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March 24th, 2017

 STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING WARD HOMICIDE
March 24, 2017
  The Ward Police Department received a call yesterday afternoon (Thursday, March 23rd) reporting a homicide at 121 Pinter Lane.
   Local police officers arrived to the residence to find Lori Hannah, 36, of Ward, dead inside the home. The body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to confirm a manner and cause of death.
  Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were contacted to assist the Ward Police Department, as the case continues to be investigated today.
  The Arkansas State Police is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Brian Keith Freeman, 41, in connection with the homicide. Arrest warrants have been issued, charging Freeman with Capitol Murder.
  Freeman is described as 5 feet, 5 inch tall weighing approximately 165 pounds. Freeman is known to have ties in Texas and Oklahoma. He has brown eyes and brown hair, and should be considered armed and dangerous. Please do not approach him.
   If you have any information about this case, please contact the Arkansas State Police at 501-618-8100.
 
 
 

A two vehicle accident occurred at Charley's Loop and Mt Holly Rd in Camden, yesterday afternoon.  Three people were taken to the Ouachita County Medical Center for treatment, and one has since been released.  The vehicle ran a stop sign and struck a Van on the passenger side, causing the van to flip twice and over turn. 

 

SAAC Makes Audition Call for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

 

Auditions for South Arkansas Arts Center’s  2017 summer musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast , have been moved to  April 7 and 8.  Join SAAC as they bring the fantastic and much beloved story of Belle and her princely Beast to life on stage.  Originally, the audition dates were set for May, but this fantastic spectacle of a show will require more time than usual for costuming and behind the stage work than any other production that SAAC has taken on in the past.

 

SAAC stage veteran Monroe Moore is returning to El Dorado to direct the musical, having recently wrapped The Addams Family to rave reviews.  El Dorado’s own Chris McCroskey returns to his hometown to serve as musical director.  Both have worked on this show in the past and are extremely excited about bringing this Disney classic to El Dorado’s SAAC stage.   They invite the community to audition and get involved in the fun.  McCroskey said about the show, Come be a part of something you will never forget- a beautiful show with the important lesson of how love conquers all.  Belle and the Beast teach us how seeing a past a person’s exterior into their heart can give you the surprise of your life!”

 

Moore said, “Our production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be a spectacle of a show, the likes of which has never been produced here at SAAC.  We are seeking a large cast of all ages, heights, physical types, and performance levels. Beginners are strongly encouraged to audition! There will be 50-60 parts available for this incredible show.  We really want this to be a ‘community show’!  Even if you’ve never been in a production before, come on out and we will teach you what you need to know!  There are character roles for 4 women, 7 men and one boy or girl, a large ensemble cast of 24-30 adults and teens, as well as a kids ensemble for 12-20 kids, ages 7-12.”

 

Moore continued, “This ‘tale as old as time’ is filled with spectacular costumes and sets, and the SAAC needs help from anyone who has experience in costuming, set design and building, as well as special skills in acrobatics, juggling, stage combat, make-up, hair and wigs, and roller skating. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast offers a great opportunity to bring the entire community together for family theatre at its best.”

 

A classic Disney fairytale, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a wandering enchantress who transforms a cruel and vain prince into a hideous Beast, leaving him only one way to reverse the curse - fall in love with another and earn her love in return.  Belle, a beautiful book-lover, encounters the Beast when she arrives at his castle to plead for her father’s freedom, ultimately trading her own for his. As tension over her imprisonment rises in the town, spurred by Gaston, the selfish lover who seeks Belle’s hand in marriage, the relationship between Belle and the Beast grows, leading to an emotional, and transformative, conflict.

 

Anyone interested in auditioning may take part in early registration at SAAC on April 6, from 6:00-8:00pm. You may choose to audition on Friday, April 7 at 6:00pm or on Saturday, April 8 at 10am. Please arrive early if you have not pre-registered.  Be prepared to sing from any Broadway show for your audition. If you are unable to attend auditions on the scheduled days, you may submit a video audition.  For information, please see the SAAC website.  There will be a Cast Kick-off Camp on May 20-21 at SAAC with rehearsals beginning on May 30. Production dates are scheduled for July 6-16.

 

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast  is sponsored by Murphy USA.  For more information, please call the SAAC office or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org.  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON – Late Tuesday (March 21), The Hill published an op-ed authored by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), which detailed his initial reluctance on the American Health Care Act before coming to support the legislation.

“When leaders in the Republican Party introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), I was not sold on the legislation,” Westerman wrote. “While it took important steps to repeal and replace ObamaCare, it did not do enough to give individuals and the states in which they live the freedom to do healthcare in a way that works locally instead of depending on mandates from Washington, D.C.”

He noted how he has been quietly working behind the scenes with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Budget Committee Chair Diane Black to “ensure conservative policies and principles were included in the AHCA.”

“When the bill came before the House Budget Committee, I was able to work with others to secure agreements from leadership and President Donald Trump that Medicaid block grants would be included in the final version of the bill scheduled for a vote this week.”

Why are Medicaid block grants an important piece of the Obamacare repeal and replace package making its way through Congress? Westerman says it is due to Medicaid’s inflexibility for states, as well as the fact that Medicaid expansion for working age, able-bodied adults has grown at a rapid rate under Obamacare (a population of nearly 368,000 people in Arkansas) while the disabled and elderly have been placed on waiting lists to receive traditional Medicaid coverage and care.

“That is why I fought for the introduction of Medicaid block grants in the AHCA,” he explained. “States that accept the block grants would be able to build integrity into their Medicaid programs and would have the regulatory flexibility to design innovative plans that work best for their citizens instead of a one-size-fits-all plan from D.C. Nonsense features like state provider fees designed to simply milk more federal money by charging a state tax on Medicaid services in order to get the federal match dollars should go away under true block granting. By prioritizing state spending, individuals who are in true need would finally be able to get off the waiting list and receive necessary, life-saving care.”

 
The American Red Cross has issued a call for platelet and type O negative and AB donations after severe weather in some parts of the country forced the cancellation of thousands of donations this month. Eligible donors are encouraged to give to help meet the constant need of patients. 
 
The attached news release provides additional details about the current need. By informing the community about this, you can help ensure patients continue to receive lifesaving treatments.
 
Thank you in advance for your support. Please let me know if you have any questions, would like to schedule an interview or need any additional information.

Sincerely,
 
Joe Zydlo│External Communications Manager

Biomedical Field Marketing and Communications


American Red Cross
(314) 658-2036 (office)
(314) 422-8613 (cell)

 

Boozman Invites Arkansans to Participate in

Tele-Town Hall Thursday

 

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) will host a telephone town hall on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. CT to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

 

This statewide event gives Arkansans the opportunity to ask Boozman questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting our state and nation.

 

Arkansans interested in participating in the phone conversation should call toll free 888-400-1986 to connect to the discussion and ask questions.

 

 

Sen. John Boozman Telephone Town Hall

Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. CT

Call 888-400-1986

 

Get Ready to Give on April 6!
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 20, 2017) – Arkansans can begin to make smart giving decisions by visiting ArkansasGives.org and making a list of causes they want to support on April 6. More than 900 nonprofits have registered to participate in ArkansasGives, a one-day only online givingevent presented by Arkansas Community Foundation.
“The ArkansasGives.org website makes it easy for generous people to research and give to
nonprofits that improve our state’s communities,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation President and CEO. “We’ve made it simple for Arkansans to help us reach our $5 million goal online in just one day.”
Though gifts cannot be made until 8 a.m. April 6, there are three steps the public can take to
prepare. They can text ARGIVES to 24587 to get a text reminder to give on April 6 and sign up
for email updates at ArkansasGives.org. Since information about each nonprofit is currently
listed on the site, they can go to ArkansasGives.org to search nonprofits by location, service area
and service category.
Below is a step-by-step guide to making gifts easily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 6:
1. Go to ArkansasGives.org/search to locate favorite nonprofits.
2. Add all the nonprofits to an online giving cart and click checkout.
3. Input payment information using a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card.
4. “Grow the Love!” for Arkansas nonprofits.
Arkansas Community Foundation provides a $400,000 bonus pool to help Arkansas nonprofits
raise funds for their organizations through ArkansasGives. The more money supporters donate
through ArkansasGives.org, the more bonus dollars the nonprofits receive. For example, if a
nonprofit receives one percent of the total amount given online April 6, it will receive one percent
of the $400,000 bonus pool or $4,000 extra, with a chance for additional prizes linked to most
dollars and most donors by size and most dollars by service category.

 

 Southern Arkansas University Tech is pleased to announce the formation of the SAU Tech Choir for fall  2017.  The choir will be open to community and students with auditions starting on March 16 in the Tech Engineering Building on the SAU Tech campus. The choir was formed to showcase the singing talent that in the Camden area. Chancellor Jason Morrison says that, “ including a choir in SAU Tech’s future is a way to bring the community to the college and to take the college to the community. During our recent Tech Idol event it was evident to me that we have enormous talent here in south Arkansas and a choir is a natural way to showcase that talent for the enrichment of our students and our community”.

 

The SAU Tech Choir will be led by Carissa Lewis who is currently the Choir Director and Psalmist for Greater New Calvary Church of God in Christ.  A limited number of scholarships are available and a scholarship is not required to join the choir. Community members who wish to participate must audition and pay a one-time $50 fee to join. To schedule your audition, contact Carissa Lewis at 870-807-1861 or by email at clewis_3023@yahoo.com.  For more general information contact, the SAU Tech Student Services office at 870-574-4529 or by email mkilgore@sautech.edu.

 

Dates and location for auditions:

March 16, April 4, April 17, and May 2 from  4:30 pm until 7:00 pm  in TE 113

 

House Approves Boozman-Donnelly Resolution

Designating Location of National Desert Storm

War Memorial

 

 WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives unanimously approved a joint resolution introduced by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) designating the location of the future National Desert Storm War Memorial on a prominent area near the National Mall.

 

“I appreciate the commitment of my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly approve this resolution so our Gulf War veterans are appropriately honored for their service and sacrifice in our nation’s capital,” Boozman said. “I am proud to work with Senator Donnelly in support of this memorial.”

 

“This resolution would designate a memorial that loved ones and future generations can visit to honor the men and women who fought and died for our country in the First Gulf War. I’ve been proud to work with Senator Boozman on this bipartisan effort, and I’m pleased that my colleagues in the House of Representatives have passed our resolution, so that it can be signed into law,” Donnelly said.

 

Now that both chambers of Congress approved the Area I recommended location made by the Secretary of the Interior, the National Capital Planning Commission will select the exact site for the memorial.

 

No federal funds will be spent to build this memorial. All funds will be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.

 

Boozman and Donnelly introduced the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act to authorize establishment of a National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial on federal lands within the District of Columbia in 2013. The bill was included in the National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law in December 2014.

 

Southern Arkansas University Tech is pleased to announce the formation of the SAU Tech Choir for fall 2017.  The choir will be open to community and students with auditions starting on March 16 in the Tech Engineering Building on the SAU Tech campus. The choir was formed to showcase the singing talent that in the Camden area. Chancellor Jason Morrison says that, “ including a choir in SAU Tech’s future is a way to bring the community to the college and to take the college to the community. During our recent Tech Idol event it was evident to me that we have enormous talent here in south Arkansas and a choir is a natural way to showcase that talent for the enrichment of our students and our community”.

 

The SAU Tech Choir will be led by Carissa Lewis who is currently the Choir Director and Psalmist for Greater New Calvary Church of God in Christ.  A limited number of scholarships are available and a scholarship is not required to join the choir. Community members who wish to participate must audition and pay a one-time $50 fee to join. To schedule your audition, contact Carissa Lewis at 870-807-1861 or by email at clewis_3023@yahoo.com.  For more general information contact, the SAU Tech Student Services office at 870-574-4529 or by email mkilgore@sautech.edu.

 

Dates and location for auditions:

March 16, April 4, April 17, and May 2 from  4:30 pm until 7:00 pm  in TE 113

 

 

 

FREE Small Business Training

Now Offered at the

Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center

625 Adams SW, Camden, AR 71701 (OPED Building)

Call 870-836-2210 or oped@att.net to Pre-Register

 

 

March 28th – Know Your Numbers - 12:00 -1:00

    Financial Statements and Credit Reports

Maximize your profits by tracking and understanding your financials. Learn what financial information is vital to operating a business, the difference in profit and cash flow, and how to use financial statements to know exactly where you stand at all times. We will also cover what lenders look for in financial statements and credit reports.

