Yes Radio Works

January 29, 2021

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 29, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,873
Confirmed Cases: 1,666
Probable Cases: 259
Total Active Cases: 158
Active Confirmed Cases: 134
Active Probable Cases: 24
Total Recovered Cases: 1,722
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,497
Recovered Probable Cases: 225
Total Deaths: 44
Confirmed Deaths: 34
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 3,272
Confirmed Cases: 2,525
Probable Cases: 747
Total Active Cases: 207
Active Confirmed Cases: 157
Active Probable Cases: 50
Total Recovered Cases: 2,975
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,302
Recovered Probable Cases: 673
Total Deaths: 90
Confirmed Deaths: 66
Probable Deaths: 24

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,894
Confirmed Cases: 1,194
Probable Cases: 700
Total Active Cases: 90
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 52
Total Recovered Cases: 1,755
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,124
Recovered Probable Cases: 631
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 657
Confirmed Cases: 581
Probable Cases: 76
Total Active Cases: 46
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 599
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 537
Recovered Probable Cases: 62
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 338
Confirmed Cases: 258
Probable Cases: 80
Total Active Cases: 42
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 294
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 229
Recovered Probable Cases: 65
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 290,856
Confirmed Cases: 232,338
Probable Cases: 58,518
Recovered Cases: 268,495

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

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

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T LET UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD TROUBLE YOU THIS TAX SEASON
LITTLE ROCK – Tax season is upon us. This year, unfortunately, many Arkansans have the added stress of dealing with fraudulent unemployment compensation claims when filing their taxes. Victims of unemployment fraud may have income wrongfully reported in their name that could add to their tax burden. Many consumers have been rightfully concerned about the safety of their personal and financial information due to this type of fraud.

“Con artists who try to steal from taxpaying Arkansans will be caught,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will always hold these criminals accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Attorney General Rutledge offers the following tips for Arkansans filing their tax returns who have encountered unemployment fraud.
Be sure that you have contacted the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services’ fraud hotline at (501) 682-1058 or completed the secure fraud reporting form online at dws.arkansas.gov.
After filing the initial police report, send a copy to the Department of Workforce Services to stop the fraudulent income from being reported to the IRS.
Do not report the fraudulent earnings as your own or file an amended return.
Independently contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to review your earnings for accuracy. This step could take several weeks for the SSA to update their records.
Review the IRS Guide to Employment-Related Identity Theft at www.irs.gov.
Additionally, consumers can also protect their identity and personal information by contacting the three credit bureaus.

For more information about unemployment fraud contact, the Attorney General’s Office at OAG@ArkansasAG.gov.


SANDERS ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FROM ALL 75 COUNTIES OF ARKANSAS AND OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS RAISED SINCE MONDAY
Campaign has raised over one million dollars in less than a week, including donations from Arkansans in every county in the state
Little Rock, AR— The Sarah Huckabee Sanders for Governor campaign today announced it has raised over one million dollars since Monday, including contributions from Arkansans in all 75 counties of the state. 

"I'm grateful for the outpouring of support from Arkansans for my campaign – our message is powerfully resonating with people in every corner of our state. As governor, I will represent all Arkansans, defend our freedom and lead with heart," Sanders said.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced for Governor on Monday by video, laying out her qualifications and vision for Arkansas. The announcement video has now been viewed more than five million times across her social media platforms

 

BOOZMAN, COTTON JOIN EFFORT TO DEFEND RULE PROTECTING ARKANSAS FARMERS AND LANDOWNERS
Trump Administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule Needs to Stay, Senators Say
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) joined a Senate resolution expressing the need for the U.S. Senate to stand with farmers, ranchers, landowners and businesses by upholding the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule, which replaced the controversial and burdensome Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

“I fought the Obama administration’s overreaching WOTUS rule and worked to overturn it. It gave the federal government the authority to control virtually every ditch, pond and puddle on private land in Arkansas, creating uncertainty and raising concerns about inconsistent implementation among family farms, homeowners and small businesses. Arkansans have a vested interest in preserving our land and ensuring clean water, so the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection rule was welcome relief given that it follows the Congressional intent of the Clean Water Act and trusts states and local governments to protect waters within their jurisdiction. I’ve joined my colleagues to tell the Biden administration to maintain this rule, in this form, to give confidence to Arkansans and all Americans that another federal power-grab is not forthcoming,” Boozman said.

