procedures to commence. The date was originally set for May 18th, however that date has been revised to May 11th. Dr. Nathaniel Smith provided this information along with a breakdown of coronavirus cases by age groups for Arkansans, as Smith reports that the coronavirus is not something that is only a concern for people in older age groups. He also noted the different regions across the state that have high numbers of coronavirus cases reported. In the Southwest area, it's Texarkana documenting large numbers of COVID-19 reports.

Before opening up the floor for questions, The Governor called up Steuart Walton, appointed Economic Recovery Task Force leader to deliver an update on the group's progress and issue reminders for Arkansas business owners in terms of following COVID-19 precautions. Walton recognized that each individual business will have to adapt to fit their needs. 

Again, the number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,568. This information was Of the positive cases reported, 1,374 are considered active, and 2,109 people have recovered. There have also been 69 Arkansans hospitalized with the illness and the state's death toll has hit 85.  We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.
 

NOTICE: NEW ELIGIBILITY FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN AND ADVANCE
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

MORE PATRIOT MISSILES TO BE PRODUCED IN CAMDEN
by Talk Business & Politics staff
Lockheed Martin has received a $6.07 billion contract from the U.S. Army for the production of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors and associated equipment. The interceptors are made at Lockheed’s Camden plant.

The contract calls for the production and delivery of PAC-3 MSE interceptors, launcher modification kits, associated equipment and non-recurring efforts to support the United States and global customers. The interceptors are to be delivered across FY21, FY22 and FY23 contract years.

“This contract demonstrates our customer’s continued confidence in our ability to deliver unmatched Hit-to-Kill technology that defeats the ever-expanding global threats of today and tomorrow,” said Scott Arnold, vice president, Integrated Air & Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “PAC-3 MSE is one of the most capable multi-mission interceptors, enabling our customers to defend against advanced tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.”

To meet customer demand and increase production capacity, Lockheed Martin is building an 85,000-square-foot expansion at the Camden, Ark., facility where PAC-3 MSE interceptors are assembled. The building is expected to be complete by fourth quarter 2021, with operations beginning in first quarter 2022.

Ten nations – the United States, Qatar, Japan, Romania, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Korea, Bahrain and Germany – have signed agreements to procure PAC-3 MSE interceptors. For additional information, visit our website.

Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide.

NOTICE: NEW ELIGIBILITY FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN AND ADVANCE
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

 At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

ROGERS PHYSICIAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DISTRIBUTION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE WITHOUT AN EFFECTIVE PRESCRIPTION
Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Dr. Robin Ann Cox, 64, of Greenwood Arkansas, plead guilty today to one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance without an Effective Prescription.


According to the plea agreement, Dr.Cox was employed by the Arkansas Medical Clinic (AMC) in Rogers, Arkansas. Cox and the owner of AMC contacted the DEA by telephone to report that prescriptions from Cox' s previous employment had been fraudulently written and filled. Cox specifically identified a prescription for patient D.S. written on May 19, 2019 and filled on May 20, 2019, and a prescription for F. R. dated May 17, 2019 and filled on May 17, 2019. During the investigation into these prescriptions, the DEA discovered that Cox had written D.S. his/her prescription in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division.

Agencies participating in the investigation are the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DEA Diversion Little Rock, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS), the Springdale Police Department and the Rogers Police Department.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner is prosecuting the case for the United States.

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN RELEASES 3RD QUARTER EARNINGS REPORT
Receipts remained consistent during quarter, totaling $23.1 million
Little Rock, Ark. – The State Treasury earned $23.1 million during the third quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ended March 31, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan told the State Board of Finance recently. That adds up to $69.3 million for the first three quarters of FY 2020.

“Fortunately, even with the market moving interest rates continuously downward since January of 2019, receipts for the third quarter stayed consistent,” Milligan said, adding that was in line with the previous two quarters of $22.6 million in the first quarter and $23.4 million in the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates down to near zero in March amid global concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which has and will continue to affect the State Treasury’s receipted earnings.

“Long before the full impact of the COVID pandemic hit, the State Treasury was already seeing a decline in portfolio yields due to falling interest rates,” Milligan said. “The actions of the Federal Reserve in March only accelerated those declines. I mention this because the impact of the COVID pandemic has had and will continue to have a negative impact on the worldwide economy. But I also want to offer some encouragement.”

Interest rates have been this low before under Milligan’s administration.

DELEGATION ANNOUNCES $8 MILLION IN HUD FUNDING FOR ARKANSAS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for awarding $8,190,367 in Community Development Block Grant funding to Arkansas to support the prevention, preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This funding provides additional relief to the state and local governments as they respond to the increasing needs of communities during this pandemic. These resources will help better serve Arkansans in need,” members said.

The funding is part of a nationwide $5 billion disbursement in housing and economic development funds allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law with the support of the Arkansas delegation.

Last month HUD awarded Arkansas more than $28 million in CARES Act funding.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES URGE EXPANSION AND EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PROCLAMATION
Washington, D.C.
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) today sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to extend and expand his April 22, 2020 Proclamation on immigration. They ask the President to suspend all new guest worker visas for sixty days, and to suspend certain categories of new guest worker visas for at least the next year, or until unemployment has returned to normal levels.

“While economic shutdowns in states and localities across the country have been necessary to reduce the spread of this pandemic, the results have been devastating for businesses and workers alike. As you know, more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment coverage just since mid-March, and approximately one-fifth of the American workforce is currently out of work. This is a stunning difference compared with the historically-low nationwide unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent in February this year. The United States admits more than one million nonimmigrant guest workers every year, and there is no reason to admit most such workers when our unemployment is so high,” the Senators write.

Specifically, the letter calls for:

  • Suspension of new guest worker visas for sixty days.
  • Suspension all nonimmigrant guest worker visas for the next sixty days, followed by a continued suspension of new nonimmigrant guest workers for one year or until national unemployment figures return to normal levels.
  • Suspension of the EB-5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately (EB-5) were exempt in the original EO.

The full text of the letter can be found below or by clicking here.

Dear President Trump:

We write today regarding employment-based immigration into the United States during our country’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, we write to urge you to suspend all new guest worker visas for sixty days, and to suspend certain categories of new guest worker visas for at least the next year, or until unemployment has returned to normal levels. These suspensions are critical to protecting American workers as our economy gets back on its feet.

While economic shutdowns in states and localities across the country have been necessary to reduce the spread of this pandemic, the results have been devastating for businesses and workers alike. As you know, more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment coverage just since mid-March, and approximately one-fifth of the American workforce is currently out of work. This is a stunning difference compared with the historically-low nationwide unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent in February this year. The United States admits more than one million nonimmigrant guest workers every year, and there is no reason to admit most such workers when our unemployment is so high.

Many businesses have had no choice but to lay off their employees or shutter altogether, and it is unclear when those businesses that survived will be able to rehire their lost employees. Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economy begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment. Your Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 2020, suspending most immigrant visas for sixty days, is a good step in the right direction. However, our guest worker programs—which were outside the scope of that order—remain a serious threat to the U.S. labor market’s recovery.

