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January 23, 2019


Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

 

 

RUTLEDGE REACHES SETTLEMENT OVER

ILLEGAL PROMOTION OF HIP IMPLANTS

Arkansas to receive $1.7 million

LITTLE ROCK – Yesterday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced she has joined 45 attorneys general to reach a $120 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and its wholly-owned subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. to settle allegations that DePuy unlawfully promoted its metal-on-metal hip implant devices. Arkansas will receive $1.7 million in the settlement.


“Today’s settlement helps to ensure that doctors and patients have necessary and accurate information when considering implant options,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Surgeons who implant devices like these metal-on-metal hip replacement systems need to have the most up-to-date information concerning patient outcomes.”


The Attorneys General allege that DePuy engaged in deceptive practices in its promotion of the ASR XL and Pinnacle Ultamet hip implant devices by making misleading claims as to the longevity, also known as survivorship, of metal-on-metal hip implants. DePuy advertised that the ASR XL hip implant had a survivorship of 99.2% at three years when the National Joint Registry of England and Wales reported a 7% revision rate at three years. Similarly, DePuy promoted the Pinnacle Ultamet as having a survivorship of 99.8% and 99.9% survivorship at five years when the National Joint Registry of England and Wales reported a 2.2% three year revision rate in 2009 increasing to a 4.28% five year revision rate in 2012.

Some patients who required hip implant revision surgery to replace a failed implant experienced persistent groin pain, allergic reactions, tissue necrosis, as well as a build-up of metal ions in the blood. The ASR XL was recalled from the market in 2010. DePuy discontinued its sale of the Pinnacle Ultamet in 2013.

As part of the settlement, DePuy has agreed to reform how it markets and promotes its hip implants, including:

  • Advertised claims of survivorship, stability or dislocations will be based on scientific information and the most recent dataset available from a registry for any DePuy hip implant device.
  • Maintain a post market surveillance program and complaint handling program.
  • Update and maintain internal product complaint handling operating procedures including training of complaint reviewers.
  • Update and maintain processes and procedures to track and analyze product complaints that do not meet the definition of medical device reportable events.
  • Maintain a quality assurance program that includes an audit procedure for tracking complaints regarding DePuy products that do not rise to the level of a medical device reportable event but that may indicate a device-related serious injury or malfunction.
  • Perform quarterly reviews of complaints and if a subgroup of patients is identified that has a higher incidence of adverse events than the full patient population, determine the cause and alter promotional practices as appropriate.

 


Arkansas was joined in the settlement, which was led by South Carolina and Texas, by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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GRAND JURY SESSION FOR WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS CANCELLED
Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that the Grand Jury Session for January has been cancelled due to a lack of resources as a result of the Government shutdown. No criminal cases will be dismissed and no trials or other hearings will be moved at this time due to this cancellation. The cases that would normally be presented to the Grand Jury for indictment this month will be resolved in other ways. Criminal defendants have the option to waive indictment by a Grand Jury and proceed to plead guilty to a criminal information filed by the United States Attorney’s Office. This is one option that will be used for the United States Attorney’s Office to continue to prosecute cases and promote the safety and welfare of people in the Western District of Arkansas. Another option is to request an order from the United States District Court to impanel a new Grand Jury later for each division that would be able to meet without incurring travel expenses by traveling to Fort Smith, Arkansas from throughout the State of Arkansas. Regardless of the manner in which criminal cases are resolved going forward during this Government shutdown, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas will continue to work diligently with our State, Local, and Federal agency partners to investigate and prosecute criminal cases throughout the Western District of Arkansas.

Despite the lack of necessary funding, the attorneys and staff members of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas continue to work tirelessly to support and advance the mission of the United States Department of Justice. These employees do so by working long hours to support state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies and to continue to promote the safety and welfare of the Western District of Arkansas by prosecuting federal criminal cases throughout the district.

altSENATORS URGE PRESIDENT TRUMP TO SEND ISIS FIGHTERS TO GUANTANAMO BAY
Washington, D.C.— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) today sent a letter to President Trump urging him to send the worst of the ISIS fighters currently detained in Syria to Guantanamo Bay. Doing so would prevent these dangerous terrorists from being released to commit further acts of terror.

Ten years ago today, President Obama signed a misguided executive order ordering the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. This executive order drew sharp criticism from elected Republican officials on Capitol Hill – and rightly so. The subsequent rise and fall of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has only underscored the need for a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.

The full text of the letter can be found below

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

As U.S. and partner forces have waged a campaign against the Islamic State over the past four years, we have captured hundreds of foreign enemy combatants. Our partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are currently detaining over 700 of these battle-hardened terrorists in northeast Syria. These detainees include two of the so-called “Beatles,” expatriated British citizens suspected of joining ISIS and beheading Western hostages. Given the rapidly shifting dynamics in Syria, it is possible that these terrorists may escape or be released from SDF custody in the coming weeks and months. It is imperative that these Islamic State fighters not be released. If given the opportunity, many of them will take up arms against our Syrian and Iraqi partners or attempt to infiltrate the United States and Europe to carry out terror attacks against civilian targets, like they have already done in France and Belgium.   

We urge you to consider transferring the worst of these Islamic State fighters to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, where they will face justice. Thank you for your continued leadership in our military campaign against the Islamic State and your willingness to consider this matter of national security. 

Sincerely,
Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas
Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Senator Marco Rubio, R- Florida

 

January 23, 2019 Rep. David Fielding Update From the Capital

January 22, 2019 - Minimum Wage Bill

Arkansas State Senator Bob Ballinger last week introduced Senate Bill 115, which would add exceptions to the States original minimum wage law, as well as subsequent minimum wage legislation, including last November's Initiated Act 5, which would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $11.00 an hour by 2021.

The Bill, if passed, would provide exceptions to the minimum wage law for individuals under eighteen, educational institutions, employers with fewer than fifty employees, and nonprofit organizations, as well as amend the law impacting Initiated Act 5 Of 2018.

We asked Sen. Ballinger to explain the exceptions.... Listen below - 040002601

What are you proposing?.....Listen below - 040012501

This Senate Bill then would go back to the original Minimum Wage Bill passed in the 1990's and add to it?.......Listen below - 040013701

The Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee will host a hearing on this Bill, Wednesday, January 23rd at 10am in Room 272.

Senator Ballinger on the Minimum Wage Bill

January 22, 2019

altARKANSAS MUNICIPAL LEAGUE WINTER CONFERENCE
The Arkansas Municipal League hosted their Winter Conference on January 16th, 17th and 18th. The Arkansas Municipal League was founded in 1934 and exists to act as the official representative of Arkansas cities and towns before the state and federal governments; to provide a clearinghouse for information and answers; and, to offer a forum for discussion and sharing of mutual concerns.

During the three-day session City Officials from across the state attended a number of seminars updating Mayor’s and Councilmen on various laws. There is a special session for newly elected officials to help them understand what local government is and what they need to know. The Conference provides continuing education for Officials who have held their positions for one or more terms. There are sessions on things like Workmen’s Comp, how to make cities attractive to potential businesses, and how to cultivate workplaces of respect and civility to name a few.

City Officials from Camden who attended the conference are Mayor Julian Lott along with Assistant to the Mayor, Amy Perrin, City Clerk Donna Stewart, Director of Public Works, Shamir Dorsey and his assistant Yolanda Lewis and Fire Chief Brian Medford. Aldermen Chris Aregood and Joe Askew also attended the Conference.

Wednesday night the Opening Night Banquet was held. During the event, attendees heard from State Senator Jim Hendren, State Representative Matthew Shepherd, Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court Don Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land, Secretary of State John Thurston, State Auditor Andrea Lea, and Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan. Each Official briefly stated the reason for the Office, what they do and how they support municipalities.

Thursday morning began with breakfast and a voluntary Prayer Session followed with the Opening General Session. The Winter Conference officially begins with the Presentation of Colors and the singing of the National Anthem. The Little Rock Fire Department Color Guard presented the Colors. The National Anthem was sung by Officer Allison Walton of the Little Rock Police Department. Host City mayor Frank D. Scott, Jr. welcomed delegates. Arkansas Business presented the 2018 Trendsetter City Awards to cities and towns that have shown themselves to be innovative and creative at the local government level.

Thursday also saw the Community of the Year Awards Luncheon. Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke and presented the awards. He encouraged the Municipal League to work with the legislature and the Governor’s Office. He talked about the partnership between the municipalities and the Municipal League and how they work together. He talked about what Arkansas is doing with the schools and computer technology. Governor Hutchinson spoke to the difficulty of the jobs Mayor’s have. He commended their hard work. The Governor talked about his big agenda items for the current session. He referred to the as the 4 “T’s” - Transformation of State Government, Increase in Teacher Pay, Tax Cuts and a new Transportation Highway Funding Bill. He spoke to each of these, explaining what each item would do for the state. He has a plan to reduce the number of departments in State Government. He would like to get teacher pay up by $4000 upward over the next 4 years. That will put us at the highest in the region. It will help the state attract new teachers and retain the current teachers. The Governor said teachers are fundamental to education and education is fundamental to economic growth and what we need to do in the state. He went on to explain why he supports more tax cuts. Industries have told the Governor that Arkansas is not competitive because of the tax structure. The current tax structure is costing the state new Industry. He wants to develop a highway plan. The plan is not in place as of yet but it is being hammered out. There are different ideas being considered and the legislature has to decide the best way to do this while not hurting anyone.

The remainder of Thursday afternoon and Friday morning consisted of continuing education seminars. The Arkansas Municipal League will meet again for a Summer Session in June 2019.

January 21, 2019

U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey ruled Thursday in favor of four school districts that asked to be exempted from participating in inter-district student transfers because of their decades-old federal school desegregation lawsuits.

Hickey issued four separate but similarc decisions enabling the Hope, Junction City, Lafayette County and Camden Fairview school districts to claim exemptions from participating in the state’s School Choice Act in the 2019-20 school year and beyond.

Hickey, however, said she wouldn’t require students allowed to transfer this school year to return to their home districts.

The state’s School Choice Act, which dates to 1989 but has since undergone multiple legislative revisions, allows students to attend schools in districts other than the ones in which they reside — unless the receiving district has inadequate space for the transfer student or if a district submits proof to the Arkansas Department of Education that transfers present a genuine conflict with an active desegregation order or desegregation plan that explicitly bars interdistrict student transfers.

“I call it a win,” Allen Roberts of Camden, an attorney for the four districts, said about the judge’s decision. “I think it’s real good for the districts.”

The four districts had applied to the state and had been denied exemptions from the School Choice Act for the coming 2019-20 school year. Roberts said he’ll confer with the districts and with Education Department attorneys in the coming days on how best to change that.

The Arkansas attorney general’s office defended state education leaders in the case.

“The Attorney General will decide the appropriate next steps after reviewing today’s disappointing decision, which limits parents’ rights to choose the best educational opportunities for their own children,” spokeswoman Amanda Priest said.

Roberts and attorney Whitney Moore of Little Rock argued to state education leaders last year allowing students to cross district lines to attend schools in districts in which they don’t reside would result in “white flight” and put the four school systems in conflict with their long-standing federal court-ordered desegregation mandates.

The Department of Education and the state Board of Education denied or, in the case of the CamdenFairview district, partially denied the requests for School Choice Act exemptions.

The four districts followed up by filing motions in their federal desegregation cases asking Hickey to either declare the School Choice Act to be in conflict with the desegregation obligations or to direct the districts’ desegregation orders be altered to reflect the School Choice Act provisions.

After the districts submitted those motions to Hickey, the state sought and received permission to intervene in the three federal cases in which it wasn’t already a party — Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City.

The state’s attorneys argued the four districts were in effect proposing an interdistrict remedy in their cases, which would be impermissible because the courts hadn’t found interdistrict constitutional violations, only intra-district violations.

Bobby Hart, Hope superintendent, said Thursday that 23 students who reside in Hope transferred out of the district this year. He said he believed the number of Hope transfer students was capped by the number of new students the neighboring district could accommodate.

“At the time those students transferred, the Davis decree did not contain the necessary language contemplated by the 2017 act for Hope to claim an exemption from school choice,” Hickey wrote about the Hope School District case.

ARKANSAS WOMAN CHARGED IN FATAL NEW YEAR’S DAY HIT-AND-RUN
A probable cause affidavit filed in circuit court shows that on Jan. 8, a woman from Fordyce was charged with the hit-and-run death of an El Dorado woman killed in Hampton on New Year’s Day.

The Arkansas State Police filed a fatality report stating  the accident happened at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday, January 1st, on U.S. Highway 167.

It is reported that Jocelyne Evans, 28, of Fordyce, was driving a 2010 GMC Acadia south on U.S. 167 when the vehicle crossed the northbound traffic lane, left the road, traveling 130 feet south before hitting Melissa Womack, 40, of El Dorado. Womack was pronounced dead at the scene.

Evans was charged with negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death.

The document states that Evans crossed the center line of the roadway and struck Womack, causing her to “travel approximately 60 feet” and come to rest in the parking lot of Granny’s Grill in Hampton. Womack had been walking along the roadside near the Hampton eatery.

Evans left the scene, but returned to the area shortly after the accident, the affidavit states.

CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon lions Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine's Bistro. The speaker this week will be Jeff Arrington, Regional Director Southern Administrative Services with Pine Hills Health and Rehabilitation.

altSAAC TO HOST “WRAP PARTY” FOR CANDICE ALEXANDER’S EXHIBIT
Lake Charles, Louisiana artist Candice Alexander is wrapping up her exhibit that been on display in the Price and Merkle Galleries at the South Arkansas Arts Center.  SAAC will host a “Wrap Up Party” on February 2, 2019 from 4:00-5:00 PM, on the extended closing day of her exhibit, “Fleur de Lis—Worlds Within”.  This event is intended for anyone who has not had a chance to enjoy her work up close and personal, as well as for clients who purchased artwork during the show to pick up their purchases. Alexander will be on hand to sign her artwork and help “wrap it up” to go to its new home. 

For over 12 years, Candice has been crafting Louisiana-inspired art, which gets collected nationally and internationally.  Alexander Art Studio, which she founded in 2002 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, houses more than 800 of her designs, all inspired from the fleur de lis, depicting a myriad of subjects, mostly pertaining to Louisianan culture and life.

The pop-up shop at SAAC features a range of items, diverse in size and interest: paintings and prints, glass cutting boards, jewelry, lithographs, and art installations.  Included in the show are subjects such as Mardi Gras, sports, sea life, and nature, as well as portraits of dogs, goats, and other pets. 

With the "Fleur de Lis–Worlds Within" series having begun in 2007, Candice Alexander’s latest collection on sale is sure to capture the essence of the artist's native community, while also being able to share it with residents of the El Dorado community.   

The gallery is open Monday- Friday from 9:00-5:00 and this exhibit is free and open to the public.  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. For more information about "Fleur de Lis- Worlds Within", please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org.

 

altCOTTON, BOOZMAN REINTRODUCE THE PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT
Washington, D.C.—
Arkansas Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman this week joined their colleagues in reintroducing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The legislation would provide common-sense protections for unborn children at 20 weeks after fertilization, a point at which there is significant scientific evidence that abortion inflicts tremendous pain on the unborn.

“Medical science increasingly confirms the common experience of parents and the religious and ethical belief of the ages: an unborn baby is just as much a person as each of us—only more innocent, more helpless, and therefore even more deserving of protection. As we celebrate Arkansas’s 42nd annual March for Life this weekend, this legislation is particularly appropriate. I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote a culture of life and bring this legislation to the floor for a vote,” said Cotton. 

“Science has proven that at twenty weeks the infant actually feels pain and yet we are one of only seven countries that still allow abortion after this point. This bill--which includes exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother--would end this practice. It is the right thing to do for any society that purports to value human life and dignity,” said Boozman.

Background on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
At the age of 20 weeks post-fertilization, scientific evidence tells us an unborn child can feel pain.  Anesthesia is administered directly to the unborn child in second-trimester fetal surgery. The unborn child shows physical, chemical, brain and stress responses demonstrating pain at this stage of development.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based in science, has overwhelming public support, and is necessary to protect unborn children from painful and untimely deaths.

Highlights:
This legislation protects unborn babies after 20 weeks or five months, more than halfway through the pregnancy.

The United States is one of only seven countries that allows on-demand abortions past 20 weeks. The other six are: North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands. Pain-Capable legislation has already passed in South Carolina and other states.  They include Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arizona. 

Advances in modern medicine help babies born at 20, 21 and 22 weeks post-fertilization survive outside the womb. The pain these babies feel outside the womb gives evidence to the pain their unborn counterparts feel while in utero.

Ultrasounds show unborn babies at 20 weeks sucking their thumb, yawning, stretching and making faces. 

Summary of Provisions:
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would make it illegal for any person to perform, or attempt to perform, an abortion without first making a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child.

If the post-fertilization age of the unborn child is determined to be 20 weeks or greater, an abortion shall not be performed, unless –

  • It is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman;
  • The pregnancy is a result of rape and the woman has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion; or if she chooses to do so, has made a report to law enforcement; or
  • The pregnancy is a result of rape or incest against a minor and the abuse is reported to either social services or law enforcement.

In the case of the exceptions

  • the abortion may only proceed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive unless that would pose a greater risk of death or serious bodily injury to the pregnant woman; and
  • the abortion provider must receive informed consent from the pregnant woman, certifying that she has been provided the child’s gestational age, a description of the law, and her rights under the law.

A woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of this Act may bring a civil action against the abortion provider in court to recover damages.

Abortion doctors are required to submit annual data to the National Center for Health and Statistics providing statistical information about abortions carried out after 20 weeks post-fertilization age.

The criminal punishment for a violation of this Act is imprisonment of up to five years, fines, or both.

The Act makes clear that a woman who receives an illegal abortion in violation of this act may not be prosecuted.

COTTON, BOOZMAN AND BLUNT INTRODUCE THE ESTATE TAX RATE REDUCTION ACT
Washington, D.C.—Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) along with Senators John Boozman (R-Arkansas), and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) today introduced the Estate Tax Rate Reduction Actwhich would reduce the estate tax to 20 percent, the same as the current capital gains tax rate.

“Families shouldn’t have to sell major portions of their businesses or farms after the death of a parent just to afford the 40% estate tax. Breaking apart a family’s livelihood is neither fair or good for the economy, especially since families are often forced to sell to large corporations. My legislation would cut that rate in half, bringing the rate in line with the current capital gains rate and making it much easier to preserve a family’s legacy and way of life,” said Cotton.

“Punishing years of hard work and investment, as the estate tax does, has never been fair or reasonable to family farmers and small business owners in Arkansas who rightly view it as a real threat to passing their businesses and assets on to the next generation,” Boozman said. “Reducing the rate of the estate tax is another step in the right direction and builds on previous efforts to reduce this burden for families.”

“The current estate tax is often a crushing blow to family businesses and farmers who are trying to plan for the future,” said Blunt. “This legislation will bring relief to family farms and businesses as they transition from one generation to the next.”

JANUARY 18, 2019

altRUTLEDGE REACHES SETTLEMENT FOR ILLEGAL DIESEL EMISSIONS
Arkansas to receive more than $1.5 million in settlements with Fiat Chrysler and Bosch
LITTLE ROCK
– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has reached two settlements in the form of consent judgments requiring Fiat Chrysler and auto supplier Bosch to pay a total of $171.2 million nationwide for their roles in selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

“Fiat Chrysler is being held accountable for cheating on emissions testing, and Bosch is answering for its role in providing the software,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will continue to hold automobile makers and their suppliers accountable for wrongful and deceptive conduct.”

Following a nearly two-year investigation, Rutledge, with 51 jurisdictions nationwide, filed suit against Fiat Chrysler and its subsidiaries, for having installed unlawful defeat device software and undisclosed auxiliary emissions control devices in several models of its diesel vehicles. The attorneys general found that Fiat Chrysler cheated on federal and state emissions tests by calibrating the software to conceal that vehicles emitted higher than permitted levels of harmful nitrogen oxides in real-world driving conditions, and misled consumers by falsely claiming some vehicles were environmentally friendly.

After a separate but related investigation, Rutledge, along with 49 other jurisdictions, filed suit against Bosch which is the engineering company that supplies Fiat Chrysler and other automobile manufacturers with electronic control units housing the complex software that controls nearly all aspects of an engine’s performance, including emissions systems. The investigation concluded that Bosch facilitated the implementation of the defeat device software in more than 600,000 Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles over a period of more than 10 years.

Under the terms of the two settlements, Fiat Chrysler will pay a total of $72.5 million to the litigating jurisdictions for consumer and environmental violations, with Arkansas receiving $763,750. Bosch will pay $98.7 million, with $737,100 for Arkansas.

The settlement requires Fiat Chrysler to eliminate the defeat device features through a software “flash fix”; provide eligible owners and lessors extended warranties; and, together with co-defendant Bosch, pay eligible owners who take their vehicle to an authorized dealer for the software repair an average restitution payment of approximately $2,908 and lessees and former owners who do so restitution of $990. Fiat Chrysler is also prohibited from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection to its dealings with consumers.

Bosch has also agreed to injunctive terms and to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and must refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software.

Rutledge reached a settlement with Volkswagen in 2016 on similar allegations.

January 17, 2019

alt"ANNIE, KIDS" AUDITION UPDATE FROM SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center is reminding the public about auditions for youth, for both boys and girls, those exclusively in grades 2-8, who are interested in trying out for the upcoming Youth Community Theatre Production, "Annie KIDS", sponsored by Kiwanis Club of El Dorado. Auditions will be held on January 22 and 24, 2019, starting at 3:45 PM at the Arts Center, with later production dates on April 12-13.

"There has already been an enthusiastic response to this project," said Laura Allen, Executive Director for SAAC, "and, if attendance at the recent interest meeting is any indication, turnout for auditions will be terrific!" Allen has in addition stated that, while the Arts Center would like to include everyone who tries out, its building and theater's physical limitations may not allow for everyone's participation, crediting that the production staff "will make every effort to cast as many participants as possible while ensuring that the ensemble can be seen, heard, and safely accommodated".

Parts are available for 7 females, 8 males, 1 dog, lots of orphans, and New Yorkers. Those auditioning should fill out an audition form and review the rehearsal schedule. Children should plan to be at SAAC for auditions at 3:45pm on both Tuesday and Thursday, January 22 and 24. Everyone will be taught a song and some simple dance steps. Wear appropriate footwear and be prepared to move.

Two songs will be used in auditions: N.Y.C. and Maybe. The songs will be taught at the audition, but, for those that want to listen to and learn the songs before arriving for the audition, look online at the SAAC website, www.saac-arts.org <http://www.saac-arts.org> , for video links to the songs. Those wishing to be considered for a primary role will be asked to read at auditions-no preparation required.

For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org <http://www.saac-arts.org> . SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas

 

January 16, 2019

COTTON, GALLAGHER, VAN HOLLEN AND GALLEGO INTRODUCE BILL TO IMPOSE DENIAL ORDERS ON CHINESE TELECOM COMPANIES THAT VIOLATE U.S. SANCTIONS
Washington, D.C. – 
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas),  Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) introduced the bipartisan Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act to direct the President to impose denial orders banning the export of U.S. parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that are in violation of U.S. export control or sanctions laws. The legislation follows the news that Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, was arrested last month in Canada at the request of U.S. prosecutors on charges of violating U.S. sanctions. Click here for text of the bill.



“Huawei is effectively an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army. It’s imperative we take decisive action to protect U.S. interests and enforce our laws. If Chinese telecom companies like Huawei violate our sanctions or export control laws, they should receive nothing less than the death penalty—which this denial order would provide,” said Senator Cotton.

“Huawei and ZTE are two sides of the same coin. Both companies have repeatedly violated U.S. laws, represent a significant risk to American national security interests, and need to be held accountable. Moving forward, we must combat China’s theft of advanced U.S. technology and their brazen violation of U.S. law,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Chinese telecommunications firms like Huawei represent a growing threat to American national security. As state-directed enterprises, they ultimately report to the Chinese Communist Party and will be employed where and whenever possible to undermine American interests and those of our allies. This bipartisan legislation sets a simple standard: if a Chinese telecommunications firm is found to have violated U.S. sanctions moving forward, it will be subject to the same severe punishment originally imposed on ZTE,” said Rep. Gallagher.



“Huawei and ZTE’s actions to systematically undermine U.S. and allied cybersecurity show that Beijing does not wish to be part of the rules based system, but rather to break it. I am pleased to have Senators Cotton and Van Hollen join with me and Representative Gallagher to show that attacking the United States, its allies, and the international norms that are the basis for China’s own progress will result in severe penalties,” said Rep. Gallego.



Measures included in the Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act include: 
 

  • Establishing that it is U.S. policy to enforce denial orders banning the export of U.S. parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that have violated U.S. export control laws or sanctions.
  • Directing the President to impose the same strict penalties originally faced by ZTE on any Chinese telecommunications firm found to be in violation of U.S. export control laws or sanctions.
  • Ensuring that penalties for violating U.S. export control laws or sanctions are not withdrawn until a pattern of compliance and cooperation over the course of a year proves that policies surrounding systematic lawbreaking by Chinese telecommunications firms have been changed.
  • Prohibiting any executive agency official from modifying any penalty imposed on Chinese telecommunications companies, their agents, or affiliates until the President certifies that the company has not violated U.S. laws for one year and is cooperating fully with U.S. investigations.
  • Highlighting the Congressional role in overseeing Executive Branch export control and sanctions determinations regarding Chinese telecommunications companies.

MISS DAFFODIL 2019 PAGEANT TO BE HELD MARCH 2ND
Miss Daffodil 2019, sponsored by Main Street Camden, will be held on March 2nd  at the Camden Fairview Little Theatre located at 1740 Cash Road in Camden. Registration will be from 8:30 to 9:30 AM and the pageant will begin at 10:00 AM. Entry Fee is due by February 27th. No entry fees will be accepted at the door. Photogenic photograph(s) must be turned in at registration with name and age on back of each picture.  Sizes must be 4x5, 5x7 or 8x10. One photo allowed for initial entry fee. Additional pictures may be entered for $5.00 per picture. DO NOT SEND WITH ENTRY.

Baby to Princess – 0 to 6 years:
Registration: 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Pageant begins at 10:00 a.m.
Baby Miss 0-12 Months  
Tiny Tot 13-24 Months  
Petite Miss 25 Months-4 Years  
Princess 5-6 Years

Pre-Teen to Ms. Daffodil  7 to 18
Registration: 9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Pageant begins at 11:00 a.m.
Pre-Teen 7-9 Years
Young Miss 10-12 Years
Jr. Miss 13-15 Years
Miss Daffodil 16-18 Years

Entry Categories and Fees:
Beauty - $25.00
Photogenic*(one photo) - $10.00
Extra photogenic photos  - $5.00 each entry    
People’s Choice (no fee)  
Beauty Prizes:
Winners receive a Crown & Trophy, 1st & 2nd runner-ups receive a Trophy
Photogenic:
Winners receive a Trophy
People’s Choice:
Winners receive a Crown

Please complete and return entry for and entry fee by the deadline:  February 27, 2019
Mail to:  Main Street Camden   P.O. Box 99   Camden, AR
For more info, contact Main Street Camden at 836-6426 or email info@CamdenAreaChamberofCommerce.org.

January 15, 2019

altRUTLEDGE TAKES OATH OF OFFICE FOR SECOND TERM AS ATTORNEY GENERAL
Says, ‘true honor to pursue justice, good and right’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following having been sworn in for her second term as Attorney General today.

“Serving the people of Arkansas as Attorney General has been a true honor to pursue justice, good and right,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As we begin the next four years, I remain committed to increasing economic and educational opportunities for our families and keeping our most vulnerable children and seniors safe from predators. I will continue making the State more efficient and effective by expanding services and accessibility while decreasing the budget. On behalf of Boyce, Julianna and me, thank you, Arkansas families, for trusting me with these great responsibilities.”

Rutledge took the oath of office in the Chamber of the Arkansas State Capitol House of Representatives while her parents Keith and Nancy Rutledge, her brother Alan Rutledge and niece Kylie Rutledge as well as several other family members and friends observed from the House Gallery. She was escorted onto the House floor by her husband, Boyce Johnson who held their five-month old daughter Julianna and the family Bible.

In December 2015, Rutledge announced her marriage to Johnson and in July 2018, Rutledge announced the birth of their daughter, Julianna. Rutledge is the first constitutional officer of Arkansas to give birth while holding office, and also the first female and first Republican elected to the Office of Attorney General in Arkansas.

Rutledge joined Governor Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, Secretary of State John Thurston, Auditor of State Andrea Lea, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan and Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land at today’s inaugural ceremonies.

MASTER GARDENER PROGRAM TAKING APPLICATIONS
Want to be a Master Gardener?  Applications are being taken in Ouachita County for persons who want to sharpen their horticultural skills and then share their knowledge with others.

The Master Gardener Training Program will be held for eight consecutive Thursday’s beginning February 7 and ending March 28, 2019.  Training sessions will be held at the Union County Fairgrounds in El Dorado. Class hours are 1:00-6:00 p.m. for a total of 40 hours of training. A training fee of $80.00 is due upon registration.

The deadline for applying is January 31, 2019.  For details, application or information contact Keri Weatherford at the Ouachita County Extension Office at 870-231-1160 or by email at kweatherford@uaex.edu.  

The University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. 

January 14, 2019

 

altSUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST COURSE NOW AVAILABLE TO EDUCATORS
LITTLE ROCK —
The Arkansas Department of Education, in partnership with ArkansasIDEAS and the Arkansas Activities Association, is offering educators a new professional development course that focuses on sudden cardiac arrest.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arkansas had the fourth highest heart disease mortality rate in 2017, with 10,577 deaths. While the CDC-reported number of deaths due to cardiac arrest in Arkansas were much lower (104 in 2017) than those for heart disease, prevention and training play a critical role in saving lives.

To provide better training in the recognition and management of sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes, Arkansas law outlines training guidelines for school districts and coaches. Sudden Cardiac Arrest: When Seconds Count is one of many resources available for coaches to address the health and safety of student athletes. The course is available on ArkansasIDEAS, a joint partnership between ADE and the Arkansas Educational Television Network that provides free, online professional development for educators.

“ADE is pleased to partner with ArkansasIDEAS and the Arkansas Activities Association to offer this valuable training to Arkansas educators,” ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said. “While not common, sudden cardiac arrest can affect teenagers, and when it does, time is of the essence. With the proper training and response techniques, the outlook is good for those affected. I encourage all educators to complete the online training.”

The free, online course features expert opinions from a cardiologist, student athlete, and athletic trainers who discuss ways to prevent sudden cardiac arrest, as well as how to identify the warning signs and respond if an incident occurs. The course also includes additional videos that provide more information about cardiac arrest.

“At AETN and ArkansasIDEAS, the most important courses and trainings we produce provide Arkansas educators and families with potentially lifesaving resources,” AETN Executive Director Courtney Pledger said. “In recent years, ArkansasIDEAS has quickly responded to critical health legislation for Arkansas schools, resulting in an extensive library of professional development on such topics as heat illness, concussions, suicide, and other urgent topics. We are proud to add this new course on sudden cardiac arrest with hopes that even one life can be saved because a coach or teacher recognized the early signs and had been trained on how to manage the situation."

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: When Seconds Count will be a great resource for our schools, coaches, and families,” said Dr. Joey Walters, deputy executive director for the Arkansas Activities Association. “The course is a wonderful addition to the other sports medicine courses available on ArkansasIDEAS. The collaboration between all parties involved is again an example of why Arkansas is a national leader in sports medicine."

Educators can access the training by logging into their ArkansasIDEAS account at http://ideas.aetn.org. For login questions, contact the ArkansasIDEAS Help Desk at 1-800-488-6689

altRUTLEDGE JOINS PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON BORDER SECURITY AND SAFER COMMUNITIES
On Frida
y, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge participated in a roundtable discussion with President Donald J. Trump on border security, illegal immigration and the dangers facing our communities nationwide that have been created at our southern border.

“President Trump understands that our Nation's security must be a top priority and that Congress must provide funding to protect our borders,” said Attorney
General Rutledge. “It is imperative for the United States to restore security and the integrity of our immigration system. Every Arkansan and American is less safe following decades of failed policies, and it is time for Congress to fund not only the border wall, but also new technology and reinforcement for our border patrol agents.”

Rutledge’s top priority as attorney general is keeping Arkansans safe. The southern border is overwhelmed with illegal immigration, gang violence, crime, drugs and human trafficking, which disperse across the United States and into Arkansas. Rural America is particularly impacted because the border crisis has empowered cartels and drug trafficking. Rutledge has worked alongside Arkansas law enforcement leadership to combat the opioid crisis and identify ways to better serve those providing an essential
service.

alt

LOCAL ARTIST GARY HALL TO LEAD SAAC'S CORKS AND CANVAS THIS MONTH
The South Arkansas Arts Center will host a Corks and Canvas night with local artist Gary Hall on Thursday, January 17, 2019, from 6:00-9:00pm. Corks & Canvas is an art class for non-artists who are interested in experimenting with a new skill. Each class is conducted by a different art instructor, who takes the class through the step-by-step process to complete a work of art in three hours.

Hall will lead the class in creating a three-dimensional Mardi Gras jester in mixed media. Hall is Director of Entertainment and Media Arts at South Arkansas Community College. He holds a BA in Radio, TV & Film from UALR and an MA in Theatre from Louisiana Tech. He began taking art classes at SAAC at age 8 and continued his training in two- and three-dimensional art at UALR. Hall's first art solo exhibit was entitled "The Song of the Oil and the Brush" and was held at SAAC in 2017. He works generally in pastels, acrylics and multimedia, along with found objects. His style is best described as eclectic with a flair for the dramatic, always with an eye toward "finding the beauty in decay."