“The Navigable Water Protection rule preserves our waterways while respecting the livelihoods of farmers and the rights of private landowners. They can’t afford a return to the heavy-handed WOTUS rule of the Obama-era—and we won’t allow it. If the Biden administration wants to protect clean water and America’s agriculture producers, it should let the Navigable Water Protection Rule stand,” Cotton said.

 Boozman and Cotton joined 23 of their colleagues in this resolution, led by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), including Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD), James Risch (R-ID), John Barasso (R-WY), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). 

 Background:

In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of the Waters of the United States—giving the federal government authority to regulate almost all of the water in Arkansas—and created confusion and burdensome red tape for Arkansas’s agriculture industry, private landowners and businesses. Before the rule was even finalized, Boozman called on the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to abandon the rule and introduced legislation to halt it. He also led efforts to nullify the rule through the Congressional Review Act.

 Boozman praised the Trump administration upon its announcement that it was dismantling WOTUS and would work to fashion a new regulation that clearly defines the difference between federally protected and state protected wetlands by creating four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The new Navigable Waters Protection rule was finalized last year.

 Last week, on day one of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump administration’s executive order which began the process of replacing Obama’s WOTUS rule.

January 27, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 27, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,873
Confirmed Cases: 1,626
Probable Cases: 247
Total Active Cases: 142
Active Confirmed Cases: 126
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 1,687
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,465
Recovered Probable Cases: 222
Total Deaths: 43
Confirmed Deaths: 34
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 3,221
Confirmed Cases: 2,492
Probable Cases: 729
Total Active Cases: 228
Active Confirmed Cases: 180
Active Probable Cases: 48
Total Recovered Cases: 2,904
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,247
Recovered Probable Cases: 627
Total Deaths: 89
Confirmed Deaths: 65
Probable Deaths: 24

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,877
Confirmed Cases: 1,187
Probable Cases: 690
Total Active Cases: 90
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 49
Total Recovered Cases: 1,738
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,114
Recovered Probable Cases: 624
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 646
Confirmed Cases: 574
Probable Cases: 72
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 570
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 516
Recovered Probable Cases: 54
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 323
Confirmed Cases: 251
Probable Cases: 72
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 285
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 222
Recovered Probable Cases: 63
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 287,187
Confirmed Cases: 229,727
Probable Cases: 58,460
Recovered Cases: 264,308

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

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

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WEEKLY INFLUENZA REPORT
The Arkansas Department of Health has released the Influenza Weekly Report for the week ending Saturday, January 23, 2021. You can download the attached report by clicking the button below.

During flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians. The report provides information on flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenza like-illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the U.S. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases since it only requires reports of hospitalizations, deaths, and outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to understand that the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease. It is presumed that there are many more people actually affected than the report shows. Clinicians and policy makers may find the report helpful in terms of communicating to colleagues and patients about the current status of the flu season.

Report Key Points:
• For Week 3, Arkansas reported “Minimal” or 1 out of 13 for Influenza-Like-Illness (ILI) activity level indicator determined by data reported to ILINet.
• Since September 27, 2020, 1,400 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers. Please note that reported cases reflect only a portion of the actual numbers of flu cases in the state.
• Among flu antigen tests this season that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types, 34 percent were influenza A, and 66 percent were influenza B.
• About 1 percent of patients visiting emergency rooms this week were there for ILI (Syndromic Surveillance). About 1 percent of outpatient visits were for ILI (ILINet sentinel providers).
• The average school absenteeism rate last week was 6.7 percent among public schools.
• Arkansas reported twelve influenza-related deaths this flu season.
• No nursing homes have reported influenza outbreaks this season.
• Nationally, the proportion of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) is above the epidemic threshold this week.

