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July 20, 2018

This week’s Comment from the Capitol can be downloaded here: 








News Release - Arkansas State Police Public Affairs Office | Contact Information: (501) 618 - 8232|


Thirty-eight Arkansas State Police Trooper Recruits graduated tonight and will begin their careers patrolling state highways within the department’s Highway Patrol Division.  The graduation ceremony was held at Pleasant Valley Country Club, Little Rock.

The recruits reported to the Arkansas State Police Training Academy in Little Rock on February 25, 2018 and during the past twenty-one weeks each recruit has accumulated more than one-thousand hours of classroom and practical training.

Major General Mark H. Berry, Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, was the keynote speaker addressing the graduates and assisted Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, in presenting the new troopers their certification and commission credentials.

Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp administered the Oath of State Trooper Commission.

Other dignitaries present for the ceremony included representatives of the Arkansas State Police Commission, department deputy directors, and division, troop and company commanders assigned across the department.

Graduates of the Arkansas State Police 2018 Troop School are:

Jackson Dorman, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Nevada County.  He is a graduate of Harrison High School and Arkansas Tech University.  Trooper Dorman served as recruit class leader. 

Ross Allen, 32, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Ashley County.  He is a graduate of Hamburg High School.

Diego Araujo, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Scott County.  He is a graduate of North Side High School and the University of Arkansas Fort Smith.

Tyler Ashcraft, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County.  He is a graduate of White Hall High School.

Brandon Bird, 30, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Prairie County.  He is a graduate of Russellville High School.

Kendrick Davis, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Gurdon High School.

Brandon Dotson, 25, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of North Little Rock High School.

Tyler Gentry, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Drew County.  He is a graduate of Blevins High School and Southern Arkansas University.

Rafael Guerra, 32, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Arkansas County.  He is a graduate of North Side High School.

Zachery Guest, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of Collinsville High School (Oklahoma).

Cameron Hankins, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of De Queen High School and Arkansas Tech University.

Quincy E. Harris, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Covenant Keepers Charter School (Little Rock).

Brian Heinley, 46, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, Pike County.  He is a graduate of Malvern Senior High School.

Montae E. Hernandez, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Phillips County.  He is a graduate of Malvern High School.

Tanner Hess, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Cross County.  He is a graduate of Calvary Christian High School (Little Rock) and East Arkansas Community College.

Brad Hitchcock, 45, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County.  He is a graduate of Manila High School.

Kevin Hrabal, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Dallas County.  He is a graduate of Fordyce High School and Henderson State University.

Jarueben Lee, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Jefferson County.  He is a graduate of Little Rock Central High School and University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Remington Lively, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Izard County.  He is a graduate of Calico Rock High School and Arkansas State University.

William Taylor Lockwood, 23, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Arkansas County.  He is a graduate of Sterlington High School (Louisiana).

Jeffery Lovelis, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, Lincoln County.  He is a graduate of Nashville High School.

Antonio May, 30, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Hempstead County.  He is a graduate of Ashdown High School and Utah State University.

Tanner Middlecoff, 30, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, Mississippi County.  He is a graduate of Hoxie High School and Southern Arkansas University Tech.

Steve Miller, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Three Rivers High School (Missouri) and Missouri Evangel University.

Don Moreland, 31, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Glen Rose High School.

Spencer Morris, 30, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Crittenden County.  He is a graduate of Marion High School and Arkansas State University.

Robert Neese, 27, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, St. Francis County.  He is a graduate of Faith Christian Academy (Texas).

Tyler Pendarvis, 24, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop I, Searcy County.  He is a graduate of Highland High School and Ozarka College.

Jimmy Plyler Jr., 34, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Dallas County.  He is a graduate of Gurdon High School and South Arkansas Community College.

Quinton T. Porter, 26, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Logan County.  He is a graduate of Booneville High School.

Jake Price, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, Lee County.  He is a graduate of Magnolia High School.

Robert Puckett, 29, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, White County.  He is a graduate of Beebe High School and Arkansas Tech University.

James Ray, 21, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, Franklin County.  He is a graduate of Booneville High School.

James R. Reed, 22, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Bradley County.  He is a graduate of Rison High School and Southern Arkansas University.

Jeff Richardson, 33, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Madison County.  He is a graduate of South Side High School.

Justin Starnes, 36, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, Calhoun County.  He is a graduate of Camden-Fairview High School.

Trevor M. Stevenson, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, Pulaski County.  He is a graduate of Tuckerman High School and University of Arkansasa Community College.

Lucas Talley, 28, will be assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop G, Lafayette County.  He is a graduate of Lafayette County High School and Southern Arkansas University.

Special recognition and awards were presented to the recruits who attained the highest scores within the respective training categories listed as follows:

1st place - Kevin Hrabal
2nd place - Kendrick Davis
3rd place - James Reed

Physical Fitness
1st place - Trevor Stevenson
2nd place - Remington Lively
3rd place - Jackson Dorman

1st place - Spencer Morris
2nd place - Quincy Harris
3rd place - Jimmy Plyler Jr. and Trevor Stevenson (tie)

Upon reporting for duty at their respective troop headquarters, the new troopers will be placed with a certified departmental Field Training Officer (FTO).  Each graduate will work in tandem with their respective FTO for a transitional period prior to being released to their assignment.

JULY 19, 2018


El Dorado, Arkansas - Duane Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jerry Kennedy Walsh, age 72, of Magnolia, Arkansas pleaded guilty today to conspiring to misapply over $380,000 from South Arkansas Youth Services without the authority of the non-profit's Board of Directors.  According to plea documents, the scheme involved steering the non-profit's funds to an Arkansas state senator, to the lobbying firm of convicted lobbyist Milton "Rusty" Cranford, and to a relative of Cranford.

Kees and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department's Criminal Division made the announcement. 

Walsh of Magnolia, Arkansas, who served as the Executive Director of South Arkansas Youth Services (SAYS) pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey to an information charging him with conspiracy to misapply the non-profit's funds without authority from the Board of Directors. 

As part of his plea, Walsh admitted that beginning in 2013, while serving as Executive Director for SAYS, he agreed to divert SAYS funds to Rusty Cranford and an unnamed Arkansas state senator in exchange for the state senator's influence in protecting the non-profit's state contracts with DHS and DYS.  As part of that agreement, Walsh was to provide a monthly "legal retainer" to the Arkansas state senator without the expectation that the senator ever provide any legal work.  Instead, the purpose of the payment was to obtain the senator's assistance in preserving the contracts in his official capacity.  According to the plea, the amount paid to the senator was negotiated by convicted lobbyist Rusty Cranford and amounted to over $120,000.   

Additionally, as part of the agreement, Walsh was to lock SAYS into a more expensive contract with Cranford's lobbying firms and employ a relative of Cranford who would have a "no-show" job with SAYS.  Between the new contract with the Cranford lobbying firm and the payment for the no-show job, the non-profit paid out an additional $262,000.    As part of his plea, Walsh admitted that these payments and those to the state senator were not authorized by the SAYS Board of Directors.   

"This plea exposes the depths to which 'pay to play' politics has corrupted a non-profit organization which was formed with the best of intentions, to help children," said Kees.  "Unfortunately, there are many victims in a scheme like this.  The people of this state were deprived of the uncorrupted functioning of their government agencies, the non-profit was stripped of funds, and now that the non-profit has been shuttered, the community is deprived of a non-profit dedicated to providing services to their most vulnerable children, those who are incarcerated and in state custody.  I look forward to a day when all politicians exercising influence do so based upon the best interests of the children in their communities and not on who is paying them for no-show jobs."       

"Jerry Walsh diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars intended to help vulnerable children in southern Arkansas as a part of a corrupt scheme to influence the award of state contracts," said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. "Walsh's actions ultimately risked destroying the non-profit he helped lead and undermining the public's confidence in its elected officials.  The Criminal Division and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the integrity of charitable programs, rooting out corruption, and ensuring that individuals like Walsh are held accountable for their actions."

The FBI investigated this case along with the assistance of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office (Sheriff Mike Loe),  the 13th Judicial District of Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney's Office (Prosecuting Attorney John Shepherd) and the Magnolia Police Department (Chief Glenn Maxwell).  Assistant United States Attorney Ben Wulff of the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorney Marco A. Palmieri of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Phillips with the 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney's Office.  This is a combined investigation with the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western District of Arkansas, and the Western District of Missouri.


Washington, D.C. 
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced the Iran Hostage Act, legislation that would sanction Iranian officials responsible for holding American hostages. It would also bar these officials’ family members from coming to the United States for any reason. 

“Anyone who takes an American hostage has no right to come to the United States and enjoy its freedoms. Until the Iranian regime respects Americans’ basic human rights, they and their relatives will not be welcome in this country,” said Cotton

Companion legislation passed the House of Representatives 410-2 earlier this year.

Specifically, the bill: 

  • Expresses a sense of Congress that the U.S. government should use all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent Iran from taking U.S. persons hostages.
  • Declares that the U.S. government does not pay ransom for U.S. hostages.
  • Imposes visa, property, and financial sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for the “politically-motivated harassment, abuse, extortion, arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing, or imprisonment of citizens of the United States or lawful permanent residents with significant ties to the United States.”
  • Gives the President the authority to declare family members of these Iranian officials inadmissible to the United States and revoke these individuals’ existing U.S. visas.
  • Sanctions terminate 30 days after the President declares that Iran no longer holds U.S. citizens or LPRs hostage.

JULY 17, 2018


WASHINGTON—The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is advising veterans who have been separated from service for combat-related injuries and received a severance payment that was improperly taxed to take advantage of the relief offered to them by the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act (P.L. 114-292), a law based off a bill authored by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Under federal law, veterans who suffer combat-related injuries and who are separated from the military are not supposed to be taxed on the one-time lump sum disability severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense (DoD). However, for years DoD improperly withheld taxes on these payments from thousands of qualifying veterans, who were typically unaware that their benefits were being improperly reduced.

The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act rights that wrong, but affected veterans only have a short window in which to seek restoration. The IRS is advising qualifying veterans to file Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to claim a credit or refund of the overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment.

“When we introduced this bill, it was apparent that some combat-injured veterans had been unjustly deprived of their full severance upon separation by DoD despite federal law and clear Congressional intent that this not happen. When we started the process of fixing this legislatively, we believed that we would be helping several thousand veterans. We have now learned that number is much higher and there still may be more than 130,000 veterans who have yet to claim refunds. I encourage qualifying veterans to make sure they receive the benefits they are rightfully due by filing the proper paperwork with the IRS,” Boozman said.

“When we introduced this bill, it was estimated that there were only about 13,800 veterans who had been affected by a longstanding problem with DoD’s payroll system that resulted in taxes being improperly withheld from their separation payments. We’ve now learned that in fact more than 130,000 combat-injured vets may be eligible for refunds. DoD, the IRS, and Congress should do everything possible to make sure these vets know they are eligible, and I encourage any Virginia veteran with questions about the process or their eligibility to contact my office for assistance in getting their money back from the government,” Warner said.

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), which identified the problem in 2014 and notified Congress of the error so legislation could be passed, is continuing to help potentially affected veterans.

“Congress did the right thing in passing this legislation so thousands of combat-injured veterans could recover the money that was wrongly taken from them by the government. However, we are not at the goal line yet. NVLSP will issue advice to help veterans and their families in the coming weeks through its website at and social media accounts,” NVLSP’s executive director Bart Stichman said.

Most veterans who received a one-time lump-sum disability severance payment when they separated from their military service will receive a letter from the DoD with information explaining how to claim tax refunds they are entitled to, including an explanation of a simplified method for making the claim. The IRS has worked closely with the DoD to produce these letters, explaining how veterans should claim the related tax refunds.

The IRS has posted an announcement with the steps to be taken to recover improperly taxed income and links to Form 1040X.

Application Arkansas emerging as innovative leader among state-run 529 plans
Little Rock, Ark. - (July 17, 2018) The Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan,administered by the Treasurer of State's office, unveiled a new mobile application today for smartphone users - becoming the first state-run 529
plan in the country to do so.

"This is a monumental day for our state," said Treasurer Dennis Milligan. "To be the first state plan in the country to launch an app for their 529 plan just further shows that we are innovative and thinkingoutside-the-box."

The mobile app will be released in several versions. Today's version is 1.0, which will allow Arkansas 529 account owners to view their account balances and transaction history, get deposit and security alerts, and stay up-to-date on news concerning their plans.

"One of the things we want to do by creating this app is to be able to share pertinent information with account owners using a tool that almost everyone has - a cell phone," Milligan said.

Statistics show that 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone. About 77 percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center.

Being able to identify and reach Arkansas 529 account owners has been a challenge and a problem that most state-run 529 plans encounter, said EmmaWillis, director of the Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan.

"So our thought was to reach out to people where they're at. Most people have their phones within an arm's reach of them 24/7," Willis said.

According to a study by King University Online, Americans spend an average of five hours a day on their mobile devices.

Arkansas 529 teamed up with Central25 App Works of Springdale to create the mobile application.

To download the app, visit the App Store on your device or use this link: The app is currently available to Apple users now and will be available to Android users very soon.

About the Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan The Arkansas 529 College Investing Plan allows Arkansas taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in contributions to an Arkansas 529 account from their Arkansas adjusted gross
income taxes. The Arkansas 529 program is administered by the Treasurer of State's office. 529 plans were established to help parents and grandparents save money for college that can be used at schools across the country and some institutions abroad. More information is available at


Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Todd Young (R-Indiana) today introduced a bipartisan package of commonsense bills that would help boost retirement security for individuals and families during a time when nearly half of all American families do not have any retirement account savings.

More than one-third of full-time employees do not have access to a workplace retirement plan. On top of that, projections show that 44 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers risk running short of funds for retirement. Additionally, 40 percent of American adults would be unable to come up with $400 for an emergency expense account without borrowing money or selling a possession.

The senators’ bills would make needed reforms to improve retirement security for individuals and families, especially as the costs of health care, education, homeownership, and other expenses have continued to rise, squeezing families financially. The bills would:


  • Help workers set up short-term savings accounts to help with financial emergencies;
  • Expand access to workplace retirement plans by giving small employers more flexibility when setting up 401Ks for their employees;
  • Enable individuals to build emergency savings during tax time by allowing filers to save a portion of their tax refund for “rainy day” or long-term savings; and
  • Make it easier for savers to auto enroll into long-term savings plans and more quickly escalate their savings.

Last year, Heitkamp and Cotton held their first hearing as ranking member and chairman, respectively, on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Policy, on the vulnerabilities and struggle too many rural and working American families face in saving and preparing for retirement. 

“This legislation will help lighten the burden Arkansas small businesses face in offering retirement plans to their employees,” said Cotton. “Making these few simple changes could make a big difference for Arkansas workers and help them retire with financial security and peace of mind.”

“Every day, millions of Americans go to their jobs, work hard, and play by the rules to support their families and put food on the table each night,” said Heitkamp. “But far too often, they still struggle to get by each day, as they aren’t able to think about their futures and plan for retirement so that they are taken care of down the road. Our goal is to invest in workers throughout their lives by making sure they are able to save for retirement now so they will be set up for success in later years. That just makes sense. Our work on these bills shows a bipartisan commitment to improving economic security for workers and families, and I hope we can move them forward as they will make a difference for so many Americans who deserve to live with dignity both as workers and retirees.” 

“Too many Americans working full time jobs lack adequate savings to meet even small emergency expenses, and find that the retirement they had worked so long and hard for is simply out of reach,” said Booker. “As everyday expenses—from drug prices to childcare to college tuition—continue to rise, these targeted, bipartisan bills are, together, an important step to providing more financial security for working families.”

“Americans work hard day after day with often little promise of economic security in the future,” said Young. “That is why I joined a group of bipartisan colleagues to tackle the growing problem of families not being prepared for retirement. Our bipartisan legislation would strengthen retirement security for hardworking Americans by reforming and improving access to retirement plans. By allowing Hoosiers easier opportunities to save for the days ahead, retirees can enjoy the fruits of their labor and the peace of mind of financial security.”

“We applaud the bipartisan work of these four senators in leading on the critical issue of retirement security,” said former U.S. Senator Kent Conrad and the Honorable James B. Lockhart III, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings. "These four bills take common sense steps to help more Americans gain access to workplace retirement accounts, save millions more for retirement, and build personal savings for emergencies.”


July 16, 2018

Gene Morton has announced his intention to run for City Council and will be on the November ballot for Alderman, Ward 1, Position 1 for the city of Camden.

Morton has been married to his high school sweetheart, Barbara, for 48 years.  They have two grown children, Mark Morton and wife Cheryl who live in Shreveport, and Carrie Sloan and her husband Charlie who live in Camden.  They have one grandson, Griffin who is in college in South Dakota.

Morton has been retired from General Dynamics (GD) for almost two years.  During his fifteen years of service there he served as a Quality Engineer, Facilities Manager, and the last ten yeas was the Production Manager overseeing the production of a rocket system. 

Morton had oversight over 100-120 production personnel that covered nine production buildings, was responsible for the safety, quality and production of a multi-million-dollar rocket program. He was responsible for the design, writing statements of work, and installation of multiple capital equipment projects that provided safe, efficient and reliable additions to the production lines.  He was also responsible for reviewing various budgets in order to track and maintain required labor requirements. Morton tracked spending expenditures on multiple projects so that there were not any overruns to the approved budget.

Morton is a member of Grace Baptist Church, where he serves as a Deacon, adult Sunday School teacher, choir member and serves on the Finance Committee.  Morton also volunteers at the Ruby Snider Ministry Center located on Mt. Holly Road.  He has been an active member of the Leadership Camden Area Board for the past eight years and currently serves as Vice Chair.

Morton graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1971 with a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Industrial Management.