Of course, we think all Americans share the hope that our economic recovery will be swift, with Americans returning to work in massive numbers as soon as it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, it will likely take some time for most businesses to begin generating enough revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels. That is why, to protect unemployed Americans in the early stages of economic recovery, we urge you to suspend all nonimmigrant guest worker visas for the next sixty days. Exceptions to this suspension should be rare, limited to time-sensitive industries such as agriculture, and issued only on a case-by-case basis when the employer can demonstrate that they have been unable to find Americans to take the jobs.

After sixty days, we urge you to continue to suspend new nonimmigrant guest workers for one year or until our national unemployment figures return to normal levels, whichever comes first. That suspension should, at a minimum, include H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers), and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (extension of foreign student visas after graduation). We also urge you to suspend the EB-5 immigrant visa program, effective immediately.

There are millions of high school and college students who, if not for the coronavirus pandemic, would be walking across a graduation stage in front of their families and friends over the next few weeks. Instead of celebrating their hard work, most will be receiving their diplomas in the mail while worrying about whether they will be able to find a job in this market. For many high school graduates and college students, they will spend the next few weeks at home making tough decisions about delaying or foregoing college this fall due to their limited family resources. There is no reason why these young people, especially, should not have access to seasonal, nonagricultural work such as summer resort employment or landscaping before those positions are given to imported foreign labor under the H-2B program.

Likewise, there is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers, most of whom work in business, technology, or STEM fields. Temporarily suspending the issuance of new H-1B visas would also protect the hundreds of thousands of H-1B workers and their families already working in the United States—workers who could otherwise be subject to deportation if they are laid off for more than 60 days. Of course, appropriate exceptions could also be crafted to the H-1B program suspension to allow for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who wish to come to the United States to assist in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the United States ought to suspend its Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign students in the United States to extend their stay in the United States after graduation for 1-3 years to get “experience in the field” by taking jobs here in the United States. In 2019, more than 223,000 former foreign students had their OPT applications approved or extended. While the merits of such a program are subject to debate, there is certainly no reason to allow foreign students to stay for three additional years just to take jobs that would otherwise go to unemployed Americans as our economy recovers.

Finally, in regards to your Presidential Proclamation issued on April 22, 2020, we write to urge you to remove the exemption for the EB-5 program, at least until real reforms are adopted. The EB-5 program has long been plagued by scandal and fraud, and has been criticized as effectively functioning as a pay-for-citizenship scheme in many cases. There is no reason that the EB-5 program should receive preferential treatment as opposed to other green card programs for employment-based immigrants.

The coronavirus pandemic has wrought terrible damage on our country, and we will likely continue to experience the economic effects of social distancing and shutdown measures for years to come. We applaud your work to protect public health and limit the spread of the virus in the United States, and to find ways to reopen our economy safely. As we work toward recovery, we urge you to keep the American worker in mind and limit the importation of unnecessary guest workers while American families and businesses get back on their feet.

 
 

May 06, 2020

SAU SYSTEM MAKES PLANS FOR STUDENTS TO RETURN FOR FALL 2020
MAGNOLIA -- The campuses of the Southern Arkansas University System (SAU in Magnolia and SAU Tech in Camden) are working tirelessly taking precautions and planning for its campuses to re-open for the fall semester. Because the health and safety of students, faculty and staff remains our top priority, the Risk Management Task Force is working diligently to develop protocols to ensure the protection of our campus community. 

These protocols will consider classroom size, class structure, safety in residence halls, enhanced cleaning schedules and protective methods for monitoring and maintaining the collective and individual health of our campus family. The Task Force will continue to monitor the state and CDC’s social distancing requirements and COVID-19 conditions and will provide further plans regarding the re-opening of campus as the summer progresses.

As the System campuses plan to continue with on-campus instruction in the fall, students should prepare accordingly. Students are encouraged to file their FASFA and complete their housing application and room selection, as well as meet with their advisors to secure their fall schedule if they have not already done so. 

Incoming SAU Freshmen should register for Becoming a Mulerider (BAM) here: https://web.saumag.edu/orientation/bam/registration/  Students who have registered for BAM already should have received an email regarding the shift to virtual BAM sessions. Students are encouraged to continue to monitor their SAU student email very closely as many vital announcements are being sent through this method.

Incoming SAU Tech Freshmen should register for Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) here: https://www.sautech.edu/student-orientation-and-registration-soar/. Students who have registered for SOAR already will be contacted by email regarding the shift to virtual SOAR sessions.  Students are encouraged to continue to monitor their SAU Tech and personal email accounts very closely as this is the formal method of communication between the college and students.

The SAU System campuses continue to accept applications for the summer and fall semesters. As a reminder, ACT scores are waived for incoming freshmen, as are graduate admissions test score requirements, such as the GRE and GMAT for both the summer and fall sessions. Anyone interested in becoming a student at SAU can visit https://web.saumag.edu/admissions/apply/ to begin their application process. SAU Tech is an open enrollment institution with no minimum entrance exam scores required. Anyone interested in becoming a SAU Tech Rocket can visit https://www.sautech.edu/get-started/ or text 870-390-0368.

WOODRUFF COUNTY SHERIFF: MISSING PERSON ADVISORY
MAY 5, 2020
The Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department has requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police in locating a missing person.
 
Karen Jean Dunn, 58, of the Gregory community in Woodruff County was last seen about 10 PM on Friday, May 1st at 38 Woodruff County Road 717.
 
Dunn is described as a white female with red/blonde curly hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion, standing 5-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.  She may be driving a 2012 Nissan Altima (unknown color), displaying a Mississippi license plate, YLA 2481.
 
Anyone with information about Dunn or her whereabouts should contact the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Department by calling (870) 347-2583.

BOOZMAN PROVISIONS INCLUDED IN BIPARTISAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE LEGISLATION
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, applauded committee passage of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. This bipartisan legislation includes Boozman-authored provisions to strengthen the nation’s water resources.

“Our nation’s waterways are critical to transportation, job creation and promoting commerce. Investing in water resources is crucial to supporting the needs of the agricultural industry, providing protection from floods and increasing access to clean drinking water in communities across Arkansas. I’m pleased policies to ensure our water infrastructure continues to meet the demands of Arkansans have been included in this bill,” Boozman said. The bill includes a number of provisions authored by Boozman to strengthen waterway infrastructure:

Assistance for McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River and Ouachita-Black River Navigation Projects
This language requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to provide assistance to non-federal stakeholders associated with the deepening of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River navigation channel to a minimum depth of 12 feet. It also requires the Corps to provide assistance to stakeholders by adding water supply as a purpose for the Ouachita-Black River navigation project in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Credit or Reimbursement for Materials
Boozman’s measures allows a non-federal entity that contributes materials or services to repair, restore, replace or maintain a water resources project to be eligible for reimbursement for the value of the materials and services. This provision will allow non-federal private or public entities to be eligible for credit or reimbursement, making it possible for a stakeholder to provide materials or money to get a project done more quickly instead of waiting on the federal government to fund important infrastructure projects in Arkansas. While it is not guaranteed that the entity will receive credit or reimbursement, it does give them the opportunity to apply to the Corps to get their money back.

