Yes Radio Works

September 18, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 18, 2020
 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 225 227
Confirmed Cases: 227
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 43
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 183
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 180
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4928
Total Positive Tests: 236
PCR Positives: 227
Antigen Positives: 9
Total Negative Tests: 4,692
PCR Negatives: 4,671
Antigen Negatives: 21

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 833
Confirmed Cases: 819
Probable Cases: 14
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 763
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 758
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5 Total Tests: 8,542
Total Positive Tests: 832
PCR Positives: 819
Antigen Positives: 13
Total Tests: 8,542
Total Negative Tests: 7,710
PCR Negatives: 7,680
Antigen Negatives: 30

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 359
Confirmed Cases: 349
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 32
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 309
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 303
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4,304
Total Positive Tests: 366
PCR Positives: 349
Antigen Positives: 17
Total Negative Tests: 3,938
PCR Negatives: 3,913
Antigen Negatives: 25

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 152
Confirmed Cases: 151
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 14
Active Confirmed Cases: 14
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 136
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 135
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1932
Total Positive Tests: 152
PCR Positives: 151
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,780
PCR Negatives: 1,771
Antigen Negatives: 9

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,408
Total Positive Tests: 32
PCR Positives: 31
Antigen Positives: 1
Total Negative Tests: 1,376
PCR Negatives: 1,372
Antigen Negatives: 4

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 73,211
Confirmed Cases: 71,614
Probable Cases: 1,597
Recovered Cases: 65,941
Tests: 853,549
Negative Tests: 781,096 791,094
Positive Tests: 72,453 73,455
Recovered: 65,941
Deaths: 1,166

USA
Cases: 66,88,236
Recoveries: 2,540,334
Deaths: 197,246

Global
Cases: 30,255,091
Recoveries: 20,576,269
Deaths: 947,500
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday, September 23rd at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE in Camden.  Meetings are open to the Public.

Please wear a mask. Hand sanitizer will be available. Social distancing will be practiced in seating. The doors to the meeting area will be open. Packets will be on the tables.
The agenda is as follows:
Call to Order - Jim Golden
Audience Participation – Jim Golden
Approval of Minutes – July 2020 - Chuck Sponer
Financial Reports – July, August 2020 - James Nixon
Overview of Contacts-Executive Director - Lee Silliman
Request for Audit - James Nixon
OPED Budget Committee - Dotty Harris
Nominations Committee-Officers/Executive Committee - Dotty Harris
Old Business
Workforce Project Update - James Lee Silliman
Future Fit - Karmen House          
AEDC's Competitive Communities - Lee Silliman
Open Discussion – Jim Golden     
Adjournment - Jim Golden

The next Scheduled Board Meeting will be on October 28, 2020.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PROCLAIMS ACES AWARENESS WEEK
Coinciding with AFMCs ACEs and Resilience Summit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. ‒ September 16, 2020 ‒ By proclamation of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, September 20 – 26 is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Week. ACEs, such as abuse, neglect, an incarcerated parent, or a parent who suffers from substance abuse or mental illness, are harmful events that can occur during childhood. Studies in the fields of neurobiology, psychology, epigenetics, child development and medicine, among others, show that ACEs create toxic stress in children that has lasting consequences for their physical, mental and emotional health well into adulthood, and can be passed on to the next generation.

 Arkansas ranks second in the nation for the percentage of children who have experienced two or more ACEs and nearly 62% of Arkansas adults have a least one ACE. By working together, the negative effects of ACEs can be reduced by preventing ACEs and helping individuals build resilience through safe, stable and nurturing relationships in the home and community.

The Arkansas ACEs and Resilience Coalition, in connection with the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, are hosting the fourth annual AR ACEs and Resilience Summit, September 22 – 23. This Summit will feature subject matter experts in the fields of trauma, racial equity, education, mental health and self-care. If you would like to learn more about ACEs or register for the Summit please visit www.afmc.org/aces.

About AFMC
For 48 years, AFMC  has worked to improve the health of Arkansans through utilization review, quality improvement projects and public education. AFMC’s mission is: To promote excellence in health and health care through education and evaluation.

THIRD IN BECHTELHEIMER LECTURE SERIES UPCOMING AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center continues its six-part lecture series, "The New York School", presented by local artist Gay Bechtelheimer, on Thursday, September 24, at 6:00pm. There will be a brief reception, followed by an entertaining dive into the context, characters, and culture of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Reservations are required for socially distant and safe reserved seating.
This lecture series, sponsored by Linda and Louis Hall, is being held on Thursday evenings throughout the fall. "Color Field" is the third topic to be addressed by Bechtelheimer in this series. "Color Field painting is the subdued side of Abstract Expressionism. Broad expanses of sublime color become the subject of the painting, inviting the viewer to participate in a contemplative and inward experience." 
Lynn Dwight, SAAC board member, has been attending the series and bringing her mom along. They have both thoroughly enjoyed their experience at the lectures. "From the minute we walked into SAAC, we felt a sense of calm...the screening was effortless," said Dwight. "And with all the artwork around us which we were encouraged to wander about and see, we felt a sense of ‘normalcy'. Safely seated with only family or friends, we were given an insight into the art world that we might otherwise have never known about!" 
In order to keep SAAC employees and members as safe as possible, SAAC will follow all directives from the Arkansas Department of Health. Reservations are required to determine assigned seating in the theatre where guests will be seated with plenty of required distancing. Patrons will be temperature checked at the door, and masks are required. Beer and wine will be served in the gallery, where guests can pick up an individually packaged "SAAC Snack in a Sack" to enjoy during the presentation.
"We've been looking for a safe, creative way to say thank you to our membership. By offering the lecture series free of charge, and observing social distancing requirements, we hope to remind our members just what a wonderful community SAAC is, and how much their support means," Laura Allen.
Seating is limited at this time. For more information on this lecture series, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org to reserve a seat. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street.  

 

COTTON INTRODUCES BILL TO END CHINA’S PERMANENT MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced a bill that would strip China of its permanent most-favored-nation status—also known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations—a designation it has held for the last twenty years. If passed, the legislation would make extending most-favored-nation status to China an annual decision for Congress and the president.

"Twenty years ago this week, the Senate gave a gift to the Chinese Communist Party by granting it permanent most-favored-nation status. That disastrous decision made the Party richer, but cost millions of American jobs. It’s time to protect American workers and take back our leverage over Beijing by withdrawing China’s permanent trade status,” said Cotton.

Background
 The Senate voted to give China permanent most-favored-nation status on September 19, 2000. This vote paved the way for China’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

Granting China this trade status contributed to the “China Trade Shock” that destroyed 2 million American jobs after 2001. It also led to a surge of business investmentin China that made the CCP stronger and more dangerous.

The China Trade Relations Act
The China Trade Relations Act would revoke China’s permanent most-favored-nation status and return to the pre-2001 status quo, whereby China’s MFN status must be renewed each year by presidential decision. Congress could override the president’s extension of MFN by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.

The bill also would expand the list of human-rights and trade abuses under the Jackson-Vanik Amendment that would disqualify China for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver. The abuses that would make China ineligible for MFN status, absent a presidential waiver, are as follows:

Uses or provides for the use of slave labor;

Operates ‘vocational training and education centers’ or other concentration camps where people are held against their will;
Performs or otherwise orders forced abortion or sterilization procedures;
Harvests the organs of prisoners without their consent;
Hinders the free exercise of religion;
Intimidates or harasses nationals of the People’s Republic of China living outside the People’s Republic of China; or
Engages in systematic economic espionage against the United States, including theft of the intellectual property of United States persons.

 

BOOZMAN URGES HHS TO PROTECT 340B PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING PROGRAM
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to prevent pharmaceutical companies from undermining the 340B Drug Pricing Program and for the agency to provide certainty to hospital participants.

The 340B drug pricing program is providing flexibility to more than 40 Arkansas medical facilities to help lower drug prices. The program requires prescription drugs be sold at a discounted price to safety net hospitals, rural health facilities and other entities that provide care in underserved communities. Savings from the 340B program ensure these “covered entities” are able to continue serving their patients.

Recent announcements by drug manufacturers have put new, burdensome requirements on “covered entities” beyond the scope of the 340B program and have eliminated discounts for medications shipped to pharmacies that dispense drugs to patients on behalf of covered entities.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Alx Azar, Boozman and a bipartisan group of senators urged the administration to take enforcement action to end these policies and protect the ability of health care facilities to continue providing medications to their patients.

“In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where providers have seen drops in revenue and available resources, it is critically important that 340B covered entities, including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-Alikes, children’s hospitals, Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics, and other safety-net hospitals and providers are able to continue to serve the individuals who seek out their care. As these threats to the Program progress, we fear the potential exacerbation of these shortfalls in resources for providers at a time when they are needed most,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The letter was sent one day after Boozman urged HHS to provide certainty for the 340B participants.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Boozman shared the concerns of rural Arkansas hospital administrators about eligibility for continued participation in the program. As a result of COVID-19, hospitals paused elective procedures and admissions decreased for Medicare and Medicaid patients. These are among the key metrics used to determine acceptance into the program. 

Boozman encouraged his colleagues to extend eligibility so they can care for low-income patients and pass legislation introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) that would provide certainty to current 340B program participants.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
September 18, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Census workers across Arkansas will be knocking on doors until the end of September in a last-ditch effort to make sure that as many people as possible get counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Undercounting the population of a state or community has long-term negative consequences, because the benefits of so many government programs are allocated according to census data. For example, an undercount of as little as one percent would mean the loss of a billion dollars in federal funding in Arkansas over the next ten years.

The potential loss of federal dollars would have a negative effect on Medicaid, food stamp programs, highway maintenance and construction, education and the availability of childcare subsidies.

Census workers are visiting homes in communities that traditionally have been hard to reach. Sometimes they leave packets on doorsteps if they are unable to contact anyone in the home.

However, it’s not necessary to wait for a census worker to visit your house. You can fill out the census over the phone in about 10 minutes. Call 844-330-2020. After you have completed the census, encourage everyone you know to complete it.

The census is conducted every 10 years, and this is the first time that a majority of people will complete it online. You can fill out the form online by going to https://my2020census.gov

Your personal information will be kept confidential. Also, you will not be asked financial questions, such as bank account numbers or credit card numbers. You will not be asked for your Social Security number either. You will not be asked for money and you will not be questioned about your political opinions.

If you suspect that you have been contacted by a deceptive outfit that is trying to defraud you, check out the address of their website. The address of a valid census web page will always have “gov” at the end.

Nationwide, 65.9 percent of the population have already responded to the census on their own volition. In Arkansas, 60 percent have responded by telephone, Internet or traditional mail.

Helping Our Neighbors
Twenty firefighters from Arkansas, including five employees of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, are fighting wildfires in Oregon.

Crews in California, Oregon and Washington have been pushed to the breaking point battling wildfires on more than 2 million acres this year.

In addition to the five employees of the state Forestry Division, the so-called “Razorback Crew” has eight Arkansas employees from the U.S Forest Service, two from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two from the National Parks Service, and three from of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Two other employees of the state Forestry Division recently returned from California, where they helped battle wildfires.

The legislature created the Forestry Division in 1931 to protect state woodlands from fire and other natural hazards. State forestry officials estimate that since 1935 they have helped put out more than 225,000 forest fires.

After tornadoes and ice storms, Forestry Division employees help clear roadways for emergency vehicles, and set up command centers for first responders.

It also has a nursery in North Little Rock, from which it provides low-costs seedlings to Arkansas residents for reforestation projects.

 
 
 

September 17, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 225
Total Active Confirmed Cases: 36
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4909
Total Negative Tests: 4,681
Total PositiveTests: 228

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 804
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 733
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 729
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 8522
Total Negative Tests: 7,138
Total Positive Tests: 826

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 354
Confirmed Cases: 346
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 30
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 306
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 301
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 4287
Total Negative Tests: 3295
Total Positive Tests: 346

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 152
Confirmed Cases: 151
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 15
Active Confirmed Cases: 15
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 135
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 134
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1913
Total Negative Tests: 1,761
Total Positive Tests: 152

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1401
Total Negative Tests: 1,370
Total Positive Tests: 31

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 72,219
Confirmed Cases: 70,731
Probable Cases: 1,488
Recovered Cases: 65,147
Tests: 853,549
Negative Tests: 781,096
Positive Tests: 72,453
Recovered: 65,147
Deaths: 1010

USA
Cases: 6,649,458
Recoveries: 2,525,573
Deaths: 197,223

Global
Cases: 29,960,718
Recoveries: 20,362,794
Deaths: 942,631
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

SOUTH ARKANSAS TRAFFIC FATALITIES
A Hampton man was killed in a rollover crash in Warren Tuesday. 56-year-old Benjamin Travis was driving a Dodge Dakota east on U.S. Highway 278 in Warren when the vehicle crossed the centerline and went off the road, according to police reports. The Dakota went down a ditch embankment and flipped onto its roof. Travis died, and the state police did not list any other injuries.
On Tuesday morning, another rollover crash in Calhoun County left a Fordyce man dead. 40-year-old William Deboard was driving a Ford F-150 east on Chambersville Road in Thornton around 11 A.M., when it veered off the road, struck a tree, and flipped several times, according to police reports. Deboard died, and no others were listed in the report as injured.
Weather was clear, and the roads were dry at the time of both crashes.

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in special session on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Social distancing will be practiced. Please wear your masks.

CAMDEN PORT AUTHORITY TO MEET
The Port Authority will meet on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
Cassandra Caldwell, Director of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and Deidra Smith will make a presentation.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call 837-5500.

NEW CENSUS DATA ON POVERTY, INCOME, HOUSING AND HEALTH CAN HELP GAUGE HOW MUCH ARKANSANS HAVE LOST IN THE PANDEMIC 
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – People across Arkansas continue to face dire economic hardship – particularly Arkansans of color and those with low incomes - as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, making the need for bold action at the state and federal levels clearer than ever. That’s the picture painted by new data released today from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and an analysis of data from its ongoing Household Pulse Survey and other sources.

Between 2018 and 2019, Arkansas’s poverty rate fell by 1 percentage point to 16.2 percent, and median household income rose by 2.4 percent to $48,952. Health care coverage declined and housing costs remained flat – trends that accelerated this year’s severe health and housing needs.

More up-to-date data from this summer show a worsening of some trends and a sharper rise in hardship across Arkansas:
14 percent of adults reported that their household sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat in the last seven days
21 percent of adults with children reported that their kids sometimes or often didn’t eat enough in the last seven days because they couldn’t afford it
18 percent of adults who live in rental housing reported that they were behind on rent, and 29 percent are behind on their mortgage payments
29 percent of all children in Arkansas live in a family that is either not getting enough to eat or behind on housing payments

This hardship is being felt more acutely by Arkansans of color and people with very low incomes, who were already struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. As a result of current and historic policies contributing to deep inequities, low-income Arkansans and Arkansans of color often lack access to the resources they need to be resilient, like healthy food options, transportation, quality schools, etc.

“As we see every day, people across Arkansas are struggling with paying their bills, putting food on the table, and getting back to work. And many of these same Arkansans are the one that are on the frontlines of this pandemic, working at child care centers, grocery stores, and in other low-paid jobs,” explained AACF Senior Policy Analyst Bruno Showers. “Our federal and state policymakers must act decisively to help families and individuals facing today’s extreme levels of hardship, especially those in Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households.”

Here’s what they can do:
Federal: Congress must act swiftly to provide more federal relief that matches the extraordinary need that households and our economy face. That includes boosting vital assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and housing assistance, extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits, and allocating additional aid to states and local governments that can help prevent further layoffs and cuts to core public services.

State: Lawmakers must meet the demands of the moment by advancing bold policies to build antiracist, equitable, and inclusive communities and an economic recovery that extends to all people. You can read AACF’s full federal recommendations on our website.

About Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is a statewide, nonprofit child advocacy organization established in 1977. Our mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential. For more information, visit aradvocates.org.

SAFE SURGERY ARKANSAS RELEASES STATEMENT ON SUPREME COURT RULING TO INVALIDATE ISSUE 6 FROM NOVEMBER BALLOT
“We are not at all finished fighting for patient safety”
LITTLE ROCK – The vast majority of Arkansans believe surgery should be performed by surgeons. Unfortunately, voters will not get the chance to voice that opposition based on this morning’s Arkansas Supreme Court ruling to invalidate Issue 6 from the November ballot.

Safe Surgery Arkansas released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“An overwhelming majority of Arkansans agree that surgery should be performed by surgeons, and it’s a shame that voters will not have the opportunity to express themselves at the ballot on this critically important health issue,” said Laurie Barber, MD, chair of Safe Surgery Arkansas. “Despite today’s ruling, we are not at all finished fighting for patient safety. It’s too important, and it matters to too many Arkansans.”

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
 

TEXAMERICAS CENTER UPGRADES WEBSITE; INTEGRATES SITE WITH NATIONAL SITE SELECTION DATABASE
New website provides detailed economic and community information to site selectors
TEXARKANA, USA (Sept. 17, 2020) – TexAmericas Center (TAC) today shared its upgraded website which, in addition to a more user-friendly and intuitive interface, integrates with RealMassive, a real estate database provider, and ZoomProspector, a leading commercial real estate data portal, to provide a depth of information at the individual site level valuable to business owners, site selectors, and commercial listing agents evaluating locations.

Site selectors are used to culling multiple sources to identify, vet, and eventually select the ideal location for
business establishment or expansion. Businesses have different goals for projects which can require weighing variables like cost per square foot, utilities, labor markets, tax rates, incentives, transportation, and cost of living. The new TexAmericas Center website is designed to offer a single resource for more of these critical data points.

The new website provides visitors with an overview of Texarkana – a 75-mile, four-state (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma) region, as well as a robust database of TAC’s commercial property listings. The Property Search Database integrates listing information with economic and community data via RealMassive and ZoomProspector including regional demographics, laborshed, and industry concentrations. The aggregation of this information allows site selectors to view a variety of data points in one resource. This streamlines the initial process, after which the TAC real estate development professionals can offer more customized information, reports, and solutions for businesses.

“Site selection is a complicated process that considers an interconnected web of location features against organizational goals,” said Scott Norton, TexAmericas Center Executive Director/CEO. “Our new website now serves as a resource that streamlines the process for our different audiences which include businesses looking to locate or expand, site selectors conducting a business analysis, and commercial listing agents interested in referring a prospect.”

The website launch is another in a series of successes for TexAmericas Center. In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations at TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD). In August, TexAmericas Center it was ranked the #8 industrial park in the country by Business Facilities in its 2020 Metro and Global Rankings Report .

“We’re designing systems and tools that make doing business with and in Texarkana easy,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Whether that’s providing data resources like the website or creatively crafting lease agreements, our goal is to find ways to make projects work for businesses interested in locating here and contributing to our regional economic development.”

TexAmericas Center is a growing catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent to more than 1 million square feet. Its 12,000 acres and 3 million square feet of space is fully entitled, providing potential tenants of specialized industries options that would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to secure in other regions. Its location in the Texarkana metropolitan area offers an attractive pipeline of talent and a logistics network to rival many larger – and therefore more expensive – urban hubs. Additionally, TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider.

For more information about TexAmericas Center, visit texamericascenter.com.

About TexAmericas Center
Located in the Texarkana metropolitan area, TexAmericas Center (TAC) owns and operates one of the largest mixed-use industrial parks in the United States. With roughly 12,000 development-ready acres of land and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, TAC services four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). In 2020, TAC was ranked as the #8 industrial park in the country by Business Facilities magazine. It is a designated US Opportunity Zone, HUBZone, New Market Tax Credit Census Tract, Foreign Trade Zone #258 and a Texas Enterprise Zone. TAC has the operating capabilities of a municipality but functions like a traditional real estate development company, offering customized real estate solutions.

 

BOOZMAN SUPPORTS STRENGTHENING PROTECTIONS FOR SERVICEMEMBERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is pushing for improvements to the Servicmembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Boozman joined his colleagues to introduce two pieces of legislation to amend the law and better serve the needs of the men and women of the military and their families.

On average, military families move every two to three years. For military spouses, frequent relocations disrupt careers and require them to spend thousands of hours and dollars to continue practicing their vocation, despite already being licensed in another state.

Boozman helped introduce the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act to require states to recognize the occupational licenses of military spouses who move across state lines as a result of a permanent change of station (PCS) order.

“Military spouses make tremendous sacrifices and we have an obligation to support them and their families. This is a meaningful way to help cut the red tape that exists and make it easier for them to continue to their career after relocating as they support their loved one’s service,” Boozman said.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, 67 percent of military spouses had to quit a job because of a move to a different duty station. Additionally, 50 percent of military spouses work in a field that requires licensing. 

Boozman also helped introduced the Modernizing Notice of Lease Terminations for Servicemembers Act to allow servicemembers to deliver notice of termination of residential and car leases electronically, including by email.

“We need to focus on ways to make life easier for the men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces. This update to the SCRA will provide greater flexibility and convenience for servicemembers and their families navigating changes to housing and vehicle leases, protecting them from penalties and ensuring they have the ability to comply with orders to deploy or relocate while serving in uniform,” Boozman said.

The ability to electronically deliver notice of termination of a residential or car lease is especially important for service members who may already be serving in another location by the time they are able to seek termination due to a deployment or a PCS. Electronic means of communication are also critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which physical contact should be limited and traditional mail and delivery services may heighten the risk of exposure.

 
 
 

September 16, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 16, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson gave this unexpected and unannounced update from Batesville, explaining in his opening remarks that he had committed earlier to make this visit and also that he enjoyed getting out among the people.

The Governor reported that there were 606 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period. The cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state is now 70,731. Active Positives currently stand at 5,572 cases. The death toll due to COVID-19 in Arkansas increased by seven to 1,010.
UAMS released new modeling figures Wednesday that show a predicted increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths as the fall and winter months approach, with schools in session and more people being indoors with the cooler weather. Governor Hutchinson says the schools are doing a good job and predicts that the state can beat the modeling numbers if the rules of safety continue to be followed.

The Governor also mentioned the latest White House Task Force report showing Arkansas still in the "red" as far as new per capita cases category, but "yellow" in the positive rate of testing category.

UAMS released new modeling figures Wednesday that show a predicted increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths as the fall and winter months approach, with schools in session and more people being indoors with the cooler weather. Governor Hutchinson says the schools are doing a good job and predicts that the state can beat the modeling numbers if the rules of safety continue to be followed.

Governor Hutchinson was asked about an ease of restrictions for events and festivals. The Governor says that events and festivals can submit plans to the Health Department for approval but maintains that now is not the time to lift more restrictions.
Secretary of Health,Dr. Jose Romero, updated the Statewide number as follows.
70,731 cumulative cases
387 hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
65 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
1,010 total deaths
5,572 active cases
730 new recoveries
64,145 total recoveries
6,360 PCR tests yesterday (606 positive)
529 antigen tests yesterday (95 positive).

Counties with 20 or more new cases today were Washington with 65, Pulaski with 58, Benton with 37, Faulkner with 31, Jefferson with 29, Miller with 21, and Craighead with 20.

This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 220
Total Active Confirmed Cases: 35
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 178
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 175
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 4,646
Total Tests: 4868

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 804
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 733
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 729
Recovered Probable Cases: 4
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 5
Total Negative Tests: 7,683
Total Tests: 8498

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 348
Confirmed Cases: 341
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 26
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 304
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 299
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 18
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths:
Total Negative Tests: 3,899
Total Tests: 4255

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Confirmed Cases: 153
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 19
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 133
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 132
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 1,747
Total Tests: 1901

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 31
Confirmed Cases: 30
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 25
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 24
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Total Negative Tests: 1,355
Total Tests: 1386

Arkansas Tests: 845,788
Confirmed Cases: 70,125
Probable Cases: 1,372
Recovered Cases: 64,342
Arkansas Negative Tests: 774,069
Arkansas Positive Tests: 71,719
Arkansas Recovered: 64,342
Arkansas Deaths: 1003

USA Cases: 6,603,033
USA Recoveries: 2,495,427
USA Deaths: 196,147

Global Cases: 29,628,650
Global Recoveries: 20,129,159
Global Deaths: 936,377
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

To view the 9-16-20 briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtube/7iyFww-xj-8

 

INVESTIGATIONS UNDERWAY BY STATE POLICE CID IN THREE CHILD DEATHS ON STATE ROADS
SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Two apparently unrelated incidents over a five hour period today claimed the lives of three children along two U.S. highways in Jackson and Saline Counties.  Both are being investigated by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.
At 4:07 AM state troopers of the Highway Patrol Division were dispatched to the 98 mile marker of U.S. Highway 67 south of the Jackson and Craighead County line where two children were found dead.  The victims have been identified as Michael Rogers, III, 10, and his sister, Princess Josh-Lyn Logan, 3.
The children were apparently struck by a southbound tractor-trailer commercial carrier driven by Gerald Sanders, 77.  Sanders was not injured.
Latoya Taylor, 26, the mother of the children was found at the fatality scene when state troopers arrived, but she was not physically injured.
In an unrelated incident, at 8:53 AM state troopers responded to a call from a motorist reporting a young child had been dropped from a moving vehicle along the westbound lanes of Interstate 30 near the 117 mile marker in Saline County.
The child, believed to be approximately 2 years-old, died after troopers were on the scene and awaiting emergency medical care to arrive.
The child, believed to be approximately 2 years-old, died after troopers were on the scene and awaiting emergency medical care to arrive.
CID special agents are questioning witnesses in each case.   Agents have been in contact with prosecuting attorneys in both local jurisdictions and will submit criminal case files for consideration whether to file formal charges in the deaths. 
No arrests have been made in either case at this time.



COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING SEPTEMBER 17TH IN CAMDEN TO BE PROVIDED BY UAMS
WHAT: A community drive-up testing clinic for COVID-19 will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
WHO: UAMS nurses and volunteers.
WHEN: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. - Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

WHERE:  Cullendale First Baptist Church, 1850 Cash Road SW. 

 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, September 17th at Noon at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Jenny Sanders from SAU Tech’s Scholars Program.

You are required to wear a mask was 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 temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.

ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION RELEASES EDUCATIONAL VIDEO OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION IN HONOR OF CONSTITUTION DAY
The Arkansas Bar Association (ArkBar) is releasing a video today to help educate Arkansas students and the public about the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law in the United States in honor of Constitution Day. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The video can be found at ArkBar’s youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbUlw0GDHb0.

The Legal Related Education Committee of ArkBar presents this Constitution Day video, explaining the legal system, how it works, and the rule of law. This video describes the basic framework of the legal system today, details the basic rights guaranteed by our Constitution and provides an overview of the three branches of government.

The Constitution Day video is moderated by UCA Professor Anthony McMullen. McMullen said he hopes the video “will help students better understand their role as citizens, future voters, and the future leaders of this great country.”

ArkBar President Paul Keith of Monticello said that ArkBar believes that educating students and the public about our Constitution is important work. “Just over 230 years ago a very grand experiment began. For the first time in modern history, a government was founded on a unique proposition that the power of the government came from the people and not from a king. For the first time in modern history the people stood up and told its government ‘your power comes from us. We are in charge.’ For you to understand and access the power that you have, you need to know more. So, we pause today to understand the voice of your power–the United States Constitution.”

Presenters include the Honorable Dan Kemp, Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the Honorable Courtney Hudson, Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court; the Honorable Mary McGowan, Circuit Judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit Court; Senator Kim Hammer; Theresa Beiner, Dean of the UA Little Rock Bowen School of Law; Tamera Deaver, Assistant Public Defender for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Chad Cumming, attorney at Gill, Ragon, Owen, P.A.; Chris Hussein, chair of the Young Lawyers Division & attorney at Legal Aid of Arkansas; and Beverly Brister, chair of the Legal Related Education Super Committee.

About the Arkansas Bar Association
Founded in 1898, the Arkansas Bar Association is the premier legal association in the state. As a voluntary organization of more than 5,000 members, the Association’s primary mission is to support attorneys; advance the practice of law; advocate for the legal profession; foster professionalism, civility, and integrity; and protect the rule of law.

 
 

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the state now has the needed supplies for 12,000 antigen tests that will be available at some schools, rural hospitals, and county health units, including Mena.


The Governor reported that 139 "probable" deaths would be added to the total deaths in Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson announced 17 additional deaths during a COVID-19 Taskforce press conference held Tuesday afternoon. That raises the total since the start of the outbreak to 1,003. 

Hutchinson and state health experts announced the state was creating a new category of deaths in which COVID-19 is listed as a probable - but not confirmed - cause. The new figure includes an additional 139 Arkansans who are believed to have died from the virus. Dr. Mike Cima, chief epidemiologist for the Arkansas Department of Health, explained the new category.

Hutchinson updated the state on the level of antigen testing supplies available. After hitting a shortfall in those supplies, the state now has enough tests to cover two months of expected need. Those point-of-care tests are rapid and available at all county health units across Arkansas. These testing kits are primarily directed for use in educational facilities to allow the quick identification and isolation of COVID-19 cases.

In review, the state confirmed an additional 676 cases over the previous 24 hours for a new total of 70,125.

The governor's COVID-19 updates are no longer being held daily but now on a weekly basis. We'll continue to keep you updated on future addresses and any other developments that occur.

This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. They will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 214
Total Active Cases: 33
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Total Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 4822

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 801
Total Active Cases: 58
Total Recovered Cases: 717
Total Deaths: 25
Total Tests: 8448

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 345
Total Active Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 299
Total Deaths: 18
Total Tests: 4218

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 2

Total Tests: 1894

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 29
Total Active Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 24
Total Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,368

Arkansas Tests: 835,335
Arkansas Negative Tests: 764,352
Arkansas Positive Tests: 70,983
Arkansas Recovered: 63,601
Arkansas Deaths: 992

USA Cases: 6,557,802
USA Recoveries: 2,474,570
USA Deaths: 194,674

Global Cases: 29,323,347
Global Recoveries: 19,898,806
Global Deaths: 929,444
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

To view the weekly briefing for September 15, 2020, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/bqd4Bx1NbLI

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

DRIVE THROUGH FLU SHOT CLINIC TO BE HELD AT THE OUACHITA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
There will be a Drive through Flu Shot Clinic on September 21st from 8 am to 4:30 at the Ouachita County Health Department located at 740 California in Camden. Drive around to back of the Clinic. You will not have to exit your vehicle. Please bring your insurance, Medicare or Medicaid card with you. There is no cost for the vaccine even if you do not have insurance.   Call 836-5033 for more information. There will be a flu form on a table in front of the Health Department if you wish to pick one up ahead of time and have it filled out. You can also find one at www.yesradioworks.com to download and print.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas.

BOOZMAN, CARDIN CALL FOR IDENTIFYING GLOBAL CRISIS IN EDUCATION DUE TO COVID-19
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have introduced legislation that would help identify the scope of one of the most significant secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic: education loss. School closures stemming from this global health crisis have affected over 1 billion students around the world and, according to a recent study by Save the Children, about 10 million students are in danger of permanently dropping out of school due to rising poverty related to the pandemic.

“Understanding the impact COVID-19 has on the education of children around the world is important to our long-term investment in international education programs. Having detailed information about these current challenges will help us innovate the delivery of academic opportunities so students can continue to receive a quality education when faced with unexpected circumstances. I appreciate Senator Cardin’s leadership to ensure no student is left behind,” Boozman said. 

“Education loss due to the pandemic is going to reverberate throughout the globe long after COVID-19 is contained, and its impact will be more than empty classrooms. It has the potential to fuel hunger, poverty, and violence while undermining equality, especially for girls and young women, as well as stability all over the world. We have a responsibility to mitigate this crisis before an entire generation is left behind,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees human rights and global women’s issues.    

Serious educational gaps that existed before COVID-19 are being exacerbated as schools have been forced by the pandemic to transition to remote learning or close completely. Children and youth who were already vulnerable including girls and young women, refugees and those with disabilities are likely to be the worst impacted by this loss of access to education. The Global Learning Loss Assessment Act notes the major economic and humanitarian implications of this learning loss, as well as the significant shortage of global financing for international education programs that is predicted. It highlights the need for the United States to promote inclusive learning opportunities, help strengthen education systems and support the return of children to school across the globe.

The bill would require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit a report within 90 days to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the impact of COVID-19 on global learning and basic education programs. It requires the report to be made publicly available and to include: 

an assessment of the magnitude of global learning loss,
an analysis of how school closures affect marginalized children,
descriptions of forms of distance learning in low resource contexts,
data on Agency programs being carried out to continue learning during the pandemic, and 
a description of the resources USAID needs to support education programs during and after the pandemic.
Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  

“We cannot overstate the profound impact COVID-19 is having on education across the world,” said Houlahan. “This education gap has the potential to hinder global efforts on economic justice, lasting peace, poverty eradication, ending world hunger, gender equity and more. As a steadfast advocate for women and girls around the world, I’m particularly concerned about the harrowing consequences school-aged girls face in light of school closures – including an increased likelihood of gender-based violence. I am glad to be leading a bicameral effort with colleagues from across the aisle to ensure we in the United States are doing everything we can to mitigate the effects of such an education gap and stand up for the world’s youth.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has affected every corner of US government, including foreign aid and development. USAID’s mission is vital to America’s international relationship building. Congress needs a thorough understanding of how the pandemic has impacted that mission if we hope to continue our global basic education  programs successfully in the future,” said Quigley and Fitzpatrick. “USAID providing Congress with a report is the first step to developing that understanding and supporting USAID effectively moving forward.”

SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
The following numbers were reported by the Arkansas Department of Health this morning.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 212
Total Active Cases: 39
Total Recovered Cases: 168
Total Deaths: 5
Total Tests: 4757

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 796
Total Active Cases: 60
Total Recovered Cases: 710
Total Deaths: 25
Total Tests: 8148

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 339
Total Active Cases: 27
Total Recovered Cases: 295
Total Deaths: 17
4185 total tests

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 2

Total Tests: 1880

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 28
Total Active Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 24
Total Deaths: 0
Total Tests: 1,356

Arkansas Tests: 829,087
Arkansas Negative Tests: 758,511

Arkansas Positive Tests: 70,576
USA Cases: 6,521,887
USA Recoveries: 2,451,406
USA Deaths: 194,107
Global Cases: 29,053,724
Global Recoveries: 19,652,377
Global Deaths: 924,953
*All USA and Global data provided by Johns Hopkins University

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

CAMDEN MAN KILLED IN SATURDAY MORNING CRASH
Saturday morning, September 12th at approximately 7:41 am Billy Ray Porchia, Jr., 39 of Camden was killed in a single vehicle accident according to the Arkansas State Police. Porchia was traveling East on Highway 24 in a 2005 Honda when he failed to maintain control of the vehicle, He crossed the center line and over-steered to the right causing the vehicle to skid and enter the eastbound roadside. The vehicle struck a tree and rotated counterclockwise causing the driver to be ejected before coming to rest. The weather was clear and the road was dry. 425 people have died on Arkansas Highways this year.

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING SEPTEMBER 17TH IN CAMDEN
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sept. 17 at Cullendale First Baptist Church, 1850 Cash Road SW in Camden. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, Cullendale First Baptist Church, the Blue and You Foundation and Bank of America Foundation.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING AFTER BODY FOUND IN LEWISVILLE HOME
SEPTEMBER 12, 2020
Authorities within the Lewisville (Lafayette County) Police Department have requested the Arkansas State Police to investigate an apparent homicide following the discovery of a woman’s  body inside a home at 915 West 3rd Street.

The body has been identified as that of Kira Bradley, 45, of Lewisville.  Local police officers found the body inside a bedroom of the residence shortly before noon yesterday (Friday, September 11th) and contacted state police a short time later.

Two suspects, an El Dorado man and a Lewisville woman, have been taken into custody by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police.

Bradley’s body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the cause and manner of death will be determined following an autopsy.

Agents are preparing an investigative file to be turned-over to the Lafayette County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether criminal charges will be filed against the suspects.

 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Lisa Pickett from the Camden Library. She will give an update on what the library is doing during the pandemic.

 
 

September 11, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson was introduced at the last of the daily COVID-19 briefings, held in Mena but closed to the public, by Mena Mayor Seth Smith.

 opened the daily briefing today with remarks about the 19th anniversary of the 9-11-01 attacks on the USA. He also commented about the beautiful UARM campus.

The last meeting did not start on a high note, however, with Hutchinson reporting the highest number of confirmed new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. Cases over the past 24 hours grew by 1,107, raising the state's total to 67,911. It was disappointing news considering the relatively low and encouraging case growth this week. The record was previously set on Sept. 4 when state officials confirmed 1,094 additional cases. Hutchinson did add some nuance to the numbers announced on Friday.
Arkansas' seven-day rolling average shows the median daily growth rate is around 500 cases. Other figures updated on Friday showed no net increase of hospitalizations. Currently 392 Arkansans are hospitalized by illness caused by COVID-19, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. Deaths increased by 13 to 953. The state performed over 7,100 tests over the previous 24 hours. Confirmed active cases of the virus currently number approximately 5,700. Recoveries total more than 61,000. 

Hutchinson addressed national reporting in relation to a recent study from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. This study linked dining out to the spread of COVID-19. Hutchinson said he and state health officials did not see that correlation in Arkansas' data. That data, as well as statewide contact tracing efforts, suggested Arkansans carrying COVID-19 were several times more likely to visit a retail environment than a restaurant.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
1,185 new cases (1,107 PCR and 78 antigen)
67,911 cumulative cases (12.9% from colleges and universities)
5,713 active cases
13 new deaths
953 total deaths
577 new recoveries
61,245 total recoveries
0 new hospitalizations
392 currently hospitalized
76 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
7,801 tests yesterday
459 antigen tests yesterday with 78 positive or 20.5%.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more new cases were Pulaski with 105, Washington with 91, Craighead with 61, Benton with 52, Sebastian with 51, Jefferson with 47, Crawford with 35, Faulkner with 25, Garland with 24, and Carroll with an unspecified number but 20 or more.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 189 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 152 recovered, 5 deaths, and 4438 negative tests. Union County shows 755 positive cases with 40 active positive cases, 690 recovered, 25 deaths and 7524 negative tests. Columbia County shows 323 positive cases with 21 active positive cases, 286 recovered, 16 deaths and 3781 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 141 positive cases with 23 active positives, 116 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1584 negative tests. Calhoun County had 26 positive cases with 3 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1295 negative tests. These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,417,186 cumulative cases, 2,403,511 recoveries, and 192,381 deaths.
Globally there has been 28,268,970 cumulative cases, 19,048,042 recoveries, and 911,282 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/-hDdiFr2BMA

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Hutchinson will provide another statewide update on Tuesday. We'll provide you with information from that press conference as well as any other developments. 

OUACHITA COUNTY FAIR GEARING UP FOR 2020 CELEBRATION OF “WE’VE GOT A GOOD THING GROWING”, SEPTEMBER 23-26 IN CAMDEN, AR.
Camden AR - The 2020 Ouachita County Fair will kick off 4 days of fun on Sept. 23-26 once again held at the Ouachita County Recreational Center (Former Boys & Girls Club Facility) at 2708 Mt Holly Rd. Camden, AR 71701.

Join us at the Ouachita County Recreational Center to support the youth of our community who are involved in 4-H and FFA programs. We will have all the things you love and expect from our county fair. Cows. Chickens. Goats. Hogs. Cotton Candy and Funnel Cakes. Plus there will be exhibits showcasing all our local talent, everything from preserved fruits and vegetables, baked items, hand crafted quilts, crafts, photography, and much, much more.

New addition to the fair this year will be a Gospel Concert by the Jordan Family Band on Saturday, Sept 19th, 7:00p.m.$5.00 admission. Please bring your lawn chairs.

Due to Covid-19 and regulations from Department of Health, there will be no carnival this year. However, we will serve fair food on Friday night. The fairboard will prepare your favorite caramel apples, funnel cakes, cotton candy and other fair favorites. There is no admission fee to purchase food.

Whatever your interests, the Ouachita County Fair has something that’s sure to excite your imagination, tickle your taste buds, or spark your imagination.

COST:
Admission – $5.00
Parking – Free!

EVENTS & ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE:
SATURDAY, SEPT. 19
Concert: The Jordan Family Band
Satruday Night Sept. 19th at 7pm
$5.00 admission
Bring your lawn chair, and enjoy the music!

MONDAY & TUESDAY
5pm – 8pm Enter creative arts @ Shaddock Gym

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 23
Sheep & Goat Show
6:00pm
$5.00 admission
Merge Youth Rally
7:00pm All churches are invited.
Speaker is Ryan Huffty from Cullendale First Baptist
Hot Dog & Drink $1.00
$3.00 gate admission

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
Beef & Swine Show
6:00pm
$5.00 admission

FRIDAY, SEPT. 25
Premium Sale Lunch, served in to-go trays
11:30am
Premium Sale
12:00pm
Beginning at 5:00 the fair board will sell fair food (Caramel Apples, Funnel Cakes, Cotton Candy, Sno-Cones) Along with other items. No admission to purchase food. All food will be served in to-go trays.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
Cornhole Tournament
Competition will begin at 9:00am
$40.00 per team
Craft Vendors
10:00am-3:00pm
Kid’s Hands on Activities
12:00pm-2:00pm
Talent Contest “Next Big Thing”
Winner in every age division will win a plaque
Sign-ups will begin at 6:00p.m.
Entry fee $25.00
Admission is $5.00
The audience will be the judge.

 

STATE POLICE COMMISSION APPROVES SERGEANT PROMOTION
Arkansas State Trooper First Class Ryne Shelton, 30, of Pike County, was promoted to the rank of sergeant today during a meeting of the Arkansas State Police Commission.  The recommendation for promotion was made by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and approved by the commissioners.
Sergeant Shelton is a six year veteran of the department and has accepted a new assignment as a post supervisor in the Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, headquartered at Hope.
Prior to the promotion, Sergeant Shelton was assigned to patrol duties in Pike County where served in the Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs.

ARKANSAS DELEGATION ANNOUNCES MAJOR DOT AWARDS FOR US 67 & RAILROAD OVERPASS IN MONTICELLO
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 Transportation (DOT) has awarded $10 million for improvements to U.S. Highway 67 northeast of Little Rock and $4 million for the construction of a railroad overpass in Monticello.

DOT awarded a $10 million grant from the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which will be used to widen U.S. Highway 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. This grant follows a $40 million award the project received from DOT’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program in June.

“This is great news for Arkansas, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make U.S. Highway 67 an interstate-quality road. This funding will bring us closer to completing ‘Future I-57,” which is key for making the communities around it even more attractive places to live, work or start a business,” delegation members said.

An additional $4 million BUILD grant was awarded by DOT for the construction of a railroad overpass on the north-south connector from U.S. Highway 278 to the Arkansas Highway 83 Spur in Monticello. The project will create better access to emergency health care and improve the overall safety of the route by allowing a safe bypass of the rail tracks for vehicular traffic. 

“Growth in Monticello has led to congestion and safety challenges, specifically on the north-south connector which is used to access critical medical care. Fortunately, officials from the city and Drew County have a plan to alleviate these concerns. This BUILD grant will help supplement local investment to add an overpass to the north-south connector so vehicular traffic can move in a safe and timely manner,” delegation members said.

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

“This Administration is making significant investments in infrastructure, and this $1 billion in BUILD grants will repair, rebuild and revitalize transportation systems across America,” said Secretary Chao.

“We are grateful for President Trump and Secretary Chao’s continued commitment to the infrastructure needs of our state,” delegation members said.
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON DEMOCRATS’ FILIBUSTER OF TARGETED COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement following Senate Democrats’ filibuster of targeted coronavirus relief legislation that would offer further support to American families, workers, small businesses, schools and front line health care workers:

“Today’s vote is a disappointing development that leaves behind too many Americans in need in the name of partisanship. This targeted relief bill would have offered critical assistance to our communities, families, schools, small businesses and individuals in ways that most Republicans and Democrats actually agree. Instead of delivering a result, our Democratic colleagues chose to block progress on this package while also refusing to negotiate on any realistic solutions that stand a chance of becoming law.

“I’m certain the frustration I feel about this lack of cooperation is shared by Arkansans and others across the country still feeling the coronavirus’ impact and desperately looking for Congress to unite, like we did at the beginning of the pandemic, to provide relief.”
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON SEPTEMBER 11TH
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:
“Nineteen years ago, Al Qaeda terrorists attacked our country because they thought we were cowardly and weak. They learned that day how wrong they were, as Americans responded to the horror of September 11 with remarkable bravery and resolve. Office workers carried their colleagues to safety through choking smoke and ash. First responders raced into harm’s way to save others—many never to return, like the heroic firefighters of Ladder 118. And just weeks later, America’s finest troops touched down in Afghanistan to take the fight to the enemy. America will never forget these heroes, just as we’ll never forget the many Americans who perished in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field on September 11.”

 

COTTON APPOINTED TO OPIOID COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has been appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking. Created by Senators Cotton and Schumer in their Fentanyl Sanctions Act—which was passed as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act—the Commission is tasked with developing a strategy to stop the flow of synthetic opioids into the United States.

"Synthetic opioids are produced in countries like China and then shipped to the United States, where the drugs kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. We need a comprehensive strategy to shut down this deadly trade, and I’m honored to be chosen by Leader McConnell for this assignment,” said Cotton.

Background:
The Commission comprises the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; Administrator of the DEA; Secretary of Homeland Security; Secretary of Defense; Secretary of the Treasury; Secretary of State; Director of National Intelligence; and two members each (one who is a member of their respective chamber of Congress and one who is not) appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House, and House Minority Leader.

Senators Cotton and Markey were appointed to fill the member slots.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner

September 11, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Before this year, the legislature had already laid the groundwork for expansions of broadband capability in education and health care.

In response to the changing needs of schools and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, legislators have accelerated the pace of projects that expand broadband access in rural Arkansas and in small towns.

Thanks in large part to funding in the federal CARES Act, state officials have been able to beef up wireless capacity throughout Arkansas.

CARES is an acronym that stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. It was approved by Congress and signed by the president in March to offset the financial impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Arkansas is to receive about $1.25 billion in total from the act, which made possible funding of $25 million for broadband. That amount was increased in August by $100 million.

As a result of legislative action last week, more businesses, such as electric cooperatives, now are eligible to participate in the Arkansas Rural Connect program. Already, internet service providers, such as telephone companies, could join the program.

The legislative action made the rules of the program more flexible in another important category – the population threshold needed for eligibility. Previously, a community had to have at least 500 people in order to qualify for a grant, but many isolated communities had difficulty reaching that threshold. After the legislative rules change, they can now apply for a grant.

The rules change was approved by the Legislative Council’s Executive Subcommittee and implemented by the state Commerce Department. The benefits of the change are numerous. All companies with the capability can now work with local governments to expand Internet access within their boundaries. Municipalities that own their own utility service are also included. More rural communities qualify for the grants. Expanding access to broadband allows telemedicine, distance learning and working from home.

The goal of the Arkansas Rural Connect program is to help areas that lack Internet, and areas where Internet service is unreliably slow and inconsistent.

The legislature had already laid the foundation for expansion of Internet services across Arkansas with the passage of Act 198 of 2019. It revised the complex regulatory process governing telecommunications, to allow more entities to become Internet providers.

The Arkansas Rural Connect program is just one of several state efforts to expand Internet access. The state Education Department is spending $10 million to buy 20,000 devices that create “hot spots.”

In addition, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is administering a $2 million grant program for rural communities to expand Internet. It helps them pay for the costs of applying for grants, which can be considerable.

Government aid is available for areas that lack Internet service, but in order to demonstrate a lack of service the community has to conduct an accurate survey. Very few small towns have budgeted money for conducting surveys.

A goal of the UAMS grants, known as Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grants, is to fill that need and help small communities pay for the documentation and preparation needed to successfully gain grants. The program was created by Act 139 of 2020.

September 10, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing today by announcing that Friday, September 11th would be the last of the daily COVID-19 Briefings. The final daily briefing will be held in Mena. Arkansas' COVID-19 Taskforce will continue to host updates on a weekly basis or when needed. Hutchinson has held the update daily each weekday for the past 143 days, with just one day in which the press conference was not held. He said the press conference has been a useful method of getting the latest COVID-related information to Arkansans.

The Governor also noted that today was Suicide Prevention Day. For help, dial 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.. Special services are available for veterans.  Dr. Jose Romero stressed Arkansans to use the state's hotline if they're suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts. 
Arkansas health officials aren't yet calling it a trend, but the state's COVID-19 case load saw another consecutive day of relatively low growth on Thursday. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 398 new cases during his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Thursday afternoon. That raises the state's cumulative total to 66,804 since the start of the pandemic. 

Other figures were encouraging as well, with 19 less Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours. That leaves less than 400 in medical facilities in the state - the lowest figure in months. Over 4,900 tests were performed with a positivity rate of 8.3 percent. Deaths from the virus raised moderately by 12 to a total of 940.

Hutchinson said a number of factors may be playing into the lower number of new cases reported this week. He said Arkansans have been taking the virus seriously and largely following health guidelines, especially as the new school year approached. A much higher testing level has also helped the state health officials detect and isolate cases, Hutchinson added.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
398 new cases plus 70 antigen cases (468 total)
66,804 cumulative cases
12 new deaths (no clustering, 3 delayed reporting, 3 nursing homes, 1 prison)
940 total deaths
392 currently hospitalized (down 19 from yesterday)
79 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
4,900 PCR tests the past 24 hours (8.3% +)
430 antigen tests the past 24 hours with (70 + or 15.4% +)
5,196 active cases
60,668 recoveries (up 748 from yesterday).

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Pulaski with 72, Washington with 37, Jefferson with 33, and Craighead with an unspecified number.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 186 positive cases with 31 active positive cases, 150 recovered, 5 deaths, and 4424 negative tests. Union County shows 748 positive cases with 42 active positive cases, 681 recovered, 25 deaths and 7515 negative tests. Columbia County shows 321 positive cases with 21 active positive cases, 284 recovered, 16 deaths and 3766 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 139 positive cases with 22 active positives, 115 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1559 negative tests. Calhoun County had 25 positive cases with 2 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1292 negative tests.
These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,377,540 cumulative cases, 2,387,479 recoveries, and 191,360 deaths.
Globally there has been 27,962,101 cumulative cases, 18,820,738 recoveries, and 905,470 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/2rdH2bARGFM

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

In review, new cases saw a relatively lower increase on Thursday by 398 to 66,804. Hospitalizations decreased by 19 to 392 while deaths increased by 12 to 940. Arkansans who have recovered from COVID-19 number around 60,000. Active cases saw another decrease, dropping to less than 5,200. 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN SIGNS POLICE PLEDGE: REITERATES OPPOSITION TO 'DEFUND THE POLICE' MOVEMENT
Says, Defund the Police 'is a dangerous ideology,' and Arkansas law enforcement officers 'do incredible work'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin announced today he has signed the Police Pledge organized by Heritage Action for America. The pledge states that Griffin stands with America's police and will oppose any bill, resolution, or movement to "Defund the Police." After signing the pledge, Griffin relesed the following statement:  

"Whether it's in Minneapolis, Portland, or anywhere else, the 'Defund the Police' movement is a dangerous ideology that threatens the safety of our communities across America. As long as I'm in a position of leadership, I will oppose any effort to 'Defund the Police'. Arkansas's law enforcement officers do incredible work and risk their own safety in order to keep our communities safe, and I am grateful for their commitment to serve and protect."
 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT TO HOST MEET THE DISTRICT VIRTUAL OPEN HOUSE
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will host its inaugural Meet the District Virtual Open House Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon.

The event will provide large and small business representatives; university, community college and vocational school administrators; political and community leaders; and members of the public with the opportunity to learn about the district's mission as well as its career and business opportunities. Virtual attendees will be able to connect and network with key district staff members and subject matter experts as well as potential partners in the public and private sectors.

Attendees can learn more about the event and register at the following link: https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mvk.usace.army.mil%2FAbout%2FOpen-House&data=02%7C01%7C%7C18a92a8c2a33411a927408d854fe2d28%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637352798007853886&sdata=HzjO5nF%2FJMAXR5Kwm644FuUSo2IKMLGRf5VZd5SrcF8%3D&reserved=0. The deadline to register is Oct. 5.

District offices that will be represented at the event include Engineering and Construction, Programs and Project Management, Operations, Regulatory, Channel Improvement, Architect and Engineer (A&E) Services, Natural Resources Management, Small Business, Contracting, Logistics, Resource Management and Accounting, Equal Employment Opportunity, Real Estate, Human Resources, Office of the Chief Information Officer and Office of Counsel.

The event is part of the USACE Mississippi Valley Division's Business Opportunities Open House initiative, which aims to increase industrial and community awareness of USACE's missions as well as opportunities and requirements to become involved in those missions. Each of the division's six districts - St. Paul, Rock Island, St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans - are slated to host their respective inaugural open houses this year. The Vicksburg District's original open house was scheduled for March but canceled due to the pandemic.

USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard will provide opening remarks and welcome all virtual attendees.

"We are excited to host this virtual open house and provide attendees from a diverse range of industries, disciplines and backgrounds with a better understanding of the Vicksburg District's mission," said Hilliard. "Developing strong relationships with industry, academia and the community is critical to efficiently and effectively serve the people within our area of responsibility. My team and I look forward to meeting attendees and discussing how we can collaborate to better serve the needs of the public."

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 Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
 

DR. SCOTT WHITE NAMED HONOR PROFESSOR AT SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY; OTHER FACULTY AWARDS PRESENTED
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University honored the outstanding achievements of its faculty during a virtual assembly held last month.

Dr. Scott White, associate professor of chemistry and director of the SAU STEM Center for K-12 Education, was named the 2020 Honor Professor. White accepted the ceremonial University Mace from Dr. Kenneth Green, outgoing Honor Professor.

White received his B.S. and Secondary Education Certification from Harding University and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He started his career at SAU in August 2000. 

Honor Professor, the highest accolade bestowed upon faculty at SAU, recognizes faculty members who are excellent in the areas of teaching, research and service.

White commented, “To be nominated and vetted by my peers for this award is incredibly humbling. This is a very special moment for me and my family.”

White has taught thousands of students in physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and freshman level chemistry courses and labs. He is a past recipient of the Calvin Wetzig Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and a Spirit of SAU Award. He previously served as chair for the Department of Chemistry and Physics and helped facilitate the growth of the separate departments of Biochemistry & Chemistry and Engineering & Physics. White has also served on numerous academic and University committees including two terms each as secretary, vice president and president of the SAU Faculty Senate. He is a board member of the Mulerider Club and enjoys helping serve as a scoreboard operator and announcer for Mulerider Athletics and Magnolia Panther Athletics.