You can report flu year-round and view the weekly influenza report during the influenza season at: http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/influenza. You can also access the reporting website directly at: https://FluReport.ADH.Arkansas.gov. For Additional National and International Influenza Surveillance Information: World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int/influenza/gisrs_laboratory/flunet/en/index.html. CDC - Seasonal Influenza (Flu) - Weekly Report: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

AFTER RECORD YEAR OF NEED, ARKANSAS FOODBANK REPORTS  37% INCREASE IN POUNDS DISTRIBUTED DURING 2020
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Jan. 26, 2021) – In 2020, Arkansas Foodbank distributed 40.4 million  pounds of food across central and southern Arkansas, a 37% increase from 2019. The  Foodbank attributes the sharp rise in distribution to the economic impact the coronavirus  pandemic had on communities across central and southern Arkansas. As workers were laid off, schools closed and seniors became home-bound, more Arkansans than ever before needed assistance putting food on tables.

“Thousands of Arkansans are only a paycheck away from experiencing hunger. The pandemic only intensified the challenges these people were already facing,” said Rhonda Sanders, CEO of Arkansas Foodbank. “With each new year, we set new goals and plan for how we can reach more people, but March of 2020 quickly revealed that we would be helping people who had never needed the Foodbank before - people we didn’t expect to serve.”

Sanders explained that because the need for food increased so rapidly, the Foodbank had to adjust its operation model in order to distribute larger volumes of food while keeping staff, volunteers and clients safe.

“Many of our partner agencies had to pause their operations to ensure the health and safety of their volunteers and staff, leaving large service gaps across our region,” said Sanders. “In response, the Foodbank took a hands-on approach by quickly pulling together resources and staff to pack emergency food boxes in our warehouse. Those boxes were given away to schools and through mobile food distributions to assist neighbors and students with immediate needs.”

Many of these additional resources were provided via USDA programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Coronavirus Federal Assistance Program (CFAP), also known as the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. With farmers facing their own set of challenges because of the pandemic, the federal government purchased excess food from local farmers to provide to the Foodbank for direct distribution, including fresh product like meat, dairy and vegetables. Because of CFAP, the Foodbank provided 5.6 million pounds of this food, 15% of its total distribution, to our neighbors in central and southern Arkansas during 2020. Prior to the pandemic, 17% of Arkansans were considered food insecure. Now, Feeding America projects that number will rise to 22%, meaning an additional 75,000 people could need help finding food in the days ahead.

“Food banks across the country are facing a food cliff in 2021,” says Sanders. “As federal emergency programs are expected to scale back, there will be a gaping hole left for these organizations to fill. In Arkansas alone, it will cost millions to make up the difference in order for these people to have enough to eat.”

The Foodbank is preparing for this increased need and building its capacity for the months and years ahead. “We know it’s going to take a while for families and individuals to get back on their feet,” says Sanders. “To make sure we’re prepared, we’re scaling our operations to include more mobile distributions, adding to our fleet to deliver larger volumes and expanding our storage capacity so that we can accept more food.”

Related: The Foodbank recently announced being named one of 39 Feeding America food banks to receive a portion of the widely reported MacKenzie Scott donation. With this outpouring of support, plus the generosity of thousands of Arkansans, the Foodbank will be able to find more pathways to connect people, resources and food to reach our neighbors in need - providing dignity, hope and a brighter future for all Arkansans. 