Morton saidI am running for Alderman, Ward 1, Position 1 for the city of Camden. I believe that with my background in management of people, facilities, and budgets, as well as my people skills, I can facilitate a more efficiently run city government.  This will provide better city services without an increase in city taxes.  He went on to say I would like to see the relationship of the Camden city council and the mayor be one that shows better unity and to have more common goals for the city of Camden.  The council and the mayor have a responsibility to work together to focus on public safety, infrastructure and the delivery of necessary services, and promoting an environment that attracts and retains businesses. I believe that the issue facing voters in the city of Camden is getting the right combination of mayor and eight Alderman/Alderwomen that will work together, finding common goals for our great city and move forward to make Camden a better place to live.”

JULY 13, 2018




LITTLE ROCK — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation recently selected two Arkansas teachers as 2016 state recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Justin Leflar, a science teacher who formerly taught at Holt Middle School in the Fayetteville School District, and Amy Sandy, a math teacher at Sonora Elementary School in the Springdale School District, were selected for their commitment to professional development and innovative teaching techniques and technology use in their classrooms. They are among more than 140 teachers from around the country who were selected to receive this honor.

“Thank you, Justin and Amy, for investing in our students,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “This recognition enhances Arkansas’ reputation as a state that is serious about educating her students and building a strong workforce. Congratulations.”

Leflar and Sandy will each receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation and a trip to Washington, DC, to attend recognition events, professional development activities and an awards ceremony.

The Arkansas State Board of Education and Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key will honor Arkansas’ winners at the State Board of Education meeting August 9, 2018, in Little Rock. 

To learn more about the awards program, go to To see a complete list of 2016 winners, which were just announced, visit



(July 11, 2018) HARDY, AR — A sinkhole that opened in the Spring River last month has been closed, Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston announced today.

The Commissioner of State Lands office, alongside the Attorney General’s office, Game and Fish Commission, Geological Survey, the Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Tourism, Fulton County Sheriff Albert Roork and Fulton County Judge Darrell Zimmer, as well as local landowners and volunteers, completed work Thursday repairing the sinkhole, located south of Mammoth Springs, Arkansas.

The team of officials used a track hoe to collapse the travertine roof of the sinkhole. The structure fell into itself, resolving the water hazard that had been created by erosion and claimed the life of one person in early June.

State, federal and local officials had met in June to discuss the hazard and to determine how to correct the problem and ensure public safety. They enlisted the help of hydrogeologist Tom Aley, PG with Ozark Underground Laboratory in Potem, Missouri. After visiting the site, where Aley conducted a survey of the area with a dye tracing technique to determine the characteristics of the hazard, the agencies began examining potential fixes.

Thurston extended thanks to all of the agencies and individuals involved in the project. He acknowledged additional assistance from Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Sen. Missy Irvin, as well as the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for expediting permits for the work.

“Without the tireless work of many people, we would not have completed this project in a timely manner,” he said. “Each agency, official and volunteer has given a great amount of time to put together the plan and act upon it before anyone else was injured.


Washington, D.C. 
— U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida) today urged the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services committees to include the Senate-passed Cotton-Van Hollen-Schumer-Rubio amendment that would reinstate penalties against ZTE in their upcoming NDAA FY2019 Conference Report. Additionally, they urged the conferees to include reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry, and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

We write to express our strong support for measures in the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2019 NDAA) that would reinstate U.S. government penalties against ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications company, and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). As you begin deliberations over the final version of the FY 2019 NDAA, we request that you include these two measures.

Section 6702:  Prohibition on Modification of Civil Penalties under Export Control and Sanctions Laws and Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications Equipment.

We strongly oppose the June 2018 deal with ZTE negotiated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to lift the seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE. BIS imposed this seven-year ban and other penalties against ZTE in April 2018 in response to its numerous violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions laws.

We also note that our nation’s six top intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 about their concern that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies are beholden to the Chinese government and Communist Party, which provides the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, and therefore poses clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States. 

As you prepare the Conference Report, we therefore urge you to retain—and further strengthen—Section 6702 of the Senate-passed FY 2019 NDAA, which would not only reinstate the April 2018 penalties against ZTE and prohibit the modification of any penalties against a Chinese telecommunications firm unless certain conditions are met, but also prohibit the U.S. government from using or procuring equipment from, or entering into a contract with ZTE or Huawei.

Title XVII:  Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018

We also thank you for your work protecting our national security and intellectual property by ensuring that foreign countries are not engaged in illicit behavior when investing in the United States.

As you are aware, the Senate version of the FY 2019 NDAA includes important reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). Those reforms are vital to protecting our national security and preventing intellectual property theft by foreign countries—including the People’s Republic of China.

As you negotiate a conference report for the 2019 NDAA, we urge you to include the Senate-passed CFIUS reforms and ensure that the final language fully addresses our national security and competitiveness concerns. We believe that efforts to weaken the robust protections in the FIRRMA will embolden our adversaries and present threats to our national security.

We thank you for your leadership, and we appreciate your consideration.


Washington, D.C. 
— U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) sent a letter to General Gustave F. Perna to support the Army’s assignment of Red River Army Depot in Texas as the depot source of repair (DSOR) for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program, which provides enhanced force protection, survivability, mobility, and power generation for the next generation warfighter.

“Red River’s technical experts maintained Army ground combat and tactical systems for multiple generations, representing an invaluable resource that would be extremely costly and time consuming to reproduce at an alternate location,” the senators wrote. “Their extensive experience rotating Bradleys into combat and training environments have endowed them with a firm understanding of the vehicle and the environments where it is employed. Fortunately for the Army, the AMPV is already benefitting from these highly skilled experts’ institutional knowledge. In a time when readiness is the Army’s top priority, bringing the AMPV to Red River would capitalize on existing capabilities and expertise while ensuring a minimal impact on readiness.”

Read the full letter below:

July 12, 2018
General Gustave F. Perna
Commanding General
Army Materiel Command
4400 Martin Road
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898

Dear General Perna:

We write to support the assignment of Red River Army Depot (Red River) in Texarkana, Texas as the depot source of repair (DSOR) for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program. The production and deployment of this new Army system provides enhanced force protection, survivability, mobility, and power generation for the next generation warfighter. The assignment of depot maintenance responsibilities and planning for the sustainment of the AMPV program is a critical decision in maximizing the system’s service life while, simultaneously, generating great efficiencies for the Army. Red River offers a turnkey solution that possesses all the components necessary to seamlessly transition to AMPV depot maintenance support.

These components include trained personnel, tooling, production lines, and technical expertise from decades of experience working with BAE Systems, the original equipment manufacturer for the AMPV program. As the Army’s primary depot for ground combat and tactical systems sustainment maintenance operations, Red River has already integrated into the AMPV production process by disassembling, processing, and shipping Bradley Fighting Vehicles (Bradleys) to BAE’s production site for AMPV vehicle production. Due to these factors, Red River would be the most natural and cost efficient location for AMPV maintenance and sustainment.

Red River’s technical experts maintained Army ground combat and tactical systems for multiple generations, representing an invaluable resource that would be extremely costly and time consuming to reproduce at an alternate location. Their extensive experience rotating Bradleys into combat and training environments have endowed them with a firm understanding of the vehicle and the environments where it is employed. Fortunately for the Army, the AMPV is already benefitting from these highly skilled experts’ institutional knowledge. In a time when readiness is the Army’s top priority, bringing the AMPV to Red River would capitalize on existing capabilities and expertise while ensuring a minimal impact on readiness.

In addition to the workforce, Red River has been the Bradley’s DSOR since the 1980’s and the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence since 2002. These designations, coupled with the 75 percent commonality that AMPV shares with the Bradley, make Red River the most effective and efficient choice for the maintenance and sustainment of this new vehicle. The cost to relocate these capabilities to another depot facility would result in a great loss of government funding, manpower, and intellectual resource.

Red River plays a critical role in maintaining warfighter readiness and is in the best position to fulfill the role as the AMPV DSOR. We appreciate your careful attention to this matter and request that you keep our offices informed of any decisions concerning the AMPV DSOR designation at Red River.


JULY 12, 2018


WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) will be among a select group of lawmakers tasked with reconciling the differences between a trio of appropriations bills to fund the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the legislative branch, as well as military construction and water projects, for the coming fiscal year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced the names of the nine senators, including Boozman, who will work with appointees from the House of Representatives to finalize the minibus appropriations bill, which packages together the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.

“I am honored to be among those chosen to finalize this appropriations package as we continue toward restoring regular order to the federal funding process. This important legislative package includes funding for critical investments in our nation’s priorities for infrastructure, facilities for U.S. military forces and their families and upholds our promise to our veterans by funding VA health care and benefit programs,” Boozman said.

Boozman serves as Chairman of the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee. In addition to authoring the portion of the Senate-passed funding package that pertains to military construction and veterans programs, Boozman led the Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma delegations in introducing an amendment adopted by the Senate that requires the VA to submit a departmental response plan to Congress that can be applied in Fayetteville—and all future cases of disclosures—and provide recommendations about changes necessary to prevent such incidents.

“I will continue to work to ensure that the final version includes language I authored to ensure VA has procedures in place to prevent tragedies that result because of physician misconduct, like that at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, from happening in the future – both in Arkansas and around the country,” Boozman said.

The amendment requires that any plan must detail:

  • Identification process for individuals impacted by disclosures
  • Procedures for expediting follow-up care as required
  • Detailed outline of proposed changes to clinical quality checks and oversight
  • Communication plan for the entire Department
  • Implementation timeline
  • Identification of a senior executive responsible for ensuring compliance
  • Identification of potential impacts of the plan on timely diagnoses
  • Identification of the processes and procedures for employees to express concerns

JULY 11, 2018



Southern Arkansas University’s Upward Bound program will present the play, “If the Shoe Fits, Buy It,” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, at Harton Theatre.

The play is written by Michelle Raskey and directed by Larry Dunn, director of choral activities for the Magnolia School District.

In this comedic spin on the classic tale, we meet Cinderella, the fast-talking sales dynamo of the Castle Shopping Network (CSN).  As the winner of the Fairytale Land Advertising Award Necklace (FLAAN) for several years running, she is the apple of her stepmother’s eye. After all, CSN is a family business, and Cinderella’s stepmother is the CEO and her biggest fan.  Now, those pesky stepsisters have invented a product so popular they just might take the top sales spot at this year’s FLAAN Ball! Merry Mike, who wears tacky Christmas sweaters year-round, also dreams of winning the coveted award.  Who will emerge as victor at the FLAAN Ball this year, living happily ever after?

The cast includes Kenadi Savannah, a junior at El Dorado High School, as Cinderella; Traci Stafford, also a junior at El Dorado High School, as Jacky Beans; Jason Cooper, a senior at Camden Fairview High School, as Gilman; Sharissa Olivarez, also a junior at Camden Fairview High School, as Daphnina; Diamond Muldrow, a junior at Magnolia High School, as Agatha; Jacqueline Culley, a junior at Hope High School, as Beulah, and Matthew Hall, a junior at Taylor High School, as Mike.

Crew members include Denzel Jackson, a junior at Magnolia High School; Raedeshia Tucker, a junior at Magnolia High School; Rashad Hartsfield, a senior at Magnolia High School, and Tomothias Smith, a junior at Magnolia High School.

Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.

Upward Bound is a federally funded program for low income and/or first generation college-bound high school students. SAU’s program is designed to generate the academic skills and motivation that will enable each participant to complete a secondary educational program, subsequently gain admission to and successfully complete a post-secondary training program.

It provides academic tutoring, counseling, career orientation, and cultural and social enrichment activities to 180 south Arkansas high school students who reside within a 50-mile radius of the University.

JULY 10, 2018


Last week the Congressional Management Foundation recognized Senator Boozman as providing the best constituent service in Congress. The nonpartisan nonprofit whose mission is to build trust and effectiveness in Congress announced that Senator Boozman won its Democracy Award in the Constituent Service category. In this audio message, Senator Boozman talks about the award and how he and his staff help Arkansans.

The transcription:

This is Senator John Boozman with an update from Washington.

I recently heard from Patty Bateman whose husband served in the Vietnam War. When they ran into hurdles getting care and benefits he earned, Patty called my office for assistance.

The Batemans are one of the thousands of Arkansas families who have reached out to my office for help navigating the federal bureaucracy and resolving issues with government agencies.

We do our best to get answers, find solutions or just cut through the red tape that Arkansans face.

One of the mottos I live by as an elected official is “to use the power of the office for good.”

I’ve used this phrase to help foster a culture among my staff about the importance of serving Arkansans and being a resource for constituents who need assistance.

As a public servant I aim to achieve the standard set by longtime Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt who consistently managed to help an enormous number of people when they encountered problems involving the federal government.

It’s an honor and privilege to carry on this legacy of service and I’m proud of the work my staff and I do to help Arkansans who have run into roadblocks with government agencies.

For these efforts, the Congressional Management Foundation recently recognized the work my office does providing the best constituent service in Congress.

The Congressional Management Foundation awarded my team with its Democracy Award in the Constituent Service category based on our consistent record of helping Natural State residents.

My staff and I are proud of this recognition and pleased to offer unmatched assistance to Arkansans who reach out for help.

The Congressional Management Foundation President and CEO called our office a “model” for my fellow members of Congress and applauded our work to “restore trust and faith that our democratic institutions can work.”

Helping Natural State residents is one of my most important responsibilities. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what candidate or party you vote for – we’re here to help you however we can.

There are a lot of ways to reach my office so I can help. You can visit our website at that was designed to make it easier to submit requests for assistance via mobile devices and keep Arkansans updated about the work we’re doing for you.

Constituent service often gets little attention, but it makes a real difference in the lives of people across the state, just like the Batemans. Please don’t hesitate to reach out so we can help you. 

On July 09, 2018, Antwon Davidson and Janecia Moore, of Camden, AR turned themselves in to the Camden Police Department for an active warrant for their arrest, for Criminal Attempt Murder 1st Degree, Domestic Battery 1st Degree and Permitting the Abuse of a Minor.

On July 06, 2018, it was reported to the Camden Police Department that a 5 year old female, Antwon Davidson’s daughter, was at the O.C.M.C. ER with Davidson’s live in girlfriend, Janecia Moore, for the child falling down the stairs and complaining of her neck hurting. Medical Staff were concerned with the young child’s weight. When officers entered the exam room they noticed the child was very “bony” and undersize for her age.

As a result of the young child’s condition she was transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for further evaluation. Detective LaRohonda Moore received a preliminary report which was taken from several workers at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The child was described as being severely malnourished, emaciated and frail with sunken facial features, and was crying out for food and drink upon her arrival at the Children’s Hospital. The young child reported to the staff she was not allowed to drink after 6:00 pm because she “potty’s on herself”. The staff noted her upper thighs had circular burn marks and bruising on her back side.

When first placed in a room at the hospital she was allowed to have a sandwich, but she ate it to slow so Janecia Moore took it from her and gave it to her brother. The young child told the staff about her Pop Tarts being cold and her brother gets his warned up, when she doesn’t eat it fast enough, her “Daddy” throws it in the trash

The young child was moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for severe malnutrition, dehydration and hypernatremia. Her electrolytes were remarkably high for Sodium. The doctor reports the Sodium was so high, it was likely to have caused permanent injury or death if the conditions persisted without medical intervention. The young child reported to the staff “They put salt in my rice, they put a big spoon full of salt in my rice and make me eat it.” The young child’s disclosure about her salt intake, explains the extraordinarily high Sodium and Chloride levels and is consistent with salt poisoning, which is a dangerous and potentially fatal mechanism of poisoning.

The doctor said high levels would result in an intense thirst drive, which explains why the girl had gotten in trouble at home for drinking from the toilet.

The summarized report form the Children’s Hospital is consistent with physical abuse and neglect and the child would be at grave risk of serious injury or death in her home environment.


WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Federal Circuit Court to serve on the United States Supreme Court:

“Judge Kavanaugh is a distinguished jurist whose extensive experience and respet within the legal community make him uniquely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. He has had an impressive legal career that the Senate recognized by confirming him with bipartisan support to the federal bench.

I encourage my colleagues to thoroughly consider this nomination. I look forward to a fair confirmation process and hearing more from Judge Kavanaugh about his judicial philosophy.”


JULY 9, 2018

News Release - Arkansas State Police Public Affairs Office | Contact Information: (501) 618 - 8232|

Additional Information Contact: ASP Highway Safety Office - Ann Whitehead
(501) 618-8133
July 9, 2018
(LITTLE ROCK) – Arkansas law enforcement officers will launch a concentrated week-long speed enforcement plan next week.  The operation will be promoted across the state using the message headline, “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine”.

  The intensified enforcement effort will begin Monday, July 16th and continue through the following Sunday, July 22nd.  The enforcement plan involves law enforcement departments across the state.

  “Speeding leads to death on our roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Higher speeds reduce a driver’s ability to steer safely around other vehicles, roadway hazards and unexpected highway exits or directions."

   Drivers who ignore the speed limit put themselves, their passengers and other drivers at tremendous risk.  During calendar year 2015, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. and more than 9,500 lives were lost in such crashes, according to the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  “Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding in bad weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash,” Colonel Bryant said.  “State troopers and other law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for speeding drivers.”

  The goal of the operation is to save lives and make drivers aware that no excuses are acceptable.  When it comes to speeding; Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.

  For more information on the “Obey the Sign, or Pay the Fine” mobilization, please visit or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit

Venue Gates Open at 6 for an evening of Rock under the Stars
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – (July 9, 2018) Magic Springs Theme & Water Park welcomes rock legends, Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult together for an evening of radio favorites you will not soon forget, as the Magic Springs 2018 Summer Concert Series continues.
Saturday, July 14, 2018.
Access to Timberwood Amphitheater starts at 6 p.m. and the opening act begins at 7p.m. To celebrate the park’s 40th anniversary, this concert series is bigger and better than ever! Reserved seating is available and can be secured at

Foghats live performances show why the band is still around today and why they will be able to keep on rocking’ as long as they want. Hit songs include “Slow Ride,” “Honey Hush” and “Take Me to The River.”