White has directed the annual Southwest Regional Science Fair at SAU for many years as Director of the STEM Center for K-12 Education. He is a strong advocate for outreach to local schools in SAU’s service area and has assisted and conducted hundreds of hours of professional development workshops for K-12 teachers in collaboration with many specialists, colleagues and friends.   

Other faculty receiving awards at the event included:
Whitney Gass, assistant professor of criminal justice, received the Calvin U. Wetzig Teaching Award.
Dr. Md Islam, assistant professor of engineering, received the Research Excellence Award.
Dr. Connie Wilson, assistant professor of education, received the Auburn P. Smith Service Award.
Dr. Hong Cheng, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, received the Robert B. Walz Teaching Excellence Award.

Faculty members receiving Service Awards for five years were: Stacy Allen, Rami Alroobi, Kjarsten Carlson-Drexler, Theresa Dugger, Dr. Alice Fanning, Kimberly Graham, Dr. Lionel Hewavitharana, Md Karim, Vanda Terrell, Suzy Toms; 10 years: Jamie Boyd, Dr. Lynn DiPier, Dr. Neelie Dobbins, Justin Pettigrew, Dr. Alec Testa, George White, Megan Whitehead, Tim Servis; 15 years: Dr. Charles Young, Dr. Roger Guevara, Dr. Bernadette Fincher; 20 years: Dr. Hong Cheng, Dr. Tim Schroeder, Laura Shirey, Scot Stout, J.P. Wilson, Dr. Scott White; 30 years: Steve Dingman, Japhet Makia; 40 years: Dr. Ed Kardas.


MEMBERS OF SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY’S PROFESSIONAL AND SUPPORT STAFF RECEIVE AWARDS IN VIRTUAL PRESENTATIONMAGNOLIA -- Members of Southern Arkansas University’s non-teaching professional and support staff were recognized for excellence and years of service during a virtual meeting hosted by Dr. Trey Berry, president, on August 6, 2020.

Receiving the Mary Anna King Whitehead Support Staff Excellence Awards were Eunice Walker (professional) and Phyllis Austin (support). Walker is director of Student Support Services and Austin is a fiscal support technician. The Mary Anna King Whitehead Awards are the highest honors given to SAU staff each year and recognize those who have achieved an outstanding level of professionalism and performance.

Marcela McRae-Brunson, director of financial aid, received the Alvin and Irene Brannon Staff Diversity Excellence Award. This award was established by the SAU Diversity Initiative Task Force and recognizes a staff member each year who has contributed to promoting, supporting, and improving diversity and inclusion as a core component of valuing people at SAU.

Those receiving the SAU Spirit Awards this year included: Drew Glover, director of online learning; Amanda Hanson, director of Health Services; Shelly Pletcher, University Health Services; Cami Riggins, University Health Services; Jonni Carter, University Health Services; Brian Logan, assistant professor of economics; Dr. Abraham Tucker, biology department chair; Dr. Daniel McDermott, assistant professor of biology; Rhaelene Lowther, assistant professor of art and design; and Dr. Jingyang Huang, assistant professor of HKR. The Spirit of SAU Award revives the tradition of honoring staff who exhibit exemplary Mulerider spirit.

Staff receiving Service Awards for 10 years were: Sheryl Edwards, Victor Duke, Amy Plummer; 30 years: Gary O’Dell, Dr. Donna Allen; 40 years: Sam Biley, Pam Riggins.
 

SAAC TO HOST AN "ARKANSAS" CORKS AND CANVAS WORKHOP
It's not too late to register for the September virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas hosted by well-known local artist Gary Hall! Entitled "Come Home to Arkansas," this fun and different kind of class will be held on September 17 at 6:00pm. Designed to be completed by each artist at home, the class's only requirements are that you clear a spot on your kitchen table, open your computer to Zoom, and get ready to have some fun with friends. The workshop fee is only $30. Participants are limited to 10.
Corks and Canvas classes are a fun way for beginning artists-even those who have never painted before-to learn to paint without any pressure. The classes are a great way to have fun and dabble in something new. The results may surprise you!
Hall will be leading students through the creation of an Arkansas-themed painting during the class. Each painter can customize their piece to suit their taste. "It's good for us all to keep a positive outlook, and art keeps us in touch with our creative side," said Hall. "Creating something can be just as big a boost as physical working out. It's all about expressing yourself. It's also a way to support SAAC and keep things fun and fresh during the pandemic."
Hall, who has led many Corks and Canvas classes, has exhibited his work in many SAAC shows, as well as his solo exhibition in 2017. He relishes the challenge of teaching a Zoom class. "My life has been one big ZOOM meeting since COVID started," said Hall. "I use ZOOM or other teleconferencing programs on an almost-daily basis. It's changing how we teach and disseminate information."
All of the art supplies you need to create the watercolor project will be available at SAAC the week before. Curbside pickup is available on request. You get to keep the watercolor set, the brushes, extra paper, and any other surprises that you find in your supply bag.
For more information on this Corks and Canvas class or to sign up, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website, saac-arts.org, where you will find a link to the registration portal. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.



SENATOR COTTON HONORED TO BE ON SUPREME COURT LIST
Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) was named as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee by President Trump. After the announcement, Senator Cotton released the following statement:

“I’m honored that President Trump asked me to consider serving on the Supreme Court and I’m grateful for his confidence. I will always heed the call of service to our nation. The Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law, which the Court does when it invents a right to an abortion, infringes on religious freedom, and erodes the Second Amendment.”
 

COTTON, LOEFFLER INTRODUCE BILL PACKAGE CRACKING DOWN ON RIOTERS
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) have introduced a series of bills intended to crack down on the rioters ransacking America’s cities.

(1) The No Catch-and-Release for Rioters Act: creates a rebuttable presumption that a person charged with rioting should be held pending trial;

(2) The Rioting Restitution Act: creates a federal, private, civil cause of action against rioters who meet the federal definition of rioting, with treble damages allowed;

(3) The Support Peaceful Protest Act: makes federally-convicted rioters ineligible for virus-related supplemental unemployment benefits.

“Under lenient leftist policies, insurrectionists around the country continue to pillage America’s communities. It’s past time we cracked down on their destructive actions. My legislation will incapacitate these rioters to prevent further destruction and increase their penalties, making the punishment fit their crimes,” said Cotton.

“American cities, businesses and livelihoods are being destroyed as a result of violent rioters and looters,” said Loeffler. “Enough is enough. The violence must stop, and it’s time to hold these criminals and vandals accountable. This is a strong package of bills that puts us one step closer to ensuring our communities are safe and secure.”  

September 09, 2020 Delayed Due to internet Outage

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Social distancing was practiced and face coverings were required.

Mayor Julian Lott was absent so Assistant to the Mayor, Amy Perrin led the meeting. Perrin called the meeting to order promptly at 7:00 pm. The Invocation was given by Pastor Gwen Edwards from Set Free Ministries followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

City Clerk, Donna Stewart, called the roll. Aldermen Chris Aregood, Joe Askew, L.E. Lindsey, Marvin Moore and Alderwoman Irene Galbert were in attendance. Aldermen Chip Simmons, Terry Smith and James Bell were absent. This meant that Ordinances could not be voted on as they require a super majority or 2/3rd of the Board voting. Resolutions were heard and passes as they only require a simple majority.

Ordinance No. 16-20, an ordinance authorizing the issuance of Water & Sewer Refunding Revenue Bonds; providing for the payment of the principal of and interest on the bonds; prescribing other matters relating thereto; and declaring an emergency was the first item on the agenda. A 2.07% rate had been gotten for the city but that was only good for 24 hours. By reissuing the two bonds at the lower interest rate the City will save over $300,000.00 dollars over the course of the bonds. Since a super majority was not present, the board could not vote on it.

The Ordinance was put at the bottom of the agenda in hopes one of the absent aldermen could get to City Hall so it could be voted on. That was not to happen so a Special Meeting was set for Wednesday evening at 4:30 pm. Later that time was moved to 5:30 pm. Wednesday evening the Council met. The Ordinance was voted on and passed unanimously.

All of the ordinances below had the first reading. They will be back on next month’s agenda for a second reading.
Ordinance No. 17-20, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19-86 (Camden Code Section 2-97.2) regarding the Airport Commission; and for other purposes 
Ordinance No. 18-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 526 Hawkins Street.
Ordinance No. 19-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 513 Chestnut Street NW
Ordinance No. 20-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 485 Hawkins Street.
Ordinance No. 21-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 474 California Avenue.
Ordinance No. 22-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 440 Maple Street SW.
Ordinance No. 23-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Maple Street SW.
Ordinance No. 24-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 407 North Street.
Ordinance No. 25-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 320 North Street.
Ordinance No. 26-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 536 Cleveland Ave. NW.
Ordinance No. 27-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 578 Cleveland Ave. NW.
Ordinance No. 28-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 698 Crestwood Ave. NW.
Ordinance No. 29-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1041 Elm Street.
Ordinance No. 30-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1333 Ronald Drive.
Ordinance No. 31-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1440 Ronald Drive.
Ordinance No. 32-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 2157 Avon Avenue.
Ordinance No. 33-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 810 Lucas Lane.
Ordinance No. 34-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 687 Agee Avenue NW.

Resolution No. 22-20, a resolution confirming the re-appointments of Clara Freeland and Lori DeWoody to the Advertising and Promotion Commission. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 23-20, a resolution amending the 2020 Budget of the City of Camden, Arkansas to fund street improvements. Motion was made and seconded. The Resolution passed unanimously.

 

AEROJET ROCKETDYNE SELECTED TO POWER NATION’S NEXT GENERATION STRATEGIC DETERRENT
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne will develop a large solid rocket motor and the post-boost propulsion system for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program as a key member of Northrop Grumman’s nationwide GBSD team. Northrop Grumman was selected by the Air Force as the prime contractor for GBSD’s Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase.

Aerojet Rocketdyne will leverage its decades of experience and broad range of capabilities to provide propulsion for the nation’s modernized nuclear deterrent.

“Aerojet Rocketdyne has a proud legacy of powering our nation’s strategic deterrent, and we look forward to building upon that legacy as part of Northrop Grumman’s nationwide GBSD team,” said Eileen P. Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “Our investments in state-of-the-art facilities and innovative technologies enable us to deliver advanced propulsion systems with improved performance at lower costs.”

The company’s propulsion has powered every U.S. Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) fielded. Aerojet Rocketdyne has invested significantly in advanced manufacturing capability and new facilities to provide cutting-edge and affordable propulsion solutions for critical next generation national security programs like GBSD.

One example of how Aerojet Rocketdyne has improved on decades of solid rocket motor propulsion is the company’s recent announcement of a successful demonstration of an advanced large solid rocket motor, whose design incorporates numerous advanced technologies and materials.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new Advanced Manufacturing Facility (AMF) in Huntsville, Alabama, and new Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) facility in Camden, Arkansas, were designed to provide more affordable large solid rocket motors for GBSD using modern and efficient manufacturing methods. The company has also made important investments in precision liquid rocket propulsion technology, including for GBSD’s post-boost propulsion system at its facility in Canoga Park, California. Additionally, Aerojet Rocketdyne is responsible for testing of post-boost system components for GBSD.

The 136,000-square-foot AMF will produce advanced propulsion products such as solid rocket motor cases for GBSD, as well as other hardware for key U.S. defense and space programs. The 17,000 square-foot large solid rocket motor EMD facility is the latest in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s ongoing expansion in Arkansas, where the company has long had a presence and currently produces more than 75,000 solid rocket motors per year.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s role on Northrop Grumman’s nationwide GBSD team builds on prior work supporting Northrop Grumman on strategic programs. In particular, Aerojet Rocketdyne has supported Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor responsible for sustaining Minuteman III. As the Original Equipment Manufacturer for the post-boost propulsion system, Aerojet Rocketdyne completed a service life extension in 2014 and continues to provide sustaining engineering support for that system to the U.S. Air Force today.

SAU’S CALLIE NEWSOM CLAIMS MULTIPLE AWARDS AT TRAP SHOOTING COMPETITION
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University trapshooting team member Callie Newsom hit it big at the 2020 AIM Grand National Championship August 2-4, in Linn Creek, Missouri. Newsom earned the titles of Junior Gold Handicap Champion, Junior Gold Lady Handicap Champion, Junior Gold Class B Singles Champion and High Lady Junior Gold Champion at the competition, which she attended and competed individually.

SAU’s trap shooting program began in the fall of 2019, long after Newsom had joined the SAU family. Newsom, from, Paragould, Arkansas, is a junior Animal Science major. “When I chose SAU, I knew that there was not a trap team, but during my freshman year, I heard that they were trying to start one,” said Newsom, who began the sport when she was 12 years old. “I started out trapshooting through the Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program (AYSSP), which was hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. My senior year of high school, I got more involved in trap shooting and joined the Amateur Trap Association.”

Newsom was a member of Greene County 4-H and was competitive in air pistol, air rifle, .22 pistol, .22 rifle, muzzleloader, and archery. She has qualified four times for the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in air pistol.

“Callie is the epitome of hard work and determination,” said Steve Crowell, coach for the 31-member trap team. “She didn’t let the challenges of the season stop her drive. She stepped up and, in head-to-head competition, beat out every other national shooter in her class and age divisions.”

The championship competition offered three events including 100 handicap targets, 50 doubles targets and 200 singles targets. Newsom was among 1,160 classified shooters, many of whom competed in more than one event. In the Handicap Championship, she shot a 99 out of 100 from the 20.5 yard line, landing her in a three-way tiebreaker competition. She won her age division. In the Doubles Championship, she shot an 81 out of 100. The third and final event was the 200 Singles Championship which was held over two days.

“We shot the first 100 and I was sitting in a pretty good spot with a 98 out of 100,” Newsom explained. “Then the next 100 was on the following day, and I shot another 98 out of 100 for a total of 196 out of 200.”

Though the score did not put her in the running for champion, she was still able to place in her age division and class, winning Junior Gold Class B Singles Champion. “I was placed in Class B because of my average going into the competition. I also won High Lady Junior Gold Champion, which was determined based on my scores from all three events,” Newsom said. “It felt amazing to receive these honors at this level of competition,” she shared. "For me, it's as much about having fun as it is about winning."

Crowell said that with these wins now under her belt, Newsom ranks among the best shooters in the nation. “We are proud to have her as a part of the SAU Trap Shooting Team,” he said, “and look forward to more competitions.”

In addition to the Trap Team, Newsom is a member of Sigma Alpha. She chose SAU because she loved the thought of being on a small campus that enjoys the support of the community.

“After visiting the campus, I knew this was where I wanted to go,” she said. “If someone is considering making SAU their university home, I would tell them they should visit the campus and be ready to gain the biggest support system because they will have support from the people on campus as well as in the community,” she said.

SAU’s Trap Team competed in February and each member qualified for the national competition which was to be held in March, but was cancelled due to COVID. The team continues to grow, with nine incoming freshman joining the team. Membership in the trap program is open to any interested SAU student. The team competes in the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Collegiate Clay Targeting Program and is preparing for the ACUI Virtual Shotgun Bowl Series which will consist of two month-long virtual events in September and October. For more information and to register interest in the program, visit www.saumag.edu/trapshooting.
 

PSC CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS THE COLOR OF LAW IN CAMDEN
FBI Color Of Law Presentation And Criminal Justice Career Pipeline Program
Tuesday – October 6, 2020                                          

Camden Business Incubator
625 S. Adams Avenue
Camden, AR 71701
To sign up please Call 870-837-5500 or 870-836-8811
Deadline to sign up is September 30, 2020

Date: October 6, 2020
Time: 10 am – 12 pm / Community Training

1 pm – 3 pm / LEO’s Training
Attendance: 25 - 50 attendees (maximum of 50)  everyone must social distance and wear mask.

Join the conversation as we dispel misconceptions, facilitate constructive conversation and increase partnerships between law enforcement and the community.

 


Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CDC TEMPORARILY HALTS EVICTIONS
LITTLE ROCK – To prevent the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent from September 4 until December 31, 2020. This moratorium places a temporary halt to residential evictions in an effort by the CDC to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The moratorium does not prevent evictions for other reasons and does not relieve tenants of any obligations to pay rent, late fees, or penalties. 

“The CDC has laid out strict guidelines tenants must follow in order for the moratorium to apply,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Arkansans continue to recover from the economic hardship created from the pandemic, many states are working with our federal partners to prevent further spread of the virus during uncertain times.”

Tenants seeking protection under the moratorium are required to submit a declaration, under the penalty of perjury, stating their inability to pay rent with specific supporting facts. The declaration, for example, must include statements reflecting: the tenant’s efforts to obtain government assistance; the tenant’s income; the tenant’s inability to pay rent due to loss of income, work, or significant medical expenses; the tenant’s efforts to try to make full or partial rent payments; and whether the eviction would likely cause the tenant to live in a homeless shelter or in close quarters with others where COVID might proliferate. 

The Attorney General released the following tips to help consumers understand the CDC’s Order:

The CDC’s Order does not forgive rent payments and does not relieve tenants of the obligation to pay rent.

Tenants are encouraged to continue paying rent in an agreed amount with their landlord in order to avoid any large amounts of rent due following the expiration of the moratorium.

Tenants protected by the moratorium will still have to pay all rent due under the lease when the moratorium ends.

To utilize the CDC Order’s protections, tenants must submit a copy of a declaration to their landlord.  A sample declaration is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html.

Consumers who are in need of legal advice should contact a private attorney or Arkansas Legal Services.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

September 08, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 08, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that Arkansas has purchased 120,000 antigen tests at a cost of $4 million dollars. CARES money was used for the purchase and no state money was involved the antigen tests will be available at county health units and 10 colleges to allow rapid testing. Hutchinson made a brief announcement Arkansas joined in a purchase agreement with several other states to purchase additional antigen tests. The tests will be distributed to county health units and testing facilities to help track and isolate cases of the virus.

Governor Hutchinson announced that another $5 million would be provided to for profit businesses in White, Hempstead and Jackson county and the city of Humnoke for rural broadband expansion.
Tuesday was an encouraging day for Arkansas' COVID-19 environment after state officials reported a significantly lower growth in new cases. During his daily COVID-19 Taskforce Press Conference Tuesday afternoon Gov. Hutchinson said the state recorded only 294 new cases of the virus on Monday. That's much lower than the one-day record in case increases announced on Friday, which numbered nearly 1,100. 

In contrast to previous days of low case growth, Tuesday's totals were matched by robust testing over the previous 24 hours. Hutchinson said over 5,000 tests were performed Monday with 66,000 since the beginning of the month. State officials hope this means the virus is lessening in severity as testing efforts increase.

Other figures announced Tuesday were encouraging, with nine deaths reported for a total of 917 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations increased by a net 10 cases to slightly over 400. Around 59,000 Arkansans have recovered from the virus. There are approximately 5,900 active cases in the state.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston reported that a new program to provide $300 weekly in pandemic assistance would be funded with FEMA money. Persons who are eligible will receive a letter and are those already receiving at least $100 weekly in benefits. This amount is designed to replace the $600 provided through federal funding earlier this year as part of the nation's response to the virus. That additional benefit came to an end in July. Preston said qualified recipients must already receive at least $100 a week in unemployment benefits and self-certify that their unemployment is due to COVID-19. Arkansans who already qualified for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are automatically qualified for the new $300 benefit. For more information or to apply for the benefits, Arkansans are asked to call 501-907-2590.  Secretary Preston also noted that unemployment in Arkansas was down to 7.1%.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
294 new cases
66,021 cumulative cases
10 new hospitalizations
409 currently hospitalized
84 on ventilators (up 10 from yesterday)
9 new deaths
917 total deaths
5,154 tests the past 24 hours plus 139 antigen tests
503 new recoveries
59,260 total recoveries.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Cross with 30 (nursing home outbreak), Washington with 29, and Pulaski with 28.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 118 positive cases with 36 active positive cases, 143 recovered, 5 deaths, and 4335 negative tests. Union County show 731 positive cases with 39 active positive cases, 670 recovered, 22 deaths and 7442 negative tests. Columbia County shows 319 positive cases with 23 active positive cases, 280 recovered, 16 deaths and 3707 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 136 positive cases with 28 active positives, 106 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1535 negative tests. Calhoun County had 25 positive cases with 2 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1269 negative tests.  These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there have been 6,312,341 cumulative cases, 2,333,583 recoveries, and 189,366 deaths.

Globally there have been 27,401,024 cumulative cases, 18,380,632 recoveries, and 893,871 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/lS0ZmmKARXE

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

POP-UP COVID-19 TESTING THIS FRIDAY
There will be a pop-up Covid 19 testing this Friday, September 11th from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at the Ouachita County Local Health Unit located at 740 California Avenue, SW in Camden. Testing for anyone with or without symptoms. No out-of-pocket expense. ID and insurance may be requested, but are not required. Learn more at healthy.arkansas.gov.


 

MEMBER OF SAU BOARD OF TRUSTEES PASSES AWAY
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is saddened to announce the death of Gary L. Golden, a member of its Board of Trustees. Golden passed away this morning at his home in DeQueen. He was the vice chair and chief executive officer of First State Bank of De Queen.

 Golden joined the Board of Trustees in January of this year, but he has been an active part of the SAU family for decades.  He was a student from 1968 to 1970 and he later served on SAU Foundation Board of Governors prior to his appointment to the Board of Trustees.

 “Gary was a faithful and engaged leader on our Board of Trustees and he had a deep abiding love for SAU and for the influence that former agriculture professor Orval Childs had on his life direction. Through his experience and wisdom, he had already brought so much to the Board in this short time,” said Dr. Trey Berry, SAU President, “I am personally shocked by his passing.  Today, I have lost a dear friend, and indeed, our campus has lost one of its greatest defenders and supporters.  The entire SAU family holds his wife Gaywyn and his entire family in our thoughts and prayers.”

 The family will receive friends from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Saturday, September 5 at Chandler Funeral Home in De Queen.  Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 6 at De Queen First Assembly of God.  You can send online sympathy messages at www.chandlerfuneral.com.
 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Wesley Stewart who will be giving information about The Call.


 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, September 10th at Noon at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Dana Wetherbee from The Camden Police Department.

You are required to wear a mask was 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 temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
 

 

PINE BLUFF ARTIST JOHN GOOD TO EXHIBIT AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to feature the paintings of Pine Bluff artist John Good in the Lobby and Price Galleries during the month of September. The exhibition, titled “A Retrospective”, includes work in pastel, acrylic, and oil and will be on display through September 29, with a reception on Friday, September 11 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Reservations are required. 

Good, who is known as “Duke” to his friends and associates, has felt the pull toward creative expression throughout his life. After 20 years as a working musician, he enrolled in college to study history at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and took his first formal drawing class. Under the tutelage of the legendary Henri Linton, Good grew as an artist by leaps and bounds, until he finally left his history major behind and dedicated himself to visual art. 

"I didn't think I could do it", said Good. "I thought art was something that was there or not, I had no idea that the ability to draw and paint could be learned."

Good earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education in 1994 from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, his Master of Arts degree from Arkansas State University in 1995, and his Master of Fine Arts degree from Memphis State University in 1997. Throughout those years, he stored up places and landscapes to revisit in his work. From Delta waterways, to Arkansas forests, to New Orleans streetscapes, each location is reimagined through the lens of his artist’s eye. 

"My work is a reflection of my love and appreciation of places on the earth which, by simply being there, have made me feel better about myself and the world in general,” Good said. “Just as songwriters write songs which tell about feelings or tell stories about their lives, my artwork is a chronicle of all those aspects of my life which I deem worthy of holding on to." 

A reception for the artist will be hosted for small groups on Friday, September 11 with scheduled times for viewing at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. Place your reservation for a time slot by calling SAAC at 870-862-5474 or visiting saac-arts.org. As per Governor Hutchinson's statewide order, face coverings are required for entry. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

 

September 04, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 04, 2020
Arkansas witnessed another sizeable increase in new COVID-19 cases on Friday with a new one-day record of 1,094. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported the additional cases during his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Friday afternoon. That raises the cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 64,175.

The record one-day growth in new cases is partly due to the number of tests performed on Thursday, said Hutchinson. Over 11,000 tests were performed that day, or several thousand more than the previous one-day record. 

Deaths increased by 12 over the past 24 hours to 873 since the outbreak began. Two encouraging items included the positivity rate of new tests, which continues to decrease. Hospitalizations also saw a sizeable decrease on Thursday, dropping by net of 24 to 401. That's a continued drop of a record of more than 500 earlier this summer. Recoveries grew to over 57,000 on Thursday.  Active cases also grew slightly overall to 5,755.

Hutchinson said around a quarter of the new COVID-19 cases detected on Thursday are among college-aged adults in the 18-24 range. According to data released by the Arkansas Department of Health on Thursday, 327 active cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in colleges and universities in Arkansas, mostly among students. Most of those cases have been traced to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Hutchinson said he's spoke with UofA officials who are enforcing a number of old and new guidelines to combat the virus. That includes a new directive banning all gatherings of 10 or more people, both on- and off-campus. Governor Asa

The Governor announced that the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has banned all gatherings, on and off campus, of 10 or more.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
1,076 new cases
64,174 cumulative cases
401 hospitalized (down 24 from yesterday)
86 on ventilators (down 5 from yesterday(
12 new deaths (2 delayed reporting from July)
973 total deaths
57,546 recoveries (up 658 from yesterday)
11,254 tests the past 24 hours plus 600 antigen tests.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Washington with 215, Pulaski with 87, Benton with 56, Craighead with 47, Jefferson with 24, and Sebastian with 21.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 173 positive cases with 38 active positive cases, 131 recovered, 4 deaths, and 4281 negative tests. Union County show 707 positive cases with 63 active positive cases, 623 recovered, 21 deaths and 7084 negative tests. Columbia County shows 311 positive cases with 27 active positive cases, 269 recovered, 15 deaths and 3642 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 132 positive cases with 41 active positives, 89 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1501 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 0 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1259 negative tests.
*These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,183,405 cumulative cases, 2,266,957 recoveries, and 187,347 deaths.
Globally there has been 26,427,137 cumulative cases, 17,570,085 recoveries, and 870,948 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/dbJ818RO6MQ

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

In review, an additional 1,094 cases of coronavirus were reported on Friday. This marks a new one-day growth record and raises the state's cumulative total to 64,175. Deaths grew by 12 to 873. Hospitalizations decreased by a net 24 for a new total of 401. Over 11,000 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours. Recoveries grew to more than 57,000. Active cases increased slightly to 5,755. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.
 

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambersof the Municipal Building.

Social distancing will be practiced and a face covering will be required.

 

The Agenda is as follows:
A. Call to Order

B. Invocation - Pastor Gwen Edwards, Set Free Ministries, 221 Monroe Street NW, Camden, AR

D. Roll Call
E. Approval of Minutes
1. Minutes of Regular Meeting August 11, 2020     

F. Acceptance of Financial Report
1. Financial Report for August 2020

G. Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
 I.  Old Business

 1. Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website.   

J.    New Business
1.   Ordinance No. 16-20, an ordinance authorizing the issuance of Water & Sewer Refunding Revenue Bonds; providing for the payment of the principal of and interest on the bonds; prescribing other matters relating                thereto; and declaring an emergency.
2. Ordinance No. 17-20, an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 19-86 (Camden Code Section 2-97.2) regarding the Airport Commission; and for other purposes. 
3. Ordinance No. 18-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 526 Hawkins Street.
4. Ordinance No. 19-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 513 Chestnut Street NW.
5. Ordinance No. 20-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 485 Hawkins Street.
6. Ordinance No. 21-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 474 California Avenue.
7. Ordinance No. 22-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 440 Maple Street SW.
8. Ordinance No. 23-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Maple Street SW.
9. Ordinance No. 24-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 407 North Street.
10. Ordinance No. 25-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 320 North Street.
11. Ordinance No. 26-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 536 Cleveland Ave. NW.
12. Ordinance No. 27-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 578 Cleveland Ave. NW.
13. Ordinance No. 28-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 698 Crestwood Ave. NW.
14. Ordinance No. 29-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1041 Elm Street.
15. Ordinance No. 30-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1333 Ronald Drive.
16. Ordinance No. 31-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1440 Ronald Drive.
17. Ordinance No. 32-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 2157 Avon Avenue.
18. Ordinance No. 33-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 810 Lucas Lane.
19. Ordinance No. 34-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 687 Agee Avenue NW.
20. Resolution No. 22-20, a resolution confirming the re-appointments of Clara Freeland and Lori DeWoody to the Advertising and Promotion Commission.
21. Resolution No. 23-20, a resolution amending the 2020 Budget of the City of Camden, Arkansas to fund street improvements.

K. Other Business

L. Adjournment
 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS CHOSEN ‘BEST COMPANY IN THE STATE’ BY EMPLOYEES IN FORBES.COM
Third-party survey includes workplace safety, opportunities, compensation
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Forbes.com recently named Entergy Arkansas as “Best Company in the State,” based on responses from a third-party survey of employees at businesses across the state. Entergy Arkansas employs approximately 2,800 people statewide, in addition to hundreds of contractors.

“It’s gratifying to know our employees enjoy working for Entergy Arkansas as much as I do,” said President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “The leadership team, along with management at all levels, works hard to ensure our employees feel valued and part of the vision we have to provide safe, reliable energy to our customers.” 

Landreaux went on to say, “I also believe that part of this recognition is attributable to the tremendous responsibility and pride each and every Entergy Arkansas employee pours into their respective job each and every day to deliver a service that is essential to powering the lives of Arkansas’ residents and its future.”

To determine the listings and rank, Statista surveyed 80,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 500 employees across the country – some with operations in multiple states – from October 2019 through May 2020. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions, per Forbes.com, and responses regarding the same employers were compared throughout the process to account for any statistically significant variations in the results collected before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respondents were asked to rate their employers on a variety of criteria, including

safety of work environment.

competitiveness of compensation.

opportunities for advancement.

options for telecommuting.

While serving Arkansans for more than a century, Entergy Arkansas employees have taken pride in their work, providing comfort to more than 700,000 customers across the state.

“I’m always proud to tell people I work for Entergy,” said Jim Garland, regional customer service manager and 36-year employee, “not only because it is rewarding to work for a company that so many people rely on for necessary, safe electricity, but also because it’s frankly a great place to work. My team is always working toward a common goal in ways that make us better professionals that, in turn, can better serve our community.”

Tyrone Stayton, a journeyman serviceman in Helena, said, “We work under conditions that are often stressful and dangerous, but I know our customers are counting on me.  I also know my manager and coworkers are always looking out for me and others with a focus on safety and community-mindedness.”

The list totaled 30 employers in Arkansas, ranging from school districts and universities to banks and hospitals. The number of businesses ranked in each state was dependent on two factors – the number of qualifying employers and the size of the state’s workforce – and those with operations in more than one state had the opportunity to be listed multiple times.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 8,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
September 4, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – County clerks are preparing for a sharp increase in the number of absentee ballots that they expect to be turned in for the November 3 general election.

The governor issued an executive order in early August that cleared up questions about voting absentee if you have concerns about appearing in person at your polling place, because of the coronavirus.

You may vote absentee whether you are concerned for your own safety, or whether your concern is that your presence at the polling place may affect the health of other people.

Both the secretary of state and the governor agree that fear of exposure to COVID-19, or fear of exposing others, is sufficient reason for requesting an absentee ballot.

Another provision in the executive order is important for county clerks and election officials. It allows them to start processing absentee ballots up to 15 days before election day, in order to get a head start on the anticipated increase.

The extra days for processing will coincide with the early voting period. They can open outer envelopes and begin processing voter registration information, but they will not be allowed to open the inner envelope and count the absentee ballots. They may not open and begin counting absentee ballots until 8:30 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, November 3, which is election day.

Already they have experienced a significant increase in request for absentee ballots. Four years ago, about 40,000 Arkansas residents voted absentee. This year the Secretary of State’s office anticipates more than 125,000 mail-in ballots to be requested and submitted, according to an office spokesman.

Pulaski County has received 10,000 requests for absentee ballots, compared to 1,500 at the same date in 2016, the county clerk told the statewide newspaper.

The deadlines for requesting and returning absentee ballots, as well as other information about voting absentee, can be found on the website of the Secretary of State, under the tab labeled “Elections.” This page has good information for members of the Armed Services stationed abroad. For example, family members stationed overseas follow the same procedures as military personnel when requesting and submitting absentee ballots.

The deadline for registering to vote is October 5. You must be registered in order to request an absentee ballot.

The state is helping counties with personal equipment and other supplies needed to help protect the safety of poll workers on election day.

Revenue Report

During the first two months of the state’s fiscal year, net general revenue collections are 8.9 percent above forecast. That amounts to $93.7 million.

Collection of sales taxes were strong, indicating that people are spending and have a certain level of confidence. Sales and use tax revenue is 12.7 percent above forecast.

Individual income taxes are 6.4 percent above forecast, an indicator that people are getting back to work. State income tax rates have gone down because the legislature enacted a tax cut last year, so the increase in income tax collections is a definite signal of increased employment.

The state fiscal year began July 1. The Arkansas legislature has consistently adopted very conservative budgets for state agencies.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 03, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by commenting on a lawsuit that has been filed by a group of legislators that questions his executive authority to take certain actions during the health emergency that the state is in. The group is led by Rep. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Jonesboro. The Governor said that today's case report that an emergency still exists.  Hutchinson says the lawsuit is more about questioning the actions of the executive position of Governor:"

"Governor Hutchinson also acknowledged that he had received a letter from the Centers of Disease Control regarding the state's preparations for storing a possible vaccine for COVID-19 that could be available as early as the first on November.

 It was also announced at Thursday's press conference that in-person visitations would be allowed to resume in October at prison facilities. Several upcoming restrictions will be announced in regard to the prison visitations that have been suspended since June. 

Governor Hutchinson and Secretary of Health both expressed concern about the rising numbers on college campuses and urged students to wear masks, socially distance, and act responsibly.  While College campuses have been a hot spot for COVID-19, public schools in grades K through 12 have had a very good first two weeks of school. Governor Hutchinson complimented the school districts saying that only one new positive case has turned up among students.
 Secretary of Education, Johnny Key, also complimented the school districts by pointing out that the preparations for virtual instruction have come in handy more so for flooding, rather than for the pandemic:" Secretary Key  announced that two more school districts have modified their instruction. Jacksonville Middle School will be virtual September 4, 2020 then re-evaluate after the holiday. Earle Elementary will be virtual from September 3 through September 17 due to 50% of the teachers being in quarantine.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
969 new cases (211 were in Washington County and 81% of them were 18-24 years of age)
63,081 cumulative cases
425 hospitalized (down 10 from yesterday)
20 new deaths (9 were in Mississippi County and 8 of those 9 were in a nursing home, 1 today was delayed reporting)
861 deaths total
7,827 tests the past 24 hours.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Washington with 211, Pulaski with 90, Benton with 47, Jefferson with 38 (50% of the new cases in Jefferson County were age 18-24), Sebastian with 36, Saline with 33, Faulkner with 27, and Craighead with 25.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 159 positive cases with 30 active positive cases, 125 recovered, 4 deaths, and 4209 negative tests. Union County show 698 positive cases with 68 active positive cases, 610 recovered, 20 deaths and 6981 negative tests. Columbia County shows 303 positive cases with 25 active positive cases, 263 recovered, 15 deaths and 3612 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 128 positive cases with 50 active positives, 76 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1472 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 0 active cases, 23 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1248 negative tests. *These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,125,916 cumulative cases, 2,231,757 recoveries, and 186,185 deaths.
Globally there has been 26,112,402 cumulative cases, 17,344,709 recoveries, and 864,691 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/WyGxJyebx0Q

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, 969 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours runs the cumulative statewide total to 63,081. The hot spots are on college campuses, particularly in Fayetteville. The death toll has increased by 20 to 861. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

CAMDEN BARN SALE 2020 CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19 CONCERNS
It is with heavy heart that the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce is announcing the cancellation of this year’s Camden Barn Sale. This year’s event was planned to take place on September 26th. This is the first time since 1968 the Camden Barn Sale will not be held according to Beth Osteen, Chamber Director, due to the unforeseen future due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we feel this decision must be made in order to protect our volunteers, vendors and attendees. Like most events of this nature, there is much preparation months in advance.  We waited until the last possible moment to come to the best decision possible, and it was with much council from the Camden Barn Sale Board and community partners that decision was made.  We want to say thank you for the continued years of support from our sponsors, advertisers and of course volunteers who have made the Barn Sale the longest running annual event in Camden. The Chamber Board didn’t make this decision lightly, but believe it is important to the future of our Organization, our army of volunteers, our vendors, and our visitors that we stay healthy and come back stronger next year.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone back, September 25, 2021.
For more information contact:
The Camden Barn Sale, 870-836-6426.

2020 OUACHITA COUNTY FAIR
The 2020 Ouachita County Fair will be held September 23rd through September 26th at the Ouachita Co Recreational Center.
Monday and Tuesday September 21st and 22nd you may enter creative arts in Shaddock Gym from 5:00 until 8:00 PM.
The Sheep and Goat Show will be held on Wednesday,  September 23rd at 6:00 PM. Admission is $5.00.
All youth are invited to Merge at the Fair Wednesday, September 23rd  at 7:00 PM. Admission is $3.00. A Hot Dog and Drink will be available for $1.00. The Speaker will be Ryan Huffy form Cullendale First Baptist Church.
The Beef and Swine Show will be held on Thursday, September 24th at 6:00 PM. Admission is $5.00.

The Premium Sale Lunch served in to-go trays will be Friday, September 25th at 11:30 AM. The Premium Sale will follow at Noon.

Friday, beginning at 5:00 the Fair Board will sell fair food (Caramel Apples, Funnel Cakes, Cotton Candy, Sno-Cones) along with other items. No admission to purchase food. All food will be served in to-go trays

There will be a Cornhole Tournament Saturday, September 26th beginning at starts at 9:00 AM. Entry Fee is $40.00 per team.

Saturday, September 26th will offer Craft Vendors from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM and there will be Kid’s Hands on Activities from 12:00 until 2:00 PM.

Saturday, September 26th will see the “Next Big Thing” Talent Contest at 7:00 PM.  There will be a winner in every age division ad each winner will win a plaque. Sign-ups will begin at 6:00 PM.  Entry fee is $25.00. Admission is $5.00.  The audience will be the judge.
ADH guidelines will be followed throughout the Fair. Wear a mask when moving around the event venue and practice social distancing.

More info on Facebook and website www.ouachitacountyfair.com.

SEN. TRENT GARNER REQUESTS $50 MILLION FOR VETERANS’ SERVICES
LITTLE ROCK – Senator Trent Garner of El Dorado and five Senate colleagues have request $50 million in CARES Act funding for services to help veterans cope with health issues worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds would go to the state Veterans Affairs Department, which would distribute grants to non-profit groups that work directly with veterans. Garner said that support for peer-to-peer groups and clinics would be emphasized.

“The pandemic worsened an already difficult situation for veterans. Suicide rates among veterans have been going up and now we know that female veterans are being disproportionately affected,” Garner said.

“Our request is for a very cost-efficient way to use CARES Act funds, because the veterans clinics and non-profits that serve them are already up and running,” Garner said. “They already have health records on file. They already know the case histories of their clients. Even if they are able to add to their list of clients, none of the CARES funding would be used for startup costs.”

Joining Garner in the request are Senators Gary Stubblefield of Branch, Dave Wallace of Leachville, Breanne Davis of Russellville, Ricky Hill of Cabot and Bob Ballinger of Ozark.

Garner is co-chair of the Legislative Veterans Caucus and has made veterans’ issues a priority since his election to the Senate in 2016.

CARES Act is an acronym that stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. It is a stimulus package approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March to offset the financial impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
 

ARKANSAS CATTLEMEN'S ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES DIRECTORY OF LOCAL BEEF FOR SALE
Just in time for Labor Day, the ACA has compiled a list of members that are selling beef directly to consumers
LITTLE ROCK, AR, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - The Arkansas Cattlemen's Association (ACA) is pleased to release a compiled list of ACA members who are selling beef directly to consumers. With Labor Day just around the corner, this resource could be beneficial in purchasing local beef.

The sellers are listed by area (region) with contact information, along with relevant information about the cuts of beef available.

Arkansas farmers and ranchers work hard each and every day to produce a safe and healthy product, either in the grocery store, farmers market or directly from the farm.

The AR Beef Directory is available at the following link, https://www.arbeef.org/aca-beef-directory.

To read more about Arkansas beef, including a recipe, grilling tips and profile of a farmer, visit, https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/united-we-steak/arkansas.

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY FORTUNATE TO HAVE ON-CAMPUS RAPID TESTING MACHINES 
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University is bringing healthcare home when it comes to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The University made the
decision early on to purchase two Rapid Testing machines over the summer which has provided a very important advantage in the battle against COVID-19.

University Health Services (UHS) has two Sofia 2 SARS antigen testing machines that provide fast, accurate results to help in the effort to control the spread of COVID-19 on campus. The machines are part of SAU’s overall endeavor to limit the spread of the virus, perform contact tracing, and increase safety. This has allowed UHS to offer many testing clinics for various campus populations as needed with quick results.  “Purchasing the machines was an important move for us,” said Dr. Donna Allen, vice president for student affairs, “but we knew it would be critical in keeping students, faculty and staff safe, which is our highest priority.”

The University purchased the machines in early July, putting SAU ahead of the curve in terms of on-campus testing. Amanda Hanson, UHS director, said all nurses in the clinic are trained on the machines, which are easy to use and provide reliable results.  The machines are used to directly test for viral components, detecting active infection, as opposed to antibodies that look for past infections. Antigen testing, such as this, can be done quicker than many other PCR tests, with similar accuracy and at a better cost to the University and its students.

UHS tests as many as 30 students per day through the regular services for COVID-19, and testing was expanded to include weekends. Clinics for all staff, students, athletes, cheerleaders and nurses, for example, were able to be held for large groups with results sent via text or phone call within minutes.  A new drive-up service is available for all the campus community, making it unnecessary for those being tested to have to enter the clinic to receive a test.  The procedure involves a quick and easy nasal swab. Specimens are then tested on-site using the machines. “We can have the results to the student in 15 minutes or less,” Hanson said. “It is a great advantage for our University and our students.”

Dr. Daniel McDermott, assistant professor of biology, was involved in selecting the machines for the University. He said the purpose of on-campus testing is to identify positive COVID cases rapidly and accurately, allowing quick implementation of the University’s contact tracing procedures.  “Together with wearing masks and good hand hygiene this will hopefully allow us to avoid having to move everything virtually as you are seeing other campuses across the country beginning to do,” McDermott said.

SAU’s administration acted early on to cope with the pandemic. The Risk Management Task Force implemented protocols that include the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all buildings and replenishing those daily as needed. Hanson and McDermott commended Dr. Trey Berry, president; Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Donna Allen, vice president for student affairs, as well as the Task Force, for acting quickly to keep the campus safe.  “We want to give the University the best chance to remain open,” said McDermott. “We want to get as far ahead of this virus as we can.”

Though SAU has a huge advantage in terms of testing, it is still vitally important for everyone to heed safety protocols by washing their hands, social distancing and wearing masks.  To contact University Health Services for more information, please call 870-235-5237.
 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT URGES BOATER SAFETY MEASURES DURING HIGH WATER CONDITIONS AT LAKE OUACHITA
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District urges boaters on Lake Ouachita to take extra precautions as water continues to rise after heavy rainfall in the area.

As a result of recent storms and rainfall, Lake Ouachita's water levels continue to rise, and debris is prevalent. Lake levels are currently several feet into the flood control pool with an elevation of 581.13 feet above sea level, and the lake is expected to rise an additional 1.5-2 feet. Although widespread flooding is not anticipated, hazardous conditions may exist on the lake. Boaters should navigate with caution as recent storms have washed debris into the lake, and rising lake levels have dislodged downed trees. These hazards are carried with the lake's current and may be difficult to see, and boaters should slow their speeds and avoid debris fields as much as possible.

The USACE Vicksburg District encourages boaters to remain vigilant and take extra safety precautions, including wearing a life jacket at all times and scanning for hazards in the water. Boat operators should wear their engine safety cut-out switches, also called kill switches, to mitigate accidents or injury while in motion.

Boating at night on Lake Ouachita is discouraged during this time due to water hazards and low visibility. Individuals who decide to boat at night should leave a detailed float plan with family or friends, ensure the functionality of their vessel's navigation lights and carry a fully charged cell phone or marine band radio in case they must call for assistance.

For more information about Lake Ouachita, contact the Lake Ouachita Field Office at 501-767-2108 or visit https://apc01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mvk.usace.army.mil%2FMissions%2FRecreation%2FLake-Ouachita%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7C70e9938cd3574454e2b208d850197a17%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637347418498695502&sdata=ONyC%2FVcbQ64qXrbKoAi0zIN7JX1bPW8%2BBZDwCuHLFoE%3D&reserved=0

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.

CYNERGY CARGO 2 HOLDS RIBBON CUTTING, ROLLS OUT FIRST TRAILER IN CROSSETT
CROSSETT, Arkansas (September 3, 2020) – Cynergy Cargo 2, a manufacturer of enclosed cargo trailers, held a ribbon cutting ceremony today for its new facility in the Crossett Industrial Park.
“We appreciate the way that the state and the Crossett community have welcomed us and shown us outstanding support throughout this process,” Cynergy Cargo owner Vigler Mazariegos said. “Today marks the beginning of our operations in Crossett, and we are excited to celebrate the occasion with the final assembly of the first trailer manufactured here.”

During the event, Gov. Asa Hutchinson secured the final screw for the facility’s first trailer.

“Cynergy Cargo 2 was the first company to announce a presence in Arkansas after the pandemic hit,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “We are grateful for the company’s commitment and pleased that it is now ready to begin this new phase in its history. I’m honored to take part in getting the first trailer off the assembly line.”

In April, the company announced plans to build the facility and hire 70 new, fulltime employees within 24 months. Among the newly created jobs are positions for carpenters, welders, and electricians.

“The Crossett workforce has always been known for its hard work and dedication.” said Mike Preston, secretary of commerce and executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC). “We are thrilled to welcome Cynergy to the Crossett business community and look forward to a long partnership.”

The company also cited support from local leaders among the reasons for selecting Crossett as the location for its new facility.

“It has been a great pleasure working with the owners and principals in Cynergy Cargo 2, LLC,” Executive Director of the Crossett Economic Development Foundation Mike Smith said. “Luis, Vigler, and the Cynergy team have already been involved in community activities; the entire community will benefit from this company’s decision to invest in Crossett. I have to thank the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Katherine Andrews in particular, for the assistance with recruiting Cynergy Cargo 2 to Crossett.”

The company is headquartered in Douglas, Ga., where it runs two lines and employs 60 people. The company chose to expand in Crossett to be closer to its customers.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, Cynergy Cargo 2 lifted the spirits in our community by announcing the location of a new manufacturing facility and 70 new jobs for Crossett and South Arkansas,” Howard Beaty, Jr., president of the Crossett Economic Development Foundation Board said. “The grand opening of Cynergy Cargo 2’s Crossett facility is just the beginning of South Arkansas’ rise to the top of trailer manufacturing in the South.”

Cynergy Cargo began manufacturing enclosed cargo trailers in 2012. Since then, the company has sold more than 30,000 trailers throughout the United States and Canada.

"Cynergy Cargo 2 is a family-focused business whose values are a great fit for Crossett and Southeast Arkansas,” Crossett Mayor Crystal Marshall said. “This established company has a history of success that we are thrilled to welcome here in our community. We are excited about the job growth, economic impact, and community focus this company brings to not only Crossett, but Ashley County and Southeast Arkansas. This is a tremendous win for our community!"

COTTON STATEMENT ON VANDALISM OF LITTLE ROCK FALLEN OFFICERS MEMORIAL
Washington, D.C. — After the Little Rock Police Memorial for Fallen Officers was defaced by the words “defund the police,” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement:

“The vandalism of the Little Rock Police Memorial for Fallen Officers is egregious, and those responsible for this act will be caught held accountable. To the families of the police officers whose names are enshrined on this memorial: your loved ones gave their lives in the service of their fellow man and have forever earned the love and appreciation of Arkansans. No pathetic act of vandalism will ever change that fact. The criminals who defaced their memory—and their politically-motivated supporters—will be lost to history, but the names of our fallen officers will always be honored and remembered.”


COTTON STATEMENT ON SANCTIONS AGAINST ICC PROSECUTOR 
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement:

“The United States will not tolerate political attacks against its servicemembers by the ICC, a court which has no jurisdiction over Americans. By sanctioning prosecutor Bensouda, the administration is defending American sovereignty and ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.”
 

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES URGE DOD TO REINSTATE STARS AND STRIPES FUNDING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and a bipartisan group of their colleagues in calling on the Department of Defense (DoD) to reinstate funding for the Stars and Stripes newspaper, an independent military publication. DoD currently plans to stop publishing the newspaper at the end of the month and dissolve the organization by January 31, 2021.

“Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation’s freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom,” the senators wrote. “Therefore, we respectfully request that you rescind your decision to discontinue support for Stars and Stripes and that you reinstate the funding necessary for it to continue operations.”

Boozman has been an advocate for continued funding for the newspaper. In July, he wrote this column about the valuable role Stars and Stripes provides. 

The full text of the letter is available here.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 31, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced during today’s Press Conference that the CDC will place a moratorium in place September 4, 2020 prohibiting evictions when the problem is COVID-19 related for Arkansans who are falling behind on rent payments due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued the order earlier this week declaring that landlords could not evict qualifying tenants. 

To qualify, renters must meet four criteria. They must have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or up to $99,000 for single filers. Qualifying renters must also demonstrate they have sought government assistance to make their rental payments. They must also affirmatively declare they are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 hardships. Finally, they must affirm they are likely to become homeless if they are evicted. Officials with the CDC said local courts would still resolve disputes between renters and landowners about whether the moratorium applies in a particular case. The moratorium does not prohibit landlords from charging back rent, however. 

In another piece of good news, Hutchinson said local and state tax collections for July and August surpassed expectations. That's a sign, he added, that Arkansans are continuing to support their economy and maintain confidence through the pandemic. The Governor announced that state revenue is $41 million above the projected amount for August and $93 million above the projected amount year-to-date.
The Governor reported that new active cases more than doubled from yesterday with 615 additional confirmed. Still, that's lower than many days in August and July when cases increased daily by 700 to 900. Total cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas now totals 62,112 since the outbreak began in the spring. Hospitalizations increased by a net 12 patients for a total of 435 Arkansans hospitalized by the virus. Nearly 4,500 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours. Some good news, said Hutchinson, is that the positivity rate of new tests remains below 10 percent. Active cases also saw a continued decrease.

Secretary of Education Johnny Key announced that through a USDA waiver all student meals will be free of cost through the end of the year. (It was not made clear if this meant the calendar year or school year.) Parents will also be able to pick up free meals for their children who are virtual students.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
615 new cases
62,112 cumulative cases
12 new hospitalizations
435 total hospitalized
27 new deaths
841 deaths total.
4,773 tests the past 24 hours.

Of the 27 new deaths, 13 were delayed reporting (1 from May, 4 from June, 4 from July, and 4 from August). Five of the deaths were in nursing homes. There was no clustering.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 158 positive cases with 29 active positive cases, 125 recovered, 4 deaths, and 4203 negative tests. Union County show 692 positive cases with 73 active positive cases, 599 recovered, 20 deaths and 6973 negative tests. Columbia County shows 297 positive cases with 26 active positive cases, 256 recovered, 15 deaths and 3603 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 127 positive cases with 49 active positives, 76 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1457 negative tests. Calhoun County had 24 positive cases with 2 active cases, 22 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1247 negative tests.
*These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 6,088,187 cumulative cases, 2,202,682 recoveries, and 184,803 deaths.
Globally there has been 25,836,032 cumulative cases, 16,870,614 recoveries, and 858,436 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtube/EiE1cBiB-FY

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level and school district data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

In review, an additional 615 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Arkansas on Wednesday for a cumulative total of 62,112. An additional 27 deaths were recorded for a total of 841 since the pandemic began. Active cases continued their downward trend on Wednesday, state officials said, but did not provide exact numbers during the press conference. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

CADC ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF 2020 SUMMER LIHEAP UTILITY ASSISTANCE
Benton – Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) announced today the agency’s SUMMER LIHEAP Utility and CARES Assistance Programs are being suspended immediately due to depletion of funds. No further applications will be accepted at this time.
Should more funds become available, information will be announced on the agency website and social media.
For more information relating to CADC’s utility assistance program visit: https://www.cadc.com/utility-assistance.



Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T LET SCAM ARTISTS CLEAN OUT WALLET AFTER STORM DAMAGE
LITTLE ROCK – Tropical Storm Laura brought devastating weather to Arkansas and  wreck havoc on our communities and neighboring states. As countless storm victims assess the damages, con artists see opportunities to take advantage of Arkansans who suffered property damage or losses. Vulnerable Arkansans should use caution when seeking a contractor or professional to complete repairs.

“Arkansans always come together after a natural disaster, but it is also common in bad situations to see bad actors,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “These bad actors prey on victims of severe weather to take advantage of the potentially urgent nature of storm damage repairs. I urge anyone who is seeking home and auto repairs to be cautious of potential scams that are common after storms.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure consumers hire reputable contractors to complete the repairs:
Beware of door-to-door solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.
Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide a written contract.
Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure to obtain business.
Obtain and check at least three references from the contractor or professional.
Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.
Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.
Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that the project will be completed. Never make the final payment until there has been an opportunity to inspect the work.
Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed. 

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

CARELINK’S INAUGURAL CUPCAKES ON THE RUN HITS THE STREETS OCT. 15
Cupcakes for Goodness Sake Converted to Virtual Walk/Run During COVID-19 Pandemic
North Little Rock, Ark. (Aug. 10, 2020) – CareLink, Central Arkansas’s Area Agency on Aging is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that is becoming all too familiar with nonprofits – they’ve converted their largest fundraiser, Cupcakes for Goodness Sake into a virtual event. Putting a hold on the annual cupcake competition and street festival, CareLink is launching their own take on the virtual run/walk with Cupcakes on the Run.

Registration opens Monday, Aug. 10 and will offer participants four categories: 1 mile, 5k, 10k, and cumulative. Participants can complete the distance of their choice starting Thursday, Oct. 15, with the deadline to submit route information on Monday, Nov. 30. To submit, they will send a screenshot of their route to Development@CareLink.org or tag CareLink’s social channels and use the official hashtag CupcakesOnTheRun2020.