The $40 fee covers all supplies and snacks. This class is limited to 15. Those taking the class should bring their favorite libation and get ready to have a good time!

For more information or to register for this class, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

CAMDEN NOON LIONS TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet on Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. This week the this week will be Steve Word.  He will be discussing current scams and fraud protection.

January 11, 2019

altRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES LONOKE COUNTY MAN SENTENCED FOR POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
LITTLE ROCK
– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge yesterday announced that a Lonoke County man has been sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child pornography charges.

James Christopher Bynum, 47, of Cabot, pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing, distributing or viewing
of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. He was found in possession of numerous images and videos of adult men engaging in sexual intercourse and forced penetration with children as young as 9-10 years old.

“Bynum possessed and shared horrific images of innocent children being victimized,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These victims deserve justice. I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods where they cannot harm more children.”

Bynum was arrested in March by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit where special agents seized multiple electronic devices from his residence. An attorney from the Attorney General’s Office was appointed Special Deputy Prosecutor in the case by the 23rd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham.

“Bynum possessed and shared horrific images of innocent children being victimized,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These victims deserve justice. I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods where they cannot harm more children.”

Bynum was arrested in March by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit where special agents seized multiple electronic devices from his residence. An attorney from the Attorney General’s Office was appointed Special Deputy Prosecutor in the case by the 23rd Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham.

BOOZMAN, COTTON BACK INTERNET SYSTEM TO VERIFY WORKERS
By: Frank Lockwood
Arkansas Democrat Gazette

WASHINGTON -- While President Donald Trump is making his case for a wall along the country's southern border, U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman, both Republicans from Arkansas, tout a smaller, simpler, high-tech immigration fix. A mandatory electronic employment verification system, they say, would slow the flood of illegal immigration into the United States. But leaders in the agriculture community warn it would also drive up food prices and lower productivity.

The E-Verify system already exists, although its services are unavailable because of the partial government shutdown. Authorized by a 1996 immigration law, E-Verify is run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Social Security Administration. Use of the system is optional in Arkansas and most other states. It's mandatory, however, for federal contractors and vendors. Businesses are increasingly relying on E-Verify, which allows them to use the Internet to determine if a job applicant is entitled to work in the United States. In 2001, there were just 1,064 employers using the system. That figured climbed to 88,244 in 2008 and topped 745,633 in 2017.

In an interview Thursday, Cotton said the online system is inexpensive to operate and its error rate is "extremely low." "It's very effective in stopping illegal immigration," the lawmaker from Dardanelle said. Rather than the slower, more mistake-prone paper-based system, E-Verify provides correct answers quickly, Cotton said. "If we had a nationwide mandatory E-Verify [system], the word would get out pretty quickly to those countries whose citizens right now are streaming across our border," he said. "If they learn in their home countries that every job they pursue, there's going to be an effective and immediate electronic verification system, they'll be less likely to cheat the system and come here in the first place; more likely to do the right thing and ... seek to come here either on a visa or to get a green card."

Efforts to make the system mandatory face opposition from some agriculture organizations. The "Farm Bureau opposes any mandate on employers to use E-Verify until an acceptable agriculture worker program is in place that provides for future flow of guest workers and allows work authorization for workers not currently authorized," said Matt King, Arkansas Farm Bureau's director of public affairs and government relations. "A Farm Bureau-commissioned study shows enforcement-only immigration reform, including mandatory E-Verify, would cause production to drop by $60 billion and food prices to rise 5 [percent] to 6 percent."

Both Cotton and Boozman say there's a crisis brewing on the border. They both back the president's request for billions of dollars in additional funding for the wall. Trump has raised the possibility that he'll use his emergency powers to build the wall without congressional approval. cotton said he hasn't "explored in detail what [Trump] means." "The president has certain emergency powers under law so it would be a question of law and fact on how he declares that emergency and I would evaluate it on the merits then," he added.

Boozman said he hopes that route isn't necessary. "I view it as a last resort," he said. "I'd like us to exhaust everything else first. In an interview Thursday, Boozman said mandatory electronic verification would help ease the border problem. "If people aren't hiring the people that are here illegally then they're not going to come because the work's not here," the lawmaker from Rogers said. Simplicity is key, he said. "A simple system like E-Verify with minimal hassle for the employer would be, I think, an excellent step forward," he added.

That's a view shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. The Washington-based think tank describes itself as "low-immigration, pro-immigrant." "Clearly, mandatory E-Verify is the single most important step to reducing illegal immigration because it would address not just illegal border crossers but people overstaying visas as well and make it more difficult for them to find work. Weakening the magnet of jobs is one of the key steps to controlling illegal immigration," he said.

Mireya Reith, co-founder of the Arkansas United Community Coalition, said it's premature to debate mandatory electronic verification. The immigrants-rights group she leads favors a broader discussion, she said. "There's a thirst and an urgency that we're all hearing and we're all feeling to talk about immigration reform. But let's not, in this shutdown moment, try and rush any conversation. Let's get out of the shutdown politics ... so we can have these conversations and look at all the angles and really have thoughtful legislation," she said.

Legislation mandating electronic verification stalled in the House last year. Co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. French Hill, Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman, it also would've created a new agriculture guest worker program. U.S. Rep. Steve Womack also backs electronic verification, his spokesman said. The four representatives are Republicans from Arkansas.

Rebekah Hoshiko, a spokesman for Westerman, said he favors mandatory electronic verification "provided it is part of a broader immigration reform package that solves larger issues."

OUACHITA COUNTY EXTENSION PRESENTS SCHOLARSHIPS
The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council will once again present the Gladys Lindsey and Alphonso T. Denham Extension Homemakers Scholarships this spring. Scholarship guidelines and applications may be picked up at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service located at 2760 Mt. Holly Road.  For more information call 231-1160. Application deadline is February 15, 2019. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

altFREE SMALL BUSINESS TRAINING
2019 Schedule Now Offered at the Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center
625 Adams SW, Camden, AR 71701 (OPED Building)
Call 870-836-2210 ext. 101 or oped@att.net to Pre-REGISTER


JANUARY
NEW! Reach Your Customers Online with Google (WEBINAR)
In this free webinar, you’ll learn how to set up your business for success on Google. You will learn: how to claim, verify, and update your free Google Business listing; how to increase your chances of getting higher ranking in Google’s organic (free) search listings; and, how to target people who are truly interested in your business with Google Ads. Led by Pamela Starr, one of Google’s professional national trainers, this is a can’t miss workshop for every small business owner.
Register online for the link to the webinar: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4141270259251780610
Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

FEBRUARY
NEW! Roundtable: The Path to Festivals
Vendor fairs, street fairs, summer festivals, non-profit events, and business expos are all great opportunities to reach a large audience and raise brand awareness. Figuring out what you need to have a successful booth at a festival-style event can be overwhelming. We can help! We have gathered the pros to guide you on your path to festival-vendor success. From those interested in entering the world of festivals to seasoned vendors ready to grow their small businesses we invite you to join the conversation!
Tuesday, February 5, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

NEW! Make Your Website Work for You (WEBINAR)
Make this your best year ever! If you’re launching a new business website (or sprucing up an existing site), this webinar is for you. Learn how to create a search-friendly website that’s useful for customers and supports your business goals. In this webinar we’ll offer tips for: Building a goal-oriented website, creating useful content for your audience, ensuring your site is useful for visitors on any and every device, and increasing visibility with search engine optimization (SEO). Led by Pamela Starr, one of Google’s professional national trainers, this is a can’t miss webinar for every small business owner.
Register online for the link to the webinar: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8187183877909438210
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

MARCH
Facebook Business Pages: Beyond the "Likes" (New Hands-On Learning Experience)
Turn your Facebook business page into a strategic advantage. Along with an overview of Facebook basics, get tips for managing your page, setting goals, measuring content reach, and analyzing post effectiveness. Bring your smart phone, tablet, or laptop for hands-on learning! *Please call or email us if you would like an iPad provided at the event for you*
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 | 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

APRIL
Is Starting a Business Right for You?
Come explore what business ownership is all about. We’ll acquaint you with the startup process and the entrepreneurial lifestyle. The free, hour-long conversation will give you a sense of what starting a business requires and tips to help you decide if you are ready to move forward with your idea. Bring your questions!
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

 

January 10, 2019

LICENSES FOR ARKANSAS MARIJUANA OUTLETS
The panel tasked with issuing Arkansas’ first medical marijuana growing and selling permits cleared the final bureaucratic hurdle blocking the drug’s implementation in the Natural State by selecting the state’s first dispensary operators on Wednesday.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, in a unanimous vote, accepted a consulting firm’s scores of the 199 applications for the first 32 dispensaries.

The vote inches Arkansas closer to becoming one of 33 states with broad medical marijuana programs, and state officials expect the drug to be available in April.

Arkansas approved Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution, legalizing medical marijuana, in 2016.

The 32 dispensaries are spread across eight zones in Arkansas based on population. There will be four dispensaries allowed in each zone.

Ouachita County is in the zone eight geographic area. Zone eight also includes Howard, Pike, Miller, Lafayette, Hempstead, Nevada, Columbia, Sevier, Little River, Calhoun, Union, Clark, and Dallas counties.

The top five scoring companies that applied for medical marijuana dispensary licenses in zone eight were Grassroots OPCO, Noah’s Ark, Bloom Medicials of AR, RX MED, and Arkadelphia Dispensary.

Several submitted applications in multiple zones but will have to choose one zone in which to open a dispensary. There were a total of 16 applications for dispensaries in zone eight.

altSAAC OFFERS ADULT ART CLASSES IN JANUARY WITH KELLY CAMPBELL AND GAY BECHTELHEIMER
The South Arkansas Arts Center has scheduled two adult art classes for January 2019. The first is “Defining and Practicing the Elements of Art” with Kelly Campbell. The six week class covering the basic elements of art starts January 16, 6-7:30 pm and meets weekly through February 20. Cost of the class is $150, and class size is limited to 10. Participants need only a pencil and a sketchbook.

Kelly said, “This class is great for anyone who never had a formal art class or for anyone who just wants a refresher. Once a week for six weeks will give us ample time to talk about each of the elements in depth and to practice using the elements of art effectively.” She added, “I plan to have a weekly class for six weeks later on that does the same for the principles of design.”

A retired art teacher with 26 years experience, she believes that learning about the elements of art is important for beginning artists as a base for their art. She also believes that occasionally revisiting those basics can help practicing artists take their art in new directions.

Well known El Dorado artist Gay Bechtelheimer will teach a two day watercolor class for beginners on Saturday and Sunday, January 26-27, 10am-4pm. Cost for the class is $110 per person with a minimum of five painters.

Bechtelheimer said, “This class is about understanding the basic techniques of watercolor. We will learn the properties of watercolor pigment and paper, how to apply washes, layer paint, and create a series of paintings.” A member of the Arkansas Arts Council, she also teaches art at Northwest and has a weekly open studio at SAAC.

Supplies for the workshop are: two sheets of Arches 140 lb. cold press paper (Hobby Lobby), #8 round watercolor brush (Hobby Lobby), 24”x36” masonite board (Home Depot), and painters’ tape. Bechtelheimer said that she has plenty of palettes that participants can use, so there is no need to buy a palette. The paint she recommends is Daniel Smith (smallest tube) – New Gamboge, Indian Throne Blue, and Quinacridone Red, which can be ordered from dickblick.com.

For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Call SAAC at 870-862-5474 for more information.

JANUARY 9, 2019

altRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES ARREST OF PREFERRED FAMILY HEALTHCARE THERAPIST FOR FRAUDULENTLY BILLING MEDICAID
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the arrest of a mental health therapist at Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH). Kandice Robinson, 33, of Bartlett, Tenn., is accused of billing the Arkansas Medicaid Program for services not rendered between August 15 and November 1, 2017, totaling about $4,950. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Robinson turned herself in at Pulaski County District Court. She is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class C felony.

“Robinson is another PFH employee accused of lying and charging Medicaid for services she did not provide,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “People cheating the Medicaid system are stealing from taxpayers and hurting the system, which is designed to protect Arkansas’s most vulnerable. I will not tolerate this behavior as the Attorney General.”

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

altBOOZMAN-CARDIN BILL ADVANCING WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT SIGNED INTO LAW
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump signed into law the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, legislation that seeks to eliminate global gender-related barriers and empower female entrepreneurs around the world

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and enjoyed support and advocacy from anti-poverty and humanitarian groups in addition to being vocally backed by White House advisor Ivanka Trump.

“Providing women access to tools for economic success supports global prosperity. The WEEE Act empowers women to gain control of their financial futures while simultaneously facilitating improvements in their homes and communities. I’m proud to have led the effort in the Senate to help level the economic playing field for women around the world and I appreciate the tremendous support we received from many in the public and non-profit sectors to help this critical legislation become law,” Boozman said.

“Investing in women creates a positive cycle of change that can lift women, families, communities and entire countries out of poverty,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I believe in the power of women to change the world, and I am proud that our leadership on this new, bipartisan law will empower women entrepreneurs and sharpen our diplomatic and development tools to better fight global poverty and injustice.”

Specifically, the WEEE Act will:

  • Establish a development cooperation policy of the United States to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, strive to eliminate gender-based violence, support women’s property rights and increase the capability of women and girls to determine life outcomes.
  • Direct the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to include efforts that promote equality and female empowerment throughout its programs.
  • Expand USAID’s microenterprise development assistance authority to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an emphasis on supporting SMEs owned, managed and controlled by women; and
  • Modernize USAID’s development assistance toolkit to include innovative credit scoring models, financial technology, financial literacy, insurance and actions to improve property and inheritance rights.

The Senate bill was cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

The bill was led by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) in the House of Representatives.

 

 

January 08, 2018

altFREE SMALL BUSINESS TRAINING SLATED FOR FEBRUARY
Free small Business Training Classes are now offered at the Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center located at 625 Adams SW, Camden, AR 71701 (OPED Building). Call 870-836-2210 or oped@att.net to Pre-Register

February Training includes a Roundtable discussion to address Marketing for Festivals. Learn marketing techniques and tips specific to the festival season, when to reach out to your target market, and unique marketing methods to use during this special time of year. This session will be held on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

There will also be a seminar titled “Reach Your Customers Online with Google (ONLINE)” You invest time, effort, and resources into being online, but do you know how much it’s worth to your bottom line? This workshop introduces ways to track and measure progress, so you can find out.  This session will be held Wednesday, February 13, 2019 from 12:00 PM to 02:00 PM

 

altARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES FIFTH YEAR OF ARKANSAS DECLARATION OF LEARNING INITIATIVE
Teachers, Librarians Encouraged to Apply to Participate
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the fifth year of the Arkansas Declaration of Learning initiative.

School librarians, as well as English language arts, fine arts, and social studies teachers, in grades four through 12 are encouraged to apply to participate in the program. Selected teachers will use historical art and objects from state and national partners to create lesson plans that involve civic engagement projects. 

Arkansas is the first state selected for the national program and will serve as a model for other states. In addition to coordinating the program, the Arkansas Department of Education partners with the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Clinton Foundation, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms to provide access to historic art and objects teachers can use when developing lesson plans and projects. 

“I am extremely proud that Arkansas is leading the nation with the Arkansas Declaration of Learning Initiative,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “The unique partnership between the Arkansas Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, and several Arkansas organizations strengthens teacher instruction and student learning. Anytime we can learn from our past and have a positive impact on our community, we are setting the stage for a better tomorrow for all Arkansans.”

Teachers and librarians selected for the program will have the possibility of earning 30 professional development hours. Participants will attend a training this summer and will be divided into regional teams led by mentors, previous participants who will provide assistance throughout the year. 

“Participating in ADOL allowed me to connect our students with subjects they don’t always get to think about in our rural Arkansas community: art, history, and civic involvement,” said Tracy Cline, a librarian at Butterfield Trail Middle School in Van Buren and a previous ADOL participant. “ADOL had a profound effect on our students. Being exposed to these ideas and works of art led them to think about civic engagement, themselves, and the past in an entirely new way.”

Teachers who are interested in applying for the program should submit their application at the following link by 11:59 p.m. February 10, 2019: https://goo.gl/forms/XsCnsN47I2Xyd7s62.

To learn more about the Arkansas Declaration of Learning initiative, visit https://bit.ly/2Ig48WQ. To hear from previous participants, as well as students and administrators, visit https://bit.ly/2CPswPv.

Follow us on Twitter @ArkansasEd.
Like us on Facebook at Arkansas Department of Education.
Follow us on Instagram at arkansas_ed.

41ST ANNUAL MARCH FOR LIFE IN LITTLE ROCK
The 41st Annual March for Life will be held on Sunday, January 20, 2019 in Little Rock at 2:00 p.m. The observance is a peaceful and prayerful event that attracts thousands of Arkansans from across the state including churches and families to remember the estimated 60 million unborn children who have been killed by legal abortion.

This event, sponsored by Arkansas Right to Life, will remember the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States on January 22, 1973. 

Staging begins at 1:30 p.m. between Battery and Wolfe Streets on West Capitol Avenue behind the Arkansas State Capitol. At 2:00 p.m. President Andy Mayberry will lead the marchers along with elected officials, invited dignitaries and others special guests to the steps of the State Capitol for a brief program.

The keynote speakers will be Courtney Beck, who obtained an abortion by judicial bypass of the Arkansas Parental Notification law and Christa Brown, the coordinator of the Abortion Pill Rescue program for Heartbeat International.

Other participants in the program will be Reverend Dave Hughey Pastor of Geyer Springs First Baptist Church and Reverend Iverson Jackson Pastor of Zoe Bible Church in Little Rock.

"While we welcome the declining abortion rate in our state and across America, we remember those lives lost over the last 45 years and continue in our support of those who have been forever wounded by an abortion decision, said Rose Mimms, executive director. "As we work to change hearts and minds, we are committed to an educational campaign on the Abortion Pill Rescue program that offers Abortion Pill Reversal treatment for those women who choose medication abortion and then change their mind before completing the abortion. This campaign along with legislation will ensure women who obtain medication abortion and change their mind have a chance to rescue their child," said Mimms.

Arkansas Right to Life, the state's oldest and largest pro-life organization, is an affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, the leading voice of the voiceless dedicated to protecting all human beings threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. 

altDIRECTORS FOR "ANNIE, KIDS" TO HOST PRE-AUDITION PARTY ON THURSDAY
The South Arkansas Arts Center will host a Pre-Audition Party for "Annie, KIDS" on January 10, 2019, from 5-6 pm on stage with the director and her team. This is a great time to meet the team, ask questions and get a step ahead on audition preparations.

Director Hannah Davis, producer Lynn Gunter, choreographer Bekah Gunter, and vocal director Cassie
altHickman will be on hand to answer questions and help with song choices.

"The opportunity to be a part of this play is magical. The kids are already abuzz talking about it! Your kids don't want to miss out," said Cassie Hickman. "NYC, the Big Apple. It’s the place everyone wants to be, but life isn't always easy. Sometimes, ‘It's The Hard-Knock Life,' especially when you're alone. It’s easy to want to throw the towel in. But there's a secret that makes life much more enjoyable... it’s friends! They are there to help pick you up when you get knocked down, to join with you to help you get the job done. Well, for‘Annie’, we need friends... we need you! We need your voice, your acting skills, your friendship! Come join us! It may be a ‘Hard-Knock Life' at times, but with friends we will have a great time performing ‘Annie’!"

Come join the fun and audition for "Annie, KIDS". For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

January 07, 2019

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET IN REGULAR SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The agenda includes a resolution recognizing Meetings and Procedures as set forth in the Code of Ordinances of the City of Camden Arkansas, and adopting other procedural rules, a resolution confirming the re-appointment of Tessa Wilson to the Camden Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, a resolution amending the City of Camden’s Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual to reflect Executive Order No. 47 that all city employees are to be included in the educational incentive and certification pay, a resolution authorizing a Budget Amendment for salary increases for the following Public Work areas: Garage, Street, Disposal and Collection, a resolution approving the appointment of Tina Davis to the Water and Sewer Commission, a resolution accepting donated property located at 561 Pierce Street SW, a resolution declaring the burned structure located at 120 Van Buren Street NW a public nuisance and to order the removal of the same, an ordinance assessing a lien on property located at 662 Frazier Street SW and an ordinance assessing a lien on property located at 457 Carver Street SW.

altPERRYVILLE DISTURBANCE ENDS IN HOMICIDES; ARKANSAS STATE POLICE CID INVESTIGATING
Perryville Police Officers have asked the Arkansas State Police to investigate the homicides of a man and woman who died following a domestic disturbance last night (Saturday, January 5, 2019).

A Perryville police officer responded at approximately 11:06 PM to a call reporting a disturbance at 506 West Valley Street.  Once inside the home the officer witnessed two men fighting and one was armed with a knife.

The officer ordered the armed man, later identified as Bobby Wyles, 36, to drop the knife.  Wyles was then taken into custody and transported to the Perry County Detention Center.

Susie Fuller, 32, and Jerry Drinkwater, 36, who lived at the residence died at the scene.

Wyles is being held at the local jail as the investigation continues today.

The bodies of Fuller and Drinkwater have been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.

GIVE BACK DURING THE LENTEN SEASON IN THE 10TH ANNUAL GET UP AND GIVE COLLECTION DRIVE
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Jan. 2, 2019) – With the holidays behind us and the 40 days of Lent just ahead, Methodist Family Health has a way for Arkansans to honor the Lenten season by contributing to our state’s children and families who are abandoned, abused, neglected and managing psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues.

The 10 th Annual Get Up &amp; Give collection project asks Arkansans to contribute necessities to the children and families in our care. The project is during the entire 40 days of Lent – Wed., Mar. 6 through Thurs., Apr. 18 – and both children and adults can participate by donating personal hygiene items, clothes, shoes, school supplies, bedding, funds and other necessities to the Methodist Counseling Clinic in their community.

“The mission of Methodist Family Health is to provide the best possible care to those who may need our help, and Arkansans, regardless of age, can help us accomplish this,” said Kelli Reep, director of communications at Methodist Family Health. “The Lenten season is usually thought of as a time to give up or fast from something in our lives, but it also can be a time to take on something that renews our spirit and connection to our neighbor. Get Up &amp; Give is an easy to do this, and it makes a tremendous impact on the children and families we serve.

“Many of our kids are in the foster care system or have families with few monetary resources,” she said. “Providing them things like new underwear, deodorant, their own school supplies – even books and toys – demonstrates to them that someone they have never even met cares about their well-being.”

Methodist Family Health asks that all items contributed through Get Up &amp; Give are new. Monetary donations also can be contributed so specific items can be purchased to meet the needs of the Arkansas children and families in our care. Contributions can be delivered to the Methodist Family Health Counseling Clinic serving the community closest to the contributor beginning Mon., Apr. 22. Drop-off locations include:

Alma: 1209 Hwy 71N, Suite B, Alma, AR 72921; phone 479.632.1022
Batesville: 500 E. Main St., Suite 310, Batesville, AR 72501; phone 870.569.4890
Fayetteville: 74 W. Sunbridge Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72703; phone 479.582.5565
Heber Springs: 407 S. 7th St., Heber Springs, AR 72543; phone 501.365.3022
Hot Springs: 100 Ridgeway, Suite 5, Hot Springs, AR 71901; phone 501.318.6066
Jonesboro: 2239 S. Caraway, Suite M, Jonesboro, AR 72401; phone 870.910.3757
Little Rock: 1600 Aldersgate Road, Suite 100B, Little Rock, AR 72205; phone 501.537.3991
Magnolia: 621 E. North St., Magnolia, AR 71753; phone 870.234.0739

A complete list of items can be downloaded at https://www.methodistfamily.org/get-up-and-give.html. For more information, contact Kelli Reepat kreep@methodistfamily.org or 501-906-4210.

About Methodist Family Health
Founded in 1899 as the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage, Methodist Family Health is celebrating our 120 the  anniversary of providing the best possible care to those who may need our help. A statewide continuum of care, Methodist Family Health each year serves thousands of Arkansas children and their families who are abused, abandoned, neglected and have psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues. Methodist Family Health has locations throughout the state, including the Methodist Behavioral Hospital, two residential treatment centers, eight therapeutic group homes, an emergency shelter, a day treatment program, eight counseling clinics, nine school-based counseling clinics, a grief center for children and their families, and the Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (Arkansas CARES).

CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB RESUMES MEETINGS
The Camden Noon Lions Club will resume meetings after the Holiday break this Wednesday at Catherine's Bistro. The speaker for Lions Club this week will be Stephone Avery.  Stephone is a motivational speaker with the John Maxwell Team.  He will be speaking about  "Invaluable Laws of Growth".

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JANUARY 5, 2019

altADE ANNOUNCES 18 RECIPIENTS OF $1000 SPONSORSHIPS TO ATTEND COMPUTER SCIENCE CONFERENCE
LITTLE ROCK —
The Arkansas Department of Education today announced the 18 Arkansas educators selected to each receive a $1,000 sponsorship to attend the Computer Science Teachers Association Annual Conference this summer.

The sponsorships will assist educators with expanding their knowledge of computer science and give them the opportunity to network with other educators from around the world at the CSTA conference, which will be held July 7 to 10, 2019, in Phoenix.

The following educators have been selected to each receive a sponsorship:

  • Jessica Ballou - Bryant High School in Bryant
  • Robin Boerwinkle - Norphlet Middle School in Smackover
  • Kayla Britton - Cabot High School in Cabot
  • Samuel Grubb - Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville
  • Chelsea Henderson - Earle High School in Earle
  • Erin Jordan - Greene County Tech High School in Paragould
  • Ashley Kincannon - Lake Hamilton Junior High School in Pearcy
  • Amy Locke - Williams Elementary School in Farmington
  • Rebecca Luebker-Moll - Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville
  • Warren Maddox - Vilonia High School in Vilonia
  • Bridget Mills - Pangburn High School in Pangburn
  • Tracie Opolka - Hackett High School in Hackett
  • Michele Owen - Hill Farm Elementary School in Bryant
  • Lisa Posey - Genoa Central High School in Texarkana
  • John Russell - Bentonville West High School in Bentonville
  • Courtney Speer - Nettleton STEAM in Nettleton
  • Karma Turner - Lake Hamilton Junior/Senior High School in Pearcy
  • Lynnea Wright - Harmony Grove High School in Harmony Grove

The $1,000 sponsorships were open to Arkansas K-12 public school teachers, librarians, curriculum coordinators, counselors, and other educators who have demonstrated their commitment to technology integration and computer science education at their school or district. Educators were selected by an impartial committee of ADE employees and statewide computer science specialists who reviewed all applicants and scored them using a rubric, viewable at https://goo.gl/ECCNg7.

To receive the sponsorship, selected educators will be required to attend the CSTA conference and participate in various conference and state delegation activities. Recipients will receive the sponsorships after the conference to offset conference expenses.


To learn more about the conference, including how to register, please visit https://www.csteachers.org/page/2019conference.

For more information about the sponsorships and selection process, please see Commissioner’s Memo COM-19-061 at http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3837.

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January 04, 2019

altTROOPER INJURED IN HIGHWAY CRASH
An Arkansas State Trooper has been hospitalized from injuries he sustained in a single-vehicle motor vehicle crash in southwest Arkansas at approximately 12:50 PM Thursday.

Corporal Clayton McWilliams, 32, of Little River County, was initially transported to a Texarkana hospital and later moved to a Little Rock hospital where his injuries are being assessed.

Trooper McWilliams was responding to a crash scene in Sevier County where a logging truck had overturned.

While driving to the crash scene along U.S. Highway 71, northbound, near Wilton (Little River County), the patrol car driven by Corporal McWilliams left the roadway and struck a tree.  Heavy rainfall in the area is believed to have contributed to the cause of the crash. 

PRESIDENT SIGNS BOOZMAN-SCHATZ BILL INTO LAW ENSURING VETERANS RECEIVE FULL HOUSING BENEFITS
President Donald Trump signed into law the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, to hold VA accountable for its failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill. The legislation moved swiftly through both chambers of Congress. The Senate approved the bill on December 18 and the House passed it on December 20.

“I’m pleased that President Trump signed this bill into law to protect veterans who rely on this benefit. There’s simply no excuse for failing to fully deliver the housing benefits that GI bill recipients are owed. I will continue to use congressional oversight to make certain VA’s errors do not go uncorrected,” Boozman said. “I encourage any Arkansan who has been affected by this problem to reach out to my office so that we can ensure they get their full benefits.”

“Now that this bill is law, student veterans no longer have to worry about being shortchanged,” Schatz said. “Congress will also have more tools to make sure the VA does right by our veterans. I’m glad we were able to get this done.”

The VA should have used the Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, some GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act would require the VA to:

  • End improper payments as soon as possible;
  • Establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error;
  • Provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and
  • Certify the department is fully compliant with the law.

JANUARY 2, 2019

altSAAC TO HOST DIRECTOR'S MEET AND GREET
The South Arkansas Arts Center will host a Director's Meet and Greet for people interested in auditioning for the upcoming spring musical, "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", sponsored by Southern Bancorp and Teague Auto Group, on January 5 from 6:00-7:30 pm. Director Justin Howard, Assistant Director Jacob George and Vocal Director Charlsie Falcon will be on hand to answer questions and help with any early preparations for auditions on January 14-15, 2019.


"I am really excited to be a part of ‘You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' again, this time on the production team as the assistant director," said Jacob George. "In 2013, I was able to play Schroeder in Arkansas State University's production of YGMCB. This show is so much fun for everyone involved. I am most looking forward to this rehearsal progress because even though we're all going to be working hard, we get to play and be kids again. Every night will be like a couple hours of recess!"

Audition materials will be available, and participants will have a chance to hear more about Howard's vision for this fun and charming musical. Bring your questions, your zest for fun, your best singing voice, and show up for the Director's Meet and Greet. It is a great time to get a step ahead and feel completely prepared for auditions.


For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

SAAC MAKES AUDITION CALL FOR 'ANNIE, KIDS'
The South Arkansas Arts Center makes an audition call for youth, grades 2-8, interested in trying out for "Annie, KIDS", the upcoming Youth Community Theatre Production, sponsored by Kiwanis Club of El Dorado. Auditions will be held on January 22 and 24, 2019, at 3:45pm at SAAC. Production dates are April 12-13, 2019. There is no fee for participation.


Parts are available for 7 women, 8 men, 1 dog, lots of orphans & New Yorkers (2nd-8th grade boys & girls). Auditioners should fill out an audition form and review the rehearsal schedule. Children should plan to be at SAAC for auditions at 3:45pm on both Tuesday and Thursday, January 22 and 24. Everyone will be taught a song and some simple dance steps. Wear appropriate footwear and be prepared to move.

Two songs will be used in auditions; N.Y.C. and Maybe. We will teach the songs at the audition, but for those that want to listen to and learn the songs before arriving for the audition, look online at the SAAC website, www.saac-arts.org for video links to the songs. Those wishing to be considered for a primary role will be asked to read at auditions - no preparation required.

"Annie, KIDS" allows a great deal of flexibility in casting. In our show, only Annie, Grace, Oliver Warbucks and Miss Hannigan are gender-specific roles. For this reason, we will be considering all auditioning actors for all roles. All races and ethnic groups are encouraged to audition. Most roles in this show require singing. "The Annie movie/comic strip/play we all know and love is decidedly "girl heavy." I have chosen to go a different direction. Most roles will be cast regardless to gender, so don't worry. Boys will have plenty of parts," said Hannah Davis, director for this production.


With plenty of parts to go around, including featured roles as well as ensemble parts for orphans, servants and tourists, "Annie KIDS" is ideal for productions involving all types of theatre experience. The primary roles to be cast in the show will be Annie, the redheaded streetwise urchin; Oliver Warbucks, the eccentric billionaire hosting Annie for a week; Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage; Grace Farrell, the classy secretary; Rooster Hannigan, the conman brother of Miss Hannigan; Lily St. Regis, Rooster's girlfriend; Annie's Friends: Molly/Mark, Kate/Kent, Tessie/Timmy, Duffy/Danny, July/John and Pepper/Piper; and Sandy, Annie's dog, and a host of New Yorkers and orphans, boys and girls.


Davis said about the production, "I have loved Annie for a very large part of my life. I think the script has a lot of opportunities for turning a well-loved story on its head; and that is something that I really enjoy doing."
SAAC will also host a Pre-Audition Party on stage with the directors on January 10, from 5:00-6:00pm. This party is a great time to meet the director and her team and get answers to audition questions you may have. The show info will be available for anyone wanting to get a step ahead.


For more information, please call Susan Harper or Colleen Means via the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.
 

December 31, 2018

altSUMMER FOOD PROGRAM PROVIDER APPLICATION TO OPEN JANUARY 14
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Applications for the 2019 Arkansas Summer Food Service Program (ASFSP) will be processed in two phases, beginning in January, according to officials with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). The first period, only for schools and government sponsors, will open on January 14. All other provider applications will be accepted beginning February 15, and the deadline for all applications is April 30, 2019. The ASFSP operates through DHS to provide healthy snacks and meals to children who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year. It is 100 percent funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The program ensures that these children have a nutritious weekday meal when school is out,” said DHS Health and Nutrition Program Administrator Tracey Shine. “Unfortunately, USDA estimated that over 40 million people, including 12 million children, in the United States were food insecure in 2017. That means 1 in 6 children lived without consistent access to adequate food. Less than 15 percent of kids who qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year are getting the same high-quality meals in the summer,” according to Shine.