 

 

Dotty Harris

OPED

Office Manager

625 Adams Ave.

Camden, AR 71701

870-836-2210 ext 101

 

ArkansasGives online giving event. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on April 6 your gift to the SAU Tech Foundation via ArkansasGives.org will increase the amount of money the Foundation receives from the event. Your donation goes to support the students of SAU Tech! Change lives with your donation!The Southern Arkansas University Tech Foundation is participating again this year in the ArkansasGives online giving event. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on April 6 your gift to the SAU Tech Foundation via ArkansasGives.org will increase the amount of money the Foundation receives from the event. Your donation goes to support the students of SAU Tech! Change lives with your donation!


Camden Police Department To Offer Criminal Justice Scholarship
Are you a senior in high school thinking about a future in Criminal Justice? Well the Camden Police Department may have a scholarship for you! The Camden Police department has a $1,000 scholarship for those inside the city limits of Camden who are planning on majoring in criminal justice! Scholarship applications must be postmarked by April 25, 2017 in order to be considered. If you have any further questions email at sbaker@camdenpolice.com



SAU Names New Living/Learning Center Eichenberger Hall

MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Thursday to adopt a resolution naming a new residence hall for science and engineering majors after Dr. Rudolph and Mrs. Sharon Eichenberger.

Rudy and Sharon Eichenberger Hall will house about 78 students as the Science and Engineering Living and Learning Center. Work has already begun to transform this facility, which was the former skating rink on campus near the Engineering Building, into one of two new residence halls slated to open for this upcoming fall semester.

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, read the resolution prior to the board’s vote.

“Each of the Eichenbergers worked here many years and made a tremendous impact,” Berry said.

Dr. Rudy Eichenberger joined SAU in 1981. He was named professor of physics and chair of the department in April 1988 and retired in June 2007. He received a grant for $11,690 from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to support the Integrated Science, Math & Technology project in November 1999. He was named professor emeritus on May 1, 2008.

The late Sharon Eichenberger started at SAU in 1983 and retired in 2002. She served as coordinator of annual giving and became director of development and executive director of the SAU Foundation, Inc., in 1984. She was certified as a fund-raising executive professional in 1989.

The Eichenbergers have been on the list of Top Five annual donors three times: 2010, 2012 and 2016. They have been generous supporters of Magale Library. They were among the top two donors to the Science Center, and Dr. Eichenberger made a leadership-level pledge to the Engineering Building.

In other business, the board, after discussion in executive session, voted unanimously to seek a resolution for $1.2 million to build the SAU president’s new home on campus.

Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president of academic affairs, presented the board with a slate of academic program changes, which were approved unanimously.

Lanoue recommended a new, five-year BS/MS Computer Science program that will allow students to complete their bachelors and master’s degrees on an accelerated basis and “start making a living.”

He also recommended a new emphasis to the BFA in Art and Design in Interactive Media and Marketing.

“Parents say, ‘Our child wants to major in art, but can they get a job?’ This new emphasis is the solution to that problem. Students can pursue their passion for art but gain the skills they need in business so they can manage their own career or perhaps someone else’s,” Lanoue said. “This will get them out in the job market and help them be successful.”

Lanoue said similar emphases will be added to musical theatre and creative writing, “marrying skills to passion. You don’t want to extinguish anyone’s enthusiasm but you do want them successful and employed.”

He and Berry also informed the board that a doctoral program in educational leadership is being considered for SAU. Such a program would make SAU the only university in the southern half of the state to offer such a program.

“There are few doctoral programs in education in the state,” Lanoue said. “That has consequences. None are below Little Rock. We need homegrown leaders who will serve our communities in southern Arkansas. We need to grow and deploy those leaders successfully.”

Lanoue said education is in “a bit of a crisis” and a program at SAU would answer that problem. “There is a gap between the teachers we have and the teachers we need.”

Such a program would have to be “consistent with our fundamental purpose and offer something unique to this area, that no one else offers,” Lanoue said.

It would likely emphasize rural education. “We think this would be attractive to students across the country and even around the world,” he said.

Courses recommended for modification were Marketing (to include retailing and sales), and Sports Management. Lanoue said the modifications would better “connect students with their career choices.”

Courses recommended for deletion were: BA in Behavioral and Social Sciences; BA in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Digital Cinema Media Production, and Criminal Justice Certificate of Proficiency.

“All three were simply not attracting enough students to remain viable,” Lanoue said.

In his report to trustees, Berry said spring enrollment has surpassed 2016’s enrollment. “We’re very happy about that; that’s not happening everywhere in the state,” he said of SAU’s growth.

SAU has a total enrollment of 4,343 students, an increase of 150 students over last spring. Graduate enrollment was down slightly, but Berry said he looks for that number to rise this fall.

“We have a goal to reach 5,000 students by 2025, and we are going to get there,” Berry said. “We might get there before then.”

He said he is optimistic about fall enrollment. “Applications are up, acceptance is up, campus tours are up, and our prospective graduate enrollment is up,” Berry reported. “The numbers are looking positive for the fall.”

However, “it’s not just about the numbers,” Berry said. He pointed to the recent accomplishment of Alycya Thomas, a junior theatre major from Jonesboro, Ark., who has been hired to work on the Broadway production of The Lion King: The Musical, this summer. “She is over-the-moon excited, and we are excited for her,” Berry said.

He also praised Morgan Morris, a student who will attend the Disney Leadership Academy in Orlando, Fla., next fall. “Almost never does Disney select a freshman for the Academy,” Berry said. “She is the exception.”

Berry looks forward to seeing this past year’s new course offerings continue to expand, such as cybersecurity (a growing field in which he said students will “be able to go right to work”),  and welding engineering technology.

Another new initiative that is expanding is SAU and Cuba’s Artemisia University collaborations.

“We are going forward with our relationship with Cuba,” Berry said, citing several faculty and student trips to the island nation. He said the president of Artemisia University will come to SAU in August to sign a formal agreement and SAU will reciprocate in February, establishing the first academic exchange between universities in Arkansas and Cuba.

Berry turned to athletic improvements on the campus, particularly the ongoing fund-raising campaign for a new football scoreboard. “The scoreboard was put up in 1967, it is 50 years old. We’re looking at one that will have a Jumbotron and we are halfway there in fund-raising. We hope to have this up by our first football game.”

He also said there are plans to build an Ag shop attached the Agriculture Center, and that the program plans to bring back swine production and poultry “for hands-on application.” Farm operations will also be relocated, he said, to near Story Arena.

Dr. Jason Morrison addressed the Board of Trustees for the first time as the new chancellor of Southern Arkansas University Tech. He began work on Jan. 3, 2017.

“It’s been a very quick two months,” he said. “We are putting ourselves in position to see growth for the fall. We have a plan for what we want the future to be.”

“Back in January, we held an executive retreat and we put together a plan for the coming year,” he said. “We wanted to put together a checklist of things we want to accomplish by the fall.”

Morrison said there will be a “complete review of all academic programs, to make sure they are in line with our local industrial needs and the requests from the students. We are in the process of moving to an RN program, which will be a tremendous boost to Tech’s enrollment and meet the needs of our area in nursing.”

He said Tech now has a goal of 350 new students “who were not here last fall – that’s up 111 over last year. We will be steadfast in growing our enrollment.”

SAU Tech is also seeking to expand “by 48 beds” by the fall, and will install solar panels to make residence halls more energy efficient and sustainable.

A new graphic arts instructor will be hired to meet student demand. “We are bringing that program back; it was highly desired by students,” he said.

Tech will also introduce a series of evening programs in downtown Camden geared toward non-traditional students. Courses on religion will be among those offered. They will be taught in eight-week blocks, which Morrison said will become more of the norm at SAU Tech.

“We will be re-doing our schedule to fit more with non-traditional students. We’ll offer eight-week blocks so that students can see more accomplishments in shorter segments.”

Tech has also launched a virtual campus, Morrison said. “It is a true standalone virtual campus for online classes. We will see those classes in shorter segments, shorter blocks, that will appeal to any student who wants to receive an education.”

SAU Tech has also “completely revised its schedule,” he said. Classes were “recreated into a true block-scheduling format” to accommodate students’ needs. “Everything fits into a block. Classes are not competing against each other. It’s a work of art that we’ve done in a short amount of time.”

SAU Tech will also start a choir, he said. “We have a director in place and next week we have our first audition. The singing in Camden is fabulous, it’s amazing. It’s going to be tough to beat the choir we put out there.”

Small scholarships will help support the choir, he said.

SAU Tech will also start a scholars program to recruit “the best of the best. We want to be peoples’ first choice. We’re going to raise money to help them go to school to cover their residential expense, $500 per semester for their residential housing.” Leadership training would be included in the program.

Morrison said SAU Tech will also “bring back basketball” for the community to rally around. “Basketball is a good starting point for us and the community will connect with our institution.” The sport will also provide the opportunity for recruitment, he said.

SAU Tech Vice Chancellor David McLeane spoke about housing needs. He said Tech wants to increase its total capacity by constructing two new 24-person apartment units by fall of 2018. “We will have no problem filling those apartments,” he said.

He said he was seeking approval to enter a lease agreement with the SAU Tech Foundation for the construction of the two units, at an estimated cost of $1.7 million. The board approved his request.

March 12th, 2017

 

MOUNTAIN PINE MAN SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING

            Hot Springs, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Prentice Jerel Daniels, aka “PJ”, age 29, of Mountain Pine, was sentenced today to 84 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 presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court records, on two separate occasions in July of 2015, members of the 18th Judicial East Drug Task Force conducted a controlled purchase of one ounce of methamphetamine from Prentice Jerel Daniels, recording the transactions each time.  Daniels was a known distributor of methamphetamine in the Mountain Pine area  On August 6, 2015, officers executed a state search warrant on Daniel’s residence and located a large amount of methamphetamine and over $12,000 in cash.  The drugs seized were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab where they tested positive to be 663 grams of actual methamphetamine.

Daniels was named in a federal indictment in September, 2015 and pleaded guilty in August, 2016.  

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the 18th Judicial Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING BODY

FOUND IN PRAIRIE COUNTY

 

March 9, 2017

  At approximately 6:00pm yesterday (Wednesday, March 8th) Special Agents assigned to the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division arrested Virginia Colvin, 56, of Johnstown, New York, who had been the subject of a search in connection with the discovery of human remains in rural Prairie County earlier this week. 

  Colvin was located at a Perry County residence and transported to the Prairie County Jail where she is being held in connection with the abuse of a corpse.  Michael Strivers, who is being held at the Lonoke County Jail on charges unrelated to the discovery of the body, is being questioned by State Police Special Agents.

  No other suspects are being sought in Arkansas in connection with the case. The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is working closely with the Johnstown Police Department in New York to confirm the identity of the body.

 

March 8, 2017

   Arkansas State Police Special Agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division are working closely with New York State law enforcement authorities in an attempt to identify the remains of a body discovered earlier this week at a Prairie County Farm.

  Special Agents believe the death may have occurred in New York State. The remains were subsequently transported to Arkansas inside a suitcase.

  The Arkansas State Police is asking for the public’s assistance in locating an individual believed to be identified as Virginia “Ginger” Lee Colvin, age 56.  Colvin is described as 5 feet, 1 inch tall weighing approximately 110 pounds. Colvin has blue eyes and brown hair.   Colvin is wanted for questioning in connection with the case. She may be in the vicinity of Perry, White, or Pulaski County, Arkansas.  

  If you have any information about this case, please contact the Arkansas State Police at 501-618-8100 or the Prairie County Sheriff’s office at 870-256-4137. 

 

 

 

SAU to host regional science fair on March 17

MAGNOLIA – Southern Arkansas University will host the Annual Southwest Arkansas Regional Science Fair from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, March 17, on the SAU campus.

Science Fair Director, Dr. Scott White (associate professor of chemistry) announced that more than 300 third- through twelfth-grade students will be on hand at SAU representing more than 260 science projects. These students were the top three winners in their grades and category at their schools.  

Elementary (third- through sixth-grade) awards will be announced at 1 p.m. in the Reynolds Center Grand Hall. Junior and Senior High awards will be announced at 1 p.m. in the Reynolds Center Foundation Hall. 

Judging will take place from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Public viewing of the projects will be available 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m in the W.T. Watson Gymnasium, after the judging is complete.

A total of 17 schools will be represented by students from Bradley, Camden Fairview, Emerson, Harmony Grove, Heart Homeschool, Junction City, Lakewood Homeschool, Magnolia, Taylor and Texarkana schools.

The Southwest Arkansas Regional Science Fair is co-sponsored by Southern Arkansas University, the SAU STEM Center for K-12 Education and the South Central Service Cooperative in Camden, with special thanks to the SAU Physical Plant, S&S Ace Hardware and Mulerider Athletics.