“With COVID-19, we knew it would be irresponsible to move forward with Cupcakes in the way the community has grown to love. We also knew it would be difficult to turn it virtual without losing a key part, the cupcake competition,” said Meredith Hale, Director of Development. “So, we created Cupcakes on the Run, a family-friendly competition for people of all ages that raises awareness for CareLink services in a safe way until we can eat cupcakes together again.”

Registration is $25 through Eventbrite.com and includes a t-shirt. Prizes will be awarded to the top male and female participants in each category. Proceeds from Cupcakes on the Run benefits CareLink’s services like Meals on Wheels, in-home care, urgent needs, family caregiver assistance, and more. Last year, CareLink raised $45,000 through Cupcakes for Goodness Sake. Participants will have the chance to purchase extra shirts and make donations. CareLink, a local nonprofit, has been providing care to older Arkansans and their families in Central Arkansas since 1979. If you are interested in sponsoring this year’s event, call CareLink’s Development Department at 501-688-7446. For more information about supporting CareLink, visit www.CareLink.org.
 

U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS INITIATES BLUE ROOF PROGRAM
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviving its free Operation Blue Roof program to get as many houses into livable condition as possible during Hurricane Laura recovery.

Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for FEMA. Operation Blue Roof aims to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover their damaged roofs until permanent repairs are made.

The program is currently active in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vernon parishes.

This program is a free service to homeowners. Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.

This program is for primary residences or a permanently occupied rental property with less than 50 percent structural damage. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for this program. After the blue roof is installed, the structure is declared habitable. Not all roof types qualify for the program. Roofs that are flat or made of metal or clay, slate, or asbestos tile do not qualify. All storm debris must be removed for the roof to qualify.

Residents can sign up for the program at https://blue-roof-online-signup-usace.hub.arcgis.com/. Here, you can sign up for Blue Roof assistance using a Right of Entry (ROE) form, which gathers information about your residence. The ROE is a legal document that allows Corps workers to access your property and assess your home's damage. The ROE also allows contracted crews to work on your roof.

Residents can call toll free 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258) for more information regarding this program. For more information regarding the recovery effort, please visit the following website: http://hurricanelaura.la.gov.
 

BOOZMAN URGES EXPANSION OF AVIATION WORKFORCE TRAINING
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), co-chair of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of senators in sending a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging them to fully implement two aviation workforce grant programs authorized in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill that invest in, and expand the development of, the next generation of aircraft pilots and maintenance technicians. 

As the Senators note in their letter, these innovative programs will help develop badly needed workforce training in the aviation industry, helping the industry to partner with local governments, schools, and labor groups to provide training. In turn, this training will help close the current skills-gap preventing Americans from accessing these good-paying jobs and spur future economic activity. 

“Given the broad, bipartisan support for the grant programs on Capitol Hill, and among schools, industry, and labor, we are disappointed that they are not yet operating. Understanding that establishing a workforce grant program is new to the Federal Aviation Administration, we urge you to initiate them before the end of the current fiscal year,” the Senators wrote.

They go on to highlight the importance of these two programs, noting, “The grant program for pilot education will support the creation and delivery of curriculum designed to provide high school students with meaningful science, technology, engineering, math and aviation education.  This program has the potential to grow our nation’s pilot workforce by encouraging our nation’s youth to become the next generation of commercial, general aviation, drone or military pilots. The grant program for aviation technicians will address the well-documented maintenance industry skills gap by encouraging and facilitating collaboration between schools, government, labor and industry to recruit and train the technical talent America’s aerospace sector will require to keep the nation’s aircraft operating safely and efficiently.”  

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) led the letter. In addition to Boozman, it was cosigned by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH),  Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Hoeven (R-NC), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
 

COTTON APPLAUDS DOJ FISA REFORMS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after Attorney General William Barr announced reforms to the FISA program:
"Attorney General Barr continues to make necessary reforms to the Department of Justice's FISA procedures. An FBI Office of Internal Auditing and new directives guarding against FISA abuses-common under James Comey and the Obama administration-will improve accountability and provide tools necessary to pursue justice and keep the American people safe."

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020


GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 01, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by encouraging Arkansans to be counted in the 2020 Census in the last 30 days of it. Be counted by mail if you have the paperwork, by phone by calling 844-330-2020, or online at 2020Census.gov.
Active cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas have dipped to one of their lowest levels in months. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported during his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon that active cases fell by more than 400 from yesterday to a current total of 5,036. The state hit a peak in active cases of the virus of 7,200 in early June.
Additional data provided during Tuesday's press conference sheds more light on COVID-related deaths in Arkansas. According to state health experts, 94.5 percent of Arkansans who died from the virus were suffering from other, pre-existing ailments at the time of their infection and death. Just 5.5 percent of those who died are not tied to other contributing factors. 

The Governor also reported that only 5.5% of the deaths in Arkansas were strictly caused by COVID-19, all the rest had underlying causes.
Dr. Jose Romero, head of the Arkansas Department of Health, warned against too much confidence among those in good health. Arkansas has high rates of many diseases and conditions which could increase the chance of dying from COVID-19. These include heart disease, diabetes and obesity. He reminded listeners that healthy people can easily spread the virus to others who aren't as able to fight it off. The 5.5 percent of those who died from coronavirus with no other contributing factors equates to 44 people - a figure that shows completely healthy people can still die from the virus. 

Secretary Romero gave the following report of numbers:
273 new cases
61,497 cumulative cases
3 new hospitalizations
85 on ventilators (down 2 from yesterday)
423 currently hospitalized
17 new deaths (1 delayed reporting from June, 5 from July, 5 in nursing homes, 1 in prison, no clustering)
814 total deaths
3,530 tests in the past 24 hours
180,000 goal for tests in September + 10,000 antigen tests
5,036 active cases.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Pulaski with 44, Benton with 29, Sebastian with 24, and Washington with 21.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 158 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 122 recovered, 4 deaths, and 4190 negative tests. Union County show 691 positive cases with 83 active positive cases, 588 recovered, 20 deaths and 6962 negative tests. Columbia County shows 295 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 248 recovered, 15 deaths and 3592 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 127 positive cases with 52 active positives, 73 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1451 negative tests. Calhoun County had 24 positive cases with 3 active cases, 21 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1245 negative tests.

In the US there has been 6,055,569 cumulative cases, 2,184,825 recoveries, and 184,114 deaths.

Globally there has been 25,572,216 cumulative cases, 16,870,614 recoveries, and 852,405 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/Mn5F8U7VZpg

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, 273 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 61,497. Hospitalizations saw a net increase of three to 423. Deaths increased by 17 to a total of 814. Active cases decreased by more than 400 to a total of 5,036. That means 55,646 Arkansans have recovered from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. We'll continue to keep you updated on the latest figures and developments. 

COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING SEPTEMBER 2ND IN EL DORADO TO BE PROVIDED BY UAMS
WHAT: A community drive-up testing clinic for COVID-19 will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
WHO: UAMS nurses and volunteers
WHEN: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020
WHERE: Medical Center of South Arkansas, 700 West Grove St.

OUACHITA COUNTY LABOR DAY SCHEDULE
Ouachita County Courthouse and the Extension office will be closed on that day for Labor Day. The Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule. They will not observe the Holiday.



NEW CONTRACT FOR LOCKHEED MARTIN
Lockheed Martin Missile Fire Controls, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded an $183,182,541 modification (P00016) to contract W31P4Q1-9-C-0101 for M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers.  Work will be performed in Camden, Arizona; and Grand Prairie, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 20, 2023.  Fiscal 2020 U.S. Marine Corps and Foreign Military Sales (Romania) funds in the amount of $183,182,541 were obligated at the time of the award.  U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.

 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY SETS ENROLLMENT RECORDS EVEN DURING PANDEMIC
MAGNOLIA -- Even in the midst of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Southern Arkansas University surpassed Fall 2019 college enrollment (excluding high school enrollment) by 55 with 4,107 students compared to 4,052.  Graduate enrollment increased by 11 percent with totals of 985 compared to 888.  The total enrollment for Fall 2020 is 4,432.

SAU recorded the highest freshman retention rate in the University’s history at 72 percent after two years of the Retention and Completion Task Force’s work and implementation of many of their recommendations. 

“We are especially excited about the enrollment in our graduate programs and the news of our freshman retention rate record,” said SAU President Trey Berry.  “SAU is proud to offer a wide array of graduate options which work for students in many different stages of their lives,” he continued. “And we credit the relationships we are able to form with our students early in their career at SAU, the hard work of our faculty and staff for the many retention initiatives that have been implemented and the care shown that are reflected in these freshman retention rates.”

SAU offers more than 80-degree programs in undergraduate and graduate studies and will add a doctoral program next fall. The University continues to grow its offerings for students and refine its existing courses into best-of-class programs.

Last fall, the University recorded high enrollment numbers and had record overall retention rates, as well. Having established this strong base of students has helped SAU maintain enrollment even with the struggles presented by COVID-19. “We are prepared to face the challenges this semester is bringing with the obvious COVID-19 concerns,” Berry said. “We have developed online, face-to-face and hybrid class schedules and are equipped for students to be able to transition livestreaming as needed.”  

“We commend our faculty and staff for all of their extra effort in maintaining a nurturing environment for our students,” Berry continued, “and we also commend our students for continuing with their studies and staying the course. This year is presenting challenges, no doubt, but together, we are #Muleriderstrong and can make it our most successful year yet!”
 

OVER $1.2 BILLION AWARDED TO AIRPORTS
Arkansas Airports included
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Trump Administration will award more than $1.2 billion in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to 405 airports in 50 states and six U.S. territories.

“This $1.2 billion federal investment will improve our nation’s airport infrastructure, enhance safety, and strengthen growth in local communities, which is especially important as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The Department is awarding federal grants to the following airports in the State of Arkansas:
$5,452,836 for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field to reconstruct a taxiway.
$1,468,324 for Jonesboro Municipal Airport for visual and navigational aids, reconstruction of taxiway lighting, and runway strengthening.
$166,666 for Monticello Municipal Airport/Ellis Field for airport drainage improvement and erosion control.

“The 434 AIP grants will fund critical airport infrastructure projects around the country,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson.

 Since January 2017, the Trump Administration delivered $13.5 billion to America’s airports to improve infrastructure and safety. In 2020, the Administration delivered $10 billion in economic assistance to America’s airports during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 A complete listing of grants  (PDF) and an interactive map of airports receiving funding is available on the FAA website.

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE TO HOST 2020 VIRTUAL LAW ENFORCEMENT SUMMIT
‘Our men and women in blue have experienced unprecedented challenges, risk, and trauma’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the agenda for the 18th Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit, which will be held on October 6 on an entirely virtual platform. The annual event is hosted by Rutledge as a free training and educational opportunity for Arkansas’s law enforcement community, including officers, prosecutors and criminal justice personnel.

“This year, our men and women in blue have experienced unprecedented challenges, risk, and trauma, so we have adapted our training to address their needs and better prepare them as they continue to serve and protect all Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I encourage all officers to register so they can learn from these insightful presenters.”

Former police officer, licensed psychologist and author Dr. Stephanie Conn will present on how first responders can take proactive and responsive steps to adaptively respond to chronic stress and trauma. A discussion of the risk and protective factors that influence wellbeing will be offered to assist first responders to understand their own experiences with trauma and stress and how to mitigate their impact. This will include a plain-language discussion of the neurobiology of trauma. Resilience research is applied to the unique issues of first responder work, generating practical strategies to promote resilience.

Little Rock Police Officers Michelle Hill and Henry Moore will present on officer mental health and wellness. According to a study by Blue H.E.L.P., the number of police officers who died in 2019 by suicide was 228, which almost doubled the 132 killed in the line of duty. They will go over ways to provide support for everyone who is a part of the law enforcement family, from peer-to-peer counseling to finance help to relationships.

This training has been approved for 6 hours of Continuing Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) and Continuing Legal Education (CLE).

Registration is open and available at ArkansasAG.gov under the trainings tab.

 
 

AUGUST 31, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 31, 2020
The second week of school begins with a relatively low count of new COVID-19 cases across the state. Three-hundred and sixty-eight new active cases of the virus were reported on Monday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily press conference that afternoon.

 

Over 4,500 tests were performed between Sunday and Monday. So far this month, 180,000 Arkansans have been tested for COVID-19, or about six percent of the state's population.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that today was International Opioid Awareness Day and that Arkansas has received a $21 million dollar grant to be used for opioid and stimulant abuse programs over the next two years.

Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key said two schools have had to revise instruction under their Ready for Learning plans since the start of school due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19 quarantine. The schools include Marshall High School in Searcy and the Cross County High School.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
368 new cases
61,224 cumulative cases
29 new hospitalizations
420 currently hospitalized
87 on ventilators (up 3 from yesterday)
13 new deaths (1 delayed reporting from June, 5 delayed reporting from July, 2 in nursing homes)
797 total deaths
4,542 tests the past 24 hours
5,466 active cases in Arkansas.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Pulaski with 50, Pope with 41, Benton with 30, and Garland with 21.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 157 positive cases with 35 active positive cases, 118 recovered, 4 deaths, and 4112 negative tests. Union County show 690 positive cases with 87 active positive cases, 584 recovered, 19 deaths and 6918 negative tests. Columbia County shows 293 positive cases with 31 active positive cases, 247 recovered, 15 deaths and 3547 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 127 positive cases with 55 active positives, 70 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1433 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 2 active cases, 21 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1227 negative tests.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/DX5swsDGPno

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second is CDC, 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

LEGISLATORS, CITIZENS PURSUE LEGAL ACTION TO END STATE OF EMERGENCY
Rally planned at State Capitol
LITTLE ROCK, August 28, 2020 – Arkansas state legislators, concerned business owners and private citizens of Arkansas will pursue legal action against the Director of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) in the effort to restore the principles of our representative government. The suit will seek an end to the perpetual state of emergency that for the last five months has restricted the rights of citizens of Arkansas to operate and restore their businesses, assemble in their churches, visit the eating establishments of their choice and associate with family and friends without undue government restrictions.

ADH has violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) for many months by issuing directives without oversight by the duly elected and representative legislature.

Therefore, Legislators, business owners and private citizens have joined together to protect and preserve their freedoms with the intent to file a Petition for Declaratory Judgment that will be filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court the morning of Thursday, September 3rd, followed by a noon rally on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.

If successful, the Covid-19 related directives issued by ADH will be deemed invalid, forcing the ADH to follow Arkansas law and present any future rules to legislative committees for their review and approval.

The legal action is funded exclusively by contribution from private citizens.

CITY OF CAMDEN PORT AUTHORITY TO MEET
The City of Camden Port Authority Commission will meet Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 3:00 p.m. at City Hall, located at 206 Van Buren NE

Masks and social distancing are Mandatory.

The Agenda is as follows:
3:00 – 3:10 PM
Welcome and Introductions – Mayor Julian Lott
3:10 – 3:20 PM
Brief Overview and History – Port of Camden - Cassandra Caldwell, Director, Arkansas Waterways Commission
3:20 – 3:30 PM
Arkansas Waterways Commission Port, Intermodal and Waterway Grant Program - Arkansas Waterways Commission Port, Intermodal and Waterway Grant Program
3:30 – 3:45 PM
Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals (IRPT) Presentation - Deidre Smith, Deputy Director, IRPT
3:45 – 4:00 PM
Next Steps – Strategic Plan – Grant Application Preparation – Questions? - Cassandra Caldwell, Director, Arkansas Waterways Commission

 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Dr. Larry Braden.  He will be giving an update on the Covid-19 pandemic.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS REAFFIRMS POLICY: ONLY MEDICAL DOCTORS & SURGEONS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM LASER EYE SURGERY
LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently affirmed its long-standing policy prohibiting non-medical doctors (optometrists who have not completed the necessary medical and surgical training) to perform laser eye surgery on veterans in Veteran Health Administration (VHA) medical facilities.

 “This action by the VHA to reaffirm its policy that non-medical doctors are prohibited from performing laser eye surgery in VHA facilities ensures our veterans have continued access to the highest quality of surgical eye care,” said Dr. Laurie Barber, chairman of Safe Surgery Arkansas.

In 2004, the VA first established its stand-alone laser surgery directive prohibiting non-medical doctors (optometrists) from performing laser eye surgery in VA facilities. In each of the VA’s five-year medical practice facility reviews for health care practitioners (2009 and 2015), the VA has reaffirmed the optometric laser eye surgery prohibition. 

“This November, Arkansas voters have an opportunity to ensure that all of our citizens, not just veterans, receive the same, continued access to the safest and highest quality surgical eye care by voting ‘NO’ on Issue 6,” said Dr. Barber.

Issue 6 would allow non-medical doctors in Arkansas to perform laser and scalpel eye surgery on and around the eye.
“Non-medical doctors are prohibited in the VHA from performing laser eye surgery on our veterans, and that policy should be the same for all Arkansans—especially when access and cost is not an issue,” added Dr. Barber.

Earlier this year, optometrists tried and failed to expand their laser surgery authority in VA facilities. The VA instead reaffirmed its opposition to non-medical doctors performing laser eye surgery on Veterans.  In August of this year, to ensure this policy was carried out uniformly throughout the VA, the independent laser prohibition directive was incorporated into the comprehensive VHA Eye and Vision Care Directive 1121.

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. 

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE APPLAUDS COURT'S DISMISSAL OF FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT OF JIM BAKKER
Says, ‘will not be deterred from the important job of protecting Arkansas consumers from fraudulent and deceptive claims’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds the decision dismissing a lawsuit against the State of Arkansas, filed by Jim Bakker and his production company, Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show. The decision issued in a U.S. District Court underscores Rutledge’s determination to investigate fraud regardless of its form or its guise. More importantly, the decision shows that Rutledge cannot be bullied in her investigations of fraud by a party simply rushing to the courthouse to sue her or the State of Arkansas. Rutledge has a separate lawsuit against Jim Bakker and his production company in the Arkansas Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19.

“Jim Bakker’s attempts to distract my office by filing a federal lawsuit failed. We will not be deterred from the important job of protecting Arkansas consumers from fraudulent and deceptive claims,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not tolerate illegal schemes used by Mr. Bakker that directly harm Arkansas consumers financially or physically. Bakker has historically cloaked his illegal action in the name of religion, yet he continues to deceive Arkansans for his own glory and wealth by peddling unsafe and ineffective potions as a cure for COVID-19.”

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


COTTON BILL TO BLOCK UNEMPLOYMENT FUNDS FOR RIOTERS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) will introduce the Support Peaceful Protest Act, a bill that would make people convicted of federal offenses as part of riots ineligible for virus-related federal unemployment funds. It would also mandate that those convicted of such riot offenses face fines to help cover the cost of federal policing of these riots.

Representative Jim Banks (R-Indiana) originally introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Currently, thugs and insurrectionists savaging communities around the country are eligible for unemployment benefits, paid for by the very taxpayers whose property they’ve destroyed. The federal government should not be subsidizing looting and arson. Our bill will not only halt unemployment benefits for rioters but also fine them to help cover additional policing cost,” said Cotton.

BOOZMAN PRAISES USDA FOR EXTENDING FREE SCHOOL MEALS THROUGH END OF 2020
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry—praised U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children through the remainder of the year.

Secretary Perdue’s announcement paves the way for an extension of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out.

“I applaud Secretary Perdue for taking action to ensure students have access to healthy, nutritious meals through USDA’s child nutrition programs this school year. The coronavirus has created many challenges and anxieties for Arkansas families that have not subsided. This action will provide welcome relief for parents as their children return to school,” Boozman said.

Specifically, USDA’s actions will allow:
SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;
Meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;
Meal pattern requirements to be waived as necessary; and
Parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Boozman and his colleagues urged USDA to continue providing these flexibilities to schools and sponsoring organizations for school meals and child nutrition in a recent letter to Secretary Perdue, led by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Boozman is currently continuing his August tradition of traveling the state on his annual agriculture tour in an effort to highlight the industry’s importance in Arkansas.

On Thursday, he will make a hunger relief-focused stop at the Arkansas Food Bank in Little Rock to learn about its efforts to combat hunger during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

August 28, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 28, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson thanks ADEM Director A.J. Gary and ADEM for their response to the tropical storm. The Governor said that at one point over 50,000 were without electricity but that number was now around 32,000.

Several reporters questioned the Governor and Secretary of Health Romero about Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's appearance at the RNC not social distancing and not wearing a mask. The questions were not clearly answered.
Arkansas finished the first week of school with 838 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The figure was announced during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference that afternoon.

The figure was the highest reported this week, and raises the cumulative statewide total to 59,583. Deaths increased by 17 to 756 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations continue to decline, however, with 26 fewer in medical centers across the state. That leaves 407 Arkansans in the hospital for COVID-19 related treatment. 
Active cases increased slightly but remain about the same since Monday at a total of 5,496. Of those, 225 are in nursing homes, 668 in correctional facilities and 4,600 in the broader community.
Hutchinson and Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said, despite the COVID-19 situation, the state reported a good first week of school. According to data released Thursday, the virus was detected among 411 students in public schools, colleges and universities. Hutchinson praised students, teachers and staff for helping keep that figure from being higher. 

Key also reminded parents and students on the importance of quarantining if they display symptoms related to COVID-19. He said some cases detected within schools this week were a result of improper quarantine procedures by individuals carrying the virus.

Secretary of Health Romero acknowledged that there were outbreaks of "significant numbers" at colleges in Arkansas.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:

838 new cases (181 were in prisons and 123 of the 181 were in the Varner Unit)

59,583 cumulative cases ((225 in nursing homes, 668 in prisons, 4,603 in the community)

17 new deaths (3 were delayed reporting, 4 were in nursing homes, no clustering)

756 deaths total

407 hospitalized currently (down 26 from yesterday)

95 on ventilators (down 4 from yesterday)

6,360 tests in the past 24 hours.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 143 positive cases with 14 active positive cases, 114 recovered, 4 deaths, and 3988 negative tests. Union County show 670 positive cases with 77 active positive cases, 573 recovered, 20 deaths and 6728 negative tests. Columbia County shows 288 positive cases with 40 active positive cases, 244 recovered, 14 deaths and 3433 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 109 positive cases with 36 active positives, 67 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1396 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 5 active cases, 18 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1218 negative tests.

Dr. Romero urged college students to practice social distancing and to wear masks, and noted that case numbers were increasing at some colleges.

Of the new cases, counties with 20 or more cases were Pulaski with 65, Benton with 49, Washington 41, Pope with 39, Faulkner with 29, Jefferson with 27, Sebastian with 27, Craighead with 25, Mississippi with 21, Garlands with 21, and Independence with 20.

In the US there has been 5,889,652 cumulative cases, 2,101,326 recoveries, and 181,186 deaths.

Globally there has been 24,551,207 cumulative cases, 16,051,262 recoveries, and 883,239 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/m_A7eJKJZkY

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

In review, 838 additional cases were reported Friday for a cumulative total of 59,583 since the start of the outbreak. Hospitalizations decreased by 26 to 407. Deaths increased by 17 to 756. Active cases of COVID-19 currently total 5,496, with 668 of those within state correctional facilities. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

 

TROPICAL STORM LAURA DAMAGE REPORTS 8.28.20
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management activated to Level I (Full Activation) yesterday, August 27, 2020,  in response to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Laura.  The following is a list of damages that has been reported to ADEM.  New additions to yesterday’s report are highlighted in yellow:

Bradley County – Three homes and 70 utilities were damaged.
Calhoun County – One home and one utility sustained damage.  At least one road was closed due to downed trees and power lines.
Clark County – Multiple trees and power lines down across the county resulting in significant power outages.
Cleveland County – At least five homes were damaged.
Craighead County – Refuge Baptist Church in Lake City had three buildings sustain damage.  At least four homes in Egypt and two homes in Goobertown sustained various amounts of damage.
Drew County – Downed trees forced at least one road closure.
Hempstead County – Multiple trees and power lines down across the county.
Hot Spring County – Multiple roads closed due to downed trees.
Lafayette County – Downed power lines forced at least one road closure.
Lee County – At least one road was washed out due to rain.
Nevada County – Multiple trees and power lines down across the county.
Ouachita County – County sustained widespread damage primarily from fallen trees.  One home was damaged.  Multiple power lines down across the county.  A city building in Camden sustained roof damage.  Approximately 30-35 roads were closed at some point in time during the storm due to fallen trees.
Randolph County – At least one home sustained damage.
Saline County – High water levels forced at least one road closure.  At least one business sustained damage to a building.  Several units flooded at the Chapel Ridge Apartment Complex in Benton resulting in several residents being displaced.

Residents are encouraged to report all damage to their local office of emergency management.  A list of emergency management coordinators can be found here: https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/emergency-management/adem/response/emergency-management-coordinators/

More information will be made available as it is received.
 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS CREWS ASSESSING, REPAIRING DAMAGE IN AREAS HIT BY HURRICANE LAURA COMPANY ESTIMATES 98% CUSTOMERS WILL BE RESTORED OVER THE WEEKEND
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – The Entergy Arkansas storm team is busy restoring electricity to customers who lost power as Hurricane Laura moved across the state Thursday and this morning. Nearly 48,000 customers lost power, as trees toppled onto power lines and heavy winds caused damage to power poles and electrical equipment.

More than half were restored by Friday afternoon, and the company expects 98% of customers who can take power will be restored by Sunday evening with only the most challenging and hard to access cases remaining. Current restoration estimates can be found on the Entergy outage map.

 “We understand how frustrating the loss of power can be, and our crews are working around the clock to get the electrical system back up and running today and throughout the weekend,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “We have more than 1,200 workers restoring service, and we know customers want information on our progress. We will be updating our outage map as more specific information becomes available.”

The greatest damage was in southern Arkansas, but the state was affected by tropical storm-force winds, tornadoes, thunderstorms, heavy rain and flash flooding. Coupled with anticipated weekend thunderstorms and additional safety precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the time it takes to complete damage assessment and power restoration could be longer than normal for the hardest hit areas.

Entergy Arkansas employees are navigating through the pandemic by taking precautions including traveling separately when possible, wearing masks when necessary and generally following CDC guidelines, all of which can add to the time required to complete work. The Company requests that customers keep their distance from workers in the field, for both safety and health reasons.

“We also want to remind customers to not only keep their distance from our crews,” Landreaux said, “but also equipment and downed power lines. With the amount of debris and limbs on the ground, there may be hidden power lines on the ground and potential for injury or greater damages. Always behave as if they are live wires; keep your distance and report downed lines and broken power poles to 1-800-9OUTAGE.”

Customers can stay informed throughout the Entergy storm response in several ways:

Download the Entergy App at entergy.com/app to easily report outages or check on the status of power at a home or business.

Entergy’s View Outages website includes maps that show where outages are located and give information about restoration progress.

Sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest.

The Entergy Storm Center website has storm safety, preparation and restoration information that is updated throughout the day.          

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 8,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.
 

USACE RELEASES MISSISSIPPI RIVER MAINLINE LEVEES DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released its Draft Supplement II (Draft SEIS II) to the 1976 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project, Mississippi River Mainline Levees (MRL), today, Aug. 28.

Through evaluation of information and data obtained from levee inspections, seepage analyses, research, studies and engineering assessments, the USACE Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans districts have collectively identified a total of 143 additional Work Items along various reaches of the Mississippi River mainline levees (MRL) feature of the MR&T project. These Work Items are remedial measures to control seepage and/or raise and stabilize deficient sections of the existing levees and floodwalls to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the MRL system. The 143 Work Items constitute the proposed action for this Draft SEIS II and are located across portions of seven states: Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This document is intended to supplement and, as necessary, augment the 1976 FEIS and 1998 Supplemental EIS (SEIS I) to achieve USACE's primary goals for the MR&T: (1) providing flood risk reduction from the Project Design Flood; and (2) being an environmentally sustainable project.

The general public, interested parties and stakeholders are invited to comment on the Draft SEIS II. The draft report contains a description of the project, an evaluation of the alternatives under consideration and an analysis of potential environmental impacts. All public comments received will be addressed and considered as part of USACE's decision-making process.

The Draft SEIS II is available online at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District website at: https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mvk.usace.army.mil%2FMRLSEIS%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cdb0e68a1cf954e3a132b08d84b6a72be%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637342268463250983&sdata=ru8gri44LFThw%2BJ1KN7UWoG%2BZuV51WbYLgu069uZvL0%3D&reserved=0.

Due to COVID-19, USACE will host virtual public meetings to provide information on the project and to receive verbal public comments; times and meeting details will be provided in subsequent media release and advertisements. USACE will accept written comments through Oct. 13. Comments on the Draft SEIS II should be sent by e-mail to MRL-SEIS-2@usace.army.mil or by mail to the following address:
District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District
4155 Clay Street
Vicksburg, Mississippi 39138-3435

 

August 27, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 27, 2020
Gov. Asa Hutchinson updated Arkansans on two ongoing emergencies across the state during his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Thursday afternoon. The first, of course, was COVID-19. The second dealt with Hurricane Laura and its effect on Arkansas.

Before discussing the state's latest COVID-19 developments, Hutchinson provided updates on the impacts of the hurricane and the result high winds and flash flooding after it made landfall Thursday morning. Hutchinson said, as of Thursday afternoon, over 22,000 Arkansans were without power. He said the state had deployed three high water rescue teams in the southern half of Arkansas to respond to victims of flooding. 

Moving to the state's daily COVID-19 figures, an additional 722 cases were reported between Wednesday and Thursday. These new cases raise the state's cumulative total to 58,745 since the beginning of the outbreak. Hospitalizations decreased by a further three Arkansans. That leaves 433 state residents receiving treatment in medical facilities for COVID-19 related complications. Deaths increased by three to a total of 739. Active cases of the virus across Arkansas number 5,341.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 135 positive cases with 18 active positive cases, 113 recovered, 4 deaths, and 3968 negative tests. Union County show 653 positive cases with 69 active positive cases, 559 recovered, 20 deaths and 6710 negative tests. Columbia County shows 286 positive cases with 30 active positive cases, 242 recovered, 14 deaths and 3419 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 104 positive cases with 36 active positives, 66 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1363 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 5 active cases, 18 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1209 negative tests.
USA Cases 5,846,591
USA Recoveries 2,084,465
USA Deaths 180,249

Global Cases 24,271,466
Global Recoveries 15,848,667
Global Deaths 827,801

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key said new, school-level data will be available soon through the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements, also known as ACHI. Key explained this new data will detail how many students and staff have contracted COVID-19 within each Arkansas school district, college and university. Previously, this data was only available for the total infection rate throughout the physical boundaries of an entire school district. The data now details those figures within the schools themselves, but only if they've reported at least five confirmed cases. 

The data is expected to be released later on Thursday on ACHI's website, achi.net. Hutchinson said the data will also be available on the websites of both the Arkansas Department of Education and Arkansas Department of Health. 

Again, the state reported an additional 722 cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours. Hospitalizations decreased by two to 433 while deaths increased by seven to 739. Active cases currently number 5,341 people across the state. Over 6,000 tests were performed between Wednesday and Thursday. 

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 


STATE POLICE OPEN CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION AFTER DRIVER LICENSE TESTING IRREGULARITIES DISCOVERED
AUGUST 27, 2020
Three Arkansas State Police driver license examiners were terminated yesterday from state employment for failure to follow procedures and statutory practices in administering driver license examinations.  The employees who were dismissed from their jobs were classified as civilian employees and had been assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Driver License Testing Office at Jonesboro.  The former employees are not commissioned state troopers.
The facts which formed the basis for terminating the employees are now part of an on-going investigation being led by the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Additionally the Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration are working together to identify driver license test applicants who were issued permits between May 4th – August 17th this year.  As early as next week, individuals who received driving permits from the Jonesboro state police office during the three month period should expect to receive letters from DF&A’s Office of Driver Services.  The letter will direct recipients to contact the Arkansas State Police as soon as possible at a specific telephone number or email address provided below:

Telephone number & Email address reserved for questions about driver license test permits issued at Jonesboro Highway Patrol Troop C
(501) 618-8810
driverslicense@asp.arkansas.gov

A driver test permit certifies a driver license applicant has successfully passed the written and skills portion of the test and clears the way for an applicant to obtain an Arkansas Driver License from DF&A’s Driver Services. 
The Troop C Driver License Testing Office hours have been temporarily expanded to accommodate additional road skills testing that may be required if a permit holder was not properly tested as prescribed by Arkansas Code Annotated §27-16-704(b)(2).  The office will be open Monday – Friday, 7 AM – 7 PM and Saturday, 8 AM – 5 PM.  The 7 AM weekday hour and all day Saturday are reserved specifically for individuals with permits or licenses who were not administered a road skills test.  Anyone who received a driver permit at the Jonesboro office between the May and August dates should immediately contact the state police during regular business hours at the dedicated phone number and email address that has been provided.
Any driver license issued by DF&A Driver Services based on a state police testing permit issued at the Jonesboro testing site during the identified three month time period could become invalid by the end of September unless the licensee contacts the state police to certify whether a skills test was administered.
The Craighead County Prosecuting Attorney will be provided the findings of the state police investigation to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against the former employees who allegedly tampered with an official state record. 

 

USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT ENGAGES EMERGENCY OPERATIONS, MAPPING CENTERS IN PREPARATION FOR HURRICANE LAURA
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District is providing material and technical assistance to communities across the Southeast in preparation for Hurricane Laura by mobilizing its Emergency Operations Center as well as the Mapping, Modeling and Consequences Center.

The USACE Vicksburg District's Emergency Operations Center has activated its emergency watch for hurricane response operations. The center is collaborating with local, state and federal officials in Mississippi and Louisiana to monitor conditions across the region and prepare support teams to deploy if necessary. The center deployed its sand bag machine to south Mississippi communities last weekend. The machine, which filled approximately 5,000 sandbags during its deployment, returned to Vicksburg Wednesday.

The USACE Mapping, Modeling and Consequences Center is helping to develop products for areas across Louisiana and Texas, including mapping for the Neches, Trinity and Sabine rivers and modeling for downstream of the Addick and Barker reservoirs. The data from these maps and models, which are coordinated with the National Hurricane Center and the USACE New Orleans and Galveston districts, helps local and state emergency management officials to determine evacuation routes and staging areas.

Additionally, the USACE Vicksburg District's Water Management Section ran models for the Red and Ouachita rivers and produced inundation mapping for the Pearl River to allow senior leadership to make informed decisions regarding the monitoring and operation of structures in the area.

"Hurricane Laura poses an extreme threat to regions across the Southeast, particularly in light of the ongoing pandemic," said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. "The Vicksburg District is committed to supporting our local, state and federal partners and the communities we serve through this unprecedented challenge."

According to the National Weather Service as of 1 p.m. Central, Hurricane Laura is a Category 4 storm projected to make landfall Wednesday night near the border between Louisiana and Texas and produce catastrophic impacts, including extreme storm surge, winds, flooding and tornados.

The Mapping, Modeling and Consequences Center is a national center of expertise based at the district headquarters building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The center is responsible for developing hydraulic modeling, consequence assessments, inundation mapping and study reports for USACE dam and levee projects and flood events. The center's products are intended to support a risk-based assessment, prioritization, and management framework for dam and levee safety programs.

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 Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.
 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION SPECIAL MEETING TO BE HELD
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will meet in Special Session Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. at Garrison Auditorium. The Agenda is as follows:

1.Call to order.

2. New Business
a. Presentation and recommendation regarding transferring funds from operating into building fund.
b. Presentation by Kristi Dean (POC) on COVID 19.
c. Presentation by Andre Toney on Athletic Stadium.
d. Presentation and recommendation regarding CFMS student handbook revision.
e. Presentation and recommendation regarding Licensed and Classified Personnel Policy Changes.

3. Personnel
a. Hiring
b.Transfer

August 26, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 26, 2020
Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference started off much differently Wednesday afternoon. In fact, the conference began not with COVID-19 but on approaching Hurricane Laura. 

Hutchinson announced he had signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Arkansas due to the category four hurricane and its potential impact on the Natural State. The declaration releases $250,000 for additional emergency response resources. State emergency response teams have also been mobilized, particularly for deployment in the southern half of Arkansas.

Hutchinson said he is coordinating with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to track damage caused by the hurricane. That information, he added, will help the state coordinate its own targeted response.

Hutchinson then turned back to updating the state's COVID-19 figures. Since Tuesday, an additional 649 cases of the virus were reported. The state's cumulative total since the start of the outbreak is now 58,023. Deaths saw another relatively high increase over the previous 24 hours, with 21 additional Arkansans dying from illness caused by COVID-19. That raises the total to 732. Hospitalizations saw a third day of continuous decline, with seven fewer people in Arkansas hospitals. That figure numbers 435. Recoveries increased to 51,901 Arkansans. There are currently 5,390 active positive cases of the virus in the state. Slightly more than 3,000 tests were performed between Tuesday and Wednesday. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 133 positive cases with 16 active positive cases, 113 recovered, 4 deaths, and 3953 negative tests. Union County show 650 positive cases with 70 active positive cases, 559 recovered, 21 deaths and 6578 negative tests. Columbia County shows 284 positive cases with 34 active positive cases, 237 recovered, 13 deaths and 3403 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 103 positive cases with 37 active positives, 64 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1290 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 6 active cases, 17 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1205 negative tests.

USA Cases 5,779,707
USA Recoveries 2,053,699
USA Deaths 178,535
Global Cases 23,930,649
Global Recoveries 15,606,094
Global Deaths 820,646

Turning to education, Hutchinson introduced Dr. Ivy Pfeffer, deputy commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Education.  from the Pfeffer informed Arkansans on local and state resources available for both parents and educators in regard to the return of school within the current COVID-19 environment. 

The number to that hotline is 1-833-504-0155.

Following a question from a reporter in attendance at Wednesday's press conference, Hutchinson said prison visitations will not be reinstated for the foreseeable future. Arkansas correctional facilities have seen significant COVID-19 outbreaks. Hutchinson said, despite an improving situation in the state's prison system, visitations will continue to be prohibited in order to protect inmates and correctional staff. 

In review, 649 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday for a total of 58,023 since the pandemic first hit. Deaths saw a sizeable increase of 21 to 732. Recoveries grew to 51,901. Active cases currently number 5,390. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

SAU TO ACTIVATE INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY ON AUG 27 AND 28
Classes will be cancelled Thursday and Friday
MAGNOLIA -- Due to the current weather warnings for our area and the potential threat of hazardous conditions, Southern Arkansas University will be operating under its Inclement Weather Policy Thursday and Friday, August 27 and 28, 2020.

All classes, on-line and face-to-face, will be cancelled for these two days.

University housing will remain open during this time. Meals will continue to be served for students who remain on campus. University Police will continue to patrol the campus throughout this closure.

Use great caution if you plan to travel during this time and be aware of potential power disruptions and flooding.

If you remain on campus, and need assistance during this time, please contact the following:
University Police 870.235.4100
University Health Services 870.235.5237
University Housing 870.235.4047

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS STORM TEAM PREPS FOR HURRICANE LAURA
About 1,200 workers on standby to assist with storm restoration
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – The Entergy Arkansas storm team is finalizing its storm preparations to respond to any impacts across Arkansas from Hurricane Laura, predicted to strike near the Texas/Louisiana border late tonight or early tomorrow as a destructive Category 4 hurricane. Forecasts indicate Laura will impact southern Arkansas Thursday beginning as early as noon and pushing further north and east into the state throughout the day, possibly causing power outages from tropical storm-force winds, tornadoes, thunderstorms, heavy rain and flash flooding, which could lead to days-long outages.

“We are using these final hours ahead of the storm to patrol our system for service risks and ensure we have the necessary resources, equipment, and workforce to restore power as safely and quickly as possible. We understand the hardships an extended power outage can cause for our customers, especially during the heat of an Arkansas summer with so many working from home and remote learning for children,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “We understand, and we are making sure we are well prepared to respond. Our team will be hard at work to repair storm damage and bring customers the best information we have as quickly as possible.”

The company is working to amass a workforce of nearly 1,200 restoration workers to respond to possible impacts. Entergy Arkansas has reciprocal agreements with other utilities through which they help one another out after major weather events. Workers will be staged in strategic locations to respond to outages after the storm has passed. Crews will focus on restoring emergency services first, then will prioritize work according to which repairs will restore power to the greatest number of customers.

“While the hardest-hit locations are likely to be in the southern part of Arkansas, crews will be ready to respond across the state as necessary as soon as it is safe to do so,” Landreaux said.

Staging sites will likely be set up in El Dorado, Magnolia and Warren to provide materials and supplies to restoration workers. In addition, workers are planning logistics such as food and lodging for traveling workers. Vegetation crews will be scouting key circuits for threats from wind-blown trees.

Additional safety precautions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could affect the time it takes to assess damage and restore power.

Entergy Arkansas employees are navigating through the pandemic by taking precautions including traveling separately when possible, wearing masks when necessary and generally following CDC guidelines, all of which can add to the time required to complete work. The Company requests that customers keep their distance from workers in the field, for both safety and health reasons.

Customers can stay informed throughout the Entergy response through these resources:

Download the Entergy App at entergyapp.com. Customers can use the app to report outages or check on the status of power at their home or business.

Entergy’s View Outages website includes maps that show where outages are located and give information about restoration progress.

Sign up for text alerts by texting REG to 36778 and have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code). Once registered, text OUT to 36778 to report an outage. You can also report an outage online as a guest.

The Entergy Storm Center website has storm safety, preparation and restoration information that is updated throughout the day.

Operation: Storm Ready Guide is a free downloadable guide that helps customers plan.

Social media also plays an important role in keeping customers informed, and the company places a high priority on updating its social media channels throughout an event. Customers can follow Entergy Arkansas on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.
 

SUSPECT APPREHENDED FOLLOWING UNION COUNTY OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
AUGUST 25, 2020
The Arkansas State Police has been requested to conduct an investigation of a Union County officer involved shooting.  Local sheriff’s department authorities requested the investigation while a search was underway earlier today for an El Dorado man who commandeered a deputy’s patrol car.
Kyle Schroder, 20, of El Dorado was subsequently apprehended and is being held at the Union County Detention Center.

Schroder had been the driver of a stolen vehicle being pursued by a sheriff’s deputy about 11:30 AM Tuesday.  As Schroder drove the stolen vehicle along Lynn Fite Road onto U.S. Highway 82, west of El Dorado, he lost control of the car and crashed the vehicle into a tree.

As a deputy attempted to take Schroder into custody, Schroder resisted and the two became involved in a physical altercation that moved from the highway to a nearby residence.

Schroder was able to overpower the deputy and fled back to the highway where he took control of the sheriff’s department patrol car.  Inside the car was a rifle readily accessible.  As the patrol car began to move with Schroder as the driver, the deputy fired his pistol and at least one round is believed to have penetrated the vehicle exterior.
The deputy involved in the fight sustained minor injuries.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division will prepare an investigative file to submit to the Union County prosecuting attorney to use in determining whether use of deadly force by the sheriff's deputy was consistent with Arkansas laws. The agents are also preparing affidavits seeking formal charges of aggravated assault to be filed against Schroder.

 

ASP/CID SPECIAL AGENTS CALLED TO INVESTIGATE PLUMERVILLE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
AUGUST 25, 2020
The Arkansas State Police has been requested to investigate an incident that occurred yesterday (Monday, August 24th) in Plumerville.  Authorities within the Plumerville Police Department made the request for assistance to Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.

Michael Gentry, 30, was hospitalized after being shot by a Plumerville police officer as Gentry allegedly approached the officer with a meat cleaver.  Gentry’s wound is not believed to be life threatening.
Local police had earlier encountered Gentry at a city park regarding a domestic dispute.  Gentry began to fight officers and fled to a nearby residence where he was shot.

Gentry is presently facing criminal charges of criminal mischief, fleeing, and two counts of aggravated assault.
Questions relating to the identity of the officer who fired his gun and the administrative status of the officer should be directed to the Plumerville Police Department.
The Arkansas State Police will prepare an investigative case file and submit it to the prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is consistent with Arkansas laws.

 

SCOTT COUNTY COUPLE FOUND DEAD; SUSPECT IN CUSTODY
AUGUST 25, 2020
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the murders of two Scott County residents whose bodies were discovered early Monday morning (August 24th) inside the couple’s home at 4642 Highway 270 near Boles, south of Waldron.  Special Agents of the state police criminal investigation division were requested by the Scott County Sheriff to conduct the homicide investigation.

The bodies of Bobby Slagle, 81, and his wife, Martha, 69, were discovered in a bedroom at the residence.

The Scott County Sheriff’s Department received a phone call about 1 AM Monday from an individual at the Slagle’s home reporting he had cut his foot and needed assistance.  A sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the home later arrested Dustin Wayne Shores, 35, who was found inside the residence.  Shores is being held at the Scott County Detention Center awaiting the filing of formal criminal charges.
 

ARKANSAS 529 EDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN REACHES $1 BILLION IN ASSETS INCREASE OF 77% IS MILESTONE FOR MILLIGAN ADMINISTRATION
Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas 529 Education Savings Plan has reached $1 billion in assets, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan told the 529 Board today.

“When I took office in 2015, I made promoting the Arkansas 529 plan a priority,” Milligan said. “We had $568 million in assets and today, just five-and-a-half years later, we’re at $1 billion. For a plan that began in Arkansas in 1999, this type of growth is just phenomenal.”

Since Milligan has taken office and been in charge of administering the plan, it has seen a 77 percent increase in growth. Since January alone, the plan has seen a net inflow of contributions of $2 million more than the same period in 2019.

The Arkansas 529 plan began in 1999, but wasn’t moved under the purview of the Treasurer’s Office until 2003. It initially started with a direct-sold plan sponsored by the state. However, in 2007, the plan’s advisory board added an advisor-sold option as well, which saw an 8 percent growth in the past seven months, Milligan said.

“We have taken a plan that few people knew existed and have turned it into a household name in just five years,” Milligan said. “We began heavily promoting the Arkansas 529 plan during my first year in office, and because of that, we’ve seen consistent growth each year.”

The Arkansas 529 plan is an education-savings account that offers parents up to $10,000 in state tax deductions for their contributions. They’re then able to use the money for a variety of expenses to further their child’s education, whether that be at a traditional four-year university or a technical or trade school.

Not only has Milligan grown the program exponentially, but he has worked with the Legislature over his tenure to provide several tax benefits for Arkansans in order to make the program more attractive. Those include:

Creating a tax deduction for businesses that wish to match their employees’ contributions

Allowing those who are able to contribute up to $50,000 in a single year and carry the $10,000 tax deduction toward the forthcoming four years

Expanding the plan to include K-12 tuition and widening the list of qualifying expenses for which the money can be used

Introducing a $7,500 tax incentive for people with out-of-state plans when they roll them over into the Arkansas plan

Milligan also plans to work with the Legislature in the upcoming 2021 general session to incorporate recent federal changes to 529 plans that allow account owners to use 529 funds to pay student loan debt. Federal legislation adding student loans and the cost of apprenticeship programs as eligible expenses for 529 plans was enacted in 2019 via the SECURE Act.

In addition to the legislative changes, Milligan also created the first mobile app in the country for a state-run 529 plan.

“We have worked hard to make the Arkansas 529 plan a successful education savings tool for all Arkansans,” Milligan said. “For as little as $25, you can open an account for your child or grandchild and start saving for their future.”

For more information about the Arkansas 529 Education Savings Plan, visit www.arkansas529.org or call (501) 682-1406.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR AEDC’S SEPTEMBER 17 SMALL, MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED VIRTUAL MATCHMAKING EVENT
Little Rock, Ark. (August 25, 2020) – The Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) will host its annual matchmaker event on Thursday, Sept. 17, and encourages small, and minority- and women-owned business owners to participate. Due to effects of COVID-19, this year’s event will be virtual.

Participants in this free event have the opportunity to connect with other local business owners; listen to a variety of guest speakers; and meet with county, state, and federal government buyers from across Arkansas for contract opportunities related to their goods and services.

The Arkansas 2020 Small, Minority and Women-Owned Virtual Matchmaking Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at www.arkansasedc.com/matchmaking2020.

The event will kick off with a keynote speech from James Frederic (Jim) Thrower, a former defense back for the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles who now is a community builder and president and CEO of Jamjomar Inc., a family of 11 McDonald’s restaurants in Michigan and Louisiana. He is a recipient of the Ronald Award, the most prestigious award for McDonald’s franchisees. Outside of corporate success, he serves as the vice-chair of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) Board of Water Commissioners. The Board of Water Commissioners is made up of seven members who oversee DWSD operations, management, and major contracts, as well as set rates for water and sewer services.

“Now, more than ever, we need to connect qualified small business owners with contracting opportunities,” said Secretary of Commerce and AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston. “Small minority and women-owned businesses make a significant contribution to the state, and it is in our best interest to provide them with tools and opportunities that will enable them to increase their revenue and employ more Arkansans.”

Beginning at 10 a.m., registrants have the option to attend 15-minute matchmaking meetings. While the Matchmaker Event does not guarantee contracts, it does create ample networking opportunities and pre-arranged one-on-one “speed-dating style” appointments.

“We have seen steady growth of our Matchmaking Event over the past three years, and we wanted to do everything possible to make sure our small and minority business owners could continue the tradition,” said Pat Brown, Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE) director. “This year’s event will look a lot different, but one huge advantage is that participants can reach out directly to buyers through the matchmaking platform to set up their own meetings.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and AEDC officials announced in August 2017 the state’s Small and Minority Business Program mission would be expanded to include women-owned businesses and be renamed the Division of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise by Act 1080 of 2017. New annual spending targets for State of Arkansas were also set at that time at eight percent for minority businesses, five percent for women-owned and two percent for service-disabled veterans in construction, goods and services, totaling 15 percent for vendors in those categories.

AEDC’s Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Division promotes the growth and sustainability of such businesses by providing real-world technical and professional assistance, state vendor certification, and opportunities for networking and contracting with AEDC partners in state and federal government, higher education, lending institutions and the private sector.

For more information about the event, how to prepare in advance, and to register, visit www.arkansasedc.com/matchmaking2020.

August 25, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 24, 2020
Deaths in Arkansas due to coronavirus surpassed 700 on Tuesday. During his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state reported an additional 15 deaths from Monday. That raises the total number of death due to illness caused by COVID-19 to 711.  Almost half of the new deaths reported Tuesday occurred in nursing homes across the state.

There was a bit of good news in terms of hospitalizations, which saw another sizeable net decrease on Tuesday by 24 to 442. Yesterday, the state announced 34 fewer people were hospitalized due to COVID-19. New cases increased over the previous 24 hours by 480 to a cumulative total of 57,374. New tests declined however, with 3,300 additional tests performed between Monday and Tuesday. Over 143,000 tests have been performed since the beginning of August. Active cases total 5,312.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 132 positive cases with 17 active positive cases, 111 recovered, 4 deaths, and 3941 negative tests. Union County show 634 positive cases with 57 active positive cases, 556 recovered, 21 deaths and 6553 negative tests. Columbia County shows 281 positive cases with 39 active positive cases, 230 recovered, 12 deaths and 3401 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 90 positive cases with 24 active positives, 64 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1285 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 6 active cases, 17 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1203 negative tests.

USA Cases 5,741,189

USA Recoveries 2,020,774

USA Deaths 177,284
Global Cases 23,679,320
Global Recoveries 15,359,999

Global Deaths 813,820

Hutchinson highlighted a new classification for Arkansas by federal health experts. He said the better rating reflects a decreasing positivity rate among COVID-19 tests performed in the state. 

Dr. Jose Romero, head of the Arkansas Department of Health, again stressed the need for more testing in Arkansas. He urged anyone who's in doubt to go ahead and get tested. He said health insurance information is collected from those who have the test performed at a county health unit. Those who don't have insurance will not be charged to receive a COVID-19 test. 

Tests are available at most doctor offices and at local county health units. 

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/


Again, new cases increased by a relatively moderate amount on Tuesday, raising by 480 to 57,374. Deaths increased by 15 to 711, while hospitalizations fell by a net 24 people to now total 442. Active cases grew slightly to 5,312. Recoveries now number 51,351 Arkansans since the start of the outbreak. 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 27th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by   Wesley Stewart who will talking about The Call.

You are required to wear a mask was 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 temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.
 

UAMS COVID-19 TESTING RESCHEDULED
September 2nd Drive-Up Testing in El Dorado Postponed from August 27th
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., September 2nd at Medical Center of South Arkansas, 700 West Grove St. in El Dorado. Because of weather forecasts predicting that rainstorms will likely affect the area on Aug. 27, the testing drive-up has been rescheduled to September 2nd. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing.  Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with Medical Center of South Arkansas, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Blue and You Foundation.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

ASP CALLED TO INVESTIGATE SCOTT COUNTY MURDERS
AUGUST 24, 2020
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the murders of two Scott County residents whose bodies were discovered earlier today inside a residence south of Waldron.  Special Agents of the state police criminal investigation division were requested by the Scott County Sheriff to conduct the investigation.
The sheriff’s department received a phone call about 1 AM today from an individual stating he had cut his foot and needed assistance.  A sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the home found the murder victims in a bedroom.
An investigation is continuing and more information is expected to be released as early as tomorrow.  Meanwhile, authorities are attempting to notify next of kin related to the victims.

 
 

August 24, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 24, 2020
The start of school across Arkansas was joined by a relatively good day in regard to the statewide COVID-19 outbreak. 

During his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference on Monday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported a much smaller number of new COVID-19 cases from Friday's one-day total of nearly 900 cases. He said 320 new cases of the virus were detected between Sunday and Monday for a cumulative statewide total of 56,894. Additional deaths also saw a decrease from Friday's record of 22, with nine new cases reported Monday. Arkansans who have died from COVID-19 now number 696. Hospitalizations saw a healthy decrease. Thirty-four fewer people were hospitalized due to the virus on Monday. That leaves 466 Arkansans still receiving treatment through a medical center in the state. 

Active cases of COVID-19 across Arkansas saw a small increase from Sunday, raising to 5,509. Tests performed between Sunday and Monday numbered 4,629. Around 6,000 tests were performed on both Saturday and Sunday. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 130 positive cases with 16 active positive cases, 110 recovered, 4 deaths, and 3894 negative tests. Union County show 527 positive cases with 54 active positive cases, 552 recovered, 21 deaths and 6526 negative tests. Columbia County shows 274 positive cases with 34 active positive cases, 228 recovered, 12 deaths and 3373 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 90 positive cases with 25 active positives, 63 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1279 negative tests. Calhoun County had 23 positive cases with 7 active cases, 16 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1193 negative tests.
Arkansas Total COVID-19 Cases

Arkansas
56.894
Active Cases
5,636
Recoveries
50.251
Deaths
687

Johnny Key, Commissioner for the Arkansas Department of Education, said Monday's return to in-class instruction was going well across the state. He urged Arkansans to assist in the safe return to school by continuing to follow state health guidelines. 