For over four decades, Blue Oyster Cult has been thrilling fans of intelligent hard rock worldwide with powerful albums loaded with classic songs. You may recognize “I love The Night,” “Godzilla” and “Burning for You.”

Don’t miss your chance to see this and other thrilling performances that are part of the Magic Springs 2018 Summer Concert Series and celebrate 40 years of magic with us! It’s not too late to get a 2018 Magic Springs Season Pass, guaranteeing you FREE entry to all of the summer concerts. A Magic Springs Season Pass offers an entire season of fun and includes:
 Unlimited admission to Arkansas's biggest theme and water park
FREE live concerts
FREE Dive-In Movie Nights in July
FREE Magic Screams with new extended hours
 Season Pass Holder appreciation events
Learn more about these performances and find additional resources here.

About Magic Springs Theme and Water Park:
Located on the FUN side of Hot Springs, about 50 miles west of Little Rock, AR. MagiC Springs is Arkansas's ONLY theme and water park. A single price admission includes entrance to both the theme and water park, including use of the rides, slides, attractions, concerts and special events. The park is open weekends during April and May, and daily Memorial Day weekend through mid-August. Magic Springs is operated by Premier Parks, LLC.

Visit for more information, or to purchase season passes or discount tickets.


CONWAY – Fifteen new faces will be joining the ranks of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers this summer. The latest class of wildlife officer cadets celebrated graduation from the AGFC’s training program today at Antioch Baptist Church.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke as the keynote speaker of the commencement ceremony for the new officers.

“Most people don’t appreciate the amount of training and knowledge we require for our wildlife officers,” Hutchinson said. “In addition to the core requirements it takes to be considered a cadet and go into the training, it requires 16 weeks of training in the classroom and the field, experts you have to become in 90 different subjects, and you’re not simply checking licenses and deer tags and running down poachers.”

Hutchinson reminded the new officers of their role as representatives of the state of Arkansas.

“We want [visitors to the outdoors] to respect what we have in the state, but we also want them to feel welcome here,” Hutchinson said. “In today’s world, enforcing the law is not easy. You have to be trained in a lot of areas, you have to use good judgement and discretion in how you go about that.”

The process to become a wildlife officer began in March when 17 individuals were selected from several hundred applicants to participate in the AGFC’s wildlife officer training program. All applicants chosen were required to have a minimum of a four-year college degree, four years of full-time law enforcement, four years of military service, or a combination of those criteria.
During their 16-week training, cadets spent most of their waking hours at the H.C. “Red” Morris Training Center east of Mayflower on Lake Conway. They received 740 hours of training in self-defense, firearms, first-aid and rescue, drug enforcement, physical conditioning, criminal law and wildlife code enforcement.

AGFC Director Pat Fitts welcomed the cadets, “We are proud of these cadets for the work they’ve accomplished so far and we are thankful for the support they have received at home to make their sacrifice possible.”

In Arkansas, wildlife officers are certified law enforcement. They enforce state law as well as wildlife law. Much of their job includes keeping the woods and waters safe, and that requires the authority to make arrests for criminal cases as well as wildlife code violations.

Capt. Sydney Carman 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 2018 graduates and their county assignments are:

  • Tyler A. Barber, Calhoun County
  • Christopher B. Crawford, Bradley County
  • Aaron P. Dillard, Ashley County
  • Blake S. Forga, Sevier County
  • Chad H. Herndon, Yell County
  • Tyler L. Hill, Lafayette County
  • Dustin C. Houart, St. Francis County
  • Matthew A. Malone, Mississippi County
  • Douglas F. Martisek, Union County
  • Brandon R. Motley, Crawford County
  • Barry C. Robinson, Nevada County
  • Joseph K. Turner, Johnson County
  • Kurt A. VanMatre, Crawford County
  • Andrew L. Watson, Lafayette County
  • Keenan W. Wilson, Lee County


JULY 5, 2018



July 5, 2018
CONTACT: Kimberly Friedman
PHONE: (501) 683-4788

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas students demonstrated growth in multiple areas on the 2018 ACT Aspire. The 2018 preliminary results reflect the third statewide administration of the assessment in grades 3 through 10. 
Overall, the percent of students at or above ready in English remained steady or trended upward in all grades except for grades 6, 9 and 10. Reading results at or above ready trended upward in all grades except for grades 6, 9 and 10. For 2018, overall writing scores were not reported; however, writing scores were incorporated in the overall English Language Arts scores.
Arkansas’ percent of students at or above ready in math trended upward in grades 3 and 8 through 10 and downward in grades 4 through 7. Science scores at or above ready remained steady or trended upward in grades 3, 8 and 9 and downward in grades 4 through 7 and grade 10.
“The increase in overall growth reflects the hard work and dedication of Arkansas’ students and teachers,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “The results reflect educators’ commitment to teaching strong, rigorous education standards and the positive effects of the R.I.S.E. Arkansas and Computer Science initiatives. The results show we still have work to do to improve education in Arkansas, but I am confident that as we move toward implementation of Arkansas’ Every Student Succeeds Act plan this fall, we will lead the nation in student-focused education.”
ACT Aspire Benchmark Changes
While there were no changes in the benchmarks, or cut scores, for individual subject areas (English, Reading, Science and Mathematics), ACT set new ACT Aspire readiness benchmarks for the English Language Arts score (reflective of the English, Reading and Writing combined scores) and STEM score (which represents a combined Science and Math score). Because ACT Aspire scores are predictive of performance on the ACT, ACT updated the ELA and STEM cut scores to more accurately reflect the increased performance expectations of the ACT and college readiness.
It is important to note that 2018 ACT Aspire ELA and STEM scores cannot accurately be compared to those for previous years because of the change in this year’s cut scores. A better comparison of 2018 ELA and STEM scores to previous years is to compare the average scale scores.
Average ELA scale scores for grades 3 through 10 exhibited an increasing trend with the exception of grade 5, which declined slightly from 2017. Average STEM scale scores for grades 3 through 7 vary, with some grades demonstrating little change and some grades demonstrating decreases.
At the national level, the percentage of students meeting the updated benchmarks is far less than in previous years.
ACT Grade 11 Results
In addition to the release of the 2018 ACT Aspire results for grades 3 through 10, 2018 ACT grade 11 results were released as well. These results, which held steady, also reflect the third statewide administration of the ACT for grade 11. 
A total of 31,227 students were tested, which is consistent over the last three years. The 2017-2018 average composite score is 18.7, compared to 18.8 in 2016-2017. A total of 14 percent of students met all four readiness benchmarks (Reading, English, Math and Science), which is unchanged from 2016-2017.
More Information
To learn more about the 2018 ACT Aspire (Pre-Appeals) data sets release, visit ADE’s My School Info website at My School Info is the department’s online reporting portal that reports school and district data such as enrollment, testing and financial information. A tutorial video regarding how to access ACT Aspire data is available at
The correction window for districts to suggest possible corrections to the preliminary data opens July 31 and closes August 13. Final ACT Aspire data will be released on the My School Info website in September. 

The South Arkansas Arts Center box office is open for tickets to the 2018 summer musical, "Singin' in the Rain", which will run July 12-15 & 18-22, with the curtain going up at 7:30pm. Sunday matinees begin at 2:30pm.

Tickets are $30 for general public, $20 for SAAC members and $10 for students. SAAC will also host an
Opening Night Champagne Reception with tickets costing $30 for all adults and $10 for children.

Tap your toes and sing along in this splashy adaptation of the celebrated and beloved film! Each unforgettable scene, song and dance from the film is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make "Singin' in the Rain" the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.

"Singin' in the Rain" has all the makings of a Tinseltown tabloid headline - the starlet, the leading man and a love affair that could change lives and make or break careers! In the silent movies, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a hot item but, behind the scenes, things aren't always as they appear on the big screen! Meanwhile, Lina's squeaky voice might be the end of her career in "talking pictures" without the help of a talented young actress to do the talking and singing for her.

Special events for this show include an Opening Night Champagne Reception at 7:00pm on Thursday, July 12 as well as Talk Back sessions with Dr. Yates on Sunday, July 15 and Thursday, July 18.

For tickets call the box-office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

The South Arkansas Arts Center will host “The Portrait Experience” in the Price and Merkle Galleries.  A collaboration between three talented area artists and their high school art students, the show consists of 81 photograph portraits and 81 painted self-portraits. They will hang July 2- 15 with an artists’ reception to be held on July 6 from 5:30-7pm.

Lisa Burton Tarver, local photographer and Arkansas Artist in Education teacher, Maria Botti Villegas, also an Artist in Education teacher and visual arts instructor at SAAC, teamed up with Sarah Beth Howard, who teaches art at El Dorado High School to bring this self-portrait experience to the high school art classes. 
Tarver explained, “I took photographs of the students, and they allowed me to ‘capture them’ in their photographs. The greatest reward for me was seeing them smile when they saw their portraits for the first time. The painted portraits became what the students wanted them to become, depending on their skills. They all are different, but they all are fabulous.  Some painted their portraits realistically and others felt a ‘freedom’ in painting their piece.”
Villegas, who helped the students transform their photograph portraits into paintings on canvas said about the experience, “Sara prepared the students with exercises to be able to draw and paint these portraits. Lisa’s formidable photo portraits made a difference in the mind of the students since they chose the photos they wanted to represent. After many hours sorting photos, charcoal drawing and transferring, and discovering pallets and colors, we painted the self-portraits shown in this exhibit. These portraits are unique, the result of the students’ choice of color, shape, form and content. They are different and special. The fact that most of these high schoolers have not had any contact with a task like this before made it difficult at times, but very rewarding.” 
Howard was instrumental is teaching the students on a daily basis and helping them to create their portraits. “This exhibit is unique,” she said.  ‘To create this many varied, expressive and successful self-portraits is a feat of the imagination. It is inconceivable that so many novice art students would dig so deeply within themselves and accomplish what eludes many professional artists. To teach art is to teach others to see. As human beings we are endowed with an ego and preconceived notions of ‘self’. ‘Who am I?’ is a spiritual and existential question. It is a question that an astounding number of artists have attempted to answer. During a three month period EHS students had a chance to examine and respond visually to that question.
“Working collectively is something artists do routinely. However, an art classroom is a bit like a kitchen...if you get too many cooks working at the same time it can get dicey. Working together, working through difficulties for the benefit of the students was key. Watching these young people be so engaged, soaking up all the personalities and abilities of their instructional team was incredible. It is truly what AIE was created for.”
For more information on “The Portrait Experience”, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

JULY 2, 2018

If you are in Arkansas for any length of time, you are sure to discover the delicious food and unique food culture of our state. Whether it’s Delta tamales from Rhoda’s in Lake Village, the world’s sweetest watermelon in Hope, or that signature burger and fries from Feltner’s Whattaburger in Russellville, Arkansas is packed with flavors, places, events and chefs that tell a unique story of our people and communities.

As the State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), I find the study of food heritage in Arkansas very interesting and illuminating. Every aspect of food - from the ingredients chosen, to cooking techniques and even portion sizes – conveys a message about our culture. Food is the cornerstone of many important life events, so, not surprisingly, everyone has a story to tell about food. Although opinions may differ, food brings us together and contributes mightily to our shared heritage as Arkansans.

But how do you know where to find these great tastes of our state’s food heritage? DAH just launched the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame app to help you do just that. With the app, you can explore the state’s heritage foods, legendary restaurants, remarkable cooks and influential chefs, as well as culturally significant food-themed festivals and events. Each entity listed on the app is a finalist or a winner in DAH’s Arkansas Food Hall of Fame program, so you’ll know they are the best of authentic Arkansas.

If you’re traveling the state this summer and searching for a great local spot to eat, the app will help guide you. Whether you’re in Marianna, Camden, Tontitown or Blytheville, the perfect lunch stop is in the palm of your hand. Simply download the app on your mobile device, whether you use an Apple or Android product, and discover restaurants by cuisine or location. You are sure to find the perfect place to satisfy your taste buds, and learn about our state’s food history in the process.

The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame was created to recognize our iconic restaurants and events, our leading proprietors, and our unique Arkansas foods. If you don’t see your favorite on the list, you’ll be able to nominate online and through the app when nominations for 2019 open in the fall.  I hope you’ll tell us about your own hometown gems that contribute to the story of Arkansas.

Soak up the flavor of our state as you explore our unique food culture with help from the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame app. It’s available now on your Google Play or Apple App store; simply search for “Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.” For more information, you can visit or call (501) 324-9150.

JUNE 29, 2018

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton announced that Arkansas will benefit from $2.8 million in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency responsible for AmeriCorps and other national service programs. These investments will support 124 AmeriCorps members on the ground who will work on some of the most pressing issues in Arkansas including education improvement and civic works.

“AmeriCorps brings out the best in participants as they strive to make our country better. I am pleased to see the investments in Arkansas that will allow volunteers to continue responding to the needs of our communities while enriching their own lives and developing skills for future success,” Boozman said.

“I appreciate the contribution that AmeriCorps is making to education and volunteer efforts across our state. This funding, like the private donations that support it, will allow more AmeriCorps members to work in low-income areas,” Cotton said.

“Building on Arkansas’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will change lives, improve communities, and build a safer, stronger, and more united Arkansas,” said Chester Spellman, director of AmeriCorps. “While they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also create opportunities for themselves – gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers. I salute all the AmeriCorps members for their dedication and thank all those who help to make their service possible.”

The following organizations are Arkansas recipients of 2018 AmeriCorps competitive grants:
Kiwanis Activities, Inc. – The organization was awarded a $191,199 grant for its Alternative Classroom Experience and Summer Incentive Program that will support 20 AmeriCorps members to serve with the Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp and help implement programs for at-risk youth.
City of Little Rock – The city was awarded $252,932 which will support 28 AmeriCorps members to conduct safety assessments and home improvements, energy efficiency evaluations and upgrades and neighborhood and housing revitalization in seven low-income Little Rock areas.
Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative’s (SEARK) Smart Start AmeriCorps Tutoring – This program received $281,220 to support 46 AmeriCorps members as literacy and math tutors to 500 at-risk elementary school students in eight counties in the Arkansas Delta region.
Southeast Arkansas Education Service Cooperative’s (SEARK) AmeriCorps Future Teacher Initiative- Grant funding of $12,000 was awarded to allow 30 AmeriCorps members to participate in the Future Teacher Initiative (FTI) to provide one-on-one and small group tutoring to at risk preschool students in Ashley, Bradley, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Desha, Drew and Faulkner Counties.

The federal investment also includes $1.6 million for the Arkansas Service Commission, the Governor-appointed state service commission. In the coming months, it will award additional grants to Arkansas organizations to support AmeriCorps members in the state.

AmeriCorps’ unique model means that these grants will leverage an additional $1.5 million from the private sector, foundations and other sources – further increasing the return on the federal investment.

CNCS will provide an additional $408,000 in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants. After completing a full term of service, AmeriCorps members receive an award of approximately $6,000 that they can use to pay for college or to pay off student loans.

Every year, 75,000 AmeriCorps members serve through 21,600 schools, nonprofits and community and faith-based organizations across the country.



LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education are pleased to recognize 26 Arkansas teachers and seven mentors this afternoon for their participation in the third year of the Arkansas Declaration of Learning program.
Arkansas is the first state to participate in this national program. Through national and state partnerships, 6th through 12th grade librarians and art, English language arts and social studies teachers use historic art and objects from partner museums and libraries to develop lesson plans that focus on the importance of stewardship and civic engagement. Since the program began in 2013, 110 educators have participated and more than 6,000 students have benefited from the program.
“Through the direct observation of historic objects and our nation’s great works of art, our students are learning the history of our nation and the importance of diplomacy and civic engagement,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “I am honored that the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms chose Arkansas for the pilot Declaration of Learning project. This has given our teachers the resources to increase opportunities to enhance our students’ grasp of history."
“I am proud of the Arkansas educators who have dedicated their time and expertise to making the Arkansas Declaration of Learning initiative a success,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “Arkansas is the first state in the country to implement this national program, and through our partnerships with other organizations, we have enhanced student learning by providing access to historical objects that are rich in history. Together we are transforming Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education."
The Declaration of Learning program was formed in 2013 as part of an inter-agency educational initiative. Representatives from 13 national organizations signed the Declaration of Learning, which pledged that the organizations would work with state and local partners to create learning tools for educators and students in middle and secondary education. In addition to ADE, other partners are the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and the Clinton Foundation.
Today’s recognition will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Choctaw Building on the Clinton Presidential Center campus. The event is free and will highlight the work of year-three participants and feature presentations by three educators who are receiving the Best of the Best award. The event also marks the launch of the program’s fourth year by celebrating the 31 teachers and school librarians and nine mentors who spent the week in an immersive summit and will spend the next year implementing the ADOL into their classrooms and school libraries.

To learn more about the program and to see a list of past and current program participants, visit the ADE website at The webpage also features a video about the program.


WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after he joined a bipartisan majority of the Senate to pass the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill.

“I want to congratulate Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow on passing a bipartisan Farm Bill through the Senate. We are one step closer to providing certainty and predictability to Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers who are experiencing the most fragile farm economy since the 1980’s farm crisis. I was pleased to see the process move forward. However, I have serious concerns about provisions that were included at the last minute that have the potential to negatively impact farmers in Arkansas and across the country. I am committed working with my colleagues to address these concerns, so that the final bill ensures all farmers and ranchers are able to compete on a level playing field in the global marketplace.”

During the debate, Boozman spoke in support of the legislation on Senate floor while voicing his concerns about some of the provisions. 

JUNE 28, 2018

The Great War: Arkansas in World War I
Smackover, AR -   The Great War: Arkansas in World War I, a free traveling exhibit that tells the story of Arkansas’s role during World War at home and on the battlefields, will be displayed at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, 4087 Smackover Hwy., Smackover, AR 71762 on June 7-July 27, 2018 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

The traveling exhibit consists of 9 panels that showcase images from the Arkansas State Archives’ holdings, including original documents, photographs, posters, maps and historical objects, giving a first-hand look at the lives of Arkansans during the war.  The exhibit covers the chronology of the war as well as various facets of the conflict, such as training troops in Arkansas, actions overseas, the Home Front, providing for the war, healthcare and Arkansas heroes.