In 2018, the daily summer program provided more than 1.5 meals and snacks at 700 sites at a cost of $1.4 million. Youth ages 18 and younger or persons over 18 who are deemed either mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in a public school established for mentally or physically handicapped are eligible.

Typically, schools and daycares are summer food program providers, but any public or non-profit summer camps, community centers, churches, government agencies or similar groups can apply. Providers will be asked to supervise the production, distribution, and administrative tasks of their sites. All meals and snacks must meet USDA nutritional guidelines. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

All applicants must complete an eligibility process that includes free training and approval by DHS, USDA, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Organizations that qualify will be reimbursed for costs of all meals and snacks served.

The deadline for all applications is April 30th. To submit an ASFSP application or receive program technical assistance, please call 501-682-8869 or visit https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/snp/SummerInfoM.aspx.

To find sites across the state to assist children and adults in need of free food, Arkansans can visit www.whyhunger.org, call 1-800-5HUNGRY, or text their ZIP code to 1-800-548-6479.

altSAAC TO HOST RECEPTION HONORING ARTIST CANDICE ALEXANDER
The South Arkansas Arts Center will host an artist's reception honoring Lake Charles artist Candice Alexander on Saturday, January 5, 2019, 6:00-7:30pm. Alexander's show, entitled "Fleur de Lis - Worlds Within" will hang in the Price and Merkle Galleries through January 30, 2019.

For over 12 years, Candice has been crafting Louisiana inspired art, which is collected nationally and internationally. Her inspiration is the fleur de lis, which she transforms into a myriad of subjects, mostly pertaining to Louisiana culture and life. She also produces animal portraits of dogs and goats, as well as other pets.
Alexander said about her art, "When I create art, I not only share a part of my life and myself with others, but I witness those also supporting what I love to do. To me, it's about building excitement, brilliant colors and community."

For over 12 years, Candice has been crafting Louisiana inspired art, which is collected nationally and internationally. Her inspiration is the fleur de lis, which she transforms into a myriad of subjects, mostly pertaining to Louisiana culture and life. She also produces animal portraits of dogs and goats, as well as other pets.

Alexander Art Studio was founded in 2002 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. With over 300 fleur de lis designs inspired by Louisiana's rich culture, the work speaks to the diverse colors of the Cajun, the roughneck, the Creole, the hurricane survivor, the swamp rocker, the rice farmer, the Mardi Gras Queen and the jazz musician. The "Fleur de Lis - Worlds Within" series began in 2007 and captures the essence of the artist's native community.

"For me," Alexander said, "Art is pure expression and reflection. I hold so much gratitude for life and exploration and sharing passion and merriment through my soul- with my hands- and to have people truly love what I do. Maybe it's the plans and the fans and the excitement. Maybe it's something beyond us that listens. To be who we want to be and to create things we love. I'm truly blessed and honored that the work I create is not only seen, but felt."
For more information about "Fleur de Lis- Worlds Within", please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org.

Decmeber 27, 2018

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE ENCOURAGES SAFETY IN THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY
The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office is asking residents to Please be careful over the New Year Holiday. Always follow all traffic laws and speed limits. Be sure and buckle up. Remember not wearing your seat belt is now a primary offense and you can be pulled over and ticketed if an Officer notices you are not buckled up. If you will be traveling, be sure someone knows your destination, the route you will be taking and your estimated time of arrival. Always carry a cell phone in case of emergency. The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office will have safety check points set up throughout the county throughout the New Year Holidays so if you drink, don’t drive. Make sure you have a designated driver. Let’s make this a tragedy, incident free New Year in Ouachita County.  The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office wish for you all a very Happy New Year.

OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENT AT RECTOR UNDER STATE POLICE INVESTIGATION
A Rector man was shot and killed by local police yesterday outside a convenience store located at Main Street and U.S. Highway 49. Rector is a small town northeast of Paragould in the near the Missouri border.

The suspect gunman involved in the armed conflict with police has been identified as Gary Warbritton, 21, of Rector.

At 3:47 PM the Rector Police Department was notified of a man walking along Main Street brandishing a firearm.  As police arrived in the area, the suspect, now identified as Warbritton, reportedly pointed the gun at a police officer who fired his gun at Warbritton.

Warbritton fled the area and led police to the convenience store where officers reportedly attempted to persuade him to drop the firearm.  Warbritton, again, pointed his gun at police, prompting one officer to fire his gun.  Warbritton was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police were not injured.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the use of deadly force by police.  An investigative file will be prepared and turned-over to the prosecuting attorney to determine whether the use of deadly force by police was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Questions that may relate to the identity of the officers involved in the shooting, or their administrative status, should be directed to the Rector Police Department.

Warbritton’s body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes to identify the manner and cause of death and collect forensic evidence.

EVENTS TO BRING IN THE NEW YEAR
Inaugural Celebrations are being planned for the New Year. Mayor Elect Lott will host a reception to thank the Community on December 31st from Noon to 2 p.m. at the Events Center at Fairview Park. There will be a searing in Ceremony for Elected Officials on January 1st at the Ouachita County Courthouse with a reception to follow from 2 to 4 p.m. at 420 Adams Avenue. There will be a Police Ceremony on January 2nd at 3 p.m. at the Camden Police Department located at #1 Police Drive in Camden. The Public is Invited!

FIRST DAY HIKE AT WHITE OAK
White Oak Lake State Park is hosting its annual First Day Hike on January 1st 2019. Join park staff as well as people from all around Arkansas and throughout America during this national movement to help people connect to their State Parks. The hike will begin at 10:30a.m. and will traverse 2 miles on the Beech Ridge Trail located beside the tent camping area. After the hike, you can will warm-up beside a campfire and enjoy some Dutch Oven Taco Soup. Supplies are limited. Contact the park for more information at 870-685-2748 (ext. 2).”

December 26, 2018

ASHLEY COUNTY HOMICIDE UNDER INVESTIGATION
Hamburg Police Officers were called at 1:48 AM on Christmas Day when a vehicle collided into the side of a home at 407 Chicago Street.

Todd A. Martin, 33, of Crossett, was found dead at the scene and local police requested Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division to be sent to Hamburg and investigate what they reported to be a shooting incident.

Agents have been able to confirm Martin earlier in the night parked his vehicle outside 408 Chicago and walked across the street to 407 Chicago to visit family members.

Later, Martin left 407 Chicago Street and re-entered his vehicle.  While driving away he was shot and the vehicle continued to roll across the street hitting the side of the home where he had earlier visited relatives.

Martin’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for purposes of determining the exact manner and cause of death and recovery of other forensic evidence.

Numerous investigative interviews have been conducted by state

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE NEW YEAR SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse will be closed Tuesday, January 1, 2019 in observance of the New Year’s holiday. The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on New Year’s Day.

CITY OF CAMDEN NEW YEAR SCHEDULE
The Public Works Department and the City of Camden will be closed on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 in observance of  New Year Day. The Sanitation route will run on Tuesday the regular scheduled route. The Transfer Station will be closed. If you have any questions you can call the public Works Department at 870-837-5570. The City wishes you a safe and Happy New Year.

ARKANSAS MAN WALKING ON HIGHWAY FATALLY STRUCK BY VEHICLE
A 64-year-old man was fatally struck by a vehicle while he walked on a U.S. highway in south Arkansas on Saturday night, authorities said.

Leslie Gulley of Chidester was walking in the inside lane of eastbound U.S. 278 in Camden when he was hit by a 2013 Chevrolet around 8 p.m., according to an Arkansas State Police report. He suffered fatal injuries.

The Chevrolet driver wasn't hurt. Conditions at the time were said to be clear and dry. At least 476 people have died in traffic crashes in Arkansas so far this year, according to preliminary figures.

ARKANSAS POLICE RECRUITS ON WAY TO ACADEMY GRADUATION SAVE DRIVER IN CAR
Two Texarkana Police Department recruits on the way to their police academy graduation rescued a woman who was trapped inside a vehicle, according to a recent news release from the department.

Officers Richard Conkelton and Dylan McCrary were traveling from Texarkana to the Law Enforcement Training Academy in Camden for graduation after 13 weeks of training, spokesman Cpl. Kristi Bennett said in the release. When the recruits entered Ouachita County, they saw a vehicle in a culvert. The area had received heavy rain that produced flooding.

The recruits approached to check on the vehicle and found a woman trapped inside. The woman was unable to get out because of mud and water pushing against the doors, police said. McCrary worked to free the woman while Conkelton drove down the road in search of cellphone service so he could call 911, the release said.

 Eventually the recruits got the woman out of the vehicle safely, and she was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Bennett said the recruits got cleaned up and graduated on time.


CONGRESS SENDS BILL TO STRENGTHEN WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
WASHINGTON—
Congress approved the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, legislation that seeks to eliminate global gender-related barriers and empower female entrepreneurs around the world. The bill heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

“Providing women access to tools for economic success supports global prosperity. The WEEE Act will empower women to gain control of their financial future while simultaneously facilitating improvements in their homes and communities. I’m proud to lead Senate efforts recognizing the importance of leveling the playing field for women around the world. I appreciate the leadership of Chairman Corker and Chairman Royce to move this bill one step closer to becoming law,” Boozman said.

“Investing in women creates a positive cycle of change that can lift women, families, communities and entire countries out of poverty,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am proud we have been able to work on a bipartisan basis to move forward this much-needed legislation.”

Specifically, the WEEE Act will:

·         Establish a development cooperation policy of the United States to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, strive to eliminate gender-based violence, support women’s property rights and increase the capability of women and girls to determine life outcomes.

·         Direct the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to include efforts that promote equality and female empowerment throughout its programs.

·         Expand USAID’s microenterprise development assistance authority to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an emphasis on supporting SMEs owned, managed and controlled by women; and

·         Modernize USAID’s development assistance toolkit to include innovative credit scoring models, financial technology, financial literacy, insurance and actions to improve property and inheritance rights.

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

The bill was led by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) in the House of Representatives.

December 21, 2018

SHERIFF OFFERS TIPS FOR HOLIDAY SAFETY
The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office  is asking residents to Please be careful over the Christmas Holiday. Always follow all traffic laws and speed limits. Be sure and buckle up. Remember not wearing your seat belt is now a primary offense and you can be pulled over and ticketed if an Officer notices you are not buckled up. If you will be traveling, be sure someone knows your destination, the route you will be taking and your estimated time of arrival. Always carry a cell phone in case of emergency. The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office will have sobriety check points set up throughout the county throughout the New Year Holidays so if you drink, don’t drive. Make sure you have a designated driver. Let’s make this a tragedy, incident free New Year in Ouachita County.  The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office wish for you all a very Merry Christmas.
EVENTS TO BRING IN THE NEW YEAR
Inaugural Celebrations are being planned for the New Year. Mayor Elect Lott will host a reception to thank the Community on December 31st from Noon to 2 p.m. at the Events Center at Fairview Park. There will be a searing in Ceremony for Elected Officials on January 1st at the Ouachita County Courthouse with a reception to follow from 2 to 4 p.m. at 420 Adams Avenue. There will be a Police Ceremony on January 2nd at 3 p.m. at the Camden Police Department located at #1 Police Drive in Camden. The Public is Invited!

FIRST DAY HIKE AT WHITE OAK
White Oak Lake State Park is hosting its annual First Day Hike on January 1st 2019. Join park staff as well as people from all around Arkansas and throughout America during this national movement to help people connect to their State Parks. The hike will begin at 10:30a.m. and will traverse 2 miles on the Beech Ridge Trail located beside the tent camping area. After the hike, you can will warm-up beside a campfire and enjoy some Dutch Oven Taco Soup. Supplies are limited. Contact the park for more information at 870-685-2748 (ext. 2).”

SAAC REGISTRATION FOR SPRING CLASSES
Registration is open for spring classes at South Arkansas Arts Center's Arts Academy. Along with learning academics every day, it is fun and empowering for children to have a creative outlet, boosting their skills in teamwork and problem solving. Classes are offered for all ages, from preschool through high school, and registration is open now in the SAAC office. All classes will begin the week of January 22-28.

For children in preschool, Gay Bechtelheimer will teach a PreK4 Art class, which will meet on Mondays from 3:45-4:30. The cost is $120/$140. 

Visual Arts instructor Maria Villegas offers classes in art for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. K-1 will meet on Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30. Villegas offers classes for students in second and third grade on Tuesdays from 4:30-5:30. The cost of these classes is $125/$145. Visual Art for students in grades four through will be offered on Mondays from 3:30-4:45. For students in grades seven through twelve, Villegas offers visual arts on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:45. The cost of these classes is $140/$160. 

Villegas will also teach Art in Spanish for K-1 which will meet on Saturdays from 10:00-11:00 for parents and students together to learn basic Spanish in a fun art class.

Special Gifts/Special Needs Art with instructors Jorge and Maria Villegas will be offered on Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30.

Amy Allen will again head up Glee, which will meet on Mondays from 3:45-4:45 for grades 1-12. Cost will be $125/$145.

Piano and voice instructor Charlsie Falcon offers private lessons in both areas of study. The cost of private instruction is $300/$320 for 12 weeks of 30-minute lessons. SAAC will also offer group voice lessons on Wednesday from 3:45-4:30 for grade 2-6, with approval from the instructor. Cost for the group lessons will be $120/$140.

Graphic artist Mike Means offers Graphic Arts for students in second through twelfth grades in the computer lab. Graphics 7-12 meets on Mondays from 3:45-4:45, followed by Graphics 4-6 at 4:45-5:45. Graphics 2-3 class will meet each Thursday from 3:45-4:45. The cost will be $125/$140. 

Drama classes will be taught by instructor Hannah Davis. The PreK4 - 1st grade drama class will meet on Monday from 4:45-5:30. The cost is $120/$140. Drama Club for students grades 9-12, will meeting on Wednesdays 3:45-5:00. A class for those who love the theatre arts, students will work on monologues and scenes from the classics. Cost is $140/$160. Both classes will have the last class open to friends and family to see the work they have done this semester

Kids in grades 2-8 are invited to audition for the Youth Theatre production of "Annie KIDS." Auditions will be held January 22 and 24 at 3:34. Rehearsals will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:45-5:30. Production dates are April 12-13. Sponsored by El Dorado Kiwanis Club there is no class fee.  

Ballet instructor Cami Lowery offers Ballet Level 1 for students in kindergarten and 1st grade. The class will meet on Wednesdays from 3:45-4:30. Level 1 places emphasis on ballet fundamentals and music connection. The cost of the class is $120/$140.

Ballet Level 2, for students in second through fourth grade, will meet on Mondays from 4:00-5:00 with Stephanie Lowery. Ballet 2 students will focus on developing techniques learned in Level 1. The cost of the class is $125/$145.

For students in grades 5-8, Bekah Gunter will teach Ballet Level 3 on Mondays from 5:00-6:00. Cost is $125/$145. Ballet 3 students will focus on developing techniques learned in Level 2.
Ballet Level 4 will be held twice a week. Stephanie Lowrey teaches this class on Monday and Thursdays from 6:00-7:30 at a cost of $165/$185.
Private lessons are also available in fine arts with Jorge and Maria Villegas and computer arts with Mike Means. Contact the instructor to schedule through the SAAC office.

Registration is currently ongoing and some classes are limited in size, so sign up early to secure your spot. Scholarships are available. Fees are due at registration and nonrefundable. For more information about all of SAAC's Arts Academy offerings, visit saac-arts.org or contact the SAAC office at 862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

SENATE PASSES COTTON’S FULL MILITARY HONORS ACT Washington, D.C. — Last night, the Senate passed the Full Military Honors Act of 2018, a bill introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) that would allow all Medal of Honor recipients and former prisoners of war to receive a full military honors burial ceremony with an escort, regardless of rank. Currently, full military honors with an escort are reserved for senior officers, non-commissioned officers, and servicemembers killed in combat. 

“Rank is not the sole or final measure of service to this country,” Senator Cotton said. “The dignity of a fallen servicemember’s internment should be measured by their courage, not simply the insignia on their sleeves or shoulders. Now that the Senate has approved the bill, the next Congress should move quickly to show the families of the deceased and members of our military that the United States will always honor its veterans appropriately for their service.”

Background:

  • Most veterans who are eligible for burial in Arlington are entitled to a bugler, a firing party, and a casket team (all part of the full military honors ceremony). However, the additional funeral escort honors are currently reserved for certain retired officers and those who were killed in action. 
  • Escort honors include a caisson and a marching element made up of a band and a color guard.
  • The Full Military Honors Act of 2018 would provide full military honors with an escort to both Medal of Honor recipients and POWs, regardless of their rank.
  • Representative Mike Bishop (MI-08) has introduced companion legislation, H.R. 6734, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

CONGRESS SENDS BOOZMAN BILL ENSURING VETERANS RECEIVE FULL HOUSING BENEFITS TO PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON—
Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation to sign into law that would to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits.

The Senate and House passed the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, to hold VA accountable for its failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill.

“This legislative step is important to fulfilling the commitment we made to veterans. There’s simply no excuse for failing to fully deliver the housing benefits that student veterans are owed, which is why it was necessary to directly confront the VA’s errors and use our oversight to make certain they do not go uncorrected. I’m pleased this bill moved through Congress swiftly and look forward to the president signing it into law,” Boozman said. “I encourage any Arkansan who has been affected by this problem to reach out to my office so that we can ensure they get this fixed.”

“For many student veterans, every dime counts. That’s why the VA needs to get this right and pay student veterans the full amount of money they were promised,” said Schatz. “I’m glad this bill will soon become law, so we can make this right for our veterans.”

The VA should have used the Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, some GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act would require the VA to:

  • End improper payments as soon as possible;
  • Establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error;
  • Provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and
  • Certify the department is fully compliant with the law.

 

December 20, 2018

altA GRINCH HAS STOLEN THE GRINCH
Yes. That's right. Some Grinch has stolen the Grinch from Downtown Camden and the Camden Police Department is looking for your help. The First Friday Organizers are having a contest for pole decorating for the Christmas Season. Local folks have done a fabulous job of helping to make our Downtown Festive. If you haven't had the chance to drive Downtown and check out the light poles you should make a point to do so.  Tuesday night someone stole the Grinch from Downtown Camden. The Grinch was going to be used at the Library after the Holidays. We belive someone knows where the Grinch is. Help restore Grinch to his rightful pole. If you have any information as to the whereabouts of the Grinch or know who stole it, please contact the Camden Police Department at 836-5755. There is a reward offered to anyone having any information. 

 

 


 

ARKANSAS TOURISM NAME HENRY AWARDS FINALISTS
The 2019 Henry Awards winners will be revealed at the 45th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism to be held in Hot Springs February 24-26, 2019. The awards ceremony will take place during the Governor’s Banquet on Tuesday, February 26. The Henry Awards honor Henri de Tonti, the man historians consider to be among the first “Arkansas Travelers.”
 
The awards and respective finalists are:
 
The Media Support Award, which is presented annually to a distinguished individual or organization for extraordinary attention to and/or support of Arkansas’s tourism industry through the use of media.
 
– Gary Jones Video
– JC Productions
– John Rech
 
The Bootstrap Award, which is presented annually to an individual, organization, or community that has achieved significant success “on a shoestring,” having limited means to work with, either in resources or finances.
 
– First Friday Monthly Market, Camden
– Melba Theater, Batesville
– Zombie Crawl, Eureka Springs   
 
The Arkansas Heritage Award, which is presented annually to an individual, organization, or community that has made a significant contribution toward the preservation of some aspect of Arkansas’s natural, cultural or aesthetic legacy.
 
– Arkansas Quilt Trails
– Edgemont House, North Little Rock
– George’s Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville
 
The Grand Old Classic Special Event Award, which is presented annually to a festival, fair or other special celebration that has “stood the test of time” and become an established example to follow.
 
– Lum & Abner Festival, Mena
– Fordyce on the Cottonbelt Festival  
– Old Soldiers Reunion, Mammoth Spring  
 
The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, which is presented annually to a community, individual or organization that through outstanding volunteer spirit has made a substantial contribution to Arkansas’s tourism industry.
 
– Central Arkansas Trail Alliance  
– Ozark Off-Road Cyclists
– Searcy County Chamber of Commerce  
 
The Community Tourism Development Award, which is presented annually to a community or organization that has achieved substantial success in the enhancement of its local resources through imaginative and innovative development efforts.
 
– Discover Siloam Springs 
– Helena Advertising and Promotion Commission 
– Visit Hot Springs  
 
The Natural State Award, which is presented annually to a community, organization, special event or attraction that “stands out in the crowd” because of its unique appeal, media coverage, creative approach and/or enhancement of community pride, thus benefiting the state’s quality of life.
 
– 8th Street Market, Bentonville
– Fort Smith Bicentennial Celebration   
– Tour ‘da Delta Bicycle Ride, Helena-West Helena  
 
During the Henry Awards ceremony, the Tourism Person of the Year will also be announced. Selected by former honorees, the Tourism Person of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual who has been actively involved in tourism and who has made a substantial contribution, within the past year, to the betterment of the tourism industry as a whole.
 
For more information on the 45th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, contact Arkansas Tourism at 501-682-1926. For specific information on the Henry Awards, contact Leigha Jones at 501-682-1676.

SENATE APPROVES BOOZMAN BILL TO ENSURE VETERANS RECEIVE FULL HOUSING BENEFITS
WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits.

“The swift passage of this legislation shows the Senate’s commitment to ensuring our veterans receive the full benefits they earned. We must hold VA accountable for addressing its failure to properly implement housing benefits of the Forever GI Bill,” Boozman said. “I encourage speedy approval of this bill by the House of Representatives to help assure veterans that this error will be completely corrected.”

“For many student veterans, every dime counts. That’s why the VA needs to get this right and pay student veterans the full amount of money they were promised,” said Schatz. “I’m glad that my colleagues in the Senate saw how important this issue is, and I hope this bill stays on the fast track to becoming law, so we can make this right for our veterans.”

Senators introduced the legislation to address the VA’s failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill. The improper payments resulted from IT systems that had not been properly updated and lack of internal processes to get the VA the necessary information about payment rates.

The VA should have used the Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, some GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Warner (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act would require the VA to:

  • End improper payments as soon as possible;
  • Establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error;
  • Provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and
  • Certify the department is fully compliant with the law.

COTTON, KENNEDY ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR CRUZ AND LANKFORD AMENDMENTS

Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) today announced that they will support and sponsor Senator Ted Cruz’s amendment to the First Step Act to exclude additional violent felons from early release and Senator James Lankford’s amendment to remove the discriminatory language in the bill that prohibits faith-based groups from receiving funding:

“We believe these are commonsense improvements to a bad bill and urge all of our colleagues to allow these amendments to come to the floor for a vote.”

Background:

  • The First Step Act states that “A group, company, charity, person, or entity may not engage in faith-based activities using direct financial assistance…”, Senator Lankford’s amendment fixes this discriminatory language. 
  • Senator Cruz’s amendment excludes additional categories of violent felons including carjackers who intend to cause serious bodily injury.

DECEMBER 19, 2018

ESTERLINE EXPLOSION UPDATE
Easterline Defense had an explosion about 10:30a.m. at their facility in Highland Park in East Camden Tuesday morning. I spoke with Michelle DeGrande, Communications Director at Esterline’s Corporate Office. According to DeGrande the cause of the incident is not known at this time, but an investigation is underway. DeGrande confirmed that one employee was injured and air lifted to a medical facility. She did not know the condition of the employee and did not release a name. The Building where the incident occurred produces Aerial Expendable Countermeasure Flairs. These flairs are what military pilots shoot out of the back of the plane to redirect missiles coming at the plane. Operations at the facility where the explosion occurred have been suspended for an undetermined length of time. We continue to send up prayers especially for the employee who was injured.

SAAC's YOUTH COMMUNITY THEATRE PROGRAM TO PRODUCE “ANNIE KIDS
South Arkansas Arts Center's Youth Community Theatre program has chosen "Annie KIDS" as their 2019 spring production. The El Dorado charter of Kiwanis International is generously sponsoring the Youth Theatre program for the fourth year. Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.

Coming on the heels of recent productions such as of "Disney's 101 Dalmatians KIDS", "Jungle Book KIDS" and "Aristocats KIDS", "Annie KIDS" will be tons of fun to participate in. Your favorite characters are included in the show: Miss Hannigan, Daddy Warbucks, Rooster and his girlfriend, and a host of orphans, both boys and girls, as well as other roles will be up for grabs.

Cassie Hickman, musical director for the production, said, "Just the name, ‘Annie', sparks excitement in children and adults alike. The story and the music weave a promise of hope that the sun will come out tomorrow. Getting the kids involved and singing out will be such a joy."

Based on the popular comic strip and adapted from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, with a beloved book and score by Tony Award-winners, Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, "Annie KIDS" features everyone's favorite little redhead in her very first adventure.

Set in New York City in the 1930's, Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. Annie eventually foils Miss Hannigan's evil plans, finding a new home and family in billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.

Auditions are on January 22 and 24 at 3:45 pm with the productions on April 12 and 13, 2019. Call the SAAC office to register for this fun experience at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org for more information.

SENATORS COTTON, CRUZ INTRODUCE RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING THE UNITED STATES TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER GOALS
United States to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights
Washington, D.C. —Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and introduced a Senate resolution encouraging the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The full text of the resolution may be read here.

“Israel’s northern border is threatened by Iranian forces and their proxies in Lebanon and Syria, including Hezbollah’s 150,000 rockets, armed drones, newly discovered terror tunnels, and more. Meanwhile, with the Ayatollahs’ help, Bashar al Assad’s regime is on the verge of securing victory in Syria’s civil war. He may soon turn his attention back to threatening the Jewish state.” Cotton and Cruz said. “Israel gained possession over the Golan Heights in a defensive war over 50 years ago, and has responsibly controlled the area ever since. It’s past time for the United States to recognize reality by affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

The following is the full text of the resolution:

Expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Whereas, until 1967, Syria controlled the Golan Heights and used the topographical advantage it provided to attack Israeli troops and civilians;

Whereas, in June 1967, Syria intensified its attacks against Israel from the Golan Heights, and Israel captured the Golan Heights in a defensive war;

Whereas, in October 1973, the Golan Heights provided Israel with critical strategic depth to repel a surprise attack by Syrian forces;

Whereas, on September 1, 1975, President Gerald Ford provided a diplomatic assurance to Israel that “the U.S. will support the position that an overall settlement with Syria in the framework of a peace agreement must assure Israel’s security from attack from the Golan Heights” and that “the U.S. has not developed a final position on the borders. Should it do so it will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights”;

Whereas, in October 1991, Secretary of State James Baker provided a diplomatic assurance to Israel that “the United States continues to stand behind the assurance given by President Ford to Prime Minister Rabin on September 1, 1975”;

Whereas, in 1981, Israel applied its “law, jurisdiction, and administration” over the Golan Heights and has controlled the Golan Heights for 51 years;

Whereas, since 2011, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, including with weapons of mass destruction, and has pursued an ethnic cleansing campaign against Syrian Sunnis;

Whereas Iran has used the war in Syria to establish a military presence in the Levant, including thousands of Iranian troops and proxies, and now seeks to create territorial corridors that solidify its control, expand its activities, establish a permanent military presence, and provide arms to its terrorist proxies;

Whereas Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and the leaders of Iran regularly threaten to wipe out Israel;

Whereas Iran and its proxies have repeatedly attacked Israel from inside Syria, including in February 2018 when Iranian forces infiltrated Israel with a drone and in May 2018 when Iranian forces shelled the Golan Heights;

Whereas, in December 2014, Congress unanimously resolved that the United States supported the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory and its citizens from attacks against Israel by Hamas, a terrorist group supported by Iran; and

Whereas Israel’s control over the Golan Heights provides a defensible border, deters attacks from hostile forces, facilitates intelligence gathering, and allows Israel to detect threats to its national security: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—

(1) the United States supports the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory and its citizens from attacks against Israel, including by Iran or its proxies;

(2) Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is critical to Israel’s national security;

(3) Israel’s security from attack from Syria and Lebanon cannot be assured without Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights;

(4) it is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure Israel’s security;

(5) it is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure that the Assad regime faces diplomatic and geopolitical consequences for the killing of civilians, the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Sunnis, and the use of weapons of mass destruction, including by ensuring that Israel retains control of the Golan Heights; and

(6) the United States should recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

BOOZMAN PRAISES AG COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP, HIGHLIGHTS PRIORITIES IN FARM BILL AS LEGISLATION SET TO BECOME LAW
WASHINGTON–With the 2018 Farm Bill set to become law, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)— a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and a member of the conference committee that authored the final bill—delivered remarks on the Senate floor applauding passage of the legislation and thanking the conference committee leadership for including important provisions he authored.

While highlighting how important the farm bill is to Arkansas, Boozman praised the bipartisan leadership of the conference committee for its efforts to finalize a bill that will bring certainty and predictability for farmers, ranchers and all rural Americans. Boozman also thanked his colleagues for including provisions he authored, addressing a number of his priorities, in the final text.

“Sending this bill to the President is about as important as it gets for my state,” Boozman said. “I commend Chairmen Roberts and Conaway, as well as Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson, for their commitment to making this bill fair and equitable to the diverse needs of producers across all regions of the country. It was a heavy lift. They worked hard to ensure we would get this done before adjourning this Congress. I would also like to thank them for their willingness to include provisions that I advocated for in the conference report.”

Boozman priorities included in final version of 2018 Farm Bill
Providing a workable safety net for farmers and ranchers: The farm bill strengthens and reauthorizes many programs important for producers, including Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and crop insurance. The improvements made to these programs ensure that producers across the country have a meaningful safety net with reduced regulatory and paperwork burdens.

Eliminating waste and abuse within Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The federal government partners with states to administer SNAP and currently pays bonuses to states that administer the program satisfactorily. Unfortunately, states have exaggerated performances to receive bonuses. The conference report includes language championed by Boozman to eliminate all state performance bonuses in SNAP. This will save taxpayers $48 million per year.

Trade promotion funding for agriculture products in Cuba: This provision, championed by Boozman and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), is a big win for Arkansas farmers and ranchers, who have consistently been working to open up more access to the Cuban market. Cuba imports 80 percent of its food, and our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost and safest food in the world. U.S. commodity exporters will now be able to use U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) market promotion funding in Cuba. These federal programs, which offset the high cost of market promotion, will no longer treat Cuba differently from other markets.

Promoting jobs for veterans in agriculture: The Veterans and Beginning Farmers Technical Assistance Act (S.2573), introduced by Boozman and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), was included in the farm bill. It reauthorizes the Appropriate Technical Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program, which has a regional headquarters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and helps veterans who want to get started in agriculture by providing specialized training through its “Armed to Farm” program. Boozman also secured language to ensure that USDA’s Military Veterans Agriculture Liaison better serves veterans who want to be involved in agriculture.

Regulatory reform: The farm bill includes two provisions that will provide much needed clarity to regulations. One, included at the behest of Boozman and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), adds live fish, crawfish, llamas and alpacas to the definition of livestock used by the Department of Transportation to bring more clarity for livestock producers and haulers. A second provision authored by Boozman protects USDA’s BioPreferred regulations, which aim to assist in the development and expansion of markets for biobased products, from unnecessary overreach by other agencies.

Research and development in crop insurance: Boozman secured a provision in the farm bill that directs USDA to conduct research and development to include innovative irrigation practices for rice, like alternate wetting and drying and furrow irrigation, under the current rice crop insurance policy.

Honoring multi-generational family farms: The Century Farms Act, introduced by Boozman and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) to recognize farms that have been in continuous operation for 100 or more years, was included as a provision in the farm bill. This provision directs USDA to establish a program to recognize farms that have been in continuous operation by the same family for one hundred or more years.     

COTTON, KENNEDY ANNOUNCE SUPPORTFOR CRUZ AND LANKFORD   STATEMENTS
Washington, D.C. - Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) today announced that they will support and sponsor Senator Ted Cruz's amendment to the First Step Act to exclude additional violent felons from early release and Senator James Lankford's amendment to remove the discriminatory language in the bill that prohibits faith-based groups from receiving funding:

"We believe these are commonsense improvements to a bad bill and urge all of our colleagues to allow these amendments to come to the floor for a vote."

Background

  • The First Step Act states that "A group, company, charity, person, or entity may not engage in faith-based activities using direct financial assistance...", Senator Lankford's amendment fixes this discriminatory language. 
  •  
  • Senator Cruz's amendment excludes additional categories of violent felons including carjackers who intend to cause serious bodily injury.

DECEMBER 18, 2018

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES HOT SPRINGS RETIRED ARMY JOURNALIST
“There can’t be a more rewarding career than being in the military. At least there wasn’t for me.”
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized Lt. Col. (retired) Karen King-Johnson, a Vietnam War-era Army journalist, in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series commemorating the military service of Arkansans.

Karen King-Johnson calls Hot Springs home today. She grew up in a patriotic family. Her father bravely served during WWII and was killed in action at the Battle of the Bulge when she was just one-year-old. Her mother and stepfather worked at Tinker Air Force Base. After graduating from Oklahoma State University and a brief stint as a reporter for a local paper, King-Johnson joined the Army. “It just seemed like it was something I should always do,” she said.