Hutchinson also stated the Arkansas' health guidelines, ranging from the face mask mandate to restaurants limiting their capacity to two-thirds, will continue into the foreseeable future. He added that the state currently has no goal posts in place which, if reached, would allow these guidelines to be relaxed. Only time will tell, he said, if Arkansas' COVID-19 environment diminishes or even ever ends. 

Again, new cases of COVID-19 increased by 320 on Monday to a cumulative total of 56,984. Deaths increased by nine to 696. Hospitalizations saw a net decrease of 34 to 466. Active cases grew slightly to 5,509. Recoveries now number over 50,000.

We'll cntinue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

CAMDEN ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION COMMITTEE to MEET
The Camden Advertising and Promotion Committee will meet on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 3:00 P.M. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

*Masks and social distancing a must!

The agenda is as follows.
Welcome
Approval of November minutes
Financial Report
Old business
None
New business
1.  Appointments.  Expired terms of Clara Freeland and Lori DeWoody.
2.  Form Budget Committee
3.  Bass Tournament update
4.  JC Productions report

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Jennifer Pinson with H & P Alliance.  H & P Animal Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit that seeks to better the lives of animals through education and action.  Ms. Pinson will be talking about what their program does as well as upcoming fundraisers.


MARKETING WORKSHOP #3: BEING INTENTIONAL WITH MESSAGE AND MEDIUM
Effective marketing is a matter of getting the right message to the right audience at the right time in the right way. Join
us as we talk about how to refine your unique point of difference as a business and map out how best to leverage it to achieve your marketing objectives.
What is the ASBTDC?
We are your go-to resource for help starting or growing a business in Arkansas. Our centers assist all types of for-profit businesses, from home-based to high-tech. Receive one-to-one confidential consulting and cutting-edge market research at no charge, or expand your expertise through our affordable educational events.

Cost – Free
Speakers
Kristen Cribb, Business Consultant
Janell Morton, Center Director
Co-Sponsors
Team Camden
Ouachita Partnership For Economic Development
When - August 25, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Where Online : https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/507421013
Contact Kristen Cribb at (870) 235-5033.

The Southern Arkansas University SBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the SAU Rankin College of Business. All ASBTDC programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.
 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT ANNOUNCES FALL, WINTER RECREATION SCHEDULES FOR ARKANSAS LAKES
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District has announced fall and winter schedules for campgrounds and recreation areas across its Arkansas lakes, Lake Ouachita, DeGray Lake and Lake Greeson.

The following campgrounds at Lake Ouachita will be partially closed beginning 4 p.m. on October 31 until March 1, 2021: Brady Mountain, Crystal Springs, Tompkins Bend, and Denby Point. Joplin Campground will close at 4 p.m. Sept. 30 and reopen March 1, 2021. Little Fir Campground will close at 4 p.m. October 31 and reopen March 1, 2021.

Campgrounds at Stephens Park and Twin Creek will remain open during this time.

The Spillway, Crystal Springs and Twin Creek day use areas will close October 30 and reopen March 1, 2021. Hours upon reopening will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and change to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 12, 2021. Blakely Mountain Dam day use area will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning September 27, and will change to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 11, 2021.

Stephens Park and Avery day use areas will remain open and unaffected.

All recreation areas on the north side of Lake Ouachita, including Irons Fork, Avant, Buckville, Rabbit Tail and Cedar Fourche, will remain open. Janitorial services for these areas, including permanent and portable restrooms and trash services, will cease September 30 and resume March 1, 2021. Free pack-in/pack-out camping will be available during this time.

The following campgrounds at Lake Greeson will be closed November 1 and reopen March 1, 2021: Arrowhead, Buckhorn, Pikeville, Laurel Creek, Old Cowhide Cove, New Cowhide Cove (sites 1-9), Self Creek, Dam Area, West Kirby Landing (sites 35-79) and Jim Wylie.

Parker Creek and the remainder of New Cowhide Cove will close December 15 and reopen March 1, 2021.

The following electrical sites are open all winter for a fee of $20 per night: East Kirby Landing, Weston Point and Dam Area. Star of the West will be open with no charge.

The following recreation areas at DeGray Lake will partially or completely close October 31 and reopen March 1, 2021: Alpine Ridge, Arlie Moore, Point Cedar, Edgewood, Iron Mountain, Lakeview, Shouse Ford and Highway 7. Partially closed areas, other than Arlie Moore, as well as Lenox Marcus and Ozan Point recreation areas, will close completely on December 1.

Off-season campground reservations at Lake Ouachita, Lake Greeson and DeGray Lake opened August 15 for October 1 to April 30, 2021 via https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.recreation.gov%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7C40daf3b254e34837afa808d846126403%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637336393159307715&sdata=gYttRVGj0kvKK0iiskfLOJfMNzhTr1ikmD%2BZo4b28Og%3D&reserved=0
or by calling 877-444-6777. Reservation extension requests will be accepted and reviewed during this period.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Arkansas, contact the Lake Ouachita Field Office at 501-767-2101, DeGray Lake Field Office at 870-246-5501, or Lake Greeson Field Office at 870-285-2151.

For COVID-19 related closures and updates at USACE Vicksburg District campgrounds, visit https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2FxwfVT&data=02%7C01%7C%7C40daf3b254e34837afa808d846126403%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637336393159307715&sdata=BphhuBHkFYtGNs3lh43otIj%2BlWxX%2F5he7CJy%2B1jM2dg%3D&reserved=0.
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.

SAU TO REOPEN ITS DRIVING RANGE ON TODAY, AUGUST 24TH
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University will reopen its driving range at 9 a.m. Monday, August 24, 2020. The driving range, which initially opened in February, but was closed in the spring due to COVID-19, is available to SAU students and the Magnolia community. Located on the southeast side of the campus, adjacent to University Village, it is open daily from daylight until dark.

A golf ball dispensing machine is located in the range building on site and accepts debit or credit cards only. Two rental options are offered: a medium bucket (50) of balls for $5.00, or a large bucket (70) of balls for $6.00. SAU students may use the range free of charge by obtaining a range card at the Mulerider Activity Center front desk.

SAAC ARTS ACADEMY ENROLLING STUDENTS
Registration is now open for the South Arkansas Arts Center Arts Academy's fall 2020 semester. In response to the global pandemic, the center is offering a blend of both virtual and in-person classes, providing a variety of choices for students.
Classes begin the week of August 31-September 4, and registration can be completed online at saac-arts.org. SAAC's full roster of classes includes instruction in visual art, graphic design, animation, dance, theatre, and music. SAAC will follow a strict set of COVID-19 guidelines, following guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health for each discipline of study.
"The South Arkansas Arts Center remains committed to working within the guidelines from the state of Arkansas to create safe, accessible classes in the arts for our community," says executive director Laura Allen. "We hope that by creating a menu of varied options for our students, we can continue to meet their needs, even under these unusual circumstances."
For the fall 2020 semester, class sizes will be limited to ensure social distancing, and times will be staggered to limit the number of students entering and exiting the building simultaneously. Most classrooms will be used for only one group of students each day, and they will be cleaned before and after each class. Teachers, staff, and students will be screened daily for symptoms and temperature, and masks are required.
For families who prefer a virtual option, Maria Villegas will offer instruction via Zoom for grades 2 and up. Mike Means will also offer Zoom instruction for art projects that can be completed on the iPad for all ages.
In-person art instruction will be available in visual art with Katie Harwell for pre-K through first grade, in graphic art with Mike Means for second grade and up, and in digital storytelling/animation with Katy Callaway Hayes for grades 5-8. Classes in ballet and lyrical dance with Stephanie Lowrey and Elizabeth Wood will be available for all ages. Hannah Faith Davis will offer theatre instruction for pre-K through 7th grade, and Lynn Gunter will lead the Teen Drama Club. Private piano instruction is available on a one-on-one basis with Kordelia Leggett.
Registration for all classes can currently be completed online at saac-arts.org. Class sizes are limited, and spots are available on a first come, first serve basis. Scholarships are available. For questions about registration, COVID-19 adaptations, or virtual options, please call 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 
 

AUGUST 21, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 21, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the briefing by announcing that the July unemployment rate numbers have been released and show a 1% drop to 7.1%. (The rate was 8.1% in June and 9.6% in May.) The 7.1% is a full 3% lower than the national average.

The Governor also announced that the testing of all prison inmates in the state has been completed. A total of 14,650 inmates were tested with 5,120 or 35% positive. Also, 4,728 staff were tested with 378 positive. All total there were 19,378 tests administered.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
887 new cases
55,652 cumulative cases
22 new deaths (4 were delayed reporting from July)(11 were in nursing homes, 7 of which were in the same facility)
663 deaths total
10 new hospitalizations
509 currently hospitalized
120 on ventilators (up 12 from yesterday)
5,854 active cases
49,135 recoveries (up 677 from yesterday)
6,396 tests yesterday.

Dr. Romero pointed out that the number of deaths yesterday was the highest for any single day during the health emergency even though 4 of the deaths were delayed reporting from July. (To actual total yesterday was 18.)

Of the new cases, 15 counties had 20 or more new cases. Pulaski with 80, Washington with 57, Benton with 47, Sebastian with 28, Pope with 33, Stone with 30, Faulkner with 29, Lonoke with 25, Craighead with 24, Crawford with 23, Crittenden with 22, Sevier with 21, Garland with 20, Independence with 20 and Poinsett with 20.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 124 positive cases with 17 active positive cases, 104 recovered, 3 deaths, and 3838 negative tests. Union County show 597 positive cases with 58 active positive cases, 518 recovered, 21 deaths and 6322 negative tests. Columbia County shows 255 positive cases with 21 active positive cases, 222 recovered, 12 deaths and 3288 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 70 positive cases with 8 active positives, 60 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1249 negative tests. Calhoun County had 22 positive cases with 6 active cases, 16 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1151 negative tests.
*These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 5,595,361 cumulative cases, 1,947,035 recoveries, and 174,647 deaths.

Globally there has been 22,773,308 cumulative cases, 14,589,903 recoveries, and 795,196 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/JyQN9iKk1B4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

SUSPECT DEAD IN OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING; CABOT POLICE REQUEST STATE POLICE TO INVESTIGATE
AUGUST 21, 2020
The Arkansas State Police has assumed the lead role in investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred yesterday (August 20th).  The Lonoke County incident left one person dead.

Jeffrey Wratten, 37, was pronounced dead by doctors at a Little Rock hospital.  The police officer who shot Wratten was not injured.
Wratten had been the subject of a “be on the lookout” law enforcement broadcast precipitated out of concern about his wellbeing based on a family member’s report to local authorities.

At 12:38 PM a Cabot police officer initiated a traffic stop in the vicinity of Old Mountain Springs Road and Arkansas Highway 5.  Wratten was the driver of the vehicle stopped by the officer and exited holding a shotgun.  The Cabot police officer issued repeated commands for Wratten to drop the gun.  The Cabot officer then fired his weapon wounding Wratten.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division assigned to the case will prepare an investigative file to be submitted to the Lonoke County prosecuting attorney who will decide whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.
Wratten’s body was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of an autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death.

Inquiries related to the identity of the police officer who shot Wratten and the officer’s current administrative status should be directed to the Cabot Police Department

VETERAN’S DRIVE-THRU MEAL BEING PLANNED
This year veterans will be honored with a drive-thru meal instead of the usual banquet style event we have had in the past.  As a result of this change, each veteran will be given an “appreciation bag” at the event.  If you have veteran coupons or promotional items that you would like placed in the bags, please let the organizers know.  The deadline for the items is Tuesday, September 1st and you can contact Beth Osteen at the Chamber office (870-836-6426) or Jim Bob Davis, Ouachita County Veterans Affairs Officer (870-837-2216) and and arrangements will be made for the items to be picked up from your place of business.

HOT SPRINGS AGENCY DEVELOPS MATERIALS PROMOTING COVID SAFETY FOR CHILDREN
(HOT SPRINGS, ARK.) SixtyOne Celsius, a Hot Springs marketing, advertising, and communications agency, has developed a website and free resources to help schoolchildren understand some of the precautions needed to safely deal with the pandemic.

The “Help Slow the Spread” materials are designed for PreK-4 education and offer a series of activities and talking points for teachers, parents, and students. HelpSlowTheSpread.com and it’s “spokes-critter” Owen the Sloth offer a variety of resources to help talk to kids about what's going on and why we’ve all been doing things differently since school was interrupted last spring.

“As the parent of a fourth-grader and spouse of a school administrator, I see firsthand the challenges and extraordinary efforts underway as Arkansans prepare of the start of the school year later this month,” said Stephanie Alderdice, president of the agency. “We all talk about doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, and this campaign was my own way of helping my community prepare to return to school.”

Whether utilized in a classroom, daycare, public library or doctor’s office, the supplemental activities can assist adults in facilitating conversations with kids about healthy habits and why everything may seem a bit different. The goal is to provide teachers and families with expert-verified recommendations in a fun and accessible manner through items ranging from coloring pages and letter tracing to posters and sticker.

 Alderdice drew inspiration from the familiar faces of her own childhood that encouraged kids in the 1980s and 90s to make safe choices for the benefit of themselves and others.

“About a month ago, I started thinking about COVID and all the old-school PSAs we grew up with like Smokey the Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog,” “Then I thought, you know who a great spokes-critter would be to promote slowing down the spread of COVID with kids? A sloth. That’s when Owen the Sloth was born. “

As health recommendations evolve at both the federal and state levels, HelpSlowTheSpread.com’s digital components will add new and revised resources.  Alderdice looks forward to additional educators and groups who work with children sharing thoughts on activities and topics that have relevancy for children. 

“These preliminary materials have been reviewed by a group of individuals with elementary education classroom experience and parents of young children. An online survey will be available to gather additional feedback and continue to refine the materials,” said Alderdice.

School districts, afterschool programs, and out-of-school enrichment partners are welcome to contact Alderdice and SixtyOne Celsius at stephanie@61celsius.com or by calling 501-502-2013.
 

NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS TO CLOSE COVID-19-RELATED GAPS IN CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS
In August, the Arkansas Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Steering Committee approved $8.77 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to support primary care physicians (PCPs) in efforts to ensure children are fully vaccinated. During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas children and youth have missed almost 60,000 immunizations compared to 2019 levels, with almost two-thirds of missed immunizations being in lower-income or uninsured children.

The Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ARAAP) collaborated with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop a proposal for CARES Act-funded reimbursements to help PCPs who provide vaccines invest in vaccine-related outreach and infrastructure to close these COVID-19-related gaps in childhood vaccinations.

“The last thing Arkansas pediatricians want to see during the coronavirus pandemic is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease like measles or chicken pox. Vaccines are safe and effective, and serious disease can occur if children are not immunized. We applaud the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee for making this investment in children’s health prior to the start of the school year,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, President of ARAAP. 

Reimbursements are available for enhanced immunization efforts including, but not limited to:

Vaccine outreach initiatives to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated

School- or childcare-linked childhood immunization delivery to ensure schools and childcare centers meet the October deadline for students to be fully immunized

Patient and visitor safety procedures to ensure families who want to make an office visit feel safe doing so

Enhanced vaccine program infrastructure, such as additional staff for vaccine program management to oversee increased vaccine delivery

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems optimization to improve and automate outreach

Mass flu vaccination or parking lot immunization events to prevent multiple simultaneous disease outbreaks.

To qualify for reimbursements, practices must be an Arkansas Medicaid Primary Care Case Management (PCCM) provider who serves Arkansas Medicaid pediatric beneficiaries, not be owned or operated by the State of Arkansas, and participate in the Vaccines for Children program. Reimbursements are for eligible costs incurred between March 1 and October 1, 2020. Practices must submit required documentation to DHS detailing expenditures by October 15, 2020. Practices may receive reimbursements for enhanced vaccine-related expenditures that are not reimbursable through other sources, and the maximum reimbursement for each practice is $30 per Medicaid-attributed child as determined by DHS using the PCCM attribution reports from March 2020.

Please visit the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ website for FAQs and to access the application at https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/resources/response-covid-19/response-covid-19-providers-1.

The full CARES Act Proposal for “Preventing COVID-19-Related Outbreaks of Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases in Children” can be accessed here.
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SHUT DOWN SCAMMERS THREATENING TO SHUT OFF UTILITIES
LITTLE ROCK – As the hustle and bustle of school returns and families begin in their own unique routines, scam artists are using an old playbooks to identify ways to trick Arkansans by claiming they have not paid their utility bill. The scam involves Caller ID spoofing to make the name or phone number of the utility company display on the phone’s screen. The scam artists will then claim the consumer must pay immediately over the phone because a representative is on their way to disconnect their services. Be cautious of unsolicited calls and consider hanging up and finding the company’s phone number from an independent source and calling them to confirm any outstanding balance.

“Remember, you should never be forced to make an immediate payment for utilities over the phone and or give away your personal information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. 

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:

Add the utility payment due date on a calendar when the bill is received.
Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.
Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system, if it is offered.
Mail the payment to the company directly.

The scammer may also request that the recipient purchase gift cards or prepaid debit cards to pay off the amount owed. The scammer will ask for the code on the purchased card, which gives them complete access to money on the card. In most cases, once the prepaid card money is depleted, it cannot be recovered. Remember, utilities will not require you to pay by gift card or prepaid debit card – scammers will. 

Arkansans should notify the company if they have been contacted by one of these scammers. If Arkansans have turned over money to the scammer, file a complaint with the Attorney General.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

SENATOR TRENT GARNER WEEKLY COLUMN
State Capitol Week in Review
August 21, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas teachers and students are beginning the most challenging school year in living memory.

Last March schools were forced to close because of the spread of the coronavirus, a decision that affected more than 470,000 students and 33,000 teachers.

Arkansas has been trying to close the achievement gap between children in underprivileged homes and those in more prosperous families.

Elected officials and educators are concerned that the changes made necessary by the virus could make that gap wider. When so many students must study from home and take their classes online, it’s critical that they all have access to the same technology.

That’s why state officials have beefed up the Arkansas Rural Connect program, which has distributed more than $10 million in grants to expand broadband access in isolated areas. More grants will be announced over the coming weeks.

Other grants of up to $75,000 help rural communities apply for federal dollars to expand broadband access, through the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant. It is managed by the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Also important will be the presence of a parent or family member who is computer literate, who can help students connect with their teachers every day.

According to surveys, when schools had to convert to distance learning last spring, the amount of time that students spent in virtual classrooms was significantly less than when those students physically attended school.

Virtual classrooms last spring focused on reviewing subjects already introduced earlier in the year. This year the challenge will be introducing new material electronically.

The disruption of standardized testing in the spring will have an effect because teachers won’t begin the school year with a clear picture of each student’s individual academic level. This is particularly important this year, when students will experience the so-called “summer slide” to a greater degree because they have spent more time away from school.

In many communities, going to virtual learning will bring attention to how many social services, apart from academics, are provided in schools. Those services include after school programs, meals, mental health counseling and health care.

Educators and elected officials expect an outbreak before the school year is over, either among students or staff. When that happens, they will have to make quick decisions about how to respond. For example, they may have to decide whether or not to close a school temporarily, and if so for how long. State health officials will provide input.

The state Board of Education has waived numerous standards so that local schools have the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

The legislature has always prioritized public education, which accounts for almost half of the money spent from the general revenue fund. Legislators are updating the formula to make sure that state aid to local schools is adequate, in preparation for the regular session that begins in January.

Safety precautions necessitated by the coronavirus will greatly affect the meetings of the Senate and House Education Committees during the 2021 legislation session. The committee’s meetings are almost always filled to capacity, with people in attendance overflowing into the hallways.
 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF LATE LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE COMMANDER
WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) honored the service and sacrifice of the late Colonel James (Jim) Elmer in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans. Elmer was a Vietnam veteran who also served as commander of the Little Rock Air Force Base during his 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

On March 12, 2020, Elmer shared stories of his military experience for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Elmer passed away four months after this interview. This is a highlight of the conversation to celebrate and honor a life well-lived.

Elmer was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, in 1934. He learned the value of hard work at a young age, earning money as a laborer on local farms to help his family.

When describing his early years, Elmer humbly shared, “I got all the breaks there were.” Because he didn’t have money to pay for college, he anticipated going to work after graduating high school. Luckily, his principal knew he was destined for bigger and better things and encouraged Elmer to pursue a degree at the University of Illinois.

“I passed the test and went to school,” Elmer said. “They said you have to take ROTC.”

Elmer kept a busy schedule at the university, particularly with ROTC and FarmHouse fraternity. However, these obligations were put on hold when his mom passed away. “I stayed out of school for half a semester,” Elmer recalled. He considered quitting, but returned to campus and convinced his professors to let him take the final exams, even earning the top score in one of his classes.

Elmer graduated from the University of Illinois with a vocational agriculture bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

He had several assignments during his military career, one of which was serving as a navigator on C-130s during the Vietnam War. “Our job was to fly and take off when the sun went down and land when the sun came up,” Elmer said.
“We were making this place light up like daylight.” These operations became known as “Blind Bat.” The C-130 crews would drop flares to detect the enemy’s movements so bombers would know where to strike.

“We were shot at, many times, we came back with bullet holes,” Elmer recalled.

The dangers also existed within the plane. “I remember going to the back of the aircraft looking at all these drums, and the liquid was sloshing around,” Elmer said. That liquid was napalm.

After returning stateside, Elmer was assigned to teach ROTC at St. Louis University. “I got ROTC because I volunteered,” he said. “I had so many chances to do things. I ended up volunteering and having a good time, but I put my whole heart into it and I guess that was what made the difference.”

He served another tour overseas in southeast Asia. He continued his career in the Air Force and earned a master’s degree in secondary education from St. Louis University. In 1975, he was assigned to the Little Rock Air Force Base. He served with the 32nd Tactical Airlift Squadron, the 16th Tactical Airlift Squadron, and assumed the role of Deputy Commander of the 314th Combat Support Group before serving as Base Commander from October 1978 until May 1979.

His final Air Force assignment was at Norton Air Force Base in California. During his eight years there, which culminated as Commander of the Aerospace Audiovisual Service, he received his most treasured award, the Order of the Sword. This distinction is given by the enlisted troops to an officer.

Following his military service, he worked at Lockheed Martin and continued his commitment to the community. He was a member of the Military Order of the World Wars and helped establish the Central Arkansas Chapter. He went on to serve one term as National Commander. He also shared his patriotism with Arkansas fifth graders as a teacher of flag education and etiquette. “I’ve taught thousands of kids flag education and I’d do it all over again,” Elmer said.

Elmer was inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2018.

His wife of 63 years, Ruth, was beside him during every step of his military career. The couple had four children who blessed them with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

“Colonel Elmer spent his life serving others. He was a dedicated member of the Air Force and continued his commitment to his country even after he retired. His memories of his time in uniform are an important part of our history as much as his own story. I’m pleased we were able to capture his experiences so they can live on for future generations,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Elmer’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative by the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans. 
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON SNAPBACK SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified the United Nations that the United States will seek the reinstatement of all U.N. sanctions on Iran:

“The Iranian regime was never serious about giving up its nuclear-weapons program, just as it was never serious about giving up terrorist bombings and rocket attacks across the Middle East. Iran used Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s disastrous nuclear deal as a ploy to enrich itself and stall for time. I commend President Trump for seeing through this charade and moving to end the last remnants of the deal.”

AUGUST 20, 2020

GOVERNOR AS HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 20, 2020
Statewide, 549 new cases of COVID-19 were reported during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 press conference on Thursday for a cumulative total of 54,765. Deaths increased by 10 to 641, but hospitalizations did not increase over the past 24 hours and remain at 499. A total of 6,898 tests were performed between Wednesday and Thursday with a positivity rate below 10 percent. So far this month, the state has performed over 115,000 COVID-19 tests and more than 10,000 antigen tests. The state has set a goal of 200,000 total tests this month. 

State officials announced the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements, also known as ACHI, will release additional statistics detailing the impact of COVID-19 within Arkansas school districts. This data rates the risk of COVID-19 to each school district based on the rate of infection per 10,000 people within the physical boundaries of that district. Dr. Joseph Thompson said districts with the biggest risk include those with 50 or more cases per 10,000 residents. Dr. Thompson detailed the new data during Thursday's press conference.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key spoke and exhibited a "screening kit" that would be made available to school districts to screen employees or students before entering facilities. Key emphasized that screening was not a requirement and would be left up to the school districts.
Arkansas Education Commissioner Key said the new data includes additional guidelines districts can follow if their risk level decreases or increases. He said the guidelines, however, will not be forced upon districts. Each district will have its own flexibility in deciding how to deal with their COVID-19 realities. 

State officials reported that an additional 792 people recovered from the virus since Wednesday. Recoveries now total 48,559 people since the start of the outbreak.
Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
549 new cases
54,765 cumulative cases
10 new deaths (3 in nursing homes, 3 delayed reporting from July)
641 total deaths
499 currently hospitalized
108 on ventilators (down 6 from yesterday)
48,558 recoveries (up 792 from yesterday)
6,898 tests yesterday
10,358 antigen tests to date in August.

Counties with 20 or more new cases today were Pulaski with 51, Sebastian with 35, Jefferson with 29, Garland with 26, Crawford with 22, Craighead with 21, Mississippi with 20, and Pope with 20.
*These numbers will be updated later today.
In the US there has been 5,549,826 cumulative cases, 1,925,049 recoveries, and 173,626 deaths.
Globally there has been 22,497,390 cumulative cases, 14,378,514 recoveries, and 789,455 deaths.
To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/_cqwYiMx7EY

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
In review, an additional 549 new cases of COVID-19 were detected between Wednesday and Thursday for a total of 54,765 since the outbreak first hit. Deaths increased by 10 to 641. Hospitalizations did not see a net change and remain at 499. Recoveries now total 48,558 Arkansans. Active cases continued to decline, dropping to 5,566. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

 OUACHITA COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION TO MEET
The Ouachita County Election Commission will meet Monday August 24, at 2:00 PM, at the Courthouse, 145 Jefferson St SW. The purpose of the meeting is to draw for ballot position for contested races in the upcoming November General Election. Any interested persons may attend.

 

SAU STUDENT FOUND DEAD FROM APPARENT NATURAL CAUSES
MAGNOLIA -- Carrington Jackson, a 22-year-old Southern Arkansas University student from Winchester, AR passed away today in his residence hall from apparent natural causes.

“We are completely devastated by this horrible news,” said SAU President Trey Berry. “We are heartbroken for his family, friends and our entire SAU family.”

Per protocol, Carrington’s body will be sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy.
 

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING AUG. 27 IN EL DORADO
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Aug. 27 at Medical Center of South Arkansas, 700 West Grove St. in El Dorado. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing.  Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with Medical Center of South Arkansas and the Blue and You Foundation.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

LOCAL ARTIST GARY HALL TO LEAD SAAC'S CORKS AND CANVAS THIS MONTH 
The South Arkansas Arts Center will host a virtual Zoom Corks and Canvas night with local artist Gary Hall on Thursday, August 27, 2020, from 6:00-8:00pm. Corks & Canvas is an art class for non-artists who are interested in experimenting with a new skill. Each class is conducted by a different art instructor, who takes the class through the step-by-step process to complete a work of art in three hours.
Hall is Director of Entertainment and Media Arts at South Arkansas Community College. He holds a BA in Radio, TV & Film from UALR and an MA in Theatre from Louisiana Tech. He began taking art classes at SAAC at age 8 and continued his training in two- and three-dimensional art at UALR. Hall's first art solo exhibit was entitled "The Song of the Oil and the Brush" and was held at SAAC in 2017. He works generally in pastels, acrylics and multimedia, along with found objects. His style is best described as eclectic with a flair for the dramatic, always with an eye toward "finding the beauty in decay."
All of the art supplies you need to create your watercolor will be available for pickup from. 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.
For more information, please call the South Arkansas Arts Center at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE APPLAUDS OVERDUE ARKANSAS HATE CRIME LEGISLATION
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following statement following the announcement of a legislative proposal to make hate crime illegal during the 2021 legislative session.

“It is past time that Arkansas joins the rest of the country and takes an unequivocal stance against hate crimes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I applaud the members of the General Assembly for taking action on this issue and I will work with any legislator to pass a law that ensures we will not tolerate hate in The Natural State.”

Rutledge has long been a supporter of hate crime legislation in Arkansas, one of only three states which has not adopted such a law. At the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Association Summer Conference in August 2019, Rutledge again called on the legislature to act and applauded Governor Hutchinson’s efforts asking Arkansas lawmakers to do the same.

 
 

August 19, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 19, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the the state is applying for $300 weekly enhanced unemployment compensation from FEMA. Hutchinson said the state was choosing to accept assistance from the federal government which will provide an additional $300 per week to Arkansans on unemployment. The $300 benefit was authorized through an executive order issued by President Donald Trump. The executive order said states could match that benefit with an additional $100 per week through state funding. Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the state would not provide that additional $100 per week benefit. He said doing so would cost the state a minimum of $255 million. That's more than the state is willing to pay at this time.
 Arkansas' downward trend in new COVID-19 cases might have come to an end on Wednesday, although the state's seven-day rolling average of new cases remains relatively flat.Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported an additional 729 new cases of COVID-19 during his statewide COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Wednesday afternoon. That raises Arkansas' cumulative total of COVID-19 infections to 54,216 since the start of the pandemic. Deaths increased by 12 over the previous 24 hours to 631. Hospitalizations increased by seven to 499. Active positives increased slightly from the previous day to 5,919. New tests numbered 6,025. 

Despite a more than 300-case increase in new cases over the previous day, data shows Arkansas' seven-day rolling average of new cases remains relatively the same. As of Tuesday the rolling average was 440 new cases a day.

State officials reported on the status of investigations into Arkansas businesses and their compliance to COVID-19 health guidance and regulations. Hutchinson said of 1,200 business inspections performed over the previous six weeks, 90 percent were found in compliance. Of those found out of compliance, 17 percent were cited. The remainder were able to resolve the issues on the spot. That's according to Mike Moore, director of the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which is overseeing the inspections. As a result of the inspections, 113 violations were noticed with 17% being cited.
Replying to reporter's questions, the Governor did not clearly explain quarantine guidelines should a teacher or student be tested positive or how social distancing would be possible with 25 students in a classroom.

Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
729 new cases
54,216 cumulative cases
12 new deaths (3 were in nursing homes)
631 total deaths
5,919 active cases (38 in nursing homes, 961 in prisons, 4,920 in the community)
7 new hospitalizations
499 currently hospitalized
114 on ventilators (up 8 from yesterday)
696 new recoveries
47,666 total recoveries
6,025 tests yesterday.

Counties with 20 or more new cases today were Pulaski with 65, Jefferson with 56, Sebastian with 52, Craighead with 33, Washington with 32, Pope with 30, Benton with 29, Mississippi with 25, Garland with 25 and Johnson with 22.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 120 positive cases with 19 active positive cases, 98 recovered, 3 deaths, and 3803 negative tests. Union County show 589 positive cases with 62 active positive cases, 506 recovered, 21 deaths and 6247 negative tests. Columbia County shows 252 positive cases with 20 active positive cases, 220 recovered, 12 deaths and 3271 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 70 positive cases with 7 active positives, 61 recoveries, 2 deaths and 1233 negative tests. Calhoun County had 22 positive cases with 7 active cases, 15 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1147 negative tests.

In the US there has been 5,505,074 cumulative cases, 1,898,159 recoveries, and 172,418 deaths.
Globally there has been 22,218,441 cumulative cases, 14,156,538 recoveries, and 782,883 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/hiubkR-bz8U

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, Arkansas saw an additional 729 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for a state total of 54,216. Of those, 5,919 are currently active. Deaths grew by 12 to 631 and hospitalizations by seven to 499. Recoveries increased to 47,666. 
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.
 

COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING AUG. 20 IN MAGNOLIA TO BE PROVIDED BY UAMS
There will be a community drive-up testing clinic for COVID-19 be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.  The Drive -up testing will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020 at the Magnolia Regional Medical Center located at 100 Hospital Drive in Magnolia.

 

NO SECOND CHANCES FOR IMPAIRED DRIVERS; ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT ON PATROL LOOKING FOR LABOR DAY HOLIDAY VIOLATORS
AUGUST 19, 2020
As Arkansans prepare to celebrate the final warm weather holiday of the year, law enforcement officers across the state are also making plans to be vigilant and on the lookout for drivers who choose to drink and drive.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is joining with law enforcement agencies nationwide to remind everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Leading up to the coming Labor Day weekend holiday, NHTSA and Arkansas law enforcement agencies will be spreading the word about impaired driving dangers.  However, beginning August 21st and continuing through September 7th local and state law enforcement officers on patrol will hold the line with zero tolerance for drunk driving.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, will include increased state and national educational messaging about the consequences for drivers who choose to ignore drunk driving laws coupled with an increased presence of local officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers prepared to arrest drunk drivers.

“We want to see Labor Day celebrated, but celebrated safely,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “We must work together to keep our streets and highways clear of the dangers caused by drunk drivers.”

During the 2018 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. August 31 – 5:59 a.m. September 4), there were 439 traffic fatalities nationwide.  Forty-three percent of the fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC (blood alcohol concentration).  More than one-third (38%) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and nearly one-fourth (24%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC).  Additionally, data indicates age is a particularly risky factor.  Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2018, 47% of those drivers were drunk, with BAC's of .08 or higher.

The goal of the operation Colonel Bryant said, “Is to work together and put an end to drunk driving, with zero tolerance, thereby saving lives.  Simply stated, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends the following:
Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
Promptly contact law enforcement to report drunk drivers you see on the roadways
Always wear your seat belt
If you’re on a motorcycle, use protective safety equipment.

For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, 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.

 

SAU’S BSN PROGRAM RANKED NO. 1 AMONG STATE-SUPPORTED 4-YEAR UNIVERSITIES IN ARKANSAS FOR NCLEX PASS RATE
MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University is pleased to announce that the 2020 graduates of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program ranked first among state-supported four-year universities in Arkansas for first-time NCLEX pass rate, as reported by the State Board of Nursing.

To obtain licensure in Arkansas, graduates of the program are required to take the National Council for Licensure Exam-RN (NCLEX-RN) which ensures candidates are well prepared for entry-level practice. For the 2020 year, which runs from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, SAU nursing graduates achieved a 97.3 percent pass rate on their first attempt, according to Dr. Karen Landry, department chair.

Landry attributes the success of SAU’s nursing students to their dedication and hard work. She also praised nursing faculty and staff as well as the SAU Administration and Magnolia community for consistently supporting the program.

“We are so proud of our students,” Landry said. “They have the commitment necessary to successfully complete this program. Nursing curriculums are not easy. We are preparing these students for one of the most challenging and versatile careers available today. Family members entrust their loved ones to our care and patient safety is our highest priority. We are an essential member of any healthcare team and we take our responsibilities very seriously at SAU.”

The department has made great strides over the past year due to a grant awarded by the Blue & You Foundation. The grant, totaling $149,000, enhanced the SAU Nursing Science and Simulation Center by adding an automated medication dispensing system, iPads for every student and faculty/staff member, and faculty training on mental health issues. It has put the program on the front lines in responding to medication safety issues, prescription drug abuse and other medical addiction issues. For more information, please visit https://web.saumag.edu/nursing.
 

GRIFFIN ADVOCATES FOR APPROVAL OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK CHARTER SCHOOL
Says, he is 'proud to fight for parents and students to have a variety of educational choices and opportunities'
LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin testified today to the Charter School Authorizing Panel in support of Westwind School of Performing Arts. After speaking in favor of the proposed North Little Rock charter school, Griffin released the following statement: 

 "I am proud to fight for parents and students to have a variety of educational choices and opportunities. Research has shown the benefits of an arts-focused education, which stimulates children to learn creatively. Schools like Westwind School of Performing Arts are important because children have unique learning differences, and we need an educational system that is innovative and customizable to meet those needs."

August 18, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 18, 2020
The downward trend in new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas continued for another day, with state officials reporting another 410 cases on Tuesday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference. 

That's two less than Monday and raises the cumulative total of coronavirus transmissions in Arkansas to 53,487. Sadly, the state also reported a relatively high number of new virus-related deaths on Tuesday. 16 additional Arkansans passed away due to illness caused by COVID-19. That raises the total since the start of the pandemic to 619. Hospitalizations also increased by 16 people to 492, with 122 of those currently on ventilators. A total of 4,675 new tests were performed over the previous 24 hours. The positivity rate of those tests continues to hover around 10 percent. Recoveries increased to 46,970. Active cases of COVID-19 continued another day of decline to 5,898.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 118 positive cases with 24 active positive cases, 91 recovered, 3 deaths, and 3779 negative tests. Union County show 561 positive cases with 56 active positive cases, 485 recovered, 20 deaths and 6166 negative tests. Columbia County shows 244 positive cases with 22 active positive cases, 210 recovered, 12 deaths and 3253 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 68 positive cases with 5 active positives, 61 recoveries, 2 death and 1214 negative tests. Calhoun County had 16 positive cases with 2 active cases, 14 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1110 negative tests.
Hutchinson announced the state was adding $100 million to the original $24 million grant fund to increase internet access across rural Arkansas. He said this is an action the state is focusing heavily on to ensure students will have a viable virtual learning option this fall.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease and control specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, updated Arkansans on the nature of COVID-19. She provided a reminder that COVID-19 typically becomes contagious days before symptoms kick in.

Again, total COVID-19 cases increased by 410 to a cumulative total of 53,487. Deaths increased by 16 to 619. Hospitalizations also grew by 16 to a new total of 492. An additional 4,675 tests were performed on Monday. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 46,970 Arkansans who have recovered from COVID-19 and 5,898 active cases. 
In the US there has been 5,457,877 cumulative cases, 1,865,580 recoveries, and 171,013 deaths.
Globally there has been 21,956,417 cumulative cases, 13,931,184 recoveries, and 775,706 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/9AWdVnCspp4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

 

CADC TO DISTRIBUTE USDA COMMODITIES AUGUST 18 & 19 2020 IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Camden –Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA Commodities in Ouachita County Tuesday, August 18, 2020 and Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Camden. Distribution will begin at 9 am.

Food Items May Include: Dry Split Peas, Oat Circle Cereal, Orange Juice, Fruit Nut Mix, Can Pork, Raisins, Tomato Soup

In Ouachita County, commodities will be distributed at the following location:
Ouachita County: FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH Cullendale 1850 Cash Road SW, Camden
ID must be present in order to receive commodities.
All customers receiving commodities must present identification.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov. (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 20th at  Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Andy Yung who will talk about Arkansas Game & Fish District 6.

 

TASK FORCE TO ADVANCE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN ARKANSAS SCHEDULES THURSDAY MEETING
The Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas will convene at 10 AM, Thursday, August 20th at Arkansas State Police Administrative Headquarters, located at One State Police Plaza Drive, Little Rock.
The task force appointees, government personnel and representatives of the public who may attend are reminded the meeting will be conducted in a manner consistent with the directives issued by the Arkansas Department of Health, specifically health screening prior to entering the meeting, the use of respiratory masks and exercising social distancing.

NABLF LAUNCHES RESOURCE CENTER TO ADVANCE DIVERSITY, INCLUSION AND EQUITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Washington, D.C. -- The National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation (NABLF) today announced the launch of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Resource Center, a website dedicated to helping media companies and industry professionals create and sustain a diverse and inclusive workplace.

The resource center connects organizations with associations and consultants with expert knowledge of diversity, inclusion and equity (DEI) issues. These connections can help companies reassess business strategies, launch diversity initiatives that embrace unique perspectives and voices, and provide education programs for leadership teams and staff to better integrate DEI in their operations. The resource center also provides information about personal, professional development courses to help individuals expand their knowledge and expertise about DEI.

“As our nation engages in ongoing discussions about diversity and inclusion, NABLF is committed to helping organizations realize workplaces that are welcoming to all voices, ” said NABLF President and National Association of Broadcasters Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Duke. “By launching the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Resource Center, we can connect organizations with the expertise and experience they need to foster an open and inviting culture.”

About NAB Leadership Foundation

The National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the future of broadcasting through leadership, diversity and community service. Learn more at www.nabfoundation.org.

About NAB
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.

ARKANSAS BAPTIST COLLEGE ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT
LITTLE ROCK, AR (August 17, 2020) – Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) announced today that  Dr. Carlos R. Clark  has been selected to become the College’s 15th president, succeeding Ms. Regina H. Favors  who has served as Interim President since August 16, 2018. The Board of Trustees is sincerely grateful to President Favors for her dynamic, entrepreneurial, and visionary leadership. As a result of President Favors’ prudent stewardship of the College’s financial resources, the institution continues to be a dynamic learning resource that empowers students to succeed and fuels the cultural and economic vitality of the city. 

Dr. Clark has been an effective, innovative, and collaborative higher education leader for more than 25 years.  He currently serves as Provost and Executive Vice President and has worked for the College since 2018 in several leadership positions. He also held various senior level positions at Wilberforce University, Prairie View A&M University, and Alabama A & M University. 

The selection of Dr. Clark was determined after a national search and by vote of the Arkansas Baptist College Board of Trustees, led by Richard May, Sr., Chair.  “The Trustees are delighted that Dr. Clark has accepted our offer to serve as 15th President of Arkansas Baptist College. In addition to his impressive academic credentials, his experience with the College and his extensive  experience  gained at several other HBCU institutions is an asset.  Dr.  Clark has become a serious student of higher education leadership receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in English, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management, as well as, a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration, with major emphasis in Student Affairs and Statistics from The University of Mississippi.  He also received a certificate due to his successful completion of the Management Development Program (MDP) at Harvard University.  These opportunities, matched with his vision, energy and passion, will serve the institution well, as the College continues to realize both its historic and current mission under Dr. Clark’s capable leadership,” said Mays.

“I am extremely excited to continue to serve Arkansas Baptist College as President. The mission resonates with me, especially its emphasis on preparing students for personal and professional success and especially its focus on service, social justice, and leadership. I sincerely thank the Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee for this amazing opportunity. I look forward to working in this new capacity with the incredible Arkansas Baptist College faculty, students, staff, and alumni – in a collective effort to deliver the rich promise of ABC to a growing number of students in these challenging times.” said Dr. Clark.

Dr. Clark will begin his term as President on October 1, 2020. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available regarding opportunities to welcome Dr. Clark in this new role.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON FINAL RUSSIA INVESTIGATION REPORT
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued the fifth and final volume of its bipartisan Russia investigation. Senator Cotton also authored additional views on the report.

“Today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a thousand-page report that finally puts to bed claims of collusion, collaboration, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016. I joined five of my fellow Senators in issuing additional views detailing some of the specific areas in which ‘the Committee found no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government.’

With this conclusion, SSCI joins the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Department of Justice’s Special Counsel in their assessments. It’s now time to shift our focus to the many national-security threats facing our country instead of re-litigating the 2016 election. Just because Russia failed this time doesn’t mean it won’t keep trying.”

August 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 17, 2020
Arkansas continued a downward and relatively hopeful trend in new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 412 new cases Monday afternoon during his COVID-19 Taskforce press conference. That leaves a total of 53,077 cases since the start of the pandemic in Arkansas. 

Deaths are also seeing a relative drop, with just four new deaths reported on Monday. The cumulative statewide death toll is 603 people. Hospitalizations increased by eight to 486. On Monday Dr. Jose Romero, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said a further 4,093 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 118 positive cases with 28 active positive cases, 87 recovered, 3 deaths, and 3674 negative tests. Union County show 556 positive cases with 56 active positive cases, 480 recovered, 20 deaths and 6064 negative tests. Columbia County shows 242 positive cases with 26 active positive cases, 204 recovered, 12 deaths and 3217 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 68 positive cases with 6 active positives, 60 recoveries, 2 death and 1195 negative tests. Calhoun County had 16 positive cases with 2 active cases, 14 recoveries, 0 deaths and 1094 negative tests.

Though highlighting Monday's lower figures, Hutchinson said he and state health experts remain cautious over Arkansas' COVID-19 outbreak. He urged Arkansans to follow the state's face mask mandate and to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

One of Hutchinson's messages on Monday was the importance of Arkansans submitting their absentee ballots as early as possible. He announced earlier this month that anyone in Arkansas with concerns related to COVID-19 could choose to vote absentee for the November General Election. To prevent a potential ballot backlog, he urged Arkansans not to wait until the last few days to submit their absentee ballots.

Again, the state saw total COVID-19 cases grow by 412 on Monday to 53,077. Deaths increased by four to 603, and hospitalizations by eight to 486. New tests numbered 4,093 with a positivity rate of approximately 10 percent.
 

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IS BACK!
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR will hold the “Camden Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, August 21st 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. 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.
 

AAA COVID-19 UPDATE
The Arkansas Activities Association appreciates your patience and continued understanding as we move forward with school vs school competitions. Please understand that guidance cannot be distributed until we receive it and have approval to release the information. 

We have received approval to move forward with benefit games in volleyball and football and regular season events in cheer, dance, volleyball and football. 

Please see the link below to the Covid-19 Update page for links to the directives and guidelines for each sport approved to compete. Please check the links frequently as the directives and guidelines remain fluid. aractivities.org/covid19
 

UPDATE: FOURTH AND FINAL SHOOTING SUSPECT ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH STUDENT DEATH
MAGNOLIA -- Odies Wilson of North Little Rock, Arkansas; Le’Kamerin (Kam) Tolbert of Little Rock, Arkansas; Quincy Isaiah Lewis of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Shaivonn (Shakey) Robinson of Vacherie, Louisiana, were arrested early Friday evening, August 14, and charged with capital murder for the shooting death of Joshua Keshun Smith, which occurred early Tuesday morning, August 11, in the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center parking lot of Southern Arkansas University.  The four suspects are currently being held awaiting Monday arraignment at 3:00 p.m.  Additional charges may be filed. The investigation is ongoing.

SAU President Dr. Trey Berry said in a statement, “We are grateful for the great work of the SAU Police Department, the Magnolia Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, the Arkansas State Police, and U. S. Marshalls.  Their persistence on this case brings a grieving family one step closer to resolve and allows our community to rest easier knowing that the suspects in this case have been identified.”


UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING AUGUST 20TH IN MAGNOLIA
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., August 20th at Magnolia Regional Medical Center, 100 Hospital Drive in Magnolia. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. The first 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with UAMS South Regional Campus, Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia Regional Medical Center and the Blue and You Foundation.

You do not have to be a UAMS patient to be seen. This testing is for everyone who feels they need testing. Patients will get instructions on how to take care of themselves and their family at home. Test results will be returned either through an online patient portal, letter or phone call.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people not in your household, and wear a mask in public. An online screening tool is available at uamshealth.com/healthnow. Phone screening is available through the UAMS Health hotline at 800-632-4502.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, August 21, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas

 

CADC BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO MEET
The Board of Directors of Central Arkansas Development Council will have a board meeting Saturday, August 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held at the Benton Senior Activity Center. Due to health concerns and social distancing protocol, seating will be limited. Further information may be obtained by calling 501-315-1121.

2020 OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY
Drive-Through Resource Fair
Join us at the 2020 International Overdose Awareness Day at the Arkansas State Capitol. To provide a safe environment for attendees and providers, this year’s event will be a Drive-Thru Resource Fair.

The Drive-thru Health Fair will take place at the Capitol’s parking lot. This event is free to the community, and participants can attend from the safety of their vehicle! 

Drivers will pull up and follow a map to the different stations along the Health Fair route. Everyone in the car will be able to participate in the drive-thru, so bring friends to fill up those passenger seats!

The Arkansas State Capitol is located at 500 Woodlane St, Little Rock, AR 72201.

ARKANSAS' FIRST OUTPATIENT ROSA ROBOTIC KNEE REPLACEMENT PERFORMED AT ORTHOARKANSAS 
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., - August 14, 2020 – Surgeons at OrthoArkansas in Little Rock, Ark., performed the state’s first robotic-assisted knee replacement with ROSA (robotic surgical assistant) technology in an outpatient surgery center on Aug. 6, 2020. Surgery assisted with ROSA technology is unique because the robot accurately uses data collected before, during, and after surgery to inform the surgeon of the many details related to a patient’s unique anatomy. 

“Our OrthoArkansas knee replacement surgeons have been specially trained to use the ROSA Knee system in order to personalize a customized surgical approach for each patient,” said Levi Bauer, CEO. “Our goal is to achieve the optimal outcome for our patients. Patients are going to love the enhanced experience.” 

The ROSA Knee system collects pre-, intra and post-operative data gathered through an application to help uncover clinical insights throughout the episode of care. Data provided by the knee system assists with complex decision making and enables surgeons to use computer and software technology to control and move surgical instruments, allowing for greater precision and flexibility during procedures. 

Pre-surgery, a series of patient images are made to create a three-dimensional (3D) model of the knee anatomy. This 3D model enables the surgeon to plan many specifics of the specific knee replacement prior to surgery. 

The robot does not operate on its own. The surgeon is in the operating room the entire time and is making all of the decisions throughout the surgery. During the procedure, ROSA Knee utilizes a camera and optical trackers attached to the patient’s leg to know exactly where the knee is in space, much like a detailed global positioning system. If the leg moves even a fraction of an inch, the robot can tell and adjusts accordingly. This helps ensure that the plan the surgeon put into place is executed as intended with precision and accuracy. The data provided to the surgeon throughout the surgery, combined with the surgeon’s skill, help the surgeon position the implant with laser precision. 

OrthoArkansas performs close to 2300 knee replacements each year. By having total joint replacements done in outpatient surgery centers, it allows patients to have surgery in a more convenient environment and recover in the comfort of their own homes that evening. 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AWARDS $2M TO HAMBURG FOR BROADBAND
Hamburg, Ark. (August 17, 2020) - The Arkansas Department of Commerce awarded the city of Hamburg $2,000,000 from its Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant program.  The city will work in partnership with CableSouth Media 3 and the project will deploy fiber to homes in Cotton Plant.

“It is exciting to see broadband deployed to rural communities through fiber,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This is an investment for the state that benefits future generations.”

“By the end of the year, Hamburg will have access to highspeed internet,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Without the ARC program, that would not have been possible.”

The Arkansas Department of Commerce received $19.3M in CARES Act funds for ARC grants after an approval from the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas legislature. Grant recipients must expend the COVID-19 federal funds by December 30 of this year. Additionally, $4.7M is available in state funds for projects that would extend beyond December 30. The goal of the program is to provide high-speed broadband to rural communities.

“Connecting Hamburg is a great thing for District 26,” said State Senator Eddie Cheatham. “However, we need to continue to work on the digital divide until it is eliminated.”

“I am grateful to those that worked so hard on the Arkansas Rural Connect Broadband grant program application, said State Representative LeAnne Burch. “Congratulations, Hamburg!  Broadband is a bipartisan issue and it is imperative that the General Assembly continue to work together to connect all Arkansans.”

The department is currently evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before December 30. For more information or to apply for an ARC grant, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov.
 

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES CALL ON USDA TO PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY FOR SCHOOL MEALS
WASHINGTON-  U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to continue providing flexibilities to schools and sponsoring organizations for school meals and child nutrition.

Boozman and his colleagues sent the letter to Secretary Perdue to ensure students have access to healthy, nutritious meals through USDA’s child nutrition programs this school year.

“As the school year begins, the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency persist. We encourage continued use of the child nutrition program waiver authority ably used thus far to assist school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations who work collaboratively to provide children meals while schools explore various and blended models of in-person and virtual classroom sessions,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “During this COVID emergency, we ask USDA to utilize program flexibilities, grants or reimbursements that assist school food authorities with procuring, preparing, and serving meals in a manner consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 school re-opening guidelines and that support non-school sponsors providing meals to children on remote-learning days or when in-classroom learning is unavailable.”

The letter was led by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). Read the letter here or below.

Dear Secretary Perdue,

As local school districts finalize plans for the 2020-2021 school year, we write to encourage you to continue to provide the flexibilities needed to enable school food authorities and other (non-school) sponsor organizations to continue to offer meals through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’S) child nutrition programs. 

We appreciate USDA’s use of child nutrition program waiver authority, flexibility provided, and work with state agencies, schools and non-school sponsoring organizations to provide meals through various child nutrition programs when schools were unexpectedly closed in the spring. We also applaud the extension of these flexibilities through the summer months.

As the school year begins, the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency persist. We encourage continued use of the child nutrition program waiver authority ably used thus far to assist school food authorities and non-school sponsoring organizations who work collaboratively to provide children meals while schools explore various and blended models of in-person and virtual classroom sessions. USDA’s efforts to provide regulatory flexibility for 2020-2021 school meal programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program regarding meal patterns, meal-times, non-congregate feeding, parent and guardian meal pick-up, and “offer vs. serve” requirements are examples of using this authority to reassure families and schools in recent weeks.  

During this COVID emergency, we ask USDA to utilize program flexibilities, grants or reimbursements that assist school food authorities with procuring, preparing, and serving meals in a manner consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 school re-opening guidelines and that support non-school sponsors providing meals to children on remote-learning days or when in-classroom learning is unavailable.

Many schools and families are currently determining their plans for the upcoming school year, including plans for school meals. We ask you and the USDA team to continue utilizing child nutrition program waivers that Congress provided in a manner consistent with existing authorities and program objectives.

Sincerely, 

 

AUGUST 14, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 14, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he has signed an extension of the Declaration of Public Heath Emergency. The extension is for 60 days. The Governor added that "we remain in a state of emergency. Hutchinson provided updates to the state's COVID-19 totals. Cumulative COVID-19 cases saw another lower than average growth rate on Friday, with overall cases growing by 626 to 52,392 since the start of the outbreak. Deaths increased slightly by five to 587 total. Hospitalizations saw a decrease by seven to 466 Arkansans hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state. Active cases dropped by approximately 200 to 6,359 - the lowest figure in weeks. Tests performed on Thursday totaled 5,519. Across the state, 73,000 tests have been performed since the beginning of the month.

Hutchinson announced on August 1st that school sports schedules had been approved by state health and education experts. But, official approval of an actual start to football and other sports seasons did not receive authorization until Friday afternoon. 