I am very pleased that the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is sharing The Great War: Arkansas in World War I with their visitors and community,” stated Julienne Crawford, the Arkansas State Archives’ Curator.  She continued, “This exhibit, created to commemorate the centennial anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, powerfully memorializes the impact this first modern, global war had on the 65 million who were mobilized, including the 70,000 soldiers from Arkansas.”

The Arkansas State Archives is located in Little Rock. It maintains the largest collection of historical materials on Arkansas in the world and is dedicated to collecting and preserving the documentary history of Arkansas. The State Archives also has two branch locations: the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives is located in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives is located in Washington.

For more information about the exhibit at the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, call 870-725-2877. To schedule this exhibit at your institution, call the Arkansas State Archives at 501-682-6900 or email To learn more about the Arkansas State Archives and its collections visit The agency changed its name from the Arkansas History Commission to the Arkansas State Archives when it became a part of the Department of Arkansas Heritage on July 1, 2016.

This exhibit is funded in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Arkansas State Archives is a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and shares the goal of all eight Department of Arkansas Heritage divisions, that of preserving and enhancing the heritage of the state of Arkansas. Other agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage include the Arkansas Arts Council, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Historic Arkansas Museum.

MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University is hosting a Game Development Summer Camp July 16-19, which will allow participants to learn about game development and design with hands-on activities in programming, design, and art in an overnight camp setting.

All applications must be submitted online by July 2. It is open to students in grades 10-12,
and there is a fee of $325 per participant.

Applicants can pay online using the registration form or by check. Register online at .

Curriculum will include an introduction to basic coding, game tools and mechanics; awards in design and programming, and after-hours activities including video game tournaments, virtual reality and board games.

Participants are asked to bring a pillow, sheets and blankets, towels, soap and other
toiletries, an alarm clock, money for sodas and video games, and a notebook and pen.

Checks may be payable to SAU with a memo line Game Development Camp to SAU, ATTN: Rhaelene Lowther, 100 E. University, MSC 9378, Magnolia, AR 71923.



WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, urged Robert Wilkie, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to commit to closely monitor the clinical review process underway at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center and implement policies to prevent such tragedies from happening at VA facilities in the future.

During Wilkie’s Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Boozman applauded the VA for its response to notifying patients about potential misdiagnoses by a VA physician at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, but pressed Wilkie to ensure continued attention from senior VA officials.

“Do I have your personal commitment that you will keep a close eye on this situation as it continues to unfold to ensure timely notifications continue to remain a priority, veterans receive timely follow-up care should they need or request it and the independent reviews are handled expeditiously while maintaining the integrity of the review process?” Boozman asked.

Wilkie affirmed his commitment and vowed to support efforts, including those by the department’s independent inspector general, to identify misconduct at the VA.

On Monday, the Senate approved a package of appropriations bills that included language authored by Boozman that requires the VA to submit a departmental response plan on changes that should be implemented to protect our veterans from clinical errors at VA facilities.

JUNE 27, 2018



MAGNOLIA – The Board of Trustees of Southern Arkansas University voted Monday to purchase an 80-bed apartment complex near its campus.

As SAU continues to see significant growth, it has constructed three new residence halls, with ground recently
broken for a fourth, and converted a nearby property to residential space. It will now purchase the property at 1300 Bluebird, known as the Bluebird Hill Apartments, located about one-half block from the campus. This addition will help meet the long-term strategic goals for SAU.

The purchase price is not to exceed $1.3 million. Trustees, in a teleconference meeting, approved an additional $100,000 for parking and other improvements. Trustees voted unanimously on Monday to authorize financing $1.4 million for the purchase, at a rate of about 4.25 percent, for up to 10 years.

The property will be used for student housing and operate under the SAU Student Housing Office. Approximately half of the units are currently occupied by SAU students. Payment will be derived from the revenue received from the rent of student housing units.

The five-building, two-story complex contains 24 one or two-bedroom units, with a total capacity of 80 students. It includes a swimming pool and laundry room.

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, said the enrollment growth “has been a blessing,” and that additional growth is anticipated for the fall.

An Arkansas State Police investigation is continued yesterday as the result of a traffic stop that occurred on Monday at 3:42 in Hempstead County along the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30. 
Larry Jones, 22, believed to be from Tennessee, is the subject of a search that began after he fled from a state trooper during the traffic stop.

ear the 46 mile marker exit in Nevada County local sheriff’s deputies deployed spike strips in an attempt to stop the fleeing vehicle.  A short distance later, Jones lost control of the eastbound vehicle and was ejected from the car.

Jones fled from the crash scene and was last seen in a wooded area along the north side of the highway.

A search for search Jones continued through the evening hours.

Both Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division and Criminal Investigation Division are actively working together to prepare affidavits seeking formal charges associated with the ongoing investigation.

TB&P - The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH), has awarded $2.96 million in grants for projects in 58 Arkansas counties through its County Courthouse Restoration Grant, Historic Preservation restoration Grant and main street Downtown Revitalization grant programs. 

“These grants help protect our state’s historic resources, encouraging community revitalization, civic pride and quality of life,” DAH Director Stacy Hurst said in a news release. “We are proud to partner with these entities and protect the best of authentic Arkansas.”

Twenty-four counties shared $1.76 million in County Courthouse Restoration Grants, which are financed through Real Estate Transfer Tax funds distributed by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council for rehabilitation of historic county courthouses across Arkansas. Funding requests totaled $6.91 million.

Counties receiving courthouse grants were:
Arkansas, $5,280; Boone, $56,510; Bradley, $36,000; Cleburne, $40,000; Cleveland, $29,500; Crittenden, $20,000; Dallas, $47,500; Desha, $235,430; Hot Spring, $100,000; Independence, $54,600; Johnson, $37,510; Lafayette, $40,000; Lawrence, $215,730; Lee, $100,000; Lincoln, $66,498; Little River, $127,000; Madison, $57,153; Monroe, $16,577; Montgomery, $24,000; Pike, $82,500; Prairie, $74,269; Stone, $111,929; Van Buren, $102,000, and Washington, $76,000.

Twenty-nine projects shared $874,795 in Historic Preservation Restoration Grants (HPRG), which distribute funds raised through the Real Estate Transfer Tax to rehabilitate buildings listed on the Arkansas or National Registers of Historic Places and owned by local governments or not-for-profit organizations. Grant requests totaled $2.28 million.

HPRG recipients, the amount of their grants, and the properties to be restored, were:

  • Bradley County Historical Museum, $10,540 for roof and siding restoration at the John Martin House in Warren;
  • City of Arkadelphia, $19,333 for roof restoration at the Missouri-Pacific Depot;
  • City of Eureka Springs, $9,999 for documentation and restoration work at the Eureka Springs Cemetery;
  • City of Highfill, $20,000 for roof restoration at the Highfill Community Center;
  • City of Little Rock, $63,333 for roof and masonry restoration at the Oakland and Fraternal Cemetery Mausoleum;
  • City of Nashville, $10,000 for restoration work at the American Legion Building;
  • City of Osceola, $39,757 structural frame restoration at the Coston Building;
  • City of Paris, $10,000 for HVAC and electrical upgrades at the American Legion Hut;
  • City of Paragould, $20,000 for roof restoration at the Linwood Mausoleum;
  • City of Rogers, $16,667 for window restoration at the Victory Theater;
  • City of Stephens, $67,000 for wood-deck restoration on the Arkansas Highway 57 Bridge;
  • City of Warren, $50,000 for HVAC and to make the former Warren and Ouachita Railway Station accessible to all;
  • Drew County Historical Society and Museum, $94,265 for roof restoration at the Garvin Cavaness House in Monticello;
  • Fort Smith Museum of History, $18,000 for masonry restoration at the Atkinson-Williams Warehouse that houses the museum;
  • Garland County, $79,333 for roof restoration at the former National Guard Armory;
  • Huntsville School District, $19,667 for moisture control and restoration work at the St. Paul School in St. Paul;
  • Little River County Training School Alumni Association, $20,000 for an accessible bathroom at the Home Economics Building near Ashdown;
  • Mount Salem School/Church, $10,000 for roof and front entrance restoration at the school near Paris;
  • Nevada County Industrial Development and Charitable Foundation, $8,985 for monument conservation and vegetation control at the Moscow Cemetery near Prescott;
  • People Helping Others Excel by Example (P.H.O.E.B.E), $30,964 for structural repair at the John L. Webb House in Hot Springs;
  • Perry County Historical Museum, $12,000 for window and door restoration at the former American Legion Hut;
  • Prairie County, $36,371 for window restoration at the former First Presbyterian Church in Des Arc;
  • Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, $19,435 for a condition assessment of the Fitzgerald Station and Homestead in Springdale;
  • Singleton Cemetery Association, $4,000 for restoration work at the Singleton Cemetery in Charleston;
  • John’s Episcopal Church, $50,221 for restoration work at the church in Fort Smith;
  • Paul’s Episcopal Church, $51,678 for basement, window and roof restoration at the church in Batesville;
  • Trumann Community House, $10,000 for an accessible bathroom at the Poinsett Community Club in Trumann;
  • Valley Springs School District, $41,712 for window restoration and other work at the Ole Main Building;
  • Women’s Literary Club of Van Buren, $31,553 for restoration work at the former First Presbyterian Church.

Twenty-one Main Street Arkansas programs shared $315,000 in Downtown Revitalization Grants, which are funded through the state Real Estate Transfer Tax and are available to accredited Main Street programs for building rehabilitations, parks, streetscape improvements and other design-related projects that will have major long-term impacts in the local Main Street area.

Main Street programs in Batesville, Blytheville, Dumas, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Helena-West Helena, Osceola, Ozark, Paragould, Rogers, Russellville, Searcy, Siloam Springs, Texarkana, West Memphis, the Conway Downtown Partnership, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Downtown Jonesboro Association, Southside Main Street Project, Pine Bluff Downtown Development and the Argenta Downtown Council in North Little Rock each received $15,000 grants through the program.

An additional $18,000 in Downtown Revitalization Grants was awarded to cities involved in Main Street’s Arkansas Downtown Network. Grants of $1,000 each were awarded to the programs in Arkadelphia, Clarksville, Forrest City, Fort Smith, Hardy, Heber Springs, Hope, Malvern, Mena, Monticello, Morrilton, Newport, Paris, Pocahontas, Prairie Grove, Rector, Warren and Wynne.

JUNE 26, 2018

The Christian Health Center will be having a Fundraiser on Friday, August 24th and Saturday, August 25th from 7am until 5pm each day. Visit the Pop-Up Shop for all kinds of treasures. Find household items, purses, kitchen items, books, furniture, sports equipment, luggage, clothes and more. There will be a Ladies’ Preview Party on Thursday, August 23rd from 6 to 9PM. Enjoy Door prizes, food and music with your lady friends and family. Tickets for the Preview Party are $10.00. Be on the look-out for location information. The Christian Health Center is currently taking donations for the Pop-Up Shop. If you have large items like furniture, call and arrangements can be made for the items to be picked up. All other donations may be taken by the Christian Health Center. All proceeds will benefit the Christian Health center and The Hub. For more information call 231-1111.

Arkansas Police & Deputies On The Lookout For Drunk Drivers

 (LITTLE ROCK) – During the upcoming July 4th holiday period, nationwide projections indicate the number of Americans who plan to travel fifty miles or more away from home could top 47-million travelers, according to the American Automobile Association.

Law enforcement records show a pattern of increased consumption of alcohol by many drivers during the summer holiday period.

Statistics from the 2016 Fourth of July reporting period reveal a fateful fact that 188 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.  Compared to 2015, this is a 28 percent increase.

The Arkansas State Police and local law enforcement agencies will assign additional personnel to saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints beginning June 28 through July 9.  This effort is part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign designed to educate, identify and apprehend drunk drivers. 

“No matter your age, if you’ve been drinking or may be impaired in any manner, you should find a safe and sober ride to your destination or face the likelihood of being arrested,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “We will show no tolerance and accept no excuses in our dedication to protect travelers, not only during the holiday, but all year long.”

 The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends these alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • It’s never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely. Plan a safe way home before you leave.
  • If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to get you home.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road call 911.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
  • Buckle up, always.  Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.

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


MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University is hosting a three days, two nights Engineering Summer Camp, July 9-July 11, 2018. High school students from grades 8-12 are welcome to attend.

To help ensure all interested participants have the opportunity to attend Engineering Summer Camp, the SAU Engineering program is offering four scholarships for top-performing campers this year. Scholarship winners will be selected over the course of the camp, and their registration fees will be refunded by the University after the camp is finished.

The primary goal of this summer camp is to grow interest in studying engineering and physics among high school students.

Participants will do hands on projects related to engineering and physics. Engineering projects include building and programming of Lego Mindstorms robots, playing with Arduino based electronics and hardware, designing the path of a robotic arm, building of model bridges and structures, design and modeling with Solid Works, and material testing using a force tester. Activities will include demonstrations in physics, as well as an astronomy night observation. Lodging and food will be included in the price. All participants will receive an engineering T-shirt.

There will be an awards ceremony at the end of the 3-day camp on Wednesday.

All applications must be submitted online by July 2, 2018.


Includes Requirement for VA Plan for Clinical Disclosures in Response to Fayetteville Incident
WASHINGTON- The Senate approved a trio of appropriations bills in a package that included legislation crafted by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that supports military construction and veterans’ benefit programs and requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement changes necessary to protect our veterans from clinical errors at VA facilities.

“I’m happy to see the Senate returning to regular order and passing appropriations bills. This package includes funding for critical investments in our nation’s priorities for infrastructure and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families and veterans’ health care and benefits. It’s especially timely that we make improvements to VA policies to ensure we have procedures in place to prevent tragedies that result because of physician misconduct, like that at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center, from happening in the future – both in Arkansas and around the country,” said Boozman, Chairman of the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee and author of this portion of the funding package.

In response to the Fayetteville VA Medical Center issue, Boozman led the Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma delegations in introducing an amendment adopted by the Senate that requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a departmental response plan to Congress that can be applied in Fayetteville and all future cases of clinical disclosures and provide recommendations about changes necessary to prevent such incidents.

The amendment requires that any plan must detail:

  • Identification process for individuals impacted by disclosures
  • Procedures for expediting follow-up care as required
  • Detailed outline of proposed changes to clinical quality checks and oversight
  • Communication plan for the entire Department
  • Implementation timeline
  • Identification of a senior executive responsible for ensuring compliance
  • Identification of potential impacts of the plan on timely diagnoses
  • Identification of the processes and procedures for employees to express concerns

Boozman also included a measure to move forward with improvements at the Little Rock Air Force Base runway.

The bill also includes a Boozman-supported provision that provides additional resources for the Veterans History Project, an initiative that builds an archive at the Library of Congress of oral histories and personal documents of the men and women who served our country in uniform. Boozman and his staff have conducted nearly 50 interviews of Arkansas veterans for inclusion in the archive and have trained more than 400 people across the state to participate in the project.

Additionally, the legislation includes a record level of funding for the VA. These resources will provide the healthcare, benefits and memorial services earned by U.S. service members and veterans. The bill also provides funding for 169 military construction projects within the United States and around the globe.

JUNE 25, 2018

Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center
625 Adams SW, Camden, AR 71701 (OPED Building)
Call 870-836-2210 or to Pre-Register
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Google - Get Found on Google Search and Maps
Explore Google My Business, a free tool for local businesses, who want to connect with customers on Google Search and Maps. Get hands-on help creating or updating your listing, and take advantage of a free website.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018 | 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.



LITTLE ROCK (June 25, 2018)The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities’ three and one-half years early completion of a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) has paved the way for the Council to move forward in overseeing the implementation of the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act).


“It is exciting to know the dedication and hard work by our Council have allowed us to accelerate the completion of our CAP and to do so far ahead of schedule,” said Eric Munson, the Council’s executive director. “We hope other states seeking to make turnarounds will view Arkansas as a model and use some of our best practices to help them achieve success.”


The completion of the CAP brought Arkansas’s Council into compliance with the DD Act. This allowed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to remove the “high-risk” status that was placed on the Council in 2015.


“The Council’s turnaround is phenomenal,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “Just three years ago, the federal Department of Health and Human Services classified the Council as ‘high risk,’ cut funding and limited its activities. Through its strong leadership and hard work, a completely revamped Council responded to the challenge and resolved critical issues. Congratulations and thank you to the Council for overcoming the obstacles and leading the way. This is the way Arkansas does things.”


The DD Act provides federal funds so that people with developmental disabilities has access to and participates in all aspects of community life. The Council – alongside partners in the statewide DD Network – oversees the implementation of the DD Act in Arkansas by connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the resources and programs they need to be independent, productive, integrated and included into all parts of community life.


The current Council was created by Governor Hutchinson via an Executive Order on July 30, 2015. The governor’s action came after AIDD and ACL suspended the Council’s authority to administer federal program funds to support implementation of the DD Act in Arkansas. He appointed an all-new, 23-member governing board; a new executive director, Eric Munson of Little Rock, and three new staff members were hired.


“The Council’s diligent work and great accomplishment have allowed us to look to the future for Arkansans with developmental disabilities by creating opportunities for integration, inclusion and independence,” Council Chairman Chris Johnson said. 


“The support from key leaders, including the governor, of the developmental disabilities community through the Council’s work creates opportunities for advocacy, capacity-building and systems change to flourish. …” Sheryl Matney, director of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities’ Information & Technical Assistance Center for Councils on Developmental Disabilities. “The Council is addressing complex issues and developing and fostering key relationships with stakeholders working on issues important to people with developmental disabilities and their families.”