Emergency Contracting
This language allows the Corps to maximize use of “tradeoff procedures” in competitive acquisitions while carrying out work with states in an area under a disaster declaration.  When responding to emergencies, time is always a critical factor. For example, if Arkansas is dealing with a major flood that shuts down its rivers, it will need to work quickly to dredge the river to ensure the system gets up and running so commerce does not slow down. This provision will allow Arkansas, in conjunction with the Corps, to select the dredging company they believe will get the job done in the most expedient and efficient manner and will not obligate them to choose the cheapest company available.

Improve Levee Safety
Boozman’s provision updates the levee safety evaluation process by requiring the Corps to provide solutions and the associated costs to fix existing deficiencies for levees that fail to meet the highest rating standard. When identifying deficiencies and describing remedies, the Corps is required to consult with relevant non-federal interests and provide them with an opportunity to comment. This will provide a much-needed road map for deficient and minimally acceptable levee systems in Arkansas to improve safety and raise their classification with the Corps.

Permits Studies of Water Resources Development Projects by Non-Federal Entities
This language would allow a non-federal entity to conduct a feasibility study on modifications or improvements to a project constructed by the Corps. The Corps is required to issue guidelines for feasibility studies of water resources development projects conducted by non-federal interests to provide sufficient information for the formulation of the studies, including processes and procedures related to reviews and assistance. This provision would help stakeholders in future Corps projects in Arkansas complete their own feasibility studies and submit them for review. This would mean non-federal stakeholders would not be forced to wait for the federal government. This allows the non-federal stakeholder to complete their study more quickly, saving valuable time and money.

Conforming Construction Cost-Sharing for Inland Waterway Transportation
Boozman’s provision adjusts the cost-share for construction or major rehabilitation of an inland waterways navigation project to 65 percent from the general fund of the Treasury and 35 percent from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). The change in cost-share applies to projects authorized on or after the date of enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and for which the construction or major rehabilitation has not been initiated or completed by the date of enactment of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. If constrained to a 50-50 cost share, many of the IWTF projects will not even begin construction in the next 20 years. Shifting the cost share for all IWTF projects to a 65-35 ratio could enable the currently authorized Arkansas projects to be completed more quickly.  

Reauthorizes the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF)
CWSRF provides communities low-cost financing for water infrastructure projects. This provision amends the Clean Water Act to reauthorize the program and increase its authorization to $3 billion over three years. In Fiscal Year 2020, Arkansas was allotted $10.5 million for the program.

The committee also approved the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, legislation that creates, updates and improves Environmental Protection Agency programs associated with drinking water infrastructure under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

May 05, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 05, 2020
COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in Arkansas as Governor Asa Hutchinson reported the state's number of positive cases has reached 3,496, as of Tuesday afternoon. However, only 1,364 of those are considered active. There are currently 89 people hospitalized with the illness and 16 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's death toll has reached 83, and 2,050 people are reported to have recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas.

Another round of restrictions was lifted during Tuesday's press conference as the Governor announced the ban on visitors traveling in from out of state hot spot areas will be removed. Governor Hutchinson says the goal of lifting the non-hot spot travel barriers is to allow the hotel and lodging industry to accommodate visitors from neighboring states.

From an economic standpoint, the Governor reported that the monthly Arkansas revenue report has been revised to reflect the financial downfalls brought on by COVID-19. Governor Hutchinson says the revised forecast actually beats the projection. Based on the information provided, the Arkansas economy is reportedly doing well in comparison to other states.

Before opening the floor for questions, The Governor tagged Arkansas Parks, Heritage and Tourism cabinet Secretary Stacy Hurst who emphasized the protocols that will be in place for the hotel and lodging industry to follow now that many out of state travelers will begin returning to the natural state for recreation. Hurst says the state parks lodging approach will also change given the Governor's new directive.

Again, the number of positive coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,496. However, only 1,364 of those are considered active. There are currently 89 people hospitalized with the illness, and 16 of those patients are on ventilators. The state's death toll has reached 83 and 2,050 people are reported to have recovered from the coronavirus in Arkansas. We'll continue to keep you updated. Stay tuned.

MESSAGE TO CFHS 2020 SENIORS
Camden Fairview High School is asking all Class of 2020 Seniors to forward any scholarship you have received to Senior Counselor Tavitha Wooten by emailing twoten@cfsd.k12.ar.us or text 870-390-6336 or email Career Coach Patricia Burks at pburks@sautech.edu by Friday, May 8th. Also, note where it send your final transcript. Contact the school in reference to any fines (books, uniforms, etc) you may have.

PPE VENDOR LISTING
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has provided a list of companies that have self-identified as providers of PPE. Neither AEDC nor ADEM are recommending any of these as preferred vendors. They have simply submitted this info and it has been compiled and being shared for your convenience.

AEDC will update this list as the become aware of new vendors. If there are businesses in your area that supply PPE and could be included, please contact Steve Sparks at AEDC

Download the PPE List

SMALL BUSINESSES FINALLY RECEIVING FINANCIAL HELP, 61% RECEIVED FUNDS FROM PPP LOAN 
Other concerns include getting customers back, increased liability
LITTLE ROCK (May 5, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a survey today on the small business loan programs. Small business owners were asked about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. The PPP is very popular among small businesses, with 77% of owners reporting they have successfully submitted an application. The full survey is available here.


“After the second round of funding, many more small businesses were able to apply and receive funding from these federal loan programs,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “Now, business owners need guidance on how they can spend these funds in order for them to be forgiven.” 

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “Our members look forward to reopening, but they understand that comes with its own set of challenges.” According to the survey, small business owners nationwide are concerned about getting customers back, increased liability, and stocking up on supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant. 

Key Findings of the survey include: 

The majority of small businesses have applied for a PPP loan. 

   • About 84% of applications were submitted before April 17, when the program was suspended for funding, and 16% of applications were submitted after April 17. 
   • Half of applicants submitted their application through a small or local bank, 18% submitted through a medium-size bank, 14% submitted through a large bank, and 4% through a financial technology (FinTech) lender. 

Over half of owners have received their PPP loan. 

   • Forty percent of applicants are still waiting, but just under half of those waiting (45%) have received notice that their loan is approved. 
   • Just over half (55%) of applicants who have not received a loan are still waiting to hear from their financial institution about their loan status.  

Under half of respondents applied for an EIDL. 

   • About 40% of respondents submitted a loan application for an EIDL and 60% of them applied before April 1. 
   • The vast majority (75%) of EIDL applicants also requested the EIDL Emergency Grant. 

Owners are most concerned with getting customers back to their business. 

   • Virtually all small business owners are, to some degree, concerned about increases in liability claims with 38% very concerned about increased liability when re-opening their business. 


About NFIB
For more than 75 years, NFIB has been the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit www.NFIB.com.

USDA OUACHITA COUNTY COMMODITIES DISTRIBUTION AND EMERGENCY FOOD BOX
The USDA Ouachita County Commodities Distribution will be Tuesday, May 12th and Wednesday, May 13th. Distribution begins at 9 am at the Cullendale First Baptist Church located at 1850 Cash Road in Camden.

Food items may include green beans, dry navy beans, beef chili, orange juice, peaches, peanut butter, pistachio nuts, raisins, rice and vegetable soup. All participants must show ID. A photo ID is preferred.