 

 

Boozman-Donnelly Resolution Designating Location of National Desert Storm War Memorial Approved

 

WASHINGTON – Veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm are one step closer to having a national memorial in Washington, D.C. honoring their service and sacrifice thanks to the efforts of U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN). On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved the senators’ joint resolution designating the location of the future National Desert Storm War Memorial on a prominent area near the National Mall.

 “This is a well-deserved honor that reflects our appreciation and respect for the men and women who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm,” Boozman said. “I appreciate Senator Donnelly’s commitment to joining me to see this across the finish line.”

 “Getting this resolution through the Senate is a major victory for the men and women who fought and died for our country in the First Gulf War,” Donnelly said. “I’m proud to work with Senator Boozman on this bipartisan effort honoring their service and sacrifice and call on my colleagues in the House of Representatives to promptly pass this legislation.”

 Congress is under a 150-day deadline to accept the Area I recommended location made by the Secretary of the Interior or it will be deemed rejected. The House of Representatives has until April 14 to approve the location. Following the approval of Congress, the National Capital Planning Commission will select the exact site for the memorial.

 No federal funds will be spent to build this memorial. All funds will be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.

 Boozman and Donnelly introduced the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act to authorize establishment of a National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial on federal lands within the District of Columbia in 2013. The bill was included in the National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law in December 2014.

 

COSL Office returns $18.2 million to counties 

(March 10, 2017) LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The Commissioner of State Lands Office returned over $18 million to counties across Arkansas in 2016, Commissioner John Thurston announced.

That turnback, totaling $18,244,997.50, is produced by property owners paying delinquent real estate taxes, and from proceeds in excess of taxes due when the COSL office sells property.

“Our whole purpose in collecting delinquent real estate taxes, and in selling long-delinquent properties, is to get that funding to the counties where it is owed,” Thurston said. “When we sell properties that have been delinquent for many years, it gets them back onto the county tax rolls, producing income that helps a county with its roads, schools and emergency services.”

Since Thurston took office in 2011, the COSL has returned almost $119 million to counties across Arkansas. Turnback totals have declined slightly over the past few years, but more properties are returning to county tax rolls, he added.

In the past, bidding at auctions began at the assessed value of the land. A 2013 law changed the opening bid amount to the accrued delinquent taxes and related penalties. Other statutory changes reduced the redemption and litigation periods after a property is sold.

“More people are purchasing property now, since bidding begins lower and the waiting period is shorter,” Thurston said. “Overall, we’re returning more properties to private ownership, which benefits the counties that can now collect annual taxes on those properties.”

Property is certified to the COSL Office when it is two years delinquent. Owners then have two more years to redeem the property before it goes to public auction. If a parcel sells at auction, the owner has 10 business days after the sale to redeem the property. Any parcels not sold at auction are placed on the COSL’s post-auction sales list, where the public can submit offers to purchase.

The Commissioner of State Lands offers an online Catalog of Tax Delinquent Lands, containing the current statutes governing the sales, auction dates, times, location and other pertinent information regarding parcels being offered. The catalog and schedule can be found on the Commissioner’s website at www.cosl.org, providing current information resources about each parcel. This year’s auction season begins April 4 in Pope County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 8, 2017

SAU THEATRE STUDENT CHOSEN FOR JOB ON BROADWAY
MAGNOLIA -
The SAU Department of Theatre has announced that Alycya Thomas, a junior theatre major from Jonesboro, has been hired as a production assistant for The Lion King: The Musical on Broadway.

She was among a few students nationwide invited to apply for this
position after she met with the
stage management team during this past fall’s New York Theatre Experience – an annual student travel opportunity offered by SAU Theatre.

“We couldn’t think of a better person to represent Southern Arkansas University,” said Richard Vollmer, instructor and production manager for the department.

Monday night, Thomas’ announcement was shared with members of her theatre class in the Harton Theatre. Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, and other administration officials also attended. She was applauded by her classmates.

Vollmer said Thomas was asked to submit a short essay and had a phone interview. At SAU, she has performed in or worked on Romeo and Juliet, A Christmas Carol, The Dutchman, Beauty and the Beast, Godspell, The Crucible, Out of Order, The Wizard of Oz, Our Town, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and Dial M for Murder.

Thomas will be with The Lion King for four weeks during the summer, working with stage management and actors. She is the first current SAU student to work on Broadway and the first from the University to work on Broadway in 20 years. Vollmer said Thomas’ hiring will enhance SAU’s standing and reputation in the world of professional theatre.

She thanked Vollmer and SAU faculty for allowing her to take the New York Experience trip with three of her peers. “This all started with that amazing opportunity,” she said. “We got to sight-see, watch Broadway shows, have talkbacks with the cast and crew, and shadow stage managers and designers who work on these shows. We learned how these shows are run professionally.”

She called The Lion King “a show I’ll never forget. We saw the stage manager’s office, the dressing rooms, the costumes; we went on the actual stage, and met some of the cast.”

She said Vollmer notified her and two other students of the chance to apply for a job with The Lion King shortly before last winter break.

“We couldn’t believe it,” she said. “There were so many questions. I was so scared but I knew that opportunities like this do not come every day so I took action.”

Fast-forward two months and Thomas “got one of the biggest emails of my career, that I indeed got hired on to work with The Lion King on Broadway this summer.”

“I’m ecstatic to learn from professionals of this caliber and bring what I will learn this summer to my peers here at SAU.”

She said she is still “working out the details of when I will be leaving but I am counting down the days. Everyone in the SAU Theatre department is my family. We have all grown together and been through so much that sharing this exciting news with them was the icing on the cake. I felt complete and I’m glad to have this department and community rooting for me.”

Her job title this summer will be stage manager production assistant, “which means that I’m the stage manager’s right hand. On The Lion King, there are four stage managers I will observe, learn to ‘call’ the show which means I will actually run the show for one night, learn how to do day-to-day paperwork, work with the actors during rehearsal and show time and in any other needed areas.”

Thomas said that “it’s kind of intimidating to think about because I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work and a lot of information thrown my way, but this is a dream come true and I’m thankful for this opportunity.”

She said theatre majors are often told how hard they will have to struggle in order to be successful, “but receiving this job means I can do this. All I need is faith and hard work and I hope that anyone else from a small town can realize they can, too.”

SAU VOLUNTEER EVENT RESCHEDULED TO APRIL 1
MAGNOLIA – Making Magnolia Blossom’s upcoming Spring Big Splash that was to be this Saturday has been rescheduled to April 1 because of the possibility of inclement weather.

Coordinators will continue to seek volunteers for the event,
which will provide projects to help area
non-profit organizations as well as outdoor initiatives at Southern Arkansas University near the community walking trail. Interested volunteers and groups are encouraged to pre-register at www.MagnoliaBlossom.org/big-splash. Check-in at the event will be at the SAU duck pond near the tennis courts starting at 8:30 a.m. on April 1. Volunteering begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 11:30 a.m. For more information or to register by phone, call Deana Taylor at 870-235-4922.

 This spring event will have teams tend to areas around the community walking trail that circles the duck pond and SAU farm in coordination with Leadership Magnolia’s “Light up the SAU Walking Trail” project and SAU’s upcoming Community Playground initiative. Other outdoor enthusiasts will update MMB’s landscaping plots on Main Street with new flowers and mulch.

Other groups will return to the new facility of the Columbia County Senior Meals Service to help with indoor and outdoor renovation needs. The building was formerly Meadowbrook Lodge Nursing Home, and is located at 600 Leila Street. Other projects will be completed at the CCAPS Animal Shelter.

Volunteers are asked to wear pants and closed-toe shoes. MMB will be providing supplies and equipment, but anyone who can bring a mower, chain saw, and/or weed-eaters is encouraged to do so.

Previous Making Magnolia Blossom “Big Splash” events have organized hundreds to make improvements along primary city streets, local business facades, and public areas around the downtown square. MMB is a community-involvement organization at Southern Arkansas University. A group of staff, faculty, and students started MMB in 2014, and more than 500 volunteers from SAU and the community contributed time and effort at the initial Big Splash Saturday event. Since then, MMB has hosted several Big Splash events, as well as several Second Saturday events which partner with area organizations to complete needed projects. MMB has completed dozens of city improvement projects in its first year, and was awarded by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission the Volunteer of the Year Award in August of 2015. To find out more or to get involved in MMB, visit www.MagnoliaBlossom.org or like MMB on Facebook.

SOUTH ARKANSAS ARTS CENTER TO HOST RICHARD STEPHENS WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP
Join Richard Stephens for a fun two day watercolor workshop April 1-2 from 9:00am-4:00pm at the South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado.  “Lighten Up- Loosen Up” is geared to all levels of painters; beginners through advanced are welcome. Richard says, “Come for two days of learning, laughter, and loose painting!” Registration deadline for the workshop is March 17.

Participants in a Richard Stephens workshop will be exposed to three main things: informative technical information sprinkled with humor and antidotes, entertaining and educational painting demonstrations and lots of one on one time with Richard as he helps individuals through the painting process. Richard has a true passion for watercolor and enjoys the opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with students of all levels. Richard encourages feedback and questions as he feels we learn from each other and everyone has something important to share.

Stephens is a native of Hot Springs and graduated from the University Of Central Arkansas with a degree in art. Although recognized for his landscape, architectural, and figurative work, he feels that the real subjects of most of his work are his brushwork and the light he tries to capture and amplify through value contrast and unexpected color palette. Believing that drawing is the foundation for all good art and design, Stephens often allows his pencil work to show through and become and engaging element in his watercolors.

“My goal is to interpret, not to render,” Stephens says. “I want to engage the viewer, entertain him and share my vision. When people view my work, that is the last step in the painting process. Of course I want people to like my work, but like it or hate it, I don’t want them to be indifferent.”

Richard Stephens’ watercolor workshop is informative, challenging and fun. It is not about competition or turning out a great painting during the workshop. It is about being exposed to a process of watercolor painting that has been successful for him and perhaps some of that process finding a voice with the students and their work.

Cost for the workshop is $135 for members and $160 for new members. To register or for more information, 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.  For more information about Richard, visit his website, www.raswatercolors.com or his Facebook page, Richard Stephens Watercolors.

March 7, 2017

ARKANSAS CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION INTRODUCES BILL GIVING STATES POWER TO REJECT FEDERAL ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION PROJECTS
WASHINGTON
–U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), Steve Womack (AR-03) and Bruce Westerman (AR-04) today will introduce legislation to restore the right of states to approve or disapprove of electric transmission projects before the federal government exercises its power to take private property.

The Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Lands (APPROVAL) Act would require that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) receive the approval of both the governor and the public service commission of an affected state before exercising the federal power of eminent domain to acquire property for Section 1222 transmission projects. For projects on tribal lands, DOE would have to receive the approval of the impacted tribal government.

“The APPROVAL Act allows the voices of Arkansans to be included in decisions that impact their land. If a project is not good for Arkansas, our governor or public service commission should have the power to say ‘no’ instead of being cut out of the process and dictated to by Washington bureaucrats,” Boozman said.

"Arkansans have been taking care of their land for generations," Cotton said. "And they should have a say in any decision that affects that land. This bill will empower Arkansans to say no when the federal government tries to ignore their wishes."

"Arkansas officials and residents should decide the best use for our state’s land, not the federal government. This legislation places the power to say 'yes' or ‘no’ in the hands of state and tribal governments, and also directs the federal government to use its own resources as much as possible, instead of infringing on the rights of private property owners," Crawford said.

“I continue to hear concerns from our state and local officials about the impact of the Clean Line project and its effect on private landowners in Arkansas. The APPROVAL Act will ensure that our state leadership has the final say in granting permission for these types of energy transmission projects across our state,” Hill said.

“In 1792, President James Madison wrote that ‘government is instituted to protect property of every sort,’ and nearly 225 years later, the concept of private property is still integral to who we are as a nation,” said Womack.  “I am proud to once again be the House original sponsor of the APPROVAL Act, which will grant American landowners and their states a voice before the federal government takes their land using eminent domain.  Too many Arkansans risk losing their land and livelihood to Section 1222 projects, and I will always do what I can to preserve individual property rights and power in the people.”

“The right to private property is fundamental to a free society. Unfortunately, the federal government continues to show little respect for this important personal liberty,” said Westerman. “I strongly support the APPROVAL Act because it safeguards landowners from the threat of having their property taken through eminent domain. This bill provides flexibility and empowers our states by ensuring they have the final say on eminent domain. I hope to see this legislation move through Congress in a timely manner.”