For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, visit and follow on Facebook and Twitter.


LITTLE ROCK (June 22, 2018) – Arkansans from 67 counties collected more than 133,600 pounds of litter and 5.6 million pounds of bulky waste during this year’s Great American Cleanup™ in Arkansas, a nationwide program of Keep America Beautiful and promoted statewide by the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission (KAB).

Additionally, 4,624 acres of parks and public areas were cleaned up and 1,287 trees, shrubs and flowers were planted during the three-month campaign that began in March. Arkansans volunteered nearly 47,000 hours to clean up Arkansas’s parks, public areas, roadsides and other places.

KAB promoted the Great American Cleanup statewide via the #MakeArkansasGreen challenge as a call-to-action to encourage volunteers to register at least one cleanup event in each of the state’s 75 counties during March, April and May. Each week, KAB posted a challenge map on its social media pages with the hashtag to keep followers abreast of the progress being made across the state. In all, 166 cleanup events were registered with KAB in 67 counties, the highest number of counties to have ever registered with KAB during a Great American Cleanup.

“The results from this year’s Great American Cleanup can only be attributed to our dedicated coordinators and volunteers,” said Liz Philpott, CVM, volunteer program manager at KAB and statewide coordinator of the Great American Cleanup in Arkansas. “Nearly 90 percent of the counties in Arkansas registered with KAB, and we are so grateful for the amazing turnout. Thank you for making Arkansas green before the busy summer tourism season!

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of WWII Navy veteran Robert Stroud Jr. in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Stroud was born in a log cabin in west Little Rock on March 5, 1919. When he was young, his family moved to North Little Rock. As an adolescent he says he was a “marble shark.” His marble shooting skills allowed him to earn enough money to buy a bicycle.

Stroud married his wife Mildred in 1942. The couple started a family and had two young daughters when he started his military service in the Navy. “It was tough. You get homesick real bad in the service,” Stroud said.

His wife came to visit him in Rhode Island where he was receiving specialized training to become a Seabee, serving in the Navy’s Construction Battalion.

While on leave, he went to New York and had the opportunity to dance with a siren of the silver screen, Bette Davis, at a USO location.

“I saw a girl giving out cookies so I walked over there and I looked at her and thought oh my gosh,” before asking Davis to dance. He recalled her saying that she didn’t think anyone would ask. They danced to the song “Sentimental Journey” and talked about his Arkansas accent.

Before deploying to the Pacific Theater, Stroud trained in California. “They told us we were going to have six weeks of hard training and you’re going to wish you were dead every day,” Stroud said. “You know what? They were right.”

Stroud says he didn’t stay six weeks. He remembers the 3 a.m. wake-up that alerted him to his deployment overseas. He sailed aboard the USS Florence Nightingale, which came in the crosshairs of a Japanese torpedo. “I was standing on the back and saw it coming. There was nothing I could do,” Stroud recalled, describing the evasion of the torpedo thanks to the zig zagging of the ship.

The ship resupplied on the Philippines before bringing the troops to the Battle of Okinawa.

On his return trip stateside, Stroud sailed on the USS J. Franklin Bell and saved the ship and members aboard from a potential disaster when he identified a mine in the water and alerted the crew so they could turn the ship away from the explosive device. For his efforts to protect the ship, Stroud was invited to dine with the ship’s commander and he remembers the menu.

“We had porkchops,” Stroud fondly remembered “and English peas. I’ll never forget that. And I love English peas today.”

Stroud returned to Arkansas and reunited with his family including his four-month-old son. In the years that followed he and his wife had three more children and Stroud bought and ran a successful business.

“I am grateful for Robert Stroud’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of his 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 Stroud’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans. 


News Release - Arkansas State Police Public Affairs Office | Contact Information: (501) 618 - 8232|


 Arkansas State Troopers assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division and Criminal Investigation Division has been investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash sixteen miles west of Forrest City (St. Francis County).  The 44 year-old man killed in the crash was a suspect who had earlier fled from state troopers during a Lonoke County traffic stop.

  At 10:37 AM June 22, a state trooper stopped a late model Chrysler sedan and during the course of the traffic stop the driver fled eastbound along Interstate 40 at the 183 mile marker.

  A pursuit of the suspect by state police continued until the trooper lost visual contact with the vehicle.

  Nearly an hour later the suspect vehicle was observed traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 and moments later at 11:31 AM state troopers responded to the report of a head-on crash involving four vehicles at the 257 mile marker.  The suspect wanted from the traffic stop was pronounced dead at the scene.  Four vehicles were involved in the crash and at least four individuals not related to the suspect vehicle were injured, one believed to be in serious condition, but stable when he was airlifted from the crash scene.

  Additional information will be released once next of kin have been notified and will be provided at the Arkansas State Police Preliminary Fatal Crash Summary web site.


JUNE 21, 2018


MAGNOLIA – Dr. Karen Landry of Texarkana, Texas, has been named chair of the Department of Nursing at Southern Arkansas University.

In making the announcement Wednesday, Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said, “We are delighted that Dr. Landry has chosen to come to SAU. She has a wealth of experience as a successful nursing educator, and a clear passion for training the next generation of nurses in southern Arkansas. She is energetic, positive and very student-centered. She will be a great leader for our nursing department.”

Landry is a native of Louisiana. She received both her BS and MS in Nursing from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and her PhD in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. She presently serves as department chair and director of nursing at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, Texas, where she is accountable for the planning, implementation and evaluation of the professional education program. She also assists the college dean in designated college initiatives.

She has also served as an assistant professor in graduate and undergraduate studies in the College of Nursing at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, and as a Registered Nurse at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.  In addition, Dr. Landry served as associate professor (tenured) at Northwestern State University prior to her retirement in 2009.

“I am honored and excited to be selected to lead Southern Arkansas University’s Department of Nursing,” Landry said.  “The Department has such a rich history of educating exceptional, professional nurses, and I am grateful to continue this nursing legacy.”

She said her primary focus will be “to strengthen the educational framework for preparing professional nurses. This continues the legacy of commitment demonstrated by SAU and the community.”

She expects that the program will flourish and expand in the near future. “My vision is for the department to be an active partner with organizations within this community, region, state, and globally to improve healthcare outcomes. “

Landry said she is excited to bring to SAU more than 35 years’ nursing experience and more than 23 years’ academic experience. “I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful community known as Magnolia, Arkansas.” She is the daughter of Mrs. Ann Ainsworth and the late Bobby L. Ainsworth, longtime members of the Magnolia community.

JUNE 19, 2018

The South Arkansas Arts Center will offer students a unique opportunity to participate in two musical theatre experiences as the summer comes to a close and registration is now open at the SAAC office. The MTI Broadway Junior production of "Honk, JR." will grace the stage for both a week-long Theatre Camp as well as the 2018 Penguin Project.

Students in grades 2-9 can sign up now for "Honk, JR." Theatre Camp, scheduled for July 23-27. Grades 2-5 will attend from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and grades 6-9 will attend from 1 to 5 p.m., with both groups invited for a camp orientation July 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 pm., and a performance for families on Friday evening at 6 p.m.

After the curtain closes on the camp production, SAAC will launch our first-ever crossover production, by again staging "Honk, JR.", this time as the 2018 Penguin Project, with Theatre Camp actors and other interested kids ages 12 and up invited to participate as mentors. Penguin will kick off with a week-long Penguin Mini Camp on August 6-10, from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Rehearsals will begin the following week, culminating in ticketed performances on September 14 and 15.

"We hope that as many theatre campers as possible will consider staying with us as mentors for the Penguin Project production as well," said SAAC Executive Director Laura Allen. "This gives them the opportunity to get to know the project as actors first, which means they will be even better equipped to work with the special needs artists during the Penguin Project, building stronger relationships along the way."

The Penguin Project allows children with special needs to perform in a live stage production, in front of an audience, from its starring roles to its ensemble. Each special-needs artist is paired with a mentor of similar age, who guides them through the production from start to finish, helping them learn lines, dances, songs, and stage blocking. The children operate as a symbiotic pair throughout the entire process and appear on stage together.

Started by Dr. Andy Morgan, a pediatrician who specializes in the care of children with special needs who has also been actively involved in community theatre, The Penguin Project began 11 years ago in Peoria, Illinois. Today, the program has been spread to 7 locations across the country, including the South Arkansas Arts Center.

"We are so excited to be welcoming The Penguin Project back to the SAAC stage in 2018," said Allen. "While we know not every camper will be able to participate as a mentor, and not all our mentors will be available for Penguin camp, we love offering the opportunity."

For more information about Theatre Camp, sponsored by First Financial Bank, or the Penguin Project, sponsored by LANXESS, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the SAAC website at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Six junior and senior high-school students from Calhoun, Dallas and Ouachita counties are attending a Medical Applications of Science for Health (M*A*S*H) camp June 11-22 at the Dallas County Medical Center in Fordyce. The students and their instructor are Dana Smith, Director of Pharmacy at DCMC and M*A*S*H coordinator, Kayli Heigelmann of Bearden, Carrington Word of Bearden, Kaylee Humphries of Fordyce, Tymber Hodnett of Hampton, Maurion Waller of Fordyce, and Jasmine Luna of Fordyce.

The two-week summer medical enrichment experience allows these high school students to shadow health professionals and attend workshops that enhance their experiences in the health-care field. They learn about pharmacy, therapy, CPR, anatomy, surgery, emergency medical response and other medical careers. The program hopes to encourage rural youth interested in medical fields to continue their education and then return to rural areas to work.

M*A*S*H students are sponsored by county Farm Bureaus and the M*A*S*H Partnership, which includes the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Regional Centers, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Arkansas Farm Bureau and Baptist Health. Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private farm and rural advocacy organization of more than 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life



The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the cast for its summer musical production, the iconic and ever popular "Singin' in the Rain", sponsored by Murphy USA. The musical will run July 12-15 and 18-22.

Congratulations to the talented cast which includes many SAAC stage veterans and familiar faces. Alexander Jeffery can be seen as the suave Hollywood leading man Don Lockwood, originally portrayed by Gene Kelly. Brandon Wallace will play Cosmo Brown, Don's wacky and playful best friend and former dance partner. Laura Purvis portrays the upcoming, strong-willed actress Kathy Seldon, who emerges as Don's saving grace in his talkies. Hali Pinson will be featured as Lina Lamont, a tone-deaf singer who fails to transfer from silent films and causes Don great distress. Successful, magnanimous, film producer R. F. Simson will be played by Corey Sublett, high strung, frustrated director Roscoe Dexter by Mike Means, and young starlet and Lina's best friend Zelda Zanders by Lainey Walthall.

The show also features Don Lockwood and Cosmo Brown throughout their lives. Meredith Stone and Rusty Orrell will portray Don and Cosmo in their Vaudeville years, respectively. Maggie Meyer and Jace Waters will play young Don and Cosmo in their childhood years. Rounding out the cast will be Hannah Davis, Abby Cate, Brandy Walthall, Savannah Reynolds and Addie Bosanko.

The ensemble is filled by Brooklyn Alexander, Armani Amos, Lyric Amos, Thomas Brewster, Carmelo Brown, Alex Brummett, Kenny Burns, Emma Daniel, Josie Denson, Tiffanie Duke, Blake Goff, Bill Meyer, Madelyn Poss, Holland Ruff, Steve Shofner, Bob Stephenson and Justin Yates.

Director Lisa Newton is thrilled about her cast and said, "I'm having such a great time directing this production. We have a diverse cast, full of fresh faces to the stage and returning SAAC actors."

"Singin' in the Rain", called the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay.
Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! Hilarious situations, snappy dialogue and a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make "Singin' in the Rain" the perfect entertainment for any fan of the golden age of movie musicals.

For more information about "Singin' in the Rain", please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

MAGNOLIA – One could say that Jamie Waller’s career in banking began with a crime.

Not a crime on his part, of course. Instead, it was one Jamie was trying to stop.

As a senior in his last semester in college at Southern Arkansas University, Jamie was working at Stage one evening when someone ran out of the store with some merchandise.

Jamie made a split decision – he ran after the shoplifter with the intention of retrieving the merchandise.

As he ran across the parking lot, he bumped into a shopper exiting what was then Kroger’s. That customer just happened to be Todd Smith, then president of People’s Bank.

“He told me if I ever needed a job, to give him a call,” Jamie tells the story now with a laugh.

Jamie took him up on that offer, and the rest, as they say, is history as Jamie Waller was recently named president of Peoples Bank of Magnolia.

The beginning of his career is certainly unique, the type of story the people talk about for years. Yet it was that same admiration for long-time legendary bankers in Magnolia that attracted Jamie to the business from an early age.

“I’ve always had an interest in banking,” explained Jamie. “I’ve always respected bankers as leaders in the community.”

A Magnolia native, Jamie graduated from Magnolia High School in 1999. Growing up, he developed a love for the city and the people who lived in it. Jamie decided to stay close to home and attended SAU. “I felt like I had a better chance to succeed if I remained in the community.”

He began as a marketing major, but then his interests led him to accounting and finance. He graduated from the Rankin College of Business with a degree in general business with an emphasis in finance. Jamie enjoyed his accounting and finance classes, and especially enjoyed the classes taught by Dr. David Ashby, now of Mustard Seed Wealth Management of Magnolia. “I thought Dr. Ashby’s classes helped me understand how the concepts worked.”

He is also a graduate of the Graduate Banking School at Louisiana State University.

Jamie has learned banking through almost every vantage point a bank has to offer. At Peoples Bank, he has worked as a general office assistant, teller, loan clerk, loan assistant and branch manager.

Once an admirer of the bankers in the community, Jamie has been following their examples through his involvement in a number of community groups and activities: he’s the former president of the Arkansas Bankers’ Association Emerging Leaders Board, treasurer of the Magnolia Rotary Club, United Way Board member, Magnolia City Council member, SAU Alumni Association Board member and former president, Magnolia Regional Medical Center treasurer and Board member, and is an official starter for the Magnolia High School track meets.

Jamie and his wife, Caroline, have one daughter, Sloane. Jamie is just as dedicated to being a great husband and father as he is to his career.

“I want to maintain that personal work/life balance so that I can be the dad and husband I want to be and also be the community leader I want to be.”

He learned those values, dedication to family and hard work, from his parents, Sammie and Kay Waller of Magnolia.

“I credit everything I’ve been able to accomplish to them. Without their guidance, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Jamie.

It’s those same values that Jamie encourages students to embrace on their quest for career success.

“I didn’t just do what they asked me to do at my jobs – I did more. That will separate you from other employees,” said Jamie, when asked what advice he would give to current students. “You have to work hard and be dedicated, and don’t always just for every greener pasture early in your career. Sometimes loyalty will pay off in the long run.”

Story by Mark Trout, instructor of Marketing at SAU's Rankin College of Business



JUNE 18, 2018

ARC to host annual meeting at The Best Western inn of The Ozarks and Convention Center in Eureka Springs

The Arkansas Recycling Coalition (ARC) will hold its 28th Annual Conference and Trade Show, Monday, October 8, through Wednesday, October 10, at the Best Western Inn of The Ozarks and Convention Center in Eureka Springs.  The theme of this year’s meeting is “Pathways to Sustainability,” and John Bradburn, recently retired from General Motors, will serve as the keynote speaker.  Mr. Bradburn spent 39 years with General Motors before retiring in March of this year.  His last 22 years with GM was as global manager of waste-reduction efforts.   Several other national speakers will be presenting.

Workshops and sessions will present “Addressing Safety Concerns at your Recycling Centers”;  ”A Focus on Sustainability Programs”;  “Working (across) the Generations”; “Advancing Recycling”; “Waste Recovery Innovations”;  “Keeping your Facility Relevant: New vs. Retrofitting”; ” “Sustainable Living”;  “Tools for Sustainable Materials Management”;  “Solid Waste Planning: What can you do in your Community”;  “Knowledge from the Generations Roundtable” and “The National Sword”.  Attendees will also have opportunities to participate in the annual golf tournament, a bus tour and evening receptions.  The conference also showcases a trade show of exhibitors.

An Awards Luncheon will be held on Tuesday, October 9, to honor the outstanding recyclers in Arkansas.

Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available to participants.  To learn more about this conference or to register go to: or contact the Arkansas Recycling Coalition office at 866-290-1429.


WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced misconduct by a former VA pathologist at the Fayetteville Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“This alleged gross negligence by a physician charged with caring for our veterans is a disturbing revelation and a clear failure to uphold the Department of Veterans Affairs mission to the men and women who served our nation in uniform. The errors and reckless actions of this former VA pathologist put the health of our veterans at risk and will not be tolerated.

“Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t know the extent of this doctor’s misconduct. We call on the VA to notify patients whose cases were evaluated by this pathologist to thoroughly and expeditiously review their results so veterans can get the appropriate care they earned. Those impacted deserve nothing less.

“Congress has provided the VA with the tools to remove bad actors. Failing to dismiss physicians and any other employees whose work is unsatisfactory does a disservice to our veterans. We are committed to rigorous oversight to protect the men and women who sacrificed and served our country and will hold those who break the law and undermine the mission of the VA accountable.”

Veterans who have questions or concerns can call 479-582-7995 or 866-388-5428. This call center is staffed by VA nurses specifically to answer questions and address patient concerns about this review process.

JUNE 15, 2018

After a two year hiatus, the South Arkansas Arts Center announces it will produce a new Penguin Project play, “Honk, Jr.”.  Lynn Gunter, who has directed many times on the SAAC stage, will serve as director for this special project, along with Cassie Hickman, who has worked with SAAC as well, as music director. Sponsored by LANXESS, the production will run September 14 and 15, 2018.