The Emergency Food Box will be giving food to those in need on May 12th for 10 am to 2 pm. Food distribution will be at the Ouachita County Intermediate School Gym located at 255 Pope Street in Camden. You must meet income guidelines. Food will include meat, vegetables and other items such as toilet tissue. Please remain in your vehicle. For More Information call the CADC at 870-839-3200.

 

ARKANSAS READY FOR BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
The Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program has been established by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and is designed to assist businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The program will provide direct grants to companies for expenses associated with ensuring the health and safety of employees and patrons. Eligible expenditures include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and no-contact thermometers for employees and customers, no-contact Point of Sale (POS) payment equipment; supplies and disinfectants to initially deep clean premises and for use on an ongoing basis; also included are expenses associated with hiring a third party to perform periodic deep cleaning services, hand sanitizer stations, restocking of necessary supplies/raw materials, expenses associated with reconfiguring business to meet recommended health and safety guidelines, signage, marketing and other one-time expenses associated with reopening or resuming normal operations. The program will utilize federal funds provided to the state of Arkansas through the CARES Act.

Grant Program Guidelines: 
  *   Eligible businesses include corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs, Joint Ventures and Non-profits (Government-owned entities are not eligible)
  *   All industry sectors are eligible
  *   Business must have a Certificate of Good Standing with the AR Secretary of State’s Office (if a Sole Proprietor, a business license or sales tax permit is required)
  *   Business and owners must NOT be delinquent on any Arkansas tax
  *   Businesses must either have a) customers and/or employees physically coming to their business premises or b) must conduct business on customer premises

When submitting an application please have ready: Driver’s License of authorized business representative, Signed W9, Certificate of Good Standing from Secretary of State (Business License or Sales Tax Permit for Sole Proprietors).
 
For those wishing to apply please visit https://www.arkansasedc.com/covid19resources/business-resources/ready-for-business-grant-program/
AEDC will be accepting applications Tuesday, May 5th from 8:00am – 6:00pm and Wednesday, May 6th from 8:00am – 6:00pm.

 

ARORA RELEASES RADIEIGHT, A PODCAST SERIES SHARING DONOR AND RECIPIENT STORIES AND THE IMPORTANCE OF REGISTERING TO BECOME AN ORGAN, TISSUE AND EYE DONOR
[May 4, 2020 -Little Rock, AR] — Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency, (ARORA) is releasing its first podcast in its new series, RadiEight. RadiEight will focus on sharing donor and recipient stories of organ, tissue and eye donation, and encourage listeners to register to become organ, tissue and eye donors.

“Through this podcast, we want to inform people of the lifesaving and restoring gift of transplantation. Registering to become an organ, tissue and eye donor takes less than a minute and gives hope to those waiting. The decision to register as a donor is the beginning of a story that may bring life and healing to more than 75 people, their families and their communities,” says Alan Cochran, President and Executive Director of ARORA.

RadiEight's first featured guest is Paul Owen, a Little Rock donor dad whose daughter, Melissa, passed away more than four years ago. Her heart recipient is Yolanda Harshaw, also of Little Rock. The families have connected and remain in each other’s lives. During the podcast, Owen tells about his family’s tragedy and how that tragedy became Harshaw’s miracle.

"We live two miles from each other, we even shop at the same grocery store. We never would have known that until we got a letter telling us there was a match. We connected on Facebook and then at the ARORA office and have been friends ever since. She calls my wife, ‘mom’ and her kids call me ‘donor dad.’" Owen said.

RadiEight can be found on Spotify , iTunes , Soundcloud , Youtube and arora.org/podcast.

Sixty-eight percent of Arkansas adults have registered their decision to provide healing to those in need as organ, tissue and eye donors at the time of their death. ARORA is dedicated to bringing attention to the national transplant waiting list where 115,000 people are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant. On average, 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time — almost one person dying every hour.

Arkansans can register to become organ, tissue and eye donors at donatelifearkansas.org, at their local Department of Motor Vehicles, online at donatelifearkansas.org or by utilizing one of ARORA's swipe kiosks located in Little Rock, Cabot, Bryant and Pine Bluff.

ABOUT ARORA
The Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) was established in 1987 as a non-profit, independent organ procurement agency. Serving 64 counties across the state, ARORA is headquartered in Little Rock and has a satellite office in northwest Arkansas. ARORA’s mission is to restore lives through the recovery of organs and tissues for transplant.



PROCLAMATION OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION MONTH 
LITTLE ROCK—Union County Judge Mike Loftin, Bearden City Mayor Ginger Bailey, Calion City Mayor Bill Yutzy, Felsenthal City Mayor Linda Newbury and Smackover City Mayor Bobby Neal have declared May as Historic Preservation Month. More than 50 of Arkansas’s 75 counties and 25 cities have joined thousands of communities across the country in presenting proclamations.  

“At the Division of Arkansas Heritage, we believe strongly in our mission to identify and preserve the state’s cultural, historic and natural resources,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of the division. “During the month of May, we are proud to have so many municipalities around the state joining us in celebrating Historic Preservation Month.” 
 
As of Monday, May 4, proclamations continue to trickle into the offices at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP). To see a complete list of participating counties, visit http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/blog/2020-proclamation-of-historic-preservation-month.  
 
Historic Preservation Month is a nationwide campaign spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service (NPS), of which the National Register for Historic Places is a program. According to the NPS, Preservation Month was established in 1973, and encourages state and local governments to join with their state historic and preservation societies to issue proclamations that encourage residents to engage in events that instill national and community pride, promote heritage tourism and show the economic benefits of historic preservation.   
 
During the national health crisis, Arkansas Heritage is encouraging citizens to take advantage of “drive by history” by researching historic sites in their county utilizing the AHPP’s database of National Register properties then taking a driving tour to see sites from their research. The database can be accessed at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/Historic-Properties/National-Register/search-national-register-listings.  
 
For more information about Preservation Month, please contact the AHPP at info@arkansaspreservation.com or visit our website at www.arkansaspreservation.com.  
 
The AHPP is an agency of Arkansas Heritage responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.   


PPE SUPPLIES FOR WORKFORCE COMPLIANCE
Little Rock, Arkansas, May 4, 2020: Arkansas based non-profit, First2Give.org, has been working with Arkansas businesses since early March to obtain the Personal Protection Supplies required in preparation of the re-opening of businesses across the state.

The organization was established to help organizations acquire the required personal protection products needed to re-open their companies at reasonable prices and delivered within a reasonable timeframe.

First2Give has relationships with manufacturers that produce nearly 70% of the world’s supply of personal protection products.

The non-profit adds a small margin to each order to acquire additional products to donate to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable populations in Arkansas who do not have the resources to acquire these desperately needed products.

To purchase supplies or to request a quotation on the specific supplies and quantities needed to meet the requirements of your organization, go to First2Give.org/quotes and complete the online form. Your request will be processed on a first come first served basis. Orders will be fulfilled as quickly as possible.

All shipments are delivered direct to each buyer and shipping insurance protects buyers from product loss or damage.

For more information or to complete your request for quotation, go to First2Give.org/quotes.