The Governor also announced that he has signed a directive requiring all public and private schools limit attendance to indoor and outdoor sporting events to 66%, require social distancing (6'), and require masks.
Hutchinson said the state would not require individual authorization for each outdoor school activity or sporting event this fall, as reported earlier. He said the state is now authorizing all such events at schools across the state if they limit capacity, ensure social distancing guidelines are enforced and that everyone in attendance wear masks. 
Hutchinson then reported that high school sports now have the go-ahead to proceed with their schedules. That includes inter-school scrimmage games scheduled to begin across the state next week.

Secretary of Education and AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor said the decision to proceed with high school sports will be a big morale booster to youth athletes. He also reminded coaches, students and parents that following state health guidelines is crucial to the upcoming sports season. He held up a face mask during the press conference to illustrate that guidance. 

Secretary Key displayed a pamphlet called "A Kid's Guide To The Coronavirus" that will be distributed to school children in Arkansas.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
626 new cases (189 in prisons, 437 in the community)
52,392 cumulative cases
6,359 active cases (62 in nursing homes, 778 in prisons, 5,519 in the community)
466 currently hospitalized (down 7 from yesterday)
113 on ventilators (up 1 from yesterday)
5 new deaths
587 deaths total
5,519 tests yesterday
8.9% cumulative positive rate.
In the US there has been 5,280,315 cumulative cases, 1,774,648 recoveries, and 167,528 deaths.
Globally there has been 21,010,700 cumulative cases, 13,047,560 recoveries, and 760,889 deaths.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 110 positive cases with 25 active positive cases, 83 recovered, 2 deaths, and 3282 negative tests. Union County show 532 positive cases with 57 active positive cases, 456 recovered, 19 deaths and 4566 negative tests. Columbia County shows 226 positive cases with 31 active positive cases, 183 recovered, 12 deaths and 2688 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 67 positive cases with 9 active positives, 57 recoveries, 1 death and 896 negative tests. Calhoun County had 17 positive cases with 4 active cases, 13 recoveries, 0 deaths and 561 negative tests.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/SpMMhRPT0tQ

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas saw a relatively lower increase on Friday of 626 cases to 52,392. Deaths grew by five to 587, while hospitalizations decreased by seven to 466. Active positive cases declined to 6,359. 

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 


TEENAGERS SHOT NEAR MARIANNA'S MAIN STREET; ONE DIES AT CRIME SCENE, STATE POLICE CID INVESTIGATING
Two juveniles were wounded by gunfire last night (Thursday, August 13th) about 10:30 near the intersection of Main and Alabama Street in downtown Marianna.  Local law enforcement authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police lead the investigation.
Martin Davis, 17, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Cameron Ryder, 16, was transported to a Memphis hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening gunshot wound.  Both were identified as being from Helena – West Helena.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their work in the investigation and are attempting to locate two suspects who were with Davis and Ryder outside a Marianna business shortly before the shooting occurred.
Davis’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of an autopsy and determination of the manner and cause of death.

 

ARKANSAS STATE POLICE COMMISSION APPROVES RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROMOTIONS ACROSS ASP DIVISIONS
AUGUST 13, 2020

The Arkansas State Police Commission has approved the recommendations for promotions involving four supervisory positions within the state police ranks.  The recommendations were presented to the commission by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police during a regularly scheduled commission meeting at Little Rock today.
Lieutenant Stacie Rhoads, 50, of Perry County, was promoted to the rank of captain and will assume supervisory and assistant commander duties within the Criminal Investigation Division, Administration Office headquartered at Little Rock. Captain Rhoads is a 22-year state police veteran and most recently has been assigned as commander of CID, Company A, headquartered at Little Rock.
Lieutenant Michael Moyer, 45, of Faulkner County, was promoted to the rank of captain and will assume assistant commander and supervisory duties within the Regulatory and Building Services Division headquartered at Little Rock.  Captain Moyer is a 17-year state police veteran and most recently has supervised regulatory services related to private security and private investigator licensing along with other duties assigned within the Regulatory and Building Services Division.
Sergeant Seth Pinner, 35, of Columbia County, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and will assume assistant commander duties within the Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, headquartered at Lowell. Lieutenant Pinner is a 21-year state police veteran and most recently has been assigned to supervisory duties as a post sergeant in the Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, headquartered at Hope.
Corporal (Special Agent) Morris Knight, 50, of Drew County, was promoted to the rank of sergeant and will assume supervisory duties within the Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff. Sergeant Knight is a 21-year state police veteran and most recently has been assigned as a special agent conducting criminal investigations in CID, Company B. 

 

COTTON STATEMENT ON THE NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATE
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the administration announced an agreement was reached to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates:
"This deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates moves us closer to a peaceful and stable Middle East. I commend President Trump and Secretary Pompeo for their deft diplomacy to advance America's interests in the region. I congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Bin Zayed for having the courage and vision to reach this agreement. And I encourage our other partners in the region to take similar steps to advance the cause of peace and prosperity throughout the Middle East."

 
 

August 13, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 13, 2020
Recoveries continue to outpace new COVID-19 cases in Arkansas, meaning that the number of Active Positives continue to decline. At Thursday afternoon's press conference in Little Rock, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the total number of new coronavirus cases in the state increased by 652 to 51,766. However, the number of Active Positives declined by 143 to 6,582. Hospitalizations also declined by 13 to 582. The death toll increased by nine to 582.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 107 positive cases with 23 active positive cases, 82 recovered, 2 deaths, and 3214 negative tests. Union County show 523 positive cases with 79 active positive cases, 425 recovered, 19 deaths and 4526 negative tests. Columbia County shows 223 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 179 recovered, 12 deaths and 2680 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 65 positive cases with 9 active positives, 55 recoveries, 1 death and 877 negative tests. Calhoun County had 17 positive cases with 4 active cases, 13 recoveries, 0 deaths and 558 negative tests.

Globally there has been 20, 728, 874 cumulative cases, 12,875,123 recoveries, and 751,458 deaths.

Governor Hutchinson announced a new partnership that has prepared and communicated school opening guidelines called Arkansas Ready to Learn Healthy School Guide.

Dr. Cam Patterson, Chancellor at UAMS, served on the partnership committee that drafted the back to school guidelines. Dr. Patterson says the group focused on three questions as they look to reopen schools as safely as possible.

Two new graphs were displayed at Thursday's press conference that demonstrated the number of COVID-19 cases among school aged children. Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Jose Romero, says the number of childrens' cases is coming down.

Classes are scheduled to start at schools in Arkansas the week of August 24th. Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases grew by 652 to a total of 51,766. Active Positives declined by 143 to 6,582. Hospitalizations declined by 13 to 473. The death toll increased by nine to 582.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/GXtObo7JW6A

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/


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

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
Agenda for the Camden Fairview Board of Education regular meeting to be held on Tuesday, august 18, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at garrison auditorium.


1. Call to order.
2. Introduction of new licensed and classified staff.
3. Student hearings.
4. Approval of minutes of previous meetings.
5. Communication.

6. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
a. None

NEW BUSINESS
a. Presentation and recommendation regarding adult cafeteria prices for the 2020-2021 school year.
b. Presentation and recommendation regarding school resource officers at CFHS and CFMS.
c. Facility rentals.
d. Presentation by Whitney Moore, CFSD attorney.
8 Superintendent's report to the Board.
9.Financial report

1 Personnel
a. Hiring
b. Retirement

To comply with CDC guidelines, all attendees must wear a mask.

OUACHITA COUNTY TO RECOGNIZE VETERANS AND PATRIOTS
Ouachita Judge Robbie McAdoo has designated September as “Veteran’s and Patriot’s Awareness & Appreciation Month” and is seeking names and information of veterans of Ouachita County to celebrate this event.  Information to be obtained includes name, town of residence, branch of service, rank, countries served in, conflict served, years served and medals and awards.   The deadline for submitting names to Veterans Affairs for recognition at this year’s event is August 28th.  Contact Jim Bob Davis at 870-837-2216 to add names.  

Our veterans and patriots will be honored throughout the month of September culminating with a dinner drive-thru on September 10th from 5-7 pm held at Cullendale First Baptist Church.   All veterans are invited and encouraged to attend the event.  Please note - this is an event to honor our veterans and is not political; therefore, no political paraphernalia in any form will be allowed.

Local businessman Josh Steed, who has spearheaded veteran recognition for years, joins additional sponsors of the event this year - Ouachita County Judge Robbie McAdoo, the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce, the Hubert J. Purifoy VFW Post 4554, Josh Steed with Deluxe Barber Shop and Pit Stop Quick Lube, the Shoppers Guide, Cullendale First Baptist Church, Lockheed Martin, Radio Works and various other local area businesses.   Gift bags will be given to veterans attending the event.  Local individuals and businesses that would like to donate items or offer coupons and or discounts for this year’s event should contact Jim Bob Davis at 870-837-2216.  

According to the Veterans Administration Office of Actuary there are currently 1,820 veterans in Ouachita County.  During this month, local businesses are encouraged to offer discounts to veterans to show their support; if such discounts are available, please notify the Chamber of Commerce of those discounts so that we can disseminate that information to Veterans.

Contacts:
Robbie McAdoo                                                          Jim B. Davis
Ouachita County Judge                                               County Veterans Service Officer
870-837-2210                                                              870-837-2216
judge@ouachitacounty.org                                        jimdavis@ouachitacounty.org

Beth Osteen                                                                Josh Steed
Camden Area Chamber of Commerce                       Deluxe Barber Shop/Pit Stop Quick Lube
870-836-6426                                                             870-818-9453
bosteen@camdenareachamberofcommerce.org        joshsteed1980@gmail.com

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL ELDER ABUSE CONFERENCE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will host the first virtual Elder Abuse Conference on Thursday, September 3, 2020. The conference was established to address issues faced by providers and loved ones who provide assistance and services to the elderly. The broad range of topics will include caregiver fatigue, financial exploitation, agency roles in protecting elder and endangered adults and communicating with victims who have cognitive impairment. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will offer the keynote address.

“Our conference will provide education to protect our seniors who are vulnerable to financial and physical abuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This virtual platform will safely ensure our law enforcement officers, caregivers, and family members can identify suspected maltreatment and how they should respond.”

“I look forward to joining Attorney General Rutledge and the other conference attendees and sharing some of the lessons we have learned in Kansas and steps we are taking to combat elder abuse in our state,” said Kansas Attorney General Schmidt. “As the population of seniors continues to grow in Kansas, Arkansas and the rest of the country, an increased focus on elder abuse is needed, and I am grateful that Attorney General Rutledge is convening this online conference to further that discussion.”

According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans 60 years and older have experienced some kind of abuse. As many as five million elderly Americans are estimated to be abused each year.

The public is invited as well as law enforcement, medical professionals and providers, attorneys and home care givers to learn to better protect older and developmentally differently-abled adults.

This event was previously scheduled to take place in April, but was rescheduled due to COVID-19.

Interested Arkansans can sign up for this free, CLE and CLEST eligible training at here or call (800) 482-8982 for more information.

SECOND AWARD FOR STATE COVID-19 CONTACT TRACING
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. ‒ August 12, 2020 ‒ AFMC received award notification of the second contract to assist the Arkansas Department of Health in its Covid-19 contact tracing efforts. “We are delighted to assist the State of Arkansas in this endeavor,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Hanley. “This allows AFMC, an Arkansas company, to employ Arkansans in the fight against Covid-19.” AFMC voluntarily assisted the state as it began contact tracing in June.

“This contract will allow for us to employ call-center agents, nurses and other skilled professionals to trace the steps of infected Arkansans as well as alerting those who may have come in contact with that individual,” said Hanley.

Chief Business Officer, Nathan Ray estimated over 350 new employees are needed. “We will do this in a phased approach. We understand there are some in the medical community who might be available to assist, and we look forward to speaking with those individuals,” said Ray.

For more information, please visit www.afmc.org

August 12, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 12, 2020
New cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas grew by 703 on Wednesday, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson during his daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference. The cumulative total since the start of the outbreak is now 51,114. Hospitalizations saw a significant net decrease of 21 to 486 Arkansans currently in hospitals due to the virus. Deaths increased by seven to 573. A total of 4,401 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours. 

Governor Hutchinson announced that he will sign a Letter of Intent with the Rockefeller Foundation and other States to form a Consortium to enhance buying power from commercial labs for testing. It is now known what other states might join the Consortium at this time.
Hutchinson downplayed an opinion from the Arkansas Education Association this week that school districts should reopen this month with a virtual-only option. State education officials as well as Hutchinson have stressed the need for a return of traditional, in-class setting for the upcoming school year. He said the environment is a worrisome one, but that with caution a safe return to schools can be assumed.

Hutchinson also clarified an announcement yesterday that the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements would provide school district data on its website at achi.net. This data will not total the number of staff and students who contract COVID-19, but rather the total population figures within the physical boundaries of the district. For example, the number of cases within the Horatio School District and not the district's schools themselves. Dr. Jose Romero however said state health experts are considering providing that data at a later date.

In relation to a question asked about football game attendance and COVID-19, Romero said events will be authorized by the state on an individual basis. Romero said this is to ensure each district hosts sporting events with state guidelines in mind, including the requirement of face masks and limiting seating capacity to 66 percent.
Hutchinson said that, although football schedules for school districts in Arkansas have been approved, authorization to actually conduct the games has not yet been given by the state. He expects the final go ahead will be given before the start of school. Especially, he added, if studies of current football training programs show encouraging results. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
703 new cases 24 in prisons, 679 in the community)
51,114 cumulative cases
486 hospitalizations (down 21 from yesterday)
113 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
573 deaths total
818 new recoveries
43,816 recoveries total
6,725 active cases (69 in nursing homes, 741 in prisons, 5,915 in the community)
4,401 tests yesterday.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 78, Logan County with 47, Sebastian County with 43, Garland County with 42, Jefferson County with 33, and Pope County with 30.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 105 positive cases with 22 active positive cases, 81 recovered, 2 deaths, and 3188 negative tests. Union County show 508 positive cases with 80 active positive cases, 410 recovered, 18 deaths and 4497 negative tests. Columbia County shows 220 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 176 recovered, 12 deaths and 2669 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 64 positive cases with 9 active positives, 54 recoveries, 1 death and 875 negative tests. Calhoun County had 17 positive cases with 4 active cases, 13 recoveries, 0 deaths and 557 negative tests.

Globally there has been 20,423,897 cumulative cases, 12,631,185 recoveries, and 744,649 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/GXtObo7JW6A

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/


CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session, Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Masks and safety precautions were in effect. Seating was social distanced.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Julian Lott. Johnny Hobbie, Pastor of the Maul Road Church of Christ gave the invocation followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Minutes and Financial Reports for July were approved.

During the Audience Participation portion of the meeting Willie Cooper resigned from the Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments. He made recommendations as to who he felt would be good replacements for his seats on those Boards. Mr. Cooper cited that he had served in those positions a number of years and he felt it was time to move on. He expressed appreciation to Irene Galbert who has been on the Council for several terms. She is not running for re-election. He commended her for the job she has done for the City. He then went on to say that he is running for a position on the Board of Alderman in the upcoming General election.

Mr. David Richardson gave the Biannual Water and Sewer report.

Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website. The Resolution would allow all pertinent city business to be included on the website. Questions arose regarding the website. The official City Website is www.camden.ar.gov however when anyone goes to that web address they are redirected to www.explorecamden.com. There was much discussion about how the website is updated, how much JC Productions is paid by the City for his servicesThe City actually has nothing budgeted to JC Productions. The A&P Commission and OPED have contracts with the Agency. The Agency included initially building explorecamden.com. The Mayor asked who updates the website as s number of things on the site are outdated. He made it clear he would not be learning how to update it and questioned as to why JC Production doesn’t do the updates. None of the conversation had anything to do with the Resolution that was before the Council. The Resolution was tabled and a workshop to discuss it was scheduled.
 

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL AND PLANNING COMMISSION SCHEDULE WORKSHOPS
There will be a City Council workshop on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers at the Municipal building.  The Planning Commission meets at 6:00 pm for a workshop and has invited the City Council to attend.  Social Distancing will be in effect in accordance with COVID 19 regulations, please wear your mask. 

The agenda for the Council Workshop is as follows:
1.  Employee Compensation Plan
2.  Resolution 21-20
3.  Outside Fire Contracts

BOOZMAN: “ONE STEP CLOSER TO PAVING A NEW PATH FORWARD IN SUICIDE PREVENTION”
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continues to urge improvements to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policies in order to prevent veteran suicides and is now calling on the House of Representatives to pass the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act in order to reassure America’s veterans that their best days are ahead of them.

In a speech on the Senate floor applauding the recent Senate passage of landmark veteran mental health and suicide prevention legislation, Boozman said we’re “one step closer to paving a new path forward in suicide prevention and implementing a new strategy that I believe will give hope and purpose to the men and women who live with these invisible injuries.”

The bill includes provisions from the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act, legislation introduced by Boozman and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) that will create a VA grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce veteran suicides.

Boozman highlighted efforts of Arkansas community organizations like the Rogers-based Sheep Dog Impact Assistance and the Mountain Home chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) that have built effective outreach programs and are making a difference in the lives of veterans.

“It makes sense that we harness the ideas and successes of community advocates into sound policy,” Boozman said.

The VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged despite the drastic increase in funding. Over the last ten years, Congress more than tripled the VA’s funding for suicide prevention efforts to $222 million.

Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. That’s why Boozman and Warner are empowering the VA to share information with veteran-serving non-profits and requiring it to develop a tool to monitor progress so that resources can be concentrated on successful programs.

The IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Earlier this year, provisions of the Boozman-Warner legislation were included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. President Donald Trump is supportive of the solution outlined in the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act and included the approach in the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) which was rolled out at the White House earlier this summer.

August 11, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 11, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that school district level data would soon be available including active and cumulative cases. Elected officials and state health experts sounded an optimistic but nonetheless cautionary note as new cases of COVID-19 transmission saw a significant drop on Tuesday.
Hutchinson said the lower figure could be a result of fewer tests performed Monday. He nonetheless urged Arkansans to capitalize on the lower figures in recent days by continuing to follow state health guidelines. He said the overall goal is a return of some sense of normalcy and a safe return for Arkansas schools later this month.
Secretary of Education Johnny Key said the Arkansas Center for Health Improvements will soon have COVID-19 data down to the school district level. While not detailing how many students or staff in a particular school district have transmitted the virus, the data will display the number of people in a school district's physical boundary that have COVID-19. That information, alongside county and city level COVID-19 data, will soon be available at www.achi.net
Key also reminded Arkansas residents colleges will return to classes in the coming days and weeks. He urged Arkansans to continue committing to social distancing and other COVID-19 health directives to ensure a safer return for incoming college students.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
383 new cases (69 in prisons, 313 in the community)
50,411 cumulative cases
507 hospitalized (down 1 from yesterday)
116 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
11 new deaths
566 total deaths
4,140 tests yesterday
57,229 tests to date in August
868 new recoveries
42,998 total recoveries
6,847 active cases (60 in nursing homes, 817 in prisons, 5,970 in the community).

Secretary of Education Johnny Key spoke about the school district level data that would soon be available on the ACHI website. (Link at the bottom of this post.)

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 63, Sebastian County with 31, and Carroll County (new) with 20.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 105 positive cases with 22 active positive cases, 81 recovered, 2 deaths, and 3188 negative tests. Union County show 508 positive cases with 80 active positive cases, 410 recovered, 18 deaths and 4497 negative tests. Columbia County shows 220 positive cases with 32 active positive cases, 176 recovered, 12 deaths and 2669 negative tests.  Dallas County is showing 64 positive cases with 9 active positives, 54 recoveries, 1 death and 875 negative tests. Calhoun County had 17 positive cases with 4 active cases, 13 recoveries, 0 deaths and 557 negative tests.

Again, new cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas saw a relatively smaller increase on Tuesday with 383 reported. That brings Arkansas' total since the start of the pandemic to 50,411. Deaths grew by 11 to 566 and hospitalizations decreased by one to 507. Currently, there are 6,847 active cases in Arkansas with 60 in nursing homes, 817 in correctional facilities and the remainder in communities. Nearly 43,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus and recovered. A total of 4,140 tests were performed over the previous 24 hours with a positivity rate around 10 percent.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/j8Clv7MYP8w

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

 

SAU MOURNS THE LOSS OF STUDENT IN TRAGIC INCIDENT
MAGNOLIA -- From Dr. Trey Berry, president: Early this morning, our SAU family lost a student in a tragic, isolated incident, which occurred in the Donald W. Reynolds Campus Community Center parking lot on the campus of Southern Arkansas University. The individuals involved in the incident included students who live off-campus as well as other individuals not believed to be associated with the Institution. This incident was not random, and at no time were other students, faculty, or staff endangered.

Arkansas State Police investigators are on the scene assisting the University Police Department and the Magnolia Police Department with this ongoing investigation.

At approximately 12:31 a.m., the University Police Department reported three students who live off-campus came onto campus and met individuals not believed to be associated with the Institution in the parking lot of the Donald W. Reynolds Campus Community Center. After a brief encounter, shots were fired. SAU engineering student Joshua Keshun Smith lost his life during the incident, and another student was transported by ambulance to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center and is in stable condition.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh’s family as we mourn the loss of his life, and we pray for our other students involved in this devastating event.

The safety of our campus family is always our primary concern. Counseling services are available through the SAU Counseling Center for SAU students, faculty, and staff by contacting 870-235-4911.

We appreciate the work of law enforcement officials who were able to quickly determine that this isolated act poses no broader threat to our campus community. Anyone who believes they have additional information about this incident is urged to contact University Police at 870-235-4100.
 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 13th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Leslie Humphrey who will talk about Make-A-Wish.

You are required to wear a mask was 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 temp. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.

ENTERGY ARKANSAS OFFERS MORE PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19
Customers will have up to 12 months to make payment on past due bills
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – While the state continues to grapple with the health and economic impacts from COVID-19, Entergy Arkansas is implementing an Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan that includes offering flexible options to extend time to pay with payment arrangements, and waiving late fees, if applicable. As part of this plan, any customer experiencing financial hardship is eligible to take up to 12 months to pay a current bill and/or unpaid balances.

"We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting our customers and understand how disruptive this continues to be,” said Michael Considine, Entergy Arkansas vice president of customer service. “We want to do everything we can to help our customers, which is why we encourage any customers needing assistance to contact us now so we can work with you.”

Customers with a past due balance are encouraged to contact Entergy as soon as possible to make payment arrangements and discuss other enhanced customer assistance offers while available.

For customers’ convenience, new self-service options are available at online at myentergy.com/s/makepayment or by selecting Deferred Payment on the Entergy Mobile App.

Customers who are more comfortable using the automated response system billing and payment menu or require further special assistance are encouraged to call 1-800-ENTERGY for help with their unpaid balance.

Customers can access more information regarding federal, local and state financial assistance while it is still available at entergy.com/covid-19/arresources/.

“We also urge our customers to remain cautious, as scammers are working to take advantage of the fear this pandemic has created, threatening disconnection of service and asking for immediate payment over the phone,” continued Considine. “Please know that we will never ask for your personal information over the phone or demand payment using money orders or gift cards. You can visit entergy.com/scams/ to learn how to protect yourself.”

Entergy Arkansas will continue to monitor the pandemic impact and update our Enhanced Customer Assistance Plan as appropriate in consultation with the Arkansas Public Service Commission. 

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.
 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN ANNOUNCES ANNUAL EARNINGS FOR FISCAL 2020
Treasury held steady amid several changes
Little Rock, Ark. – Investment receipts for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended June 30, were $11.4 million, bringing the annual total for fiscal 2020 to $80.7 million, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan announced to the State Board of Finance today.

“We held steady amid so many major changes going on, both with our investment strategy and in the world, and we’re celebrating these earnings today,” Milligan said.

The investment climate during FY 2020 was difficult due to geo-political tensions worldwide and more so, the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

“When the Federal Open Market Committee dropped rates to zero in March, that put us on the same playing field as we were during the Great Recession of 2008,” Milligan told the Board, adding that the Treasury had liquidated its short-term holdings to provide plenty of cash on hand to support the state during the pandemic. But he cautioned members that the next fiscal year will be hard.

“Until we’re able to see some renewed activity and stability in the bond market in response to Covid, I expect us to remain in the lower-yielding environment,” Milligan said.

Despite the pandemic’s effect on the fixed income market, Milligan said his team is working hard to set the Treasury up to become a stable and reliable income source for the state.

“There are many ways to respond in a crisis such as this, and we have been focused on using the opportunity to reset the foundation: Taking the opportunity to move out of underperforming assets, restructure the investment policy and build an operation that can be relied upon for many years to come,” Milligan said. “Like any prudent investor, we are more focused on the long term and will withstand the lows just as we do the highs.”

 

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting tonight, Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Masks and safety precautions still in effect. Seating will be social distanced until all available seating is taken.
The agenda includes the Mayor’s report which will include the Biannual Water & Sewer Report. David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities, Manager will give the report and Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website.   

AUGUST 11 SERVES AS REMINDER TO ‘CALL BEFORE YOU DIG’ 
Avoid damaging buried utilities by calling 811
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Planning any yard work this summer? Entergy Arkansas reminds people to make sure to “Call Before You Dig” to avoid damage to underground utilities.

Across the nation, Aug. 11 serves as a reminder to call 811 before starting any digging project to have underground utility lines marked. When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to Arkansas 811, which notifies Entergy Arkansas of their intent to dig. Professional locators then arrive at the digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. Requests can also be made online or via the Arkansas One Call application that can be found in the iTunes App Store.

With more people at home during pandemic restrictions, and summer serving as a peak time to work on home improvement projects, it’s more important now than ever before that residents remember to dig safely to avoid unnecessary outages.

“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors to use the free 811 service before digging to reduce the risk of striking an underground utility line,” said Melanie Taylor, Entergy Arkansas vice president of distribution operations. “Calling 811, using the cell phone app or visiting arkonecall.com is crucial to identifying which utilities are buried in your area so that you dig safely, especially at a time when we’re relying on important utilities to connect us and keep us safe at home. ”

Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone began digging without first contacting 811. Striking a single line or pipe can cause injury, repair costs, inconvenient outages and fines. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants contacting 811 by phone or online. Installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree and laying a patio are just some examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.

The depth of utility lines can vary for reasons such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches or digging in a location that’s previously been  Marked, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

Visit www.entergyarkasas.com, www.call811.com or www.arkonecall.com for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.

Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

 
 
 

AUGUST 10, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 10, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the briefing commenting on President Trump's Executive Order and said that he was still trying to determine just what it means for Arkansas. The executive order dealt with enhanced unemployment assistance. The executive order would ask states to match with 25%. In the case of Arkansas, that would mean some $265 million. Governor Hutchinson said it's doable for the state if budget adjustments can be made. Governor Hutchinson says the President is simply trying to help hurting Americans as quickly as possible The Governor added that it would be better if Congress would act, and that he felt the Presidents was doing what he thought was best since Congress has been unable to act.

Governor Hutchinson announced at Monday afternoon's COVID-19 Press Conference that the total number of cumulative cases in Arkansas has now topped 50,000. With an additional 645 cases in the previous 24 hours, the total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 50,028. However, the number of recoveries were more than new cases. So, the number of Active Positives declined by 44 to 7,343. The death toll increased by 11 to 555. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
645 new cases (13 in prisons, 632 in the community)
11 new deaths
555 deaths total
508 hospitalized (down 6 from yesterday)
117 on ventilators (up 2 from yesterday)
7,343 active cases (52 in nursing homes, 886 in prisons, 6,450 in the community)
678 new recoveries
42,139 total recoveries
5,341 tests yesterday
52,946 tests to date in August
8.85 cumulative positive rate.

Dr. Romero also spoke briefly about a new respiratory viral syndrome in children that can cause acute paralysis of arms and legs. Dr. Romero said that this new virus is transmitted by respiratory secretions, and strongly encouraged the continued use of masks and hand washing to slow the spread.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke briefly about unemployment and the fraud issue DWS is dealing with concerning claims for unemployment benefits.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 61, Sebastian County with 52, Garland County with 50, Saline County with 43, Jefferson County with 40, Craighead County with 32, Benton County with 21, and Independence County with 20.

In the US there has been 5,063,770 cumulative cases, 1,656,864 recoveries, and 166,156 deaths.
Globally there has been 19,936,547 cumulative cases, 12,144,510 recoveries, and 732,467 deaths.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 100 positive cases with 74 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 499 positive cases with 389 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 215 positive cases with 159 recovered and 11 deaths, Dallas County is showing 63 positive cases with 51 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 16 positive cases with 13 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Secretary of Commerce, Mike Preston, addressed the media at the press conference on Monday. Preston says that 120,000 Arkansans are currently receiving unemployment compensation. Since the pandemic began in March, more than $1.3 billion in claims have been paid out to Arkansans. Preston warns that fraudulent unemployment claims remain an issue.

Again, the state of Arkansas topped 50,000 COVID-19 cases on Monday. The rolling seven-day averages would indicate that the mask mandate put into place a few weeks back seems to be helping the situation. Governor Hutchinson was asked to reflect on the significant number. He says he's pleased at how the hospitalization numbers have been managed. He's also happy that the state is beating the UAMS model projections. However, the Governor says “it's not time to let up.”

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/IROpT6DJcV4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

ARKANSAS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR VIRTUAL START OF SCHOOL YEAR 
Arkansas Education Association President Carol Fleming told state lawmakers today it is unsafe for schools to return to in-person learning as Arkansas continues to struggle to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

Fleming also shared a set of principles and expectations that must be met to keep students, educators and our communities safe once conditions allow for a return to in-person learning. The AEA Return to Learn Committee created the school reopening matrix to guide any decisions about the upcoming school year. The committee is made up of educators from across the state who have used their own expertise, along with guidance from health professionals to create the guidance. 

Fleming asked state lawmakers to join the AEA’s call for education officials to make a conscientious decision to keep children, educators and our communities safe by beginning the 20-21 school year with virtual only instruction. 

“While we agree in-person education is the best thing for students, moving kids and educators in and out of school based on isolation and quarantine protocols will be too risky and too disruptive to the teaching and learning environment,” Fleming said. “Let’s work together to maximize the next two weeks to ensure that we keep students and educators safe, and prepare for a new way to deliver education and support until we can get this virus under control.” 

President Fleming’s remarks were made to the Education Caucus of the Arkansas General Assembly. Sen. Alan Clark and Rep. Mark Lowery called the meeting to hear from stakeholders on the topic: COVID-19 School or Not?

TEXAMERICAS CENTER ANNOUNCED AS PROPOSED LOCATION FOR NEW REGIONAL WATER SYSTEM
Offers increased capacity; opportunities for job creation
Texarkana, USA (August 10, 2020) – TexAmericas Center (TAC) today announced that it will be the site of Riverbend Water Resources District’s (RWRD) proposed new regional water treatment system to support the ongoing growth for current and future tenants at its industrial park and 16 other RWRD members entities.

The new regional water system would replace the water treatment facility located on New Boston Road in Texarkana and provide increased treatment capacity over the current treatment plant. The proposed location is on TexAmericas Center property near other existing RWRD facilities.  The location would be expandable in the future to meet long-term growth and usage projections for the region.  Proposed plans include a raw water intake structure to be constructed at the nearby 31-square-mile U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, Lake Wright Patman, as well as a raw water transmission line from the intake structure to the water treatment facility.

On August 5, RWRD shared that it had garnered approval of up to $200 million in multi-year financing from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance planning, acquisition, design, and construction of a new regional water system.

“This state-of-the-art water system allows our current tenants to expand without concerns surrounding water treatment needs and availability,” said Scott Norton, TexAmericas Center Executive Director/CEO. “This also adds to the attractiveness of TexAmericas Center for businesses around the nation looking for affordability and access to solid infrastructure, talent pipelines, and logistics capabilities. We check all those boxes.”

Ranked earlier this month by Business Facilities’ 16th Rankings Report as the #8 industrial park in the country, TexAmericas Center is a catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Its 12,000 acres and 3 million square feet of space is fully entitled, providing potential tenants of specialized industries options that would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to secure in other regions. Its location in the Texarkana metropolitan area offers an attractive pipeline of talent and a logistics network to rival many larger – and therefore more expensive – urban hubs.

TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider.

“Investment in the water treatment system at TexAmericas will further spur economic development, jobs and increased revenue for the Texarkana area,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Our facility will be that much more attractive to key industries such as food processing, metals processing and chemical processing businesses, and other commercial businesses.”

Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent to more than 1 million square feet.

Successes for TexAmericas Center are building momentum. In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

About TexAmericas Center
Located in the Texarkana metropolitan area, TexAmericas Center (TAC) owns and operates one of the largest mixed-use industrial parks in the United States. With roughly 12,000 development-ready acres of land and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, TAC services four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). In 2020, TAC was recently ranked as the #8 industrial park in the country by Business Facilities magazine. It is a designated US Opportunity Zone, HUBZone, New Market Tax Credit Census Tract, Foreign Trade Zone #258 and a Texas Enterprise Zone. TAC has the operating capabilities of a municipality but functions like a traditional real estate development company, offering customized real estate solutions.

 

SAAC TO HOST NEW LECTURE SERIES WITH GAY BECHTELHEIMER
The South Arkansas Arts Center will begin a new six-part lecture series, "The New York School," presented by local artist Gay Bechtelheimer. Please join us for a brief reception, followed by an entertaining dive into the context, characters, and culture of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Reservations are required for reserved seating.

"As a way to say thank you to our wonderful members for their continued support throughout this pandemic, the Board of Directors and Membership Committee invite you to this educational and entertaining experience," said Laura Allen, SAAC executive director.

This six-part lecture series, sponsored by Linda and Louis Hall, will be held on Thursday evenings throughout the fall. The first lecture entitled "Events and Influencers" will be held on August 13 at 6:00pm. 

"During the 1940's, the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York. Over the course of six discussions, we will survey the events and influencers of this transformation, the associated artists, and the art historical movements they inspired," said Bechtelheimer. "At the first lecture, we will delve into the context of the Abstract Expressionist movement by looking at art and what brings about change in that art form. Is it war? Is it social change? Is it global migration?"

"Looking at art in relationship to its history is a celebratory chronology of the creations of humankind. We acquire a richer understanding of surface, content, thought, and influence. When we acquire this knowledge, we are better prepared to draw conclusions and make assessments in either a historical or contemporary context."

Bechtelheimer has been a long time art teacher at SAAC and has been instrumental in shaping many children's, as well as adult's, art journeys in South Arkansas. She recently served as education coordinator for "Astro Zone", MAD's collaboration with Crystal Bridges. Bechtelheimer also had the recent honor of being one of 50 women featured in Erin Wood's book "Women Make Arkansas", conversations with female creatives.

In order to keep SAAC and our members as safe as possible, we will follow all directives from the Arkansas Department of Health. Reservations are required to determine assigned seating in the theatre where guests will be seated with plenty of required distancing. Patrons will be temperature checked at the door, and masks are required. Beer and wine will be served in the gallery, where guests can pick up their seating assignments and an individually packaged snack to enjoy during Gay's presentation.

"We've been looking for a safe, creative way to say thank you to our membership. By offering the lecture series free of charge, and observing social distancing requirements, we hope to remind our members just what a wonderful community SAAC is, and how much their support means. 

For more information on this lecture series or to place a reservation to attend, please visit the website at www.saac-arts.org or call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Main Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

BOOZMAN PUSHES FOR NATIONAL DESIGNATION OF BUTTERFIELD OVERLAND TRAIL
SPRINGDALE—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation to designate the Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail. Boozman made the announcement today during a visit to Fitzgerald Station, a stop along the historic route.

The trail was used to transport mail and passengers between St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California, serving as the route of the longest stagecoach operation in history. Much of the trail traveled through portions of Arkansas.

“The Butterfield Overland Trail played an important role in our nation’s westward expansion. Designating it as a National Historic Trail is a fitting recognition for its contributions to the growth and development of our country and the state of Arkansas,” Boozman said. “For more than a decade, I’ve been working through the process to achieve this long overdue distinction. With the introduction of this bill, we are now one step closer to accomplishing this goal.”

In June 2018, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the requirements to become a national historic trail have been met after conducting a study to evaluate the significance, feasibility, suitability and desirability of designating the routes associated with it as a national historic trail. The study was required by a provision of Public Law 111-11 that was authored by Boozman during his tenure as Congressman for the Third District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.

From 1858-1861, the Butterfield Overland Mail Company held a U.S. Mail contract to transport mail and passengers between the eastern termini of St. Louis and Memphis and the western terminus of San Francisco.  

It became known as the “ox-bow route” due to its curved path comprised of approximately 3,553 miles of trail routes in eight states: Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

The routes from St. Louis and Memphis merged in Fort Smith, and the Butterfield Overland Express stagecoaches traveled through much of the state. Stagecoaches made stops between Memphis and Fort Smith in St. Francis, Prairie, Lonoke, Faulkner, Conway, Pope, Yell, Logan and Franklin counties. The northwestern route that came out of Missouri included stops in Benton, Washington and Crawford counties.

 Four segments of the roads that the Butterfield Overland Express traveled over in Arkansas have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Potts home, a well-preserved Arkansas way station for the Butterfield Express, is still standing in Pope County and is maintained as the Potts Inn Museum on Highway 247 by the Pope County Historical Foundation.

The legislation, S. 4404, is cosponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).


COTTON STATEMENT ON 8TH CIRCUIT RULING OF DISMEMBERMENT ABORTIONS
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) on Friday released the following statement after the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated an injunction imposed by the district court preventing enforcement of Arkansas's law prohibiting "dismemberment abortions":
"After years of obstruction and delay, Arkansas is one step closer to protecting unborn babies from the barbaric method of dismemberment abortion. Today's ruling moves us toward a society that respects the dignity and worth of every human being."

 

August 07, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 07, 2020
Teachers and this year's general election were the focus of Friday's press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce. Teachers will receive additional paid leave if they are forced to quarantine for COVID-19 concerns. An executive order announced Friday will also provide more Arkansans with the option to choose absentee voting this fall. 

Before launching into those announcements, Hutchinson and state health experts updated the state's latest COVID-19 figures. Arkansas witnessed one of its highest single-day increases in COVID-19 cases between Thursday and Friday. During that 24-hour period, an additional 1,011 cases were detected across the state, raising the cumulative total since the beginning of the pandemic to 48,039. Deaths increased by six to 521. Hospitalizations continue to see a net growth, with an additional nine currently hospitalized. There are currently 523 people in Arkansas hospitals due to illness caused by COVID-19. Active cases grew to 7,158. Recoveries now total 40,360 people.

During Friday's meeting, Hutchinson announced his support for a proposal which would provide school teachers and staff with an additional two weeks of paid leave for COVID-19 related quarantine. These two-weeks would supplement a teacher's existing paid leave. Funding would be provided through the CARES Act. The $20 million proposal will need to be approved by the state's CARES Act steering committee. Secretary of Education Johnny Key said the proposal was created to help ease concerns among teachers over the start of school this month.

Hutchinson also announced an executive order authorizing that anyone with COVID-19 related concerns can request an absentee ballot for the November General Election. The mandate also provides Arkansas county clerks with more time to prepare absentee ballots for counting before election day. 

Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key clarified state educational guidance in regard to how schools will reopen later this month. He said every school district in Arkansas is required to open its campus to students for the start of the school. But, that does not mean students have to be physically present if they choose their district's virtual learning option.
Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
1,011 new cases
48,039 cumulative cases
7,158 active cases (53 in nursing homes, 687 in prisons, 6,418 in the community)
9 new hospitalizations
523 currently hospitalized
116 on ventilators
6 new deaths
521 total deaths
805 new recoveries
40,360 total recoveries
6,224 tests the past 24 hours
8.7% positive cumulative rate (up slightly from yesterday).
Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 182 (100 of which were in the prison at Wrightsville), Jefferson County with 61, Craighead County with 53, Mississippi County with 44, Sebastian County with 43, Washington County with 41, Independence County with 40, and Benton County with 32.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 84 positive cases with 66 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 464 positive cases with 365 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 209 positive cases with 166 recovered and 8 deaths, Dallas County is showing 59 positive cases with 46 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Again, Arkansas saw an increase of 1,011 COVID-19 cases between Thursday and Friday. Deaths rose by six to 521 and Hospitalizations by nine to 523. Active cases grew to 7,158, with 53 in nursing homes, 687 in correctional facilities and 6,418 in communities. Over 5,000 tests were performed Thursday with a positivity rate of 8.7 percent. Recoveries grew to 40,360. 
In the US there has been 4,904,474 cumulative cases, 1,598,624 recoveries, and 160,437 deaths.
Globally there has been 19,176,624 cumulative cases, 11,610,064 recoveries, and 716,400 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/i0b-ky1rYw4

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.

VICKSBURG DISTRICT'S DEGRAY LAKE TO HOST YOUTH DEER HUNT WITH COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District's DeGray Lake will host its fourth annual youth deer hunt Oct. 3 and 4, and COVID-19 precautions will be in place.

The registration deadline is Sept. 5, and hunters must email Kolin Cogburn at kolin.p.cogburn@usace.army.mil for an application. For more information, contact Cogburn at 870-246-5501, extension 64015.

To be eligible for participation, hunters must be between the ages of six and 15 and accompanied by an assistant at least 21 years of age. Youth hunters may harvest a maximum of one buck and two does during the hunt.

USACE will implement COVID-19 prevention measures for the safety of all participants during the event. Interaction between participants and USACE personnel will take place outdoors at a campground or hunting locations. Participants and USACE employees will be required to wear masks when within 10 feet of one another, and participants will be provided with hand sanitizer. To minimize contact, hunters must provide their own equipment, ice chests and personal amenities, and utilize their own vehicles to travel from base to the hunting location.

Participants or USACE personnel exhibiting fever or any COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to participate.

Hunters and their locations will be selected through a random drawing process. All hunters will be provided with a packet outlining the hunt's rules and regulations, as well as a detailed map of their hunting area. Each hunting area will contain ground blinds and two-person ladder stands for hunters' use.

The purpose of the hunt is to encourage young people to become more involved in outdoor recreation and habitat preservation. Last year, five young people participated in the event and harvested a total of four deer.

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.

MARKETING WORKSHOP  - IDENTIFYING YOUR BEST CUSTOMER FOR GROWTH
We can all acknowledge that we need customers in order to succeed as a small business. Knowing who they are isn't enough in today's highly competitive marketplace. Steve Jobs said it best when he said, "Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves." During this webinar, we will explore what it means to become customer obsessed.

August 11, 2020 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/424697341

The Southern Arkansas University SBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration through a partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the SAU Rankin College of Business. All ASBTDC programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.  Contact Kristen Cribb at (870) 235-5033.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
August 7, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – More than 28,000 Arkansas residents work in the forest products industry, cutting trees, producing paper and pulp, manufacturing furniture and shipping wood products across the world.

The majority of those jobs are in rural areas. They support ancillary occupations that bring the annual payroll of forestry-related occupations to $1.7 billion. The value of standing timber is estimated to be more than $12.6 billion.

The timber industry accounts for 5.1 percent of the total state economy, which means that forestry makes a bigger contribution to the Arkansas economy than it does in any other southern state. Forestry accounts for 4.6 percent of the Mississippi economy and 4.5 percent of Alabama’s, but only 0.8 percent of the economy of Texas.

About 55 percent of Arkansas, or almost 19 million acres, is forested. Dallas County is the most heavily forested County, according to a Farm Bureau report. It is 94 percent forested. Mississippi County is the least covered in forest, with only five percent.

Most of the forest in Arkansas is hardwood, and about half of the pine forests are planted. Arkansas is the top state for planting oak seedlings in the South.

Also, Arkansas has the largest area of national forest in the South, with 2.5 million acres in the Ouachita and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

In the 10-year period from 2008 through 2017, Arkansas lost an average of 22,740 acres of forest a year to wildfires.

The state Forestry Division was created in 1931 by an act of the legislature, with the purpose of protecting timberland from fires and natural hazards, while promoting the overall health of forests.

Last year Searcy County lost the most acreage to forest fires, with almost 11,000 acres burned. Izard County was second, with more than 6,600 acres of forest lost to fire. Chicot County, in the farm country of southeast Arkansas, came in at the bottom of the list with only three acres of forest lost to fire.

Insects such as beetles, moths, wood borers, worms and weevils can significantly reduce the value of a forest. Trees also can get diseased, especially when they’re under stress from drought or heat. Most of the common diseases are a type of fungus that cause blight, scale, spots, mildew and rust, according to the Cooperative Extension Service.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello has the only school of forestry in the state, but most of our state-supported colleges and universities have programs in agri-business, biology or environmental sciences.

Last year the Extension Service Plant Clinic received 3,321 plant samples for diagnosis of a disease.

County extension agents or staff at the Forestry Commission also help landowners market their timber. Private non-industrial landowners have about 58 percent of the forest land in Arkansas. Harvesting timber may not be their main source of income, but if managed wisely it can become a valuable investment.

Paper products made up almost 4 percent of total Arkansas exports overseas last year. Exports of paper have been on a three-year decline, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Exports of recovered waste and scrap paper, with wood pulp, have increased over the same period, from accounting for less than 2 percent of total Arkansas exports to more than 4.25 percent.
 

SENATE VA COMMITTEE ADVANCES BILL CHAMPIONED BY BOOZMAN TO SUPPORT WOMEN VETERANS
WASHINGTON—The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (VA) this week passed legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that would improve VA care and services for women veterans.

The Deborah Sampson Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Boozman and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and go without needed health care. 

“More women are answering the call to serve in uniform. The modern makeup of our veteran population requires us to reexamine how we can best serve their needs. Removing the obstacles women face to accessing the care and benefits they earned is necessary to fulfilling our promise to these veterans. We are one step closer to making the VA more accommodating to the unique challenges facing these brave former service members,” Boozman said.

“Women are the fastest growing population of veterans and VA needs to be fully prepared to meet their needs,” said Ranking Member Tester. “The landmark passage of our Deborah Sampson Act sends a very important message—not only to women veterans, but to the American public—that my colleagues and I came together during politically turbulent times to do what’s right. In this case, it means getting one step closer to providing critical support to our sisters, mothers, and daughters who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”

There are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. According to VA data, women comprised nine percent of the nationwide veteran population in 2015. That number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years

 
 

August 06, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – AUGUST 06, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson was not present for the daily briefing. He is attending a meeting of governors of the US.

Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
735 new cases (44 in prisons, 514 in the community)
514 currently hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
111 on ventilators (up 5 from yesterday)
7 new deaths
515 total deaths
6,958 active cases (71 in nursing homes, 548 in prisons, 6,339 in the community)
47,028 cumulative cases
39,555 recoveries
4,514 tests the past 24 hours
27,998 tests to date in August (goal is 180,000 plus 10,000 antigen tests)
8.65% positive rate cumulative (up slightly from yesterday).

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 143, Craighead County with 69, Sebastian County with 62, Poinsett County with 27, Benton County with 24, Garland County with 24, Crittenden County with 23, Mississippi County with 23, Greene County with 22 and Saline County with 21.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 84 positive cases with 64 recovered and 2 deaths, Union County show 458 positive cases with 359 recovered and 17 deaths, Columbia County shows 209 positive cases with 165 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 59 positive cases with 44 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
Today Governor Asa Hutchinson did approve the state active duty call-up of an additional 8 Guardsmen to support the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Medical personnel from 188th Air Wing and 189th Air Wing will assist with medical screening.

Arkansas Air National Guardsmen will assist the Arkansas Department of Corrections with COVID-19 screening under the direction of Wellpath, the contracted medical provider. The Guardsmen will report to the Department of Corrections on August 10.

In addition to the 8 called to duty today, 40 Guardsmen are still providing the following support to state agencies:
Four Guardsmen are providing logistics support to distribute personal protective equipment and medical supplies at a warehouse in North Little Rock, Ark.
Nine Guardsmen are providing case management and call center support at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
Fourteen Guardsmen are providing facility support and patient transport at a COVID-19 positive isolation facility in Little Rock, Ark.
Thirteen Guardsmen are providing case management support at the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Ark.

The Arkansas National Guard assumes support roles to augment civil authorities, where needed and directed by the Governor, to help in a crisis.
In the US there has been 4,854,690 cumulative cases, 1,577,851 recoveries, and 159,433 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,897,857 cumulative cases, 11,402,427 recoveries, and 710,136 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://www.facebook.com/arhealthdept/videos/1035312490248906/

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

CANDIDATES OUACHITA COUNTY 2020 GENERAL ELECTION
 

 

 

Name                                                    City                        Ward                                     File Date
Mitchell Pate                                     Bearden                  Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Carolyn Pate                                      Bearden                  Ward 1, Pos 2                      08-04-20
Sherry Hiller                                     Bearden                   Ward 1, Pos 2                      08-03-20
Ronnie D Quarles                             Bearden                   Ward 2, Pos 1                      07-29-20
Melvia Buckley                                Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 1                     08-03-20
Leon Coston                                     Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 1                     08-04-20
Phillip Lambert                                 Bearden                    Ward 2, Pos 2                    08-03-20

Donna Stewart                                Camden                     City Clerk                           08-04-20
Yolanda Clemons Lewis                 Camden                     City Clerk                           08-05-20
Amy Tatum                                     Camden                     City Clerk                           08-04-20
Danita Webster                               Camden                     City Clerk                           08-03-20
James Bell                                      Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 1                      08-05-20
Gwendolyn Edwards                     Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-05-20
L.E. Lindsey                                  Camden                     Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-04-20
Lawrence “Joe” Askew                 Camden                     Ward 2, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Scott Bodenhamer                         Camden                     Ward 2, Pos 2                       07-31-20
William S. McCoy                         Camden                    Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Marvin L. Moore                           Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 1                       08-03-20
Sandra Lee                                     Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Cecil McDonald                            Camden                     Ward 3. Pos 2                       08-03-20
Willie T. Cooper                            Camden                    Ward 3, Pos 2                        08-05-20
Terrie Smith                                  Camden                     Ward 4, Pos 1                        08-04-20
Chris Aregood                              Camden                     Ward 4, Pos 2                        07-31-20

Jeanette Ponder                            Chidester                    Recorder/Treasurer              08-04-20
John Truman Gosvenor               Chidester                    Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Jessica Clay                                 Chidester                    Ward 1, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Myrtle Nell Pratt                          Chidester                   Ward 1, Pos 2                       07-30-20
Edward Szymanski                      Chidester                   Ward 2, Pos 1                       08-04-20
Carolyn A. McKenzie                 Chidester                    Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-04-20

Amanda Harcrow                        East Camden               Recorder/Treasurer              07-31-20
Jason Thomas                              East Camden              Ward 1, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Linda Starr                                  East Camden               Ward 1, Pos 2                       08-03-20
Rhonda Dunn                              East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 1                       07-31-20
Thurnell Green                            East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 2                       07-29-20
Steven Hiller                               East Camden               Ward 2, Pos 2                       08-05-20

 

HARMONY GROVE WATER ASSOCIATION A PRECAUTIONARY BOIL ORDER LIFT
Lift date: August 5, 2020
The Department of Health has has released the 'boil water' notice issued on 7/30/2020 at 1 :44:00 pm by Michael Gairich for the entire system. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of complete loss in normal system pressure.

Bacteriological samples taken on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 were found to be 'safe' and a satisfactory disinfectant level has been established throughout the distribution system. The water is therefore considered 'safe' for human consumption and the 'boil water' notice is hereby lifted.

The boil water order was due to construction related water line break. For further information, CONTACT For more information contact Andrew Shaw - District Engineer - Engineering Section at (501) 661-2623.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: PROTECT YOUR CREDIT AND IDENTITY FROM UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD
LITTLE ROCK – Unemployment fraud has become a prevalent problem in Arkansas and around the nation. The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services recently announced over 37,000 suspected fraudulent unemployment claims have been identified and are being investigated in Arkansas. Depending upon the extent of the fraud, consumers may choose to request a fraud alert or security freeze with the credit reporting agencies or to seek an ID Theft Passport from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s Office if unauthorized lines of credit have been opened.

“Con artists are filing unemployment claims using stolen information and potentially ruining the good names of nearly 40,000 Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “No one is safe from these criminals who have brazenly attempted to file a claim pretending to be Governor Asa Hutchinson.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for those who believe they have been a victim of identity theft:
File a fraud alert with one of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
File a police report with your local law enforcement and get a copy of the report as soon as it is available.
For unemployment fraud, contact the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or complete the secure fraud reporting form online at dws.arkansas.gov.
Get a copy of an identity theft booklet, which provides step-by-step instructions for dealing with identity thieves, including affidavits and forms for your financial institutions.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Cancel any accounts you believe have been compromised or have been opened fraudulently.
Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report to restrict access and help prevent additional instances of identity theft.
If fraudulent lines of credit have been opened in your name, then consider applying for an ID Theft Passport from the Attorney General’s office.

Many consumers are rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information and want to prevent fraud and identity theft. Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to never give their personal information over the phone or via email, to use strong passwords on all online accounts and to be diligent in reviewing all types of financial statements.

Committing identity theft in Arkansas is a felony and comes with a sentence that could include incarceration, fines up to $25,000 and restitution. Consumers are advised that if you receive funds that you did not apply for and that you were not expecting, do not accept them. Instead, report the matter to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services at (501) 682-1058 and to local law enforcement. Even if you did not request the funds, accepting such funds as part of an unemployment scam is unlawful.

For more information on identity theft and other consumer related issues, or to apply for an ID Theft Passport, contact the Arkansas Attorney General's Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

ARKANSAS RECIPIENTS OF PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE ANNOUNCED 
LITTLE ROCK — Two Arkansas teachers were recently selected as recipients of the 2019 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The National Science Foundation, on behalf of The White House, oversees the program that recognizes teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms. Each recipient will receive a $10,000 award, presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, DC, for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

2019 Recipients

Mary Hatch, Environmental and Spatial Technology, Grades 6-8, Harrison Middle School, Harrison School District (Science Award)

Melodie Murray, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, Advanced Topics and Mathematical Modeling, Pocahontas High School, Pocahontas School District (Math Award)

“Math and science principles are heavily ingrained in today’s jobs, as well as jobs of the future,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “In order to be prepared for the workforce, exceptional teachers in these fields are critical to success. I am happy to congratulate Ms. Hatch and Ms. Murray for receiving these presidential awards. This recognition is among the highest in the STEM field, and these two outstanding educators are well deserving of this honor.”