In addition to allowing states the ability to reject the use of federal eminent domain for a project, the APPROVAL Act would ensure to the extent possible, that approved projects are placed on federal land rather than on private land. Specifically, for approved projects, DOE would be required (to the maximum extent possible) to site projects on existing rights-of-way and federal land managed by: (1) the Bureau of Land Management, (2) the U.S. Forest Service, (3) the Bureau of Reclamation, and (4) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The decision to permit electric transmission projects has long been the responsibility of the individual states. As noted in a 2011 report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, “The location and permitting of facilities used to transmit electricity to residential and commercial customers have been the province of the states (with limited exceptions) for virtually the entire history of the electricity industry.” The report says that state and local governments are “well positioned” to understand the concerns of the area and the factors for making a decision on these projects.

Since the Arkansas Congressional Delegation first introduced this legislation in 2014, DOE announced a partnership with Clean Line Energy in an energy transmission project across Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee using Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58).

This legislation has the support of the following Arkansas organizations: Jackson County Farm Bureau; Arkansas Rice Federation; Arkansas Soybean Association; Poinsett County Conservation District; Riceland Foods, Inc; USA Rice; Agriculture Council of Arkansas; Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts; Arkansas Rice Farmers Association; Farm Credit Midsouth and Poinsett County Farm Bureau.

ARKANSANS INVITED TO ATTEND WORKSHOP FOR VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
WASHINGTON
– The office of U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) will host a workshop for the Veteran’s History Project (VHP) on March 18 at 1p.m. at the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park in Scott, Arkansas.

The workshop will be led by Col. (ret) Anita Deason, Boozman’s Senior Military and Veterans Liaison, to provide information and training for anyone interested in conducting interviews with veterans to preserve their stories.

The VHP is the world’s largest oral history archive. Preserved at the Library of Congress, the collection houses more than 100,000 stories of our nation’s veterans. Boozman’s office has encouraged Arkansans to get involved with collecting and sharing the stories of these heroes.

“The Veterans History Project is a unique collection of the memories of our veterans. It is critical that we preserve these firsthand accounts to better understand our history,” Boozman said. “I am encouraged by the number of Arkansans who are already participating and look forward to the expansion of these efforts across the state to honor the sacrifice and service of Arkansas veterans.”

Boozman’s office has previously conducted 13 VHP workshops, training more than 300 people in Arkansas over the last two years. 

There is no fee for the workshop, however space is limited. To reserve a seat contact the Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park at: 501-961-1409.

VISITING ARTISTS CONTRIBUTE TO MUSICAL AT SAAC
“The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is in full swing at the South Arkansas Arts Center this week, with opening weekend having wrapped and this weekend’s shows right around the corner. The box office is open and there are still a few tickets left to see this hilarious musical that is getting rave reviews from audiences.  One of the reasons why this show is such a huge success is due to the visiting artists that are an important part of the cast.

SAAC is playing host to three incredibly talented dancers who are helping teach and rehearse the actors for this show.  The full-time performers have all worked with director Monroe Moore in the past, and he was instrumental in bringing them to El Dorado and the SAAC.  They all met in Lubbock, Texas, while working on a production of “Tarzan, The Musical”.   The three of them have very diverse backgrounds, but have been brought together by their love for theatre and dance  They have worked in many types of entertainment and, in the future, want to “do it all!!”

Dance captain, Zach Gamet, is in charge of the choreography and all dance rehearsals.   “Monroe and I have a similar work ethic and, therefore, work well together.  We both are highly focused and enjoy our work tremendously.”  Gamet graduated from TCU in 2013, where he focused on theater and dance.  He auditioned after graduation for Carnival Cruise line and was immediately hired as a dancer and aerialist.  He has worked for the line off and on and loves getting to see the world, save money and do what he most enjoys- dancing.  He is thrilled to have been able to visit the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Canada and Asia.  He also enjoys teaching the art of dance and doing industrial work for companies- providing entertainment in between speakers or presentations during conventions.

Shannon Lynn Blakely began her path to dance at the age of three, continuing on to dance competitions during her middle and high school years.  She attended Chapman University for two years as a dance major and then East Carolina University, where she received her BFA in dance performance. “Dance has always been my forte and my love”, she said,” but to be a ‘triple threat’ in the entertainment business, you need to sing and act, as well.” She has worked on cruise ships, also, and has recently shown her acting talents in the movie, “Baywatch”, due out in May and “Nightmare Next Door”, a murder mystery for television

Alexander Domingue, from Houston, Texas, has been acting since he was a little tike at the age of 5.  He was bitten by the acting bug in middle school and began taking drama classes in and out of school.  One of his first acting jobs was as Young Simba in “The Lion King”.  He loves working on cruise ships, as well, and is looking forward to a future in tv and movies.  He most recently worked on a show for the Discovery Channel before coming to El Dorado.  Alexander said, “Seeing Carmelo Brown, who plays Pugsley, reminds me of me when I was his age- loving being on stage and all.”

The visiting artists have loved their time in El Dorado and have been impressed by the sense of community here.  Shannon said, “El Dorado has been very hospitable to us and very welcoming”.  They also have been surprised by the professional way that the local actors have stepped up to the plate as far as rehearsals go.  “Our rehearsals for a show usually are 2-4 weeks long, so a three week rehearsal schedule has been fine for us.  But it is a pretty short time for community theater actors to perfect dances and a whole musical.  The people here have done an amazing job,” said Alexander.

“Theatre is a collaborative art”, said Zach. “The actors have been taking it so seriously and working their tails off.  If you are eager to learn, it gives me more to teach.  As dance captain, that’s what I appreciate so much about this cast.  We are all here to make this the best show possible.”

 “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” sponsored by SAMA Healthcare, Teague Auto Group and Southern Bancorp, will run March 9-11, with the curtain going up at 7:30pm.  Reservations can be made by calling the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visiting the SAAC at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

March 2, 2017

Hot Springs Man Enters Guilty Plea To Kidnapping And Aggravated Sexual Abuse By Force
Hot Springs, Arkansas – Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that on February 27, 2017, Lynn Terrance Breckenridge, II, age 26, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of Kidnapping in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2) and one count of Aggravated Sexual Abuse by Force, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 2241(a).  According to the plea agreement, in the early morning hours of October 5, 2014, Breckenridge picked up the victim on Park Avenue in Hot Springs, claiming to offer a ride to the victim’s residence.  Breckenridge then refused to take the victim to her residence and continued to drive around Hot Springs and the Hot Springs National Park, which is under exclusive federal jurisdiction.  While driving in the Hot Springs National Park, Breckenridge used a handgun to force the victim to perform a sexual act.  Breckenridge eventually released the victim, and she reported the assault to the Hot Springs Police Department.  The change of plea was accepted by the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

The offenses to which Breckenridge pled guilty carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Sentencing will occur at a later date.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Hot Springs Police Department and the National Park Service.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kyra Jenner and Candace Taylor prosecuted the case for the United States.

March 1, 2017

Walk Across Ouachita County Deadline Approaching
The Ouachita County Extension Office is leading a program called "Walk Across Ouachita County" in hopes to get people up and moving, if only for a few minutes per day. The program will run from March 10th through May 5th. All you need is a team of 2-10 people, a team name and a good pair of walking shoes.

Each day, you will record the number of minutes exercised and report your team totals. Walking is a great exercise, and a great way to get your heart rate up, but other exercise counts too. You can do any type of physical activity as long as you increase your heart rate or break a sweat for at least 10 consecutive minutes.

Kick off for this program will be March 10th, at noon at the Daffodil Festival. Teams must be registered by March 3rd. To register, call 870-231-1160 or email awilson@uaex.edu

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas' Division of Agriculture. With offices in all 75 counties, their faculty and staff provide educational programs and research-based information to the people of Arkansas.

Rock & Roll Concert This Friday
deFrance will be performing at The Right Spot Friday, March 3rd. Doors open 8, show starts at 9 PM. The band is based out of Little Rock, and the members include Drew deFrance, Daniel Curry, Andrew Poe, Zach Williams & Joseph Fuller. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at Woods Place, Radioworks, What's Cookin', The Right Spot and Star Liquor. VIP tables and booths will be available. For more info, call 870-818-4721.

Cotton, Colleagues Reintroduce the Taylor Force Act

“Taylor Force…was what every parent hoped their son could be”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) joined Senators John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) in reintroducing the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members. Congressmen Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) and Lee Zeldin (R-New York) reintroduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The Taylor Force Act was also cosponsored by Senators Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and John Thune (R-South Dakota).

Taylor Force was a former U.S. Army officer who was part of a Vanderbilt University tour group visiting Israel when he was brutally stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist. Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction praised the terrorist as a “heroic martyr” and the Palestinian Authority has yet to condemn the terrorist attack.

Graham, Blunt, Cotton, Lamborn and Zeldin were joined at a press conference today by Stuart and Robbi Force, Taylor’s parents. They were also joined by members of OneFamily, an organization which brings together survivors who have lost family members to terrorist attacks, and provides support and services for these individuals:

A transcript of Senator Cotton’s remarks is below:

“I want to thank Senator Graham for once again leading the effort on this legislation. Taylor Force was an outstanding young American with a distinguished record of service at the Military Academy and then overseas. He was what every parent hoped their son could be. We’re going to make sure that the record he put together is remembered by Americans and is a positive force for change in the world.  And that taxpayer dollars are no longer going to subsidize the murder of American citizens or Israeli citizens, and that the Palestinian people are no longer subsidized with American money in a leadership that encourages this kind of brutal murder, with graduated payments for the more and worse mayhem that these terrorists wreck. So the Force family has my commitment, has all of our commitments, that we’re going to do everything in our power to make this bill into a law, to commemorate Taylor’s memory, to ensure that his sacrifice is not forgotten and that it has a lasting positive legacy in the world.”

 

February 29, 2017

Bearden School District to Dismiss Early on Friday
Bearden School District will be dismissing early on Friday, March 3rd due to the senior boys basketball tournament. Bearden Elementary will dismiss at 12:55 PM and Bearden High School will dismiss t 1:00 PM.
 

Memories of Arkansas Veterans Become Part of Veterans History Project Collection


WASHINGTON – The memories of 21 Arkansas veterans became part of the world’s largest oral history archive thanks to the efforts of U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR).

Preserved at the Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project (VHP) houses more than 100,000 stories of our nation’s veterans. Boozman’s office has encouraged Arkansans to get involved with collecting and sharing the stories of these heroes.

“The Veterans History Project is a unique collection of the memories of our veterans. Preserving these firsthand accounts is important to understanding our history,” Boozman said. “I’m proud to support this project and encouraged by the enthusiasm across the state to join in this effort to honor the sacrifice and service of Arkansas veterans in this manner.”

To promote the program, Boozman’s office has conducted 13 VHP workshops, training more than 300 people in Arkansas over the last two years. These have inspired participation in the program all across the state.

Submissions presented to the VHP include interviews conducted by Boozman, members of his staff and Springdale Har-Ber High School students.

High School students were encouraged to collect the memories of our veterans for the Veterans Oral History competition of the Spring Creek Festival, a showcase of video and photography from high school and college students.

“It is our job to give back the best way we can and this opportunity was just that. It allowed us to capture memories from history, connect with people first hand and listen to their stories. We were very humbled by this chance and my students were greatly impacted from these stories,” Travis Sherman Har-Ber High School Television Productions teacher said.

Arkansas members of the American Legion, Disabled Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars joined Boozman’s office to submit the oral history projects and receive an overview of the VHP at the Library of Congress.

 

Ouachita Electric Cooperative to build second solar array with Today’s Power, Inc.

OECC to build 1-megawatt solar array in Holly Springs

 

Little Rock & Camden, Ark. — Feb. 23, 2017 — Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OEC) in Camden recently reached an agreement with Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) for a 1-megawatt solar array in Holly Springs.

 

The project will be completed in the second quarter of this year and will involve an array of about 4,080 panels that will encompass about 5.5 acres of a 10-acre site. The output of the energy produced by the array could provide for the power needs of up to 250 homes.

 

The community solar facility will provide OEC members with the opportunity to purchase solar power generated from the facility and receive credit on their individual electric bills. OEC provides electric service to approximately 9,400 meters across Ouachita, Calhoun, Dallas, Bradley and Nevada counties.

 

“We are proud to be a part of Ouachita Electric’s commitment to be the leader in offering affordable, safe and responsible energy to its members,” said Chris Burnley, director of business development for TPI.

 

This is the second project that OEC and TPI have developed as the result of their partnership. A 93-kilowatt solar array was designed and built in 2016 to power the cooperative’s Camden headquarters, operations center and campus. Since going online in February of 2016, 95 percent of the electric power needed for the cooperative’s Camden facilities has been provided by the solar array.

 

“Our solar systems are customized around a cooperative’s wholesale billing drivers and load characteristics specifically to produce maximum value for the cooperative,” said Michael Henderson, president of TPI.

 

According to Ouachita Electric Cooperative CEO Mark Cayce, the cooperative chose the TPI product because of its safety attributes, the unique architecture of the solar panels and the reliability that has been demonstrated over the last year to meet the cooperative’s energy needs.