May 04, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 4, 2020
The number of Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,458 positive cases as of 1:30 Monday, afternoon. 1,362 of those cases are considered active.This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 update. It was also reported that the number of hospitalizations stands at 91, with 16 of those patients on ventilators. There have been 2,016 recoveries from the illness in Arkansas, and the state's death toll from COVID-19 has now reached 81.

The big news of the press conference came in the form of an announcement regarding places of worship across the state. Effective as of May 4th, The Governor says he is encouraging online platforms for worship services, and those who do attend in-person church gatherings should continue to adhere to the recommended guidelines for COVID-19 precautions. Those guidelines include proper distancing, no physical touch, face coverings should be worn at all times, and hand sanitizing stations should be placed at building entrances.

Other news reported by The Governor Monday afternoon included an update on large outdoor gatherings at venues across the state, such as rodeos, fairs and festivals. Hutchinson issued a set of precautions to be followed and reminded residents that social distancing, face covering, and limiting audiences to less than 50 people at each event.

The Governor also issued instructions for hosting indoor events as well. These guidelines will go into effect as of May 18th.

Before opening up the floor for questions, The Governor called up Arkansas Economic Commission Secretary Mike Preston, who addressed many of the financial updates affecting Arkansans, including additional funds replenished in the Ready For Business program following the $15 million provided for Arkansas businesses that ran out within an hour. Preston thanked the Legislature for recognizing the need for funds and he announced that the grant funds can be applied for online when the new website launches this week.

Resources and information involving COVID-19 can be found at https://www.arkansasedc.com/ and https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/

Again, there are 3,458 positive COVID-19 cases as of 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 4th. 1,362 of those cases are considered active. This information was announced during Governor Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 update. It was also reported that the number of hospitalizations stands at 91 with 16 of those patients on ventilators. There have been 2,016 recoveries from the illness in Arkansas and the state's death toll has now reached 81. We'll continue to keep you updated, stay tuned.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP/AWARD ASSEMBLY
The Camden Fairview High School Scholarship/Award Assembly that was scheduled for Myay 8th has been cancelled. Please contact Tavitha Wooten by emailing twoten@cfsd.k12.ar.us or text 870-390-6336 or email Career Coach Patricia Burks at pburks@sautech.edu by Friday, May 8th. Let them know who you chose as your scholarship recipient, the amount of the scholarship and contact information. The hope is to return later in July with a small meet and greet reception and photo opportunity if allowed.

GOVERNOR & COUNTY JUDGE PROCLAIM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WEEK MAY 4-9, 2020
Ouachita County joins counties nationwide to increase awareness of the positive work economic developers do to enhance local economic impact
CAMDEN, ARKANSAS (5/4/2020) – Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and Ouachita   County Judge Robert McAdoo have proclaimed May 4-9, 2020 Economic Development Week in Arkansas and Ouachita County. The proclamations  mark the National Economic Development Week from May 4 through 9, 2020, that celebrate the contributions of positive economic development and explain the role of the profession in our local community.

Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth, and provide a stable tax base. Economic developers stimulate and incubate entrepreneurism in order to help establish the next generation of new business, which is the hallmark of the American economy.

Economic developers are engaged in a wide variety of settings including rural and urban, local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions.

Economic developers work in every county within the state of Arkansas. 

Economic developers attract and retain high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions.

About Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development:
The Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development, Inc. (OPED), serves as the areas lead economic development agency and point of contact for business and industry looking to locate or expand in our community. The organization is a PARTNERSHIP composed of Ouachita County, the City of Camden, the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Camden Area Industrial Development Corporation, (CAIDC). We work closely as a team member with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, (AEDC), the state of Arkansas’ office for economic development. OPED is the go-to organization that AEDC looks to for prospect visits for our area. We serve as host whenever the state brings a business prospect into our community for a site evaluation. We prepare pertinent data and presentations in coordination with the AEDC project manager in advance of the prospect visit in order to give our community the best chance possible to “win” the project for our area. Since June 2015, OPED has helped to create 693 new jobs for our area in cooperation with AEDC. We work to develop small businesses through our Camden Accelerated Business Services, (CABS) office, which provides a business consultant through the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. OPED is a proud member of the Arkansas Economic Developers and Chamber Executives, AEDCE, and the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RELEASES VIDEO
“Arkansas, We are in this Together” Video Release
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department), on behalf of Arkansas agriculture and stakeholders, has created a video message of reassurance to Arkansans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department encourages Arkansans to support local, support each other, and support Arkansas agriculture.

“Arkansas agriculture continues to provide the food, fiber, and shelter that we all depend on despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture.  “We appreciate the efforts and resiliency of our state’s agriculture industry as we all work together to get through this difficult time.”

The video can be found on the Department YouTube page (youtube.com/watch?v=8RPaLnk99ts) and COVID-19 Resource page (agriculture.arkansas.gov/covid-19) of our website: arkansas.agriculture.gov.

The Department has also produced numerous shareable and printable COVID-19 resources. We invite and encourage use of all resources which can be found on our COVID-19 Resource page, including:

Print andShareable Resources
COVID-19 Farm Safety video:
 ArkansasCOVID-19 Food Access Map

Department COVID-19 resources can also be found on our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Department is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program Ensuring the Health and Safety of Employees and Patrons Pursuant to the direction of Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has established a grant program to assist businesses affected by the COVID19 outbreak. The program will provide direct grants to businesses for expenses associated with ensuring the health and safety of employees and patrons. The program will utilize federal funds provided to the State of Arkansas through the CARES Act. Program Update (5/1/20): Due to overwhelming demand during the program rollout, AEDC has revised the allocation of funds among qualified applicants in order to provide assistance to more Arkansas organizations. Qualified applicants may receive grants up to $1,000 per FTE and up to $500 per part-time FTE (as described below). Grant Program Guidelines:

• Eligible businesses include corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships (including independent contractors), LLCs, Joint Ventures and Non-profits (Government-owned entities are not eligible)
• All industry sectors are eligible
• Business must have Certificate of Good Standing with the AR Secretary of State’s Office; (if a Sole Proprietor, a business license or sales tax permit is required)
• Business and owners must NOT be delinquent on any Arkansas tax
• Businesses must either have a) customers and/or employees physically coming to their business premises or b) must conduct business on customer premises
• Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Applications will only be considered when a complete application is submitted with all required attachments.  Required attachments: Driver’s License of authorized business representative, Signed W9, Certificate of Good Standing from Secretary of State (Business License or Sales Tax Permit for Sole Proprietors)
• Grant amounts will be based on number of Arkansas W2 employees as of March 1, 2020:
 1 FTE = up to a $1,000 grant;  2+ FTEs = up to a $1,000 per FTE; 1 Arkansas W2 full-time employee = 1 FTE; 1 Arkansas W2 part-time employees = 5 FTE; Full-time employees must work an average of at least 30 hours per week. Owners working at least 30 hours per week who do not receive a W2 can be included.  Part-time employees must work an average of at least 15 hours per week o Example – 2 AR W2 full-time employees (2 FTEs) and 6 AR W2 part-time employees (3 FTEs) equals a grant of up to $5,000

• Maximum grant amount is $100,000
• Eligible expenditures include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and no-contact thermometers for employees and customers, no-contact Point of Sale (POS) payment equipment; supplies and disinfectants to initially deep clean premises and for use on an ongoing basis; also included are expenses associated with hiring a third party to perform periodic deep cleaning services, hand sanitizer stations, restocking of necessary supplies/raw materials, expenses associated with reconfiguring business to meet recommended health and safety guidelines, signage, marketing and other one-time expenses associated with reopening or resuming normal operations
• Eligible expenditures must be made between March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020
• Businesses will be required to verify funds were used for eligible expenditures and shall be required to repay all or a portion of the grant if business is found not in compliance with grant requirements
• Businesses that have previously been awarded assistance through other AEDC programs or SBA programs are not prohibited from applying for the Ready for Business Grant Program
• At least 15% of the recipients will be women and minority owned businesses as defined by Arkansas Statute.
• At least 75% of the total funds will go to businesses with 50 employees or less.