Each year math and science educators are nominated on the state level. State finalists then have the potential to receive national recognition. A national committee comprised of scientists, mathematicians, and educators reviews all state finalists and recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards in mathematics, science, and computer science. Winners are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories, and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

To learn more about the awards program, go to https://www.paemst.org

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AWARDS OVER $445,000 TO NASHVILLE FOR BROADBAND
Nashville, Ark. (August 6, 2020) - The Arkansas Department of Commerce has announced its fourth Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant. The grant, in the amount of $448,450 is awarded to the City of Nashville in partnership with Premier Holdings, LLC. The project will deploy fixed wireless to homes in Nashville.

“This is the fourth project that the Department of Commerce has funded through the ARC Program,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “We will continue to invest in broadband infrastructure that will help Arkansas compete at a global level.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has provided challenges for Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “However, it has also provided us a unique opportunity to deploy broadband quickly to communities. By the end of the year, the entire city of Nashville will have 25/3 Mbps broadband, which is great step as we close the digital divide in Arkansas.”

The Arkansas Department of Commerce received $19.3M in CARES Act funds for ARC grants after an approval from the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas legislature. Grant recipients must expend the COVID-19 federal funds by December 30 of this year. Additionally, $4.7M is available in state funds for projects that would extend beyond December 30. The goal of the program is to provide high-speed broadband to rural communities.

“Nashville is an important piece to the economy in Southwest Arkansas and District 10,” said State Senator Larry Teague. “Connecting Nashville with high-speed broadband will ensure that we can continue to grow and thrive.”

“Connecting Nashville is a win for my district and the people I proudly represent,” said State Representative Justin Gonzales. “But we cannot stop there. We must continue to expand the broadband footprint in Arkansas into rural parts of the state.

The department is currently evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before December 30. For more information or to apply for an ARC grant, visit www.broadband.arkansas.gov.
 

SENATE APPROVES COMPREHENSIVE VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH BILL THAT INCLUDES BOOZMAN-WARNER INITIATIVE TO BOOST VA SUICIDE PREVENTION
WASHINGTON–A potentially life-saving initiative led by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) that will create a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce veteran suicides has passed the Senate.

The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, a comprehensive bill that expands veterans’ access to mental health services, includes provisions from the Boozman-Warner IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act. The Senate approved the bill by unanimous consent.

The Boozman-Warner language enhances coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and would better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides. The bill creates a new grant program to enable the VA to conduct additional outreach through veteran-serving non-profits in addition to state and local organizations.

“We can’t take our focus off the veteran suicide crisis even with all that is going on in the world right now. In recent years, Congress has increased funding to reach at-risk veterans, yet the number who commit suicide each day has remained largely unchanged. It’s clear a new strategy is necessary and the approach that Senator Warner and I have proposed in this bill is a key part of that. Coordinating and sharing information between the VA and veteran-serving organizations that have the common goal to save lives will have a positive impact,” Boozman said.

“Congress came together in a bipartisan fashion to make sure our veterans receive the tools and resources they need to heal from the invisible wounds of war. Right now, too many veterans still die by suicide long after having completed their tours of duty. This important legislation will help tackle the alarming rate of veteran suicide by ensuring our military heroes have the support they need after faithfully serving our country. It’s my hope that the President quickly signs this critical life-saving bill into law,” Warner said.

The VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged despite the drastic increase in funding. Over the last ten years, Congress more than tripled the VA’s funding for suicide prevention efforts to $222 million.

Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. That’s why Boozman and Warner are empowering the VA to share information with veteran-serving non-profits and requiring it to develop a tool to monitor progress so that resources can be concentrated on successful programs.

The IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Days later, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the bill “key” to unlocking the veteran suicide crisis at a committee hearing. In January 2020, provisions of the Warner-Boozman legislation was included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. President Donald Trump is supportive of the solution outlined in the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act and included the approach in the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) which was rolled out at the White House earlier this summer.

 

AUGUST 5, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE – AUGUST 05, 2020
Deaths in Arkansas due to COVID-19 surpassed 500 on Wednesday, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. The announcement was made during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Wednesday afternoon. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 18 to 508 people since the beginning of the outbreak. Overall cases saw a sizeable growth Wednesday as well, with 912 new cases recorded between Tuesday and Wednesday. That leaves Arkansas' cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions at 46,293. Hutchison reported that hospitalizations decreased by 10 to 508. Active cases grew to 6,937 and recoveries to nearly 39,000.
Hutchinson said Arkansas' COVID-19 realities are closely following predictions released by UAMS earlier this summer. That report predicted 50,000 cumulative cases by August 10th and 543 deaths by August 15th. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that he has named Dr. Jose Romero the new Secretary of Health replacing Dr. Nate Smith who left to work at the CDC. The Governor noted that both Dr. Smith and Dr. Romero were nationally recognized leaders in public health, and that Dr. Romero currently chairs a national groups dealing with immunizations.
The Governor announced that a health department directive has been posted concerning school music and band programs. A link to the directive is below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/…/directive_Community_and_…

Johnny Key, Director of the Arkansas Department of Education, announced on Wednesday a new "Ready for School" resource call center for parents with questions or concerns related to the start of school this fall. The call center can be reached by calling 1-833-353-6050, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Key also spoke to concerns related to the start of school this month. Key cited the resiliency of a child's immune system as one factor in favor of reopening schools. He also said education officials are closely following the start of school in other states in hopes of better predicting what results the return of schools will have in Arkansas.
Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe, who chairs the High School Sports Advisory Committee, spoke briefly about the committee's work in preparation of fall sports.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
912 new cases in Arkansas (158 in prisons, 754 in the community)
516 hospitalized currently (down 10 from yesterday)
18 new deaths
508 deaths total
46,293 cumulative cases.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Chicot County with 149, Pulaski County with 79, Sebastian County with 51, Washington County with 42, Mississippi County with 35, Garland County with 29, Craighead County with 28, Saline County with 26, Pope County with 24, Ashley County with 21, Crittenden County with 21, and Benton County with 20.
During Wednesday's press conference, Hutchinson stated his administration's plan to test 100 percent of Arkansas' prison inmates by the end of the month. National Guard specialists will assist with this task. Due to the close proximity of inmates, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect within the prison system. At one prison alone, the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern, had 577 active cases out of a prison population of 1,700 inmates. 

Again, Arkansas saw the COVID-19 death toll rise by 18 to 508. Total cases grew by 912 to 46,293. Active cases increased to 6,937. Hospitalizations decreased by 10 to 516. There have been 38,848 recoveries since the start of the pandemic. A total of 5,077 tests were performed on Tuesday.

In the US there has been 4,793,950 cumulative cases, 1,528,979 recoveries, and 157,416 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,614,542 cumulative cases, 11,181,018 recoveries, and 702,330 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/Ln-5P-LM-6w

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


EDUCATORS CALL FOR STANDARDIZED TEST SUSPENSION TO FOCUS ON MEETING STUDENTS' NEEDS
In light of the ongoing public health emergency due to COVID-19 and the consequent upheaval it has caused in every public school community across Arkansas, the Arkansas Education Association today asked Secretary Johnny Key to halt high stakes, standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year. 
As we prioritize the health and safety of students, educators and the broader school community, it would be detrimental to shift our focus and our resources away from achieving this goal.
In a letter, which you can read in full here, educators also call for a suspension of the Teacher Evaluation and Support System (TESS) for the same reasons, as well as a shift in professional development requirements to focus on topics that will better focus on student needs.
These include​​ trauma-informed educational strategies; supporting social and emotional health; as well as, virtual and other off-site teaching and learning strategies.
 Educators must have the time and other resources to determine how best to offer safety, support and educational opportunity to all of Arkansas’s public-school students during the 2020-2021 school year. Taking these actions will aid in achieving that goal. 


CONTRACT CHANGES PROVIDE MORE WORK TO LOCKHEED OPERATIONS IN CAMDEN
by Talk Business & Politics staff
Contract modifications received by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin will support production at the company’s manufacturing operation in Camden.
A $1.042 billion modification “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,” is for work to be completed by October 2024. Camden is one of six Lockheed locations to perform the work.

According to the Department of Defense, the work is for U.S. Army missile procurement and supports foreign military sales to Bahrain, Germany, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Republic of Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

A $226.254 million contract modification is for the M270A2 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, with Camden one of three Lockheed locations to perform the work. The contract calls for work to be completed in August 2023 and is for missile sales to the U.S. Army.

Lockheed Martin in October 2019 broke ground on a new $142 million Long Range Fires Production Facility in Camden that is estimated to add 326 jobs. Once construction is complete by the beginning of 2021, the new Long Range facility will add more than 70,000-square-feet of production and office space to the current property in Highland Industrial Park, supporting increased orders for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), the Low-Cost Reduced-Range Practice Rocket (LCRRPR) and other associated work.

AGFC GRADUATES NEW CLASS OF WILDLIFE OFFICERS
MAYFLOWER – One dozen new wildlife officers will be hitting the fields and forests of The Natural State this summer, after graduating from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s training program. The graduation ceremony took place July 31 at the H.C. “Red” Morris Enforcement Training Center off Arkansas Highway 89.

With social-distancing protocols in place, this class of graduating officers did not receive quite the fanfare as previous classes, but they were not shorted any training, thanks to new techniques adopted by instructors in the face of COVID-19.

“I regret that these officers did not get to enjoy some of the celebration as previous classes, but they are sure to make their own marks on their communities, as many officers before them have done,” said Pat Fitts, director of the AGFC. “These men and women do not sign up for this job to be recognized, they do it because protecting the outdoors and serving the people in their communities is a calling they’ve felt compelled to answer.” 

Because of restrictions to large gatherings, the graduation ceremony was kept small, with only members of the graduates’ families and a few key AGFC personnel invited. Families were allowed to sit together, but each group was screened before entry and separated from other family groups in attendance. 

Despite the changes required by COVID-19, this class of cadets did not get slighted when it came to the training needed to become an AGFC wildlife officer. The class began March 8, and had three weeks of in-person training before the center had to be closed because of social distancing protocols.

“They were introduced to what would be expected of them during that time and we had online training through Google Meets during the time when the center was temporarily closed,” said Lt. Tracey Blake, assistant training administrator for the AGFC. “They also came back for a week of in-person instruction once some of the COVID-related restrictions were loosened. You just can’t teach some things, like shooting, self-defense and accident investigation techniques online.”

Blake says cadets had to maintain the same physical training regiment on their own while the center was shut down, and they were paired with veteran wildlife officers along the way to make sure they received all the resources they needed to get the job done. 

“They will go out in the field in their assigned counties and have an eight week field training period before hunting seasons begin, then we’ll likely have them come back to the training center for three or four more weeks of training,” Blake said. “A lot of people think the first training is all a wildlife officer sees, but there’s a lot of in-service training required of every wildlife officer throughout their career. It’s not a one and done sort of deal.” 

Capt. Sydney Carman also directs the cadet-training program with Lt. Tracey Blake. Many AGFC enforcement officers serve as instructors, and many AGFC biologists and experts from other agencies are brought in to teach specialized topics.

Assignment of the new officers will fill several vacancies in the AGFC enforcement ranks. 

The 2020 graduates and their county assignments are:
Caleb McClanahan - Madison County
Kent Slape - Newton County
Tyler Staggs - Johnson County
Jake Standford - Sevier County
Cody Stone - Nevada County
Clint Park - Ouachita County
Renner Smith - Calhoun County

Eric Rawls - Cleveland County
Nate Baker - Drew County
Stephanie Carter - Ashley County
David Foret - Lincoln County
Michael - Dollard - Phillips County

CIVIL RIGHTS HISTORY COMES ALIVE ON EXPLOREPINEBLUFF.COM
Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - Pine Bluff, AR: The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail, a digital brochure that explores the pivotal role Pine Bluff has played in Civil Rights history, is now available on ExplorePineBluff.com.
The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail delivers 22 short, powerful video stories about people and places with Pine Bluff connections who figured large in the Civil Rights movement. “Pine Bluff boasts credentials on par with Selma, Little Rock, and Montgomery,” said Sheri Storie, Executive Director of Explore Pine Bluff. “Pine Bluff was the site of boycotts, sit-ins, demonstrations, and bombings as African Americans demanded an end to segregated public facilities and jobs in the early 1960s.”

The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail includes segments dedicated to attorneys Harold Flowers, Wiley Branton, and Leo Branton, who played prominent roles in groundbreaking cases like the Little Rock Central High crisis, the integration of the University of Arkansas Law School, and the drive to register black voters. Judge George Howard, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Black Panther Bobby Hutton, all key figures in the fight for equality, are also featured, along with Paul Greenberg, Dick Gregory, Delores Jean York, George Edmund Haynes, Sarah E. Howard, William Levan Sherrill, James Nabrit, Jr., and Vernon Jordan, Jr. One segment explains the groundbreaking psychological research performed by the husband and wife team of Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, research that was ultimately presented before the U.S. Supreme Court.

People aren’t the only stars of the show. The Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail also tells the stories of places in Pine Bluff that served as backdrops for history, including the UAPB/AM&N Freedom House, the Missouri Pacific/Greyhound Bus Station, Saint James United Methodist Church, the Woolworth’s Store, McDonald’s Restaurant, the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Williams Building, and more.

“Every one of these stories is riveting, but most of them have gone untold until now,” Sheri explained. “Thanks to the efforts of Jimmy Cunningham, Explore Pine Bluff’s Interpretive Coordinator, we are finally able to bring this history to anyone with a smart phone or digital device.”

Sheri noted that more Civil Rights-related digital historical products will be added to ExplorePineBluff.com, including an in-depth video docu-series relaying incredible, mostly untold Civil Rights and freedom stories, and a virtual museum which will provide even more in-depth coverage of Pine Bluff’s connection to Civil Rights history.

“Until it’s safe to travel again, Explore Pine Bluff is committed to providing educational and informative online experiences,” added Sheri. “These stories deserve wider recognition and that’s what we’re giving them.”

Access the Delta Civil Rights Legacy Trail 

Explore Pine Bluff, governed by the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, is a destination marketing agency that promotes Pine Bluff as a year-round destination for leisure, business, group, and individual travel. In addition to allocating a majority of operating funds for the Pine Bluff Convention Center, the Commission provides funding assistance to many Pine Bluff attractions, festivals, sporting events, and special events. For more information, visit ExplorePineBluff.com or call 870.534.2121.

COTTON, BLACKBURN, LOEFFLER BILL TO ALLOW CONCEALED CARRY FOR PROSECUTORS, FEDERAL JUDGES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), introduced the Protect Our Prosecutors and Judges Act, a bill that expands the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act—which allows current and retired LEOs to carry concealed firearms—to include current and retired state, local, and federal prosecutors, as well as federal judges. Bill text may be found here.

“Judges and prosecutors have been the target of growing threats and violence simply for doing their jobs. They should be able to protect their own lives and their families. Our bill will allow federal judges and prosecutors to defend themselves in a similar way to other law enforcement officers,” said Cotton.

“Prosecutors and judges make difficult decisions daily that have the potential to put them in harm’s way,” said Loeffler. “In a day and age when personal information is so easily accessible online, these public servants should be able to protect themselves and their families at all times. I'm proud to support this commonsense legislation that extends the right to self-protection for those working for justice every day.”

“Right now, law enforcement officials are facing increased threats to their safety just for doing their jobs,” said Blackburn. “Cities across the country have seen a spike in crime in the wake of weeks-long protests, making the thin blue line appear even thinner than usual. I am pleased to join my colleagues in this crucial effort to ensure members of law enforcement are able to protect themselves in case of emergency.”

Background:

Prosecutors and judges have recently been the target of attacks due to their role in the criminal justice system.

According to a U.S. Marshals Service report from this year, “threats and inappropriate comments” against protected persons increased by a magnitude of four since 2015.

The legislation is supported by the National District Attorneys Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association.


COTTON INTRODUCES AMENDMENT BLOCKING CHINA FROM RECEIVING HEALS ACT FUNDING
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has introduced an amendment to the HEALS Act that would prohibit any funds in the HEALS Act-or residual CARES Act funds-from supporting any entity that is under Chinese ownership, control, or influence. The legislation also mandates that the Secretary of the Treasury claw back CARES Act funds provided to Chinese firms. The amendment comes in response to reports that Chinese-owned companies received PPP funding from the CARES Act passed earlier this year.
"China unleashed this plague on the world and they must be held accountable-not given a cash bonus by the American government. My amendment would ensure all coronavirus relief funds stay right here in the United States where they're needed the most," said Cotton.

 
 

August 04, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE – AUGUST 04, 2020
Fraud continues to slow down unemployment relief for individuals across Arkansas. That was the message shared by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state officials during Tuesday's statewide COVID-19 Taskforce press conference.

Figures released during the press conference showed an increase 784 cases from Monday. The cumulative total since the start of the pandemic is now 45,381. An additional 15 deaths were reported over the previous 24 hours for a new total of 490. Hospitalizations increased by 13 to 526. There are currently 6,891 active cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas with over 38,000 Arkansans recovered. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 77 positive cases with 60 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 433 positive cases with 343 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 193 positive cases with 153 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 58 positive cases with 39 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

State officials said approximately 27,000 pandemic unemployment assistance claims have raised red flags for a number of potential fraud concerns. A further 10,000 are within the state's traditional unemployment insurance program. Many of these claims are expected to be legitimate. Others will be turned over to federal law enforcement for further investigation.

Hutchinson said con-artists are sending out false unemployment verification letters to citizens across the state in hopes of fraudulently applying for state assistance. Hutchinson said he was one such Arkansan who recently received a letter declaring his eligibility for unemployment assistance despite never having filed for it.

Anyone who receives a similar letter - and who has not themselves filed for unemployment - should file a police report with the local law enforcement officer. Victims are also asked to report the fraud to state investigators by calling (501) 682-1058 or visiting DWS.arkansas.gov.

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the state is organizing verification centers across the state to assist people whose unemployment claims are on hold due to a fraud investigation. He said many legitimate claims are on hold due to the high amount of fraud suspected in the unemployment assistance program.

Dr. Thomas Romero, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, said contact tracers in the state are facing difficulty reaching out to those infected with COVID-19 and the people with whom they have come into contact. He stressed the need for people to share accurate information with contact tracers when they call. He also urged anyone who feels the need to take a COVID-19 test to quarantine themselves until they receive their results. 

Again, Arkansas saw an additional 784 cases of COVID-19 on Monday for a new total of 45,381. Deaths increased by 15 to 490 and hospitalizations by 13 to 526. Active cases increased to 6,891. Of those active cases, 393 are in the state's prison system, 88 are in nursing homes and the remaining 6,410 cases are in the community. Over 5,000 tests were performed Monday. The average positivity rate is around 8.5 percent. 
To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/9XfZzJ6mfvIFor additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, August 6th at Catherine's Bistro. The program will be presented by Dr. Larry Braden who will be discussing COVID-19.

You are required to wear a mask was 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.

AGHERITAGE FARM CREDIT SERVICES PROMOTES CANNON
Little Rock, Ark. – August 3, 2020 - AgHeritage Farm Credit Services has promoted Clay Cannon from the Department of Capital Markets to VP of Lending and Branch Manager for the Pine Bluff branch, according to Cole Plafcan, SVP Chief Lending and Marketing Officer.

Cannon joined AgHeritage in September 2015 as a Credit Officer. In July 2018, he transitioned to an AgriBusiness Credit Officer.

Cannon attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

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. 

RECIPIENTS OF FARM BUREAU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS ANNOUNCED
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Farm Bureau Scholarship Foundation Committee has named the 13 recipients of the $3,000 Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships for the 2020-21 school year.
Scholarship recipients are Arkansas residents, members of a Farm Bureau family and enrolled as juniors or seniors in pursuit of an agriculture-related degree at a state-accredited university.

The scholarship recipients are:
Casey Arnold of Poplar Grove (Phillips County), Arkansas State University
Kaylee Breckling of Benton (Saline County), Southern Arkansas University
Conner Catt of Marion (Crittenden County), Arkansas State University
Samantha Clanton of Hermitage (Bradley County), Southern Arkansas University
Sara Gardner of Fayetteville (Washington County), UA-Fayetteville.
Jacob Hollaway of Griffithville (White County), Leo Sutterfield Scholarship, Arkansas State University
Chandler Knowles of Rison (Cleveland Columbia County), UA-Monticello
Macy Lamkin of Buckner (Lafayette County), Southern Arkansas University
Neely Purifoy of Louann (Ouachita County) Troy Buck Scholarship, Southern Arkansas University
Garrett Reynolds of Harrisburg (Poinsett County), UA-Monticello
Caleb Swears of Carlisle (Lonoke County), UA-Fayetteville
Kaylie Stone of Gurdon (Clark County), Southern Arkansas University
Kacey Williams of Greenbrier (Faulkner County), Arkansas Tech University
The scholarships are based on financial need, academic achievement, career plans, as well as character and leadership potential. The 13 scholarship recipients will receive paid installments of $1,500 per semester for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“Arkansas Farm Bureau has always been an advocate for higher education,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Rich Hillman of Carlisle. “The future of Arkansas agriculture is dependent on the young adults who are pursuing agricultural careers. Supporting them remains a priority for this organization.” 

Arkansas Farm Bureau and county Farm Bureau organizations have awarded more than $1 million to assist more than 2,000 youth with their college expenses. In addition to the Foundation scholarships, the organization annually awards the Romeo E. Short scholarship to students enrolled in the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas and the Marvin Vines Memorial scholarship to a broadcast journalism student at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Many county Farm Bureaus also award scholarships to young people in local communities.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a private advocacy organization of almost 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

NEIL OATSVALL NAMED 2020 ARKANSAS HISTORY TEACHER OF THE YEAR 
LITTLE ROCK — Neil Oatsvall, a teacher at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, has been named the 2020 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

The institute, which promotes the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources, honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and U.S. territories each year. One of these winners will be named the 2020 National History Teacher of the Year this fall.

As a student, I always enjoyed learning about Arkansas, American, and world history,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “Not only did I appreciate learning about our ancestors, I realized that learning about our past is essential to paving a positive future. Mr. Oatsvall is one of the many critical educators who help our young students do just that. I congratulate him on being named the 2020 Arkansas History Teacher of the Year and know his students greatly benefit from his expertise, passion for history, and commitment to education."

Oatsvall is a history and social science teacher at ASMSA, where he also serves as chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Department. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina in Asian studies and history and received a master’s degree in history from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in history from the University of Kansas. Oatsvall has published articles in various publications including Agricultural History, Environment and History, and Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. His book manuscript is under advanced contract with the University of Alabama Press. 

Oatsvall will receive a $1,000 award, and his school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials.

Nominations for the 2021 History Teacher of the Year are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting https://bit.ly/2XsbEbp. The deadline for 2021 nominations is March 31, 2021.
 

KYLIE COWAN ACCEPTED INTO UAMS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY DOCTORAL PROGRAM
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University’s HKR Department is pleased to announce that Kylie Cowan, a senior Exercise Science major from Foreman, Arkansas, has been accepted into the UAMS Occupational Therapy Doctoral program.

Cowan, an All-American Scholar Athlete and member of the SAU softball team, will begin the program starting in January 2021. She will graduate from SAU this fall after completing her internship at Texarkana Therapy Center Pediatrics. While attending SAU, Cowan gained different levels of field experience by working as a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Wake Village. She also works at The Nutrition Box in Ashdown.

Cowan is the daughter of Zon and Sonja Cowan. Her father Zon graduated from SAU with a BS in Industrial Technology. Her mother Sonja is an occupational therapist and completed her degree from the University of Central Arkansas. The tradition will continue as Cowan’s sister will be attending SAU this fall as a Hallman Scholar and member of SAU’s track team.

“I am really excited to start my internship this fall,” Cowan said. “I can’t thank SAU enough for helping me realize all my goals and ambitions. My classes have truly prepared me for a career as an occupational therapist, as well as becoming a personal trainer. I am very thankful for the professors in the Exercise Science program who helped me exceed my goals, and provided me with connections that will benefit me throughout my journey.”

 The HKR Department is proud of Cowan’s accomplishments and wishes her well in the next stage of her academic career.

 For more information on becoming an Exercise Science major please visit https://web.saumag.edu/hkr/.

TEXAMERICAS CENTER RANKED IN TOP 10 INDUSTRIAL PARKS BY BUSINESS FACILITIES MAGAZINE
Top media outlet for site selectors identifies TexAmericas Center; State of Texas as leaders
Texarkana, USA (August 4, 2020) – TexAmericas Center today shared its ranking as the #8 industrial park on Business Facilities’ 16th Rankings Report, an annual assessment of economic development leaders. Added this year, the category for industrial parks reflects the increasing recognition of their importance to the growth of small and middle-sized enterprises and weighs the size, space availability, shovel readiness, growth potential and unique assets in order to rank facilities. In addition to TexAmericas Center’s ranking, the State of Texas earned 48 total placements in the lists, a nod to the state’s attractiveness to companies, industries, and site selectors.

As a top industrial park, TexAmericas Center is a catalyst of economic investment in the Texarkana region. Its 12,000 acres and 3 million square feet of space is fully entitled, providing potential tenants of specialized industries options that would be difficult or cost-prohibitive to secure in other regions. Its location in the Texarkana metropolitan area offers an attractive pipeline of talent and a logistics network to rival many larger – and therefore more expensive – urban hubs. TexAmericas Center also offers a complement of unique assets like utilities, rail, fiber, and a transload provider. These factors, coupled with the organization’s reputation as problem-solvers and partners in mixed-use industrial development, led to the ranking.

Since May 2014, TexAmericas Center has increased its total leased square footage by more than 85 percent – to over 1 million square feet.

“A great industrial park needs to promote economic activity for its region, and sometimes that means taking a slightly speculative approach to development,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer with TexAmericas Center. “Where others put up roadblocks, we put up welcome signs and work with current and potential tenants to find solutions that help them establish solid footing so they can grow. We’re more than landlords, we’re their partners, so we have skin in the game, too.”

The recognition comes as several other announcements are on the horizon, including long-awaited news from TexAmericas Center in addition to placemaking projects in the community.

“We’ve worked for the last ten years to remove environmental encumbrances from our properties and we anticipate an announcement by the end of the year regarding those opportunities,” shared Scott Norton, Executive Director/CEO. “It will be a game-changer for TexAmericas Center and the Texarkana region, which we are excited to share.”

In July, TexAmericas Center announced that Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

About TexAmericas Center
Located in the Texarkana metropolitan area, TexAmericas Center (TAC) owns and operates one of the largest mixed use industrial parks in the United States. With roughly 12,000 development-ready acres of land and about 3 million square feet of commercial and industrial product, TAC services four states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas). TAC is a designated HUBZone, New Market Tax Credit Census Tract, and Foreign Tarde Zone #258. It has the operating capabilities of a municipality but functions like a traditional real estate development company, offering customized real estate solutions.

August 03, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – AUGUST 03, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by announcing that he had attended the first meeting today of the High School Sports Advisory Committee. The Governor also thanked the Alcoholic Beverage Commission Enforcement Division for their work concerning directives. The Governor announced that 100 antigen test analyzers had arrived in Arkansas but not the test kits needed.

School districts across Arkansas are expected to get some assistance this month in terms of combating COVID-19 transmission. That's according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said rapid COVID-19 testing machines will be provided to local health units across the state before the start of school this month. Their use will be prioritized for district staff and students. The announcement was made during Monday's press conference hosted by Hutchinson's statewide COVID-19 Taskforce. 

With school set to begin this month, it's not just football season on the minds of state health experts. Dr. Jose Romero, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, stressed the need for Arkansans to receive their influenza vaccines with the flu season just around the corner. Those vaccines are either now available or will be soon at doctor offices and local health units. Dr. Romero said health experts are concerned what effects influenza will have on this year in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Monday marked two weeks since the start of Arkansas' face mask mandate, requiring everyone in the state to wear face masks in public environments. What impact the mandate has had on COVID-19 transmission rates has yet to be seen, but Hutchinson urged Arkansans to continue to adhere to it. He said Arkansans should not let their guard down because the virus continues to affect every corner of the state.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
787 new cases (6 in prisons, 781 in the community)
44,597 cumulative cases
513 hospitalized (down 2 from yesterday)
108 on ventilators
11 new deaths
475 deaths total
636 new recoveries
37,240 total recoveries
6,882 active cases in the state (80 in nursing homes, 392 in prisons, 6,408 in the community)
6,357 tests in the past 24 hours.

There were 194,836 tests administered in July 2020.
The testing goal for August 2020 is 190,000 plus 10,000 antigen tests.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Sebastian County with 87, Washington County with 66, Pulaski County with 54, Benton County with 42, Logan County with 37, Independence County with 32, Garland County with 29, Crittenden County with 28, Jefferson County with 25, and Mississippi County with 22.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 77 positive cases with 60 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 433 positive cases with 343 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 193 positive cases with 153 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 58 positive cases with 39 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

In the US there has been 4,690,404 cumulative cases, 1,468,689 recoveries, and 155,124 deaths.

Globally there has been 18,149,860 cumulative cases, 10,753,318 recoveries, and 690,624 deaths.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/9XfZzJ6mfvI

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

FOUR TEACHERS NAMED 2021 ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR STATE SEMI-FINALISTS 
LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announced the four teachers selected as 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year State Semi-Finalists. The semi-finalists were selected among 12 regional finalists and were recognized at an event today at the Governor’s Mansion. 
“With so many wonderful educators around the state, each year it becomes difficult to narrow the list even more,” Key said. “I congratulate these four for their commitment to their students, communities, and the teaching profession. Each of these outstanding educators serves as a role model of excellence and is deserving of this honor.”

State Semi-Finalists 
Tia Brickey
Library Media Specialist
Park Avenue Elementary School
Stuttgart School District
Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative 
Amber Harbin
Grades K-8 Science, STEM, and Project Lead the Way
Forest Heights STEM Academy
Little Rock School District
Pulaski County 
Susan Henderson
Library Media Specialist
Ellen Smith Elementary School
Conway School District
Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative 
Susanna Post
Grades 9-12
Math and Business Technology
Belle Point Alternative Center
Fort Smith School District
Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative 
Each semi-finalist received a certificate, medallion, and a $1,000 award at today’s ceremony. The financial prize is made possible by a grant provided by the Walton Family Foundation, a long-time supporter of the program.

The ATOY Selection Committee will conduct site visits, to include classroom observations and interviews, with the 2021 ATOY being named this fall.
To learn more about the ATOY program, visit https://bit.ly/1iT6bUe.



SEBASTIAN COUNTY INMATE DIES; ASP/CID INVESTIGATINGAUGUST 1, 2020
The Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department has requested the assistance of the Arkansas State Police in the investigation of an in-custody death that occurred yesterday (Friday, July 31st) at the county detention center.
Jacob W. Honeycutt, 36, of Fort Smith was pronounced dead at Baptist Hospital in Fort Smith at 9:04 last night.
Detention center officers were alerted at approximately 8:30 PM by another inmate in the jail that Honeycutt appeared to be experiencing a seizure.
Nurses at the detention center and sheriff’s department personnel administered life saving measures to Honeycutt and contacted emergency medical personnel to transport Honeycutt to the local hospital.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading an investigation of the death.  Honeycutt’s body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.

 
 

July 31,2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing by thanking teachers of Arkansas and mentioning that Secretary of Education Johnny Key and Lance Taylor with the Arkansas Activities Association would join him today at the briefing to discuss fall sports.
Before making that announcement, Gov. Hutchinson and state health experts updated Arkansas' figures related to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. An additional 752 cases were detected over the 24-hour period, increasing the state's total to 42,511. Eleven more deaths were reported for a new total of 453. Hospitalizations grew by three to 507. Currently, there are 6,645 active cases in the state and 35,413 recoveries. Over the previous 24 hours, the state received over 7,000 COVID-19 test results with a positivity rate of approximately 10 percent.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 72 positive cases with 50 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 379 positive cases with 320 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 172 positive cases with 134 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 51 positive cases with 22 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson then announced the decision was made to allow high schools across Arkansas to launch their fall athletic programs for the 2020-2021 school year. These programs are expected to begin as usual. Contactless but full-helmeted football training is now allowed to begin Aug. 3. Full contact sports may begin the following week.
The Governor announced that he was appointing an advisory committee to develop a plan in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health and his office to allow for fall sports (football and volleyball). If such a plan is in fact approved, fans in attendance will come under the ADA Large Venue Directive and be required to social distance and wear face coverings. No contact drills with helmets will be permitted August 3rd thru 7th while the plan is being developed.

The Advisory Committee will also follow and update health advisories related to sports and the start of school in August. Most states bordering Arkansas have already announced a normal start to their fall high school sports programs.
The number one goal this fall season, Hutchinson said, is protecting high school athletes and their coaching staffs. Arkansas Lance Taylor, Executive Director of the Athletics Association, said coaches will have a huge part to play in ensuring Friday's decision is the right one. He held up a face mask during his address.
Hutchinson stressed the importance of seeing a high school football season this fall. Not just to the state as a whole, but especially for participating high school athletes. He said high school sports is a very positive effect on an athletes behavioral and academic wellbeing.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
752 new cases (33 in prisons, 719 in the community)
42,511 cumulative cases
3 new hospitalizations, 507 total
11 new deaths, 453 total
100 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
6,645 active cases (75 in nursing homes, 329 in prisons, 6,241 in the community)
676 new recoveries, 35,413 total
7,207 tests yesterday
188,478 tests to date in July (the goal for July was 200,000).

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Sebastian County with 81, Pulaski County with 77, Benton County with 51, Washington County with 41, Independence County with 31, Crittenden County with 29, Union County with 29, Mississippi County with 25, Jefferson County with 23, Saline County with 21, and Craighead County with 20.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/2tWz3oweqkw
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

Again, fall sports are expected to start as normal in Arkansas this upcoming school year. Regarding the state's updated COVID-19 figures, total cases grew by 752 to 42,511. Deaths increased by 11 to 453 and hospitalizations by three to 507. Recoveries across the state grew to 35,413 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 6,645 active cases across the state. Tests performed over the 24-hour period amounted to 7,000. That brings the total tests for July to more than 188,000 with a positivity rate of around 10 percent. We'll continue to keep you updated on the latest developments. 

COVID-19 UPDATE | RETURN TO THE AAA CALENDAR - FALL SPORTS APPROVED
After the Governor’s announcement today, we have been given the approval to proceed according to the 2020-2021 AAA calendar and handbook regarding practice and competition for all sports.

We continue to expect compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor and Department of Health. More information related to the directives will be issued as soon as it is released.
 

TWO INJURED DURING EXCHANGE OF GUNFIRE ON I-630, SEARCH FOR SUSPECTS CONTINUES
JULY 30, 2020
At least two individuals are known to have been injured, one of them possibly wounded by gunfire that erupted along I-630 about 1 PM today (Thursday) as occupants in two eastbound vehicles reportedly began shooting at each other in the vicinity of the Pine and Cedar Streets interchange.
One of the vehicles exited the freeway onto 8th Street and was abandoned after it crashed and was engulfed in flames.  The occupants fled on foot into the surrounding residential neighborhood.  The second vehicle involved in the shooting incident was last seen being driven away from the area.
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation and being assisted by Little Rock police officers.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: UNSOLICITED PACKAGES OF SEEDS HITTING ARKANSANS’ MAILBOXES
LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning Americans to watch out for unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be shipped from China. According to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, the identities of the seeds are unknown and may be an invasive plant species. Arkansans who have received a package of seeds should immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

“Anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds should not open it and immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture who is working to determine the identity of the seeds,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “I urge people to not open or plant these seeds because as a farm family, I understand the devastating impact invasive plants can have on crops and the ripple effect those financial losses can have on harming our state’s economy. ”

Attorney General Rutledge and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend the following tips if Arkansans receive an unsolicited package of seeds:

Immediately contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industries Division at (501) 225-1598.

Place the unopened seeds in a sealed package and turn over the label and packaging to the appropriate authorities.

Do not plant the seeds.

The USDA and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture are collecting seeds received from across the nation to identify the seeds and determine if they pose a threat to agriculture or the environment of the United States. 

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
July 31, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The state Education Department will spend $10 million to expand Internet access in every school district in Arkansas.

Many parents may keep their children at home during the upcoming school year because of concerns about the spread of Covid-19. Some students may be required to study from home in “virtual” classrooms if there is an outbreak of the virus at their schools.

In that event, the digital divide between low-income families and prosperous families will become even more severe. Students will be more likely to fall behind academically if they have no access to reliable, high speed Internet, or if they only have antiquated mobile devices and computers.

The Education Department will buy up to 20,000 devices and allocate them to schools based on enrollment. School officials will then distribute them to students who need them.

Educators and elected officials say that it is especially important to equalize access to the Internet in rural areas, whether students attend classes on campus or stay home and study in “virtual” classrooms.

More students will be able to work from home to do projects that require Internet access, rather than having to sit at a restaurant or business that offers free wireless. A superintendent at the announcement said that that her rural district provides Internet access on buses and in school parking lots, and that the expanded access becoming available would be a monumental improvement.

The Education Department has signed agreements with major telecommunications companies for wi-fi access points and data plans.

Under the contracts, the companies will guarantee high-speed internet with unlimited data for two years for about $20 per month per device. Also, they agree to allow local school districts to buy additional devices and data plans at the same rate as the state plan.

The $10 million comes from the federal CARES Act, which is a massive relief bill passed by Congress in response to the economic and social disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak. CARES is an acronym that stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security.

In its memoranda to local schools, the state calls it the Hotspot Project and says that the intent is to benefit students with the greatest need.

When schools prioritize which students are to be allowed access to a hotspot they are to consider three criteria.

One priority is for students who are learning from home because of the pandemic and who have no way to connect with online learning materials. Another priority is for students who are economically disadvantaged and need help acquiring the equipment they need to access online learning materials. The third priority is for students who are going through periods of being homeless, and thus need help.

Schools are set to open August 24. The Education Secretary has said that his department plans to purchase $1 million of personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves. This stockpile will be distributed to schools if they are in danger of depleting their supplies.

The Education Secretary said that schools should be prepared to adapt, for example, they may have to close temporarily for a deep clean.

 
 

JULY 30, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Thursday was marked by another day of cautiously hopeful figures detailing the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Arkansas. Although new cases reported Thursday still numbered higher than average with 791 additional confirmations, the state saw a healthy increase in case recoveries while also noting a decline in both COVID-19 related hospitalizations and patients on ventilators. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported that the 791 new cases brought Arkansas' total caseload since the start of the pandemic to 41,759. The state did see an additional eight deaths for a cumulative total of 442. Hospitalizations decreased by four to 504 and patients on ventilators by seven to 101. Active cases dropped to their lowest level in several weeks, currently 6,580. Recoveries grew to 34,737. Tests performed over the previous 24 hours numbered 5,598 with a positivity rate of approximately 10 percent. That's a total of 181,456 tests since the start of the month.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 72 positive cases with 50 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 379 positive cases with 320 recovered and 16 deaths, Columbia County shows 172 positive cases with 134 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 51 positive cases with 22 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson reported that the state has collected data on 5,084 antigen tests performed since June 11. Of these, 11 percent, or 548 people, tested positive for the antigens. The other 89 percent tested negative. Antigen tests do not directly test for COVID-19 but rather the antibodies made by the body as a response to it. 

Antigen tests are commonly administered at local health units, pharmacies and doctor offices. The average cost of an antigen test is around $90. 

Dr. Joseph Thompson, president and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, spoke briefly to update Arkansans on the new information available detailing COVID-19 figures in each of the approximately 500 communities in the state. Previously, this information was only available down to the county level. The new data Dr. Thompson announced Thursday includes currently active cases in each Arkansas city or community with at least 10 reported cases.

That data is available at www.achi.net.

Hutchinson then responded to a tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday morning. In that tweet, the president stated his wish to see the upcoming November General Election postponed due to COVID-19 concerns and unsubstantiated fears of mail-in voting fraud. Hutchinson stated he sees no reason to postpone the General Election and that Arkansas is ready to go to the polls safely and on time.

Again, Arkansas an increase of 791 COVID-19 cases on Thursday for a cumulative total of 41,759. Deaths increased by eight to 442 and hospitalizations decreased by four to 504. Patients on ventilators also decreased by seven to 101. Active cases in the state dropped to 6,580. Recoveries grew to 34,737. Tests performed during the previous 24-hour period numbered 5,598 with a positivity rate of 10 percent.

We'll continue to keep you updated on any new developments.

HARMONY GROVE WATER ASSOCIATION ISSUES PRECAUTIONARY BOIL ORDER NOTICE
ISSUE DATE: JULY 30, 2020

The department of health has confirmed a 'boil water' notice issued by Michael Gairich for the entire system. This order was issued as a precautionary measure because of the possibility that contaminated water may have entered the distribution system as a result of a complete loss in normal system pressure.

Under the 'boil water' order, all affected customers must be advised that the water may be unsafe for human consumption, and water used for drinking or food preparation must be boiled briskly for one (1) minute prior to use. All ice cubes should be discarded and only boiled water used for making ice.

This "precautionary boil water notice" will remain in effect until the problem has been corrected, an adequate disinfectant level is established throughout the distribution system, and a Bacteriological survey shows that the water is safe to drink.

The boil water order was due to construction related water line break.

𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗗𝗘𝗡’𝗦 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧 𝗢𝗨𝗧𝗦𝗜𝗗𝗘 𝗙𝗨𝗡 𝗗𝗔𝗬
Looking for fun, safe outdoor adventure? Don’t Miss 𝗖𝗔𝗠𝗗𝗘𝗡’𝗦 𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧 𝗢𝗨𝗧𝗦𝗜𝗗𝗘 𝗙𝗨𝗡 𝗗𝗔𝗬, 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗔𝘂𝗴𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝟴𝘁𝗵 𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝗺𝗱𝗲𝗻 𝗔𝗿. A full day of outdoor fun events for the entire family. Camden’s Great Outside Fun Day will be chock full of activities for all ages!𝗥𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿 $𝟭𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁
Anglers will compete for more than $10,000 in prize money at Camden’s Riverwalk boat launch on the Ouachita River
6am-3pm
register here: https://tinyurl.com/y65pc54n

𝗗𝘆𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗰 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗸𝘀 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲: 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗰 𝗚𝗼𝗹𝗳 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁  
An Arkansas Disc singles golf tournament held with three divisions — advanced, intermediate and women at the new Camden Disc Golf course in Carnes Park.
8am-4pm
register here: https://tinyurl.com/y4va83pv

𝟭𝟬𝗞 𝗕𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗙𝘂𝗻 𝗥𝗶𝗱e
Families can enjoy this FUN evening 10K Ride starting Downtown Camden and down the beautiful new Camden TRACE path. The ride is free and open to children and adults.
Join any time between 5:30 and 6pm
Free registration here: https://tinyurl.com/y67sbyp2  

𝗛𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄
The South Arkansas Horse Show Association will present a horse show the Circle C Riding Arena, 100 Ouachita County Road 451 in Camden. Starting with Western Pleasure Events and moving to speed events, barrels, flag and poles, this guarantees to be fun for the entire family. Lots of fun activities are also planned for children!
Join any time between 1pm
Admission is free

𝗦𝗶𝗱𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗔𝗿𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻
The competition will include categories for children, teens, adult and families along the Downtown city sidewalks.
All Day
Free to enter but pre-registration is required here: https://tinyurl.com/y6k3s27e

For more Information on any of these events, visit www.explorecamden.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorecamden

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, July 30th at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Tara Wright who will be discussing the Harmony Grove 2020-2021 School Year.

SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO ARKANSAS COLLEGE STUDENTS MAJORING IN AGRICULTURE
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture recently awarded $20,000 in scholarships to six students attending Arkansas universities with agricultural programs. The universities include Arkansas State University, Southern Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University.

The scholarship recipients include the following students:

Arkansas State University
Austin Hampton, Bryant, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major
Jimmy Duvall, Jonesboro, AR; Plant and Soil Science Major

Southern Arkansas University
Emma Reed, Quitman, AR; Agriculture Education Major
Sherman Glass, Magnolia, AR; Agriculture Education Major

Arkansas Tech University
Dixie Sayger, Dover, AR; Agribusiness and Horticulture Major

University of Arkansas
Thomas “Max” McKeown, Wilmar, AR; Horticulture, Landscape and Turf Sciences Major

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide funding to help these deserving students further their education and prepare for potential careers in agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture.  “It is an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and we wish the scholarship recipients all the best as they consider the many career options available in agriculture,” said Ward.

Funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.  Each institution receives $5,000 annually and has its own process for selecting the scholarship recipients and the amounts awarded to each student.

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.    
 

COTTON CALLS FOR LAW CHANGE AFTER INDICTMENT OF UA PROFESSOR WITH CHINA TIES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after news that a former University of Arkansas professor with ties to China was indicted on counts of wire and passport fraud:

“Federal law enforcement deserves great credit for putting together a strong case against alleged Chinese agent Simon Saw-Teong Ang. But Chinese spies aren’t ordinary fraudsters—they’re working for a foreign adversary. We ought to change the law so foreign agents in the future are held accountable not only for wire fraud, but for taking money from the Chinese Communist Party in the first place, the real crime in these cases.”
 

BOOZMAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION AIMED AT REDUCING VA’S MEDICAL EXAMS BACKLOG
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation to reduce the backlog of pending Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability claims by expanding eligibility for health care providers who are allowed to conduct the required medical exam for veterans applying for benefits.

Veterans are required to complete a compensation and pension (C&P) exam to verify their medical condition and eligibility when applying for VA benefits. The backlog has more than tripled since November 2019, growing to 197,000 veterans nationwide. In Arkansas, more than 1,500 veterans are waiting for a C&P exam.

The Boozman bill would allow physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, audiologists or psychologists to perform C&P exams.

“We must make the process of filing disability claims more efficient so our veterans receive the benefits they have earned. While Congress has approved the expansion of benefits, it’s clear the framework to support the additional claims is not meeting the demand. By allowing additional health care personnel to conduct C&P exams, we can ensure veterans get the attention they deserve in a more timely manner,” Boozman said.

The VA paused in-person C&P exams in early April because of the coronavirus. Exams recently resumed at several VA facilities around the country including the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System.

During a Senate VA Committee hearing in early June, Boozman pressed VA officials about their plan to reduce the backlog. Department leaders requested flexibility to allow more medical personnel to conduct the exams.

Companion legislation was introduced last month in the House of Representatives by Congressman Mike Bost (R-IL).

"For many veterans living in rural areas, it can often be difficult to travel to faraway VA facilities or hospitals to get a disability exam, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more complicated,” Bost said. “By expanding the number of providers who can conduct disability exams, we can better ensure that our veterans can get an exam they need close to home and apply for disability benefits even quicker."
Click here to read the Senate bill.

JULY 29, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 29, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing, held today at ATU in Russellville, by announcing that Verizon had joined the project to provide WiFi access points for students in areas where there was no or insufficient broadband to accommodate blended or remote learning. The $10 million dollar project is being paid for by the state with CARES money and also includes AT&T and TMobile.

Elected officials and state health experts breathed a small and cautious sigh of relief after reporting better numbers on Wednesday related to Arkansas' ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

During the state's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported an additional 787 cases. That's still an intolerably high level, but less than what was seen several days last week when those figures neared the record-setting level. That leaves the state's cumulative totals since the start of the pandemic at 40,968. Deaths also significantly declined from Tuesday as well. Six new deaths were reported Wednesday compared to the record level of 20 on Tuesday. That total is now 434. New hospitalizations numbered seven for a current total of 508. The state reported 4,519 tests conducted on Tuesday. The positivity rate of those tests was over 17 percent.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, an infectious disease and control specialist with the Arkansas Department of Health, spoke to clarify when Arkansans are expected to quarantine themselves. She stated that anyone who has performed a COVID-19 test, either due to potential symptoms or contact with someone confirmed to carry the virus, should quarantine themselves immediately for 10 days. She said Arkansans should not wait until they have their test results returned.

Dr. Dillaha went on to differentiate COVID-19 quarantine and isolation. Isolation, she said, is recommended for anyone who has tested positive for the disease. Quarantine affects those who have been tested but still await their results. The length of time recommended for quarantine and isolation guidelines ranges from 10 days to 20. 

Dr. Dillaha gave the following report of numbers:

787 new COVID-19 cases (617 in the community, 170 in prisons)
7,352 active cases
40,968 cumulative cases
7 new hospitalizations
508 currently hospitalized
108 on ventilators (up 2 from yesterday)
6 new deaths
434 total deaths
4,519 tests the past 24 hours
33,938 recoveries (up 750 from yesterday).

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 71 positive cases with 48 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 376 positive cases with 314 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 169 positive cases with 130 recovered and 6 deaths, Dallas County is showing 49 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 6 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Chicot County with 152 (145 in a prison), Pulaski County with 82, Sebastian with 43, Benton County with 33, Little River County with 30, Craighead County with 24, Mississippi County with 22, and Washington County with 22.

Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe spoke briefly to encourage state residents to follow the health department's guidelines. He said those guidelines, if followed, will help Arkansas curb its rising COVID-19 caseload.

Again, Arkansas saw an increase of 787 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday for a statewide total of 40,968. Deaths increased by six to 434 and hospitalizations by seven to 508. 

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/Id2a23ihu4U
For additional information, click on one of the links below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/
We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

ARKANSAS ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION COVID-19 UPDATESTATEMENT FROM THE AAA
We know there are many questions that we can't give you definitive answers for close-contact team sports on start dates, allowable practice activities for the future, plans for competition venues, etc. We are in communication with the Governor's office and the Department of Health in efforts to provide these answers.

We have issued guidance related to the current Governor's Directives. Please review the AAA COVID-19 page at aractivities.org/covid19. These are the valid directives until new directives are issued. Updates will be provided as soon as new directives are issued.

Issuing guidance or setting dates that are contrary to a Governor's Directive is not an option.
 

TEXAMERICAS CENTER WELCOMES LOCKHEED MARTIN
Global security and aerospace company to utilize building leased by Red River Army Depot Texarkana, USA (July 29, 2020) – TexAmericas Center today shared that Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), a global security and aerospace company employing more than 110,000 people worldwide, will expand operations into a building at the TexAmericas Center in support of a Public/Private Partnership contract with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD).

 “RRAD has utilized these partnerships with various Original Equipment Manufacturers since 2002. Lockheed Martin has a proven track record of supporting the Department of Defense and the nation’s Warfighters.  We are looking forward to working with the Lockheed team,” said Marshall McKellar, Chief of the depot’s Business Management Office. 

 Lockheed Martin will utilize a portion of the floor space at TexAmericas Center currently leased by the RRAD to support the Army’s Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Fleet Expansion Program. The contract with RRAD is valued at $77M and runs from 2020 - 2024. The 218,857-square-foot building, commonly referred to as Building 333, will undergo improvements requested and paid for by Lockheed Martin as part of its public/private partnership with RRAD.

 During the course of the contract, Lockheed Martin will create new full-time positions responsible for suppling various parts of the MLRS for remanufacturing, resetting, and integration of the MLRS. Working with an international leader like Lockheed Martin is central to RRAD’s efforts to maintain the critical skills sets and capabilities of the industrial base found at the depot. By facilitating jobs that leverage and expand the knowledge base of these workers, RRAD can sustain its ability to deploy these skills whenever, wherever, and however they are needed as part of its mission readiness objective for the Department of Defense.

 “We’re excited to welcome Lockheed Martin and continue our support of the Red River Army Depot,” said Scott Norton, Executive Director and CEO of TexAmericas Center. “We understand the value of these partnerships, not just in terms of improvements to our buildings, but also the growth of the advanced manufacturing skills sets critical to our future economic potential.”
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: FAKE PET SCAMS TRICK ARKANSANS INTO PAYING FOR CUTE DOGS
LITTLE ROCK – Scam artists are online pretending to sell friendly dogs to their forever homes, but are taking consumers’ money without turning over a new fluffy friend. Often, scammers post ads on free buy-and-sell websites and use endearing photos of the animal they have no intention of sending, or may not even own.

“Con artists see families considering a new pet as an opportunity to get into Arkansans’ wallets,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We have seen scam artists using fake email addresses to trick consumers into paying additional fees for shipping the animals via air travel when these cons do not even have a pet for sale.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips to avoid falling victim to a scammer selling a pet that does not exist.

Visit the breeder or rescue group in person offering the pet. Responsible individuals and organizations will allow potential customers to tour their facility.

Arrange to pick up the animal from a kennel instead of meeting the breeder at a potentially unsafe location. Do not rely on the breeder to ship the animal, and never pay for shipping.

Search the user’s profile for warning signs that it may be a scam. Fake breeder websites can often look real because they steal content from legitimate rescue sites. Look for duplicate sites by copying a line from the website into a search engine and looking for identical wording elsewhere on the Internet.

Check the organization’s references. Talk to others who have purchased pets from this breeder and the breeder’s veterinarian.

Research prices for the breed you are interested in adopting. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, you could be dealing with a fraudulent breeder.

Pay for the puppy with a check or credit card. If a breeder pressures for a wire transfer or prepaid debit card payment, it is probably a scam.

Attorney General Rutledge encourages Arkansans to do their research regarding adopting and purchasing pets. If you have questions about a potential pet shipper, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association provides a list of trusted shippers across the world.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PROFESSOR INDICTED FOR WIRE FRAUD AND PASSPORT 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 indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas on forty-two counts of wire fraud and two counts of passport fraud.

“This case is the result of the tireless efforts of our Federal law enforcement partners at the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service, stated Acting US Attorney Fowlkes.”  “The wire fraud in this case affected not only the University of Arkansas, but also several other important United States Government Agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Air Force. It is our sincere hope that this investigation sends a strong message to those who would attempt to defraud the Federal Government.”

“Transparency and integrity have long sustained the pursuit of knowledge on America’s campuses,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Mr. Ang is alleged to have demonstrated neither when he failed to disclose his financial and other ties to companies and institutions in China to the University of Arkansas and to U.S. government agencies, despite an obligation to do so.  This is a hallmark of the China’s targeting of research and academic collaborations within the United States in order to obtain U.S. technology illegally. The Department of Justice will continue to work with colleges and universities to protect U.S. research and development from exploitation by foreign powers and will prosecute those who defraud the U.S. Government.” 

 “The significant federal charges leveled against Simon Ang demonstrate how real the PRC’s pervasive threat is to Arkansan innovation and businesses,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch. “Our counterintelligence agents work tirelessly to protect our state’s economy from foreign adversaries. Throughout this investigation, we were proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, NASA’s Office of Inspector General, the Diplomatic Security Service and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas.”