One of her first assignments was in Germany where she served as commander of the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) detachment and fulfilled many responsibilities. “We were short-handed in 1966. We had taken all the veteran troops out of Germany and rushed them to Vietnam to try to fill in over there. The German command was just decimated. Everybody who was over there had at least a whole year’s worth of experience and numerous job titles,” King-Johnson said.

Following her service in Germany, King-Johnson was assigned to the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison. “I had been begging to be assigned to a journalist-type role,” she said. Her assignments included covering celebrities in basic training at Fort Dix, including football star Joe Namath.

She eventually received orders for Vietnam and underwent intense survival training in advance of her tour. She left from Travis Air Force Base bound for Vietnam as the sole female aboard a plane of 225 soldiers. As a captain, King-Johnson was also the ranking officer on the flight.

In Vietnam, she served as Command Information Officer and her duties included leading a team of reporters, writing stories, photographing troops, printing internal publications to keep the troops informed, overseeing distribution of Stars and Stripes and publishing twice-daily news bulletins and writing weekly periodicals. She was also in charge of publishing Uptight Magazine, which won the Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding military publication in its field. King-Johnson flew to Washington, D.C. and accepted the award before notable diplomats and leaders.

After 15 years, King-Johnson retired from active duty, but she continued her service in the reserves and became an advocate for veterans. In 1982, she joined an Arkansas delegation in Washington, D.C. for a parade celebrating the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In conversations with other female Vietnam veterans they concluded a monument was needed on the National Mall to honor the significant role of women in the war.

“It took us another 11 years,” King-Johnson said. She lobbied senators to encourage support for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, National Parks and Forests which was chaired by then-Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas.

“There can’t be a more rewarding career than being in the military. At least there wasn’t for me. I got to do things and see things, that as a little kid from Oklahoma, I never would have gotten to do,” King-Johnson said.

“Lt. Col. Karen King-Johnson’s career is a unique example of the diverse leadership within our military. Her service, sacrifice and support for her fellow veterans is something we can all be proud of. Preserving her memories for the Veterans History Project is a great way to show our appreciation for the exemplary work she did serving our country,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit King-Johnson’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.


altGOVERNOR HUTCHINSON AFFIRMS SUPPORT OF LEGISLATORS' EFFORTS TO REDUCE CONCEAL CARRY FEES BY HALF
LITTLE ROCK – Senator Trent Garner, in conjunction with Representatives Bob Ballinger and Jim Dotson, have consistently vocalized the importance of reducing the costs associated with concealed carry licensure in Arkansas. Yesterday, with support from Governor Asa Hutchinson, Senator Garner filed legislation to enact the fee reduction.

Under the proposed legislation, the initial filing fee to receive a Conceal Handgun Carry License will be reduced from $100 to $50, and the license renewal fee will be decreased from $50 to $25. 

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: “I appreciate the commitment shown by Senator Garner and Representatives Ballinger and Dotson on this issue. Their partnership with my office and the State Police has led to what I believe is good legislation that strikes the right balance in reducing these fees. I fully support their efforts, and if the legislature passes this bill in the upcoming session, I will sign it into law.”
 

altBOOZMAN, TESTER INTENSIFY CALL FOR BETTER VA CARE FOR WOMEN VETERANS

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are pushing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to immediately take steps to improve the quality of VA care for women veterans. 

Following VA Secretary Robert Wilkie’s September presentation of the “State of the VA” to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee that showed that strides must still be made to improve services for women veterans, Tester and Boozman are urging Wilkie to implement low-cost and common sense reforms from their bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act.

“As you note, the number of women veterans using VA health care services has tripled since 2000, yet 52 percent of women veterans surveyed believe they are not entitled to, or eligible for, VA care,” the Senators wrote to Wilkie. “This disconnect clearly necessitates a more aggressive outreach campaign, targeted at women veterans, with the goal of better connecting them with access to what can often be life-saving services.” 

Tester and Boozman are urging Wilkie to implement reforms from their Deborah Sampson Act such as expanding the Women Veterans Call Center to include text message access to counselors and VA staff, partnering with community organizations on a pro-bono basis to help women veterans with legal issues that are contributing to their homelessness, and expanding women veteran mini-residency programs while the VA works to hire more dedicated women veteran clinical providers. They are also urging the department to begin to track women veterans’ utilization of VA services and experiences at VA facilities to learn from current shortcomings and to fully staff and put in place strong leadership at the Center for Women Veterans.

December 18, 2018

EXPLOSION AT ESTERLINE
There was an explosion reported at Esterline this morning. It is reported that there are injuries. According to Calhoun County Judge Floyd Nut, a medical helicopter was on the way to the scene. I spoke with Camden Fire Chief Robert Medford who stated that he had called Esterline and that they said everything was contained. Camden Fire Department has a contract to service the area if needed. I attempted to reach the Public Relations Office at Esterline but was sent to voice mail. I also attempted to speak with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office but due to the incident, they were too busy to speak with us. We will update on this story as details become available.

PRO-GUN LEGISLATION FILED TO CUT CONCEAL CARRY FEE TO $50.00, GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON APPLAUDS
From Talk Business and Politics

South Arkansas senator widely considered one of the legislature’s strongest 2nd Amendment advocates filed the first of several pro-gun bills expected to be introduced during the upcoming 92nd General Assembly, complete with stout backing from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, would reduce the current nonrefundable license fee to carry a concealed weapon in Arkansas from $100 to $50. For gun owners 65 or older, the lower fee would be halved to $25.

Garner, an attorney and U.S. Army veteran, told Talk Business & Politics that SB15 was the first pro-gun legislation he plans to file ahead of the 92nd General Assembly that begins on Jan. 14.

“This is just the traditional concealed carry fees and the renewals and we are cutting them in half. This is a very simple bill,” Garner said of his one-paragraph proposal.

Garner’s bill is broadly supported by at least 13 senators who have signed off on the pro-gun legislation as co-sponsors, including incoming Senate Pro Tempore Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette. Republican House mates, Reps. Bob Ballinger and Jim Dotson, who were instrumental in drafting SB15, also signed on as sponsors.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Gov. Hutchinson voiced his support for SB15, personally thanking Garner, Ballinger and Dotson for working with the State Police Department to draft the non-controversial bill that is likely to speed though both chambers in January.

“I appreciate the commitment shown by Sen. Garner and Representatives Ballinger and Dotson on this issue,” the governor said. “Their partnership with my office and the State Police has led to what I believe is good legislation that strikes the right balance in reducing these fees. I fully support their efforts, and if the legislature passes this bill in the upcoming session, I will sign it into law.”

Garner also said that he, Ballinger, Dotson and other pro-gun advocates are working on other 2nd Amendment bills they plan to introduce before the 2019 session begins or shortly thereafter. During the 2017 regular session, lawmakers passed the state’s current concealed carry law sponsored by Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, that allows for permit holders with enhanced training to have guns on college campuses and an expanded list of public places in Arkansas.

That measure, now Act 562 of 2017, also added last-minute exemptions to keep guns out of sports arenas, the state hospital and the UAMS campus. The new rules went into effect on Sept. 1, 2017, but State Police officials were given an additional 120 days to design the new training requirements for handgun owners looking to obtain the enhanced license to carry their weapons virtually anywhere.

During the 2018 fiscal session earlier this year, Ballinger and Garner also introduced resolutions to remove the extra training requirements for enhanced concealed carry licenses that would allow Arkansas gun owners to carry their weapons into bars and restaurants, airports, state buildings, the State Capitol and across college campuses and other places.

Ballinger and Garner, both Republicans, were critics of several House and Senate amendments to weaken Collin’s guns on campus bill in the 2017 session, leading to long floor debates on the state’s open carry law and the 2nd Amendment. Under the new law, the new training standards for concealed carry will take up to eight hours to complete.

TEACHERS AND GUNS
For the 2019 session, Garner said he wants to “clean up” parts of the state’s concealed carry law, including clarifying some of the legal language and expanding the legislation to allow teachers the ability to carry a concealed weapon if they choose to do so.

“I don’t want to mandate that every teacher has to do it, but I want to streamline the ability for people to get that commission if they want to,” said Garner, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army’s Special Forces’ Green Berets unit.

Once the session begins early next year, Garner will lose one of his strongest second amendment allies in the House after four-term incumbent Collins was defeated during the Nov. 6 election by Democratic opponent Denise Garner (no relation), a retired oncology nurse from Fayetteville. However, Ballinger will move from the House to join Garner in the upper chamber after defeating fellow Republican, Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, for the District 5 Senate seat.

To date, nearly 50 House and Senate bills and a handful of resolutions have been pre-filed for the 2019 session since budget hearings ended on Nov. 15. Lawmakers have filed bills on a wide-range of social, fiscal and legislative matters ranging from anti-bullying, internet sales taxes and abortion to open primaries and the elimination of the odd-year fiscal sessions.

By far, Garner has been the busiest lawmaker ahead of the session, sponsoring ten of the 14 Senate bills that have been pre-filed in the last month. Besides SB15, the South Arkansas senator is also sponsoring bills to designate the “Bowie knife” and “shotgun” as the state’s official knife and firearm, respectively.

December 17, 2018

CITY OF CAMDEN CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE
The Public Works Department, The Transfer Station and the City of Camden will be closed on Christmas Eve, December 24th and Christmas Day, December 25th in observance of the Christmas holiday. Monday and Tuesday trash routes will run on Monday December 24th. Wednesday trash will run on regular schedule. All extra Christmas Trash can be taken to the transfer station and dumped at no charge through January 5th, 2019. If you have any questions, you can call the Public Works Department at 837-5570. The City of Camden wishes you a safe and Happy Christmas.

OUACHITA COUNTY CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse will be closed on December 24th, 25th and 26th in observance of the Christmas Holiday. The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will not run on Christmas Day. They will run on Wednesday the 26th and will be one day behind the remainder of that week.

NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY HOSTS BLOOD DRIVE
The National Honor Society is sponsoring a LIFE Share Blood Drive, Saturday, December 29th at the Camden Wal-Mart from 9:00am until 4:00 p.m

Please eat breakfast and bring a picture ID to the blood mobile which will be parked in Wal-Mart's front parking lot!

16 year old students may donate with a signed parent permission form available at the blood mobile or in the counselor's office!

25 donations are need on Saturday, December 29th to receive a $250 scholarship for a senior!!  The National Honor Society is on the way to earning $750 Blood Drive Scholarships for this year for the Class of 2019!  

Those who donate not only save 3 lives, but get this Christmas cool long sleeve t-shirt and pair of socks!

Students who donate 6 times will earn a lime green honor cord to wear at graduation.

CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet on Wednesday at Catherines Bistro. This week Nathan Greeley with the Ouachita County Fair Board will be discussing the fair’s move to the new property and what we can look forward to in 2019 from the fair.

The Lions Club will not meet the next 2 weeks.  The next meeting will be on January 9th, 2019.

BOOZMAN CONGRATULATES TIM GRIFFIN ON PROMOTION TO COLONEL
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Lt. Governor Tim Griffin’s promotion to Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves:

“Tim has always been motivated by a sense of duty which has led him to a life of service both in elected office and in the Army Reserves. His exceptional performance and strong leadership have earned him a promotion to the rank of Colonel and I am confident he will continue to excel in that role. I congratulate him and appreciate his continued service to our nation.”

LAW ENFORCEMENT AND VICTIMS’ RIGHTS GROUP SUPPORT COTTON-KENNEDY AMENDMENTS
Washington, D.C. 
Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) today announced support from law enforcement and victims’ rights groups for the Cotton-Kennedy amendments to the First Step Act. Click here to read a letter from the National Association of Police Organizations.

"I'm pleased that major law enforcement groups support our amendments to exclude violent felons and sex offenders from early release, notify victims before criminals are released, and to measure whether the First Step Act works. Next week, the Senate will vote on these amendments. I urge my colleagues to support these changes to ensure that no violent sex offenders can be eligible for any type of early release,” said Senator Cotton.

"The early release of criminals is not an issue that should be fast-tracked through Congress," said Senator Kennedy. "As written, the First Step Act could release many violent criminals and sex offenders.  Our amendment addresses these threats to public safety, and it has been endorsed by law enforcement officers and victims' rights groups.  I hope that the rest of our Senate colleagues realize the shortfalls of the First Step Act and vote to support this amendment."

The Cotton-Kennedy amendments will:

  • Exclude nine more classes of criminals from using time credits to transfer out of prison early, including sex offenders who attempt to coerce minors under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b)
  • Require the Bureau of Prisons to attempt to notify victims before criminals are transferred out of prison
  • Track the rearrests of criminals in prerelease custody or supervised release to ensure the program is working

Senator Cotton and Senator Kennedy's amendments are supported by organizations representing hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers, including the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and by organizations dedicated to victims’ rights. 

HOT SPRINGS INSURANCE AGENT PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING BANKS OUT OF OVER $3.5 MILLION
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas has announced that Berry Roland Bishop, age 67, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to the offense of Knowingly Defrauding Financial Institutions. The Honorable Susan O. Hickey accepted the plea in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to the Information filed by the United States Attorney’s Office and the plea agreement accepted by the District Court, Bishop defrauded two area banks by two separate schemes.  Bishop, president of the Alliance Insurance Group of Arkadelphia, forged the signatures of multiple insurance clients and applied for twenty-seven separate loans in their names with the Bank of Prescott.  Bishop applied for these loans without the authorization or knowledge of those clients and, in the process, defrauded the Bank of Prescott out of over $2.1 million.  As part of his plea, Bishop also admitted that he defrauded Citizens Bank out of $200,000 by misrepresenting the financial condition of his company, specifically the condition of the collateral, to induce Citizens to approve loans to his company that would not have otherwise been authorized.  Bishop applied for these loans from Citizens Bank and the Bank of Prescott to improve the cash flow of his business.  According to the plea agreement, both the Government and Bishop agree that the total loss amount attributed to Bishop’s criminal conduct will exceed $3.5 million dollars.

The defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court at a later date. In this case, Bishop faces a maximum sentence of up to thirty years in prison and a fine up to $ 1 million dollars for the Bank Fraud charge.

The FBI investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wulff of the Western District of Arkansas is prosecuting the case.

December 14, 2018

altRUTLEDGE ASKS PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE SETTLEMENT THAT WOULD ACCELERATE THE CLOSING OF POWER PLANTS AND AFFECT ELECTRIC RATES FOR MOST ARKANSANS
Says, ‘This settlement has not been properly vetted’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she is asking the Arkansas Public Service Commission to review a pending settlement agreement between Entergy Arkansas LLC, the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association to determine if the settlement is in the public interest. The settlement agreement would require Entergy to speed up the closing of power plants that it co-owns with Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and number of municipally-owned electric utilities. The early closure of these plants could raise rates and affect service for over 1.2 million Arkansans served by Entergy and by electric cooperatives, as well as tens of thousands of customers served by municipal electric utilities.

Attorney General Rutledge has also petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to intervene in the case as a representative of Arkansas utility ratepayers, to protect the interest of ratepayers and inform the federal court that Entergy’s actions should first be reviewed by state regulatory authorities.

“The terms of the settlement between Entergy and the Sierra Club will directly impact Arkansans’ utility bills,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement has not been properly vetted by the Public Service Commission, my office or other agencies that have the public’s interest at heart. Because of the potential negative impacts on Arkansas citizens and businesses, I am seeking an investigation by Entergy’s state regulator, the PSC, and intervention in federal court to ensure that the State’s interest and those of its citizens and businesses are adequately protected.”

The complaint filed in Sierra Club v. Entergy alleges violation of the Clean Air Act at Independence Steam Electric Station and White Bluff Steam Election Station. The settlement agreement commits Entergy to a number of actions that would impact plant operations at both locations over the next decade. The costs of those actions will ultimately be borne by Arkansas utility ratepayers.

AFMC AND PARTNERS WIN FEDERAL GRANT TO FIGHT OPIOID ABUSE IN RURAL ARKANSAS 
LITTLE ROCK, ARK – Dec. 13, 2018 – AFMC has received a grant award totaling $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help 18 rural Arkansas counties address the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on opioid misuse and opioid-overdose deaths. ACEs can include emotional or physical abuse, neglect, family instability, poverty or exposure to violence.

Nationally, Arkansas ranks as one of the worst for poverty, incarceration and access to drug abuse treatment. Arkansas also has the highest percentage of children with at least one ACE and at least one in six Arkansas children have experienced three or more ACEs. People who have had multiple ACEs are the most likely to experience problems with addiction and opioid misuse. In the targeted counties, more than 20 percent of adults have experienced four or more ACEs. The HRSA has designated these counties as medically underserved areas.

“ACEs can negatively affect children’s mental and physical health into adulthood and throughout their lives,” said Chad T. Rodgers, MD, chief medical officer of AFMC and a board-certified pediatrician. “Arkansas’ high level of ACEs goes hand-in-hand with our state’s high incidence of opioid abuse.”

In implementing the one-year Rural Arkansas Planning Taskforce for Opioid Response (RAPTOR) grant, AFMC will partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Center for Distance Health and Unity Health. Both are experienced in providing health care services in rural areas.

Funds will be used to form a consortium of statewide organizations that will plan a comprehensive approach to opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery. The consortium will bring together a diverse network of independent organizations that represent health care, law enforcement, mental health, health policy quality improvement, state and county governments, education and public health.  

Heretofore, Arkansas’ strategy to combat the opioid epidemic has failed to address the foundational role of ACEs in the development of opioid misuse and addiction. RAPTOR’s planning process will incorporate trauma-informed approaches into the state’s comprehensive plan and will help organizations shift from acting alone to acting as a group.

RAPTOR will educate rural health providers and communities about trauma-informed care and identify gaps in opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment and access to care. RAPTOR will complete a comprehensive data analysis report, strategic plan, workforce development plan and a sustainability plan to educate rural health providers and communities about trauma-informed care.

AFMC, a nonprofit quality-improvement education organization that has successfully developed and managed community coalitions, will provide leadership and management to the consortium. They will facilitate the process that helps organizations shift from acting alone to acting as a group.

 “We are excited to work with UAMS and Unity Health to empower the organizations in these counties to stop the scourge of opioid-related damage and deaths,” said AFMC President and CEO Ray Hanley. “By addressing the underlying causes of addiction and poor access to treatment, we believe the consortium can reduce the illness and deaths associated with opioid misuse.”

UAMS’s Center for Distance Health has developed one of the largest telemedicine networks in the nation and will manage the telehealth conferencing for consortium members. Unity Health is the leading health care provider in the targeted area.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $200,000, 100 percent of which will be government funding. The contents of the grant application are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. governmet

For more than 46 years, the AFMC  has worked to improve the health of Arkansans through utilization review, quality improvement projects and public education. AFMC’s mission is: To promote excellence in health and health care through evaluation and education.

DECEMBER 13, 2018

altASP INVESTIGATING POPE COUNTY OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred at approximately 11:30, Tuesday, December 11, 2018 in Conway County.

An unidentified man died after he reportedly brandished a knife at a local law enforcement officer following a law enforcement vehicle pursuit.

A Pope County Deputy was attempting to make a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by the unknown individual along Interstate 40. The Individual failed to stop -and continued traveling east on Interstate 40 into Conway County.

According to initial statements, upon coming to a stop the individual stepped out of the vehicle armed with a knife. A Pope County Deputy fired on the individual, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The body will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for positive identification and examination. 

No law enforcement officers were injured during the incident. Questions relating to the identity of law enforcement officer or their administrative status should be directed to the Pope County Sheriff’s Office.

Upon completion of the investigation, state police special agents will submit an investigative file to the Pope and Conway County prosecuting attorneys for consideration to determine whether use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was justified as defined by state laws

BOOZMAN, ARKANSAS AG GROUPS APPLAUD SENATE PASSAGE OF FINAL PASSAGE OF FINAL FARM BILL
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined with leading agriculture associations in Arkansas to applaud Senate passage of the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes nearly every program housed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including commodity programs; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); rural development loans and grants, including rural broadband; forestry; trade promotion; international food aid; research; livestock; and horticulture, among others.

Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, adding around $16 billion to the state’s economy every year and accounting for approximately one in every six jobs. Rice, soybeans, cotton, poultry and beef cattle are particular staples of Arkansas’s agriculture economy.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a farm bill conferee:
“Considering how vital agriculture is to Arkansas’s economy, ensuring that we pass a final reauthorization of the farm bill before adjournment has been a top priority of mine. Our farmers and ranchers have been dealing with low commodity prices, high input costs, volatile weather events and an uncertain trade environment. The last thing they need is continued uncertainty that would only intensify if we failed to see this through the finish line. That is why we worked hard, in a bipartisan manner, to reach consensus on a final version that will deliver for Arkansans and all those who earn their livelihood in the agricultural economy, protect key risk management tools and maintain strong farm policy for producers of all stripes.”

Andrew Grobmyer, Executive Vice President of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas:
“We thank Senator Boozman and Congressmen Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman for their efforts as farm bill conferees, and we are very pleased to see this measure nearing completion. We cannot stress enough the importance of the farm bill and the need for it among Arkansas farmers. Right now, there is nothing in place as the previous law has expired, and the agriculture economy, especially the row crop segment, is struggling mightily.

A farm bill with meaningful support is critical in preventing significant harm to Arkansas farms. In addition to the farms, there are many other Arkansas businesses with direct and indirect connections to agriculture that are suffering in this rough ag economy. Simply put, the downturn in prices we've seen in recent years and recent months with trade dispute impacts has cut deeply into the cash flow of many farms and businesses in Arkansas.”

Randy Veach, President of the Arkansas Farm Bureau:
“We are pleased that Congress has recognized how important a new Farm Bill is to the hard-working farmers and ranchers of this country and we are grateful they have come together to pass this critical legislation before the new year. While this bill may not have everything we were hoping for, it will provide much-needed financial protections and allow access to funds for livestock producers. It also has a solid conservation program and will allow us to continue to promote our agricultural products to other countries.”

Jeff Rutledge, Rice Farmer, Newport Arkansas, Chairman, Arkansas Rice Federation:
“We are extremely pleased to see progress in the final stages of a farm bill that provides some certainty in such a variable agricultural climate. Senator Boozman’s advocacy on behalf of Arkansas producers cannot be overstated and our family farms will continue to benefit from his leadership for years to come.”

Joe Mencer, Rice Farmer, Lake Village Arkansas, Chairman, USA Rice Farmers:
“We greatly appreciate Senator Boozman going to bat for rice farmers and the entire agriculture industry. Revisions to the definition of actively engaged to help preserve family farms as well as timing of the sequester deduction are certainly beneficial and largely due to his leadership.”

Cody Burkham, Executive Vice President of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association:
“The Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association is thrilled at the recent progression of the 2018 Farm Bill. We are particularly pleased to see authorization for a new Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine (FMD) bank included in the conference report. This FMD bank will provide a critical safety net for cattle producers and rural economies in Arkansas and across the nation should an outbreak occur. We are grateful for Senator Boozman’s leadership on the Senate Agriculture Committee and his support for Arkansas cattle producers.”        

altGOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES THE RESIGNATION OF KANE WEBB FROM PARKS AND TOURISM; NAMES CYNTHIA DUNLAP AS INTERIM DIRECTOR
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced that Kane Webb will resign his position as director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) at the end of the year to take the position of Director of Executive Communications at Walmart in Bentonville.  The governor has named Cynthia Dunlap as interim director of Parks and Tourism. Dunlap is the current Chief Fiscal Officer at the agency. 

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: “Kane has been a wonderful staffer, director, adviser, and friend over the course of the past four
years. As director of Parks and Tourism, he led the agency to new heights and successfully managed the 2017 War Memorial Stadium merger into Parks and Tourism. He is a true talent, and I wish him the best of luck in his new position. 

“With this news, I’m pleased to announce Cynthia Dunlap will be the interim director of Parks and Tourism upon Kane’s resignation. Cynthia has been with the agency for more than 14 years. As the current CFO, she has considerable experience with the agency’s budget, in addition to a deep understanding of Arkansas tourism—our state’s second largest industry. I have no doubt she will do a tremendous job as we begin our search for the next director.”

Director Webb issued the following statement:

"I am forever indebted to the Governor for the opportunity he afforded me to be a part of the team at Parks and Tourism as well as serving on his senior staff. It has been a remarkable experience in every way, and I am proud to have been a part of his first term in office.

"You won't find a better, more devoted group of public servants than those at Parks and Tourism, and it is in excellent hands at every level. ADPT will never have a bigger advocate than me. But this opportunity in the private sector with Walmart was something I could not turn down, and I look forward to joining a proud Arkansas company that is growing today and transforming for the future."

Webb, a former Senior Advisor and speechwriter for Governor Hutchinson, has served as the director of ADPT since Governor Hutchinson appointed him to the position in November of 2015. Prior to that, Webb was a longtime journalist, including stints as a reporter and member of the editorial page for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

Under Webb's direction, ADPT, through its marketing and promotion efforts, supported the hospitality and tourism industry as it experienced record years for visitation and visitor spending. Webb oversaw continued capital improvements in Arkansas's 52 state parks, including extension of the Delta Heritage Trail, and moved ADPT to an integrated marketing and advertising contract that extends the digital reach of the industry through www.Arkansas.com and www.Arkansasstateparks.com. Both websites relaunched under Webb’s tenure. 

Additionally, Webb oversaw the move of War Memorial Stadium under the ADPT umbrella and helped secure a new contract with the University of Arkansas to keep Razorback football games at the historic stadium.

Cynthia Dunlap issued the following statement:

“It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to serve this great agency and the State of Arkansas as Interim Director.  I am humbled by the confidence that has been shown in me by Governor Hutchinson and our current director, Kane Webb.  Working for Parks and Tourism has been the highlight of my professional career. There’s nothing more rewarding than working with a group of people who feel more like family than co-workers. I truly believe Parks and Tourism is one of, if not the best, agency for which anyone with a heart to serve the public could work. I look forward to working with our amazing staff in doing everything I can to promote its mission and serve the dedicated team of employees that makes this agency shine.”

Dunlap has been with ADPT since November of 2004 and currently serves as the agency’s Chief Fiscal Officer. Prior to that, she spent more than 23 years at Alltel as Staff Manager over various Accounting Departments.  She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and received her Bachelor's in Accounting from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dunlap lives in Woodson, Arkansas.

 

DECEMBER 12, 2018

altCOTTON SUPPORTS NEW WOTUS RULE
Washington, D.C.
- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement today after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army proposed a new definition of the waters of the U.S. rule that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

"Everyone wants clean water, but the 2015 ‘waters of the U.S.' rule was a vast and vague expansion of federal regulation, especially in Arkansas. The new definition announced today still protects our waterways while giving producers and landowners the clarity they need to farm and build. Many of the proposed changes closely mirror my own legislative solution to this regulatory problem, and I'm pleased that the Trump administration has followed through on its promise to rural America."

altRUTLEDGE ENCOURAGES DATABASE IMPLEMENTATION TO PREVENT IDENTITY  THEFT
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined with 42 other states and the National Association of Attorneys General to send a letter to the Social Security Administration asking the acting commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a congressionally approved new database system that will help combat synthetic identity theft.

“As the enforcer of Arkansas’s privacy laws, every day I see the damage done to Arkansans who have been the victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am pleased to join with my colleagues from across the country urging the Social Security Administration to accelerate the creation of a database that will be used by financial institutions to verify the consumer’s information and prevent identity theft. Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us, but this is a simple solution to close a loop hole for Americans.”

“We ask you to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law. As enforcers of the data break laws in our jurisdictions, we see the impact that exposure of Social Security numbers can have. Our residents lose thousands of dollars a year and suffer from ruined credit scores, as well as a general sense of anxiety regarding their identities,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law directing the Social Security Administration to develop a revamped database that will verify consumer information at the time it is requested, with consumer consent. The improved database will help address “synthetic identity theft,” in which identity thieves use real Social Security numbers, along with fictitious names and birthdates, to manufacture identities. As the current system does not allow financial institutions to check identity on a real-time basis, the new database system would protect vulnerable consumers by preventing identity theft earlier.

December 11, 2018

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING – 2019 BUDGET PASSES
The Camden City Board of Aldermen met in regular session Monday night, December 10th. The meeting was moved to Monday instead of the usual Tuesday night so as not to interfere with the Christmas Parade that was moved for this past Friday night to Tuesday night as a result of the weather last Friday. Mayor Marie Trisollini called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. The invocation was given by Reverend Jeffrey C. Franklin, Pastor of the Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. After the pledge of allegiance, the roll was called. All aldermen were in attendance.

The board then approved the minutes and accepted the financial reports from November.

There was no audience participation this month.

The Mayor’s Report included a list of available jobs in the Camden area. Jobs are available in Highland Industrial Park. All of the fast food places have jobs available and there are a number of openings in retail. She reported that there had been a power surge that affected computers at the Police Department, but it didn’t completely fry them. They are being repaired. The surge also affected the weather sirens so the controls for the weather sirens had to be reprogrammed. That repair is complete. Mayor Trisollini acknowledged that this would be her last council meeting as mayor. She expressed what a joy being Mayor had been for the last four year. She stated that she was the first woman elected as Mayor of the City of Camden. She talked about some of the improvements that have been made in the past four years. She cited The Trace, the Splash Pad, and the second phase of the streetscape project. The City bought the first ever brand-new fire truck for the city. The Mayor has been with the Police and Fire departments and learned up close and personal what it really takes for them to do their job. They are amazing people. They run into things when the rest of us run away. She stated that she had experienced things that most people never get to experience. She thanked everyone for working with her ”when they didn’t want to” and “when they did want to.”

Resolution number 41-18. A resolution authorizing the Mayor to pay an end of year bonus to seven District Court Employees. Motion was made to approve and seconded. There was no discussion. Resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution number 42-18, a resolution providing for and adopting for the City of Camden, an Annual Operating Budget for the twelve months beginning January 01, 2019 and ending December 31, 2019, and appropriating money for each and every item of expenditure there in provided for. Motion was made to approve and seconded in order to open the matter up for discussion. L.E Lindsey made a motion to amend the budget by reducing aldermen’s pay and moving those saving to parks and building improvements. That amendment did not pass. Only Lindsey voted yes with Glaze abstaining to vote. All the other Aldermen voted against the amendment.

The Council went on to discuss raises that were included in the budget. The budget includes a raise for fire and police. All minimum wage employees will receive a raise due to the new minimum wage increase of 8.2%.  Other city employees received small raises. Department heads did not get a raise this year. After explanations from Jim Green the Council took a vote. The vote passed 4 for and 3 against. The 2019 budget passed.

altCOTTON STATEMENT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM FLOOR DEBATE
Washington, D.C. 
—Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement on the plan to bring the First Step Act to the Senate floor:

“For months I’ve said the First Step Act allows violent felons and sex offenders to be released early. I’m pleased the drafters have finally acknowledged that reality and made changes to address some of the specific issues I pointed out.  Unfortunately, the bill still has major problems and allows early release for many categories of serious, violent criminals. This includes felons who commit violent bank robberies with dangerous weapons, who assault children, and who commit carjacking with the intent to cause death. I look forward to debating this bill on the Senate floor and introducing amendments to address its many remaining threats to public safety.”

Crimes still eligible for early release in the latest version of the bill:
1. Bank robbery with a dangerous weapon (18 U.S.C. § 2113(d))
2. Assault against a child (18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(5))
3. Carjacking with intent to cause death (18 U.S.C. 2119(1))

altSENATORS COTTON, JONES, MERKLEY LEAD BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO STOP PREDATORY UNSOLICITED LOANS
Washington, D.C. 
— U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) today introduced legislation that would halt the predatory practice of mailing high-interest loans to consumers in the form of “live” checks. When consumers receive these loan checks, many unknowingly believe they have received money from their bank or financial institution, not realizing that the check is often a high-interest loan.

The Unsolicited Loan Act of 2018 would prohibit this practice and ensure that consumers access loans only when they proactively apply for them. This legislation mirrors the decades old prohibition on the mailing of live credit cards.

“People should understand clearly when they are taking on debt. But because ‘live’ checks mailed directly to consumers don’t require an application or any previous relationship with the consumer, many individuals don’t realize that these checks are actually high-interest loans until it’s too late. Just like Congress ended the practice of mailing ‘live’ credit cards nearly 50 years ago, Congress should pass our bill now to stop this underhanded practice,” said Senator Cotton.

“As working Americans look to make ends meet, lenders will often target cash-strapped families with these mailings. It is unconscionable that someone would take advantage of another person’s dire financial situation to make a quick buck for themselves. We need to end this predatory lending tactic and pass this legislation to protect consumers and their pocketbooks,” said Senator Jones.

“When you receive a check in the mail, it’s natural to assume that depositing it will help—not hurt—your bottom line. But these checks don’t pad consumers’ pocketbooks; instead, they send them into a vortex of debt. The practice of mailing high-interest loans disguised as checks is unconscionable and clearly predatory. Today, we’re sending a bipartisan message that this unacceptable practice must end,” said Senator Merkley.

Background on the Unsolicited Loan Act of 2018

It has been long recognized by Congress that consumer loans should require an application by a customer. In fact, Congress banned the mailing of unsolicited live credit cards nearly 50 years ago. In modern lending, a formal loan application can often take just minutes, and the bill does not prohibit the direct marketing or mailing of a loan application. This legislation would provide common-sense consumer protections without limiting access to credit for consumers who willingly apply and seek lending products.

The bill would also ensure that companies cannot shift from the mailing of live checks to other forms of transfer, such as a gift card or an “e-check.” In addition, it would ensure that customers are not liable for debt incurred from an illegal, unsolicited live check loan. 