 

MONDAY MORNING COVID-19 UPDATE
"Deaths from COVID-19 in Arkansas rose to 73 over the weekend. Statewide, the positive number of cases had risen Saturday to 3,372. However, only 1,312 of those were considered active cases. Hospitalizations were up to 100, but the number of patients on ventilators had dropped to 20. 

At the most recent press conference Saturday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson says the state is strategically re-opening businesses with a very careful, phased-in approach. Gyms and fitness centers may reopen today with distancing and sanitizing guidelines in place. Barber shops, beauty salons, massage therapy facilities, and body art establishments may reopen on Wednesday, with spacing and cleaning directives to be followed. Restaurants may resume dine-in operations on Monday, May 11th to limited traffic, with safety measures expected to be followed. At his press conference later today at 1:30, Governor Hutchinson says an announcement will be made regarding church services and events at larger public venues:"

"Although COVID-19 cases in the state are continuing to rise, Governor Hutchinson says there are signs that the rate of infection is slowing, with a 12-day decline in the number of positive tests. The state is testing an average of 1,500 people daily, and the percentage of those who test positive has declined from a high of 25% on April 20th to about 3% as of Friday. However, Governor Hutchinson says that state officials are taking seriously the warnings from prominent public health officials that the virus could rebound in the fall or even be a seasonal threat:"

"In other COVID-19 news, Arkansas House and Senate leaders couldn't agree by late Friday afternoon on how to boost the spending authority of a grant program, leaving small businesses in limbo. Governor Hutchinson decided to seek legislative approval for authority to spend $100 million in federal funds through the Arkansas Ready for Business program. The administration originally intended for the program to have $15 million, but demand topped $36 million in less that an hour after the website opened prematurely last Wednesday evening. Legislative leaders will continue to work toward an agreement on a dollar amount that will help small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Again, the death toll has risen to 73 in Arkansas due to COVID-19. There are now 3,372 positive cases, and 1,987 recoveries statewide. In our local area: In Ouachita County, there are seven positive cases and five recoveries. In Calhoun County, there are still no confirmed cases.  We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

POLL SHOWS OVERWHELMING PARENT SUPPORT FOR EDUCATORS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS 
Nearly nine out of 10 approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the pandemic
LITTLE ROCK— The first full week of May has been National Teacher Appreciation Week for decades. But this year, with students not in school buildings as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and educators working in new ways to teach from a distance, deliver meals, and more, the occasion is more meaningful than ever. And a new national poll shows parents and guardians overwhelmingly approve of how educators are handling the pandemic. 

 

“We all know Arkansas’s educators make a difference in our students lives every day, but this crisis makes it clear that the impact of our teachers and education support professionals isn’t limited to classrooms, cafeterias or bus routes,” says AEA President Carol Fleming. “As we all navigate this unprecedented situation, we can all see educators striving to stay connected with our students without in-person interaction or the resources of our school buildings.” 
  
Results of the national poll by NEA show parents and guardians express extremely positive views of educators. More than 80 percent of parents/guardians view public school teachers very favorably. Eighty-eight percent of parents approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the coronavirus pandemic. The national survey was conducted by GBAO Strategies and included a survey of 800 parents and guardians of school-aged children who attend a public school. 

 

Angela Hunter, a parent to twin 4th-graders at Gibbs International Studies Magnet Elementary in the Little Rock School District says her children’s teachers have been extremely communicative with parents and with students, providing regular updates, one-on-one and small group discussions, and taking an interest in how all the families are doing.  

"We’re all in this together and the teachers are providing phenomenal support in difficult circumstances,” Hunter says. “These teachers really care and knowing that has made figuring out how to deal with these changes much easier for me as a parent and for my kids as learners.” 
 

The poll also showed that parents and guardians believe educators are working hard to communicate with them, that educators are finding ways to connect with students who don’t have internet access and they are giving their students more one-on-one assistance. 
 

“Educators always rise to meet our students’ needs, and we’re seeing that play out across the state,” says AEA President Carol Fleming. “We hope Arkansans will take this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week to thank not just teachers, but all educators who have risen to meet this moment and provide for our students.” 
  
It took teachers and faculty a matter of days—and, in many cases, a few hours—to move their classes online when school buildings across Arkansas closed because of COVID-19. Despite the challenges of distance learning, which can make it difficult to develop the kinds of relationships that support learning, educators have demonstrated strong commitment and creativity in providing students with continuous learning opportunities. 
  
National Teacher Day began in 1953 when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt proposed that Congress set aside a day to acknowledge the work of educators. Since 1985, NEA has celebrated National Teacher Day on the Tuesday of the first full week of May. For more information on National Teacher Day visit nea.org/appreciate. 
  
Since 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week, a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. PTA events at the national, state and local levels celebrate the outstanding contributions teachers make. 

“We know that appreciation alone will not reduce the challenges teachers face right now to help meet the needs of their students but celebrating them and their work to help students will let them know their efforts are not unnoticed,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen. 

Findings from a national survey of educators will be released in the coming weeks. 
Visit nea.org/appreciate for more information on National Teacher Day. 
Visit www.pta.org/home/events/PTA-Teacher-Appreciation-Week

CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FOR ARKANSAS COLLEGES
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressman Bruce Westerman, announced an additional round of coronavirus relief funding for Arkansas’s colleges and universities Friday to help ensure learning continues during the pandemic.

The funds totaling more than $14.5 million come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These monies are provided in addition to the money previously allocated in the first round.

Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden will receive $38,543. South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado will receive $52,217. Southern Arkansas University Main Campus in Magnolia will receive $196,019.

Institutions may use this funding to cover the cost of technology associated with a transition to distance education, grants to cover the costs of attendance for eligible students, and training for faculty and staff. Additionally, funds may be used to cover operational costs, such as lost revenue, reimbursements for prior expenses, and payroll.

Arkansas colleges and universities received over $100 million in the first round of emergency grants to support postsecondary students and institutes of higher education impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

GRAPETTE’S IN CAMDEN MAKES MOST ENDANGERED LIST
Preserve Arkansas announced its annual list of most endangered places on Friday. Among the seven places listed among Arkansas’ most endangered places was Grapette’s headquarters in Camden.

The Grapette Building was the headquarters and bottling plant of the Grapette Company, makers of one of America’s best-selling soft drinks. The building now has structural safety issues, according to Preserve Arkansas.