Ang was a professor and researcher at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1988. At the University of Arkansas, Ang served as the Director of the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) until on or about May 8, 2020. During his employment with the University of Arkansas and as director of the HiDEC, Ang was the investigator and co-investigator for many grant contracts that were funded by United States Government Agencies. Annually, the University of Arkansas required Ang to disclose any conflicts of interest, including outside employment.  Agents working with the FBI discovered that Ang received money and benefits from China and was closely associated with various companies based in China during the same time that he was receiving grants from various United States Government Agencies.  The agents discovered that Ang did not disclose these conflicts of interest, even when specifically required to do so by the University of Arkansas and NASA, one of the agencies that awarded Ang and his research associates a Federal grant.

The Indictment charges that beginning as early as June 9, 2013, and continuing to on or about May 8, 2020, in the Western District of Arkansas, and elsewhere, Ang, knowingly and willfully devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money and property from unknowing United States Government Agencies, the University of Arkansas, and others by means of material false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises and the concealment of material facts for the purpose of obtaining money and intellectual property that he would not have received had the University of Arkansas and other government authorities known the facts involved in his scheme and artifice to defraud.

The Indictment also charges Ang with two counts of making false statements on a passport renewal application. Specifically, the Indictment states that on or about August 5, 2019, in the Western District of Arkansas, Ang, willfully and knowingly made a false statement in an application for a passport with intent to induce and secure for his own use the issuance of a passport contrary to the laws regulating the issuance of passports, in that Ang stated that he was not known by any names other than “Simon Saw-Teong Ang,” which he knew to be false. The Indictment also charges that Ang also listed immediate travel plans for a trip to Singapore with a departure date of August 30, 2019 and a return date of September 7, 2019, which he knew also to be false.

If convicted, Ang faces a statutory maximum punishment of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and 10 years in federal prison for each passport fraud count. 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, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), NASA Office of Inspector General and Air Force Office of Special Investigations are 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.

An Indictment is merely an accusation.  An arrest warrant represents a finding of probable cause.  A person is presumed innocent unless or until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


COTTON, COLLEAGUES, URGE TIKTOK SCRUTINY OVER ELECTION SECURITY
Washington, D.C.-Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) led Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) in sending a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf expressing concern over the Chinese social-media service TikTok. Specifically, the Senators write that TikTok could enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influence operations against the United States, including operations designed to interfere with our elections. The Senators request answers to the following questions regarding TikTok:

Do you believe ByteDance's ownership of TikTok gives the CCP an opportunity to conduct influence operations within the United States, including campaigns directed at changing the outcome of elections?

Given the CCP's control over ByteDance, is it possible Chinese officials could direct TikTok's employees to amplify or suppress certain political content for U.S. users?

Could the CCP direct networks of bots to create or boost its preferred political content on TikTok and other social-media platforms?

If evidence emerges of CCP electoral interference via TikTok, would ByteDance be eligible for sanctions under President Trump's September 12, 2018, executive order on foreign electoral influence?

What other Chinese social-media applications and technology corporations present vectors for election interference in the United States?

The full text of the letter can be found below.

July 28, 2020

The Honorable John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511

The Honorable Christopher Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Director Ratcliffe, Director Wray, and Acting Secretary Wolf,

We write to raise concerns about TikTok, the Chinese social-media service, which could enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to engage in influence operations against the United States, including operations designed to interfere with our elections.

The Trump Administration has rightly taken steps to maintain the security and integrity of our elections. As President Trump stated in Executive Order 13848 in September, 2018, "the proliferation of digital devices and internet-based communications has created significant vulnerabilities and magnified the scope and intensity of the threat of foreign interference." The administration has acted decisively on this threat by forcing media outlets controlled by hostile state actors like Russia and China to register as foreign agents, imposing sanctions on foreign officials who attempted to meddle in American elections, and issuing repeated warnings about efforts by hostile foreign powers to interfere in upcoming elections.

TikTok has become a popular forum for Americans-particularly younger Americans-to engage in political conversations. I'm greatly concerned that the CCP could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate these conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes.

TikTok is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, and the majority of the company's engineering and development resources are based in China. ByteDance regularly modifies TikTok content to satisfy CCP censorship rules. In 2019, the Washington Post reported that ByteDance employees based in China set TikTok's content standards and issued commands to remove TikTok content they deemed "subversive or controversial." In November 2019, TikTok locked the account of an American teenager who posted a video critical of the CCP's horrific crimes against the Uighur people in China. TikTok only reversed this act of censorship and unlocked the young woman's account after a public outcry.

The CCP devotes significant resources to conduct information operations overseas. Beijing exploits the openness of Western democracies and social-media platforms to propagate the Party's preferred narratives. The CCP conducts these influence operations by coopting traditional media outlets, spending tens of millions of dollars to purchase space in major U.S. newspapers for propaganda by state-owned outlets like China Daily, and working to ensure Chinese state television channels like CGTN dominate Chinese-language media overseas. The CCP also manipulates overseas political discussions on Chinese-owned social media platforms like WeChat. Chinese government officials increasingly use Western social-media companies, including those banned in China, to flood global social media with propaganda and misinformation.

With this history in mind, we respectfully request answers to the following questions about TikTok:

Do you believe ByteDance's ownership of TikTok gives the CCP an opportunity to conduct influence operations within the United States, including campaigns directed at changing the outcome of elections?
Given the CCP's control over ByteDance, is it possible Chinese officials could direct TikTok's employees to amplify or suppress certain political content for U.S. users?
Could the CCP direct networks of bots to create or boost its preferred political content on TikTok and other social-media platforms?
If evidence emerges of CCP electoral interference via TikTok, would ByteDance be eligible for sanctions under President Trump's September 12, 2018, executive order on foreign electoral influence?
What other Chinese social-media applications and technology corporations present vectors for election interference in the United States?

Thank you for working to ensure the integrity of our elections from Chinese interference, which is important in order to maintain the American people's trust in the democratic process. We look forward to hearing from you.

 
 
 

JULY 28, 2020

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 28, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily briefing giving a highlight the new case numbers, and said that it was "not good news". The total number of COVID-19 cases topped 40,000 Tuesday, while hospitalizations topped 500. In the daily Press Conference in Little Rock Tuesday afternoon, Governor Asa Hutchinson reported that the number of COVID-19 cases had increased by 734 in the previous 24 hours to a total of 40,181. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to 501. The death toll grew by 20 to 428. The number of recoveries increased by 823, meaning that the current number of Active Positives decreased to 6,565. A total of 5,248 tests were administered in the past 24 hours. Governor Hutchinson says that over 180,000 tests will be conducted in July which represents roughly six percent of the state's population. 

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 55, Benton County with 50, Mississippi County with 48, Sebastian County with 45, Washington County with 45, Pope County with 36, and Faulkner County with 34.

The Governor noted that 11 counties had more than 20 new cases yesterday but only listed the 7 above.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 68 positive cases with 45 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 373 positive cases with 305 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 166 positive cases with 129 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 48 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 9 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Hutchinson thanked the Legislative Council of the General Assembly for approving two funding requests that will help contact tracing, especially among minority populations. The Governor says that successful contact tracing efforts remain very important.

Governor Hutchinson defended his decisions regarding mask mandates, business restrictions, and other limitations in response to a question that some Arkansans weren't supportive of some of the rules in place:"

Governor Hutchinson, responding to a question from a reporter, said that football teams are allowed to have "no contact drills" or "practices", but stopped short of saying whether football could be played when schools starts.

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/7pACCoaY_Ro

For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

 

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 12 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 Shane Ellis Krum, age 37, of Gilmer, Texas, was sentenced to 144 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

On or about December 26, 2017, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, a Garland County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on a brown sedan for a traffic violation. As the vehicle stopped, the driver, later identified as Krum, got out and walked to a fence on the side of the road.  Krum lit a cigarette, then turned and walked back to the vehicle and sat down in the driver’s seat. After learning that Krum had a search wavier on file, a search of his vehicle was conducted.  During the search, Deputies located a loaded semi-automatic handgun under the driver’s seat. Deputies also searched the area Krum had been standing and located a backpack that contained a plastic bag of suspected methamphetamine, a plastic bag of suspected marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The suspected methamphetamine was sent to the Arkansas Crime Laboratory where it was determined to be 50.7 grams of actual methamphetamine.

Krum was indicted by a federal grand jury in September of 2018 and entered a guilty plea in October of 2019. 

This case was investigated by the Garland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney’s Bryan Achorn and Candace Taylor prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE: CONWAY MAN, KEITH HEAD, ARRESTED FOR STEALING OVER $43,000 FROM RESIDENTS’ TRUST FUND ACCOUNTS
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of Keith Alan Head, the former owner of Prescott Manor Nursing Center in Prescott, by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Head is accused of emptying or severely depleting residents’ trust fund accounts totaling over $43,000 and charged with one count of theft of property valuing more than $25,000.

Head, 69, of Conway is the registered agent of H.O.P.E Healthcare, LLC, whose principle address is in Conway, and is the management company for KSJ, LLC doing business as Prescott Nursing Center and four other homes in Arkansas. The investigation began on September 27, 2019, when the Arkansas Department of Human Services discovered the residents’ trust fund accounts had been emptied or significantly depleted at several facilities by Head. Referrals were also received by the Prescott Police Department. This joint investigation involved agents from the Arkansas Attorney General's Office, and federal agents with the Offices of Investigation for the Social Security Administration and Health and Human Services. The case will be prosecuted in coordination with Prosecutor Christi McQueen of the 8th North Judicial District.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

GRANTS AWARDED FOR AIRPORT SAFETY AND INFRASTRUCTURE
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today that the Trump Administration will award more than $273 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to 41 states and the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Puerto Rico.

“This $273 million federal investment in our nation’s airports will strengthen safety, improve travel, generate jobs, and benefit local communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

complete listing of grants (PDF) and an interactive map of airports receiving funding is available on the FAA website.

The total includes just over $242 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $31 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100 percent federal share.

 “The safety of our nation’s airports is of paramount importance to the FAA,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson. “These grants will allow these necessary projects to continue.”

 The grants will be used for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects. The projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, repairing runways and taxiways, installing aircraft lighting and signage, conducting airport master plan studies and installing airport perimeter fencing.
Arkansas Airports included in the grants Arkansas are:
Calico Rock Calico Rock - Install Miscellaneous NAVAIDS, Reconstruct  Runway Lighting, Reconstruct Taxiway  Lighting Total $161,111 
Hot Springs Memorial Field
Construct/Extend/Improve Safety Area
Total $1,656,368 
Mountain Home
Reconstruct Perimeter Fencing not  Required by 49 CFR 1542
Total $181,995   
Paragould Kirk Field
Extend Taxiway
Total $521,285 
Rogers Executive ‐ Carter  Field
Construct Taxilane ,Reconstruct Taxiway
Total - $3,214,278 
Texarkana Regional‐Webb  Field  
Reconstruct Terminal Building
Total - $3,583,333 

CASA SPAGHETTI LUNCH   
There will be a Spaghetti Lunch hosted by CASA on July 30th.  The Fundraiser will be held at the Cullendale First Baptist Church located at 185
0 Cash Road in Camden from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Choose from regular Spaghetti or Chicken Spaghetti. Spaghetti will be served with green beans, roll, dessert, and water. Cost is $10.00. For more information call

870-818-2824 or 870-833-0141. Pick up, curb side service or delivery is available. Please come out and support the 13th Judicial District CASA North Program.

JULY 27, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 27, 2020
Wireless internet resources and virtual learning options for the upcoming school year were the focus of Monday's press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce.

Before launching into that discussion, Hutchinson updated the state's COVID-19 figures from Sunday. Another 824 new cases of COVID-19 were detected Sunday for a statewide total of 39,447. Of those, 6,674 cases are currently active. That's a decrease of over 300 from late last week. In addition, nine new hospitalizations were reported for a total of 489. Seven additional deaths also occurred over the previous 24 hours. That figure is now 408. A total of 110 COVID-19 patients are currently relying on ventilators for their treatment. Hutchinson reported that nearly 6,000 tests were performed Sunday. The state has registered 164,000 tests since the beginning of July, or approximately five percent of Arkansas' population.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 66 positive cases with 44 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 369 positive cases with 300 recovered and 15 deaths, Columbia County shows 166 positive cases with 126 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 32 positive cases with 16 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 10 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Hutchinson announced he was releasing $10 million in federal CARES Act funding to provide Wi-Fi access points across Arkansas. These devices will use cellular signals to provide internet service for any capable device. According to Hutchinson, the Wi-Fi points will be distributed across the state in hopes of reaching students who choose a virtual learning option within their school district, but who do not have adequate access to internet at home. Hutchinson said the $10 million in released funds will provide approximately 20,000 Wi-Fi points. 

Johnny Key, Director of the Arkansas Department of Education, spoke about a survey targeting school districts across the state and judging their preparedness for returning to school next month amidst the COVID-19 environment. The survey attempts to judge each district's approach to providing such resources as virtual learning options. It will also study districts' supply of personal protective equipment and technology needs. Results of the survey will be released to the public."

Hutchinson said Arkansas' Legislative Council will vote Tuesday whether or not to approve a request of $7 million from the state's CARES Act fund in hopes of providing additional outreach resources aimed at the state's minority populations. This renewed effort would primarily be aimed at the state's LatinX and Marshallese communities. The funding would be especially useful, Hutchinson said, in communities such as De Queen in which sizeable populations from both communities reside. 

Before ending Monday's press conference, Hutchinson defended the state's contact tracing efforts. These efforts have taken some criticism due to the regular delay in testing results. Some have questioned the usefulness of contact tracing if a particular test result is not received until days, or even weeks, following the initial infection.

Again, the state saw an increase of 824 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday for a new total of 39,447. Deaths increased by seven to 408 and hospitalizations by nine to 489. An additional 5,929 tests were performed over the previous 24-hour period. There are currently 6,674 active cases in Arkansas. Recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic currently total over 32,000. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/

We'll continue to keep you updated on any new developments. 
 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF CONWAY VETERAN CLEM KORDSMEIER
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service of Korean War veteran Clement (Clem) Kordsmeier in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Kordsmeier was born in Morrilton, Arkansas in 1931. He was raised on his family’s farm with his ten brothers and sisters. By 1952, Kordsmeier had received two draft deferments while helping his dad on the farm. This prompted his decision to enlist in the Air Force before being drafted into the Army. 

Kordsmeier’s mother was reluctant to bless her son’s decision, because she had lost one of her children, Hubert, a command pilot on B-29s in a crash outside of Tokyo in 1945. “I assured my mother that I would not be in an airplane,” he said.

Kordsmeier attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. It was the first time he’d left Arkansas. “I was shocked at the very poor quality of barracks,” he laughed. “It was quite different from home.” 

He attended petroleum specialist school in Tillamook, Oregon and was hoping for a stateside assignment, but learned he would be going overseas after his training.  

“I told them I gotta go home because I plan to get married,” he said. Kordsmeier and his girlfriend, Florence, had set their wedding date for June 13. As luck would have it, he couldn’t get back to Arkansas until a week later, so he and Florence were married on June 20.  He didn’t have much time to spend with his new bride because he had to ship out to Korea soon after.

Kordsmeier was assigned to the 19th Air Division, 824th Air Base Group, 824th Supply Squadron at (K-55) Osan Air Base, Korea. It was the only base on the peninsula entirely planned and built by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Kordsmeier worked in the petroleum supply section, refueling F-86 aircraft that were flying missions over Korea. “At the time, the war was near the end, and I was sure happy about that,” he said. 

Kordsmeier interacted with the locals who laundered the airman’s clothes. “One person asked me if I wanted to buy a hat.” Kordsmeier agreed to purchase a baseball-type hat and selected details that represented his time in Korea. The cap, which says K-55, the name of the airbase, is still part of his memorabilia of time in the service.

When his year-long tour ended, he was looking forward to a quick return home, but it took 27 days to reach Seattle, Washington. From Washington he was able to secure the last available ticket that had a route to get him to Little Rock. “I felt there was an angel looking after me,” he said. 

Kordsmeier remained in the military after he returned stateside and volunteered to serve in North Africa on a 30-day temporary duty mission. He was excited to explore Casablanca, but his time to sightsee was limited. “Two days after we got there, the provost marshal of that base was shot by civilians while he was en route to downtown,” Kordsmeier said. He was confined to the base thereafter.

After completing four years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Kordsmeier was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1956. He and Florence raised their four children in Conway and he worked for Hambuchen Home Furnishings, where he retired in 1996. 

“I am grateful for Clem Kordsmeier’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman submitted Kordsmeier’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative by the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.  

COTTON STATEMENT AFTER SCOTUS REJECTS CHALLENGE TO NEVADA'S CHURCH RESTRICTION
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the appeal of Nevada's church attendance restriction:

"Freedom of religion is our first freedom. Yet the Supreme Court has ruled that casinos can host hundreds of gamblers, while churches cannot welcome their full congregations. Justice Roberts once again got it wrong, shamefully closing church doors to their flocks."

 
 

JULY 24, 2020

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS SENATE
PASSAGE OF DEFENSE BILL

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) supported the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that invests in the military, ensures servicemembers have the tools and resources they need to successfully carry-out their missions and strengthens Arkansas’s role in national defense. 

“At a time of increasing risks and dangerous challenges to global security, the United States must lead in creating stability through a strong and modernized military. Peace through strength is a proven concept that reinforces American deterrence and produces greater global security. That’s why it’s so important to yet again come together and advance this NDAA,” Boozman said during a floor speech in support of the bill. “I am pleased this bill includes a few of my priorities aimed at supporting our deployed service members and the state of Arkansas.” 

Boozman’s amendment to improve child care assistance for military families who are assigned to around-the-clock, stateside rotations units—like the 188th Wing in Fort Smith—was included in the Senate-passed bill. The provision directs the Department of Defense to research, report and provide recommendations to Congress on how to provide 24-hour child care to military families. 

The bill also authorizes a new Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee. Boozman secured funding to construct the center which will provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best trained in the country.

The NDAA supports the deployment of the Iron Dome protection system to U.S. Central Command theater. This comes after Boozman called on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to deploy this protection to safeguard U.S. and coalition members in the region as a result of talking with commanders about vulnerabilities to defense capabilities while visiting Iraq in February. A portion of the Iron Dome defense is produced in Camden, Arkansas.

JULY 23, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 23, 2020
On Thursday state officials said Arkansas had experienced the second highest one-day growth in new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic in March. 

A total of 1,013 new cases were reported during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Thursday afternoon. That came a day after state officials announced a significantly reduced one-day addition of 591 new cases. However, state health officials were concerned that figure was low and would raise significantly in coming days due to reduced testing and a backlog in testing results. Thursday's figure neared the one-day COVID-19 record in new cases, currently set at 1,061 new cases on July 11. 

Governor Hutchinson, Secretary Romero, and Prison Director Dexter Payne all gave reports about the COVID-19 situation in state prisons. Officials focused on the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern, which has 577 active cases out of a total prison population of around 1,700 inmates. A total of 4,655 COVID-19 cases have been reported with Arkansas' prisons, with 869 currently active and 21 deaths.

Dr. Jose Romero, head of the Arkansas Department of Health, said the state is also planning on releasing new guidelines and visitation procedures for nursing homes in Arkansas.

Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers for Arkansas:
1,013 new cases (1,008 in the community, 5 in prisons)
36,259 cumulative cases
7,009 active cases (146 in nursing homes, 869 in prisons/jails, 5,994 in the community)
6 new hospitalizations
480 currently hospitalized
107 on ventilators
6 new deaths
386 deaths total
5,487 tests yesterday
133,054 tests to date in July (goal is 200,00)
28,864 recoveries
869 active cases in prisons/jails (841 in prisons, 28 in various county jails)
4,655 cumulative in prisons/jails
21 COVID-19 deaths in prisons
8% cumulative positive rate.
Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 113, Washington County with 76, Benton County with 73, Sebastian County with 65, Craighead County with 41, and Crittenden County with 43. Several other counties had more than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 55 positive cases with 35 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 335 positive cases with 260 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 147 positive cases with 105 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 22 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 8 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/zzXuUXmtGcY

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas, the second for Oklahoma, the third is CDC, and the fourth is for community level data in Arkansas.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

We'll continue to keep you updated as developments occur. 

NEW AACF REPORT: ARKANSAS HUNGER SAFETY NET NEEDS REPAIR 
State policies exacerbate food insecurity during a time of pandemic
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – More than 150,000 Arkansans are estimated to be newly food insecure since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and state policies are making it harder for families to get the nutritional support they need during this time of crisis.

Food Insecurity in Arkansas, a new report by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), calls for the state to eliminate policies that make it more difficult to be hungry here than in most other states. For example, Arkansas is one of only 10 states with an “asset limit” that prevents families with even modest savings accounts from becoming eligible for SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Regardless of household size, Arkansas’s families are automatically ineligible if they have more than $2,250 in the bank ($3,500 if the household includes someone with a disability or someone 60 or older). Most states have no such asset limit, and many others have raised the limit so families can save more for emergencies.

While Arkansas lifted many of the barriers to SNAP enrollment when the pandemic started, the asset limit remains in place because it would take legislation to change it.

“As a relatively poor state, we shouldn’t be adding to the burden of food insecurity for Arkansans in the middle of a pandemic,” said Laura Kellams, AACF’s Northwest Arkansas Director and the author of the report. “These state policies are unnecessary and put us at a disadvantage, now and during the economic recovery to come.”

Among other recommendations, the report calls for Arkansas to reverse a 2017 law that barred the state from participating in “Broad-Based Categorial Eligibility” options. The state law requires that the SNAP asset limit be kept at the lowest level allowed under federal law. AACF also recommends removing compliance with the Child Support Enforcement program as a condition of SNAP eligibility, which takes away food benefits from children and parents – even if they’re owed child support. The latter requirement has been temporarily lifted during the health emergency.

The publication also outlines changes to SNAP since the pandemic began, including a state-reported 27 percent increase in enrollment since February. The Arkansas Department of Human Services reports that about 318,000 people were enrolled in SNAP before the pandemic began, compared to about 404,000 at the end of June. Meanwhile, Feeding America estimates that the food insecurity rate increased by about 39 percent during the same time period, or that about 150,000 more Arkansans now lack consistent access to enough food for everyone in the family to live active, healthy lives. Download a copy of the report on the AACF website.
 

RUTLEDGE TESTIFIES BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S NATIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION
 Says, ‘to provide my expertise and recommendations on how we can better support our law enforcement officers by creating stronger community partnerships’
 LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday testified before President Donald J. Trump’s National Law Enforcement Commission’s hearing on the rule of law and respect for law enforcement. In October 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896 authorizing U.S. Attorney General William Barr to establish the Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. The Commission, appointed by Barr in January, will work directly with national experts to collect and study data to submit recommendations to the President that will focus on strengthening our American law enforcement officials and their ability to serve and protect our communities.

“As the chief law enforcement officer of Arkansas, I was honored to testify before President Trump’s Commission and provide recommendations on how we can better support our law enforcement officers by creating stronger community partnerships, increasing accessibility and funding for law enforcement training and by providing more resources for crisis intervention,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This heated national debate is an opportunity for us to find common ground to resolve long-standing and divisive issues, while finding ways to improve the relationship between our law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”

Attorney General Rutledge has long been a leading advocate for law enforcement and a vocal opponent to the “defund the police” movement. She provides supplemental funding and free training to law enforcement throughout the state and annually recognizes the achievements of officers from all 75 counties. Rutledge also utilizes her roundtables as a forum to pro-actively obtain feedback from local police officers and community leaders.
 

BOOZMAN BACKS LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT CHILD CARE NEEDS OF FAMILIES AND PROVIDERS 
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is continuing his work to support economic recovery by ensuring Arkansas families have access to child care services.

Boozman joined U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and other colleagues to introduce the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, legislation to assist child care providers in continuing to offer critical, affordable services for working families during the COVID-19 emergency. 

“We need to take steps to ensure caregivers can continue to provide this vital service Arkansas parents rely on. As parents seek to return to work, they need an available and safe environment to bring their children. This legislation is critical to meeting the needs of hardworking families and helping providers continue operations,” Boozman said.

A March survey of Arkansas child care centers by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that 32 percent would not survive closing for more than two weeks without significant public investment. According to Arkansas respondents in a second survey in April, 28 percent of child care programs were completely closed and six percent open only for children of essential workers.

The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 would provide:
Critical resources to help child care providers reopen and stay open
Provides nine months of financial assistance for providers to open, welcome children safely and ensure a robust child care sector is available for families;
Allows states to design state-specific plans to support child care centers, operators and providers in their state;
Sends funds to child care providers more quickly without administrative red tape.
Safe environments for children
Requires all providers receiving assistance to follow all state and local health and safety guidelines;
Requires states to ensure a diverse field of child care setting options for parents, including center-based, family child care and faith-based options.

COTTON BILL TO DEFUND 1619 PROJECT CURRICULUM
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Saving American History Act of 2020, a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to teach the 1619 Project by K-12 schools or school districts. Schools that teach the 1619 Project would also be ineligible for federal professional-development grants.

Under the bill, the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture would be required to prorate federal funding to schools that decide to teach the 1619 Project—determined by how much it costs to plan and teach that curriculum. Any federal funds intended for low-income students or special-needs students are not affected by this legislation.

“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage,” said Cotton.

Background:
The 1619 Project is a revisionist history project of the New York Times widely criticized by historians.

Despite major criticism of the project, schools around the country have begun incorporating the 1619 Project into their curricula. So far, schools or school districts in Chicago; Newark, N.J.; Buffalo, N.Y., and Washington, D.C. have all reportedly announced 1619 Project-related programs.

 
 
 

JULY 22, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 22, 2020
Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by sharing about his tour of the La-Z-Boy factory in Siloam Springs and meetings with northwest Arkansas leaders and educators earlier in the day. Members of the Governor's COVID-19 Taskforce took a cautiously optimistic tone during Wednesday's daily press conference. State officials reported a decrease in new cases and hospitalizations while touting better economic figures released in recent days.
During the press conference, Governor Asa Hutchinson said 591 new cases were reported between Tuesday and Wednesday for a new total of 35,246. That's a decrease from Tuesday's press conference during which Hutchinson reported 728 additional cases. Hospitalizations decreased by 14 patients for a new total of 474. An additional six deaths were reported over the 24-hour period for a current total of 380. Nearly 4,000 tests were performed Tuesday with a positivity rate of around 5.8 percent. 

Hutchinson described meeting with healthcare workers at Washington Regional Medical Center, which has seen a large number of hospitalizations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the supreme efforts of Arkansas' healthcare workers while acknowledging the burden placed on them by combating the virus.
Dr. Jose Romero, who replaced Dr. Nate Smith as director of the Arkansas Department of Health, detailed the unique characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas and particularly in Washington County. He said the number of relatively young adults as well as children who have been infected by COVID-19 is higher than the national average. The higher number of relatively young people who have contracted the virus is a trend also noted by Dr. Smith in Sevier County during his visit to De Queen earlier this month.

Dr. Romero gave the following report of numbers for Arkansas:
591 new cases (584 in the community, 7 in prisons)
6,876 active cases (140 in nursing homes, 916 in prisons, 5,820 in the community)
35,240 cumulative cases
474 hospitalized (down 14 from yesterday)
6 new deaths
380 total deaths
3,933 tests yesterday
107 on ventilators (down 3 from yesterday)
27,990 recoveries to date.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 55 positive cases with 33 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 333 positive cases with 256 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 141 positive cases with 102 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 21 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 7 positive cases with 5 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Arkansas Commerce Secretary Mike Preston touted recently released figures by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailing a 1.6 percent drop in the state's unemployment rate. June figures showed a drop to eight percent of the labor force currently filing for unemployment - significantly higher than pre-COVID times but nonetheless a significant drop since the spring.

Preston also reminded Arkansans that the supplemental $600 in pandemic unemployment benefits is officially set to expire July 31. However, that could end as soon as July 25 or July 26 due to payment schedules in Arkansas and most other states, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Around 25 million Americans are receiving the benefit at this time. Federal politicians are currently considering a possible extension of the supplemental benefit but that potential legislation remains in negotiations. 

Again, state officials noted a decline of new COVID-19 cases compared to previous days and weeks. Wednesday saw an addition of 591 cases to the list for a cumulative total of 35,246. Hospitalizations actually decreased by 14 to a new total of 474

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/

For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments.


CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, July 22nd at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Russell Delezen who will talk about the History of Highland Park

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.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAM ARTISTS TARGETING ARKANSANS’ SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
LITTLE ROCK – As Arkansans adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, the lull from robocalls has ended and bad actors are again seeking the social security numbers of our most vulnerable. The Attorney General’s Office has seen an increase in complaints where scammers are pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and threaten consumers into providing personal information or asking for money.

“It’s time to reinforce an important fact: the government will never call consumers requesting financial information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If you receive a call claiming to be from the government, requesting personal or financial information, immediately hang up the phone. Let my office do the fighting for you by reporting these illegal calls.”

Attorney General Rutledge and the Federal Trade Commission released the following tips for Arkansans who may be dealing with a government imposter:

Never give out or confirm sensitive information, such as bank account, credit card or social security numbers, to an unsolicited caller.

Be cautious of callers using organization names similar to existing agencies. Scammers use internet technology to spoof area codes, so although it may seem the call is from Washington, D.C., it could originate from anywhere in the world.

The Social Security Administration and other government agencies have warned about these scams and suggest contacting the agency directly.

The Social Security Administration can be contacted at (800) 772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

To report this scam to the Social Security Administration, contact its Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you have provided your social security number to a scammer, visit www.identitytheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your identity.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please visit ArkansasAG.gov or call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982.


UNDER QUARANTINE ART EXHIBIT OPEN AT SAAC
The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center announces the award-winning entries for the Under Quarantine Art Competition and Exhibition. "Under Quarantine: Art During Unprecedented Circumstances" continues to hang in the Merkle and Price Galleries at the South Arkansas Arts Center through Thursday, August 27.

Awards in the competition are: Best of Show - Clayton Bolding, Strong; First Place - Mike Means, El Dorado; Second Place - Missy Inman, El Dorado; Third Place - Emmaline Landes, El Dorado; Honorable Mention - Marla Tomlinson, Brent J. Rowley, Nelson Post, and Mandy Kingery, all from El Dorado.

A total of forty-eight artists from El Dorado, Smackover, Camden, Warren, Strong, Hampton, Calion, Norphlet, and Junction City, Arkansas, and The Woodlands, Texas, contributed 82 pieces for the exhibit. Of the exhibiting artists, 31 have never shown work at SAAC before, and 27 of those are entirely new to SAAC. Kelly Campbell, gallery manager, said, "It's wonderful to see such exciting artwork from artists who are new to us! The galleries are open 9am-5pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-1pm on Friday. I hope everyone makes time to see this show."

The governing idea behind the exhibit is to showcase work done by artists beginning with the two week stay at home order March 14 through the implementation of Phase 1 reopening. Many people found that they had more time to work on their art, and that it helped them cope with the isolation. The show includes 2D and 3D work, and the subject matter runs the gamut from florals to animals to abstracts and beyond. According to Assistant Executive Director John Lowery, "The artwork was not required to have COVID 19 as a theme. We do have a few COVID related pieces, but the majority of the work reflects what artists focused on during the stay at home order. The exhibit is a very eclectic, very interesting mix of work."

Other exhibitors are: Sandy Bennett, Cherie Bright, Stephanie Brown, Dana Burke, Kelly Campbell, Ann Downs, Marian Dunn, Jenn Elmore, Kelsey Farley, Alec Gatewood, Michael Herren, Jessica Honeycutt, Janice Hughes, Beth Jones, Helene Lambert, Cynthia Landaverde, Jeremy Langston, Charles Lawrence, Patricia Lowery, Kassidy Marsh, Kate McDaniel, Leah Moore, Nathan Odom, Ann Palculict, Patti Simpson, Pat Peel, Millie Reap, Rob Reep, Christopher Silkwood, Mallory Slaughter, Brittany Stanton, Chris Stone, Christine Street, Lisa Burton Tarver, Angela Thurmon, Steven Wall, Lainey Walthall, Ruth Wells, Anna Williams, and Ann Wilson.

Local artist and SAAC's Visual Arts Committee chair Helene Lambert served as judge for the exhibit. Lambert recently retired after teaching art for 34 years in Union County, including "31 wonderful years" at Barton Junior High School in El Dorado. Lambert currently works with Arts Integration Services and is Arts In Education (AIE) teaching artist, in addition to working in her studio in Hampton on her own artwork. 

For more information about the exhibit or to place a reservation to attend the reception on Saturday, July 25th, please email kelly@saac-arts.org before 4pm on Thursday, July 23, or call SAAC at 870-862-5474. As per Governor Hutchinson's statewide order, masks must be worn. If you are drinking a beverage, you may remove your mask, but you must practice social distancing of at least 6 feet when you are "uncovered". SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

 

BOOZMAN JOINS EFFORT TO SIMPLIFY PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) continued his efforts to make the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) more flexible by joining a bipartisan effort to streamline forgiveness of the program’s smaller loans.

Boozman cosponsored the Paycheck Protection Small Business Forgiveness Act, introduced by Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The bill would make it easier for small businesses to get PPP loans of $150,000 or less forgiven through a simple, one-page form. 

“The PPP has been a critical lifeline for small businesses and has helped millions of Americans continue to receive their paychecks during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the bureaucratic hurdles small business owners need to clear to prove their eligibility for loan forgiveness are overly burdensome for the 85 percent of recipients who received loans of $150,000 or less. Simplifying the loan forgiveness process for the smallest borrowers will minimize the burden of extensive paperwork and allow small businesses to focus on retaining jobs and growing our economy,” said Boozman. 

Approximately 3.7 million PPP loans of $150,000 or less have been granted, which accounts for 85 percent of the program’s approved loans. The cost of applying for forgiveness for a PPP loan of this size is $2,000 for the small business and $500 for the lender. This bipartisan legislation could save small businesses $7.4 billion and banks nearly $2 billion

 

JULY 21, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 21, 2020
Education and getting Arkansas kids back to school was the focus of Tuesday's daily press conference hosted by Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by giving new case information. He also said that the number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized was a concern. Over 5,600 tests were performed yesterday with a positivity rate around five percent. That makes a total of 120,000 tests since the start of July - roughly four percent of the state's population, according to Hutchinson. The seven-day rolling average of positive cases showed a slight downward trend. 

Hutchinson said his recent travels across the state show that Arkansas' educators are ready for school to return next month. He said the two-week delay in reopening classes provides districts with more time to deal with the new COVID-19 environment.
State Education Secretary Johnny Key highlighted the options school districts across Arkansas are offering to students and parents. That included the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District's virtual learning options. The De Queen School District announced a similar plan on Monday providing parents with a choice for a remote, internet-based learning environment. 
The Governor and Secretary of Education Johnny Key are committed to the August 24th school start date, but acknowledge that there is a lot of work to do before then.

The Governor showed a brief news clip of several pediatricians saying that they would send their children to school when it starts. Several questions were directed at the Governor and Dr. Romero about the names, locations, and pandemic situations of the unidentified people.

Secretary Key highlighted the plans of several school districts as examples for other districts. The plans included on campus, remote, and blended education.
Hutchinson said he hopes Arkansas will see an improvement in its COVID-19 figures in the next 30 days before the start of school. He added that the state's face mask mandate, which came into effect on Monday, will help flatten the curve of new cases.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
728 new cases (122 in prisons, 606 in the community)
34,655 cumulative cases
17 new hospitalizations
488 total hospitalized currently
11 new deaths
374 deaths total
5,607 tests yesterday with a 5.5% positive rate
7.9% cumulative positive rate
110 on ventilators (down 1 from yesterday)
6,999 active cases (138 in nursing homes, 921 in prisons, 5,939 in the community)
27,283 recoveries.

Of the new cases, the highest numbers were in Pulaski County with 110, Washington County with 62, Faulkner County with 46, Benton County with 45, Sebastian County with 30, Jefferson County with 29, and Saline County with 24. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 52 positive cases with 32 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 313 positive cases with 252 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 139 positive cases with 95 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 21 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 6 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.
Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 728 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 34,655, with 6,998 of those currently active. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to a total of 488. Overall deaths increased by 11 to 374. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

To view today's briefing, click on the link below.
https://youtu.be/JiDIIlJ0QB8

For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/
https://www.cdc.gov/
For city level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 728 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 34,655, with 6,998 of those currently active. Hospitalizations increased by 17 to a total of 488. Overall deaths increased by 11 to 374. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

CHILDREN FOUND IN CAR, ONE DEAD, ANOTHER ALIVE BUT CRITICAL; INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the death of a three-year-old girl and injury to her 15 month old sister. Both are the apparent victims of heat while they were inside a car parked outside their mother’s home in Booneville yesterday.

Kaylee Petchenik, 21, of 482 West 5th Street in Boonville contacted local police about 2 PM stating that when she awoke from a nap, her children were missing. A Booneville police officer who responded to the residence found the children, both unconscious, lying on the car’s back floorboard.

Laykn Petchenik was later pronounced dead at a Booneville hospital. Her body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of an autopsy. Olivia Petchenik remains hospitalized in Little Rock. She is in stable, but critical condition.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation and will submit a case file to the Logan County prosecuting attorney for consideration.

ALMOST 800 ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION GRANTS HELP ORGANIZATIONS STATEWIDE RESPOND TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Little Rock, Ark. (July 21, 2020) –A total of 797 grants totaling more than $2.6 million from Arkansas Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund have helped local organizations fight the pandemic.

“We learn more every day about how our COVID-19 grants are working to help Arkansans in need,” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are now evaluating how to utilize the remainder of the dollars in the COVID-19 Relief Fund to address additional needs and gaps that have emerged since the pandemic began.”

A few examples of how grants from the Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund are aiding pandemic response include:

The Central Delta Community Action Agency in Pine Bluff works with many families who were struggling financially even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Lost wages and unemployment have made their circumstances even more tenuous. The agency is using a $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant to help low-income families with immediate needs and give them a chance to reach financial stability.

A $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant is making it possible for Child Care Aware of Northwest Arkansas to help facilities that have been caring for the children of essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant funds will be used to purchase equipment and offer programs to help provide childcare center staff with required professional development and training.

Southern Bancorp Community Partners is using a $25,000 COVID-19 Phase 2 Adaptation Grant to support Arkansans’ long-term financial health. It offers credit counseling for individuals who had to defer payments because of COVID-19-related lost wages or unemployment as they return to the workforce. The organization’s certified counselors work with people to focus on rebuilding credit, avoiding foreclosure and remodeling or even purchasing homes.

With a $1,000 Rapid Response Mini-grant, the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas developed tutorials to help the population it serves understand how to use telemedicine and to avoid becoming victims of scams. The organization prepared and distributed information about how clients could lower their risk of contracting Covid-19 and how to get tested if they think they might have the novel coronavirus.

Main Street Russellville Inc. used a $1,000 Rapid Response Mini-grant to support essential workers while helping some of the city’s downtown businesses. The grant made it possible to purchase more than 850 meals from Russellville restaurants. These meals were delivered to staff at the COVID Triage Center at Saint Mary’s Regional, the city’s fire and police departments and others.

Nationwide, U. S. community foundations have mobilized more than $1 billion to support on-the-ground efforts by nonprofits, according to a study by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative. This figure includes funds managed by nearly 600 community foundations who have already granted more than $800 million of the funds mobilized directly to nonprofits.

A full list of organizations receiving grants from the COVID-19 Relief Fund is available at www.arcf.org/covid19. These grants are possible because of donations of more than $3.6 million to the COVID-19 Relief Fund from Arkansas Community Foundation, other Arkansas foundations, businesses and individuals since the fund was created March 18. A list of donors to the fund is available at  www.arcf.org/covid19.

SAAC HOSTS TWO FUN WORKSHOPS FOR KIDS - CRYSTAL DIGGING AND FOSSIL DIGGING
Are your children going a little stir crazy? Then they can "dig it" with Mike Means at the South Arkansas Arts Center! For students entering second and third grades, Means is offering "Crystal Digging" on Friday, July 24, from 10:30-11:30. On Friday, July 31, students entering fourth and fifth grades can participate in "Fossil Digging" from 10:30-11:30. Cost for each of the student workshops is $20.
"If you enjoy nature, science and art - I hope you come join me for the fun!" said instructor Mike Means. "I've always loved the science behind geology and living in Arkansas with its abundance of crystal locations has fascinated me. I remember the rock shops that used to dot the highways of northwest Arkansas. Fossils just are cool! Holding something that represents a living creature from over 500,000 million years old is just amazing to me." 
Just outside of Hot Springs are many mining areas that you can actually go and dig up your own crystals. For the Crystal Digging Workshop, we pick-up a large bucket from one of these mines. Since the crystals are found in the red clay, participants could get their hands pretty dirty. We will be using water and small brushes to wash the clay from the crystals. Everyone will get to keep what they find. Hopefully that will be a beautiful clear quartz crystal.
The shale rock for the Fossil Digging Workshop comes from a mining area in Utah that does nothing but dig up fossils. Hopefully participants will find prehistoric sea animals known as trilobites. They look a little like horseshoe crabs that first appeared around 540 million years ago. The fossil hunting won't be too dirty, but will take time and skill with a small hammer to reveal the fossils.
"Having fun is the goal. If the kids accidentally learn something along the way, that's cool," Means said.
Limit 10 students per workshop. Come prepared to get a little dirty and wear your mask! Bring gloves and safety goggles if you have them, otherwise they will be provided. Register online at saac-arts.org or call the South Arkansas Arts Center for more information. SAAC is located at 110 East 5th Street in El Dorado.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES $300,000 JUDGMENT AGAINST LOAN SHARK BAILEY’S SUPERSTORE
Says, ‘Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced a judgment against Dennis Bailey and the businesses he controls: Bailey’s Superstore, Inc., Bailey’s Bottleshoppe, Brooks Bailey Enterprises, Inc., Bailey’s On Main, Bailey’s Pawn and Gun, and Newsmart Liquor. Rutledge filed a lawsuit against Bailey and his businesses under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act for his illegal use of the criminal court system to collect debts. The judgment requires that Bailey pay $50,000 in restitution, $250,000 in suspended civil penalties and withdraw all outstanding affidavits previously submitted to the Hot Check Coordinator valued at approximately $125,000.

“Bailey abused the criminal court system to take advantage of vulnerable Arkansans who needed money to pay their bills or for emergencies—some even paying for a family member’s funeral,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Anyone who has experienced these illegal business practices should call my office to let us do the fighting for you.”

The complaint filed in July 2019 showed Bailey often loaned large amounts of money to his customers, and as security for the loans, Bailey accepted a signed blank check. When the debt was due, consumers could buy the blank check back for the cost of the original loan plus interest that violates the Arkansas Constitution’s 17 percent usury cap. If the consumer were unable to pay the debt on time, Bailey would add the principal and interest together, enter it as the amount to be paid on the check, and deposit it into one of his business bank accounts. If the check returned unpaid by the bank, Bailey turned those checks over to the prosecuting attorney’s office for enforcement under Arkansas’s Hot Check Law despite the law’s clear prohibition against its use for the collection of pre-existing debts. In some instances, consumers who did not repay Bailey’s loans on time were arrested, jailed, and convicted of crimes they never committed.

Under the consent judgment in this case, Bailey and his businesses are permanently restrained and enjoined from offering or providing usurious loans, the deferred deposit of checks for usurious fees, or charging usurious check-cashing fees. He is also enjoined from holding any check, debit or credit card, driver’s license or identification, or EBT card as a promissory note or security for the payment of any money, loan, or debt. He and his businesses are barred from submitting any transaction to any prosecuting attorney’s office for collection or law enforcement action that violates Arkansas law. The judgment bars Bailey from retaliating against any person who reports that their debt to Bailey was wrongfully submitted to law enforcement for collection or who provided information or cooperated with the State in its investigation and prosecution of the case and from threatening consumers with taking any of the above actions. No person employed by or affiliated with Bailey can violate these provisions.

Bailey must cooperate and assist the State to resolve all wrongful arrests or convictions of affected consumers, reinstatement of victims’ wrongfully-suspended licenses, refunds of fees and fines, and expungement of any criminal records.

Victims of these or similar business practices should contact the Attorney General’s office to file a consumer complaint at (800) 482-8982 or go to ArkansasAG.gov.

 

JULY 20, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S COVID 19 UPDATE – JULY 20, 2020
Monday was the first day for the mask mandate to take effect in Arkansas. If a person cannot maintain a distance of at least six feet with non-household members either indoors or outside, a mask should be worn. Governor Hutchinson compared it to farmers working together to help out neighbors.

Governor Hutchinson announced Monday that he was assigning ten National Guard members to assist at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville for the next 30 days.

Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero gave the following report of numbers:
699 new cases Monday (695 Sunday and 771 Saturday)
Of the new cases Monday, 688 were in the community and 11 were in prisons
33,927 cumulative cases
471 currently hospitalized (up 15 from yesterday)
111 on ventilators (up 6 from yesterday)
363 deaths (up 6 from yesterday)
7,127 active cases (121 in nursing homes, 1,093 in prisons, 5,913 in the community)
26,397 recoveries
Cumulative positive rate is 7.8%
5,689 tests yesterday.
Mitchell Simpson with the Department of Energy announced that there was $8.21 million available for energy assistance through the CARES program. The assistance money can be used for gas, wood, propane or electricity. The program is administered in Polk County by ARVAC. For more information dial (479) 229-4861.
The counties with the most new cases today were Pulaski with 68, Washington with 44, Craighead with 32, Pope with 30, Benton with 29, Garland with 24, Sebastian with 22, and Saline with 21. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 49 positive cases with 30 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 306 positive cases with 246 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 134 positive cases with 93 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

For additional information, click on one of the links below.https://https://www.healthy.arkansas.com
https://www.healthy.arkansas.com
https://www.cdc.gov/

Again, there are now 33,927 total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas. 7,127 are considered Active Positives. The death toll increased by six to 363. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

COVID-19 UPDATE – MONDAY AM 07-20-2020
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas reached 33,000 over the weekend, while Active Positive cases approached 7,000. The death toll topped 350, and hospitalizations climbed up to over 450. During the most recent COVID-19 Press Conference in Little Rock on Friday afternoon, the two main topics were the improving state unemployment figures and the mask mandate that takes effect around the state today.

Governor Asa Hutchinson highlighted a report released Friday showing a 1.6 percent decrease in the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment figures, from 9.6 percent in May to 8.0 percent in June. The Governor said the report was good news for Arkansas' economy, which he called the "second crisis" of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Hutchinson defended his executive order requiring that everyone in Arkansas wear a protective face covering beginning today, July 20. He addressed reports that some law enforcement agencies across the state have expressed refusal to enforce the mandate in their jurisdictions. The Governor says he respects the right of law enforcement to set priorities for their agencies, but he views law enforcement as partners in educating the public on the importance of wearing a mask.

The executive order that takes effect today requires every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering completely over their mouth and nose in all indoor and outdoor environments, excluding private homes, where they are exposed to nonhousehold members and cannot maintain six feet of social distancing. Health officials are hopeful that the mask mandate will help decrease the transmission of COVID-19. The directive exempts children younger than 10, people with medical conditions or disabilities preventing them from wearing a mask, and people participating in athletic activities where the mask would inhibit the activity. Law enforcement will be authorized and encouraged to enforce the directive. Violations will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 to $500, although first-time offenders will receive a written or verbal warning. Police can still enforce trespassing and other laws to remove violators from businesses or other locations at the request of the property owner. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 49 positive cases with 30 recovered and 1 death, Union County show 306 positive cases with 246 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 143 positive cases with 93 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 12 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials are scheduled to provide the next statewide update this afternoon at 1:30. Friday's Press Conference was the last to feature Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health, who is taking on a new role at the national Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.

MEET US ONLINE FOR THE MARKETING WORKSHOP SERIES
Presented in Partnership with Team Camden
Marketing is and has always been an ever-changing task for small businesses. Janell Morton, Center Director, and Kristen Cribb, Business Consultant with the SAU Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, in partnership with Team Camden, are excited to offer a free four-part webinar series on the basics of building a successful marketing campaign for your small business.

During the COVID pandemic, the SAU ASBTDC has served the Camden small business community through virtual Zoom meetings and will continue to do so. Please contact us at sau@asbtdc.org or contact Dotty with OPED at 870.836.2210 to schedule your free and confidential virtual meeting with a small business consultant.

Webinar #1
Positioning Your Business for Growth - Tuesday, July 21
12-1:30 p.m.

As a small business owner wearing many hats, it's very tempting to jump right into achieving the "how" without first knowing the "what" in marketing.

Success with marketing begins by identifying the biggest growth opportunities for your business. During this interactive webinar, we will lay the foundation for marketing your business successfully in today's ever-changing marketplace.

UPDATED WITH CORRECTION. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR 20-21 ACADEMIC YEAR
MAGNOLIA -- As Southern Arkansas University looks forward to beginning the 20-21 academic year August 11, Dr. Trey Berry, president, urges students, faculty, and staff to be heroes by practicing the safety protocols established to maintain a healthy campus.

“We always say that SAU feels like home, and it does now more than ever,” Berry said. “This year will be like no other in our history, but we are in this journey together. Now is the time for heroes. Now is a time for reaching out and caring for others.”

To support and protect the SAU family and ensure that students have a successful academic semester, the University’s Reopening Committee and Risk Management Task Force have worked diligently to develop a 2020 Return to CampusGuide. This living document is based on current state and federal public health guidance and is viewable by visiting web.saumag.edu/coronavirus/guide.

Some specific measures included in the University’s guide are educating students, faculty, and staff on methods to mitigate viral spread. Face coverings will be required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, and both students and faculty will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.

Classrooms have been modified to allow for social distancing, hand sanitizing stations have been placed in buildings across campus, and programs have been established to deliver synchronous learning to students enrolled in face-to-face classes who may present a health-related need to be absent for extended periods of time. Enhanced cleaning measures have been developed following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Indoor events hosted by external groups will NOT be permitted this fall. Outdoor events will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Any approved outdoor events will be required to follow current public health guidance. Decisions are still under consideration regarding popular events such as Family Day, Mulegating, and Homecoming. When asked about these events, a spokesperson indicated that regrettably some of these events may be postponed or canceled due to the current public health crisis.

SAU plans to open residence halls to returning students via appointment beginning August 5, and plans to welcome freshman to campus August 9. For the most current information regarding campus events, openings, and changes, visit the SAU website at www.saumag.edu.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.

FT. SMITH AIRPORT POTENTIAL HOST OF SINGAPORE AIR FORCE, F-35 AIRCRAFT
Washington, D.C. — Ft. Smith Airport has been selected as one of five possible sites to host F-35 planes as well as the Republic of Singapore’s F-16 squadron. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has long advocated for Ft. Smith’s inclusion in this important economic development and national security initiative, and other Arkansas officials have pledged their support of the city and state’s efforts to compete for the mission.
On July 6, 2020, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett signed a memorandum to establish a permanent Foreign Military Sales training center at a single location in the continental United States for 24 to 36 F-35 long term Foreign Military Sales aircraft and for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 basing. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is an F-35 Foreign Military Sales customer and wishes to collocate its current F-16 squadron—now at Luke Air Force Base—with its F-35 aircraft to a long-term Foreign Military Sales location.
Fort Smith Airport, Hulman Field, Buckley Air Force Base, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base are the final candidates for the collocation.
“Ft. Smith is a strong candidate for Singapore’s F-16 squadron and future F-35 aircraft. The United States deeply values our relationship with Singapore, and I appreciate Secretary Barrett’s consideration of Arkansas as a location for our important defense partnership. I look forward to working with the Air Force and the state of Arkansas to ensure that Ft. Smith is a welcome location for this vital new national security mission,” said Senator Cotton.
“I was elated to learn that Ebbing Air National Guard Base is a finalist to become home to this important training facility. The state is a serious contender because Senator Cotton and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission launched a serious and sophisticated campaign to persuade the selection committee that Fort Smith is the right place. If Arkansas is selected, this will be a significant victory for Fort Smith and all of Arkansas,” said Governor Hutchinson.
“Fort Smith would be an ideal location to host this mission and we appreciate that Secretary Barrett continues to keep it in the running as the Air Force narrows its list of sites under consideration. The reason Fort Smith has made it to this pivotal point in the process is due, in a large part, to the community’s enthusiastic support and tireless efforts. I am committed to continuing to work with state and local officials, as well as my colleagues in the delegation, to get this effort across the finish line,” said Senator Boozman. 
“Fort Smith has everything the Air Force needs for this training center. With our strategic location and strong community, we are primed to support our allies and the next generation of air combat capabilities. I look forward to working with Secretary Barrett and my fellow Arkansans as the vetting process continues. The River Valley is ready to take on this critical defense mission,” said Congressman Womack.

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES 2020 SUMMER INTERNS
Says, ‘exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge this week welcomed ten students from across the State to the Attorney General’s Office Annual Summer Internship program. Despite a brief delay in start dates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office has provided a variety of experience to students and future leaders in a safe environment.
“I am excited to offer this exclusive internship program that allows students to gain first-hand and unique experiences in public service,” said Attorney General Rutledge, “Each intern will work with the professionals in various areas of the Office where they learn the value of helping Arkansans.”

Rutledge is proud to welcome the following students into the Office:
Gifty Agana is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Political Science major. She is from Fayetteville and a graduate of Fayetteville High School. Agana is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Deshawn Beard is a sophomore at Philander Smith College where she is a Philosophy major. She is from New Orleans and a graduate of Slidell High School. Beard is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Madison Beck graduated from the University of Arkansas Walton College of Business in May with a Bachelor of Science degree. She was a business administration major with an emphasis in marketing. Beck, of Center Ridge, is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and worked in the Northwest Arkansas Office. She will pursue her juris doctorate degree from University of Arkansas School of Law beginning this fall.

Jake James is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he is a Financial Management/Investment and Pre-Law major. He is a Little Rock native, and graduated from the Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys. James is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Kyle Lants is a senior at the University of South Carolina where he is Criminal Justice and Criminology major. He is a Little Rock native and graduated from Pulaski Academy. Lants is working in the Public Affairs Department.

David Lee is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas where he is a History major with a minor in Communications and Political Science. He is from Maumelle and graduated from Maumelle High School. Lee is working in the Communications Department.

Drew Martin is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he is currently seeking a master’s degree in public administration. He is from Bryant and graduated from Bryant High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Martin is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Mallory McClure is a junior at the University of Central Arkansas where she is a Political Science and Communication major. She is from Batesville and a graduate of Batesville High School. McClure is working in the Communications Department.