"I love working with children,” Gunter said.  “They are capable of great quality theatre when they are encouraged, instructed, pushed, stretched, and held accountable. Through that process, seeing a child rise up to the potential they know they have and seeing the pride they hold in their eyes from such hard work motivates me to work hard for them.  It is my strong desire to give young people opportunities to perform in safe surroundings, both in content and influence.  Penguin Project fits right in with that goal." 
Gunter is a resident of Huttig, where her husband is pastor of Huttig First Baptist Church.  She is also the K4-12th Grade music teacher for WSCS.  Her favorite productions that she has directed have been "Alice in Wonderland, JR" (2015) with the local homeschool group, "Fiddler on the Roof" (2017) and "The Crucible" (2016) with the SAAC Teen Drama Club, and "Bible Truths with Dr. Seuss" (2018) at WSCS. Gunter has a BA in Speech Communications, traveled the Tri-State and national collegiate circuit in forensics and debate, and has directed 8 productions on the SAAC stage, 4 productions at Westside Christian School, and countless VBS productions in various churches. 
Hickman has been involved at SAAC for years, also, having been the music director for many of the area home school productions, including “Alice In Wonderland”, “Into The Woods”,  “Godspell”, “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Music Man”.  Hickman had two years’ experience in theatre in high school and some in college, as well, and also led the musical part of worship services for Cross Life Church for 5 years.  She has a 14 year old daughter who is interested in drama, and that is what brought Hickman back to the theatre.  “I love to see the kids ‘get’ the music and be able to give it back to the audience so they ‘get it’, too.”
The Penguin Project is a unique opportunity for children with special needs to perform in a live stage production in front of an audience. Through targeted outreach, special needs children are recruited as artists and cast in the production, from starring roles to ensemble. Each special-needs artist is paired with a mentor of similar age, who guides them through the production from start to finish, helping them learn lines, dances, songs, and blocking. The children operate as a pair throughout the entire process and appear on stage together, resulting in a full theatrical performance, with costumes, sets, and music.
For more information about Penguin Project or this production, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.
Penguin Project Director Lynn Gunter (left) and Music Director Cassie Hickman (right)

JUNE 14, 2018



Says, event 'helps promote Arkansas tourism and showcase Arkansas's culinary excellence to the rest of the nation'


 LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin today announced that he has selected chef Maudie Schmitt to represent Arkansas in the 2018 Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 2018. Schmitt, who was born in New Orleans, is the chef and co-owner of Cafe Rue Orleans in Fayetteville, which opened in January 2001. 


"I am excited for chef Maudie Schmitt to represent Arkansas at the Great American Seafood Cook-off. Arkansans already know we have great food, but this event helps promote Arkansas tourism and showcase Arkansas's culinary excellence to the rest of the nation. In 2016 we had a number of enthusiastic Arkansans travel to New Orleans to show their support for Arkansas's culinary excellence, and I hope even more will join me this year."


In 2016, Lieutenant Governor Griffin nominated head chef John Munday and sous chef Marshall Smith from Samantha's Tap Room and Wood Grill of Little Rock. The competitors from Samantha's took home 2nd place at the competition. 


No Arkansas taxpayer dollars will be spent toward Arkansas's participation in the cook-off. Arkansas's chef will be responsible for all of her own expenses, including travel, accommodations, and the cost of ingredients. 



About Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin


Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin was elected on November 4, 2014. From 2011-2015, Griffin served as the 24th representative of Arkansas’s Second Congressional District. For the 113th Congress, he was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as a Deputy Whip for the Majority. In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on the Judiciary.


Griffin is a graduate of Magnolia High School, Hendrix College in Conway and Tulane Law School in New Orleans, and attended graduate school at Oxford University. He has served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 20 years, was deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Lieutenant Colonel Griffin is currently pursuing a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He also served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Political Affairs for President George W. Bush. Griffin lives in Little Rock with his wife Elizabeth, a Camden native, and their three children.


News Release - Arkansas State Police Public Affairs Office | Contact Information: (501) 618 - 8232|

JUNE 13, 2018




(LITTLE ROCK) – Trooper Levi Fleming,Governor Asa Hutchinson (from left), Trooper Levi Fleming, Trooper of the Year, Arkansas State Police Director, Colonel Bill Bryant 26, of Brinkley, was presented the prestigious Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award today during the annual state police awards ceremony.

  Trooper Fleming was among a group of more than 30 Arkansas State Police personnel recognized today for cumulative work or assignments involving particular incidents during the 2017 calendar year.


The recipient of the Trooper of the Year Award personifies the highest standards of public service and has demonstrates a record of esteemed law enforcement action.

Trooper Fleming, a four-year veteran of the department, was specifically recognized for his January 21, 2017 action in response to a disturbance call at a DeValls Bluff residence.  An intoxicated individual had forced his way into the residence, armed himself with a shotgun, and doused a portion of the garage and himself with gasoline.  While Trooper Fleming was present, the individual then ignited a fire which consumed the individual and a portion of the garage.

 Trooper Fleming armed himself with a fire extinguisher, activated the device and entered the garage, successfully extricating the victim who had sustained serious burns across more than forty percent of his body.

Trooper Fleming was also among eight state troopers today to receive the department’s life saving award.

Kim McJunkins, 55, of Hempstead County, was presented the Arkansas State Police Civilian Employee of the Year Award.  McJunkins joined the department twenty-eight years ago and serves today as an administrative specialist for the Criminal Investigation Division, Company C, headquartered at Hope.

McJunkins was recognized for her cumulative record of service, in particular for her work in case research, management of the administrative duties within Company C, and her most recent training assignments related to the implementation of the division’s new records/case management system. 

Other award recipients recognized today are:

 Distinguished Meritorious Service – (The highest award presented by the department for meritorious service or clearly outstanding achievement.)
Special Agent (Sergeant) Larry J. Carter, 44, of Atkins, was presented the Distinguished Meritorious Service Award for his efforts on May 11, 2017 in Yell County when he negotiated with a man suspected of killing three individuals, including a sheriff’s deputy.  S/A Carter was able to arrange the release of a hostage during the encounter and the eventual surrender of the suspect to state troopers and local authorities.

Special Agent (Corporal) Becky Vacco, 43, of Flippin, was presented the Distinguished Meritorious Service Award for her cumulative work across three north Arkansas counties between September 21, 2017 – February 1, 2018 involving the murder of a 23-month old child and the battery of two other infant children.  S/A Vacco successfully closed the cases with the conviction of the individuals responsible for the crimes.

Trooper’s Cross – (*Presented to a trooper or civilian employee who demonstrates extraordinary courage.
Trooper Justin Williams, 37, of Pine Bluff, was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his valiant effort to save a woman whose vehicle had been engulfed by fire following a collision.  Without regard for his own life as flames ignited part of his uniform, Trooper Williams persisted in finding a means to eventually pull the woman from the burning car.

Lifesaving – (*Presented to a trooper or civilian employee who through direct personal intervention, sustains another person’s life.)
Sergeant David Williams, 44, of DeValls Bluff, received a lifesaving award for his aid to a fellow trooper who had entered a burning garage to save an armed intruder.

Sergeant Jeff Plouch, 37, of Benton, received a lifesaving award for his rapid response after noticing the passenger in a vehicle he had stopped was unresponsive and appeared to be in cardiac arrest, possibly from a heroin overdose.  Sergeant Plouch administered a lifesaving drug (Naloxone) and began chest compressions to assist the victim until emergency personnel arrived.

Corporal Benjamin Harrison, 51, of Pencil Bluff, received a lifesaving award for his response to assist another law enforcement agency and their officers who had encountered an individual who appeared to be unconscious from a drug overdose.  Trooper Harrison administered Naloxone to the individual and was able to revive the victim while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical personnel.

Corporal Brandon Cook, 53, of Malvern, received a lifesaving award for his response to an attempted suicide in Garland County.  Upon his arrival he entered a lake, swimming nearly sixty yard to rescue the woman who had jumped into the lake.

Corporal David Outlaw, 41, of Monticello and Trooper Lukas Tankersley, 24, of Lake Village both received life saving awards for saving the life of a Monticello gunshot victim.  Both troopers used their training to stop the loss of blood from the victim and provide medical care until the arrival of emergency medical personnel.

 Trooper First Class Chris Aaron, 35, of Almyra, received a lifesaving award for his assessment of an Arkansas county man who had sustained an accidental gunshot.  Realizing that waiting for emergency medical assistance may further endanger the life of the victim, Trooper Aaron exercised his training to control the loss of blood and stabilize the victim, then transported to individual to a local hospital.

Official Commendations (*Presented for acts of exemplary service and awarded before the Arkansas State Police Commission during the course of 2017 prior to the today’s ceremony.  Supporting information available upon request.)
Major Forrest Marks 
Highway Patrol Division, Western Region Commander

Special Agent (Corporal) Mark Brice
Criminal Investigation Division, Company E
Corporal Todd Harris

Highway Patrol Division, Troop C (Greene County)
Special Agent (Corporal) Jackie Stinnett

Criminal Investigation Division, Company E
Special Agent (Corporal) David Small

Criminal Investigation Division, Company E
Special Agent (Corporal) Tony Haley

Criminal Investigation Division, Company E
Corporal Michael Bowman

Highway Patrol Division, Troop H (Crawford County)
Trooper First Class Kurt Ziegenhorn

Highway Patrol Division, Troop D (Woodruff County)
Trooper First Class Corey Skarda

Highway Patrol Division, Troop D (Prairie County)
Trooper First Class Andy Metcalf

Highway Patrol Division, Troop C (Greene County)
Trooper First Class Derek Nietert

Highway Patrol Division, Troop H (Franklin County)
Trooper First Class Matt Price

Highway Patrol Division, Troop H (Crawford County)
Special Agent (TFC) Buster Rinks

Criminal Investigation Division, Company E
Trooper First Class Mark Blackerby

Highway Patrol Division, Troop A (Lonoke County)
Trooper Ben Ibarra

Highway Patrol Division, Troop H (Franklin County)
Trooper James Taylor

Highway Patrol Division, Troop D (Prairie County)
Trooper Gabe Monroe

Highway Patrol Division, Troop A (Pulaski County)
Trooper Jason Fagan

Highway Patrol Division, Troop C (Poinsett County)
Trooper Matthew Schanzlin

Highway Patrol Division, Troop F (Ouachita County)
Trooper Steven Payton

Highway Patrol Division, Troop D (Crittenden County)
Trooper Matthew West

Highway Patrol Division, Troop D (Saint Francis County)
Trooper Josh Elmore

Highway Patrol Division, Troop H (Crawford County)
Trooper Andrew Pannell

Highway Patrol Division, Troop B (White County)
Daniel Baker (administrative headquarters, auto shop mechanic)

Distinguished Service Award – (*Presented to local citizens at large or law enforcement officers of another agency who have rendered aid to Arkansas State Troopers during the course of their duties.

Clifton Cabaness, Sr. and Clifton Cabaness Jr., both of Fort Smith received Distinguished Service Awards for stopping to assist an Arkansas State Trooper and their effort to seize one suspect and render aid to the trooper who had been met with resistance by a second suspect.

Joe Johnson, of Lonsdale, received the Distinguished Service Award for his roadside stop and assistance to a state trooper being met with resistance by a suspect being taken into custody.

Terry Davis, of Pine Bluff, received the Distinguished Service Award for coming to the aid of an Arkansas State Trooper who battled fire that had engulfed a damaged car and its driver trapped inside the vehicle.

 Ranotta Moser, of Batesville, received the Distinguished Service Award for her heroic life saving measures following a shooting incident that left a Batesville police officer critically wounded.

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after joining his colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee to approve the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which is commonly referred to as the Farm Bill:

“The farm economy is in a much different place than the last time the committee gathered around the table to debate a Farm Bill.

Net farm income is approximately half of what it was then; farm bankruptcies are up by 39 percent since 2014; financing is becoming more expensive; input costs are rising; and the trade outlook is volatile and uncertain.

Farmers, across the country—regardless of which state they reside in and what crops they grow—are hurting. As members of this committee, we must produce a Farm Bill in a timely manner to provide certainty to the folks who feed and clothe our nation and the world.

I commend the leadership of Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow. They had a heavy lift to find common ground amongst the committee. The overwhelming bipartisan support at the mark-up shows they were successful in drafting a Farm Bill that meets the diverse needs of producers across all regions of the country.”

JUNE 13, 2018

MAGNOLIA – A new Field Experiences course at Southern Arkansas University this spring sent 10 students embarking on a six-day adventure through national parks in West Texas and New Mexico.

The students prepared for their expeditions to Guadalupe National Park, Carlsbad Caverns and Big Bend National Park for four months during the lecture portion of the class, which was held for the first time ever this past spring.

“The course was set up to be very democratic,” said Dr. Kate Sheehan, assistant professor of biology. Students made recommendations, voiced their concerns, and voted on the locations and activities for the 2018 trip.

Field Experiences is designed to give students a collegiate experience in which they get to know one another and make new friends while planning for an outdoor trip. “They decided which parks they would like to visit and which hikes we’d do,” Sheehan said. “I gave recommendations, but if they had a preference for something else, then we made modifications.”

The students, along with two chaperones, hiked Guadalupe Peak, a trek of more than 8 miles round-trip, and camped in the national park. They then drove to Carlsbad Caverns – which was physically cooler than being in the desert – and from there journeyed to Big Bend, where they camped. The trip included horseback riding, canoeing and swimming in the Rio Grande. Students drew on the many components they researched during the in-class section of the course.

They were able to plan in advance things they wanted to experience and observe, Sheehan said. “Some wanted to find fossils in the desert, others wanted to find certain organisms or wildlife, others wanted to view certain constellations,” she said. “The possibilities were limitless.”

The expedition rented cars and drove hours to Guadalupe, the site of the first hike.

“The desert was so much bigger than the students had imagined,” Sheehan said. “It was my first time traveling to these parks, too, so we all had a bit of a learning curve,” she laughed. “It was an eye-opening experience.”

Two documentary-style videos were made of the trip, as well as a mixed-media collage, all of which were presented to the public at SAU. “They had a week to put everything together for their presentations when we got back.”

“The course is not open to just science or biology students,” she said. “I want the next course to have students from the different colleges involved. I would love to take students from the College of Liberal and Performing Arts. I want them to be exposed to different approaches, different modes of thought.”

She said the students on this year’s trip forged new friendships. “It was an amazing thing to see.”

The SAU Foundation, the College of Science and Engineering and the SAU Office of the President helped fund the trip, and some fund-raising was also done by the students. “One-hundred percent of the cost was covered,” she said. “Students only paid out of pocket for food.”

She thanked SAU for sponsoring the trip and looks forward to next year’s outing.

Participating students were: Ashley Albrecht, a junior majoring in Marine Biology, of Hot Springs, Arkansas; Kira Gibbs, a senior majoring in Wildlife Biology & Conservation, of Lonoke, Arkansas; Alexandria Hunter, a sophomore majoring in Biological Science, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas; Allysia Hurt, a senior majoring in Marine Biology, of Hope, Arkansas; Luke Lockeby, a junior majoring in Engineering, of Mineral Springs, Arkansas; Megan McClellan, a junior majoring in Wildlife Biology & Conservation, of Cabot, Arkansas; Sarah (Brooke) Morris, a senior majoring in Agricultural Science: Plant Science, of Annona, Texas; Emily Phillips, a senior majoring in Wildlife Biology & Conservation, of Elkins, Arkansas; Catherine Sanchez, a senior majoring in Marine Biology, of Little Rock, Arkansas; and Sara Seay, a senior majoring in Agricultural Science: Animal Science, of Atascadero, California.

Anyone interested in contributing to the 2019 trip would be able to do so via next year’s SAU Giving Day, when Muleriders unite and support SAU. Students interested in applying for the 2019 trip are asked to visit

JUNE 12, 2018


LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education invites educators, students, parents and the public to participate in one of two upcoming in-depth training sessions for the My School Info website. 

Launched in November 2016, My School Info is an online website that reports school and district data, such as enrollment, testing and financial information. The site allows users to compare schools and districts, analyze trends over multiple years, and view the School Performance Reports and Every Student Succeeds Act School Index report.

Since ADE posted the interactive ESSA School Index reports and school ratings data in April, the number of total website page views has dramatically increased to more than 674,000.

“My School Info continues to evolve to include more data and features that can be used to make informed decisions about education,” Dr. Eric Saunders, ADE’s assistance commissioner for Research and Technology, said. “These upcoming sessions give attendees the opportunity to dig deeper into the system and better understand how to access important data that can guide conversations about education around the state."

To register to attend one of the free sessions, please click the link below.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has determined the trail that carried the longest stagecoach operation in history, which traveled through a significant portion of Arkansas, meets the requirements to become a national historic trail.

NPS concluded the Butterfield Overland Trail meets the requirements 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.

“The first overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach was carried on the Butterfield Trail. The trail played an important role in our nation’s westward expansion and certainly made major contributions to the development and settlement of Arkansas during its short time in existence. I am pleased to see the National Park Service agrees those contributions merit preservation for future generations,” Boozman said.

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.

Congress must approve the designation before it can become a national historic trail.

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café continues nonprofit campaign
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. –Taziki’s Mediterranean Café continues their Year of Giving by announcing the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA) as  June’s recipient. 

During this yearlong initiative, Taziki’s hopes to inspire the communities they serve to give back. For the month of June, one nonprofit has been selected to receive a percentage of the proceeds from a monthly event.

RMHCA is a locally funded and operated nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and their families by creating and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children.

“For nearly 40 years, RMHCA has been a pillar in communities from every corner of the state, and Taziki’s is honored to aid in their commitment to children and families in the state of Arkansas,” says Tommy Keet, President of JTJ Restaurants. “At Taziki’s, we strive to promote a healthy lifestyle, and the work that RMHCA does to ensure children are living healthy lives goes hand-in-hand with our core values.”

This year, Taziki’s Year of Giving has also benefitted Women and Children First, ACCESS Schools, Easterseals Arkansas, the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, The CALL and the Humane Society of Faulkner County.

The event benefitting the RMHCA will be held Tuesday, June 19, from 5-9 p.m. at the Taziki’s location at 8200 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, AR 72227. To learn more about this event, visit the Taziki’s-Cantrell events page on Facebook.