Benjamin Tyndle Fooks, the founder of Grapette, purchased the industrial building in 1945 and added on to it later.

Other south Arkansas sites included in the Preserve Arkansas report Friday included the Bank of Carthage in Dallas County and the Old Jail Log Cabin in Lewisville in Lafayette County.

The Most Endangered Places Program began in 1999 to raise awareness of historically and architecturally significant properties that are facing threats such as deterioration, neglect, insufficient resources, and insensitive development. The list is updated each year to generate discussion and support for saving places that matter to Arkansans, according to the news release.

 
 
 

May 01, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE – MAY 1, 2020
Coronavirus cases in Arkansas have risen to 3,321, though only 1,284 of those cases are considered active. There are 1,973 people who have recovered from COVID-19, while 95 patients remain hospitalized from the illness and 23 of them are on ventilators. The coronavirus death total in the state has now reached 64.

This information was reported during Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson's latest COVID-19 press conference update Friday, May 1st.

The month of May also brings good news for Hair stylists, barbers, massage therapists and tattoo artists, as The Governor announced that May 6th is the date in which salon professionals can open back up for business.

Another news update revealed during the conference was an initiative being made to support Arkansas minority communities. The Governor called upon Director Michelle Smith, who highlighted the mission of the department of equity at the Department of Health and how COVID-19 has been impacting minorities. Smith says a COVID relief initiative will provide new grant opportunities for those in need.

Lastly, Governor Hutchinson addressed the recent "Ready For Business" Grant that was released earlier this week but quickly ran out of the $15 million that had been made available to Arkansas business owners. The Governor says more funds are now being provided due to the high demand, and the process is currently under legislative review. 

Again, the number of Coronavirus cases in Arkansas has risen to 3,321, with 1,284 of those cases are considered active. There are 1,973 people who have recovered from COVID-19, while 95 patients remain hospitalized from the illness and 23 of them are on ventilators. The coronavirus death total in the state has now reached 64.

We'll keep you updated, stay tuned.

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE FOR DETERMINE IF COUNTY SHOULD APPLY FOR ACEDP FUNDS
A public hearing will be held on May 5th, 2020 at 6:30 P.M.  at the Ouachita County Courthouse.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event will not be available for attendance in-person, and will be on covered by radio station KBEU and The Camden News.  Again, please do NOT attend the public hearing in person.

This meeting is for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing the community needs of Ouachita County, determining whether an application for Arkansas Community and Economic Development Program (ACEDP) funds should be developed and if so, for what community need.  Also, comments on proposed project activities will be discussed, especially those with possible impacts on the community, should the project receive funding.

ACEDP funds are federal assistance received by the State of Arkansas and administered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. These funds will be made available to cities and counties according to need and can be used for housing rehabilitation, community facilities, or economic development, but must address one of the following objectives: 

1. Provide benefit to low and moderate income families,

2. Aid in the prevention of slum and blight, or

3. Meet other community needs, which pose a serious, immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community where no other funding is available to meet such needs.

All residents of Ouachita County are encouraged to attend the hearing and participate in the community development process. Ouachita County will provide technical assistance in developing proposals by groups representing low and moderate-income persons.

BAKED POTATO LUNCH FUNDRAISER FOR CASA
There will be a baked potato lunch fundraiser for CASA on Thursday, May 7th from 11 am to 1 pm at the First Presbyterian Church located at 313 Greening Street in Camden. Drive Up or Delivery. The meal includes a baked russet potato with butter, cheese bacon, chives and sour cream, desert and bottled water or baked sweet potato with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, desert and bottled water. Cost is $10.00. Add pulled pork for only $2.00 extra. Preorder by calling Terri at 870-818-2824. All proceeds benefit the 13th Judicial District North Program for the abused and neglected children served by CASA.


LOCKHEED MARTIN ANNOUNCES CONTRACTS FOR APRIL 30, 2020
Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $6,068,344,959 firm-fixed-price contract for incidental services, hardware, facilities, equipment and all technical, planning, management, manufacturing and testing efforts to produce Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target Advanced Capability-3 missiles, missile segment enhancement configuration and associated ground support equipment and spares.  Bids were solicited via the internet with one received.  Work will be performed in Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Ocala, Florida; Chelmsford, Massachusetts; Grand Prairie and Lufkin, Texas; and Archbald, Pennsylvania, with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2027.  Fiscal 2020 missile procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $6,068,344,959 were obligated at the time of the award.  U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-20-C-0023).

 

April 30, 2020

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE – APRIL 30, 2020
The lifting of restrictions caused by COVID-19 continues in Arkansas, as Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that May 4th is the date that gyms and fitness centers across the state can begin re-opening. 

The information was revealed during the Governor's latest COVID-19 press conference update held Thursday afternoon. Although gyms have been given the green light to resume business, it won’t be without precautionary measures. The Governor announced that screening for staff and patients will be required, and no pools, spas, or saunas will be included in the re-opening category just yet. 

The number of coronavirus cases in Arkansas has reached 3,255, with 1,888 of those cases considered active. There are 95 people currently in the hospital with the illness and 23 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time.  Although 61 people have now died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, 1,305 people are now considered to be recovered. No new counties have been announced since Montgomery was added to the list of reporting counties on Wednesday. 

Though gyms will be re-opening Monday, The Governor reported that team sports are not yet approved to resume. However later this month, the status of youth athletics will be re-evaluated in regards to the remainder of the summer going forward. 
During the press conference, both Governor Hutchinson and Dr. Nathaniel Smith reiterated the importance of maintaining social distancing and following the precautions in place as restrictions are lifted. Officials recommend to sanitize surfaces, practice social distancing, and refrain from contact with anyone who has come in contact with the virus, in order to help continuing to defend against the pandemic, even as limitations on businesses are removed. 

Again, Arkansas has reported 3,255 COVID-19 cases with 1,888 of those cases considered active. There are 95 people currently hospitalized, and 23 of those patients remain on a ventilator at this time.  Although 61 people have now died from COVID-19 in Arkansas, 1,305 people are now considered to be recovered. We'll keep you updated, stay tuned.  

9 SCHOOLS, 2 DISTRICTS SELECTED FOR FOURTH YEAR OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES AT WORK® PROJECT 
Camden Fairview High School Included
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education, in partnership with Solution Tree, a national professional development provider, announces the fourth cohort selected for the Professional Learning Communities at Work® project. ADE also celebrates the four Arkansas schools from the first cohort that were recently named PLC Model Schools.

Nine schools and two districts from around the state were selected for the 2020-2021 school year and join the 29 schools and four districts chosen the last three years. As with the first three cohorts, each school and district in the fourth cohort will receive up to 50 days of training, coaching, and support to build and sustain a strong culture of collaboration that will enhance student learning.