The National Consumer Law Center has endorsed this legislation on behalf of its low-income clients. 

altFOREVER GI BILL HOUSING PAYMENT FULFILLMENT ACT INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reimburses veterans for missed or underpaid Forever GI Bill housing benefits.

The legislation was introduced to address the VA’s failure to fully comply with reimbursement rates set by the Forever GI Bill. The improper payments resulted from IT systems that had not been properly updated and lack of internal processes to get the VA the necessary information about payment rates.

The VA should have used the Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, some GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) joined Boozman and Schatz to introduce the Forever GI Bill Housing Payment Fulfillment Act, which would require the VA to:

  • End improper payments as soon as possible;
  • Establish a team of specialists who will be responsible to report to Congress a detailed plan to correct this egregious error;
  • Provide a report to Congress by July 2020 that identifies how many beneficiaries were impacted and to what extent, aggregated by state; and
  • Certify the department is fully compliant with the law.

“Secretary Wilkie has acknowledged the VA’s error and promised that all affected recipients would be compensated, but the department’s plans to remedy the situation fall short. This bill aims to hold the department accountable to its promise and ensure that veterans are fully repaid for errors they did not cause,” Boozman said.

“Secretary Wilkie may be saying the right things, but until the VA has a plan and invests money to address the ongoing staffing and IT challenges facing the claims backlog, our veterans will remain robbed of the benefits they were promised,” said Schatz. “Our bill will hold the VA accountable and make sure every veteran that was short-changed is made whole.”

“When folks volunteer to serve, our nation makes them a set of promises,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill ensures that we live up to those promises.  It holds the VA accountable for taking the necessary steps to ensure that every student veteran receives every penny they are entitled in a timely manner, and that efforts on behalf of these veterans will not impact the Department’s ability to deliver timely benefits for other veterans.”

“VA’s contemptible incompetence and inability to provide Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries with timely housing payments is inexcusable. Students using the Post-9/11 GI Bill still don’t have a clear understanding of when – and if – they will receive the benefits they have earned. Our legislation will ensure VA takes immediate corrective action to address this crisis while enabling proper oversight to prevent this from ever happening again,” Blumenthal said.

“Reports of veteran students receiving delayed or inadequate GI Bill payments are concerning, and this misstep should be corrected as soon as possible,” said Tillis. “While the VA has already started taking important steps to address this ongoing issue, it is important for Congress to continue exercising rigorous oversight to ensure that all GI Bill beneficiaries are made whole.”

“The VA must make every effort to restore confidence with veterans by delivering the care and benefits they have earned,” said Moran. “The significant problems with the implementation of the Forever GI Bill must be resolved immediately – any further delay is unacceptable and will burden those veterans impacted. This legislation will make certain the VA is working to earn back GI Bill beneficiaries’ trust. I’m proud to be a part of efforts to make the VA worthy of the service and sacrifice of our nations heroes.”

altBOOZMAN STATEMENT ON FARM BILL CONFERENCE REPORT
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a farm bill conferee, released the following statement on the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill:

“This is welcome news for farmers, ranchers, rural Americans and consumers. Farmers and ranchers across the country have been dealing with low commodity prices, high input costs, volatile weather events and an uncertain trade environment. This farm bill will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to farm policy for the next five years.

We worked hard, in a bipartisan manner, to reach consensus on a final version that will deliver for those who earn their livelihood in the agricultural economy, protect key risk management tools and maintain strong farm policy for producers of all stripes.

I commend Chairmen Roberts and Conaway, as well as Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson, for their commitment to finishing this bill, and their diligence to ensure that harmful policy changes were excluded from the final conference report. As a result of their leadership, we are well on our way to sending a farm bill to the president’s desk that meets the diverse needs of producers across all regions of the country.”

 

December 10, 2018

altCITY OF CAMDEN POLICE REPORT
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA
POSSESSION OF INSTRUMENT OF CRIME

The afternoon of December 9th Officer Jones and Officer Withers were on patrol in Ivory Heights when they observed a white KIA leaving Ivory Heights. The vehicle did not use a tum signal when turning right on Lincoln Drive. The vehicle made another right tum onto Cross Street, I then activated my emergency lights and the vehicle stopped on Frazier and Johnson.

Officer Jones exited the patrol unit and approached the vehicle and introduced himself and explained the reason for the traffic stop. The driver was identified as Aaron Baugus. While speaking to Baugus the Officer smelled a strong odor of green marijuana coming from the vehicle. He asked Baugus if there was any marijuana in the vehicle and he stated no, he had smoked it this morning. Officer Jones asked Baugus to step out of the vehicle so he could speak to him and he complied. Baugus was advised that the vehicle would be searched the due to the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle.  Baugus consented to having his person searched. The Officer located a small bag of marijuana in Baugus’ right front pocket.  Baugus was placed under arrest and placed the patrol unit. Upon search of the vehicle the Officer located a white bag containing several buds of marijuana along with a silver digital scale in the glove box of the vehicle.

Baugus was transported to the Police Station where booking procedures were completed. Baugus is charged with possession of marijuana and possession instrument of crime. Baugus was issued a court date of January 2, 2019 at 0900 hours. Baugus was released on citation number 11595. Baugus was also given traffic citation number 103424 for driving on suspended, failure to transfer tags, failure to pay registration.

altDRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
Arkansas State Troopers will be joined by city and county law enforcement officers in the coming days in a unified effort to remove impaired drivers from local streets and roads as well as state and U.S. highways.  The special enforcement operation begins Friday, December 14th and continues through New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled-Over” is a national campaign organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Participating law enforcement agencies will have no tolerance for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes during 2017 which equates to one person killed every 48 minutes.  On average, 10,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes each year from 2013 to 2017. During December 2017, 885 people lost their lives across the country in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.

 “Impaired driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Drivers should remember it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober, not just during the holidays, but every time they’re behind the wheel.”

Colonel Bryant stated that impaired driving is a growing problem in our country.  “In addition to drivers impaired by alcohol, we’re also seeing an increase in drivers who are under the influence of drugs.”

NHTSA statistics from 2017 also indicate that motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment compared to other motor vehicle drivers (27% for motorcycle riders, 21% for passenger car drivers, 20% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for drivers of large trucks).  Nearly one in five children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office offers the following tips for a safe holiday season:

  • If you plan on drinking, do not drive.  Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before you get in the vehicle.  Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving, or worse, risk injury or death to someone by causing a crash.
  • If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
  • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
  • Promptly report impaired drivers to law enforcement.
  • Always wear your seat belt or use safety equipment while on a motorcycle.  These items are your best defense against an impaired driver.

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

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING RESCHEDULED
The monthly meeting of the City Council has been moved to Monday night, December 10, 2018. In order to allow Department Heads and Aldermen to attend the 2018 Camden Christmas parade, the Board of Aldermen will meet on Monday, December 10, one day ahead of the original schedule.

 CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB
The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. This week the Honor Choirs from Camden Fairview Intermediate School and Ivory Primary will sing Christmas carols.

altSENATORS SUPPORT ARKANSAS MARSHALLESE COMMUNITY
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) supported Senate passage of H.R. 3398, the REAL ID Act Modification for Freely Associated States Act. The legislation amends the REAL ID Act of 2005 to allow citizens of the Marshall Islands and other Pacific Freely Associated States who legally live in the U.S. to obtain a driver’s license or personal identification card. Due to the omission of the Freely Associated States in the 2005 REAL ID Act, Marshallese living in the U.S. have been denied anything more than a temporary ID or driver’s license valid only for one year, complicating their ability to maintain employment and open bank accounts. The Senate passed the bill Thursday by unanimous consent.

“Arkansas is home to thousands of Marshallese. Removing the unintended barrier to obtaining a driver’s license or personal ID card will help residents become even more productive members of the community. This legislation addresses this hurdle for the Marshallese community and other citizens of Freely Associated States living in the U.S. We strongly urge the president to sign this bill quickly into law,” the senators said.

“I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Senators Cotton and Boozman for their effectiveness in shepherding the REAL ID Modification for Freely Associated States Act (H.R.3398) through the United States Senate. Their strong leadership will enable our Marshallese citizens living in Arkansas and throughout the country to contribute fully to the communities that have embraced them. The Republic of the Marshall Islands is proud of our extraordinarily close relationship with the United States of America, and those of us who call Arkansas our second home deeply appreciate the opportunities made possible today by Senators Cotton and Boozman,” said Marshall Islands Ambassador Gerald Zackios.

In 1986, the U.S. and Marshall Islands entered into the Compact of Free Association, which allows Marshallese to live and work in the U.S. as non-immigrants.

Northwest Arkansas has the largest Marshallese population in the continental U.S. The 2010 census estimated 4,324 out of the 22,400 Marshallese individuals living in the U.S. resided in Arkansas. The Marshallese community in Arkansas has since grown to an estimated 8,000 to 14,000 individuals. In addition to its embassy in Washington, D.C., the Republic of the Marshall Islands also has a consulate in Springdale.
 

altRUTLEDGE SUPPORTS BARR'S NOMINATION FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL
On Friday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced her support of President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

“William Barr has a proven track record as the former Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Barr is a committed public
servant. In addition to work with the Department of Justice, he served in the Central Intelligence Agency and on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House. Barr’s experience and values make him the right fit for Attorney General

MEMBERS OF ARKANSAS AND MISSOURI  CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATIONS ANNOUNCE $25 MILLION GRANT FOR CRITICAL SEGMENT OF I-49WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), along with U.S. Representatives Billy Long (MO-07) and Steve Womack (AR-03), announced that $25 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been awarded to complete work on a critical segment of Interstate 49 that will connect Arkansas and Missouri.

The Arkansas/Missouri connector, often referred to as the Bella Vista Bypass, is the only portion of the more than 290-mile route between Kansas City, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas that is not interstate quality. Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause major traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.

The states have worked to complete this 18.9-mile section of I-49 at the Missouri-Arkansas line for more than 25 years. Funding for the project is being awarded from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects.

“Completion of the critical stretch of the I-49 Arkansas-Missouri Connector is 25 years in the making and I’m thrilled we’re one step closer to getting it done,” said Blunt. “Completing this project will increase safety, improve the quality of life, and strengthen local economies in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. Missouri’s transportation networks are our greatest competitive advantage, and I appreciate the partnership of our Arkansas colleagues in moving this project forward.”

“This is exciting news for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Securing these funds for this shovel-ready project has taken years of vigorous and persistent advocating from my team. Our hard work has finally resulted in funding for a project that will yield dividends when it comes to economic growth and quality of life in the region,” Boozman said. “I appreciate Secretary Chao’s leadership in recognizing the importance of a project that I have championed throughout my time in Congress.”

“Interstate access heralds the continued economic growth of any area, which is why completing the Bella Vista bypass is vital for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Many businesses and future infrastructure projects depend on its finalization, and this funding will allow that project’s construction finally to move forward. I am grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” said Cotton.

“The completion of the I-49 corridor is long overdue,” Long said. “Today’s announcement is great news for individuals and businesses in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas who have been waiting for this for more than 25 years. I am incredibly thankful for my colleagues in both Missouri and Arkansas who have long been strong advocates of I-49's completion, and their understanding of the numerous benefits it will bring to local economies in both states.”

“Today’s funding announcement is a game changer that will do more than just upgrade the I-49 corridor – it will transform and modernize our local transportation system to support Arkansas families and the growth of our state. This investment, which I have tirelessly advocated for, will increase travel safety, decrease congestion, create jobs, and enhance the economic vitality of our region. I am grateful to Secretary Chao for listening to the concerns I brought to USDOT, and for moving this important and long overdue project forward,” said Womack.

ADE'S READING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE INITIATIVES TO PROVIDE BOOKS AND CODING DEVICES TO TEACHERS AND SCHOOL LIBRARIES
LITTLE ROCK —
The Arkansas Department of Education’s reading and computer science initiatives are joining forces again to provide coding devices and computer science-related books to teachers and public school libraries around the state.

Libraries that serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade will receive a copy of If I Were a Wizard by Paul C. Hamilton. Up to 400 Adafruit Circuit Playground devices will be provided to teachers around the state. The devices, equipped with sensors, LED lights, and a circuit board, will give students the opportunity to practice computer programming skills.

During Computer Science Education Week in 2017, ADE announced that its Reading Initiative for Student Excellence, or R.I.S.E. Arkansas campaign, and the Computer Science Initiative would team up to promote computer science as well as build a culture of reading in 2018. As a result, approximately 900 kindergarten through eighth-grade public school libraries received coding-related books and a Micro:Bit coding device.  

“Today’s announcement involves two of my favorite education initiatives – reading and computer science,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “By providing books and computer coding devices to elementary school teachers and libraries, we are giving students the opportunity to improve their reading ability while sharpening their coding skills. I am proud of the efforts of ADE this week to enhance learning for all students in the state.”

“There is a magic about learning to code at a young age and the ability to make things move, speak, and tell stories,” Hamilton said. “I am so privileged to be part of this initiative. Lighting the spark is what I hope my book does. With the passion and commitment from the team at the Arkansas Department of Education, I am supremely confident we can make a difference and inspire the next generation of coders.”

“I am so excited to hear that so many teachers in Arkansas will get the opportunity to receive a free Circuit Playground Express,” Limor Fried, the founder of Adafruit, said. “I designed this STEM board to be easy and fun to use so that teachers and students will see how cool it is to learn coding and making. Once they’ve attended the training course, teachers will be able to bring their own experiences and skills to these workshops so they can integrate STEM into their classrooms. We think both the teachers and students will be amazed at what they can create!"

“As we wrap up another great Computer Science Education Week, I continue to be amazed at the way the students, teachers, and communities in Arkansas are responding to the #CSforAR initiative,” said Anthony Owen, ADE’s state director of computer science education. “I am extremely happy that we were able to end the week with this announcement and by recognizing Dr. Raye Montague, Arkansas’ own Hidden Figure, at an event hosted by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas at U.A.P.B., which happens to be Dr. Montague’s alma mater. I am also always excited to partner with R.I.S.E. Arkansas to promote reading! Our office wants all students to have the opportunities that a quality computer science education provides, and we recognize the importance that reading has on student success beyond high school. Our office is a firm believer that #ARKidsCanCode and that through #RISEArkansas, all students can achieve their potential!”

To be eligible to receive the devices, Arkansas public school educators must attend an ADE Office of Computer Science-approved training about the device. Arkansas computer science specialists will conduct trainings at every education service cooperative. A list of approved sessions with registration links will be posted at https://goo.gl/Lp9A87. While the trainings are free, space is limited. To learn more, see http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3844.

HOT SPRINGS TO RECEIVE $20 MILLION FOR BYPASS EXTENSION
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR), along with Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award the Arkansas Department of Transportation a $20 million BUILD grant to construct the Hot Springs bypass extension. The extension would run from the interchange with Highway 70 east of the city of Hot Springs and extend north to the intersection of Highways 5 and 7.

“This announcement is great news for the greater Hot Springs community and Arkansas as a whole. This extension will help Hot Springs continue to grow, and I’m grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” Senator Cotton said.

“This project is vital to improving regional connectivity and economic viability in the greater Hot Springs area and these funds will help make it a reality. The bypass extension will provide an alternative route to access Hot Springs which should reduce traffic and enhance the historic, revitalized downtown in addition to the jobs and economic activity it will create during and after construction. I appreciate Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation’s recognition of how worthwhile and significant this project will be for Garland County,” Senator Boozman said.

“The bypass in Hot Springs plays an outsized role in our region’s economy and movement of goods. This grant will further support and expand the bypass, creating opportunity for additional economic development in the Ouachitas. It will also improve response time for emergency services, which will save lives. I thank Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for awarding this grant important to our region’s expanding infrastructure,” Congressman Westerman said. “The Administration’s continued investment in infrastructure promises to stimulate economic investment

December 10, 2018

DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER

zArkansas State Troopers will be joined by city and county law enforcement officers in the coming days in a unified effort to remove impaired drivers from local streets and roads as well as state and U.S. highways.  The special enforcement operation begins Friday, December 14th and continues through New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled-Over” is a national campaign organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Participating law enforcement agencies will have no tolerance for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes during 2017 which equates to one person killed every 48 minutes.  On average, 10,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes each year from 2013 to 2017. During December 2017, 885 people lost their lives across the country in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.

 “Impaired driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Drivers should remember it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober, not just during the holidays, but every time they’re behind the wheel.”

Colonel Bryant stated that impaired driving is a growing problem in our country.  “In addition to drivers impaired by alcohol, we’re also seeing an increase in drivers who are under the influence of drugs.”

NHTSA statistics from 2017 also indicate that motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment compared to other motor vehicle drivers (27% for motorcycle riders, 21% for passenger car drivers, 20% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for drivers of large trucks).  Nearly one in five children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office offers the following tips for a safe holiday season:

  • If you plan on drinking, do not drive.  Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before you get in the vehicle.  Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving, or worse, risk injury or death to someone by causing a crash.
  • If you have been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
  • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
  • Promptly report impaired drivers to law enforcement.
  • Always wear your seat belt or use safety equipment while on a motorcycle.  These items are your best defense against an impaired driver.For more information on the

    “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For information on Arkansas’ “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDarkansas.org.

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING RESCHEDULED
The monthly meeting of the City Council has been moved to Monday night, December 10, 2018. In order to allow Department Heads and Aldermen to attend the 2018 Camden Christmas parade, the Board of Aldermen will meet on Monday, December 10, one day ahead of the original schedule.

MEMBERS OF ARKANSAS AND MISSOURI  CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATIONS ANNOUNCE $25 MILLION GRANT FOR CRITICAL SEGMENT OF I-49WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), along with U.S. Representatives Billy Long (MO-07) and Steve Womack (AR-03), announced that $25 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been awarded to complete work on a critical segment of Interstate 49 that will connect Arkansas and Missouri.

The Arkansas/Missouri connector, often referred to as the Bella Vista Bypass, is the only portion of the more than 290-mile route between Kansas City, Missouri and Fort Smith, Arkansas that is not interstate quality. Traffic signals in Bella Vista and just across the state line in Missouri cause major traffic congestion and dramatically slow travel time.

The states have worked to complete this 18.9-mile section of I-49 at the Missouri-Arkansas line for more than 25 years. Funding for the project is being awarded from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program which is allocated for nationally and regionally significant projects.

“Completion of the critical stretch of the I-49 Arkansas-Missouri Connector is 25 years in the making and I’m thrilled we’re one step closer to getting it done,” said Blunt. “Completing this project will increase safety, improve the quality of life, and strengthen local economies in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. Missouri’s transportation networks are our greatest competitive advantage, and I appreciate the partnership of our Arkansas colleagues in moving this project forward.”

“This is exciting news for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Securing these funds for this shovel-ready project has taken years of vigorous and persistent advocating from my team. Our hard work has finally resulted in funding for a project that will yield dividends when it comes to economic growth and quality of life in the region,” Boozman said. “I appreciate Secretary Chao’s leadership in recognizing the importance of a project that I have championed throughout my time in Congress.”

“Interstate access heralds the continued economic growth of any area, which is why completing the Bella Vista bypass is vital for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. Many businesses and future infrastructure projects depend on its finalization, and this funding will allow that project’s construction finally to move forward. I am grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” said Cotton.

“The completion of the I-49 corridor is long overdue,” Long said. “Today’s announcement is great news for individuals and businesses in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas who have been waiting for this for more than 25 years. I am incredibly thankful for my colleagues in both Missouri and Arkansas who have long been strong advocates of I-49's completion, and their understanding of the numerous benefits it will bring to local economies in both states.”

“Today’s funding announcement is a game changer that will do more than just upgrade the I-49 corridor – it will transform and modernize our local transportation system to support Arkansas families and the growth of our state. This investment, which I have tirelessly advocated for, will increase travel safety, decrease congestion, create jobs, and enhance the economic vitality of our region. I am grateful to Secretary Chao for listening to the concerns I brought to USDOT, and for moving this important and long overdue project forward,” said Womack.

ADE'S READING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE INITIATIVES TO PROVIDE BOOKS AND CODING DEVICES TO TEACHERS AND SCHOOL LIBRARIES
LITTLE ROCK —
The Arkansas Department of Education’s reading and computer science initiatives are joining forces again to provide coding devices and computer science-related books to teachers and public school libraries around the state.

Libraries that serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade will receive a copy of If I Were a Wizard by Paul C. Hamilton. Up to 400 Adafruit Circuit Playground devices will be provided to teachers around the state. The devices, equipped with sensors, LED lights, and a circuit board, will give students the opportunity to practice computer programming skills.

During Computer Science Education Week in 2017, ADE announced that its Reading Initiative for Student Excellence, or R.I.S.E. Arkansas campaign, and the Computer Science Initiative would team up to promote computer science as well as build a culture of reading in 2018. As a result, approximately 900 kindergarten through eighth-grade public school libraries received coding-related books and a Micro:Bit coding device.  

“Today’s announcement involves two of my favorite education initiatives – reading and computer science,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “By providing books and computer coding devices to elementary school teachers and libraries, we are giving students the opportunity to improve their reading ability while sharpening their coding skills. I am proud of the efforts of ADE this week to enhance learning for all students in the state.”

“There is a magic about learning to code at a young age and the ability to make things move, speak, and tell stories,” Hamilton said. “I am so privileged to be part of this initiative. Lighting the spark is what I hope my book does. With the passion and commitment from the team at the Arkansas Department of Education, I am supremely confident we can make a difference and inspire the next generation of coders.”

“I am so excited to hear that so many teachers in Arkansas will get the opportunity to receive a free Circuit Playground Express,” Limor Fried, the founder of Adafruit, said. “I designed this STEM board to be easy and fun to use so that teachers and students will see how cool it is to learn coding and making. Once they’ve attended the training course, teachers will be able to bring their own experiences and skills to these workshops so they can integrate STEM into their classrooms. We think both the teachers and students will be amazed at what they can create!"

“As we wrap up another great Computer Science Education Week, I continue to be amazed at the way the students, teachers, and communities in Arkansas are responding to the #CSforAR initiative,” said Anthony Owen, ADE’s state director of computer science education. “I am extremely happy that we were able to end the week with this announcement and by recognizing Dr. Raye Montague, Arkansas’ own Hidden Figure, at an event hosted by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas at U.A.P.B., which happens to be Dr. Montague’s alma mater. I am also always excited to partner with R.I.S.E. Arkansas to promote reading! Our office wants all students to have the opportunities that a quality computer science education provides, and we recognize the importance that reading has on student success beyond high school. Our office is a firm believer that #ARKidsCanCode and that through #RISEArkansas, all students can achieve their potential!”

To be eligible to receive the devices, Arkansas public school educators must attend an ADE Office of Computer Science-approved training about the device. Arkansas computer science specialists will conduct trainings at every education service cooperative. A list of approved sessions with registration links will be posted at https://goo.gl/Lp9A87. While the trainings are free, space is limited. To learn more, see http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3844.

HOT SPRINGS TO RECEIVE $20 MILLION FOR BYPASS EXTENSION
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and John Boozman (R-AR), along with Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award the Arkansas Department of Transportation a $20 million BUILD grant to construct the Hot Springs bypass extension. The extension would run from the interchange with Highway 70 east of the city of Hot Springs and extend north to the intersection of Highways 5 and 7.

“This announcement is great news for the greater Hot Springs community and Arkansas as a whole. This extension will help Hot Springs continue to grow, and I’m grateful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their dedication to improving Arkansas infrastructure,” Senator Cotton said.

“This project is vital to improving regional connectivity and economic viability in the greater Hot Springs area and these funds will help make it a reality. The bypass extension will provide an alternative route to access Hot Springs which should reduce traffic and enhance the historic, revitalized downtown in addition to the jobs and economic activity it will create during and after construction. I appreciate Secretary Chao and the Department of Transportation’s recognition of how worthwhile and significant this project will be for Garland County,” Senator Boozman said.

“The bypass in Hot Springs plays an outsized role in our region’s economy and movement of goods. This grant will further support and expand the bypass, creating opportunity for additional economic development in the Ouachitas. It will also improve response time for emergency services, which will save lives. I thank Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for awarding this grant important to our region’s expanding infrastructure,” Congressman Westerman said. “The Administration’s continued investment in infrastructure promises to stimulate economic investment

 

DECEMBER 7, 2018

altRUTLEDGE FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST HEALTH RECORD COMPANY FOR HPAA VIOLATIONS
More than 54,000 Arkansans affected

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she, along with 11 other states, has filed a complaint against Medical Informatics Engineering Inc. (MIE) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. MIE and NoMoreClipboard LLC are web-based health record companies headquartered in Indiana who are accused of failing to protect patient user data.

“Arkansans put their trust in medical professionals across the state, who then trust data companies to protect the personal information of patients,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Medical Informatics did not provide that security and put the personal information of Arkansans at risk. It is important that data storage companies maintain the highest level of protections against hackers.”

The complaint alleges that MIE failed to implement basic industry-accepted data security measures to protect individual’s health information from unauthorized access, in part, by using generic accounts that could be accessed through the use of a shared password. The company violated provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as violations of state deceptive trade practices law, notice of data breach statutes and personal information protection acts.

Between May 7, 2015 and May 26, 2015, hackers infiltrated WebChart, a web application run by MIE. The hackers stole the electronic health information of more than 3.9 million individuals, including names, telephone numbers, mailing addresses, usernames, passwords, security questions and answers, spousal information, email addresses, date of birth, social security numbers, lab results, health insurance policy information, diagnosis, disability codes, doctors’ names, medical conditions, and children's names and birth statistics.

The data breach affected 54,356 Arkansans.

This filing marks the first time state attorneys general have joined together to pursue a HIPAA-related data breach case in federal court.

In addition to Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina and Wisconsin filed the complaint.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON, ADE ANNOUNCE CREATION OF COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
LITTLE ROCK - Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education are pleased to announce the creation of the Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year award. The award will recognize an outstanding public school educator who demonstrates a strong commitment to the Computer Science Initiative. 

“The success of Arkansas’s Computer Science Initiative can largely be attributed to the outstanding computer science educators who have embraced the initiative,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Their efforts to promote computer science deserve recognition, and this award will help us honor some of the best in our state.”

“ADE is excited to be a part of this new teacher recognition program,” ADE Commissioner Johnny Key said. “This award gives us the opportunity to recognize outstanding educators who are helping Arkansas lead the nation in computer science education.” 

The application process will open in February 2019 and will be available to any educator with an Arkansas teaching license or an approved licensure exception who is currently working in an Arkansas public school (which includes charter schools). Applicants must show their commitment to the Computer Science Initiative by demonstrating how their efforts have impacted student learning, their school and community, and the state.

Five finalists will be selected from the applicants, with each receiving $2,500. One of the five finalists will be named the 2019 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year and will receive an additional $12,500 award, for a total of $15,000. The 2019 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year also will receive paid registration and travel to the 2019 ADE Summit next summer and a $1,000 sponsorship to attend the 2019 Computer Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

ADE will announce the application process via a Commissioner’s Memo by January 31, 2019. The application window will be open during February, and the five finalists will be announced in March. The 2019 Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year will be named in late spring.

 

December 6, 2018

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES INTENT TO GRANT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced his intent to grant 14 pardons and 1 commutation. An additional 35 clemency requests were denied and 3 had no action taken upon it. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

The applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole and probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the notices before final action is taken.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant pardons to the following people:

William Cariker (Oak Ridge, TN): Grand Larceny (Unclassified Felony) (Case No. 970).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1973 – Crittenden County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application. 

Tammy Bolyer Easley (Atkins): Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (C Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 99-1).

This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1999 – Lonoke County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Joey Goshien (Cabot): Hot Check Violation >$200 but $200 but <$2,500 (C Felony) (CR 06-235), Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (C Felony) (CR 06-301), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 06-301), Hot Check Violation $2,500 or more (B Felony) (CR 06-456), Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver (Y Felony) (CR 06-556), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 06-556), and Maintaining a Drug Premises (C Felony) (CR 06-556).

This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (2006 – Lonoke County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gregory Harris (Belleville, IL): Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (Y Felony) (CR 95-202).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1996 – Lonoke County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

James Herron (Blytheville): Theft of Property (C Felony) (CR 89-17).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1990 – Mississippi County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Kevin Junkersfeld (Pocahontas): Possession of a Controlled Substance: Methamphetamine (C Felony) and Possession of Instrument of Crime (A Misdemeanor) (CR 99-3).

This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1999 – Randolph County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gary Mitchell (Beebe): Theft of Property 2 Counts (C Felony), Breaking or Entering (C Felony), and Theft of Property (Misdemeanor) (CR-88-19).

This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1988 – White County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application. 

Noel Padron (Bonner Springs, KS): Possession with Intent to Deliver Schedule II Narcotic (Y Felony) (CR 91-028).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1991 – Crawford County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Ben Perkins (Crawfordsville): Theft of Property (B Felony) (CR 99-718B).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1999 – Crittenden County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

David C. Roberts (Hackett): Possession of Marijuana with Intent (C Felony) (CR 95-83AG). 

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1996 – Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Roosevelt Smith (Marked Tree): Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Cocaine, 3 Counts (Y Felony) (CR 89-64) and Delivery of a Controlled Substance, 1 count (Y Felony) (CR 89-65).

This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1989 – Poinsett County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Kristi Spurlin (Batesville): Shoplifting (A Misdemeanor) (Case# 2004-C-1006); Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (C Felony) (CR-2004-414).

This notice is issued based on the dates of convictions (2004 and 2005 – White County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Howard B. Swayne (Charlottesville, VA): Possession of a Controlled Substance, Marijuana, with Intent to Deliver (C Felony) (CR-09-35).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2009 – Lonoke County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Richard Vorwerk (Little Rock): Breaking or Entering (D Felony) (CR 2010-13).

This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2010 – Pope County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant a commutation of sentence to the following person:

Billy Welch (­­­­ADC #113296): Possession of a Controlled Substance (crystal meth) with intent to Deliver (Habitual Offender) (Y Felony), Possession of a Firearm Certain Persons (Habitual Offender) (D Felony), Simultaneous Possession of Drug/Firearm (Habitual Offender) (Y Felony), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Habitual Offender) (C Felony) (1995-56).

The governor has given notice of his intent to commute the sentence of Billy Welch, who was convicted in Dallas County in 1996 for the above offenses, from a life sentence in the Arkansas Department of Correction to making him immediately parole eligible. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF STIPEND, TRAINING PROGRAM
Additional $200,000 Dedicated to Program for a Total of $1 Million over 2 Years
LITTLE ROCK — To encourage more educators to become licensed in computer science, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today the continuation and expansion of the K-8 Computer Science Lead Teacher Stipend and Training Program.

Hutchinson has approved an additional $200,000 from the ADE Office of Computer Science allocation, for a total of $1 million over two years for the program. The program provides elementary and middle school teachers with high-quality training regarding higher-level computer science concepts and how to assist other teachers within their schools with embedding the Arkansas K-8 Computer Science Standards across all content areas. 

“From the launch of the Computer Science Initiative in 2015, I realized its success would hinge on the commitment and expertise of our great teachers across Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “In its initial year, the K-8 Computer Science Lead Teacher Stipend and Training Program was embraced by educators across the state. There was so much
excitement, we expanded the program within days of its announcement. I am pleased to announce a further expansion, bringing the state’s total commitment to $1 million. This additional funding will incentivize teachers to help lead the nation in computer science education.”

This past summer 301 kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers enrolled and completed training under the first year of this program. Unused funds from the first year, combined with additional funding, will allow more than 200 teachers to begin the process in the summer of 2019.

“When planning its launch last year, we knew that the K-8 Computer Science Lead Teacher Stipend and Training Program would be a success, but we had no idea how big of one it would grow to be,” said Anthony Owen, state director of computer science education. “Within days of announcing the program last December, the first 250 training spots were filled; prompting the governor to allocate funding for an additional 150. Many K-8 teachers have passed the Computer Science Praxis®, become fully certified and been providing support to their local schools since participating in the training last summer. This year we are happy to again extend this opportunity to a new cohort of K-8 teachers, which will help provide long term sustainability and growth for our program and students’ learning."


To be eligible for the full $2,000 stipend, computer science lead teachers must do the following:

  • be licensed educators at an Arkansas public elementary or middle school; 
  • attend a five-day professional development session provided at no cost by the ADE Office of Computer Science;
  • obtain the 528 Computer Science endorsement on their Arkansas educator’s license; and 
  • provide a requisite number of both one-on-one support and school-wide professional development hours.

To watch Hutchinson’s announcement video, please go to https://youtu.be/_H0x5BF7wv0. To learn more about the program expansion, please visit http://adecm.arkansas.gov/ViewApprovedMemo.aspx?Id=3834.


December 3-9, 2018, is Computer Science Education Week. For a full listing of Arkansas announcements, please visit the newly-redesigned ADE Computer Science webpages at http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/special-projects/arkansas-computer-science-initiative.

 

ARKANSAS BECOMES FIRST STATE TO LAUNCH VIRTUAL REALITY CONCUSSION EDUCATION PROGRAM  STATEWIDE
LITTLE ROCK —
Arkansas once again is leading the nation in computer science education with the launch of CrashCourse across the state and announcing the creation of a virtual reality accessible version of this game-changing concussion education program.

CrashCourse uses virtual reality to simulate and educate students, with a focus on student athletes, about the signs, symptoms and long-term effects of a concussion. By becoming more aware of how concussions affect the brain and what to look for after experiencing a head injury, students will be better equipped to recognize the effects of a concussion and receive immediate care. 