The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the camp counselors for its summer Theatre Camp. Counselors are Gary Hall, Makenzie Lee and Hannah Davis, all of whom have had many hours in theatre work, especially at SAAC. The summer Theatre Camp is set for July 23-27, for grades 2-9, with a registration deadline of July 11. The Theatre Camp attendees will be producing a fun and lively production of "Honk, JR." from the MTI Broadway Junior series, during the week of camp.

Hall, a veteran of the SAAC stage, has been recently seen as Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family, A New Musical" and Cogsworth in "Beauty and the Beast". He also directed "Sunset Boulevard". Hall has worked on The Penguin Project's theatre productions, a performing experience for children with disabilities.

A recent graduate of Louisiana Tech University's theater program, Hannah Davis has worked on many productions through the years, including a few on SAAC's own stage. Most recently, she was onstage in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" , as well as having directed "Disney's Aristocats JR". At Louisiana Tech, she was smitten with hair, makeup and costume design, and worked in that capacity on many LA Tech productions.

Mackenzie Lee, who hails from Malvern, has recently finished his first year of teaching music at Washington Middle School. He also worked with the kids in WMS's production of "Alice in Wonderland JR.", which he said "was everything a director could hope for." When asked about his involvement in "Honk Jr", Lee said, "It has been a joy working with this town's students. I look forward to being the music director for this show and seeing what kind of talent these kids hold."

Hall said about the production, "If you think you know the story of the Ugly Duckling, you'll find with this show, it's not all it was ‘quacked up' to be. We are working hard and getting all our ducks in a row to be ready to bring this exciting piece to SAAC. The musical was actually written for all ages and plays much like a Disney story through the basic story everyone is familiar with as well as some additions that make it more entertaining and endearing. "

For more information about Theatre Camp, sponsored by First Financial Bank, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the SAAC website at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


NORTH LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame (AWHOF) has announced that Mary Steenburgen will be inducted into the 2018 class. This year’s inductees include eight women and one organization who have made significant contributions to the state and their respective fields, and stand as positive examples for women everywhere.

The inductees will be honored at a special ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Academy Award winner Mary Steenburgen has appeared in over 60 films. She is known for her work in the films MELVIN AND HOWARD, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, STEP BROTHERS, and television shows “Justified”, in which she played the diabolical character Katherine Hale. She has also recently appeared in “Orange is the New Black” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.

Mary currently stars alongside Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Candice Bergen in Paramount Pictures’ BOOK CLUB, which was released in theaters on May 18, 2018. For 4 years, Mary starred alongside Will Forte in FOX’s critically-acclaimed comedy series, “The Last Man On Earth”.

Additional television credits include “30 Rock”, “Bored to Death”, and “Blunt Talk”. Additional film credits include GOIN' SOUTH, TIME AFTER TIME, RAGTIME, PHILADELPHIA, BACK TO THE FUTURE 3, CROSS CREEK, MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S SEX COMEDY, MISS FIRECRACKER, THE PROPOSAL, ELF, DIRTY GIRL (for which she co-wrote the song, RAINBIRD, with Melissa Manchester), FOUR CHRISTMASES, THE HELP, and LAST VEGAS.

Partial theater credits include Holiday (London’s Old Vic, directed by Lindsay Anderson), Candida, Marvin’s Room, The Beginning of August, The Exonerated.  Mary is proud to be a company member of New York’s Atlantic Theater.

Mary is a songwriter for Universal Music Publishing Group. She has collaborated with many acclaimed songwriters including Matraca Berg, Troy Verges, Jeremy Spillman, Luke Laird, Lori McKenna, Caitlyn Smith, Lucie Silvas, John Osborne and many others. She is currently writing the music for the animated film version of the book The Underneath and wrote the end credit song for the upcoming feature film WILD ROSE.

Other inductees previously announced in the 2018 class include:

Dr. Carolyn F. Blakely - a lifelong educator and chancellor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She developed the Honors College at the university and served as Dean. At the request of students, it was renamed in her honor. Her contributions to the community, education, and civic organizations have impacted countless individuals in Arkansas and beyond.

Karen Flake - president and CEO of Mount St. Mary Academy; founder of Karen Flake & Associates providing market research and consulting; supported the state’s economic development on the Arkansas Development and Finance Authority board; and honored for years of volunteerism and community service.

Dr. Sue Griffin - a professor and editor-in-chief whose tireless research on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions has led to significant breakthroughs in the early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Raye Jean Jordan Montague - an engineer and graphics design trailblazer in the U.S. Navy credited with the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. She was recognized by NBC’s Good Morning America as a “hidden figure” in science and computing for the U.S. Navy. After her 30-year naval career, Montague is now a mentor, volunteer and motivational speaker in Little Rock.

Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber Tuck - the first woman elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court. As a chancery and probate judge, she made the first ruling in the Lake View school district case, which would eventually reshape the financing of public education in Arkansas. In her retirement, she advocates for fair access to the legal system through the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission.

Historic Inductees
Bessie Grace Boehm Moore - (1902 - 1995) an educator, civic leader, and force of nature, Moore advocated for a robust library system in Arkansas and beyond, piloted a program for economic education in public schools, and created the Ozark Folk Center State Park.

Florence Beatrice Smith Price - (1887 - 1953) the first African-American female composer to have a work played by a major American symphony orchestra. Her composition, Symphony in E Minor, was performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933. It was also performed at the Chicago World’s Fair as part of the Century of Progress Exhibition.

JUNE 11, 2018

Tyson Foods Inc. - one of the nation's top chicken and beef processors - is recalling more than 3,000 pounds of frozen breaded chicken products that may be contaminated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced on Friday.

The frozen, uncooked and breaded chicken tenderloins being recalled, which may be contaminated with blue and clear soft plastics, were produced on May 17, 2018. The affected products include 12-pound boxes of 3-pound plastic bags of tenderloins, with the lot code 1378NLR02.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions from eating the chicken, the USDA said. Those concerned about an injury or illness are encouraged to contact a healthcare provider. The affected products should be thrown away.

Twelve junior and senior high-school students from Clark, Hot Spring, Pike, and Ouachita counties are attending a Medical Applications of Science for Health (M*A*S*H) camp June 4-15 at Baptist Health Medical Center in Arkadelphia. The students and their instructor are (left of sign) Maty Burton of Bismarck, Kylie Shackelford of Arkadelphia, Hannah Fenocchi of Arkadelphia, Allison Adkison of Arkadelphia, Jaydon Waters of Camden, Nikki Hutcherson of Delight; (right of sign) Austin Nance of Camden, Rance Turner of Kirby, Grace Burnett of Pearcy, Veronika Sagastume of Camden, Katlyn Kadrmas of Amity, Cassidy Terrell of Murfreesboro, and Stacey Davis, camp coordinator, Baptist Health Medical Center.

The two-week summer medical enrichment experience allows high school students to shadow health professionals and attend workshops that enhance their experiences in the health-care field. They learn about pharmacy, therapy, CPR, anatomy, surgery, emergency medical response and much more. The program hopes to encourage rural youth interested in medical fields to continue their education and then return to rural areas to work.

M*A*S*H students are sponsored by county Farm Bureaus and the M*A*S*H Partnership, which includes the University of Arkansas for Medical Science’s Regional Centers, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Arkansas Farm Bureau and Baptist Health. Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private farm and rural advocacy organization of more than 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

MAGNOLIA Plans for bringing poultry studies back to Southern Arkansas University are taking shape with the commitment of $100,000 toward the project by First Financial Bank of El Dorado, Arkansas.

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, thanked First Financial for its commitment, praising the partnership as unique in the state. First Financial has been a longtime supporter of the poultry industry, a passion that now coincides with SAU’s desire to restore the program to its curriculum.

SAU had its beginning as one of four state agricultural high schools and will revive poultry studies “in a larger way than it was before,” Berry said. The University is developing a new poultry complex to improve instruction and to create more candidates for jobs in Arkansas.

“We are excited about this possibility for our agriculture students,” Berry said. “There will be nothing like this in our region.”

Dr. Jeffry Miller, Ralph Boulware Professor of Agriculture and chair of the Department of Agriculture, said the University is interested in creating a complex that will allow students to observe and interact with different aspects of poultry production.

“This will be a first-class facility that will better educate our students and enhance our agriculture program,” Miller said. “It will improve the training we offer our students and better prepare them for the job market.”

“This facility will allow instruction in every step of the process, from breeder to hatchery, from broiler to processing, and will reach a wide range of students,” Miller said. The building will also contain a feed storage room and a classroom/laboratory.

“As one of the nation’s largest poultry lenders, First Financial Bank is proud to partner with SAU in its poultry studies program,” said Chris Hegi, CEO. “For more than 30 years, it has been our privilege to support those who grow and harvest the food that ends up on our dining tables. This new program will be a great asset to SAU and to the agricultural industry nationwide, providing hands-on training and education that is unique in this part of Arkansas.”

Miller said the unit would cost about $1 million. “We are reaching out to poultry companies,” he said. “Our program will benefit employers by expanding the available workforce. Part of our mission as educators is to graduate students who will stay in our state. We need to not only keep the industry stable but also grow it.”

Opportunities are still available for those interested in partnering with SAU on the project. Contact the SAU Division of Advancement at 870-235-4078.

MUNCIE, Indiana -- Arkansas improved from "C" to "C+" in manufacturing and "D-" to "D" in human capital, says the  2018  Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card released today by the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and Conexus Indiana.

Arkansas maintained the grade of "A" in its benefits costs; "C" in logistics, diversification, and liability gap; "D+" in global position; "D-" in tax climate; and "F" in productivity and innovation.

Arkansas experienced an improvement in high school graduation rate between 2015 and 2016, the report said.

“U.S. manufacturing and logistics are in a remarkable period of expansion,” said CBER Director Michael Hicks, George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business Research.

The report, released at the Conexus Indiana breakfast event co-hosted with the Indianapolis Business Journal titled, “Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics: Indiana’s Innovation Economy – Exploring Transportation Megatrends”, features an annual scorecard comparison of advanced manufacturing and logistics health among U.S. states.

The 2018 Manufacturing and Logistics Report Card was written by Hicks and Srikant Devaraj, CBER’s research assistant professor. The reports can be downloaded from the CBER website at

JUNE 8, 2018

NORTH LITTLE ROCK—Energy service providers will join representatives of Arkansas state agencies, colleges, universities, cities, counties, and municipal utilities on Tuesday, June 19, for the Arkansas Energy Performance Contracting (AEPC) Summit 2018. The event is hosted by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Energy Office at Heifer International in the Heifer Village Conference Room from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Program highlights include the following:

  • Welcome remarks by ADEQ Director Becky Keogh
  • Energy service provider and contractor exhibits
  • Step-by-step guidance from program managers
  • Panel discussion with program participants
  • Panel discussion with solar energy experts

The AEPC program is a key cost-saving tool for Arkansas’s public entities. AEPC has seen an explosion in interest since its start in late 2014, with thirteen executed projects guaranteeing over $120 million in savings. Energy performance contracting is a turnkey service with an annual savings guarantee. This method of finance provides taxpayer-funded public entities with the opportunity to complete a comprehensive set of energy efficiency, capital infrastructure, and renewable energy measures at no upfront cost.

AEPC is a significant economic development initiative for the state. A jobs study commissioned by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation found that nearly 700 companies that employ more than 16,000 Arkansans are in the advanced energy economy. About 60 percent of those jobs are tied to energy-saving equipment and services, and are directly affected by a vibrant AEPC program.

Sponsors of AEPC Summit 2018 include Entegrity, presenting sponsor; Johnson Controls and Performance Services, signature sponsors; and Bernhard Energy and Clear Energy, partner sponsors.

Additional exhibitors include: All Electric Supply, Harrison Energy Partners, LightWave Solar, and Powers of Arkansas.

MEdia registration is required. Please contact AAEA executive director Katie Niebaum at, or 501.537.0190, to register.

JUNE 7, 2018




Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to respond to the national-security threat posed by Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE.

“Huawei and ZTE have extensive ties with the Chinese Community Party, as well as a track record of doing business with rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. So it’s only prudent that no one in the federal government use their equipment or services and that they receive no taxpayer dollars. Given their repeated violations of U.S. law, we cannot trust them to respect U.S. national security, and so it’s vital we hold them accountable and pass this amendment,” said Senator Cotton.

“ZTE has flagrantly and repeatedly violated U.S. laws, and any deal to let them off the hook should not move forward. This amendment will ensure that, regardless of action the Administration takes right now, Congress will protect American interests and national security,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“In a country full of bad actors when it comes to hurting American jobs and threatening our national security, Huawei and ZTE are two of the absolute worst offenders,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “Both parties in Congress must come together to bring the hammer down on these companies rather than offer them a second chance, and this new bipartisan amendment will do just that.”

The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bill Nelson (D-Florida).


  • The amendment would prohibit all U.S. government agencies from purchasing or leasing telecommunications equipment and/or services from Huawei, ZTE, or any subsidiaries or affiliates.
  • It would also ban the U.S. government from using grants and loans to subsidize Huawei, ZTE, or any subsidiaries or affiliates.
  • Finally, it would restore penalties on ZTE for violating export controls. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation produced by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that supports critical housing, infrastructure and facilities for U.S. military forces and their families and provides increased funding for veterans’ health care and benefits.

Boozman, chairman of the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, crafted legislation that provides critical funding for construction of national defense facilities, family housing, and military hospitals and schools. The bill also provides funding for veterans’ health care, veterans’ benefits, medical and prosthetic research, the National Cemetery Administration, information technology and the VA Inspector General.

“Keeping the promise we made to our veterans is an important responsibility of the federal government.  Just as essential is that we ensure our military has the infrastructure it needs to defend our nation and its allies. This bill reflects these priorities by increasing resources to prevent veteran suicide, increasing rural access to healthcare, supporting critical mental health programs, preventing veterans homelessness and providing robust funding for innovative medical research. Our bill will also give the Department of Defense the resources it needs to project power globally, enhance our warfighting capabilities and train our servicemembers,” Boozman said.

Bill Highlights:
Military Construction
 – Resources to fund 169 military construction projects. This includes funds for construction and renovation projects on military bases within the United States and around the globe.

  • European Reassurance Initiative – Funding for construction projects in support of U.S. allies through the European Reassurance Initiative.
  • Overseas Contingency Operations – Funding for construction projects in direct support of military operations in the Middle East.
  • Military Family Housing – Funding for construction, operation and maintenance of military family housing. The bill includes construction funding for nine family housing projects.
  • Military Medical Facilities – $366 million for construction or alteration of military medical facilities. This funding will allow for continued support and care for 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including wounded U.S. troops abroad.
  • Department of Defense Education Facilities – $388 million for essential safety improvements and infrastructure work at four overseas military schools.
  • Guard and Reserve – $487 million to support the construction needs of National Guard and Reserve forces.
  • NATO Security Investment Program – Funding to provide infrastructure for training, deterrence, and the NATO Alliance’s response to challenges posed by Russia and threats from the Middle East and North Africa.

Veterans Affairs (VA) – The legislation includes a record level of $86.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $5 billion above the FY2018 level. These resources will provide the healthcare, benefits, and memorial services earned by U.S. service members and veterans.

  • VA Medical Care – $78.3 billion to support medical treatment and healthcare for approximately 9.3 million enrolled patients in FY2019. The bill includes: $8.6 billion for mental health; $860.8 million for the Caregivers Program; $400 million for opioid misuse prevention and treatment; $779 million for medical and prosthetic research; $525 million for health care specifically for women veterans; and $270 million for rural health initiatives.
  • Veterans Homelessness – Funding for VA Homelessness programs including $450 million for the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program. 
  • Claims Processing – Funding to ensure that proper staffing and resources are utilized to reduce the wait time and backlog of disability decisions on appeal, and to meet the demand for other benefit programs. 
  • Construction – $1.8 billion for major and minor construction associated with VA hospital replacement, correction of seismic deficiencies, scores of projects to improve access to VA health care, and the VA’s National Cemeteries. The bill also includes $150 million in construction grants for State Extended Care Facilities.
  • VA Mandatory Funding – The bill fulfills mandatory funding requirements, including veteran disability compensation programs for 4.9 million veterans and 432,000 survivors; education benefits for nearly one million veterans; guaranteed home loans for 519,000 veterans; and vocational rehabilitation and employment training for more than 149,000 veterans.
  • Advance Appropriations – $75.6 billion in FY2020 advance discretionary funding for veterans health care, and $121.3 billion in FY2020 advance mandatory funding for veterans benefits.
  • Related Agencies – The legislation also includes funding for:
  • American Battle Monuments Commission 
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims 
  • Arlington National Cemetery 
  • Armed Forces Retirement Home 

LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin today announced that he has re-appointed Thomas G. Williams to continue serving on the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. Griffin issued the following statement:

“I am honored to re-appoint Thomas G. Williams, a Managing Member of Quattlebaum, Grooms, & Tull PLLC, to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. Mr. Williams has been an excellent member of the Commission, and has received praise for his service and performance. I appreciate his willingness to serve another term, and I congratulate him on his re-appointment.”

Williams has been practicing law since 1988 and was among the original lawyers who established Quattlebaum, Grooms, & Tull PLLC, where he continues to work and is a Managing Member. Williams is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Product Liability Litigation (Defendants) and Personal Injury Litigation (Defendants), and recognized by Super Lawyers in the area of Personal Injury Defense. He is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell. Williams graduated with high honors from the University of Arkansas School Of Law in 1988 and previously served in the House of Delegates to the Arkansas Bar Association.


JUNE 6, 2018


MAGNOLIA – A 2017 graduate of Southern Arkansas University saw her dream of helping animals take one step closer to becoming reality as she was accepted into veterinary school at Louisiana State University.

Riley Loftin, who received her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Science: Pre-Veterinary from SAU in December 2017, was recently notified of her acceptance into the school.