 

“Partnering with local industries to bring the first utility scale solar to Arkansas, demonstrating on our own office the feasibility and affordability of using solar power in South Arkansas, making community solar available to our members is just part of providing more value to being a cooperative member,” he said.

 

Today’s Power, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives. Today’s Power, Inc. is an authorized distributor and installer for TKS photovoltaic systems.

 

SAAC Box Office Open for “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” - Opening Weekend Special Events
The box office at the South Arkansas Arts Center is open for ticket sales for the upcoming production of “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy”.  This show will run March 3-5 and March 9-11, with the curtain going up at 7:30pm, except for the Sunday performance at 2:30pm.  Ticket prices are $5 for students, $15 for SAAC members and $25 for the general public.  The box office is open Monday- Friday from 9-5.
 
“The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is a hilarious romp through an evening with everyone’s favorite ghoulish family of goofballs as they wine and dine daughter Wednesday’s new ‘normal boyfriend’ and his parents.  This show is full of singing, dancing and hilarious antics perfect for entertaining the whole family.
 
SAAC has several special events planned for the public to take part in during the show’s run.  On opening night, Friday, March 3, SAAC will host a meet and greet with the actors in the Price and Merkle Galleries after the show.  There will also be photo opportunities with the characters in a creepy Addams-inspired vignette, so bring your selfie stick.
 
Attend the “After Life Party” on stage with the cast on Saturday, March 4, after the show at 10:00pm.  You do not have to see the show to attend the party.  The director and his committee have planned a few surprises from the cast for the party goers, as well as bar snacks and beverages.  It will be a fun time to hang out with the whole Addams family and the ancestors at this after-the-show gathering.  There is a $5 charge for this party to be paid at the door.
 
“The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is sponsored by SAMA Healthcare, Teague Auto Group and Southern Bancorp.  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.

February 23, 2017

BOOZMAN INVITES ARKANSAS TO PARTICIPATE IN TELE-TOWN HALL MONDAY
WASHINGTON
– U.S. Senator John Boozman will host a telephone town hall on Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. CT to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

This statewide event allows Arkansans the ability to ask Boozman questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting them.

Arkansans interested in participating in the phone conversation should sign up on Boozman’s website to be dialed into the call.

“Telephone town halls allow me to connect with Arkansans all over the state and discuss topics important to them. I look forward to the conversation,” Boozman said.
 

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING SEMINAR TO BE HELD AT CABS
Getting a leg up in Government Contracting will be held from 10:00A to 12:00P on March 2nd. The seminar will be held at the Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center located at 625 Adams SW in Camden. The speaker will be Wanda May, Business Development Specialist/Women Owned Business Representative for the Arkansas SBA District office.

The U.S. government is the world's largest buyer of products and services. Learn the process required to get your business registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and eligible to bid on government contacts. Attend this seminar and learn more about the qualification and procedures required by the government. Call 870-836-2210 or oped@att.net to Pre-Register

KEEP CAMDEN BEAUTIFUL WORK DAY
Camden has company coming! In a little over two weeks, Camden will be hosting the 24th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival! Keep Camden Beautiful will be holding The Daffodil Spring Clean this Saturday, March 4th which will focus on the downtown areas; however, if you can't join in Keep Camden Beautiful would like to encourage you to take a look around your street. If you see some litter on your street while you're out walking, please pick it up or if your yard could use some tidying up - go for it. Camden wants to put our best face forward as we welcome our visitors and celebrate the Daffodil Festival this year and we just can't do that without you.

REGISTER FOR MMB’S BIG SPRING EVENT SET FOR MARCH 11
MAGNOLIA – Making Magnolia Blossom’s upcoming Spring Big Splash Saturday on March 11 again seeks to help area non-profits while also sprucing up outdoor community areas.

Interested volunteers and groups are encouraged to pre-register at www.MagnoliaBlossom.org/big-splash. Check-in at the event will be at the SAU duck pond near the tennis courts starting at 8:30 a.m. on March 11. Volunteering begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 11:30 a.m. For more information or to register by phone, call Deana Taylor at 870-235-4922.

 This spring event will have teams tend to areas around the community walking trail that circles the duck pond and SAU farm in coordination with Leadership Magnolia’s “Light up the SAU Walking Trail” project and SAU’s upcoming Community Playground initiative. Other outdoor enthusiasts will update MMB’s landscaping plots on Main Street with new flowers and mulch.

Other groups will return to the new facility of the Columbia County Senior Meals Service to help with indoor and outdoor renovation needs. The building was formerly Meadowbrook Lodge Nursing Home, and is located at 600 Leila Street. Other projects will be completed at the CCAPS Animal Shelter.

Volunteers are asked to wear pants and closed-toe shoes. MMB will be providing supplies and equipment, but anyone who can bring a mower, chain saw, and/or weed-eaters is encouraged to do so.

Previous Making Magnolia Blossom “Big Splash” events have organized hundreds to make improvements along primary city streets, local business facades, and public areas around the downtown square. MMB is a community-involvement organization at Southern Arkansas University. A group of staff, faculty, and students started MMB in 2014, and more than 500 volunteers from SAU and the community contributed time and effort at the initial Big Splash Saturday event. Since then, MMB has hosted several Big Splash events, as well as several Second Saturday events which partner with area organizations to complete needed projects. MMB has completed dozens of city improvement projects in its first year, and was awarded by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission the Volunteer of the Year Award in August of 2015. To find out more or to get involved in MMB, visit www.MagnoliaBlossom.org or like MMB on Facebook.

SOUTH ARKANSAS KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOWS & OBEDIENCE TRIALS & RALLY FEBRUARY 25 - 26, 2017Highland airport facilities (former general dynamics building) 204 ouachita 212 (veterans road)  Camden, ar

When you get to Camden, just look for dog show signs to direct you to the show site

Show hours will be 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Each day individual breeds begin showing at 9:00 a.m. and groups begin at approximately 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.  The Sunday shows will begin at 8 a.m. The public is encouraged to come out and see some of the most beautiful and smartest dogs in the country.  Bring your lawn chair. No un-entered dogs are allowed per AKC rules.

The  Northwest Arkansas Kennel Club is joining the shows this year hosting Lure Coursing Test.  This will be a fun event seen for the first time in our part of the state. Vendors from around the country will be there with lots of cool stuff.
 
Admission for the dog show is $5.00 Adults $1.00 Children 6-12 yrs of age $1.00 for Senior Citizens. Children under 6 yrs get in free.

For more info contact Darleen Wheelington, at 870-836-7297 or visit www.arkansasdogs.com to see the judging schedule for the time different breeds show.

 

February 22, 2017

SAU AQUATIC CENTER HELPS PEOPLE FIND HEALTH, CONFIDENCE, BALANCE
MAGNOLIA – Elizabeth Ray, coordinator of the Southern Arkansas University Aquatic Center, said one of the most important aspects of her job is building relationships.

“We have people who use these facilities every single day to enhance their health and longevity,” she said. “We want them to feel comfortable, like they are home. It’s important we get to know them on a personal level because our mission is their wellness.”

The Aquatic Center, which is operated by the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Recreation, offers a variety of programs and services that promote healthy living. Aquatic Wellness, Aquatic Zumba, Aquacize and Scuba are taught during the week, and swimming hours are offered Monday-Saturday. SAU employees, students and retired employees can enjoy free membership. For more information on community memberships and hours of operation, visit https://web.saumag.edu/hkr/sau-aquatic-center/.

Ray said she wants everyone to know about the Center and its offerings.

“I still run into students who don’t even know we have a pool,” she said.

More than 1,000 people use the pool each month, Ray said, “and that is our goal, but we want more people using it. Students and faculty are not taking full advantage.”

While Ray hopes to reach more students, she said there are many SAU professors who come to the Center “before the doors open, every day, and that is inspirational to me.”

Vinicius Sportello, an international graduate student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, works as a graduate assistant at the Aquatic Center. He is an instructor aid and lifeguard.

“A high percentage of people don’t know how to swim,” he said. “Anyone who comes in who doesn’t know how, we are willing to teach them. It is crucial to be safe in the water. I’ve been swimming since I was 2 and I swam in college. My first experience with water was traumatic – I fell in the deep end of the pool at a family barbecue. From that day on, my mother had me in swimming lessons.”

Sportello said the first step is teaching people to overcome their fear. “They say, ‘I don’t know how to swim!’ Some people can’t put their head under water. We educate them, we work on their breathing, and we show them the pool is a safe environment.”

Ray said it is important to teach people that “water can be your best friend. We explain about the percentage of water in our physical bodies, that we can float, that we can do anything we want in the water – go up or down, left or right. It's difficult to actually go to the bottom.”

She said she enjoys seeing the progress people make as they learn to swim.

“People are concerned with what we think they look like, but that’s not even going through our minds,” she said. “We build a therapeutic alliance with them so they can get comfortable with just putting their face in the water and enjoying the activity (of swimming). In almost no time, they are swimming from one end of the pool to the other and are all smiles.”

She said people come to the Center despite having cancer, back issues, even kidney stones.

“Swimming keeps you active, independent of injury or disease. You can exercise without putting pressure on joints and it works your lower extremities. You can swim laps and do cardio or just walk the pool to keep pressure off your knees,” she said.

“If it weren’t for the pool, many people couldn’t do any other type of exercise,” Sportello said. “We have people who come from El Dorado and Shreveport and Murfreesboro, Ark., just to swim laps.”

When Ray heard that a class of learners was about to “go into the deep end,” she said, “that makes me so happy.”

Ray said swimming lessons “help people expand from their comfort zone and trust not only themselves but the water.”

Different people need different skills, and teaching the young is different from teaching the elderly. “We’ve found that in teaching children to swim, if you make it a game, they forget what they are doing and just have fun,” Sportello said. “If you are teaching adults, you have to be very clear and logical and show them what to do, you can’t just tell them.”

“We are here to meet everybody’s needs,” Ray said. “Everyone from babies to people in their 90s use the pool.”

“Every sport on campus has used the facility,” Sportello said, “from team workouts to rehab and muscle relaxation. It can really help the body recover. Last year, the softball girls came every Wednesday, and football players came during their two-a-days.”

He said trainers can provide “an individualized workout program, if people will take advantage.”

There is “no excuse” for campus and community not to use the pool, Sportello said. “You can get a good workout in 15 minutes. The water and air are heated – when you get out of the pool, there’s not that big an impact. There are showers and lockers 10 steps away.”

Ray said swimming improves body, mind and soul. “If you don’t keep a healthy body, your mind cannot perform as it should,” she said. “We help people find a more balanced life.” 

SOLID WASTE LICENSING COMMITTEE TO MEET
NORTH LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Solid Waste Licensing Committee will meet Thursday, February 23, 2017, at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Headquarters, 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock beginning at 10:30 a.m.  The meeting will be held in the Conference Room 1E09 on the first floor of the building.

Items on the committee agenda include presentation of reports on training issues from staff at ADEQ and the Arkansas Environmental Training Academy at East Camden.

The committee advises and assists ADEQ and the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission regarding the state licensing program for operators of solid waste management facilities.       

February 21, 2017

More than 900 Arkansas Nonprofits to Participate

APRIL 6 IS ARKANSASGIVES ONLINE GIVING EVENT
Donors can make gifts to the causes they care about at ArkansasGives.org
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 21, 2017) – More than 900 Arkansas nonprofits signed up by the Feb. 14 deadline to participate in ArkansasGives, a one-day online giving event presented by Arkansas Community Foundation April 6. A list of nonprofits by location and category is available at www.arkansasgives.org to help the public make plans for ArkansasGives donations.

“We are thrilled with the response from our state’s nonprofit community,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation President and CEO. “Last year 600 nonprofits raised more than $4 million. The fact that we have 900 participants for 2017 bodes well for achieving our $5 million goal.”

Arkansas Community Foundation provides a $400,000 bonus pool to help Arkansas nonprofits raise funds for their organizations through ArkansasGives. The more money supporters donate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 6 through ArkansasGives.org, the more bonus dollars the nonprofits receive. For example, if a nonprofit receives two percent of the total amount given online April 6, it will receive two percent of the $400,000 bonus pool or $8,000 extra, with a chance for one of the additional prizes linked to most dollars and most donors by size and category.

In addition to matching bonus pool funds, nonprofits will compete for $60,000 in prizes from First Security Bank for nonprofits in small, medium and large categories earning the most dollars and having the highest number of individual donors. Jane Hunt Meade will provide $10,000 in prizes for most dollars in 10 service categories.