Those chosen completed a rigorous application and evaluation process. A panel of education professionals reviewed all applications, and the ADE selected the following schools and districts to receive support from Solution Tree.  
Bayyari Elementary School in the Springdale School District
Camden Fairview High School in the Camden Fairview School District
Centerpoint School District
Clinton School District (Clinton Elementary School and Clinton Junior High School)
Crossett High School in the Crossett School District
Hot Springs Junior Academy in the Hot Springs School District
Lake Hamilton Junior High School in the Lake Hamilton School District
Northside High School in the Fort Smith School District
Rivercrest High School in the Rivercrest School District
Valley Springs Elementary School in the Valley Springs School District
Watson Elementary School in the Little Rock School District

"I am always excited when we take a proven best practice model, implement it here in Arkansas, and see continued success,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The PLC model is one of those examples. It has transformed the day-to-day operations and culture at schools around the state, leading to improved outcomes with student learning. Congratulations to this new cohort of schools selected to join the PLC family, and congratulations to the four schools from the first cohort that were selected as model schools for the state.”

The following four schools, which were part of the first cohort of PLC schools selected in 2017, were recently named PLC Model Schools for their excellence in implementing the PLC at Work model with fidelity. 
Ballman Elementary School in the Fort Smith School District
Greenbrier Eastside Elementary School in the Greenbrier School District
Spradling Elementary School in the Fort Smith School District
Morrilton Intermediate School in the South Conway County School District

In order to be named a model school, a school must demonstrate a commitment to PLC concepts; implement those concepts for at least three years; present clear evidence of improved student learning; explain the culture, practices, and structures of the school or district and be considered for the recognition; and update school or district information on the site each year to show continued progress in meeting the PLC at Work criteria. 

“When I first attended a PLC institute several years ago, I immediately knew we needed to implement the model in Arkansas,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only is the PLC at Work model one of the most highly-recognized best practices in the country, it is backed by numerous years of research. Since launching the PLC initiative in Arkansas, we have seen teachers across multiple subject areas come together to collaborate, lead by example, and make needed changes that have transformed student learning at their schools. The work is hard, but the payoffs have been huge. Congratulations to the new cohort and to the four schools recently named model schools. You serve as leading examples for all schools in the state."

“Year after year we are continually impressed by the improvements and accomplishments of each cohort,” Solution Tree President and COO Ed Ackerman said. “We are thrilled to welcome nine additional schools and two districts to the project and begin helping them work collaboratively to build professional learning communities. When it comes to improving student education, we truly believe — and research and results show — there is no better approach.”

The 2020-2021 schools and districts will be matched with a certified PLC at Work associate from Solution Tree and receive intensive job-embedded training, observation, and coaching. The schools and district will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessments, and proven instructional strategies. During the second year, the schools and districts will deepen their understanding and focus on implementing multi-tiered systems of support, followed by strengthening their systems and sustaining the process in year three.

Act 427 of 2017, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. § 6-20-2305(b)(5), provides funding for the project. For more information, please visit the ADE website at https://bit.ly/2ugELNw and follow this project on social media at #PLC4AR.


STATE POLICE RE-OPENING SKILLS TESTING TO DRIVER LICENSE APPLICANTS
Site Locations Pared, Health Screening To Occur
APRIL 30, 2020

The Arkansas State Police plans to restore skills testing for driver license applicants next week.  The tests will be limited to applicants who use the state police web site for scheduling a skills test and receive confirmation of the test date and time.  Additionally, the tests will only be offered at twelve locations across Arkansas.

The web site scheduler for skills tests will be opened to applicants on Monday, May 4th.  Applicants should be prepared to choose one of the twelve sites where the skills tests will be offered.  The scheduler tool can be accessed at https://www.ark.org/asp_driver_scheduler/

On March 18th the Arkansas State Police implemented precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus with temporary and limited adjustments in Class D driver license testing procedures.  As the virus threat begins to diminish, the locations for license testing will be limited since many of the city and county facilities used by the state police remain closed to public access.
 
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic will require Class D skills test applicants to remain inside their vehicle at the open testing sites until a testing agent approaches the vehicle with further instructions.
 
Effective next Monday anyone at a state police facility for purposes of being administered any form of a driver license test (Class D written or skills and commercial driver license) will be required to wear an appropriate face mask covering both the mouth and nose, pass a health assessment survey, and be willing to submit to a body temperature scan.  Social distancing practices will be mandatory at all testing sites.  The new precautionary measures were developed in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health.
 
Additional information and pre-requisites for driver license testing can be found at https://asp.arkansas.gov/services-and-programs/detail/driver-examination

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAMMERS ATTEMPT TO EXTORT ARKANSANS INTO PAYOUT
Says, ‘Criminals are using old or similar passwords to illegally extort Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – While social distancing, Arkansans have been taking precautions and staying at home, which means more time spent online. As a result, scam artists are using tactics to extort money from Arkansans by threatening to release compromising photos. To dupe the recipient of an extortion email, the scammer may print the consumer’s email password or use high-pressure tactics to get them to pay right away. These actions are not only a scam, but also a criminal offense.

“Criminals are using old or similar passwords to illegally extort Arkansans into sending large sums of money to scam artists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Anyone threatening or using high-pressure tactics to force payment is perpetrating a scam, and any Arkansan receiving such communications should cease contact immediately with the scammer and call my office.”

Attorney General Rutledge along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has provided these tips for Arkansans using the internet while social distancing.

Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals.

Monitor your bank account statements regularly, and your credit report at least once a year for any unusual activity.

Do not respond to unsolicited email senders or click on phishing links, outdated information or give personal information through email.

Do not store sensitive information online or on your mobile devices.

Use strong passwords containing numbers and symbols, and do not use the same password for multiple websites.

Never provide personal information of any sort via email. Be aware that many emails requesting your personal information appear to be legitimate.

Ensure security settings for social media accounts are activated and set at the highest level of protection.

Verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type the address into your browser for greater protection.

For more information, or if you believe you have been a victim of criminal extortion file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov or contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or oag@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Year-long plan addresses pre-K through 12th grade students"
Little Rock, Ark. – Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan is encouraging families to talk to their children about money and finances. Milligan announced his financial education initiative “Educate Your Financial Future,” to commemorate Financial Literacy Month, which occurs each year in April. The new initiative will focus on teaching children in grades pre-K through 12th about saving money and spending wisely.

“As Treasurer of State, my responsibility as the state’s banker includes managing millions of state and local tax monies that flow through our office on a daily basis. A basic understanding of financial knowledge is a critical tool that we all must learn if we want to be successful,” Milligan said. “I want to empower all Arkansans to take charge of theirfinancial future, so I’m excited about starting this  journey with Arkansas parents for their children.”

Milligan created the AR Finance AR Future program during his first year in office in order to help address the lack of financial education in schools. The program targeted students in fourth- through sixth-grades across Arkansas and taught basic concepts of spending, saving and investing money.

With a nationwide trend toward encouraging financial literacy among young people, Milligan is working to grow the AR Finance AR Future program with this new book-reading initiative.

THE DISTRICT COURT OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY ANNOUNCES COURT CANCELLATIONS
Additional dates of Court sessions have been canceled due to Corona Virus crisis. All District Court sessions have been cancelled for the month of May 2020. The courts will announce the rescheduled dates as soon as that information is available. The Courts are working diligently to make preparations for when they reopen. The main objective is to keep the public and staff safe

ARKANSAS READY FOR BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has launched Arkansas Ready for Business, a $15 million grant program to assist businesses with COVID-19-related expenses, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced.

Arkansas Ready for Business Program Guidelines<