As a result of a previous partnership between Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Computer Science Initiative and Facebook, most high schools in the state have existing virtual reality equipment that will allow them to utilize the CrashCourse virtual reality program. TeachAids, the creator of the program, is providing the program free of charge to every Arkansas high school. TeachAids and Arkansas kicked off Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 3-9) a little early by announcing the launch at the 7A high school state football championship game last weekend. 

“Arkansas is setting a precedent for the rest of the nation in providing cutting-edge VR education to its students,” Hutchinson said. “Through our unique partnership with TeachAids, this groundbreaking concussion education experience will empower young people to solve real-world problems in our increasingly technology-driven society.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15.1 percent of students, or approximately 2.5 million students, reported having at least one concussion. 

“Student athletes need to know how to identify and respond to possible concussion symptoms,” said Dr. James Bledsoe, the chief physician specialist for the Arkansas Department of Health. “It is great that our high school students will have access to a tool that delivers crucial health information in a way that is engaging and understandable in order to improve health outcomes.”

While considered common injuries, especially among athletes, there are many misconceptions about concussions and the effects they can have on a person’s health. Many concussion education programs exist; however, most of them do not target students directly. CrashCourse was specifically made for students, with a focus on student athletes.

“The AAA is excited to be a part of the announcement of CrashCourse in Arkansas,” said Lance Taylor, executive director of the Arkansas Activities Association. “This will be a great resource for all schools and students around the state.”

To learn more about CrashCourse, please visit https://teachaids.org/for-concussions/crashcourse/.

DECEMBER 5, 2018

MAYOR ELECT LOTT HOLD TOWN HALL MEETINGS
Yesterday, Mayor Elect Julian Lott held his two part Town Hall meeting at Thrive Church, also known as the Charles O. Ross Center in Camden.  Part one was held for those who had the day off, or don’t work the day shift to come ask the Mayor Elect questions and voice their concerns about the future of Camden.  Part two was held later in the evening for those who may have been at work during the say to come participate after working hours.  Guests were allotted 3 minutes each to  speak, and were invited to return to speak after allowing other to come forward and participate.  Some of the topics that came up were the current condition of infrastructure, streamlining communications in the city government as well as more transparency, reducing crime, streets, how the new minimum wage increase will effect operating costs, effect taxes and paying employees, and keep more money here with local spending in Camden. L.E. Lindsey and Fire Chief Medford were present. 

TWO CAMDEN MEN ARRESTED IN FATAL SHOOTING
Pine Bluff Police Department held a press conference yesterday morning just after eight am, stating two people have been arrested in the fatal shooting of a pawnshop owner.  Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergent said during the conference, Daryl Strickland and Rodney Henry, both 21 and from Camden were arrested that morning by Camden Police Department in connection in the November 12th killing Brandon McHan, owner of Wise Buck Pawn Shop in Pine Bluff.  They’re currently being held without bond on charges of capital murder, criminal attempt and aggravated robbery.

OUACHITA COUNTY WOMAN ARRESTED FOR FELONY THEFT
A Ouachita County Resident is facing felony theft of leased, rented, or entrusted property over $1,000.  Representatives from Rent A Center filed a report with the Camden Police Department stating Felicia Tyler signed two different lease agreements for two sixty five inch TV’s early this year.  Tyler allegedly pawned one TV for the value of $225 and the other on a later date for the amount of $300, thus breaching her lease with Rent A Center, and arrested by the Camden Police Department for attempting to pawn rental property.  She was later released on a $5,000 bond.

alt

RUTLEDGE REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH DEBT-COLLECTION COMPANY
Arkansans to receive more than $410,000 in debt relief
LITTLE ROCK
– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that Arkansas has joined 42 other states and the District of Columbia in an agreement to settle illegal debt-collection practice accusations against Midland Funding.

“I want companies like Midland to think twice before using these tactics in Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement will make Arkansans whole after Midland violated both Arkansas and federal law through its deceptive practices.”

Between 2003 and 2009, Midland engaged in various debt-collection activities that harmed Arkansans, such as filing false affidavits in court proceedings, failing to verify debts as requested by consumers, attempting to collect debts that are legally unenforceable and signing affidavits of debts owed without reviewing the account. The settlement affirms that Midland is required to follow all Arkansas and federal debt-collection laws.

As part of the settlement, Midland will eliminate or reduce the judgment balances of more than 300 Arkansans, totaling about $410,000, in cases where Midland used an affidavit against them in court between 2003 and 2009. Midland will notify impacted consumers by mail of the balance reduction and no further action is necessary from the consumer. In addition, Midland will set aside $25,000 per state to compensate consumers who may have paid Midland money they did not owe.

 

altCOTTON STATEMENT ON NATO CONFIRMATION THAT RUSSIA IS IN BREACH OF INF TREATY
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement after NATO declared Russia in material breach of the INF Treaty:

"President Reagan deserves high praise for negotiating the INF Treaty more than 30 years ago, but the world is a different place today. Moscow has deployed intermediate-range weapons that can strike at the heart of Europe-in violation of their treaty commitments-while Beijing stockpiles missiles in an attempt to limit American action in the Pacific. We need to change old policies to ward off new threats. America must not allow our authoritarian rivals to build and deploy dangerous, destabilizing weapons while we keep one hand tied behind our back."

altRUTLEDGE REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH NORTHSTAR ALARM
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and NorthStar Alarm Services LLC have reached a
settlement to resolve allegations that NorthStar violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Home Solicitation Sales Act. The company’s representatives engaged in unlawful and high pressure door-to-door sales tactics, which included misrepresenting its affiliation with other alarm companies and failing to disclose the length and cost of service contracts. NorthStar also routinely failed to provide consumers with a three-day notice to cancel services as required by Arkansas law and unlawfully renewed contracts automatically or made it difficult for consumers to terminate their contract.

“NorthStar violated Arkansas law and took advantage of consumers,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas law prescribes specific protections for consumers in door-to-door sales transactions. NorthStar representatives ignored those safeguards and used dishonest sales tactics to entice some Arkansans to purchase a home alarm system. This type of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated in Arkansas.”

The Agreed Order, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, enjoins NorthStar from future unlawful sales tactics and includes $19,960.89 in restitution to affected consumers and payment of up to $180,000 to the state.

 

DECEMBER 4, 2018

altCOTTON, WARREN INTRODUCE NATIONAL POW/MIA FLAG ACT
Washington, D.C.
- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) today introduced The National POW/MIA Flag Act, which would require the POW/MIA Flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, the office of the Director of the Selective Service System, each major military installation (as designated by the Secretary of Defense), each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, and each United States Postal Service post office. The senators introduced this bill to honor the more than 82,000 Americans who are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), or otherwise unaccounted for from our nation's past wars and conflicts.

Under current law, the POW/MIA Flag is required to be displayed by the federal government on certain prominent federal properties only six days per year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day. The National POW/MIA Flag Act will ensure that the POW/MIA Flag is displayed whenever the U.S. flag is displayed, effectively ensuring that both flags are displayed concurrently and every day at federal locations already designated under existing law.

"Over 82,000 Americans, including hundreds of Arkansans, remain missing from past wars," Senator Cotton said. "They are not forgotten. It is my hope that this small gesture reminds Americans to honor those who left our shores and never returned."

"All three of my brothers served in the military, and I understand the sacrifices our servicemembers and their families make to keep our country safe every single day," Senator Warren said. "We must honor those who have served our nation courageously, including those who have not made it home. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill alongside Senator Cotton to ensure that this important symbol honoring our brave men and women is proudly displayed with the American flag."

"The POW/MIA flag will be a symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still imprisoned, missing and the 83,000 plus unaccounted for from all wars," said Augustus Dante, President of the Rolling Thunder, Inc. National. "As the POW/MIA Chair of Honor in the US Capitol, the POW/MIA flag flying over the Capitol will be a reminder to the families of our missing and the public that our government has not forgotten those that did not come home."

"We appreciate the bipartisan support of Senators Warren and Cotton in introducing this bill that seeks to ensure our POW/MIA flag is posted 24/7 at all locations currently required by law," said Ann Mills Griffiths, Chairman and CEO of the National League of POW/MIA Families. "Raising the symbol of America's commitment to account as fully as possible for US Veterans unreturned from past wars and conflicts signals worldwide that America stands with all who serve - past, present and future - and will pursue every reasonable effort to bring them home. "

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is proud to support this proposal to display the POW/MIA flag prominently at all federal locations," said Patrick Murray, Deputy Director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We must always ensure that those who sacrificed, especially those who were captured or have yet to come home, are remembered and honored proudly and publicly."

This bill is endorsed by Rolling Thunder, Inc. National, Rolling Thunder Inc. Massachusetts Chapters 1 and 2, the National League of POW/MIA Families, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen. Representative Leonard Lance (R - N.J.) introduced the original legislation in the House of Representatives on January 12, 2017.
 

altBOOZMAN STATEMENT ON PASSING OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the passing of former President George H.W. Bush:

“George H.W. Bush was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and public servant who spent a lifetime answering his nation’s call to service. His love of country and example of faithful civic duty are standards we should all strive to meet. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations to serve the same great cause.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Bush family, friends and our country as we remember this great American leader.”

 

DECEMBER 3, 2018

RUTLEDGE RELEASES STATEMENT ON PASSING OF PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the following statement after the announcement of the passing of the 41st President of the United States, President George H.W. Bush.

“Today, Americans mourn the loss of a great warrior and public servant,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “President George H.W. Bush was dedicated to serving all Americans throughout his career, but most importantly he was a beloved family man. I am sending prayers of comfort to the entire Bush family and as Americans, we mourn a great man.”

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ISSUES STATEMENT ON PASSING OF FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today released the following statement on the passing of former President George H.W. Bush:

"Last night the world witnessed the passing of someone we all considered our friend. It was always the personal touch of George H.W. Bush with so many Americans. I remember the notes he would write after a campaign visit to Arkansas in 1986; the hug he gave to encourage me and others after his defeat for a second term; the patriotic tears he might shed when he learned of the sacrifice and courage of our soldiers; and the love he always had for his family. All Americans can identify with the heart of a man we watched serve our country from WWII to the liberation of Kuwait. Susan and I will be remembering the Bush family as we all reflect on a friend and great American patriot."

NOVEMBER 30, 2018

altSAAC TO PRESENT “SANTALAND DIARIES”
The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to join in the holiday fun in the Callaway Theater as Thomas Brewster becomes Crumpet the Elf for a one night only performance of David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries” on December 15, 2018.  “The Santaland Diaries” is a hilariously sarcastic, deliciously cynical way for adults to celebrate the holidays. SAAC will also host a dessert and drinks buffet before the show to ensure the evening’s holiday spirit, beginning at 7:00pm. Tickets are $20.

Brewster is a familiar face on the SAAC stage and has been seen in many holiday and summer productions over the years including “A Christmas Story,” “A 1940’s Radio Christmas Carol,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” and “Willy Wonka” as well as, more recently, in “Sunset Boulevard” and “Singing in the Rain”.

Come peek into this wicked wonderland and exposé of all things elfin. Out of work and middle-aged, a writer in need of holiday cash decides to employ his gift for insightful observation in the trade of elfdom at Macy’s Department Store. Besieged by bratty kids with overzealous parents and donning a humiliating costume, he finds that his cynical self and his elfin alter ego, “Crumpet,” are not exactly compatible. His remedy for the saccharine overdose he endures in his never-endingly exuberant job is to tell all – giving us a backstage pass to the secret lives of Santas and elves.

Though definitely not your traditional stocking stuffer, this caustic Christmas carol is a laughter-spiked antidote to the holiday blues.  Adapted from David Sedaris’ best-selling book “Holidays on Ice”, this holiday tale is a modern classic, made famous when it aired on National Public Radio.

To reserve tickets to this “one night only” event, sponsored by Possibilities Salon and Antoon’s Jewelers, please contact the SAAC box office at 862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org.  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

altEDUCATOR PREPARATION PROGRAM ENROLLMENT INCREASES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MORE THAN 5 YEARS
LITTLE ROCK —
Statewide efforts to promote the teaching profession and increase the teacher pipeline are proving successful, as enrollment in educator preparation programs has increased for the first time in more than five years.

"It is encouraging to see that our efforts to recruit students into the education field are proving successful," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. "This increase is a good sign, but it will be important for us to continue monitoring these numbers over the next few years. I am confident that we will continue to see positive outcomes as a result of our statewide efforts to compete for the most talented educators in the region. In order to transform Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education, we must have a strong teacher pipeline," Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. "Through our efforts to strengthen partnerships with educator preparation program providers, along with the launch of our Teach Arkansas campaign earlier this year, we are seeing success. While we still have work to do, ADE stands committed to collaborating with partners to promote the teaching profession, encourage enrollment in teacher preparation programs and assist districts with teacher recruitment efforts. Because of these efforts, along with Governor Hutchinson's commitment to increasing starting teacher salaries, we will continue to see increases in enrollment numbers and overall student success."

According to the U.S. Department of Education Title II data, enrollment in Arkansas educator preparation programs not only increased for the first time in more than five years, enrollment numbers for 2017-2018 were higher than two years prior. Last year's enrollment reflects an increase of 128 students compared to 2015-2016 and a reversal from the downward trend seen in previous years.

CAMDEN CHRISTMAS PARADE DEADLINE
The 31st Annual Main Street Christmas Parade will be held on December 8th at 6 p.m. in Downtown Camden. Deadline to enter is December 5th at 3:00 p.m. The theme this year is “Songs of the Season”. The Parade starts at the OPED Building on Adams Street and ends at the River Walk. For entry forms contact the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce at 836-6426.

 

altCOTTON IN WASHINGTON TIMES: 'HOW THE SENATE FIRST STEP ACT IS FLAWED'

The Senate First Step Act would make sweeping changes to our federal criminal justice system. While the bill's supporters have started this reform process with good intentions, the latest version of the bill would result in the early release of thousands of violent felons. My Senate colleagues should take the time to fix the flaws in this legislation instead of rushing a bill through in the lame-duck session.

Proponents of the bill claim that "nothing in the First Step Act gives inmates early release." Instead, they say that federal prisoners can earn time credits for participation in recidivism reduction programming and other productive activities. But these new time credits do allow for early release - up to one-third of the offender's sentence - and are in addition to existing "good time" credits.

One of the major problems with the bill is that thousands of offenders will be released almost immediately because two sections apply retroactively. That means they will not participate in any additional rehabilitation programs. The release of such a large number of prisoners at once will surely endanger public safety and will strain law enforcement's ability to protect their communities. Even for the sections that only apply prospectively, inmates only have to participate in "productive activities" to get credits for early release. That includes playing softball, watching movies or doing activities that the prisoners are already doing.

Defenders of the bill will say these risks to the public aren't realistic because serious and violent criminals are ineligible for earning new credits. While some inmates are excluded from earning new credits, many perpetrators of violent crimes would be allowed to earn these new credits - crimes including, but not limited to, drug-related robberies, involving assault with a dangerous weapon, using a deadly weapon to assault a law enforcement officer, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to a spouse or child, and violent carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury.

In addition to these offenses, sex offenders and drug traffickers would also be eligible for early release. According to the Justice Department, individuals convicted of failing to register as a sex offender, importing aliens for prostitution, and first-time assault with intent to commit rape or sexual abuse will be eligible for the new credits. On top of that, the vast majority of fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine traffickers would also be able to accrue credits for early release under the First Step Act. Considering that more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, is this the right time to reduce the penalty for trafficking deadly drugs?

Let's take an example. Under current law, a second-time offender with 400 grams of fentanyl, which is enough to kill 50,000 people - about the size of Conway, Arkansas - would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years. If the inmate behaves in prison and participates in drug rehabilitation, he could get out in 17 to 18 years. Under this bill, by shortening the mandatory minimums from 20 to 15 years on the front end, and adding new early-release provisions that can shorten the sentence by up to a third on the back end, he could be released in eight to nine years.

We must also remember the federal agents and officers who have undertaken great risks in arresting violent criminals and drug dealers. Why would we cheapen their sacrifice by putting criminals back on the street before they are reformed members of society? Perhaps that's one of many reasons why most law enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, Major County Sheriffs Association, Major County Chiefs of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and others oppose the First Step Act.

I agree with the bill's proponents that we should give prisoners more opportunities to earn a GED, to learn a trade, to participate in the kind of training and education - often faith-based - that will help them get back on their feet. But there is no reason to combine those laudable goals with shortening sentences and granting early release to violent criminals, sex offenders and drug traffickers. The threat to public safety is just too great.

altBOOZMAN STATEMENT ON VA'S PLAN TO REPAY GI BILL BENEFICIARIES FOR HOUSING ALLOWANCE ERRORS
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR)—Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies—released the following statement regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plans to compensate Forever GI Bill beneficiaries who were underpaid:

“When I brought the issue of GI Bill underpayments up to Secretary Wilkie during a hearing in September, he acknowledged the VA’s error and promised that all affected recipients would be compensated. When recent news reports suggested the VA was not acting to help veterans who have been shortchanged, the department outlined its plans to remedy the situation. Those plans fall short. These veterans must be fully repaid for errors they did not cause and that is what I expect the VA to do.”

Background
In August, when new housing rates took effect, the VA’s IT system had not been updated causing it to underpay some beneficiaries for their housing and placing unnecessary burdens on students. GI Bill recipients should have received housing stipends based on Department of Defense’s 2018 Basic Allowance for Housing rates which should have been calculated based on the zip code where the student takes the majority of classes, rather than on the zip code in which the school’s main campus is located. Instead, GI Bill recipients have been receiving housing stipends at the 2017 rate and based on the school’s zip code. In all cases, the 2018 rate is higher than the 2017 rate.

Boozman—who, along with serving as chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the VA is also a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee—pressed VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on this issue during a September hearing where he secured a promise that all eligible recipients who were underpaid will be paid in full.

Today, the VA released a statement attempting to clarify its intent to fully reimburse GI Bill recipients who have been underpaid since August. However, the plan outlined in the VA statement is insufficient. The statement indicates that the repayment rate will continue to be based on the location of the school’s main campus, rather than the physical location of the student’s classes. Additionally, the statement leaves a question about which academic year will be used for the purposes of determining the reimbursement rate.

NOVEMBER 29, 2018

altSENATE COMMITTEE ADVANCES BOOZMAN, CARDIN BILL TO EMPOWER WOMEN-LED ENTERPRISES AROUND THE WORLD
WASHINGTON—
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation introduced by U.S. SenatorsJohn Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) that aims to eliminate global gender-related barriers and empower female entrepreneurs around the world.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act passed with a committee amendment. 

“This is an important step to reducing financial hurdles that women in developing countries face. Providing access to economic tools will put more women in control of their financial success and facilitate improvements in their homes and communities. I appreciate the leadership of Chairman Corker to advance this legislation and help level the playing field for women around the world,” Boozman said. 

“Investing in women creates a positive cycle of change that can lift women, families, communities and entire countries out of poverty,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “When women are able to be fully engaged in society and hold financial and decision-making power, they are more likely to invest their income in food, clean water, education, and health care for their children. I thank my colleagues for moving this important bipartisan legislation forward.”

Specifically, the WEEE Act seeks to:

  • Establish a development cooperation policy of the United States to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, strive to eliminate gender-based violence, support women’s property rights and increase the capability of women and girls to determine life outcomes.
     
  • Require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure that all strategies and projects of the agency are shaped by a gender analysis and that gender equality and female empowerment are integrated throughout USAID’s programs;
     
  • Expand USAID’s microenterprise development assistance authority to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an emphasis on supporting SMEs owned, managed and controlled by women; and
     
  • Modernize USAID’s development assistance toolkit to include innovative credit scoring models, financial technology, financial literacy, insurance and actions to improve property and inheritance rights. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a companion bill in July.

November 28, 2018

altRUTLEDGE PRAISES SUPREME COURT'S ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT DECISION
Says, ‘Today’s ruling is a win for private property owners’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacated a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling expanding administrative discretion under the Endangered Species Act. Rutledge, along with 14 other states, joined an amicus brief reinforcing the Endangered Species Act, as written.

“Today’s ruling is a win for private property owners across the country,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The ruling threatened the private property rights of citizens and the interests of the states. This decision properly vacated the Fifth Circuit’s ruling that expanded the federal government’s power to dictate how private property, including land that the species has never lived on, is used under the guise of conserving endangered species.”

Led by the Alabama Attorney General, Rutledge is joined on the brief by attorneys general from Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

altCAMDEN POLICE REPORTS
OBSTRUCTING GOVERNMENTAL OPERATIONS DISORDERLY CONDUCT  AND CRIMINAL TRESPASS
Very early last Sunday morning at Officer Jacob VanAssche was dispatched to 665 Lincoln Center for a property dispute. Dispatch advised the reporting party was uncooperative and sounded I
ntoxicated.

The Officer arrive and made contact with the reporting party who stated his name was King Junior (Later correctly identified as Harold Stephens). He stated he was trying to leave and his wife had his key. The man had the odor of intoxicants coming from his person.

While standing with him Officer VanAssche observed a black male walking toward them, and contact was made with him. He stated his mom gave him the key to bring out so he could leave. The Officer asked to speak to his mother. Contact was made with one Angie Thomas who stated she was arguing with her husband over him drinking, and took the keys so he wouldn't drive away drunk.

The Officer went back outside and made contact with Stephens who stated he wanted his bank card, and he was informed it was a civil matter, and he stated he wanted to drive off. He was told he was unfit to operate a motor vehicle, and asked if he had a place he could stay for the night. He stated he could stay with his cousin. We relocated to his cousin's apartment 695 Lincoln Center, where Stephens began acting aggressive toward Officer Lane and VanAssche. He went inside the residence and began yelling about his bank card again. Stephens then stated he was going to call 911 again to get some different officers to come out to get his bank card.

Lieutenant Parker was contacted, and she informed Officer Lane there was past reports involving a Harold Stephens, but never a King Junior in the past. Lieutenant Parker then advised the other Officers to request a driver license check through dispatch. After requesting Stephens name again, he stated his name was King Junior, and his date of birth was July 31, 1971. Lieutenant Parker advised Officer Lane the date of birth matched the Harold Stephens subject, and Officer Lane asked if Junior's correct name was Harold Stephens to which he appeared to be shocked at first and confessed this was his name.

Stephens was taken into custody, and while doing so he began to yell profanities toward Officer VanAssche.  Neighbors began to come outside, and some apartment lights began to tum on. I advised Stephens he was also being charged with Disorderly Conduct.

Stephens was transported to the station without incident. While at the station Stephens began to yell about pain in his right arm and stated he couldn't lift it over his head. He then began yelling for an ambulance. Lieutenant Parker was notified she came inside and advised to contact EMS. Dispatch contacted EMS. The Officer then commanded Stephens take his jewelry off to which Stephens just looked and began smiling. Lieutenant Parker commanded Stephens to take off his jewelry to which Stephens asked how. Lieutenant Parker stated with your hands, and he stated how. He began smiling again and refused to take the jewelry off. After refusing to listen to multiple commands from Officers, Office VanAssche was advised to take the jewelry off. The Officer began attempting to take Stephens jewelry off. He took rings off both hands, and began trying to take his watch off. Stephens kept trying to flex his hand in a way to make it impossible to take his watch off. Once the watch was nearly off Stephens pushed his thumb out causing the band to break on the watch. He then began smiling and stated: "aw man that was expensive."

Stephens was then commanded to take his shoes off. He took the first one off, and then sat down on the ground stating his legs aren't working anymore. He was then advised to take off his leather belt, to which he took an excessive amount of time to complete. He was then commanded to get in the holding cell, he then began to crawl into the cell. He then smiled and laughed and asked for the "ETA on the ambulance."

EMS arrived and began to speak to Stephens. They asked what was hurting on Stephens and he stated his hand, and ankle was hurting. Once EMS began looking at him, he stated it was his wrist that was hurting not his arm or hand. He stated his left ankle was swollen and was hurt. EMS didn't observe anything wrong with Stephens, but Stephens requested to be brought to the hospital.

Lieutenant Parker advised Officer Van Assche to release Stephens to the custody of EMS on a criminal citation. Booking procedures were completed, and later approved by Lieutenant Parker. Stephens was released on Criminal Citation 11620 for Obstruction of Governmental Operations, and Disorderly Conduct, and was given a District Court date of January 2, 2019 at 0900 hours.

At shift change the oncoming shift was dispatched to the hospital for Stephens refusing to leave, and upon their return Sergeant Finney advised the Hospital informed Stephens he had no broken bones only soft tissue damage from an old injury.

A couple of hours later Officer Erin Manning was dispatched to the Ouachita County Medical Center in reference to a subject refusing to leave. She arrival and made contact with the hospital staff. The Staff advised that subject Harold Stephens had been advised he was being discharged from the hospital, but he was refusing to leave the premises. Upon speaking with Stephens, he stated he was not going to leave the property until he was given his x-ray paperwork. Hospital personnel then repeatedly explained to Stephens that he would not be able to receive the paperwork until later. Stephens was told that the center was discharging him from the hospital, and if he continued to refuse to leave he would be arrested for criminal trespassing. Stephens then continued to refuse to leave the property and was arrested for criminal trespassing.

PUBLIC INTOXICATION
Very early Sunday morning, Officer Jacob VanAssche was dispatched to 543 West Washington for a suspicious person. Dispatch advised the reporting party stated a black male was knocking on the door refusing to leave, and he seemed to be intoxicated.

Officer VanAssche arrived and I observed a black male, later identified as Tavaris McKinney, wearing a black shirt, and blue jeans leaning against the residence next to the front door. As the Officer approached, he asked McKinney what he was doing, and he stated "I'm just trying to get a ride to my grandma's house." His speech was very slurred, and his eyes were bloodshot and glassed over. After getting closer the Officer could smell an odder of intoxicants coming from his person and could see he was swaying back and forth almost falling.

When asked for some identification, he handed over his debit card. He was told he was handing over his debit card and the Officer needed his Driver’s License. He continued to hand the debit card, and when asked again for his DL he began to hand the Officer another debit card. While doing this McKinney almost fell forward on the Officer causing him to have to brace McKinney up.

McKinney was taken into custody for public intoxication and placed him the patrol unit. Contact was then made contact with the reporting party, who stated McKinney kept yelling something about his daughter, and demanding Hogan to give him his address. I asked Hogan if McKinney ever asked for a ride, and he stated no he just yelled about his daughter and kept knocking. The man did not wish to pursue any charges for Criminal Trespass.

McKinney was transported to the station without incident. At the station booking procedures where completed, and later approved by Lieutenant Parker. McKinney was given a Criminal Citation 11624 for Public Intoxication and was given a District Court date of January 2, 2019 at 0900 hours. McKinney was later transported to the OCSO for a detoxify period of 12 hours.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ANNOUNCED $9.7 MILLION GRANTS FOR TRAILS, SIDEWALKS
The Arkansas Department of Transportation has announced the award recipients for its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for 2018. The TAP projects total $8,059,000 and the RTP grants amount to $1,643,000.

A few of the larger TAP projects include the Delta Heritage Trail from Watson to the Arkansas River, the downtown streetscape in Pine Bluff, phase four of the rehabilitation of the Old River Bridge over the Saline River, and phase four of the Craighead Forest Greenway Trail.

RTP projects awarded include an addition to the Veteran’s Park Trail in Decatur, rehabilitation of the Ouachita Trail at Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and phase one of the Stone Dam Creek Trail in Conway.

The City of Camden received $264,000 to be used on The Trace foe Bike and Pedestrian Signs and Striping. Magnolia received $373,000 for sidewalks. Pine Bluff received $500,000 for Downtown Streetscape, Phase 3.

RIBBON CUTTING AT LA LOMA
Join the Camden Chamber of Commerce, Thursday, November 29th,  at 9 am, for a ribbon cutting. The Chamber is celebrating the newest member, LA LOMA Grill.  They will be serving breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.  Everyone who comes to check out LA LOMA Grill from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day will receive a 25% discount.  LA LOMA Grill is a completely new business with a new owner.  It is located at 790 Cash Road SW in Camden.

LIGHT UP THE COURTHOUSE
Everyone is invited to “Light Up the Courthouse” this FRIDAY at 6PM at the Ouachita County Courthouse! Come visit with Santa, have free hot chocolate, enjoy free crafts with the kids, and also experience a free horse and carriage rides through Downtown Camden.  There will be Christmas singing and Christmas reading, as well.  At 7PM, there will be a Candlelight Service to appreciation for First Responders with a Candlelight Service.

November 27, 2018

altCAMDEN POLICE REPORTS
SHOPLIFTING INCIDENT
On Thanksgiving evening, Lt. Ben Opelt was working at Walmart as extra security for the Black Friday Sales Event. While in the security office watching the store’s surveillance footage with the loss prevention Officer the Officer observed an elderly white male concealing Christmas decoration in his coat pocket. Contact was made with the man, identified as James Griffis, who admitted that he was concealing items on his person. Officer Opelt removed 2 Rudolph Christmas ornaments from his inside jacket pockets. The man was escorted to the security office where the LPO completed a Shoplifting Affidavit. He was then transported to the police station where he was booked for Shoplifting and later released after paying the corresponding bond.

POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (MARIJUANA)
Last Friday afternoon, Officer Joseph Jones was dispatched to Grinstead and Carver Courts in reference to an accident. The Officer arrived on scene and made contact with 2 subjects who identified themselves as Robert Fielder and Chiliyolo Biddle.

Biddle stated she was turning out of Carver Courts onto Grinstead and was traveling west when she was struck by Fielder. Fielder stated he seen Biddle tum out of Carver Courts and he went to slow and struck the side of her vehicle. While I was speaking to Fielder Officer Jones smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from his person.

Fielder was steadily keeping his distance from the officers as they were speaking and even began stretching at one point. Fielder kept placing his hands in his pockets and had an overall nervous behavior while they were speaking. Lt. Opelt noticed this and conducted a pat down for weapons on Fielder's person. During the pat down, Lt. Opelt felt a pill bottle and something else in Fielder's front jacket pocket. When he asked Fielder what the item was, Fielder stated he had a grinder. Fielder was taken into custody. A blue grinder and a Walmart pill bottle containing marijuana was found inside his jacket.

Fielder was transported to the station where booking procedures were completed and approved by Lt. Opelt. Fielder is charged with possession of marijuana. Fielder was given a court date of January 2, 2019 at 0900 hours and released on citation number 11618. The evidence is being stored at the Camden Police Department.

ABSOLUTE AUCTION DECEMBER 8TH
There will be an absolute auction at 9:00 a.m. at the Brad Schleuss Estate located at 113 7th Street in Camden. This is 1/2 mile North of John Deere dealer on 79N.  There will be 2 Houses on 1.58 acres. Property to be offered in 2 parcels & offered together.

Property will sell at 10:00 a.m. A $2500 Cashiers Check will be due on Auction Day to be used as eamest money. Deed and title Insurance will be provided with closing in 30 days. Partial listing of items: Miller Skywove 250 welder, rutting torch and cart, chain saw, lOO's of hand tools, wood working tools, wood lathe, drill press, punch, sow horses, ladders, benches, iointer, planer, shop fans, Milwaukee power tools, anvil, chop sows, grinders, shop tables., air compressor, shop vac, boots, trailers, vintage signs, old wash pots, wagon wheels, lawn mowers, fishing tackle, Mercury outboard motor, trolling motor, mobility scooter, wheel chair, washer and dryer, firewood, assorted metal, pocket watches, antique furniture, old Power King tractor, dinner bell, much much more.

Proceeds of Houses and Tools go to Harmony Grove United Methodist Church. 10% Buyers Premium

altCOTTON IN NATIONAL REVIEW: "WHAT'S REALLY IN CONGRESS'JUSTICE-REFORM BILL"
What's Really in Congress's Justice-Reform Bill
National Review
By: Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

The bad outweighs the good.

It remains to be seen whether the lame-duck 115th Congress will debate a sweeping overhaul of our federal criminal-justice system before we adjourn for the year. You may have heard about the legislation at hand, the FIRST STEP Act. I oppose it. I urge my fellow conservatives to take the time to read and understand the bill before signing on in support of this flawed legislation.

The 103-page bill that was released the Friday before Thanksgiving has some good parts, and I don't question the intentions of the bill's proponents. But you may have noticed that they talk more about their intentions than about the consequences of the bill. As conservatives, we know that good intentions say little about actual consequences. And to paraphrase Thomas Sowell, intellectuals who generate ideas with good intentions rarely have to face the consequences of those ideas personally.

When proponents of the bill discuss the substance, they claim that "nothing in the FIRST STEP Act gives inmates early release." Instead of early release, proponents say, it merely provides incentives for inmates to participate in programs. This is nothing but a euphemism. Let there be no doubt: If the bill is passed, thousands of federal offenders, including violent felons and sex offenders, will be released earlier than they would be under current law. Whatever word games the bill's proponents use will make no difference to the future victims of these felons.

Proponents also claim that only "low-level, non-violent" offenders will benefit, and that there are adequate safeguards to protect the public. If I believed these assertions, I would support the FIRST STEP Act. But a careful reading of the bill's text, as opposed to the talking points used to promote it, shows that violent felons are eligible for early release, and that many of the bill's provisions go against core conservative principles.

For background, according to the Department of Justice, the Senate version of the FIRST STEP Act creates a new "time credit" system that allows federal prisoners to accrue credits by participating in "evidence-based recidivism reduction programming or productive activities." These new credits are in addition to existing "good time" credits and are worth up to one-third of the offender's sentence.