ArkansasGives media partners include the Arkansas Press Association, THV 11 in Little Rock, KAIT 8 in Jonesboro, KFSM TV 5 in Fort-Smith-Fayetteville, iHeart Media and Soiree Magazine.

The Foundation’s non-monetary aims for ArkansasGives are to get people excited about giving to nonprofits at a time other than the traditional year-end and reach out to new givers; to expand marketing and fundraising capabilities for Arkansas nonprofits so that they can take advantage of social media and online giving to achieve their missions; and to increase awareness of the impact of nonprofits statewide.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $156 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 27 affiliates are fully tax deductible.
 

OUTLETS OF LITTLE ROCK HOSTS MAKE-A-WISH MID-SOUTH ‘WISH-A-THON’
Friday, February 24, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (February 2017) – Outlets of Little Rock will host the Make-A-Wish®  Mid-South “Wish-A-Thon’ at the center on Friday, February 24, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Volunteers will be on site to raise funds to grant amazing wishes for children with life threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish® brings hope, strength and joy to children with life threatening medical conditions. No donation is too small.

Teresa Hendrix, General Manager, Outlets of Little Rock elaborates, “Outlets of Little Rock is proud to be the host of this fund raising event for Make-A-Wish® Mid-South. Make-A-Wish® is truly a remarkable organization whose mission is to bring joy to children who are facing the most difficult of challenges. We look forward to supporting this vital nonprofit organization.”

Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical. Each year, Make-A-Wish Mid-South fulfills the wishes of more than 260 children across the Mid-South. Founded in 1986, the Mid-South chapter has granted more than 5,000 wishes since its inception. The average cost of a wish is more than $8,000, and the organization relies solely on fundraisers, corporate support and donations from the public to bring hope, strength and joy to families who need it most. To learn more, visit www.midsouth.wish.org.


BOOZMAN HIGHLIGHTS NORTH LITTLE ROCK VETERAN IN "SALUTE TO VETERANS"
WASHINGTON
– U.S. Senator John Boozman recognized the service and sacrifice of veteran Herman Shirley in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Shirley, a lifelong North Little Rock resident, graduated high school after WWII ended but wanted to take advantage of the educational assistance offered to service members, so he enlisted in the Army when he was 17-years-old and inducted at Camp Robinson.

“I’d never been away from home except for a couple of trips to northern Louisiana, so this was all new to me,” Shirley said about his early days in the Army that took him to Fort Sam Houston, Texas and onto Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He got used to the basic training routine and learned the Army vernacular for his M1 rifle.

“Never call it a gun. It was a piece,” Shirley recalled.

After basic training Shirley was stationed in Washington before a deployment to Japan.

“The word was don’t leave the base because you might be shipped out that day. I learned that wasn’t the case at all. You could sneak off to Seattle for one day. They were having a big basketball game. The University of Washington was playing UCLA and I wanted to see it so I went and saw that basketball game and they didn’t leave without me,” Shirley said.

Shirley was stationed in Occupied Japan, assigned to the 10th Information and Historical Section, the Division of Military Intelligence at the 8th Army Headquarters in Yokohama. He supported the mission to interrogate high ranking Japanese military officers as to their planning and execution of the War in the Pacific.

“I was a typist,” Shirley said. “The officers would interrogate the Japanese high ranking officers and they would pencil out what they said and send it to the typist’s room and you would be given that document and type it double spaced as fast as you can but make very with few mistakes. That was the order. It would go back to the officers and they would go over it with the Japanese and send it back for what was maybe the final copy.”

He was promoted to Sergeant and given the assignment to teach new typists. His Colonel was very pleased with his work and encouraged him to extend his enlistment for six months to help the unit complete its mission, but Shirley was committed to getting started with his education so returned home after completing his two years of service.

“I am grateful for Herman Shirley’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of his military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Shirley’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.
 

DEDICATION FRIDAY FOR RANKIN COLLEGE OF BUSINESS DONOR WALL
MAGNOLIA – A dedication ceremony for the Rankin College of Business Donor Wall is scheduled for noon on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at the Southern Arkansas University Business Building lobby.

Now President Emeritus Dr. David Rankin and his wife, Toni, were surprised last April with the unveiling of SAU’s first named college – the David F. Rankin College of Business – honoring his more than 45 years of service to the University. The donor wall recognizes those who have contributed to what will be one of SAU’s largest endowments.

More than $920,000 has been raised towards a goal of $1 million to endow the Rankin College of Business. Those interested in helping complete this effort can make a one-time gift or a pledge over a five year period by visiting www.saufoundation.org or calling the Office of Development at 870-235-4287. Gifts to the Rankin College of Business Endowment will impact future generations of SAU students through providing scholarships, classroom enrichment, and student travel support.

The public is invited to attend the donor wall dedication.
 

FREE FOLK BAND CONCERT AND 100 CD-GIVEAWAY
MAGNOLIA – Ozark musical duo “Still on the Hill” will be offering a free concert at noon on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Southern Arkansas University Reynolds Center Foundation Hall.

Copies of their new CD will be given away to the first 100 “folks” in the door. The concert is open to music lovers of all ages.

On the Heels of their widely-acclaimed CD/Project, “Once a River,” the Ozark duo of Donna and Kelly Mulhollan is launching the sequel CD and series of concerts called “Still a River.”  This project will enchant with story-songs about the people and history of the Buffalo River while it poignantly reminds us of what we cherish about our nation’s first historic national river. It invites us, as the river’s stewards, to protect the sights and sounds that nourish us.

The Mulhollans were recipients of the Governor’s Folk Life Award. They consider themselves modern-day bards, carrying on the ancient tradition of storytelling in song. They are multi-instrumentalists and in this show and will be using their “low-tech PowerPoint”— a collection of handmade quilts with images depicting the people and places they are singing about. 
 

GOVERNOR APPOINTS SAU CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSOR TO BOARD OF CORRECTIONS
MAGNOLIA – Whitney Gass, assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern Arkansas University, has been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Board of Corrections.

Her term on the board is for seven years, and it is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

She was informed of the appointment on Feb. 13.

“I hope to represent my department, the University, and my discipline well,” Gass said. “It is a big responsibility and is not one that I take lightly.”

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, said that he is “excited that Professor Gass will be serving our state on the Board of Corrections. Her knowledge and experience will serve that group very well.”

“We would also like to thank Gov. Hutchinson for appointing her and Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado for his desire to have south Arkansas represented well on this important board.”

Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president of academic affairs at SAU, congratulated Gass on her appointment and said, “We are very proud to have an SAU faculty member in such an important position.”

Gass said she was first approached by Berry at the beginning of the spring 2017 semester about a vacancy on the board.

“The Board of Corrections is made up of certain types of individuals, including an academic position in criminal justice,” Gass said. “A change was made in that capacity, and the board petitioned universities for names of individuals in their criminal justice programs. Dr. Berry asked me if I would mind if he submitted my name. I was honored that he thought of me.”

The Board of Corrections is comprised of seven members who serve staggered terms and are appointed by the Governor. Its mission statement is “to provide public safety by carrying out the mandate of the courts, provide a safe, humane environment for staff and inmates, strengthen the work ethic through teaching of good habits and provide opportunities for staff and inmates to improve spiritually, mentally and physically.”

Gass said that after her name was entered for the appointment, she was subsequently contacted by officials with the Governor’s Office. “They vetted me, asking me questions about my perspective on corrections,” she said. “I met with the Governor and his criminal justice adviser, and early last week they called to say that I had been granted the appointment. I’m honored and excited, and I feel like I’m the right person for the job.”

Gass said that as a board member, she will be asked to consider policies, budgetary issues, and items “related to institutional programs and jails, community corrections, such as probation, parole and sentencing, and I will be presented with proposed changes and asked for ideas on how corrections will evolve or stay the same.”

Her background as an educator will be of use to her on the board. “I’m filling an academic seat, so based on my classroom preparations and research, I will be able to fulfill my duties,” she said. “Knowing the ins and outs of community corrections – the benefits and downsides – will be a help. We will have monthly meetings and some called meetings. The director of the board called me the day I was appointed to welcome me and ask how comfortable I am with ‘3 a.m. calls.’”

She said that if a “drastic situation” arises at a state correctional institution, such as a riot or an escape, “it becomes a concern for the board,” necessitating calls at any hour.

“I hope that I can over-prepare and do a really good job,” she said. “This is one reason I’m in education. I like the idea that what I do for my job can have an impact on someone’s life – maybe not today, in a way they recognize, but in the future, in a positive way.”

She said she hopes her appointment will bring about more awareness of SAU and the programs it offers. “We’re here in this southern pocket of the state, and we’re not the flag university, so any kind of recognition will, I think, make people aware of us and what we’re doing.”

Dr. Helmut Langerbein, dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts, said the appointment “is indeed great news for her, her department and SAU.”

Gass received her BA in behavior and social science with an emphasis in criminal justice from SAU, and her MA in criminal justice from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She is a doctoral student in criminal justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
 

ARKANSAS WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR
MARCH 14TH AND 15TH
Early Registration Deadline February 25

The Arkansas Women in Agriculture Conference will be held March 14-15 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock.  Registration for attendees and vendors is available at arwomeninag.org. Early registration deadline is February 25.

Barrel racer and inspirational speaker, Amberley Snyder will join us for the keynote address during lunch on Wednesday, March 15. Amberley, who fought her way back from tragedy, is inspiring thousands across America by sharing her story and competing in rodeos in the western United States. Her challenges have refined rather than defined her.  Former Annie’s project workshop attendees will share their stories during Tuesday’s keynote luncheon address.

2016 conference attendee said “All the presentations were informative and enlightening. This was my first conference, and I look forward to attending the next conference.”

Three tracts of sessions will be offered this year. Session topics include: Business Organization Options, Canning 101, Apps for Farming, Landowner Liability, Estate Planning, How to Survive Low Cattle Prices, and Marketing Update.

“Thank you for having a conference that always allows women in agriculture to gather, share information, learn and experience new ideas from others,” commented another 2016 conference attendee.

In addition to the conference session, vendors will be one hand to provide valuable educational information to attendees as well as offering some shopping opportunities.

For additional conference information and registration details, visit www.arwomeninag.org or contact Brandy Johnson at w_bfarms@yahoo.com or 501-837-0666.  For hotel reservations contact the Wyndham Riverfront at 501-371-9000 and request the ARWIA group rate.

February 20, 2017

STATE POLICE REQUESTED TO INVESTIGATE MARION COUNTY OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
February 19th, 2017
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred at approximately 5:36 this morning, (Sunday, February 19th, 2017) at a residence in the Bull Shoals community of Marion County.

 Kyle Riggs, 33, has been identified as the individual who died after he reportedly fired a weapon at local law enforcement officers.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy, along with a Bull Shoals Police Officer, responded to a call of breaking and entering and an assault at a residence. Upon their arrival, the officers were immediately fired upon by the suspect.  Both officers returned fire striking Riggs, who was transported to a local hospital where he died.  The body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for examination.

No law enforcement officers were injured during the incident. Questions relating to the identity of law enforcement personnel or their administrative status should be directed to the local agencies where the officers are employed.

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

SAAC ANNOUNCES CAST FOR "THE ADAMS FAMILY, A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY"
Creepy and kooky? Check. Mysterious and spooky? Check. All together ooky? Yes, but in a good way!  The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the newly selected cast for its upcoming production of “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy”.  The musical comedy, directed by SAAC veteran Monroe Moore, will run from March 3-5 and March 9-11.

The talented actors selected for the ‘Family’ in this hilariously creepy, iconic show are Matthew Cordell, Gomez Addams; Hayley Phillips, Morticia Addams; Connor Stinson, Pugsley Addams (March 3-5) and Carmelo Brown, Pugsley Addams (March 9-11); Hali Pinson, Wednesday Addams; Pam Callaway, Grandma Addams (March 3-5) and Beth Callaway, Grandma Addams (March 9-11);  Gary Hall, Uncle Fester Addams; and Roland Bradfute, Lurch.

The Addams family welcomes the Beineke’s portrayed by Darrin Riley, Mal Beineke; Felice Scott, Alice Beineke; and Zach Gamet, Lucas Beineke, as dinner guests on this fateful night, when Wednesday makes the decision to introduce her boyfriend, Lucas, to her family.

Another integral group on stage is the ancestors, once-dead members of the Addams family who have returned to life and add to the macabre ambience of the musical. Playing the men ancestors are Clayton Bolding, Brandon Wallace, Deondre Jackson, Bob Stephenson, Alexander Domingue, Austin Crank, and Nathan Gunter.  Kristina Lee, Kelsey Lea, Jaime Ogle, Shannon Lynn Blakely, Bekah Gunter and Elizabeth Phillips will play the women ancestors.  The ancestoral ensemble will be filled by Josie Denson, Kennedy Wells, Moriah Hicks, Stephanie Fussell, Jessica Raines and Kelly Middleton.