“Animals are so important to me, and I want to be able to advocate for them because they cannot speak for themselves,” Loftin said. “They can’t tell someone where they are hurting, how they’re hurting, or how you can help them. I want to be able to make a difference in this world, and I won’t be satisfied with anything else.”

Loftin, a native of Blossom, Texas, received an academic scholarship to attend SAU. She began her academic career intending to teach, but after her first year as an education major, decided she wanted “to do something for animals.”

“I’d had a couple of dogs that had developed tumors, and when they died, I got so upset,” she said. “I wanted to help them but I didn’t know how.”

In summer 2016, she got the opportunity to work for a veterinary clinic in Reno, Texas. It was there she found her calling. “It was so exciting. I love small animals. I did a lot of kennel work, and got to assist with surgeries.”

Since this past March, Loftin has been working for the Ward Veterinary Clinic in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Switching to Agricultural Science was an amazing experience for Loftin. “I had no background in farming or agriculture per se, and my exposure to animals was limited, but it was the best experience,” she said. “I got to work with large animals and study the internal biology. It was a little overwhelming at first; I had to figure out how to study for it. But my professors were so very supportive.”

She praised Dr. David Sanson, associate professor of agriculture, for making himself available to students “at all times of the day. He was always willing to help me before or after school. He’s always there.” She also credited Dr. Pierre Boumtje, professor of agriculture economics, with aiding her in her studies.

The toughest part of transitioning from the education field to agriculture was “the knowledge that, eventually, you are going to have to deal with death, especially if you continue in the animal science arena,” she said. “But I look at quality of life over quantity, and that helped me make the transition.”

Sanson reflected on her academic experience. “Riley transferred to the department, so she had to take some classes out of sequence,” he said. “She is a dedicated student who put her education as her No. 1 priority. However, she was also active in the department, serving as an Ag Ambassador.”

As a member of the Honors College, Loftin completed two Honors classes with Sanson in which she conducted a small research study. She also served two semesters as a Supplemental Instructor for Introduction to Animal Science.

“Riley was an excellent student and has an excellent work ethic,” Sanson said. “I am excited that she has been accepted into veterinary school.”

Loftin called working with larger animals an exhilarating experience. “It was intimidating, too,” she laughed. “It was a great learning experience. I really enjoyed studying animal reproductive physiology and animal nutrition lab. I got to touch the insides of living animals! It was fun working with them and seeing how they interacted with me.”

Loftin researched a variety of veterinary schools and sent out her applications upon graduating. “I waited for a long, long time,” she said, with a laugh, of the application process. “I found out I’d gotten accepted into LSU’s program on my dad’s and husband’s birthday. I called Dad and said ‘happy birthday,’ and then called him back an hour later and said LSU had sent a letter saying, ‘congratulations.’ It was indescribable; I cried, and my puppy thought I was crazy.”

Loftin called her time at SAU a wonderful experience. “There are so many friendly people here, always willing to help, no matter what you need help with,” she said. “I wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else for my undergrad.”

She and her husband, Seth Loftin, an SAU Engineering graduate who presently works for Aerojet Rocketdyne in Camden, Arkansas, expect to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana by August.

“My husband is stoked about it,” she said, of her acceptance into veterinary school. “I’ll have a tough class load. I anticipate I will have to change the way I studied before, and I’m kind of nervous, but excited, too.”

She is using her present experience at the Ward clinic to learn the business side of veterinary work. “I’d like to own my own business one day,” she said. “My goal is to be my own boss.”

She is the daughter of Chad and Jeri Brakebill. Her brother, Cobyn, transferred to SAU from Paris Junior College and is a mass communication major.

29-turbine wind farm to produce capacity by 2020

Little Rock, Ark.June 6, 2018 — Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) of Little Rock has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with Wildhorse Wind Energy, LLC, which is owned by Southern Power, a leading U.S. wholesale energy provider and subsidiary of Southern Company, to purchase up to 100 megawatts of energy that will be produced by the Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility in Pushmataha County, Okla.

“Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) works on behalf of more than 500,000 electric cooperative members to add resources, like the 100 megawatts of capacity from Wildhorse Mountain Wind Facility, to its generation portfolio,” said Duane Highley, president/CEO of AECC. “This wind facility along with AECC’s diverse, reliable generation portfolio provides energy at the lowest possible cost to our members.”

Located in Pushmataha County, the 100-MW project is expected to consist of 29 wind turbines manufactured by Vestas. Wildhorse Mountain is expected to reach commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2019.

 holesale power to Arkansas’ 17 electric distribution cooperatives that provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states

JUNE 5, 2018

Meets with Troops, Receives Mission & Security Briefings
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and several colleagues visited American military posts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East to receive updates on the vital missions of these command units and visit with American troops, including several Arkansans, serving abroad.

Boozman, along with Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), took part in a congressional delegation trip during the week of May 28 that made stops at military installations in Poland, Italy, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Spain.

“Meeting with our military leaders at these bases and talking with the service members under their command gives me great confidence in the ability of our Armed Forces to deter, prevent and respond to threats and provocations against the United States and our allies,” Boozman said. “Our national security interests must be protected and supported amid growing concerns about the activities of countries including Russia and Iran, as well as non-state actors like ISIS, Boko Haram and other radical groups. The work being done by our military personnel at these posts is ensuring that our nation is prepared to meet any crisis or challenge to ourselves or our allies head on.”


Boozman also had the opportunity to meet with Arkansans serving at several of the installations as well as Air Force C-130 crews deployed to Djibouti from Little Rock Air Force Base’s 19th Airlift Wing. The C-130 flight crews provided transportation to the delegation during parts of the trip.

“It was my honor to spend some time with Arkansans and other service members who have a connection to the state and get their perspectives and insights on the missions they are being asked to carry out. We want to be certain they feel that they have all the tools and resources needed to see their missions through to completion. I invited them to offer feedback and will take their candid responses and questions back to Washington so that we can address them,” Boozman said. “I also expressed to these brave men and women how proud of and grateful we are for their service and that we look forward to their safe return home.”

June 4, 2018

Talk Business & Politics

By Aric Mitchell

  Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin isn’t a fan of government as usual, and he’s telling Arkansans they shouldn’t be either….


In a 30-minute address, Griffin touched on “killing ‘the TOW Tax,'” operating government more like a business, and embracing new technologies through both operational efficiencies and educational focus so Arkansas is governing “like it’s 2018, not 1918.”


On the mysterious TOW Tax, a term Griffin coined, he said he wanted to “get bumper stickers made that say, ‘Kill the TOW Tax'” — The Old Way Tax — because taxpayers are paying “more taxes than you should so your government can do things the old way. That means services are done inefficiently or not well at all, and as a result, you have fewer services at a higher cost.”…


Griffin said legislators need to be working as the private sector does “to remain competitive,” adding that “24 hours a day you are bettering yourself in the private sector, but government is not that way because there are no market forces.”…


To illustrate, Griffin used the example of a tree removal team using crosscut axes, “sawing back and forth” until a tree comes down instead of using chainsaws. With government, he said, “We’ll get the trees cut, but it could take all week instead of all day, and you will pay more.”


Borrowing from a former politician, Griffin shared a quote he picked up from former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels: “If it’s in the Yellow Pages, why is the government doing it? It’s not legitimate for the government to be blocking out the private sector.”…


“We have a moral obligation in government because we take your money by force. So if you’re an official in government, you have an obligation to be a good steward of that money,” Griffin said. Besides, “We will get better services — as in more services” through finding efficiencies. That means DHS and the Department of Revenue, other departments, will be able to do “more for less.”


Griffin…used his own office as an example, stating he had cut his office staff in half since 2015. “And we’re doing more things with less people.” Doing this government-wide means “we will save money” — a necessity for competing against states like Texas and Tennessee where there is “no income tax.”


“And I’m telling you, legislators, you will never get anywhere until you find the savings. You’ve got to find the savings first, and then reform the tax code. We’ve already got the money. It’s just not being spent right. Don’t ask me for one more penny in taxes until you can look me in the eye and say every single dollar is being spent wisely. It ain’t.”


JUNE 4, 2018

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services (FCS) has announced the results of its 2018 Board of Director and Nominating Committee elections.

Central Region Director Russell Bonner, Northern Region Director Dwain Morris, Northern Region Director Jeff Rutledge and Southern Region Director Jesse Briggs were all re-elected.

AgHeritage FCS shareholders elected to the Nominating Committee were: Ronald Aaron (Batesville office); Matt Hibbard (Pocahontas office); John Hamilton (Searcy office); Doug Medford (Brinkley office); Brandon Parker (Lonoke office); Clay Poole (McGehee office); Frank Prislovsky (Stuttgart office); Harrell Wilson (Star City office); and Tommy Young (Newport office).

For more information about AgHeritage Farm Credit Services’ Board of Directors, please visit

AgHeritage Farm Credit Services is a financial cooperative with owned and managed assets of approximately $1.25 billion as of December 31, 2017, that provides credit and related services to more than 2,900 farmers, ranchers and producers or harvesters of aquatic products in 24 Arkansas counties.  Branch offices are located in Batesville, Brinkley, Lonoke, McGehee, Newport, Pocahontas, Searcy, Star City and Stuttgart

America’s Drive-In says #ThanksTeach during Teacher Appreciation Month
OKLAHOMA CITY) – Sonic® Drive-In (NASDAQ: SONC), a longtime supporter of public school teachers through its Limeades for Learning® initiatives, celebrated Teacher Appreciation Month throughout the month of May with the third-annual #ThanksTeach social media campaign to recognize, celebrate and reward teachers. In addition to sharing inspiring stories of real teachers – and encouraging others to do the same with the hashtag #ThanksTeach – SONIC’s $1 million donation was shared among more than 5 thousand public school teachers across the country, with $17400 going to 87 teachers in the Little Rock community, including two teachers specifically in Camden, Ark.

SONIC said #ThanksTeach to each of the two teachers in Camden with a $200 gift card to, SONIC’s non-profit partner for Limeades for Learning that inspires teachers to create innovative learning projects and request the materials or experiences they need most for their classrooms. Teachers can either apply the $200 SONIC donation to their own projects on, or gift the donation to another deserving teacher.

For a full list of public schools where teachers received a $200 #ThanksTeach donation, including those in the Camden community, visit

“At a time when teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money to supply their classrooms, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Month by supporting more than 5,000 teachers in cities near SONIC Drive-ins. These teachers are our customers, they teach our crew members and they are an integral part of the communities in which we operate,” said Christi Woodworth, vice president of public relations for SONIC. “We’ve asked everyone to share #ThanksTeach on social media, and in turn SONIC is showing our gratitude with a $1 million donation to our partner to impact 5,000 classrooms coast to coast.”

Everyone can get involved in #ThanksTeach by sharing stories on social media using photos, videos or a written message. Facebook fans can Smile to Say #ThanksTeach via a Facebook augmented reality (AR) camera effect that springs to life when the user smiles into the camera on their mobile phone, creating a video or photo that can be easily shared on the platform. Search the hashtag #ThanksTeach to see real teacher stories shared by SONIC and others during Teacher Appreciation Month.

To learn more about Limeades for Learning and #ThanksTeach, visit Limeades for Learning® and explore public school teacher projects in the Camden community in need of support.

About SONIC, America's Drive-In
SONIC, America's Drive-In is the nation's largest drive-in restaurant chain serving approximately 3 million customers every day. Nearly 94 percent of SONIC's 3,500 drive-in locations are owned and operated by local business men and women. For 65 years, SONIC has delighted guests with signature menu items, 1.3 million drink combinations and friendly service by iconic Carhops. Since the 2009 launch of SONIC's Limeades for Learning philanthropic campaign in partnership with, SONIC has donated $10.7 million to public school teachers nationwide to fund essential learning materials and innovative teaching resources to inspire creativity and learning in their students. To learn more about Sonic Corp.(NASDAQ/NM: SONC), please visit and please visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about SONIC's Limeades for Learning initiative, please visit Limeades for Learning®.

Founded in 2000 by a Bronx history teacher, has raised $683,614,142 for America's classrooms. Teachers come to to request the materials and experiences they need most for their classrooms, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. To date, 3,110,293 people and partners have funded 1,153,551 projects on the site, reaching 27,834,415 students and making the leading platform for supporting U.S. public schools. is the only crowdfunding platform that vets each request, delivers materials directly to schools, and captures the impact of every funded project with photos, thank yous, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. In 2014, made the top 10 of Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, the first time a charity has received such recognition.


June 4, 2018

LITTLE ROCK –Each year there are more babies born in Arkansas with illegal drugs in their systems.

The state Division of Children and Family Services has been keeping records since the legislature enacted Garrett’s Law in 2005. It is named after a child who was born in 2004 with crystal methamphetamine in his body, and who lived only a few months.

The law expanded the legal definition of child neglect to include causing a newborn child to be born with illegal substances in his or her body, as a result of the mother knowingly using illegal drugs.

Although the presence of drugs is sufficient to substantiate an allegation of neglect, under Garrett’s Law the mother’s name is not automatically placed on the state’s Child Maltreatment Registry, because of concerns that a listing would prevent the mother from getting a job.

In 2006 there were 416 reported instances in Arkansas of babies being born with drugs in their bodies. The number has steadily gone up each year, by an average of seven percent until 2011. From 2012 through 2017 it went up more sharply, at an average growth rate of 14 percent a year. Last year there were 1,241 babies born in Arkansas with illegal drugs in their bodies.

For the past four years, marijuana has been the most commonly reported illegal drug found in newborns. Each year about two thirds of the filings made under Garrett’s Law indicate marijuana use by the mother, either by itself or in combination with other drugs.

The second most widely abused drug among pregnant mothers, at a rate of 25 percent, was methamphetamine or amphetamine. Opiates were abused by 18 percent of the mothers, based on the drugs found in their babies. Opiates include heroin, morphine, codeine and oxycodone. Ten percent had tranquilizers and five percent had cocaine.

The median age of the mother is 26, and over 90 percent of the mothers are under the age of 30. Those percentages have has been consistent over the past several years.

Last year 70 percent of the newborns did not have any reported health problems. That is an improvement over the previous two years, when 60 percent to 65 percent had health problems.

About 14 percent of the newborns needed treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit, and about 13 percent had respiratory distress or other breathing problems. About five percent suffered from withdrawal symptoms related to the presence of addictive drugs in their bodies.

The mortality rate last year was about a third of a percent, or 0.3 percent. That is the same as in 2016 and an improvement over 2015, when one percent of the newborns died.

The babies born with cocaine in their bodies had the highest rate of health problems (47 percent), followed by those born with tranquilizers (41 percent), with opiates (38 percent) and with methamphetamines (37 percent).

The least likely to be born with health problems were those born with marijuana in their bodies (27 percent).

Newborns whose mothers used cocaine were more likely to require treatment in intensive care (31 percent), followed by those born with methamphetamines (15 percent).

After the Division looked into the 1,241 cases reported under Garrett’s Law in 2017, about 18 percent of the babies were removed from their mothers’ homes. If the trend from the previous year holds steady, we can expect that 37 percent of those babies will be returned to their mothers within a year.

More than 38,000 babies were born in Arkansas during 2017, according to the U.S. Census.


1. Call to order.

2. Presentation by Tim Cowan of Athletic Surfaces Plus.

3. Personnel session.


JUNE 1, 2018

Washington, D.C.—
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today announced that 20 students from across Arkansas received and accepted appointments through his office to the United States Service Academies.

“Each one of these young men and women has made our state proud--not only by what they’ve accomplished, but by what they’ve chosen. They’ve decided to serve our country and put the safety and well-being of their fellow Americans before their own. For that, they deserve our gratitude, and as they begin this new chapter of their lives, we wish them good luck and Godspeed.”

United States Air Force Academy
Andrew Goldtrap (Fort Smith, AR)
Daniel Huntman (Bella Vista, AR)
Hannah Cheatham (Little Rock, AR)
Joseph Wittig (Fort Smith, AR)
Javan Jowers (Farmington, AR)
Parker Davis (Arkadelphia, AR)
Reese Wendfeldt (Mountain Home, AR)

United States Merchant Marine Academy
Andrew Pequignot (Hot Springs, AR)
Cole Eddins (Fort Smith, AR)

United States Military Academy
Christopher Burlison (Conway, AR)
Gavin Shapiro (White Hall, AR)
John Johnson IV (Maumelle, AR)
Robert Bolin (Vilonia, AR)

United States Naval Academy
Adeline Geoghagan (North Little Rock, AR)
Adrianna Munoz (Center Ridge, AR)
Jackie Sherrell (Alexander, AR)
Karrington Evans (Scranton, AR)
Megan LaMendola (Springdale, AR)
Martina Thomas (Fayetteville, AR)
William Brown (Marion, AR)




MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University's College of Science and Engineering will host two fantastic summer camps in 2018, geared toward exciting student interest in science.

Coding and Cyber Security Camp will be held June 8-10, and the deadline for registration has been extended to June 5.

Engineering Summer Camp will be held July 9-11, with a registration deadline of July 2.

Both are open to students in grades 8-12 and have options for overnight and day-only campers.
To register online, please visit for the Coding and Cybersecurity Camp, or for the Engineering camp.

Cost is $275 per participant, and both camps will 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Campers have the option to stay overnight in SAU residence halls.

Coding and Cyber Security will appeal to students interested in computing. They will learn how to code simple applications in processing, develop Android apps, create simulations, and build their own computers. They will also be introduced to cybersecurity, virtual reality and humanoid robot maneuvering, as well as fun math activities. All participants will receive a camp T-shirt, and an award ceremony will be held on the final day. Food and lodging are included in the price.

Engineering camp participants will do hands-on projects related to engineering and physics, including building and programming Lego Mindstorms robots, designing the path of a robotic arm, and material testing using a force tester. There will be demonstrations in physics, as well as astronomy night observations.

For more information, contact Marisa Grippo at or call 870-235-4290.