The first problem with this new system is that "productive activities" is defined so vaguely that, according to the Bureau of Prisons, playing softball, watching movies, or doing activities that the prisoners are already doing today will result in new time credits. The whole idea behind these incentives is that prisoners will be less likely to recidivate upon release. But if the credits are this easy to get, how will this change the behavior of serious felons?
The second problem is that while some offenders are ineligible for these new "time credits" based on an exclusion list, many serious violent crimes are missing from that list. Since proponents tend to misstate or misunderstand their own bill, here are some of the specific federal laws that are missing from the bill's exclusion-from-early-release list:

  • Drug-related robberies involving assault with a dangerous weapon (18 U.S.C. § 2118(c)(1))
  • Using a deadly weapon to assault a law-enforcement officer (18 U.S.C. § 111(b))
  • Assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to a spouse or child (18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(7))
  • Violent carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury (18 U.S.C. § 2119(2))
  • Trafficking heroin and fentanyl, if not also convicted of certain other charges. More than 90 percent of traffickers will be eligible for the time credits. (18 U.S.C. § 841(b))


These are not low-level, non-violent crimes, nor are they obscure crimes. There are dozens of other serious violent crimes, including sex-related offenses, that are missing from the bill's exclusion list. Frankly, there are almost no low-level, non-violent offenders in federal prison, as opposed to state prison, to begin with. And to the extent people are in federal prison for low-level convictions, they typically pled down from more serious charges. Most important, when there are manifest injustices in individual cases, the proper course of justice is not to simply let out thousands of serious felons but to appeal to the president for clemencies and pardons. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 74, the president is far better situated than a legislature to address such cases.

Proponents also claim that we have nothing to fear because only offenders classified as having a "low-level" of recidivism risk can use their credits to get early release. But this requires extraordinary faith in the government's ability to predict the recidivism risk of violent felons. I understand why liberals have such faith. But it is surprising to me that conservatives, and especially libertarians, have faith that government bureaucrats can judge the state of a felon's soul and predict his future behavior. Even if you trusted the current administration to do so, would you trust a future Democratic administration? Plus, if this safeguard is enough, why does the bill have an exclusion list in the first place?

Third, rather than focus on low-level crimes, the bill reduces the penalty for the crime of trafficking the highest quantities of fentanyl described in federal law after previously having been convicted of drug felonies. According to the National Association of United States Attorneys, reducing the sentence on the front end, combined with the new time credits on the back end, means that a repeat fentanyl trafficker could spend half the time in prison under this bill that he would spend under current law.

Finally, the Senate FIRST STEP Act gives judges much more discretion to ignore the mandatory minimum sentence for criminals with prior records. Since when has increased judicial discretion been a conservative principle? Proponents of this bill are suggesting that we put our faith in the wisdom of the same district-court judges who are issuing nationwide injunctions against the Trump administration for merely enforcing our immigration laws. Remember, about three-fifths of active district-court judges were appointed by Clinton or Obama. This bill relies on their discretion to keep the American people safe.

Instead of relying on summaries, you should read the bill yourself, and read letters from law-enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, the Major County Sheriffs Association, the Major County Chiefs of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and others that came to the same conclusion I did: The bad in this bill outweighs the good.

I believe there are reforms to the criminal-justice system that align with core conservative principles, such as adding a mens rea requirement for all crimes, reducing the size of the criminal code, and limiting federal power over our lives. This bill includes none of those provisions. But it does include the priorities of the ACLU and the New York Times editorial board. That should be enough to give conservatives pause as to whether the Senate FIRST STEP Act should be rushed through the lame-duck session.

November 26, 2018

CAMDEN POLICE REPORTS
On Thanksgiving evening, Lt. Ben Opelt was working at Walmart as extra security for the Black Friday Sales Event. While in the security office watching the store’s surveillance footage with the loss prevention Officer the Officer observed an elderly white male concealing Christmas decorations in his coat pocket. Contact was made with the man, identified as James Griffis, who admitted that he was concealing items on his person. Officer Opelt removed 2 Rudolph Christmas ornaments from his inside jacket pockets. The man was escorted to the security office where the LPO completed a Shoplifting Affidavit. He was then transported to the police station where he was booked for Shoplifting and later released after paying the corresponding bond.

Very early last Friday morning Officer Ashley Watts was dispatched to Grinstead Street in reference to a one vehicle accident. Dispatch advised the caller stated they were overturned in a ditch and did not know exactly where he was. The Officer arrived on scene to find a Honda Accord suspended in the trees on the East side of Grinstead in the curve.

Officer Vannashe and Officer Watts walked don in the ditch to determine if anyone was in the vehicle when they heard a voice of Diarra Morgan coming from inside the vehicle. He appeared to be lying across the dash of the vehicle. His head and left arm were protruding from the broken windshield. The Officer identified himself and told Morgan that help was on the way. Morgan wanted to get out immediately, but the Officer told him because of the position of the vehicle he needed to stay in the vehicle and try not to move as the vehicle appeared very unstable. The front bumper was in the dirt and the rear bumper was suspended in a tree. While waiting for the fire department and EMS to arrive, Officer Watts noticed Morgan’s speech to be slurred. Morgan told the Officer he was on the way to get his son.

The fire department arrived and Morgan became agitated with them trying to secure the vehicle in order to extricate him. They first had to attach a cable to the rear end to prevent it from falling from the tree. They then attempted to secure the vehicle by busting the rear driver side window to place an arm to prevent it from falling over. Morgan became upset at them trying to break the glass, complaining of how expensive the glass was. The Firemen eventually found a way to secure the vehicle without breaking the glass.

Once the car was secure, EMS attempted to assist Morgan from the vehicle. Firemen held the door open as EMS placed the stretcher inside the door. The were instructing Morgan to lay on the stretcher and they would carry him up the hill to evaluate him. Morgan argued with them for some time before EMS asked if he was reusing the assistance getting out of the vehicle. He stated that he did not need help and for them to move out of the way. The paramedics moved to the side of as the firemen continued to hold the door open for Morgan as he stumbled from the vehicle. One he exited the car the paramedics grabbed his arms to keep him from falling. He did not want them touching him and assured them he could walk all on his own. Morgan appeared to be having difficulty walking up the hill and once on the level ground he appeared to still be having difficulty walking.

A paramedic and a fire man assisted Morgan to the ambulance, once they reached the ambulance the fire man attempted to assist Morgan inside. Officer WattsI observed Morgan's eyes to be watery and blood shot and he smelled of the odor of intoxicants. Morgan became very offensive claiming the fire man was pushing him. The fire man at first gave him some room then, Morgan took a stance that looked as though he may try to run so the fire man put one hand on Morgan's arm and the other hand on the door to the ambulance to prevent Morgan from escaping easily.

After some time of trying to convince Morgan he needed to be seen by EMS it was clear that he was not going to allow EMS to evaluate him. Morgan was then transported to the Camden Police Department where a twenty-minute observation period began. As  Officer Watts was observing Morgan I began asking him about the events that led up to the accident. Morgan stated he had been drinking, but it was much earlier in the day.

He first stated that he last drank around 7:30 p.m. then he stated he was drinking around 11:00 p.m. before he left "Punkins" car lot on Adams. Morgan stated he had been drinking E & J V S O P with some friends and playing dominos. He claimed he had won some money playing dominos and planned on going to the Wheel Club when he left there. Morgan stated he thinks he left "Punkins" car lot at approximately 11:00 p.m. He turned onto Grinstead and as he approached the curve a dog ran out in front of him. He swerved to miss the dog and left the road way. Morgan claims he was driving between 15 to 30 miles per hour when he reached the curve and that's when the wreck occurred.

After the twenty-minute observation period the Officer administered the BAC. Morgan provided 3 insufficient samples.  Morgan was then offered the option of providing a urine sample. Morgan agreed. He was given a cup. Officer Watts requested Officer Vannashe witness Morgan producing the sample. Once they entered into the restroom I heard Officer Vannashe tell Morgan to pee into the urinal rather than the sink, Morgan became very belligerent at this point cursing at the Officer. Officer Watts stepped out of the booking room for a moment to ask her supervisor a question when she heard the small plastic specimen cup hit the floor. As she entered into the booking room Officer Vannashe asked to speak to Officer Watts along with their supervisor. Morgan was placed back inside of the holding cell while  the Officers spoke outside the room. Officer Vannashe advised Morgan urinated then flushed. As he was flushing he placed the specimen cup under the flow of the water; contaminating the sample.

When Morgan was advised he was being charged with refusal he become angry. He was then advised him of his rights and that he could request an additional blood test at his own expense if he was interested. Morgan stated he wanted to have the blood test done, so Officer Watts told him once we finished, he would be assisted in getting the test taken. As they were finishing the paper work Morgan became agitated, cursing, signing the papers in the wrong spots, not listening to commands and becoming belligerent with the department supervisors. Morgan then decided he no longer wanted to provide a blood sample in an attempt to prove his innocence.

Morgan was transported to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department where he was held pending sobriety. Morgan was issued Criminal Citation for DWI 2nd Offense and Refusal to Submit to BAC. He was also issued a traffic  citation for Driving on a Suspended Driver's License and Careless and Prohibited Driving.

SAAC BOX OFFICE OPEN FOR TEEN DRAMA CLUB PRODUCTION
The box office at the South Arkansas Arts Center is open for reservations and ticket sales for the Teen Drama Club's presentation of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on December 7 and 8. The curtain will go up at 7:00pm on December 7 and 2:00pm on December 8.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a comedy written by William Shakespeare in 1595-96. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors (The Mechanicals) who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.

The Teen Drama Club at SAAC is for students in grades 7-12 who are interested in learning how things work backstage for a production of a play or musical, which includes staging, costuming and set design, as well as acting. Lynn Gunter has been in charge of this group for many years and is co-directing this production with Haley Phillips, a veteran of the SAAC stage, who also is a self-described Shakespeare fan.

For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet on Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. James Lee Silliman, Executive Director of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development will speak giving an update on OPED Activities.

NOVEMBER 23, 2018

RUTLEDGE REACHES SETTLEMENT $625MILLION WITH AMERISOURCEBERGEN
Arkansas to receive $2.8 Million
LITTLE ROCK
– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Arkansas has joined with 42 other states and the federal government to reach an agreement with the pharmaceutical distributor, AmerisourceBergen Corporation (ABC) to settle allegations that the company introduced adulterated drugs into interstate commerce. As a result, ABC will pay the states and the federal government $625 million dollars, of which $99,863,569.00 will go to the Medicaid programs. Additionally, ABC subsidiary, AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group (“ABSG”), pleaded guilty to illegally distributing misbranded drugs in September 2017. ABSG is the parent entity for companies in the specialty pharmaceutical market, including biotechnology and oncology, in addition to pharmaceutical manufacturers and providers. ABSG agreed to pay $260 million in criminal fines and forfeitures. As part of the settlement Arkansas will receive $2,813,129.97 in restitution and other recoveries.

“Protecting the consumers includes ensuring pharmaceutical manufacturers and providers are following approved methods for manufacturing, distribution, and dispensing of prescription drugs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Multistate efforts like this settlement play an oversight role of the federal processes which are in place to give consumers peace of mind when reaching for the medicine cabinets. Using unsafe or untested substances or procedures in the manufacturing, distribution, and dispensing of medication to increase profits is unacceptable and must be aggressively addressed to protect Arkansans and all consumers.”

The national federal and state civil settlement resolves allegations concerning conduct of a purported pharmacy ABSG opened in Dothan, Alabama named Medical Initiatives, Inc. (“MII”). MII pooled vials of oncology supportive care drugs used during chemotherapy to create Pre-filled Syringes (PFS) to sell to practitioners. The drugs involved in the scheme include Aloxi®, Anzemet®, Kytril®, Neupogen®, Procrit®, as well as the generic version of Kytril®. The investigation revealed that MII was not a pharmacy, but a repackager, and as such, was required to apply for a New Drug Application (NDA) for the PFS. To prepare the PFS, MII broke the seal of the FDA-approved drug vials and repackaged them into plastic syringes that allowed MII to sell the excess drug product in the vials, known as “overfill.” The PFS, which were prepared in an unsterile environment and often contained particles of foreign matter, were then shipped to providers through another branch of ABSG, Oncology Supply Company (“OSC”).

MII was neither a pharmacy in producing and selling the PFS nor did it comply with pharmacy regulations in any state where it was licensed. Additionally, since there was no NDA, the drugs were unapproved by the FDA as well as adulterated, therefore not eligible for reimbursement by government healthcare programs. The civil settlement also resolves double billing for the same vial of drug as a result of using the overfill drug product and unlawful kickbacks provided to physicians to induce them to purchase Procrit® in PFS rather than vials.

The investigation resulted from three qui tam actions originally filed in 2010, 2012 and 2014 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units Team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with ABC on behalf of the states. The Team included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Oregon.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the following appointments:

John Allison, Conway, to the Arkansas State Police Commission.  Appointment expires January 14, 2026.  Reappointment.

Benny Magness, Gassville, to the Board of Corrections.  Appointment expires December 31, 2025.  Reappointment.

Todd Smith, Magnolia, to the State Banking Board.  Appointment expires December 31, 2019.  Replaces Zach McClendon.

Roy Ragland, Little Rock, to the Board of Visitors for the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College.  Appointment expires July 1, 2025.  Replaces Mary Jane Rebick.

Jo Ann Campbell, Fort Smith, to the State Library Board.  Appointment expires October 18, 2025.  Reappointment.

Dr. Garrett Taylor, Pine Bluff, to the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners. Appointment expires September 1, 2023. Replaces Dr. Drew Toole.

Karrie Jamison, Nashville, to the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners. Appointment expires September 1, 2022. Replaces Donna White. 

Marcia Cook, Sherwood, to the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners. Appointment expires September 1, 2023. Replaces Nancy Dunlap. 

Scott Bull, Fayetteville, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Reappointment. 

Jeff Griffin, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Reappointment. 

Karen Breashears, Arkadelphia, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Reappointment. 

Rebecca Ives, Camden, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Replaces Bart Langley.

Randy Henderson, Blytheville, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Replaces Bob East. 

Mike Rogers, Summers, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2020. Replaces Charles Clark. 

Paul Rivera, Maumelle, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2019. Replaces Michael Newcity. 

Marcy Doderer, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires May 1, 2019. Replaces Rod Loy.

Gina Radke, Sherwood, to the Career Education and Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Michael Garner, Hensley, to the Career Education and Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment. 

Stacy Gunderman, Batesville, to the Career Education and Workforce Development Board. Appointment expires June 30, 2021. Reappointment.

Michael Watson, Ash Flat, to the Board of Trustees of Ozarka Technical College. Appointment expires June 30, 2025. Replaces Darla York.

Daniel Barnes, Fayetteville, to the Academic Facilities Review Board. Appointment expires August 6, 2021. Reappointment.

Jeffrey Marcussen, Little Rock, to the Academic Facilities Review Board. Appointment expires August 6, 2021. Reappointment. 

Cheryl Edwards, Fort Smith, to the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. Appointment expires December 31, 2020. Reappointment.

Lenora Erickson, Pearcy, to the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. Appointment expires December 31, 2020. Reappointment. 

Dr. Rick Grace, Springdale, to the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. Appointment expires December 31, 2020. Reappointment. 

Dr. Richard Emmel, Little Rock, to the Baby Sharon’s Children’s Catastrophic Illness Grant Program Committee. Appointment expires May 1, 2022. Reappointment.

Sam Angel, II, Lake Village, to the Arkansas Agriculture Board. Appointment expires August 15, 2022. Replaces Joan Cash. 

Jerry Christie, Nashville, to the Arkansas Agriculture Board. Appointment expires August 15, 2022. Replaces David Wilson.

Ryan Anglin, Bentonville, to the Arkansas Agriculture Board. Appointment expires August 15, 2022. Replaces Frederic Simon.

Brent Butler, Siloam Springs, to the Arkansas Agriculture Board. Appointment expires August 15, 2022. Replaces Bruce Jackson. 

Dr. Anthony Bucolo, Little Rock, to the Firefighter Benefit Review Panel. Appointment expires May 6, 2019. Replaces Dr. Amy Cleveland.

Vicki Howard, Clarksville, to the Arkansas Board of Hearing Instrument Dispensers. Appointment expires July 31, 2021. Replaces Jerry Richards.

Woody Freeman, Jonesboro, to the Arkansas Educational Television Commission. Appointment expires March 23, 2026. Replaces Dr. W. Andrew Fulkerson. 

Linda Craig, Fayetteville, to the Professional Bail Bond Company and Professional Bail Bondsman Licensing Board. Appointment expires September 30, 2025. Replaces Phyllis Worley. 

Michael Flagg, Little Rock, to the Arkansas Milk Stabilization Board. Appointment expires September 12, 2023. Reappointment. 

Judge Jessica Gunter, Nashville, as Pike County District Court Judge. Appointment expires December 31, 2018. Replaces Judge Dana Stone.

Judge Barbara Griffin, Newport, as Woodruff County District Court Judge. Appointment expires December 31, 2020. Replaces Judge John D. Eldridge, III

Colleen Briney, Fayetteville, as a Justice of the Peace for the Washington County Quorum Court, District 11. Appointment expires December 31, 2018. Replaces Joseph Kicklak. 

Damon Tyler, Lepanto, as a Justice of the Peace for the Poinsett County Quorum Court, District 10. Appointment expires December 31, 2018. Replaces Larry Steakley. 

November 21, 2018

BOOZMAN ENCOURAGES SUPPORT FOR LOCAL RETAILERS, HIGHLIGHTS SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement encouraging Arkansans to support small businesses in their communities this Saturday, November 24 as part of “Small Business Saturday”:

“Small businesses drive our economy in Arkansas and across the country. They employ our family, friends and neighbors and provide in-demand goods and services all while giving back to the communities they operate in. I hope Arkansans will join me in patronizing these economic engines this holiday season, beginning on Small Business Saturday,” Boozman said.

Boozman is a cosponsor of the Senate-passed resolution that designates Saturday, November 24, 2018 as Small Business Saturday. The measure urges consumers to shop locally and highlights the importance of small businesses to our economy. Last year, 108 million Americans shopped or dined at independently-owned businesses for Small Business Saturday.

 

altARKANSAS LAWMAKERS ASK SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION TO MAINTAIN VITAL PROGRAM FOR FAMILY POULTRY FARMS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman pressed the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to reverse a proposed rule that would harm Arkansas poultry farmers’ ability to access vital funding for their operations.

The delegation sent a letter to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon urging the agency to revise the proposed rule, which if implemented would impose unworkable eligibility requirements on poultry farmers who rely on SBA’s 7(a) loan program. The 7(a) program provides loan guarantees to assist small businesses in obtaining credit.

“Poultry is the largest segment of Arkansas's agricultural industry, creating and supporting over 150,000 jobs including thousands of family farms. Access to capital is one of the most significant barriers to entry for farming, which is why Congress specifically included agriculture in the SBA's mandate. This proposed rule would jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of small family farms and small businesses across Arkansas,” the lawmakers wrote.

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES ARREST OF HOT SPRINGS EMPLOYEE FOR BILLING MEDICAID FOR FAMILY
LITTLE ROCK – Yesterday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of a Garland County woman for Medicaid fraud. Tonashae Echols, 33, of Hot Springs, is the Therapy Manager of Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services in Hot Springs and is accused of making false statements regarding her family’s income in order to receive Medicaid benefits for her children and billing Medicaid through the business for services provided to the children from November 2015 through July 2017. Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, Echols was arrested. She is charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony.

“Echols is accused of lying to collect benefits she was not entitled to receive,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “When people cheat Medicaid, they steal from taxpayers and hurt a system designed to help the most vulnerable. I will not tolerate this behavior as the Attorney General.”

An attorney with the Attorney General’s Office will be sworn in as Special Deputy Prosecuting Attorney by 6th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

DECEMBER SEMINAR DATE CHANGED
SBA Series #4: Business Financing Options

Do you need funding to start a business or expand an existing one? Learn about the business financing process and different sources of capital, including SBA-backed loans, traditional bank loans, micro loans, and alternative funding sources.

Monday, December 10, 2018 | 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. at the OPED Bldg., 625 Adams Ave. in Camden.

BBB WARNING: BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT PROUD AMERICANS SUPPLY
Little Rock, Arkansas
(November 20, 2018) (proudamericanssupply.com). This warning follows a pattern of consumer complaints against the business alleging issues with its customer service, delivery, and refund/exchange policies.

Consumers have submitted a total of 57 complaints against Proud Americans Supply in the last 12 months. The majority of the complaints filed in recent weeks have not received a response from the business. Eleven complaints were recently filed and are still pending. In addition to consumer complaints, there are 25 negative customer reviews submitted to BBB that are reporting similar issues.

Consumers have reported that they have ordered products, paid for the products, and are not receiving the products. They have also complained of difficulty reaching the business via email to discuss the status of their orders and that there is no telephone number to call for customer service.

BBB has contacted Proud Americans Supply, requesting a response for reasons why the issues may be occurring and what the business plans to do to correct the issues. At this time, BBB has not received a response from the business to this request.

The company currently has an “F” Rating with BBB. Consumers may visit Proud American Supply’s BBB Business Profile to see details of complaints and customer reviews.

BBB offers a number of tips for smart online shopping and encourages all consumers to use extreme caution when shopping online this holiday season.

To find out more about other scam or to report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

For more tips you can TRUST, visit: bbb.org/ar and for the latest, check out our blog, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

NOVEMBER 20, 2018

ARKANSAS HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE LAUNCHES HELPLINE
LITTLE ROCK, AR (November 16, 2018)
– The Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (AHIM) has expanded its toll-free HelpLine to better assist Arkansans in finding affordable health insurance coverage.  

Open enrollment in the state’s My Arkansas Insurance Individual Marketplace started November 1. The program provides health insurance plans for individuals who do not have access to employer-provided insurance and will use the federal enrollment platform on Healthcare.gov.

AHIM’s My Arkansas HelpLine utilizes an approach that combines call-center and Navigator functions and connects consumers with in-person assistance and enrollments to be performed by a qualified agent or broker located in the same area as the consumer.

The toll-free My Arkansas HelpLine, at 1-844-355-3262, can help provide assistance Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Individual plans available through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (AHIM) website, myARinsurance.com, are designed to meet the needs of Arkansas families and provide a variety of options to fit household budgets. Each plan from which to choose provides comprehensive benefits and is administered by trusted insurance providers.

The most important features of each plan available through the Marketplace include no restrictions for pre-existing conditions and no lifetime limits. Also included are standard health care benefits such as inpatient care, outpatient services, and prescription drugs. The importance of preventative care and screenings, most of which do not require a co-payment, are also emphasized.

Additionally, financial help is available to help pay for the cost of insurance.

“The HelpLine is an essential tool to help Arkansans through the process of selecting the health insurance options that are right for them,” said Angela Lowther, AHIM Executive Director. “It also provides the ability to connect enrollees directly with agents and brokers throughout the state.

Open enrollment period ends December 15.

ABOUT THE ARKANSAS HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACE
Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (AHIM) was created to manage and implement a state-based health insurance exchange in Arkansas in accordance with state and federal law. AHIM was established by the 89th Arkansas General Assembly 2013 Regular Session by ACT 1500 and is a nonprofit public benefit corporation. My Arkansas Insurance is the state-based exchange established and managed by AHIM.

AHIM is governed by the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Board of Directors. Members of the AHIM Board are appointed by the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The AHIM Board reports to the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace Legislative Oversight Committee.

The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council would like to invite you to a reception honoring Addie Wilson as she relocates from the Ouachita County Extension Service to the Little Rock Office to serve as a member of the State Health Specialist Team. The reception will be held at the Ouachita county extension service Office at 2760 Mt. Holly Road in Camden on Monday, November 26th from 10:30 a.m. until noon. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is and equal opportunity, equal access, affirmative action institution.

EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS HOST RECEPTION HONORING ADDIE WILSON
The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council would like to invite you to a reception honoring Addie Wilson as she relocates from the Ouachita County Extension Service to the Little Rock Office to serve as a member of the State Health Specialist Team. The reception will be held at the Ouachita county extension service Office at 2760 Mt. Holly Road in Camden on Monday, November 26th from 10:30 a.m. until noon. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is and equal opportunity, equal access, affirmative action institution.

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES YELLVILLE VIETNAM VETERAN IN 'SALUTE TO VETERANS'
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veteran Kenneth Ziemer in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Ziemer now calls Yellville, Arkansas home, but he grew up in Wisconsin. He was working as a medical research assistant at the Veterans Hospital in Madison, WI when he received his draft notice. “I was kind of expecting it,” he said. Joining the Army fulfilled his belief that “every male owed it to their country, at least two years of military service.”

He completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky in advance of going to Military Police (MP) school. However, his trouble throwing a hand grenade, which he eventually mastered, shifted the trajectory of his military service. 

His new orders sent him to Brooke Medical Field Service School at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he studied to be a pharmacy specialist. He didn’t get to practice his specialty at his next assignment at Fort MacArthur, California where he was reassigned as a lab technician. With his lab experience, Zeimer found this to be a good fit. “I was very happy about that because I knew it better than I did the pharmacy. I appreciated working in the laboratory. Now I had to work night and day. I couldn’t get any leave because we were shorthanded.” 

It wasn’t long before he was notified that he would be transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington. “Everybody working in that hospital it seemed, except me, who worked in the medical field, knew that anyone who reported to Fort Lewis would end up in Vietnam,” Ziemer said. He was instructed to gather all the pharmaceutical supplies and medications he would need to open a combat pharmacy in Vietnam.

Ziemer was assigned to the 523rd Field Hospital. In the pharmacy, he continued to utilize his chemistry background. Working nights, he manufactured medicines, cough syrup, suntan lotion and other products in short supply on the base.

During the days he volunteered in a variety of duties. One of his favorite roles was escorting patients to USO concerts. “Celebrities would visit with the patients and us so I got to meet quite a few people including Barbara Streisand and Bobby Rydell,” Ziemer said. 

Ziemer was stationed in Nha Trang, Vietnam, which was considered a safe area, allowing him flexibility to leave the base and visit the local orphanage. “We would get gifts for the children from friends and relatives at home and from church groups and hand it out to the children. They loved it.” He was passionate about continuing to help the children and missionaries in the area so he took Vietnamese lessons in hopes of returning to work with them after his service was complete.

He was encouraged to become a commissioned officer, but he turned it down and returned home. 

“Kenneth Ziemer honorably served our country. He, like many other Arkansans who served in Vietnam, had unique experiences that helped shape his life and his time in uniform. I’m pleased to recognize hisselfless sacrifice and preserve and share his memories of military service for future generations,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Ziemer’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. 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES TWO MEN SENTENCED TO A TOTAL OF 50 YEARS OF CHILD EXPLOITATION
Says, ‘I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods and off the internet’
LITTLE ROCK
– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that a Pulaski County man has been sentenced to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child exploitation charges. An Izard County man has also been sentenced to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child exploitation charges. Each arrest was initiated by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit.

Christopher Williams, 29, of Little Rock, pleaded guilty to 4 counts of possessing, distributing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

Steven Eldridge, 64, of Melbourne, pleaded guilty to 4 counts of possessing, distributing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child.

“The Cyber Crimes Unit at the Attorney General’s office works diligently to protect Arkansas children and families,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I appreciate the partnerships across the State to protect our children and ensure these dangerous criminals are brought to justice. I am committed to getting these predators out of our neighborhoods and off the internet.”

Williams was arrested in 2017 after a search was executed by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit. Attorneys from the Attorney General’s office were appointed as special deputy prosecutors by 6th Judicial District Prosecutor Larry Jegley. Judge Barry Sims sentenced Williams in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Eldridge was arrested earlier this year after a search was executed by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit. Attorneys from the Attorney General’s office were appointed as special deputy prosecutors by 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Holly Meyer. Judge Tim Weaver sentenced Eldridge in Izard County Circuit Court.

NOVEMBER 19, 2018

RECEPTION FOR ADDIE WILSON AT THE COUNTY EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS COUNCIL
The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council would like to invite you to a reception honoring Addie Wilson as she relocates from the Ouachita County Extension Service to the Little Rock Office to serve as a member of the State Health Specialist Team. The reception will be held at the Ouachita county extension service Office at 2760 Mt. Holly Road in Camden on Monday, November 26th from 10:30 a.m. until noon. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is and equal opportunity, equal access, affirmative action institution.

 

COTTON: CANNOT SUPPORT EARLY RELEASE OF  DANGEROUS, REPEAT FELONS
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) issued the following statement after fellow Senators released the text of the First Step Act:

"Unfortunately, the new text of this legislation reveals that what started as a prison-reform effort has transformed into sentencing reductions and early-release for dangerous, repeat felons, and I therefore cannot support this bill."

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES CASTEEL AS NEW CHIEF LEGAL COUNSEL, CHANDLER NAMED ABC ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR 
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson on Friday announced Mary Robin Casteel as his new Chief Legal Counsel and Doralee Chandler as the new Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration, a division of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) led by Director Larry Walther. 

Casteel is the current director of the ABC Administration. Her start date in the Governor’s Office is Monday,
November 19. Chandler’s start date at the ABC Administration is Monday, December 3. Deanna Ray, staff attorney with the ABC Administration, will serve as interim director.  

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: 

“I’m delighted to have Mary Robin join our team as my new Chief Legal Counsel. Her background in state government and her breadth of experience in Arkansas law make her an ideal choice as we head into the 2019 session. She has served the state well in her capacity as ABC Administration director, and I have no doubt she will do the same in this new role. 

“With the departure of Mary Robin from the ABC Administration, it was important for me to find the right person who could fill those shoes and continue to fulfill the agency’s critical mission. I am confident we found that person in Doralee Chandler. Doralee, a practicing attorney for twenty years, has served my administration since 2015 as General Counsel for the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. Her relationships within the legal community and her experience working with law enforcement will serve her and the people of Arkansas well.”

Mary Robin Casteel issued the following statement:
“I was grateful to have the Governor’s confidence when he appointed me to the director position at the ABC Administration 18 months ago, and it has truly been a privilege to serve the people of Arkansas in that role. This new opportunity is an exciting one, and I am thankful once again by the confidence the Governor has placed in me as his new Chief Legal Counsel. I look forward to working with him and his staff as we prepare for the upcoming session.” 

Casteel has been the director of the ABC Administration since 2017. Before joining the ABC Administration as a staff attorney in 2013, her prior legal experience included the representation of municipalities and financial institutions on a variety of issues. Casteel is a lifelong resident of Arkansas. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in psychology, and she received her law degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law at UALR.

Doralee Chandler issued the following statement:

“I am truly honored that Governor Hutchinson has selected me to lead Alcohol Beverage Control Administration and is giving me the opportunity to continue to serve this State. The ABC Administration has multiple challenges ahead of it as we institute the majority's desire to legalize medical marijuana. I look forward to these challenges and intend to provide strong leadership for the agency and the State while working diligently with Governor Hutchinson and Larry Walther to reach the agency's goals for the coming year.”

Chandler, a lifelong resident of Arkansas, has served as the first General Counsel for the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory since September of 2015. Prior to that, she spent 17 years working for Matthews, Sanders & Sayes, a civil defense law firm in Little Rock. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Central Arkansas and her law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. In 2017, the Speaker of the House appointed Chandler to a five-year term on the Arkansas Parent Counsel Commission, where she currently serves as Commission Chair. 

November 16, 2018

RUTLEDGE RECOMMENDS $5.8 MILLION IN BUDGET REDUCTIONS
Says, ‘One of my priorities in office has been to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Thursday submitted the biennial budget of the Attorney General’s
office for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to the Legislature for consideration and approval. The proposed budget cuts spending 12.1 percent in fiscal year 2020 and 10.5 percent in fiscal year 2021 from the current budget, totaling more than $5.8 million in reductions.

“One of my priorities in office has been to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and do more with less,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have been given a great responsibility as the Attorney General and chief law enforcement officer of Arkansas, which is why my office has executed a record number of Medicaid fraud arrests, and has worked to reduce red tape for Arkansas businesses. Today’s proposal, as has each previous budget in my administration, continues to reduce the office’s overall costs by cutting waste while doing more to protect Arkansans."

FAMILY CAREGIVER MONTH EVENT NOVEMBER 14TH RECOGNIZES CAREGIVERS
LITTLE ROCK — The Schmieding Caregiver Training Program of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the UAMS South Arkansas Center on Aging on November 17th will honor Kay Ruddell with their local Caregiver of the Year award.

November is National Family Caregiver Month. Family caregivers and professional caregivers are invited to the award presentation during the Caregiver Recognition and Celebration from 11 a.m.  until 1 p.m. at the El Dorado Conference Center, 311 South West Ave. A reservation is not required. For more information, call the South Arkansas Center on Aging at 870-881-8969.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

BUDGET MEETING FOR CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have a Budget Workshop on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.  

COST OF THANKSGIVING FEAST HIGHER BUT STILL A BARGAIN
2018 Survey adds ham, russet potatoes, green beans to shopping list                          

LITTLE ROCK — The average cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year is higher than in 2017, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 33rd annual survey of food items typically included in the holiday feast. And, for the first time, the survey includes ham, russet potatoes and green beans. This year’s meal will cost $52.93 for a family of 10, up $8.35 from last year’s average of $44.58, but still a bargain at $5.29 per person.

Travis Justice, chief economist for Arkansas Farm Bureau says this year’s survey reflects an “unprecedented” third consecutive year of lower retail food prices.