When asked about this highly entertaining show, director Monroe Moore said, “I am thrilled about this production of ‘The Addams Family’ and the cast we have assembled. We chose to double cast the part of Pugsley Addams to give two extremely talented young men the opportunity to perform the role.  This show is incredibly funny and really speaks to the meaning of family.  I think all families will enjoy this show and enjoy these iconic characters coming alive on the SAAC stage.” 

 “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is sponsored by SAMA Healthcare, Teague Auto Group and Southern Bancorp.  For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org.   SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

THE SPINNERS AT HEMPSTEAD HALL IN HOPE         
Thought to be Motown’s favorite act, The Spinners will be in concert Saturday, February 25, 7:00 p.m., at Hempstead Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Hope.  Tickets range from $20-$75 and are available at hempsteadhall.com or by phone at 870.722.8565.   The concert is a partnership between the UAHT Foundation and The Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.  

“We are excited to have the Motown sound coming back to Hempstead Hall in 2017,” said Dolly Henley, Hempstead Hall director.  “To have one of the original Spinners, Henry Fambrough, perform on our stage is awesome.  One of our larger shows last year was the super group The Temptations, and the audience loved the Motown sound and showmanship.  I have no doubt the audience will love The Spinners and will be dancing in the aisles,” she said.

Throughout the years, The Spinners have sold millions of records and topped both the Pop and R&B charts with smash hits like “I’ll Be Around” and “Then Came You.” One of the original members, Fambrough, will be joined onstage by lead singer Charlton Washington, high tenor Marvin Taylor, tenor Ronnie Moss, and bass singer Jessie Peck.  A soul-infused 5-piece band, led by Keith Ferguson, will back them up.

The Spinners charted five top 100 singles (and two top tens) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners, in 1972 and went on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s. Some of their other hit singles include “Mighty Love,” “One of A Kind (Love Affair),” “Games People Play,” and “Could It Be.” 

In early 1980, the single “Working My Way Back to You” was topping Pop and R&B charts, giving the group its twelfth gold record. The Love Trippin’ album’s release included “The Cupid Medley,” one of the fastest selling records in The Spinners’ career. The follow-up album, Labor of Love, featured such stand-out tunes as “Yesterday Once More,” and “Long Live Soul Music.” With the release of Can’t Shake This Feeling, their fourth LP in just over two years, the quintet entered a brand new phase of their remarkable career as they joined the award-winning producing/writing/playing team of James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. Other past releases include songs on the motion picture soundtracks of Twins and Spaceballs, and a single on Arista Records with Dionne Warwick entitled “Then Came You.”

The Spinners have six Grammy nominations and have performed twice during the Grammy awards ceremony. Inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, they have also been awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Award for their contribution to the genre. The group has performed for presidents, received a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame,” and has appeared in numerous network and cable television specials paying tribute to the music of the 70’s.

February 16, 2017

TEXARKANA MAN SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICING
Hot Springs, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Curodrick Randle, age 41, of Texarkana, was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine.  The Honorable Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, in September of 2015, Randle was being investigated by the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force for trafficking methamphetamine. Detectives with the Task Force used a confidential source to make contact with Randle, who went by the name “Boss” or “Gucci,” to arrange for a purchase of methamphetamine. Later that day, Randle met the source at a location in Texarkana, Arkansas, where he sold approximately 53 grams of methamphetamine. The substance was sent Arkansas State Crime Lab where it was confirmed to contain at least 37 grams of actual methamphetamine.  Randle was indicted by a federal grand jury in September, 2015 and pled guilty on March 18, 2016.

This case was investigated by the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force and the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney’s Jonathan Ross and Amy Driver prosecuted the case for the United States.

 

BOOZMAN, KLOBUCHAR INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE ASSESS TO VOLUNTARY FARM CONSERVATION PROGRAMS

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced the Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act, bipartisan legislation to improve access to voluntary farm conservation programs administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The NRCS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers to improve conservation practices on their farms. However, annual federal reporting regulations required under this program have been burdensome on many small, mid-sized, beginning, and historically underserved farmers. Additionally, because this reporting system is done electronically and requires reliable internet access, farmers in rural areas with limited broadband access are even further disadvantaged. This bill would remove this burdensome regulation for NRCS cost share recipients.

“Arkansans who work in the agriculture sector, the largest contributor to our state’s economy, play an important role in helping us live up to our nickname of the Natural State. Our farmers and ranchers understand this and are excellent stewards of the environment from which they earn their livelihood. Unfortunately, they are often boxed out of voluntary conservation programs to help accomplish this goal. We can help them protect our shared resources by removing the bureaucratic barriers that keep family farmers from participating in these programs,” Boozman said.

“Agricultural producers, and especially small and beginning farmers, should be given every opportunity to receive cost-share assistance to practice voluntary conservation on their farms. However, reporting requirements and regulations often make it harder for farmers and producers across Minnesota to access these programs,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan bill would help cut through the government red tape that stands between small and beginning farmers and the conservation programs that will help protect their farmland and the environments within their communities.”

Thousands of farmers and ranchers voluntarily participate in the wide range of conservation programs that are offered through NRCS, with many of these programs offering a cost-share payment which helps farmers with the cost of implementing conservation measures. The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would remove burdensome regulations for NRCS cost share recipients, which currently puts small farmers on the same level as other entities receiving multi-million dollar government contracts, such as large military contractors.

BOOZMAN LEADS EFFORTS TO HOLD CFPB ACCOUNTABLE
WASHINGTON
 – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senate colleagues to introduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Accountability Act of 2017 to make the agency accountable to the American people by bringing it under the Congressional appropriations process.

“The CFPB is in desperate need of reform. The agency’s structure, as established by the Dodd-Frank Act, lacks transparency and accountability. Given that the rules and regulations made by this agency impact the lives of millions of Americans, there must be Congressional oversight,” Boozman said.

As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee last Congress, Boozman met with CFPB Director Richard Cordray to discuss issues related to the agency’s mission and lack of accountability to Congress and the American people.

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the legislation that in addition to Boozman has the support of U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The legislation has support from consumer and taxpayer advocacy groups. Here’s what they are saying:

Taxpayers Protection Alliance: “Currently, the CFPB operates outside of the jurisdiction of Congress (that most agencies operate in) and continues to be appropriated taxpayer funds without the proper Congressional oversight. This is an agency that demands scrutiny like any other federal agency and should be held accountable for their actions by moving into the proper process for Congressional appropriations,” said David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

American Bankers Association: “Oversight by Congress would allow the very consumers who the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was designed to protect to hold it accountable through their elected officials. An important principle that underlies this bill is that there needs to be an effective check and balance on the Bureau’s authority. The American Bankers Association supports the principle of accountability and balance and commends [the senators] for introducing this measure,” said James Ballentine, Executive Vice President of Congressional Relations and Political Affairs, American Bankers Association.

Credit Union National Association: “We appreciate Congress considering common-sense reforms to the CFPB so that it will focus on Wall Street and get out of the way of Main Street. Over the last six years, the new mortgage rules, the rule on international remittances, the proposals on small dollar lending and arbitration, and CFPB enforcement actions have impeded credit unions' delivery of consumer-friendly products and services. Congress and regulators can, and should, provide greater consumer protection by ensuring that local, member-owned credit unions and small banks are able to thrive in a balanced, common-sense regulatory environment that is not rigged in favor of those who prey on consumers and the too-big-too-fail banks that caused the financial crisis,” said Jim Nussle, President & CEO, Credit Union National Association.

 

COTTON, JOHNSON, RUBIO, POE AND ROGERS INTRODUCE INTERMEDIATE-RANGE FORCES TREATY PRESERVATION ACT
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) today introduced the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF) Preservation Act, legislation that would allow the United States to take steps to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty and begin developing similar missile systems. Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“If Russia is going to test and deploy intermediate range cruise missiles, then logic dictates that we respond. Pleading with the Russian regime to uphold its treaty obligations won’t bring it into compliance, but strengthening our nuclear forces in Europe very well might. We’re offering this legislation so we can finally put clear, firm boundaries on Russia’s unchecked aggression,” said Cotton.

“Russia has a troubling track record of violating treaties,” said Johnson. “The United States must begin to deal with the Russian regime firmly and from a position of strength, and this bill aims to do just that.”

“Russia’s mounting violations of the INF Treaty, including testing and now brazenly deploying ground-launched cruise missiles with intermediate range, pose grave threats to the United States and our European allies. This legislation makes clear that Russia will face real consequences if it continues its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” said Rubio.

"Just this week reports emerged of a secret Russian deployment of a nuclear capable cruise missile that violates the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. But this was neither the first such Russian violation nor should anyone expect it to be the last. While we have been limiting our own missile development in accordance with the treaty, the Russians have spent years violating the treaty with little impunity. This bill changes that. It brings real consequences for Russia's violation and prepares the United States to develop intermediate range missiles should Russia not come back into compliance with the treaty. No longer will the U.S. sit by and be played by Putin,” said Poe.

“The Obama Administration’s failure to confront Russian aggression in practically every sphere has only emboldened Vladimir Putin.  His belligerence has brought us to the point that one of the seminal achievements of the nuclear age, President Reagan’s Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF,) has been left in shreds across Moscow,” said Rogers. “This legislation will give President Trump the tools he needs to show our friends and adversaries alike that ‘peace through strength’ is back.”

Background: On Tuesday reports surface indicating that Russia secretly deployed a new cruise missile in violation of the INF treaty. This legislation states that the Russian violation has crossed the material breach threshold allowing the United States to take steps to bring Russia back into compliance, and begin developing similar missile systems.  The steps to bring Russia back into compliance included in the legislation are:

Funding counter-force, active-defense, and countervailing-strike activities identified in the Section 1243(d) report of FY16 NDAA;

  • Establishment of a program of record for a dual-capable road-mobile ground launched missile system with INF Ranges;
  • Aggressively seeking additional missile defense assets;
  • Facilitating transfer of INF range systems to allied countries
  • Limiting funds for New START extension or OST activities until Russia returns to compliance; and
  • A policy review on determination of RS-26 as countable under New START.

February 15, 2017

FARM CREDIT DISTRUBUTES $15.5 MILLION TO ARKANSAS MEMBERS
$15.5 million is going back into the hands of Farm Credit members across Arkansas in February.  Farm Credit finances farms, homes, land, livestock, equipment and more.  Farm Credit is not a bank; it is a financial cooperative and shares a portion of profits with members in profitable years.

2016 was another strong year for the four Farm Credit associations headquartered in the state. 10,800 Arkansas member-owners are receiving their share of the $15.5 million in the form of patronage checks this month.

Farm Credit is directed by the members it serves and members have a voice and vote in the associations’ governance.  They also share in their cooperatives’ financial success through cooperative returns, which total $184 million in Arkansas since 1997.

$15.5 million back in members’ pockets demonstrates Farm Credit’s financial strength and commitment to the cooperative principle of providing value to members.

With $3.3 billion in assets, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Delta Agricultural Credit Association, Farm Credit Midsouth and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across the state.

The Farm Credit System additionally supports the rural communities of Arkansas through CoBank agribusiness cooperative loans which provide essential infrastructure services.  Combined, Farm Credit organizations provide more than $4 billion in loans, leases and related services in Arkansas and returned $25.8 million to their customer-owners, and the Arkansas economy, this year.

More information available at ARFarmCredit.com.

BOOZMAN VOTES TO PROTECT CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF SENIORS AND DISABLED AMERICANS
WASHINGTON
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today voted to overturn an Obama administration regulation that strips Second Amendment rights away from seniors and disabled Americans.

By a bipartisan vote of 57-43, the Senate passed H.J. 40, a resolution of disapproval of the Social Security Administration (SSA) rule announcing it will share information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments and meet criteria that can easily be misapplied to include millions of law-abiding citizens for the wrong reasons.

“This rule essentially allowed federal bureaucrats to deem law-abiding seniors and disabled Americans a threat to society and thereby restrict their Second Amendment rights without due process. It was a direct attack on Second Amendment rights under the Constitution,” Boozman said.

Under the rule, Americans placed on the SSA’s list would only be able to seek relief after their Second Amendment rights had been taken away. They would be forced to shoulder the burden of proof of convincing the agency that they are not a danger in order to restore their Second Amendment rights. By contrast, the rule would impose practically no burden on the SSA for putting a person on the list in the first place.

“When you have organizations diverse as the National Rifle Association, American Association of People with Disabilities and the American Civil Liberties Union voicing opposition to a rule, it is clear that it is bad policy,” Boozman said.