Kaitlyn McFarland is a junior at the University of Alabama where she is a Political Science major. She is from Hot Springs and a graduate of Lakeside High School. McFarland is working in the Administration Department.
Allyson Oliver is a junior at Ouachita Baptist University where she is a Psychology and Political Science major. She is from Conway, and a graduate of Conway High School. Oliver is working in the Public Affairs Department

Katie Strickland is a junior at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where she is an International and Global Studies and Political Science major. She is from Little Rock and a graduate of Mount St. Mary Academy. Strickland is working in the Public Affairs Department.

Maddison Thomas is a senior at Hendrix College where she is a Sociology major. She is from North Little Rock and graduated from North Little Rock High School. Thomas is working in the Public Affairs Department.

College students interested in learning more about the Attorney General’s Internship program should contact the Office at (501) 682-2454 or by email at internship@arkansasag.gov.

JULY 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 17, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Friday afternoon. During the press conference Gov. Hutchinson touted newly released figures showing a decrease in Arkansas' unemployment rate and he defended the face mask mandate announced on Thursday.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson said 648 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 31,762. Hospitalizations decreased by six to a total of 464 over the same period. Revised figured increased the death toll by 12 since June for a current total of 353. Recoveries grew by 581 to a total of 24,776. The number of patients on ventilators decreased by four from Thursday to a total of 97.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 38 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 287 positive cases with 239 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 119 positive cases with 87 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 20 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 5 positive cases with 3 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Gov. Hutchinson highlighted a report released Friday showing a 1.6 percent decrease in the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment figures, from 9.6 percent in May to 8.0 percent in June. He said the report was good news for Arkansas' economy, which he called the "second crisis" of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gov. Hutchinson also announced data now available detailing COVID-19 transmission rates and cumulative totals broken down to the municipal level. The new information can be found at www.achi.net. Unfortunately, at the time of this broadcast, the website was down and that new information was unavailable. According to Gov. Hutchinson, the data shows De Queen and other rural communities have had higher per-capital transmission rates than larger urban areas like Little Rock or Fayetteville. 
Gov. Hutchinson defended his executive order, announced Thursday, that everyone in Arkansas will be required to wear a protective face covering beginning Monday, July 20. He addressed reports that some law enforcement agencies across the state have expressed refusal to enforce the mandate in their jurisdictions. 

Vacation-goers received a message from Gov. Hutchinson in regard to the potential need to self-quarantine upon their return. He urged Arkansans returning from vacation to use common sense when deciding if they need to be tested or self-quarantined when they get home.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials are slated to provide another update Monday afternoon. Friday's conference was the last to feature Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health, who is taking on a new role at the national Center for Disease Control. Again, the state saw an increase of 648 COVID-19 cases since Thursday for a total of 31,762. Hospitalizations decreased by six to a total of 466. Overall deaths increased by 12 to 353. Current recoveries grew to 24,776. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES SAFETY PROCEDURES FOR 20-21 ACADEMIC YEAR
MAGNOLIA -- As Southern Arkansas University looks forward to beginning the 20-21 academic year August 11, Dr. Trey Berry, president, urges students, faculty, and staff to be heroes by practicing the safety protocols established to maintain a healthy campus.

“We always say that SAU feels like home, and it does now more than ever,” Berry said. “This year will be like no other in our history, but we are in this journey together. Now is the time for heroes. Now is a time for reaching out and caring for others.”

To support and protect the SAU family and ensure that students have a successful academic semester, the University’s Reopening Committee and Risk Management Task Force have worked diligently to develop a 2020 Return to CampusGuide. This living document is based on current state and federal public health guidance and is viewable by visiting web.saumag.edu/coronavirus/guide.

Some specific measures included in the University’s guide are educating students, faculty, and staff on methods to mitigate viral spread. Face coverings will be required in public spaces where social distancing is not possible, and both students and faculty will be required to wear face coverings in the classroom.

Classrooms have been modified to allow for social distancing, hand sanitizing stations have been placed in buildings across campus, and programs have been established to deliver synchronous learning to students enrolled in face-to-face classes who may present a health-related need to be absent for extended periods of time. Enhanced cleaning measures have been developed following Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Indoor events hosted by external groups will be permitted this fall. Outdoor events will be approved on a case-by-case basis. Any approved outdoor events will be required to follow current public health guidance. Decisions are still under consideration regarding popular events such as Family Day, Mulegating, and Homecoming. When asked about these events, a spokesperson indicated that regrettably some of these events may be postponed or canceled due to the current public health crisis.

SAU plans to open residence halls to returning students via appointment beginning August 5, and plans to welcome freshman to campus August 9. For the most current information regarding campus events, openings, and changes, visit the SAU website at www.saumag.edu.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.
 

RUTLEDGE ISSUES STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following Governor Hutchinson’s Executive Order on a statewide mask mandate.
“I have long encouraged Arkansans to take personal responsibility of preventing the spread of COVID19 by wearing masks when not able to socially distance,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is imperative that we all take the exponential spread of this deadly disease seriously not only for the safety of family, friends and neighbors, but we must also reopen our schools and get our economy back to its full strength moving our country away from this virus and back to exercising our God given freedoms.”

 

July 16, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 16, 2020
Arkansas residents and visitors will be required to wear protective face masks in almost all public settings and under almost all situations, according to a new mandate announced Thursday afternoon during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's daily COVID-19 Taskforce press conference. 
Gov. Hutchinson announced the mandate in response to the continuing growth of COVID-19-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Over the previous 24 hours, Arkansas witnessed 817 additional COVID-19 cases for a new total of 31,114. Hospitalizations increased by 12 to 470 and deaths by six to 341. Currently active cases grew to 6,578.
The counties with the most new cases today were Pulaski with 114, Washington with 68, Benton with 48, Sebastian with 43, Pope with 40, Faulkner with 27, Yell with 26, Garland with 24, Craighead with 22, and Arkansas with 20. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 37 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 284 positive cases with 238 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 114 positive cases with 86 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 14 positive cases with 11 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

According to the executive order, beginning Monday, July 20 every person in Arkansas is required to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose in outdoor and indoor areas where a person is exposed to non-household members and where distancing of six feet or more cannot be assured.

There are a number of exemptions included in the mandate. The executive order includes exemptions for anyone younger than 10 years of age or anyone with a medical condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask. The mandate is not enforceable among anyone participating in athletic activities in which six feet distance is not achievable and wearing a mask would be prohibitory to the activity. 
Finally, the mandate is lifted in counties where the Department of Health has certified that risk of community transmission of COVID-19 is low. During Thursday's conference, Gov. Hutchinson said that means counties which have not seen a positive COVID-19 case in at least 28 days. 
 The fine for not wearing a face covering without an appropriate exemption can range from $100 to $500. Local and state law enforcement officers will not have the authority to arrest or detain anyone violating the face mask offense. 

According to the COVID-19 taskforce, one of the goals of the face mask mandate is ensuring ICU beds within Arkansas' hospitals do not reach capacity. Troy Wells, CEO of Baptist Health, Arkansas' largest hospital, said 32 of Arkansas' 200 ICU beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients. He said hospitals in the state have developed surge plans to accommodate any additional growth in severe COVID-19 cases.  Wells also announced the launch of clinical trials within Arkansas of a novel COVID-19 vaccine. He said certain Arkansans are welcome and encouraged to participate. For more information on the trials, or to sign up, visit www.arkansascovidvaccine.com

Gov. Hutchinson said at this time the mandate does not have a definitive end date. He said the governor's office, legislature and state health officials will continue to track progress of the virus to determine when the order can be lifted.

Again, a statewide face mask mandate will go into effect Monday, July 20. On Thursday, the Arkansas COVID-19 Taskforce added 817 new cases of COVID-19 for a state total of 31,114. There were an additional six deaths for a total of 341 as well as 12 new hospitalizations totaling 470. A total of 6,020 tests were conducted on Wednesday with a total positivity rate of 7.6 percent. Currently, there are 6,578 documented active cases within the state. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 






OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE in Camden.

The Agenda is as follows:
Call to Order                                                                                                                      
Audience Participation  
Approval of Minutes – June 2020
Financial Reports – June 2020
Overview of Contacts-Ext. Director                          
Old Business
Workforce Project Update          
AEDC's Competitive Communities
Open Discussion                                                                                                                              
Adjournment   

Please wear a mask if you have one. There will be hand sanitizer available. Social distancing will be practiced in seating arrangement. The Doors to the meeting area will be open. Packets will be on the tables.

Next Scheduled Board Meeting – August 26, 2020

RSVP will be required. Please RSVP to  836-2210 and leave a message or email oped@att.net  by July 21st by 2:00 p.m To allow OPED to prepare for social distancing seating.

The next Scheduled Board Meeting is August 26, 2020.


JULY SUMMER ON THE SQUARE EVENTS AND GRILL WAR EVENTS IN DOWNTOWN EL DORADO POSTPONED DUE TO CONTINUED COVID-19 CONCERNS
EL DORADO, ARK.,— People who were looking forward to Summer on the Square this month in Downtown El Dorado will have to wait a little longer. Main Street El Dorado recently announced that its summer activities — which include Grill Wars Steak competition and Music on the Square with live bands— have been rescheduled for Saturday, August 22, due to concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A plan for the July 25 installment of Summer on the Square had been approved by the Arkansas Health Department but after further consideration amid reports of a spike in COVID-19 cases, Main Street El Dorado decided to postpone the event until August.

"With the uncertainties that come with COVID, we wanted to be ultra-conservative. Even though we had a plan with the Arkansas Health Department, we have a great number cooking teams that were mostly coming from out of state and we wanted to be prudent," said Greg Withrow, president of the Main Street El Dorado board of directors.

"Hopefully, by August, things will have settled down with COVID and we can do our event and do it safely."

Withrow explained. Withrow promised that the August presentation of Summer on the Square will bring the same level of fun and the same safety measures that had been set for July.

For more information or to register for August Grill Wars, call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747. Also, visit www.mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: FAKE CHARITIES DISGUISED AS HELPING MILITARY AND VETERANS
LITTLE ROCK – It is important to be vigilant and do your homework when donating to a new charity for the first time. Scammers have been stealing money from Arkansans by posing as veterans’ charities and often requesting charitable donations. Even though these bad actors can leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth, it is important to note that there are still many well-intentioned military and veterans charities across Arkansas and the country doing tireless work for our nation’s heroes.

“Arkansas is just one big small town and the fantastic people of our state have a giving spirit, especially when it comes to our men and women in uniform,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But, I want to make sure Arkansans’ generosity is not taken for granted by con artists looking to make a quick buck posing as a fake military or veteran’s charity.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers ensure an organization’s legitimacy before giving money:

Ask questions before giving. Only give when comfortable that the donation will support a trustworthy organization or activity. Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate charities will not rush a donation.

Ask for written information or research the organization online. A legitimate charity will send information that provides the organization’s mission and how the donation will be used, along with proof that the contribution is tax deductible.

Call the charity directly. To avoid falling victim to sham solicitors, personally contact the charity before giving a donation by email, to the person knocking at the front door or to a telephone solicitor to ensure it is not a scam.

Do not send cash. For security and tax records, make donations by check or credit card.

Search the Arkansas Charities Database for more information on charities in Arkansas, including those benefiting service members and their families.

The FTC has released a video to highlight tips on how to research charities on giving wisely to veterans organizations.

In 2015, Rutledge launched the first-ever Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s office to assist active duty military service members, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer-related issues and many other collaborative efforts.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982, consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

VAN BUREN POLICE ASK ASP/CID FOR INVESTIGATION OF OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENT
JULY 15, 2020

The Arkansas State Police is continuing its investigation today of an officer involved shooting incident that occurred yesterday afternoon (July 14th) at a Van Buren motel.  Lawrence Brandenburg, 74, of Van Buren was shot and wounded when he reportedly reached for a gun as police entered a motel room.

The incident occurred at the Travelers Inn, located at 3107 Alma Highway.  Van Buren police had been contacted shortly after 1:30 PM about a motel occupant who had pointed a gun at motel employees.

Local police officers who responded to the call attempted to make contact with the motel occupant, later identified as Brandenburg.  During the encounter Brandenburg reached for a handgun and a VBPD officer fired his weapon, striking Brandenburg.

Officers rendered first aid and Brandenburg was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.  Earlier today Brandenburg remained hospitalized.  No police officers or motel employees were injured.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are leading the investigation.  The investigative file, once completed, will be turned-over to the prosecuting attorney to determine if the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Charges against Brandenburg are pending at this time.

MASK UP WALMART SHOPPERS
Walmart Inc. of Bentonville has announced that beginning Monday July 20, 2020 you will be required to wear face coverings in all Walmart Stores as well as at all Sam’s Clubs.

There are a number of other companies that have mandated face covering be worn to shop including Best Buy, Kroger and Starbucks.

Walmart said that it has created a new position of "health ambassador". You “Health Ambassadors” will be stationed at store entrances. They will be reminding shoppers that enter without a face covering of the new policy. Ambassadors will receive special training to help make the process as smooth as possible for customers. The ambassadors who can be identified by their black polo shirts will help customers who enter the store without a face covering to try and find a solution.

Sam's Clubs will provide masks to customers, who pay a membership fee to shop there.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has resisted calls for such a mandate, saying he doesn't want to install a rule "that is unenforceable." He has, however, endorsed a model ordinance the cities can adopt that would require residents to wear a face covering in public.  The ordinance that cities across the state are adopting does not contain penalties for violations. Cities adopting the ordinance include Camden, Bentonville, Conway, Helena-West Helena, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Rogers and Tontitown. 

STATEWIDE EDUCATOR SURVEY CONFIRMS SIGNIFICANT COVID CONCERNS AHEAD OF SCHOOL REOPENING
Arkansas educators want to see the safe return to in-person learning in schools across our state; however, they remain concerned about the risk to their students and colleagues.  When we return to classroom learning, we need to do it in a sustainable way that ensures school buildings stay safe and stay open.  

survey conducted by AEA over the last weekend, confirmed Arkansas educators are extremely concerned about the safety of returning to in-person learning in the fall. More than six thousand teachers and education support professionals responded to the survey, representing all 75 counties in the state. 

The results show 90% of respondents are concerned about student health issues related to teaching and learning in schools, and 98% believe it will be very or somewhat difficult to implement social distancing or other safety measures in school buildings. In addition, more than 40% of respondents said they are considering retiring early or leaving the profession as a result of the pandemic. 

While acknowledging the disruption and learning loss caused by the pandemic, and the importance of in-person instruction, most respondents believe schools should reopen only after public health experts determine it’s safe to return. Educator input and adequate planning and equipment are also necessary to protect school employees, students and visitors from COVID-19. 

As districts discuss plans to for the 2020-2021 school year it is essential that we make decisions based in science and safety. Schools must not become places that increase that spread or endanger the lives of students, staff, or of our surrounding community. Districts will need flexibility and should be including educators in discussions aimed at providing the best possible education for our students as we confront the challenges posed by COVID-19. 

“The message from the vast majority of responding Arkansas educators is clear: we must assure the health and safety of students and educators before our schools are ready to reopen,” said AEA President Carol Fleming. “We need supplies, support and clearly communicated safety protocols before our students, teachers and education support staff can consider returning to in-person learning. Arkansas’s educators know their students, parents and communities best, and they want to be a part in decision-making as we develop a safe, sustainable path forward.” 

AEA has formed a “Return to Learn” committee made up of educators across the state. They are currently analyzing the results of the survey and health guidance and will create a list of expectations that must be met before students and educators can return to the classroom.

JULY 15, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP JULY 15, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Wednesday afternoon. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across Arkansas, which grew Wednesday to over 30,000 total cases. Governor Asa Hutchinson opened the daily COVID-19 Briefing by announcing that Walmart and Sam's will start requiring that shoppers wear masks.
Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson said 564 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 30,297. An additional 13 hospitalizations were reported over the same period for a total of 458. Deaths increased by four to 335. Recoveries grew by 679 to a total of 23,523. There are currently 94 people on ventilators.  Gov. Hutchinson also shared the announcement by Walmart that it would require customers to wear protective face masks in each of its stores across the country. Walmart made the announcement Wednesday morning that the mask regulation would go into effect July 20. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 37 positive cases with 27 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 282 positive cases with 230 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 112 positive cases with 84 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 13 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 4 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health noted the significance of the state hitting the 30,000-mark in terms of total COVID-19 cases. Smith said that, while this is still less than one percent of the state's total population, the growing figure means the battle against COVID-19 will continue for some time. Congressman French Hill, who represents Arkansas' second district in the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke briefly during the conference. He stressed the importance of wearing masks in public spaces despite the inconvenience they may cause.

Dr. Smith gave the following report of numbers:
564 new cases (78 in prisons and 486 in the community)
30,297 cumulative
6,439 active cases (130 in nursing homes, 979 in prisons, 5,330 in the community)
13 new hospitalizations
458 currently hospitalized
4 new deaths
335 deaths total
679 recoveries yesterday
23,523 total recoveries
5,146 test results reported yesterday
80,862 total tests in July.

Gov. Hutchinson added that state residents, including himself, have become "weary" of COVID-19 but stress that patience will help the state, nation and world get through the current pandemic. 

The Arkansas Educational Association released a survey of over 6,000 teachers on Wednesday stating that over 90 percent of respondents expressed concern over the start of school this fall. Gov. Hutchinson advised school districts and teachers to study and follow state educational guidelines. He said these guidelines attempt to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming school year and that educators should feel "confident" by their recommendations. 

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Thursday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 594 COVID-19 cases since Tuesday for a total of 30,297. Hospitalizations grew by 13 to a total of 458. Deaths increased by four to 335. Current recoveries grew to 23,523. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/


CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met last night in regular session last night at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm. The invocation was given by Reverend H. Earl Anderson, Pastor of the Shiloh missionary Baptist Church.

The Minutes of the Special called meeting of June 25th and the regular meeting that was held on June 9th were approved. The financial report from June 202 was approved.
The Mayor deferred his time for the Mayor’s report to Dr. Lawrence Braden, Chief Medical Officer for Ouachita County. He stated that his role was to bring facts. He explained what viruses do, how they behave and how to prevent the spread. He encouraged the Council to pass the Mask ordinance that was on the agenda.

There was no old business on the agenda, but L.E. Lindsey had sent the transcript of the May Mayors report to City Hall and he thought that it would be included in the Agenda under old business. Alderman Lindsey contended that the transcript of the report should be included in May’s minutes. He made a motion to include it. Alderman Aregood seconded the motion. Alderman Askew asked what would be gained by including it in the minutes. He wanted to get past the contention on the council. The Mayor said he just wants to do what is right and move on to move Camden forward. Alderman Terry Smith stated that he could have worded things differently. He said that there were racists on the City Council and the School Board. He said that he is on the Council and his wife was on the School Board. He asked for an apology for putting a whole group instead of calling the names who the Mayor was calling racist. Alderman James Bell and Chip Simmons also voiced their views on the statements the Mayor had made. After a lengthy discussion the motion passed with 5 yesses and 3 noes. The transcript will be added to the May minutes.

The Council then moved on to Ordinance No. 15-20, an ordinance regarding the use of masks in relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic. A motion was made to suspend the rules. The motion passed. Motion to approve the ordinance was made and the Council went into a discussion regarding the Ordinance. Alderman Lindsey asked City Attorney Michael Frey to explain how this ordinance would work. He explained that if passed, it would give businesses the right to ask someone to leave their business if they aren’t wearing a mask provided there is a sign on the door stating masks are required to enter. The Police can be called if someone refuses to leave after they have been asked and can possibly be charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. While there is no ticket or summons issued for simply not wearing a mask, Officials will be able to educate the offender on the importance of wearing a face covering. This includes City Property including the Trace and City Parks if Social Distancing cannot be achieved.  This does not affect restaurants, salons and other businesses that are already under directives from the Department of Health. Ordinance passed with 7 yesses and 1 no.

Resolution No. 18-20, a resolution adopting policies and procedures for the Camden Fire Department was introduced. Resolution passed without discussion.
Resolution No. 20-20, a resolution accepting a marker commemorating Ms. Mildred Weaver McKinney was introduced. The marker would be placed in Carnes Park. Resolution passed unanimously.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW CANCELS PLANNED GRADUATION FOR THE CLASS OF 2020
Letter from Fred Lilly
To the Senior Class of 2020, Parents, and Community:"
On July 14, 2020, the CFSD Graduation Committee met to discuss plans for the in-person graduation ceremony. While we recognize that graduating from high school is an important milestone in a young person's life, the safety of our students, staff, and families must be considered. Due to the rising number of positive cases of Covid-19 each day, we do not feel it is prudent to host a graduation ceremony at this time. The possibility of endangering our seniors, their families, our staff, and the community at large is too great of a risk. So, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the in-person graduation, tentatively scheduled for July 31, 2020.

I know that this announcement will not be met with applause. Some will vigorously disagree. However, we hope that you understand our position. As a district, it is our desire to see our students have a chance to embark upon amazing journeys into adulthood. To jeopardize that opportunity in any way is not an option.

Regrettably, you will not have the experience of a traditional graduation, we hope that your  virtual graduation will serve as a memory of a truly unforgettable senior year. We are extremely proud of the Class of 2020 and wish each of you tremendous success in the days, months, and years to come. You will always be a vital part of the Camden Fairview School District Family.

Sincerely,

Fred Lilly

GOVERNOR’S LAW ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE TO MEET THIS WEEK
JULY 14, 2020
The Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas will convene at 10 AM, Thursday, July 16th at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, located at One Convention Center Plaza.

The Task Force appointees, government personnel and representatives of the public who may attend are reminded the meeting will be conducted in a manner consistent with the directives issued by the Arkansas Department of Health, specifically health screening prior to entering the meeting, the use of respiratory masks and exercising social distancing.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, July 17, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden, Arkansas.


RUTLEDGE ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING THE FEDERAL EXECUTION OF DANIEL LEE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the federal execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, convicted of killing a Pope County family of three, including an eight-year-old girl, in 1999.
“I appreciate the leadership of our federal partners to ensure justice was carried out this morning,” said Rutledge. “Today reaffirms that we are a country of laws and the most heinous offenses, like Lee’s act of torturing and murdering this Arkansas family, must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

COTTON STATEMENT ON UK HUAWEI ANNOUNCEMENT
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the UK announced Huawei would not be part of its 5G network:

"The UK government's decision is a step in the right direction, imposing limits on further Chinese spying on British communications. I urge London to remove completely the risk that Huawei 5G equipment poses to the privacy and security of its people."

July 14, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 14, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference Tuesday afternoon. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across Arkansas and focused on ramped up testing throughout the state.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson stated that 794 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 29,733. An additional six hospitalizations were reported over the same period for a total of 445. Deaths increased by eight to 331. Recoveries grew by 738 to a total of 22,844. There are currently 91 people on ventilators. 

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 36 positive cases with 26 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 275 positive cases with 228 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 83 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Tuesday's conference focused heavily on increased testing efforts by both public and private labs across the state. Dr. Nate Smith of the Arkansas Department of Health said testing was increasing, with more tested on Monday than any other day since the start of the pandemic. 

Gov. Hutchinson said the state is also increasing enforcement of compliance measures aimed at Arkansas businesses. He said the state is investigating around a thousand complaints in regards to restaurants, bars and other businesses that are not following state guidelines in response to the virus. Compliance violations can include such instances as restaurants failing to require that customers wear protective face masks. Gov. Hutchinson said Arkansas cities with enforceable mask ordinances in effect include Fayetteville, Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Hot Springs, North Little Rock, Helena West Helena and Tontitown.

Stephanie Williamson, chief of staff to the governor, said state residents can also expect to see additional contact tracing efforts in the coming days and weeks. She said the state has partnered with an additional vendor to increase the number of statewide contact tracers. Contact tracers are responsible for reaching out to individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as anyone with whom they have come in contact, in order to encourage isolation practices. 

The counties with the most new cases today were in Pulaski with 111, Washington with 68, Sebastian with 52, Pope with 41, Johnson with 37, Benton with 36, Craighead with 29, and Faulkner with 24.

Gov. Hutchinson and state health officials will provide another update Wednesday afternoon. Again, the state saw an increase of 794 COVID-19 cases since Monday for a total of 29,733. Hospitalizations grew by six to a total of 445. Deaths increased by eight to 331. Current recoveries grew to 22,844. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
For additional information, click on one of the links below. The first is for Arkansas and the second for Oklahoma information.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus


ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARDSMEN TO TRANSPORT COVID-19 PATIENTS
Guardsmen will transport positive COVID-19 patients to isolation facility near UAMS
WHO:        The Arkansas National Guard

 WHAT:      By order of the Governor, 14 medics were called to state active duty from the Arkansas Army National Guard to transport positive COVID-19 patients from locations around the state to an isolation facility near the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. This facility provides an isolation location for Arkansans unable to isolate at home due to family considerations.

 WHEN:      beginning July 14, 2020, for 30 days in

 WHERE:   Little Rock.

 WHY:        The Guard medics will work in 12-hour shifts around the clock to transport positive COVID-19 patients, as needed. For more information about the isolation facility, news media should contact the Arkansas Department of Health public information office.

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

12 TEACHERS NAMED ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR REGIONAL FINALISTS
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce the 12 teachers named 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists. The regional finalists will be recognized and the four state semi-finalists will be announced at an event July 31 at the Governor’s Mansion. (The event will adhere to social distancing and virus prevention guidelines and directives.)

“I want to congratulate the regional finalists for their outstanding work and dedication to their students, schools, and communities,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “While one of them will become the next Arkansas Teacher of the Year, all of them have exhibited determination, commitment, and a passion for education and are deserving of this honor."

2021 ATOY Regional Finalists 
Teresa Adams
Grade 5 Literacy
Cabot Middle School South
Cabot School District
Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative
Tia Brickey
Library Media Specialist
Park Avenue Elementary School
Stuttgart School District
Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative
Bailey Coburn
General Music
East Side Elementary School
Magnolia School District
South Central Service Cooperative
Lea Ann Ferrell
Grade 4 Math
Lake Hamilton Intermediate School
Lake Hamilton School District
Dawson Education Service Cooperative
Amber Harbin
Grades K-8 Science, STEM, and Project Lead the Way 
Forest Heights STEM Academy
Little Rock School District
Pulaski County
Susan Henderson
Library Media Specialist
Ellen Smith Elementary School
Conway School District
Arch Ford Education Service Cooperative
Katie Hutton
Grades 10-12 Business Education
Academies of West Memphis
West Memphis School District
Great Rivers Education Service Cooperative
Todd Musgraves
Grade 4 Math and Science
College Hill Elementary School
Texarkana Arkansas School District
Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative
Susanna Post
Grades 9-12 Math and Business Technology
Belle Point Alternative Center
Fort Smith School District
Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative
Abbie Russell
Grade 3-5 EAST
Linda Childers Knapp Elementary School
Springdale School District
Northwest Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Melissa Steiner
Library Media Specialist
Hackler Intermediate School 
Mountain Home School District
Northcentral Arkansas Education Service Cooperative
Brycial Williams
Grade 1
Wynne Primary School
Wynne School District
Crowley’s Ridge Educational Service Cooperative
The Arkansas Teacher of the Year program is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes teachers for their teaching and leadership skills. The 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, who will be announced this fall, will apply to become the 2021 National Teacher of the Year.

The four state semi-finalists named on July 31 will be selected from the 12 regional finalists. One of the four state semi-finalists will be named the 2021 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Some State Board of Education members may attend the July 31 event at the Governor’s Mansion, but no official business will be conducted. 

To learn more about the ATOY program, visit https://bit.ly/2AXaDjE.

RUTLEDGE AND THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ASK U.S. SUPREME COURT TO UPHOLD ARKANSAS’ MEDICAID EXPANSION PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review and uphold the Arkansas Works Medicaid Demonstration Project. The Justice Department is also seeking review to uphold Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion project.

Rutledge said, "Arkansas Works’ model was designed to encourage able-bodied Arkansans without dependents to transition into the workforce, building a stronger, more resilient connection with their communities. I appreciate Attorney General Bill Barr hearing from us last week in Arkansas on this issue and as a result, the Department of Justice also filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to allow our pilot program to continue as a way to support Arkansans by enabling recipients to obtain employment in exchange for Medicaid benefits and create a sense of accomplishment by improving their health and financial independence."

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to vacate Arkansas Works.


CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting tonight, Tuesday, July 14, 2020

at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. .
The agenda is as follows

  1. CALL TO ORDERB.   
    INVOCATION – Rev. Johnny Hobbie, Pastor - Maul Road Church of Christ, 1425 Maul Road, Camden, AR 

C.    PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

D.    ROLL CALL

E.    APPROVAL OF MINUTES
       1.  Special Called Meeting of June 25, 2020
       2.  Minutes of Regular Meeting June 9, 2020

F.    ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
      1.  Financial Report for June 2020

G.    AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

H.    MAYOR’S REPORT

 I.    OLD BUSINESS

 J.    NEW BUSINESS
1    Ordinance No. 15-20, an ordinance regarding the use of masks in relation to the      COVID-19 Pandemic.
2.   Resolution No. 18-20, a resolution adopting policies and procedures for the Camden Fire Department.
3.   Resolution No. 20-20, a resolution accepting a marker commemorating Ms. Mildred Weaver McKinney.

K.    OTHER BUSINESS

L.    ADJOURNMENT
 

STATE POLICE CID CALLED TO INVESTIGATE BANKS HOMICIDE
JULY 13, 2020
Bradley County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered the body of Crissy Lee Jacks, 44, of 322 Buck Fever Highway (U.S. 278) in Banks earlier today.  Authorities later contacted the Arkansas State Police requesting assistance.
 Based on evidence found at the residence, Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division are treating the case as a homicide.  Jacks’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of death will be determined.
It’s believed Jacks was last seen alive late yesterday (Sunday) outside her home.  Agents are continuing their investigation tonight (Monday).

 

VICKSBURG DISTRICT TO CONTINUE ONLINE RESERVATION SYSTEM INTO WINTER AT ARKANSAS, MISSISSIPPI, LOUISIANA CAMPGROUNDS
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District will continue to use the online reservation system Oct. 1 through Feb. 28, 2021 for campgrounds at its projects in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

All campsites at Class A campgrounds as well as campsites at select Class C and D campgrounds will be available by advance reservation only during this time.

Online reservations will open to the public Aug. 15 for visits on or after Oct. 1. Campsite reservations and payments for visits to these campgrounds must be made in advance at https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.recreation.gov%2F&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ce967a7c76a724f9c4e3a08d8276c4f53%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637302694152281835&sdata=fF3qkH0GnjEACqy1pLO4dTmkoo6Q%2F34WLdRYK%2BEBMOs%3D&reserved=0. Up-to-date information about the status of campgrounds at the USACE Vicksburg District's recreation sites is available at the following link: https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2Fxw4K5&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ce967a7c76a724f9c4e3a08d8276c4f53%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637302694152281835&sdata=EmShQ0NR%2BeZ2nSGGV1N%2BcJwPbAItKZv4o0c538j4QKw%3D&reserved=0.

Affected campgrounds in Arkansas include Brady Mountain, Crystal Springs, Denby Point, Joplin, Stephens Park, Little Fir, and Tompkins Bend at Lake Ouachita; Arlie Moore, Edgewood, Iron Mountain, Caddo Drive, Shouse Ford and Alpine Ridge at DeGray Lake; and Parker Creek, Kirby Landing, Self Creek, Jim Wylie, Narrows Dam and Cowhide Cove at Lake Greeson.

Affected campgrounds in Mississippi include Dub Patton and South Abutment at Arkabutla Lake; Wallace Creek, Persimmon Hill, Chickasaw Hill, Water Valley Landing and Ford's Well at Enid Lake; North Abutment and North Graysport at Grenada Lake; and Clear Creek, Pat's Bluff, Hurricane Landing and Oak Grove at Sardis Lake.

Affected campgrounds in Louisiana include Tom Merrill at Bayou Bodcau.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Arkansas, contact the Lake Ouachita Field Office at 501-767-2108, DeGray Lake Field Office at 870-246-5502, or Lake Greeson Field Office at 870-285-2151.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Mississippi, contact Arkabutla Lake at 662-562-6261, Enid Lake at 662-563-4571, Grenada Lake at 662-226-5911, or Sardis Lake at 662-563-4531.

For more information about operational changes or questions about recreation facilities in Louisiana, contact the Bayou Bodcau Office at 318-949-1804.

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.
 

SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY’S SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION PROGRAM GAINS INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION
MAGNOLIA -- Southern Arkansas University’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) program is now the only one in Arkansas to have achieved the honor of certification by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“We are striving to achieve a high standard of excellence with our program,” said Sheffield Coulter, SI coordinator at SAU.

Student SI leaders are valuable as they pass their experience in historically challenging courses along to those who need help academically. Leaders are hand-picked by faculty to help students deal with not only content but develop good study habits and strategies and help them get to know other students. SI leaders are chosen not only because they excelled in difficult courses but often because they took advantage of SI sessions themselves.

SI sessions are available through SAU Student Support Services, a federally-funded program designed to increase the retention and graduation rates and foster an institutional climate supportive of the success of low-income and first-generation college students and those with disabilities.

Dr. Julie Collins, executive director of the International Center for Supplemental Instruction, said SAU has implemented the core elements of SI to make a positive impact and that its practices uphold the SI model.

“It is an honor for our program to be awarded this recognition,” said Eunice Walker, director of Student Support Services. “This program helps students become successful, independent learners.”

SI has been available to SAU students since 1991. Data shows that students who consistently attend SI earn a higher grade and have a higher GPA upon graduation.

Walker gave special thanks to Coulter, SI leaders, and the SAU community. “They worked diligently to garner this achievement,” she said.

“We are currently the only accredited SI program in the state of Arkansas,” said Coulter, attributing the honor to the hard work of student leaders as well as faculty support.

SI leaders persevered through a shift to online instruction due to COVID-19.

Drew Glover, director of online learning, was a huge asset in helping set up sessions through Blackboard so that online sessions could continue. No sessions were missed during the crisis.

SI programs require attention to detail, time and resources, and a superb student and professional staff. SAU’s SI leaders are engaged in rigorous planning, observed by program leadership, and provided feedback for continual growth.

The decision to become an accredited program was made after SI training in the fall. Changes were made to lesson planning, observations and end-of-term reporting. Faculty support letters were obtained, as well.

“We are excited to have our program certified!” enthused Coulter.

The mission of Southern Arkansas University is to educate students for productive and fulfilling lives in a global environment by providing opportunities for intellectual growth, individual enrichment, skill development, and meaningful career preparation.

ARKANSANS FOR TRANSPARENCY LAUNCHES EFFORT TO PRESERVE DEMOCRACY, FIGHT BACK AGAINST OUT-OF-STATE INTERESTS “ARKANSAS VOTERS—NOT OUT-OF-STATE INTERESTS—DECIDE OUR ELECTIONS”
LITTLE ROCK – Today, Arkansans for Transparency launched a campaign in response to two proposed amendments to the Arkansas Constitution, which are meant to grossly manipulate Arkansas’s election process and the laws that have governed redistricting in our state for decades.

Jonelle Fulmer of Fort Smith and Washington County Judge Joseph Wood will serve as co-chairs of the committee, with Will Rockefeller serving as the committee’s secretary. The co-chairs released the following statement:

“From the very beginning, the proponents of these two amendments have operated under a false guise of transparency in an attempt to both confuse and deceive the Arkansas electorate. This effort is being championed by out-of-state interests as a way of stealing elections right in our own backyard. They’ve essentially described Arkansas as a lab rat for their own social and election engineering efforts. It’s unacceptable, and it’s not the way we do things in Arkansas.
“For these reasons, Arkansans for Transparency has been established to protect the democratic process in our state and to fight for what all Arkansans want and deserve: full transparency at the ballot box. Arkansas voters—not out-of-state interests—decide our elections, and we fully expect that message to be sent loud and clear in November.”
About Arkansans for Transparency:

Arkansans for Transparency is a Ballot Question Committee formed as a response to two proposed amendments to the Arkansas Constitution, which are meant to grossly manipulate Arkansas’s election process and the laws that have governed redistricting in our state for decades. The goal of Arkansans for Transparency is to protect our democratic process by educating voters on the deceitful practices by the amendments’ proponents.

 
 
 

JULY 13, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP – JULY 13, 2020
Governor Hutchinson opened up the Press Conference by continuing to impress on Arkansans that the wearing of masks can make a difference in this fight against the spread of COVID-19:
Governor Hutchinson reported that the total number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas had increased by 572 in the past 24 hours to a total of 28,939. The number of Active Positive cases has increased to 6,510. Hospitalizations increased by 19 to 439. The death toll grew by two to 323. The positivity rate of tests conducted in the past 24 hours is 7.5%. The Governor said that all Arkansans need to wear a mask and socially distance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.The Governor noted that there were 1,061 new cases Saturday and 503 new cases Sunday.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 34 positive cases with 24 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 274 positive cases with 226 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 81 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Governor Hutchinson opened continues to impress on Arkansans that the wearing of masks can make a difference in this fight against the spread of COVID-19:"

Governor Hutchinson displayed graphs showing the capacity of hospitals in various regions of the state. With hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continuing to rise, Governor Hutchinson says there's still hospital capacity available but that Arkansans needed to work together to prevent a strain on health care workers and facilities.

Governor Hutchinson reiterated that schools will open in Arkansas the week of August 24th. Communities should be working hard over the next couple of weeks to get the coronavirus spread under control.
Responding to a reporter's question, the Governor acknowledged that 6 high schools in Arkansas have had to cancel football practice due to players being tested positive for COVID-19.
Responding to a question from a reporter for KAIT TV in Jonesboro, the Governor said that if people see violations of the any of the directives that they should report them to the ADH. The situation involved a restaurant owner saying he would not require masks.
Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith gave the following report of numbers:
572 new cases (3 in prisons, 569 in the community)
28,939 cumulative cases (127 in nursing homes, 958 in prisons, 5,425 in the community)
6,510 active cases
Over 500 of the recent new cases are in the Ouachita River Correctional Facility at Malvern
19 new hospitalizations
439 total hospitalized currently
89 on ventilators (up 7 from yesterday)
2 new deaths
323 deaths total
515 new recoveries
22,106 recoveries total
5,254 tests yesterday.

The counties with the most new cases are Pulaski with 77, Washington with 53, Sebastian with 40, Pope with 25, Benton with 23, Mississippi with 23, Crittenden with 22, Craighead with 20 and Jefferson with 20. All other counties had fewer than 20 new cases.
Dr. Smith spoke about the need to wear masks and debunked the wrong information on social media about masks not being effective.
For additional information, click on the link below.
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/progra…/…/novel-coronavirus

Again, the total number of COVID-19 cases statewide increased by 572 to 28,939. Active Positives are up to 6,510. The death toll is up by two to 323. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned.

FUTURE FIT PRODUCTION/OPERATOR TRAINING FREE OF CHARGE
SAU Tech Workforce Training and OPED will be at the Incubator building Thursday, July 16th at 625 Adams Ave. in Camden from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to be register interested people for the “Future Fit Program”. This training was developed with input from local manufacturers. The training is a combination of instruction-led, hands-on and online instruction.

Location:  SAU Tech main campus

Class Schedule:   Monday-Thursday 5:00 pm TO 9:00 pm
Program lasts 9 weeks (excluding holidays)
Classes begin July 20, 2020
No cost to the student.  All costs paid by Arkansas Department of Commerce.
Only 15-20 students will be accepted.
GED/High School diploma AND Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) required.
A valid email address is required at registration.

For more information, contact Karmen House at khouse@sautech.edu or call 870-574-4769. 
This will be your final opportunity to register for this class.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM APPLICATION EXTENDED
The federal Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications last week in response to the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. The new deadline to apply for a P.P.P. loan is now August 8th.

If you are interested in applying for P.P.P. assistance for your small business, nonprofit, or agriculture business, contact your local bank to see if they are participating.

As of June 30th, 42,427 Arkansas businesses received P.P.P. loans totaling some $3.3 billion dollars. The average P.P.P. loan received by an Arkansas business is $78,246.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

The Small Business Administration will forgive P.P.P. loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage, interest, or utilities. 60% must be used for payroll expenses.

Most local banks are participating in the program. If you need help finding a lender, contact the S.B.A. Arkansas office at 501-324-7379.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT JULY 15TH TAX DEADLINE
It’s time to do your taxes. No more delays. As the coronavirus took hold this spring, the federal government postponed the traditional April 15th filing deadline until July 15th.

The move provided some economical and logistical relief for taxpayers dealing with the disruptions and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. But now that new tax deadline is here.

Taxpayers must file or seek an extension by the new deadline or face a penalty. The I.R.S. is expecting about 150 million returns from individuals.

Taxpayers who need more time can request an extension on the I.R.S. website. That will give them until October 15th to file. However, an extension to file does not mean added time to pay. So those planning on filing later should estimate what they owe and make that payment by July 15th.

Go ahead and file your taxes even if you cannot pay. The I.R.S. is willing to set up payment plans or make other arrangements with taxpayers who cannot pay in full. Many of those can be set up online.

The I.R.S. is still processing and issuing refunds, most within 21 days. Those getting refunds will be paid interest, dating back to April 15th, if they file on time.

You can file or pay your taxes online. The I.R.S. urges taxpayers to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed the processing of returns, refunds, or payments.
There are other tax deadlines linked to July 15th. Check the I.R.S. website or reach out to a tax professional for assistance.


GET OUTSIDE: DE-STRESS OUTDOORS EVEN WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING, BUT BE RESPONSIBLE
Observe local ‘stay at home’ orders
Keep at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with
Don’t gather in large groups
Wear a face mask in public

Exercise. Throw a ball to your dog.  Go for a short walk. 
Use your ‘outdoor living room’ to connect with immediate family. 
School closed? Keep kids engaged. Go on a nature hunt. Get outdoor lesson plans at TurfMutt.com.
Unwind. Find solace. Sit and listen to nature. 
Plant something. Mow the yard. Trim a bush or tree. 

Use Community Green Space Responsibly. Your Yard is Your Safe Space. 

For more information, go to www.turfmutt.com 

COVID-19 UPDATE - SUNDAY 07-12-2020
The number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas increased by 1,061 on Saturday. That's a record for the number of cases added in a single day. Governor Asa Hutchinson said that the record of new cases is very concerning and may be the result of the July 4th celebrations. The Governor says he'll dig deeper into the data and have further comments at Monday afternoon's Press Conference in Little Rock. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 34 positive cases with 24 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 274 positive cases with 226 recovered and 14 deaths, Columbia County shows 109 positive cases with 81 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 12 positive cases with 10 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 3 positive cases with 2 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

At the most recent Press Conference held on Friday in De Queen, Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Nate Smith, discussed the importance of wearing masks when out in the public. Dr. Smith says that face coverings are for source control.

Governor Hutchinson has said that a statewide mask mandate wouldn't be appropriate, noting that some of the state's 75 counties have few active cases. Earlier this month however, he issued an executive order allowing cities to adopt limited requirements for people to wear masks. Rules issued by the Health Department require customers and employees to wear masks in certain types of businesses across the state, such as restaurants and hair salons. The Health Department has also issued guidance recommending that people wear masks in all places in which they could come within six feet of people who are not from their households. 

 Governor Hutchinson warned Arkansans at Friday's Press Conference that COVID-19 is going to be a long-term fight.

Saturday was the first time the number of cases had increased by more than 1,000 in a day. Coming a week after the Fourth of July, some of the cases could have resulted from holiday gatherings. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people typically begin having symptoms of COVID-19 four to five days after they are infected. We'll continue to keep you updated, so stay tuned."

BEARDEN SCHOOL DISTRICT BREAKS GROUND ON CAMPUS-BASED SOLAR SYSTEMS
CAMDEN & LITTLE ROCK, ARK, July 9, 2020 – In conjunction with Bearden School District’s (BSD) monthly board meeting, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to announce the start of construction on two campus-based solar facilities that will supply roughly 90% of the school district’s energy.

 

The decision to go solar came shortly after South Central Service Cooperative’s (SCSC) announced its Camden-based solar project. Deciding to save with solar, BSD partnered with Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) of North Little Rock to develop a 226-kW system near Bearden High school and a 195-kW solar system near the Bearden Elementary School cafeteria. BSD’s Superintendent, Denny Rozenberg, said the solar facility is one way in which the district can be fiscally responsible and energy friendly. “The Bearden School District is very proud of the partnership agreement with Today's Power to develop the first Solar Panel system for a public school district in South Arkansas, and it is estimated to save the  Bearden School District over $25,000 a year in energy costs for the next 20 years.”  He also said, “We greatly appreciate the insight of Ouachita Electric Cooperative General Manager, Mark Cayce, and South Central Educational Coop Director, Karen McMahen for providing this opportunity.”

The  Bearden School Board, president Mrs. Doris Parham and Bearden Superintendent, Denny Rozenberg believe that this Solar Panel Project will be a great asset to the Bearden School District and lead the way for other schools in South Arkansas to develop solar power energy saving projects in the future.

Made up of 1,120 solar panels, the two solar arrays are projected to save Bearden School District approximately $25,000 annually. Through the solar array, Bearden Schools will generate approximately 646,000 kWh each year, and gather roughly 90 percent of its energy while Entergy will provide the remaining 10 percent of Bearden’s energy needs. Construction will move forward upon approval of the preliminary interconnection site review. 

According to TPI President, Michael Henderson, “TPI is excited to play a role in helping to educate tomorrow’s leaders by lowering the cost of the educational process.  The actions taken by the Bearden School Board and leadership team proves they are preparing for the Bearden students/community to be successful.”
 

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MARKET IS BACK!
First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR will hold the “Camden Drive Thru Farmer’s Market” on Friday, July 17th 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. 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!

TWO ARRESTS FOLLOW IN DERMOTT DISTURBANCE AND HOMICIDE CASE
JULY 12, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, assisted by Dermott Police, late yesterday arrested Mario Milton, 27, and Alicia King, 24, both of Dermott.  Milton is charged with Murder (1st degree), and Battery (1st degree).  King is charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution.
Both were jailed in Chicot County and are scheduled for a first appearance hearing tomorrow.
The charges against Milton and King are in connection with the death of Johnny Hayes and wounding another person outside 925 Skipper Bridge Road, in Dermott early Friday. (*See Friday news release below.)

STATE POLICE CID CALLED TO JOIN MULTI-JURISDICTION PROBE OF DREW COUNTY SHOOTING & HOMICIDE
JULY 10, 2020
A 64-year-old Dermott woman, Carolyn Hayes, was wounded earlier today outside 925 Skipper Bridge Road, in Dermott.  Her son, Johnny Hayes, 49, was shot and killed.
Dermott police received a telephone call about 12:22 AM reporting the shooting incident.  Only 45 minutes earlier a local police officer had been sent to the Skipper Bridge Road address to quell a disturbance that had arisen out of an argument involving Johnny Hayes and another person.
When police arrived at the residence a second time, Carolyn Hayes was seen walking in the front yard, but wounded.  Her son was laying in the yard, unresponsive and was later declared dead at an area hospital.  Johnny Hayes’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the manner and cause of his death will be determined.
State Police and local law enforcement officers and deputies have not made an arrest in the case.  The investigation is being handled jointly by the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Dermott Police Department, Drew County Sheriff’s Department and Chicot County Sheriff’s Department.

 

RUTLEDGE APPOINTS RENAE HUDSON DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CIVIL LITIGATION DEPARTMENT
Says Hudson is ‘the perfect choice to fill this leadership role’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today Renae Ford Hudson of Sherwood
was appointed Deputy Attorney General of the Civil Litigation Department. Hudson is a litigator with over 25 years of trial and management experience. She is tasked with handling the day-to-day operations of the department and managing a 20 person team of litigators and legal assistants.

“Renae is the perfect choice to fill this leadership role in the Civil Department,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “She has the experience, skills and the leadership ability to guide this outstanding team of attorneys in and out of the courtroom as they fight to protect Arkansans.”

Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office in 2003, Hudson spent time practicing in the areas of criminal defense, family law and utility regulation. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law where she taught litigation skills. In addition, she served as a local faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy Training Program.

Hudson graduated with honors from Arkansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and she received a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. She is a member of the New Hope Baptist Church in North Little Rock. She is also a member of the Little Rock Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The Attorney General’s Office Civil Litigation Department handles approximately 500 cases each year in state and federal courts and serves as counsel representing agencies, officials, boards and commissions when they are named as defendants in civil lawsuits. The lawyers also initiate lawsuits when necessary to protect the interests of the State of Arkansas.

LAST DAY FOR RESIDENTS TO APPLY 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. 

The application period for Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable WILL CLOSE WEDNESDAY, July 15, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.  In order for homeowners and renters in Cleveland, Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration as well as through the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority’s Disaster Home Loan Program.  Homeowners 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.

 
 

JULY 10, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S PRESS CONFERENCE FROM SEVERE COUNTY – JULY 10, 2020
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and state health officials presented their daily COVID-19 Taskforce Conference at UA Cossatot in De Queen on Friday. Officials provided an update on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic across the state while focusing on COVID-19's impact in Sevier County as well as efforts which have succeeded in limiting the virus' impact locally.

Statewide, Gov. Hutchinson stated that 751 additional cases of COVID-19 were recorded between Thursday and Friday, bringing the total cases to 26,803. An additional eight hospitalizations were reported over the 24-hour period for a total of 402. Deaths increased by four to 313. Recoveries grew to a total of 20,642. Gov. Hutchinson highlighted the significant impact of COVID-19 in Sevier County, but also praised efforts to combat the virus while maintaining an active and strong economy. 
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, at this time Ouachita County is showing 29 positive cases with 20 recovered and 0 deaths, Union County show 266 positive cases with 220 recovered and 13 deaths, Columbia County shows 103 positive cases with 75 recovered and 5 deaths, Dallas County is showing 10 positive cases with 7 recoveries and 0 deaths and Calhoun County 2 positive cases with 0 recoveries and 0 deaths. These numbers will be updated later today.

Dr. Smith did say the 788 overall cases make Sevier County, per capita, the hardest hit in Arkansas. He added that two-thirds of the reported cases involved the county's Latino community. Of the total cases in Sevier County, the majority were among younger people with only 34 percent of those infected above 65 years of age. While noting the county's above average testing positivity rate, Dr. Smith did state that Sevier County has seen a vast improvement in combatting the virus. As proof, he highlighted the current number of active positives. This figure has dropped to 83, or around ten

The data provided by Sevier County's experience with COVID-19 proves the virus can be successfully fought through concentrated efforts, said Gov. Hutchinson and Dr. Smith. They said other communities across Arkansas can view De Queen and Sevier County as a cautious success story in the battle against COVID-19. 

A significant source of COVID-19 infections across the nation have stemmed from the close-in working conditions at meat processing plants. This has also been the case at Pilgrim's facility in De Queen, said Gov. Hutchinson, though he highlighted the company's efforts in curbing new contraction rates. 

Again, total COVID-19 cases in Arkansas grew by 751 to 26,803. Hospitalizations increased by eight to 402, and deaths by four to 313. Recoveries grew to a total of 20,642. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 
 

CITY OF CAMDEN LOOKING FOR CANDIDATES TO BE CITY FIREFIGHTERS AND CITY POLICE
The City of Camden is looking for candidates to become City Fire Fighters. The Civil Service Commission will conduct entry-level examinations on Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 8:00 am at the Ouachita Valley Business and Technology Center, 625 Adams in Camden. Applications will be accepted until 6PM, Friday August 7, 2020 at 6PM. Competitive salary plus excellent benefits package. Applications and qualifications available at the City Clerk’s office in the Municipal Building or online at www.camden.ar.gov. Visit Camden Fire Department on Facebook. Call 836-6436, for more information. The City of Camden is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


EDUCATORS DEMAND SAFETY IN SCHOOL REOPENING
The following statement can be attributed to Arkansas Education Association Executive Director Tracey-Ann Nelson:

No one wants students to safely return to classrooms more than parents, educators and administrators. However, we can’t allow this common desire to place our children, educators and their families at risk.  

Today’s announcement of a delayed start date is a step in the right direction of acknowledging Arkansas is in no way ready to safely reopen our schools.  

The state’s guidance on outbreaks in our schools is acknowledgment that we are attempting to send students and educators into an unsafe situation. This danger is compounded by the states’ lack of coordinated guidance to districts as they attempt to plan amid constantly changing guidelines that have somehow become politicized.  

While some decisions may be more appropriately made at a local level, this virus does not know school district boundaries. There must be a detailed statewide plan that anticipates a number of scenarios to ensure student and school employee health and safety. 

We must at least ensure social distancing, rigorous cleaning and disinfecting standards, PPE, rapid testing and contact tracing, and access to internet and devices for all students. Educators are known for dipping into their own pockets to ensure students' needs are met, but they cannot be expected to cover the cost of this crisis. Students, educators, and their families need funding from policymakers to make safe school and campus reopening a reality.  

Unfortunately, in addition to shifting responsibility to districts, our state officials have also given these districts the ability to cut out teachers and support staff from the decision-making process through a series of statewide waivers.  

As the people who deal most closely with our kids' day in and day out, our educators must be included in any decisions about how we safely reopen our schools. 

Last month, the National Education Association released “All Hands on Deck: Initial Guidance Regarding Reopening School Buildings.” Built around four basic principles – health expertise, educator voice, access to protection, and leading with equity – the document lays out what schools need to do to prepare for reopening. 

We expect administrators, school boards, parents, medical experts, local community and business organizations will be able to work together to open schools as soon as possible, as safely as possible, but the state must take a more realistic position on when and how that will be possible.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: TAX DEADLINE IS UPON US
Says, ‘I want Arkansans to know their options’
LITTLE ROCK – Due to COVID-19, the delayed deadline to file state and federal taxes is quickly approaching. Arkansans who have not filed to pay their taxes still have until July 15. 

“This year, the date might have changed, but the responsibility remains – tax time has arrived,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Our communities have dealt with many difficult situations for a majority of the year when it comes to making ends meet and I want Arkansans to know their options and filing your taxes shouldn’t be a burden.”

Taxpayers have the ability to file and pay their taxes safely online through IRS.gov in order to avoid the backlog of mail that may have developed due to previous closures in response to the pandemic. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers taxpayers their Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) system as a resource to learn more and answer frequently asked questions while filing taxes online.

Attorney General Rutledge has provided these tips for Arkansans still working on filing their federal and state taxes this year:

Taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension to October 15, but this must be done by July 15. Then they must file Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software, or using the