“Despite the fact three new items were added to the shopping list, retail prices in Arkansas reflect a 10 percent decline from last year,” said Justice. “In the protein sector, 2018 marks the fourth year in a row of record total meat production,” he added. “Despite strong domestic consumer demand, these record tonnages of meat, along with declines in pork exports, particularly to China, have pressured consumer meat prices lower.”

The statewide average is based on responses from members of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and other volunteers who surveyed food prices at eight grocery stores and supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 15 items included in the meal and are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.

Arkansas food prices continue to remain more affordable than elsewhere. American Farm Bureau’s national survey of price trends for the holiday feast, including the three new menu items, revealed an average of $61.72.

“America consumers will benefit this year from another record supply of poultry and pork products,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau president Randy Veach. “We are blessed with the most abundant and affordable food supply in the world and, as we do each Thanksgiving, many families and charitable organizations will share the meal with those who are not as fortunate. That is truly reason to give thanks.”

Veach said the fact consumers continue to enjoy the holiday meal for a little more than $5 a person, on average, is a result of the efficiency of the nation’s food production system.

“Grain prices continue to remain low and our farmers are feeling the effects of the tariff war with China,” he said. “As in most years, the weather affected crop production and harvest, but despite this, because of research and the latest technological advancements, they are able to hold down their cost of production,” Veach said.

Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a snapshot of actual prices across Arkansas and the nation. The survey period was Oct.26 - Nov. 6.

The average cost of a 16-pound young tom turkey was $13.88 or 87 cents per pound. That’s down from $1.08 per pound in 2017. American Farm Bureau’s national survey reported an average of $21.71 or $1.36 per pound for the whole bird. A new item on the list is a four-pound half bone-in ham at $6.59 or $1.65 per pound. Turkey and ham are centerpiece items in most dinners and drive the cost of the meal.

Other new items in the shopping list this year are a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes which cost $5.07 or $1.01 per pound, and a 16-ounce package of green beans which cost $1.32. The average cost of a gallon of whole milk dropped 37 cents to $2.64.

The remaining items surveyed included a package of fresh cranberries, three pounds of sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, frozen green peas, pie shells, stuffing mix, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie mix and a ½-pint carton of whipping cream.

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 192,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

NOVEMBER 15, 2018

 

 

GRIFFIN MAINTAINS FROZEN BUDGET FORLT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE; RETURNS OVER 25% OF BUDGET IN UNUSUAL FUNDS

Says, his goal is to ‘do more with less’ and ‘reduce spending in a responsible way’

 

LITTLE ROCK - Lt. Governor Tim Griffin presented his office budget to the Legislative Council and Joint Budget Committee on Thursday, requesting that the legislature freeze his office appropriation at the same level that was authorized for the 2017-2018 biennium. Griffin is also returning a total of $86,100 in unused tax dollars back to the state from his 2017-2018 budget. The $86,100 in surplus funds represents 25.6% of Griffin’s overall budget. After presenting his budget, Griffin issued the following statement:

 

“One of my primary goals since taking office has been to reduce spending in a responsible way. I believe government must learn to live within its means and do more with less. I am proud to announce that we are returning taxpayer money to general revenue while continuing to deliver quality results for the people of Arkansas.”

SIX ARKANSAS ELECTRIC CO-OPS STRINGING BROADBAND
From Arkansas Business
Six electric cooperatives in Arkansas are bringing high-speed broadband internet access to thousands of their members and plan to offer it to all of their members within the next four to six years.

Broadband projects are underway in areas served by Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative of Ozark, Craighead Electric Cooperative of Jonesboro, North Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Salem, Ozarks Electric Cooperative of Fayetteville, Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden and South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Arkadelphia.

“There is a trend, and it’s far beyond Arkansas,” said Robert McClanahan, vice president of information technology and chief technology officer for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. “There are other states in which cooperatives are well ahead of us. It stems from the fact that cooperatives were the ones in the 1930s and early ’40s who brought electricity to rural areas when nobody else would. There’s a lot of thinking in the co-op world that this is the 21st century version of that, that there really is no money to be made by building that much fiber, or that much cable, to serve a very few number of customers.

“Well, co-ops are accustomed to that because that’s what we did back then,” McClanahan said. “The for-profit economics aren’t there.”

For electric cooperatives, this “Herculean effort” is not profit-driven, he said; electric cooperatives are not-for-profit. It’s mission-driven by the goal of improving the quality of life of members.

Still, for-profit internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Windstream are also investing in infrastructure improvements and expansions, and they say that benefits all of their customers, in urban, suburban and rural areas.

AT&T invested $550 million from 2015-17 in its Arkansas infrastructure, according to Ronnie Dedman, president of AT&T Arkansas. The company is also working on AirGig, a first-of-its-kind system that would deliver high-speed internet via a device attached to utility poles. The signal would travel through existing power lines.

Brad Hedrick, vice president of operations in Arkansas for Windstream Holdings Inc., said it has invested more than $46 million since 2016 to improve its network in the state.

Comcast invested about $110 million in its network in Arkansas between 2011 and 2017, according to spokeswoman Alex Horwitz.

In addition, these providers and the co-ops are using money awarded by the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund II to provide internet access in areas that need it most. Companies bid to do the work the FCC is subsidizing, and successful bidders in Arkansas include:

• OzarksGo, the subsidiary of Ozarks Electric that offers internet service to northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma ($23.6 million over 10 years);

• Next, a subsidiary of North Arkansas Electric ($22.6 million over 10 years);

• South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative (it received some of the $4 billion awarded to the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium for work in Arkansas, but the co-op declined to disclose how much of that $4 billion it got);

• Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative (nearly $4 million over 10 years for work in Arkansas);

• AT&T ($427 million per year for six years, or $21 million a year for work in Arkansas);

‘New Opportunities’
OzarksGo has nearly completed Phase II of its $180 million, six-year, six-phase plan to offer internet to all Ozarks Electric members. The co-op serves Washington County and parts of Madison and Benton counties.

Several thousand locations already have access and another 150 to 200 are being connected every week, according to OzarksGo General Manager Randy Klindt. He also said the take rate — the percentage of people who decide to pay for internet service when it’s offered — is above the company’s projection, but he declined to reveal that rate

ARIS, formed by Ouachita Electric and South Arkansas Telephone Co., is serving about 600 broadband customers now, said Mark Cayce, the co-op’s general manager. Another $20 million will be invested in the deployment over the next two years, and $4 million has been spent so far, he said.

Its take rate has been about 60 percent, which is above their projection of 50 percent, Cayce said.

“It’s bringing new opportunities and possibilities to south Arkansas that didn’t exist before, and I’m still looking forward to it myself,” he said. “Unfortunately, where I live, I’m still probably 12 months out.”

Next, the North Arkansas Electric subsidiary, has brought internet to 770 members so far. The take rate has been 35 percent, exceeding a 30 percent projection, said Mel Coleman, CEO of the co-op and its subsidiary.

The plan is to bring internet to all of North Electric’s 29,000 members in Baxter, Fulton, Izard, Sharp, Marion, Lawrence and Stone counties over the next five years, Coleman said.

“Everything today seems to be tied to the internet,” he said. “When people move into an area, that’s the first thing asked about ... . More and more today we find that people are choosing to live in beautiful, rural north Arkansas, and they want the same high-speed internet as someone who lives in any city in Arkansas or any other state has. And that’s what we’re determined to do, to bring that to them.”

Increased Efficiency
For Craighead Electric, South Central Arkansas Electric and Arkansas Valley Electric, delivering internet service to rural homes and businesses is secondary to their main internet goal of connecting substations to each other, to other facilities and to smart meters, increasing efficiency and reliability by enabling better monitoring of outages. That could also mean lower electric bills for their members.

“The real motivation for Craighead was on the electric side, Fiber Assets Manager Jeremiah Sloan said. “We have a big service territory, 30,000-plus meters, and we wanted to be able to position ourselves to adapt to technology changes and to deploy new technologies that are currently in development.”

Craighead Electric serves eight counties in northeast Arkansas; construction of its new network began in July. The co-op expects to spend $100 million on the deployment, which has a deadline of 2024, Sloan said.

South Central Connect, the subsidiary of South Central Arkansas Electric, has provided access to several hundred members. Its plan is to reach all 10,000-plus members and about 5,000 who aren’t members within four years, according to Drew Schaeffer, the subsidiary’s sales and marketing coordinator.

Arkansas Valley Electric also has a subsidiary, called Wave Rural Broadband LLC. The co-op announced the launch of its project in August and said it anticipates offering internet service in Crawford and Sebastian counties next summer.

AFMC LAUNCHES ANTIBIOTIC STEWARDSHIP STATEWIDE COLLABORATIVE
LITTLE ROCK, ARK – Nov. 13, 2018 – AFMC has launched a statewide antibiotic stewardship and infection prevention collaborative to address the increasing dangers resulting from multiple drug-resistance organisms (MDRO). The 12-month grant, funded by the Arkansas Department of Health, will support pharmacists at Arkansas hospitals and nursing homes in their efforts to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions and to improve infection prevention related to patient transitions between health care facilities. The collaborative includes 37 hospitals and 21 nursing homes across Arkansas. 

The collaboration announcement coincides with the U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week Nov. 12-16, 2018. This annual observance provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of using antibiotics appropriately to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

“At least 30 percent of the antibiotics in outpatient settings are prescribed unnecessarily,” said Chad Rodgers, MD, FAAP, chief medical officer for AFMC. “Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health.”

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. It does not mean the body is becoming resistant to antibiotics; it means bacteria mutate and antibiotics are no longer effective. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result. Many more die from complications from antibiotic-resistant infections.

“Antibiotics can save lives and are critical tools for treating many common and more serious infections, like those that can lead to sepsis – a potentially deadly blood infection,” Dr. Rodgers added. Antibiotic drug reactions or negative side effects cause 20 percent of all medication-related emergency room visits.

“Improving the way health care professionals prescribe antibiotics and educating consumers about how and when to take antibiotics, helps keep everyone healthy,” said Dr. Rodgers. “Exercising stewardship about antibiotics will help ensure that these lifesaving drugs will be available for future generations.”

The CDC recommends these tips for hospitals and nursing homes: Prescribe the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right duration and at the right time. Antibiotic therapy should be reviewed 48 to 72 hours after it is started, and stop or change antibiotics, based on the patient’s lab results. Physicians should educate their patients about when antibiotics are or are not needed, as well as antibiotic’s possible harms, including allergic reactions, and worsening and resistant infections.

For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/week/toolkit.html

For more information about the Antibiotic Stewardship and Infection Prevention Collaborative, visit afmc.org/drugsandbugs.

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY ANNOUNCEMENT 2018
The Public Works Department and the City of Camden will be closed on Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23 in observance of Thanksgiving. The Sanitation Department will run Wednesday and Thursday routes that Wednesday (November 21). The Transfer Station will be closed on Thursday, which is Thanksgiving Day, but the Friday Trash Route will run as usual on that Friday. If you have any questions, you can give the Public Works Dept. a phone call at 870-837-5570.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESENTS BALANCED BUDGET THAT REFLECTS SAVINGS AND COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC SAFETY, TEACHERS, AND TAX RELIEF
LITTLE ROCK – On Wednesday morning, Governor Asa Hutchinson presented his balanced budget for the next biennium to the Joint Budget Committee of the General Assembly.

In his remarks, Governor Hutchinson highlighted several key aspects of his budget, including his commitment to raise the minimum salary for teachers by $4,000 over the next four years. This would make Arkansas’s minimum teacher salary the highest among neighboring states.

The estimated cost of this proposal is $60 million. In addition to the increase in adequacy funding through general revenue commitments, Governor Hutchinson today released a budget letter requesting that $60 million be transferred from the Educational Adequacy Fund to the Public School Fund for the sole use of implementing the teacher salary increases. To view a copy of the letter, click HERE

The Governor also emphasized his commitment to public safety by increasing the budget for the Arkansas State Police by $2.3 million. This new funding will allow for 24 new State Troopers over the next two years and will establish an annual trooper school in order to maintain troop strength. His budget also includes $900,000 for the new Northwest Arkansas Crime Lab in Lowell.

Governor Hutchinson underscored his and the legislature’s shared commitment to further reduce the state’s income tax rate. His budget allocates $111 million in tax cuts over the biennium for the 2-4-5.9 plan developed in partnership with the Legislative Tax Reform and Relief Task Force. This plan would reduce the state’s top marginal rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent over four years; simplify tax tables and brackets; and provide for a sizable increase in standard deductions. 

The 2-4-5.9 plan, if passed, would be the third major income tax cut of Governor Hutchinson’s administration. This includes the $100 million middle class tax cut of 2015 and the $50 million tax cut for low-income Arkansans in 2017.

Additional items of note in the Governor’s budget include: $2.5 million annually for the state’s Crisis Stabilization Centers; $1.13 million increase for the Division of Ag; $1.55 million increase for UAMS; additional savings to the state’s Long Term Reserve Fund; continued funding of the Governor’s computer science initiative; and estimated savings of $7.5 million from transformation efforts in year two of the biennium.

Governor Hutchinson issued this statement following his presentation:

“This budget reflects a number of shared priorities between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. It reflects a strong commitment to teachers and education needs, as well as public safety. It reflects our continued commitment to tax cuts; continued savings through the Long Term Reserve Fund; and increased funding to the Division of Agriculture. Tools to spur economic growth also remain a top priority in this budget.  

“This budget decreases spending in some agencies and reduces our reliance on one-time funding for ongoing budget needs,” added Governor Hutchinson. “Furthermore, in year two of the biennium, it recognizes estimated savings from my proposed plan to transform state government. This responsible approach meets the important needs of our state and supports our collective priorities. I look forward to working with the legislature on the details of this budget in the 2019 session.”

November 14, 2018

COTTON RESOLUTION COMMEMORATES CENTENARY OF ARMISTICE, TOMB OF
UNKNOWN SOLDIER

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a resolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and the upcoming centenaries of the return of the Unknown Soldier and the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The text may be found here.

“Ever since the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has venerated those service members who anonymously sacrificed themselves for the freedom of other Americans,” Senator Cotton said. “Now, one hundred years later, more than four million people pass through the gates of Arlington National Cemetery each year, and most will visit the Tomb to observe the Changing of the Guard. To commemorate such an important part of our history, I encourage both chambers to quickly pass this resolution.”

Background
On September 28, Representative Robert Brady (PA-01) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) are cosponsors.
Supporting Organizations: The American Legion; The Navy League.

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN REPORT
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met Tuesday night. Mayor Marie Trisollini called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.

The Mayor reported that she attended a Human Resources Class and had a Municipal Health Trust Meeting at the Municipal League. She stated that the Council had a copy of the 2019 Budget. The Council will have Budget meetings every Monday at 6 p.m. until budget is resolved.

There was some discussion regarding a way to help the Extension Office as the Extension Service does provide some services to the City. The City cannot just give them money but there is a legal way to do it. There will need to be a contract between the City and Extension Service to make it legal. After a clear explanation from City Attorney, Michael Fry, the Council will amend the 2018 budget to reflect the funds after a contract is drawn up and signed. A line item will be added to the 2019 budget for the Extension Service.

Ordinance No. 31-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 08-13 assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Spring Street NW started a whole discussion. A motion was made to suspend the rules and put it up for a final vote. L.E. Lindsey noticed there were several properties were on the agenda for the same thing. He felt we should treat it differently for a professional developer than for someone wanting to improve an adjacent lot. Danny Glaze chimed in to agree with Mr. Lindsey. Marvin Moore stated that everyone should be treated the same. Historically when a property is bought that has a lien against it the Council settles for 20% of the lien. Michael Fry, City Attorney, explained to the Council the history the loss the city might suffer if the City leaves the whole amount and the property never gets bought. After all the discussion the Ordinance passed. There were 4 other ordinances for the same purpose. They all passed without discussion.

The Council authorized the Mayor to pay an End-of-Year Bonus to City Employees, including the City Clerk.

Resolutions awarding the bid for towing both regular and large sized city vehicles, the bid for batteries, the bid for oils and lubricants and the bid for tires and tubes for the Year 2019. All resolution passed.

CAMDEN CITY POLICE REPORTS
On Monday, November 12, Sgt. Brian Finney with the Camden City Police Department, was dispatched to 425 Carver Street for a report of a subject refusing to leave a residence. The Officer spoke with the reporting party who stated that his nephew, Markel jones, was inside the home and refused to leave. Officer Finney spoke to Jones telling him he was no longer welcome at the residence and told him to leave. Jones became irate and started yelling profanities at the Officers and others that were present. Officer Finney again told the man to leave but he continued his tirade of profanities from the front porch. Jones was advised that he was under arrest but he resisted. He continued to yell profanities at which point Officer Finney told him that he would be tased if he continued his resistance. Officer Kayla Reynolds arrived on scene and grabbed jOnes by the arms. He was then forced into handcuffs, put in a patrol car and transported to the Police Station. Jones was released with citation and was instructed not to return to the Carver Street house.

Last Thursday Officer Erin Manning responded to the parkin lot of Wal mar in reference to a report of an accident. The Officer arrive to find two vehicles in a front to front collision. The Officer made contact with one driver, identified as Seth Riffle, who was still seated in his car. The Officer observed the man spraying “air Duster” directly up his nose. He refused to get out of the car. After several requests, the man continued to refuse to get out of the car. When the Officer threatened to tase him, the man complied. He was taken into custody and taken to the Station. According to a witness Riffle had hit an unknown green vehicle which was parked in the parking lot. After hitting the vehicle, he had pulled up to the Stop sign in front of the gas station. He then began to drive in a big circle. He continued his sporadic driving before hitting another vehicle that was driving on the parking lot. He then proceeded to try and leave the scene but a by stander reached inside of the vehicle and removed the keys from the ignition. He then grabbed the “air duster” and started spraying it up his nose. The driver of the car he hit had been taken to the hospital with neck pain. The man had a BAC level of 0.79. He was charged with DWI and refusal to submit to arrest, had his license revoked and placed on a temporary hold of 8 hour for detoxification.

THANKSGIVING BEGINS WITH BUCKLING-UP FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL
(LITTLE ROCK) –
The Arkansas State Police will be working alongside law enforcement agencies across the state during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period (November 19 – 25) looking for motorists who are not using their vehicle safety belts.  State troopers, local police officers and sheriff’s deputies are reminding all motorists to “Click It” or risk getting a ticket.

The Thanksgiving holiday is typically one of the more dangerous and deadliest times for highway or local street travel.  Whether the trip is across town or across the county, distance makes no difference, safety belts and child restraints save lives.

During the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday period (November 23rd – 28th), 341 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide.  Nearly 50 percent of those killed were not buckled-up. 

“Unfortunately too many people need a reminder and that’s why city, county and state law enforcement officers will be working overtime this Thanksgiving with a strong Click It or Ticket mobilization effort,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Our state troopers will be out in full force to ensure drivers and passengers alike are buckled up as they travel to their destinations.”

An intensified enforcement emphasis will be noticed along Interstate 40 during the most heavily traveled hours of the Thanksgiving holiday and violators will be ticketed.

“The Arkansas State Police will partner with several other states including Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas in an additional enforcement effort designed to protect motorists along the I-40 corridor,” Colonel Bryant stated.  “Each state plans to assign a trooper to every 20 mile segment of Interstate 40 during peak traffic hours.”

 Arkansas state law requires that all front seat passengers, not just drivers, be buckled up. It requires all children under fifteen years of age to be properly secured in the vehicle.  A child who is less than six years of age and who weighs less than sixty pounds shall be restrained in a child passenger safety seat. If the driver has a restricted license, all passengers in the vehicle must be properly buckled up.

Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.

For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

PICTURES WITH SANTA
You can have your child’s picture taken with Santa on Saturday’s beginning on November 24th until December 22nd. Santa will bee at Garden Oaks Shopping Center from noon until 5 p.m. each Saturday. Bring your child to Santa’s Workshop for a magical memory he or she will cherish forever. All proceeds will benefit the Women’s Crises Center of South Arkansas.

November 12, 2018

LIONS CLUB MEETING SCHEDULE
Due to the Lions Club Distinguished Awards Banquet being Tuesday this week, the Lions Club will not meet this week. Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday the Club will not meet next week.  

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW SCHOOL BOARD TO MEET
The Camden Fairview School Board will meet Tuesday, November 13th at 6:30 p.m. at Garrison Auditorium. The agenda includes a student hearing, facility rentals and the Superintendent’s report.

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. The agenda includes Ordinance No. 31-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 08-13 assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Spring Street NW., Ordinance No. 32-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 09-13 assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 ½ Spring Street NW., Ordinance No. 33-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 03-12 assessing a lien on certain property located at 2214 Rich Street SW., Ordinance No. 34-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 28-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 2215 Rich Street SW., Ordinance No. 35-18, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 17-09 assessing a lien on certain property located at 751 Lincoln Drive SW., Resolution No. 36-18, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to pay an End-of-Year Bonus to City Employees, including the City Clerk and City Attorney, Resolution No. 37-18, a resolution awarding the bid for towing both regular and large sized city vehicles for the Year 2019., Resolution No. 38-18, a resolution awarding the bid for batteries for the Year 2019., Resolution No. 39-18, a resolution awarding the bid for oils and lubricants for the Year 2019. And Resolution No. 40-18, a resolution awarding the bid for tires and tubes for the Year 2019.

ARKADELPHIA WOMAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Shavonne Byrd, age 31, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, presided over the sentencing hearing in Hot Springs.

According to court records, On November 7, 2016, an officer with the Hot Springs, Arkansas Police Department observed a silver Dodge Journey, which had been reported stolen, traveling on Central Avenue in Hot Springs. The officer observed Byrd and a male exit the vehicle and enter a store. The officer made contact with Byrd and arrested her for outstanding warrants. The officer searched Byrd's purse incident to arrest and located a ziploc bag containing suspected methamphetamine and a digital scale. Byrd was advised of her Miranda rights and admitted to possession of the methamphetamine and scale. Further, Byrd admitted to supplying several mid-level methamphetamine dealers in the Garland County area.

The suspected methamphetamine was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab were it was tested and determined to contain 54.79g of actual methamphetamine.
A federal grand jury indicted Byrd in September 2017, and she pled guilty in January 2018.

This case was investigated by the Hot Springs Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Denis Dean prosecuted the case for the United States


HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Grealin Thomas, age 39, of Hot Springs, Arkansas was sentenced today to 96 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, presided over the sentencing hearing in Hot Springs.

According to court records, in March 2017, investigators with the 18th East Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Thomas. The methamphetamine was later sent to the Arkansas State Crime lab where it tested positive for methamphetamine.

A federal grand jury indicted Thomas in July 2017, and he pled guilty in June 2018.

This case was investigated by the 18th East Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

 
 

November 09, 2018

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES YELLVILLE VIETNAM VETERAN IN 'SALUTE TO VETERANS'

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veteran Kenneth Ziemer in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Ziemer now calls Yellville, Arkansas home, but he grew up in Wisconsin. He was working as a medical research assistant at the Veterans Hospital in Madison, WI when he received his draft notice. “I was kind of expecting it,” he said. Joining the Army fulfilled his belief that “every male owed it to their country, at least two years of military service.”

He completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky in advance of going to Military Police (MP) school. However, his trouble throwing a hand grenade, which he eventually mastered, shifted the trajectory of his military service.

His new orders sent him to Brooke Medical Field Service School at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he studied to be a pharmacy specialist. He didn’t get to practice his specialty at his next assignment at Fort MacArthur, California where he was reassigned as a lab technician. With his lab experience, Zeimer found this to be a good fit. “I was very happy about that because I knew it better than I did the pharmacy. I appreciated working in the laboratory. Now I had to work night and day. I couldn’t get any leave because we were shorthanded.” 

It wasn’t long before he was notified that he would be transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington. “Everybody working in that hospital it seemed, except me, who worked in the medical field, knew that anyone who reported to Fort Lewis would end up in Vietnam,” Ziemer said. He was instructed to gather all the pharmaceutical supplies and medications he would need to open a combat pharmacy in Vietnam.

Ziemer was assigned to the 523rd Field Hospital. In the pharmacy, he continued to utilize his chemistry background. Working nights, he manufactured medicines, cough syrup, suntan lotion and other products in short supply on the base.

During the days he volunteered in a variety of duties. One of his favorite roles was escorting patients to USO concerts. “Celebrities would visit with the patients and us so I got to meet quite a few people including Barbara Streisand and Bobby Rydell,” Ziemer said.

Ziemer was stationed in Nha Trang, Vietnam, which was considered a safe area, allowing him flexibility to leave the base and visit the local orphanage. “We would get gifts for the children from friends and relatives at home and from church groups and hand it out to the children. They loved it.” He was passionate about continuing to help the children and missionaries in the area so he took Vietnamese lessons in hopes of returning to work with them after his service was complete.

He was encouraged to become a commissioned officer, but he turned it down and returned home. 

“Kenneth Ziemer honorably served our country. He, like many other Arkansans who served in Vietnam, had unique experiences that helped shape his life and his time in uniform. I’m pleased to recognize his selfless sacrifice and preserve and share his memories of military service for future generations,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Ziemer’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.

 

PRESS RELEASE FROM POLICE CHIEF BOYD WOODY REGARDING THE INCIDENT YESTERDAY
On November 08, 2018 at 1253 hours, officers with the Camden Police Department responded to 1516 Copeland Street for an unknown problem.  Upon arrival, they discovered Jessica Faulkner in the living room holding her 3-year son, who had a gunshot wound to his head.  Ouachita County Medical EMS arrived and transported the boy to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead.

Faulkner stated that she and her son were at home alone.  Faulkner stated that she left her son briefly to go to the restroom when she heard a gunshot. Faulkner immediately went into the back bedroom where she found her son laying on the floor next to the bed with a wound to his head and immediately called for help.

The Camden Police Department, along with the help of the Arkansas State Police are investigating the incident and at this time it appears the three-year-old found a loaded pistol in the back room and accidently shot himself.

The father of the three-year-old is Camden Police Department Officer Alec Faulkner, who was on duty at the time of the incident.

Our hearts and prayers are with the Faulkner family.

Boyd M Woody
Chief of Police

ARKANSANS TURNED OVER 26,000 POUNDS OF PILLS AT STATEWIDE PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE DAY

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Justin King, joined by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, announced that 26,529 pounds of medication was collected as part of the semi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back held on Saturday, Oct. 27.

“The Prescription Drug Take Back days are an important piece of my collaborative approach to combatting the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By safely disposing more than 26,000 pounds of old, expired or unused prescription medications we are ensuring these lethal drugs are kept off the streets and out of the hands of our friends and neighbors.”“The people of the state of Arkansas should be proud of their efforts during the recent Drug Take Back which resulted in the collection and destruction of 26,529 pounds of potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge King. “

Arkansas continues to lead other states in the region in the volume of drugs collected during Take Back, which is a testament to the outstanding efforts of everyone involved. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this critical event which makes our homes and communities safer, while raising awareness of the opioid epidemic threatening the people of Arkansas.

Semi-annually a Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, DEA, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.

Event sites are held at various locations across the State but year-round locations are also available and can be found at ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General’s office also hosts take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since the program began, more than 72 tons of medication have been collected in Arkansas, which is an estimated
201 million individual pills.

HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY IN THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA
A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The following proclamation was made by President Donald Trump

As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence perpetrated in Thousand Oaks, California, on November 7, 2018, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, November 10, 2018. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eighteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 17 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ONLINE ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR AND AMMUNITION POSSESSION
Hot Springs, Arkansas
– Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Todd McDonald, age 35, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 210 months in federal prison followed by ten years of supervised release on one count each of Online Enticement of a Minor and Unlawful Possession of Ammunition.

The Honorable Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs. According to court records, in November, 2016 agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were contacted by the mother of a 12 year old girl who resides in Hot Springs, Arkansas regarding sexually explicit text messages sent by an apparent 30 year old adult male. F.B.I. agents viewed messages sent by a person using the user name “Mr. Nobody”, later identified as Todd McDonald to the 12 year old girl via Instagram. The messages included statements from McDonald stating he wanted to take sexually explicit pictures and videos of the girl. Upon questioning, McDonald admitted to sending those messages.

On January 4, 2017, FBI agents executed a search warrant of McDonald’s Hot Springs residence where they located, among other contraband, .38 special ammunition, which McDonald was prohibited from possessing based on his criminal history. A federal grand jury indicted McDonald in April 2017, and he pleaded guilty in October of 2017. This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Denis Dean prosecuted the case for the United States.

MALVERN MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Larry Speakar, age 51, of Malvern, Arkansas was sentenced today to 100 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of  Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine . The Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, presided over the sentencing hearing in Hot Springs.

According to court records, in March 2017, investigators with the Drug Task Force in Garland County and Homeland Security Investigations initiated an investigation into the drug trafficking activity of Speakar.  In March and April 2017, agents conducted three controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Speakar.  On April 26, 2017, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle in Hot Springs for speeding. The driver later identified as Speakar was on parole and had a search wavier on file. A search of his vehicle resulted in officers locating 2 plastic bags containing at least 50 grams of a crystalline substance which field tested positive for methamphetamine.

A federal grand jury indicted Speakar in June 2017, and he pled guilty in March 2018.

This case was investigated by the Garland County Drug Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

INDIANA MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Duane (DAK) Kees, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Mark C. Smith, age 29, of Indianapolis, Indiana was sentenced today to 97 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana. The Honorable Susan O. Hickey, United States District Judge, presided over the sentencing hearing in Hot Springs.

According to court records, on May 24, 2016, Smith, while driving a vehicle on Interstate 30 near Malvern, Arkansas, was stopped by a state trooper for a traffic violation. After a K-9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance, the vehicle was searched and an officer located packaged bundles under the steering column. The substance inside the bundles field tested positive for cocaine and weighed approximately 2,000 grams. Smith possessed $7,849.00 of U.S. currency on his person as well as a Walmart receipt for an I-phone purchased in Dallas on May 22, 2016.

The detectives submitted the drugs seized from Smith's vehicle (in Arkansas) to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, which confirmed that the substance recovered contained cocaine and weighed 1,966.5 grams.  

On or about March 16, 2015, near midnight, Smith was stopped in a GMC Yukon after suspicious activity was observed by law enforcement in an industrial area in Evansville, Indiana. A K-9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance in the vehicle and Smith was arrested for resisting law enforcement and for driving on a suspended driver's license.  After obtaining a search warrant, the vehicle was searched and found to contain twenty gray duct taped packages each containing marijuana, weighing a total of 497 pounds (225 kilograms). Also seized were four cellular telephones from the vehicle and $2,082.00 from Smith's pocket.

A federal grand jury indicted Smith in April 2015 (Indiana) and in June 2016 (Arkansas), and he pled guilty in January 2018.

This case was investigated by the Arkansas State Police and the Indiana State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Amy Driver prosecuted the case for the United States.

EDUCATORS ENCOURAGED TO PROMOTE COMPUTER SCIENCE BEST PRACTICES VIA #ARKidsCanCode 
LITTLE ROCK —
With ongoing state and national recognition of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Computer Science Initiative, educators are encouraged to showcase student successes and computer science best practices in the classroom. Positive stories can be shared on social media using #ARKidsCanCode.

“We want to capture and celebrate outstanding student and educator computer science success stories,” Anthony Owen, the state director of Computer Science Education, said. “Not only is Gov. Hutchinson and ADE committed to learning more about how the initiative is succeeding on the local level, national organizations are eager to learn more about Arkansas’ success. I encourage all CS partners and stakeholders to showcase their efforts. Let’s tell our story to the nation and world!”

Hutchinson showcased the initiative’s success at a press conference yesterday when he announced that 8,044 students are enrolled in computer science courses this school year. This represents a 30 percent increase over last year and an astounding 620 percent increase since the 2014-2015 school year. The state’s five-year goal of 7,500 students enrolled in computer science courses was achieved in just four years.

In addition to increasing student enrollment, the number of Arkansas computer science certified teachers has increased from approximately 20 to more than 370. Nine statewide computer science specialists have provided thousands of hours of training and support to Arkansas educators. ADE is committed to the initiative and will continue to grow enrollment numbers equitably by ensuring Arkansas’ courses and opportunities are on the cutting edge of computer science education.

“I am extremely proud of the students, educators and parents who have embraced Governor Hutchinson’s Computer Science Initiative,” Arkansas Department of Education Commissioner Johnny Key said. “In order to transform Arkansas to lead the nation in student-focused education, strong computer science skills are critical to academic achievement and success beyond high school. The increase of 620 percent of students enrolled in computer science courses in just four years demonstrates the need for such a program. ADE is committed to continued support for the initiative and supporting districts as they seek opportunities to expand it in the coming years."

The State Board of Education continued the celebration today by passing a resolution recognizing December 3-9, 2018, as Arkansas Computer Science Education Week. The recognition supports efforts on the national level to promote computer science during the first week of December.

To learn more about the recent enrollment announcement, visit https://bit.ly/2RDQUYW. Also follow the initiative on social media at #ARKidsCanCode. 

 
 

November 08, 2018

 

 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS' RESIGNATION

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement on the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“Jeff Sessions has served our country with integrity and distinction throughout his career as a U.S. Attorney, U.S. Senator for Alabama and as Attorney General in the Trump administration. I have always respected and admired his unwavering commitment to the rule of law. I thank Jeff for his decades of service to the nation, and particularly for his strong advocacy and leadership of the men and women of America’s law enforcement.”