According to the Inspector General’s report, as of July 2016, the rule would have required the SSA to report 80,898 individuals to the NICS.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn any new regulation, within sixty days of its submission, with a joint resolution of disapproval. Boozman cosponsored the Senate companion resolution of disapproval.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed H.J. 40 so it will now be placed on the President’s desk for signature.

ARKANSAS SENATORS ASK ADMINISTRATION TO RELIEVE AMERICANS OF OBAMAMCARE BURDENS
WASHINGTON –
U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) yesterday joined 21 of their Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to recently confirmed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price asking for relief from Obamacare for individuals living in Arkansas and 34 other states.

The letter congratulates the new head of the federal health agency and reads, in part, “We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now.”

President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 20 instructing federal agencies to help ease the burdens of Obamacare as Congress works to repeal the harmful law. Cotton, Boozman, and their colleagues are committed to working with Secretary Price and the President to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, shielding Americans from unbearable costs.

In Arkansas and 34 other states, a transitional period has protected some individuals and small groups from Obamacare and allowed them to keep their health-care plans. However, this protection expires at the end of 2017.

In addition to Cotton and Boozman, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Roger Wicker, R-Miss; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Secretary Price,

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. We look forward to working with you to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. We commend your commitment to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and working with Congress to enact market-driven approaches that put Americans back in control of their health care.

We appreciate President Trump’s determination to ease the burden of the ACA through his Administration. The President’s January 20, 2017, Executive Order instructing agencies to minimize the harmful impacts of the law and provide states additional flexibility is an admirable first step. As Secretary of HHS, we know that much of this responsibility will fall on your shoulders. One way HHS can protect Americans from the crippling effects of the law is to extend the transitional relief policy for individual and group plans in 35 states. HHS Guidance is needed by mid-February to give states and health plans time to act.

Since the enactment of the ACA, millions of Americans have either lost their health insurance or have seen their premiums skyrocket. We are committed to working with you to ensure this does not continue to happen. In 2013, HHS created a transitional relief policy that would allow individuals and small groups to maintain certain “Grandmothered” insurance plans.  In states that opted for transitional relief, Grandmothered plans are individual and small group plans purchased after enactment of the ACA and before October 1, 2013, that were not required to comply with certain ACA reforms.  President Obama’s Administration permitted transitional relief for these plans to protect millions of Americans from feeling the worst pains of the law.

The transitional relief policy was extended in March 2014 and again in February 2016. The current extension is set to expire at the end of 2017, causing millions of Americans to lose their Grandmothered plans in 2018. HHS should extend the current transitional relief policy indefinitely, which would give states the opportunity to allow individuals and small groups to maintain plans. This would provide stability, especially as plans to repeal and replace the ACA evolve.

We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now. We respectfully request that HHS issue guidance by February 21, 2017, to extend indefinitely the transitional relief policy until Congress and the President are able to repeal and replace the ACA completely.

February 14, 2017

CAMDEN MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 11 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
El Dorado, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Orlando Deshun Mitchell, (aka “Stunna”), age 40, of Camden, was sentenced today to 140 months in federal prison followed by four (4) years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of More Than 28 Grams of Cocaine Base.  The Honorable Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court records, on September 5, 2013, investigators with the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arranged for a controlled purchase of cocaine base from Orlando Mitchell.  On that date, a confidential source made contact with Mitchell who agreed to provide him with three (3) ounces of cocaine for $3,000. After the two met and the transaction was completed, officers submitted the suspected crack cocaine to the Arkansas State Crime Lab where it was determined to be a total of 81.08 grams of cocaine base.

Mitchell was named in a federal indictment in July, 2015 and pleaded guilty to the charge in February, 2016. 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Wulff prosecuted the case for the United States.

CASON MURPHY WRITES AWARD-WINNING PLAY
MAGNOLIA – A play co-written by Cason Murphy, Southern Arkansas University’s director of theatre and assistant professor of musical theatre, and Karen Murphy has been recognized by the 2016 Southwest Playwriting Competition.

The Murphy’s two-act drama, “Parched,” won second place and will be a part of the 2017 New Play Readings Festival, April 21-23, at Stage West – a regional theatre founded in 1979 in Fort Worth, Texas, and home to a professional, equity-contract theatre company.

Cason Murphy served two AmeriCorps terms as the technical director at the Prescott Center for the Arts in Arizona after earning his AA in Theatre and Certification in Acting from the Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy and his BA in Theatre from UCLA. After completing his MFA in directing at Baylor University, he joined the faculty at SAU in August 2016.

2017 SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS BUSINESS & ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
CONFERENCE
“Innovation & Inclusion: Creating Job Opportunities in the Rural Marketplace”

Innovation, inclusion and job creation in rural Arkansas will be the key words at an upcoming regional conference to be held in El Dorado Arkansas.  Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Southern Bancorp, the 2017 Southwest  Arkansas Business & Enterprise Development Conference, with a theme of “Innovation & Inclusion:  Creating Job Opportunities in the Rural Marketplace” will bring together approximately 20 private, state, federal and nonprofit organizations with a singular mission of equipping small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to start and expand their businesses.

Hosted by the Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC), South Arkansas Community College, Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia -  Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), Southern Bancorp, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the conference will be held Friday, March 10, 2017 from 8:30am – 2:00pm at the El Dorado Conference Center, 311 South West Avenue, El Dorado, AR 71730. Topics will include but are not limited to, building effective partnerships, securing capital, how to sell goods and services to the government, and social media.

Join us at 8:30 am for a “Lenders Roundtable Breakfast,” where participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders. Organizations invited to participate include Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Communities Unlimited, Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, FORGE, Bancorp South, First Financial Bank, Simmons Bank, Hope Credit Union, Southern Bancorp, USDA – Rural Development, U.S. Small Business Administration newly appointed Executive Director Edward Haddock…and MORE! Lunch will also be provided. 

Current business owners and those just getting started, youth entrepreneurs, business and technical school students, apprentices, veterans and community and economic development professionals, are invited to attend this unique opportunity. You will engage with other business owners, receive help with research and business planning, learn how to increase your networking results and learn to do more business with government and private industry.  will be luncheon speaker.  

Don’t miss the opportunity to help your community create needed JOBS by learning valuable insights to help your small business GROW! And, INNOVATE!  

AN INVESTMENT OF TIME IS THE COST TO ATTEND BUT REGISTRATION IS ENCOURAGED.
You may register by calling Arkansas Human Development Corporation at (800) 482-7641 or online at
http://bit.ly/SWAR2017.

ARKANSAS SENATORS ENCOURAGE PRESIDENT TO STRENGTHEN GITMO MISSIONWASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) joined their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the president encouraging him to assess the future operations and detention of detainees held at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO).

“Congress has continuously opposed and prohibited the closure of GTMO as well as the transfer of GTMO detainees to U.S. soil since 2010 in response to the previous administration’s attempt to fulfill a campaign promise,” the senators wrote. “Despite the growing number of threats to our nation from terrorists around the globe, the Obama administration demonstrated a serious disregard for the safety of the American people and the will of Congress by dramatically reducing the number of detainees housed at GTMO to justify those remaining to be transferred to the U.S.”

In the letter, Boozman, Cotton and their colleagues shared with President Trump a number of recommendations for the future of the detention facility as the president and Congress work to ensure the safety of the American people. They requested an immediate hold on transferring detainees approved for release by the Periodic Review Board (PRB) and the suspension of the PRB itself – which was established in 2011 to assess and determine the transfer of detainees – along with a full and judicious review of the PRB’s role and responsibilities. They also requested the consideration of military value analysis and recommendations of the nation’s most senior military leaders.

The letter was written by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and in addition to Boozman and Cotton, signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

BOOZMAN, COTTON, HILL INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT ARKANSANS ABILITY TO BUY AFFORDABLE CHILDREN'S CLOTHING
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman French Hill (AR-02) introduced the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act, legislation to prevent children’s consignment business owners from unnecessary and burdensome Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. The bill would provide an exemption for volunteers at children’s consignment events from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).

DOL’s outdated policy interferes with the ability of Arkansas families to buy affordable clothes, toys and furniture at children’s consignment events. In 2013, a DOL audit ruled that Conway-based Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. (Rhea Lana’s) was in violation of FSLA because of the company’s use of volunteers, claiming they were in fact employees. In exchange for the volunteers’ time and services to Rhea Lana’s they are able to get early access to the event and a percentage off of their purchases.

This decision has resulted in fewer consignment sales in Arkansas and 24 other states where Rhea Lana’s operates.

“Arkansas parents looking to provide for their children are being unfairly targeted by the Department of Labor’s dated and burdensome policies. This commonsense legislation preserves an innovative business model for consignment events and protects parents from unfair federal regulations that limit their ability to save money on items children quickly outgrow,” Boozman said.

“As the father of two young boys I know how helpful children's consignment events can be to Arkansas families. The Department of Labor overstepped their bounds when they changed their interpretation of the law to force a volunteer organization out of business. I am hopeful the Trump administration can revoke the misguided interpretation on their own, but if not I will work with my colleagues to fix the issue through legislation,” Cotton said.

“In situations where federal regulations unduly impact groups or businesses, we need to find ways to reverse that harm. While the Fair Labor Standards Act is well-intended, there are clearly instances in which enforcing it makes no sense. These children’s consignment events that are designed to help parents find affordable clothing for their kids fall into that category. I appreciate Senator Boozman and Senator Cotton’s leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with them to create an exemption to the FLSA for consignment events like Rhea Lana’s,” Hill said.

“I know the families of Arkansas join me in appreciating Senator Boozman, Senator Cotton and Congressman Hill for introducing the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act. For four years we have been fighting the Department of Labor for the rights of families to work together and create a special marketplace to recycle their children’s items,” Rhea Lana Riner, President of Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. said.

This legislation is endorsed by the International Franchise Association.

The Senate bill was referred to the Help Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The House bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Workforce.

February 13, 2017

BOOZMAN AND THE IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE IN ARKANSAS
In this audio message Senator Boozman discusses the importance of agriculture to Arkansas, a message he shared in a meeting with the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture last week.

The importance of Agriculture to Arkansas

February 10, 2017

 STEM CELL REGISTRY DRIVE AT SAU FEBRUARY 14TH AND 15TH
MAGNOLIA
– When three Southern Arkansas University nursing students started organizing next week’s stem cell registry drive more than three months ago, they were not aware that a member of the Mulerider family is one of more than 1,400 whose life could be saved.

The stem cell/bone marrow registry drive is scheduled for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on February 14-15 both in the Reynolds Center Rotunda and the SAU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. For more information, contact Dr. Becky Parnell at (870)235-4365 or at bbparnell@saumag.edu.

The SAU BSN students initially behind the project are Renee Langley, Tabitha Elliott and Courtney Owens. Parnell explained that while attending the Arkansas Student Nurses’ Association annual meeting in Little Rock, the students were introduced to the need for bone marrow donors. They even registered to be possible donors themselves. She said they realized this project was a perfect example of how nurses can impact the care of people outside the normal “hospitalized patient.”

“They recognized how many people this could potentially impact and wanted to recruit more people (to register),” said Parnell. “I have seen the bone marrow process – it is truly a life-saving intervention for many people that are devastated by leukemia.”

When Parnell began promoting the registry event on campus, it was brought to her attention that the daughter of Magnolia native, 1984 SAU alum and Board of Governors Chair Beth Galway, Sydney, is suffering with acute myeloid leukemia and in dire need of a bone marrow transplant.

“When Sydney was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, the doctors told us that Sydney’s only cure would come from a bone marrow transplant. The doctors were, and are, confident of the success of her treatment due to the fact that she has a high chance to find a perfect bone marrow donor,” said Galway.

Her increased chance of finding a match, Galway explained, is simply because she is a Caucasian female – which has one of the highest bone marrow donor rates. She has a 97% chance to find a donor.

“Of course, the first donor they looked at was her sister. A sibling has only a 25% chance to be a match; a parent even less. Sydney’s sister was not a match,” said Galway.

Donor matches are generally based on race. With today’s diverse community, the need for bone marrow donors from minority and mixed race groups is high. An African American patient has only a 66% chance to find a match. 

“The doctors and nurses that I have talked to indicate that the need is huge for African Americans as well as donors from India,” said Galway.

She said that the treatment for Sydney, who is a sophomore in college, is now in phase 3. Her next step is a bone marrow transplant.

“We hope to have a perfect match for her and pray that the donor will be willing to do all that is necessary for providing the blood or bone marrow needed for the transplant,” said Galway.

The drive is being sponsored by SAU’s Department of Nursing and University Health Services. Junior and senior BSN students will also be assisting in the bone marrow drive as a professional development activity.

Becoming a member of a stem cell/bone marrow registry only requires that you provide a swab of the cells inside your cheek. To register is a painless and fast way to possibly save a life.