JANUARY 25, 2021

SEVEN COMMUNITIES RECEIVE WATER AND WASTEWATER PROJECT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved $4,626,938 for water and wastewater projects serving more than 6,054 people in seven Arkansas communities on January 20, 2021. The projects are as follows:

The East End Improvement District No. 1 in Saline County received a $2,650,000 loan from the Arkansas Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for the construction of a water storage tank, installation of 12” water lines, and rehabilitation of the existing water storage tanks. This project will benefit 2,297 customers.

The Fordyce Rural Water Association in Dallas County received a $313,643 loan from the Water Sewer & Solid Waste Fund. These project funds will be used to replace outdated residential meters with a new Automatic Meter Reading system. This project will benefit 755 customers.

The Highway 4 & 24 Water Association in Ouachita County received a $339,418 loan with principal forgiveness from the Arkansas Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund for removal of a standpipe to reduce the risk of water stagnation, rehabilitate water tanks, and construct a new water line to replace a section that has been abandoned due to leakage. The customer base for this project is 865.

The Town of Menifee in Conway County received a $657,832 loan from the Arkansas Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to rehabilitate and update the wastewater collection system. This project will benefit 128 wastewater customers.

The City of Dumas in Desha County received a $376,995 loan from the Arkansas Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to connect the community of Pickens to the Dumas water system.  This will allow the community of Pickens to purchase water from the City of Dumas and eliminate the need for Pickens to replace its aging water tank. This project will benefit approximately 40 water customers in Pickens.

The City of Caraway in Craighead County received $263,300 in additional funding with principal forgiveness on an existing loan. These funds will be used to drill a new well and repair a detention tank. The customer base for the project is 575.

The City of Mount Ida in Montgomery County received a grant for $25,750 in additional funding. These funds will be used for the replacement of existing outdated meters with an automated meter reading system. This project will benefit approximately 1,394 customers.

More information about the Natural Resource Division’s water and wastewater programs can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/divisions/water-development/ or by contacting Debby Dickson at debra.dickson@arkansas.gov or 501-682-0548 or Debra Banks at  debra.banks@arkansas.gov or 501 682-0547.

Learn more about the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at agriculture.arkansas.gov/.

January 22, 2021

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 22, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,799
Confirmed Cases: 1,562
Probable Cases: 237
Total Active Cases: 156
Active Confirmed Cases: 141
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,600
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,387
Recovered Probable Cases: 213
Total Deaths: 42
Confirmed Deaths: 33
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 3,081
Confirmed Cases: 2,396
Probable Cases: 685
Total Active Cases: 230
Active Confirmed Cases: 187
Active Probable Cases: 43
Total Recovered Cases: 2,765
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,145
Recovered Probable Cases: 620
Total Deaths: 86
Confirmed Deaths: 64
Probable Deaths: 22

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,825
Confirmed Cases: 1,169
Probable Cases: 656
Total Active Cases: 80
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 1,697
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,093
Recovered Probable Cases: 604
Total Deaths: 48
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 634
Confirmed Cases: 564
Probable Cases: 70
Total Active Cases: 83
Active Confirmed Cases: 63
Active Probable Cases: 20
Total Recovered Cases: 539
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 491
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 303
Confirmed Cases: 236
Probable Cases: 67
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 270
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 213
Recovered Probable Cases: 57
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 279,220
Confirmed Cases: 224,243
Probable Cases: 54,977
Recovered Cases: 254,076

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

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

 

MURPHY USA EL DORADO SHOOTOUT RETURNS
September 20-26, 2021
EL DORADO, AR, January 20, 2021 – The sixth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout will return to Mystic Creek Golf Club September 20-26, 2021. The 2020 tournament was postponed to accommodate the construction of a new clubhouse at Mystic Creek Golf Club, which opened earlier this year with the bar and grill on track to open in the near future.

Named “Arkansas’s #1 Best Course You Can Play” by Golfweek magazine in 2019 and 2020, Mystic Creek is rapidly gaining a reputation for being a top golfing destination in the region. To accommodate this growth, Mystic Creek developed a new clubhouse to continue elevating the full golfing experience. The new, state-of-the-art clubhouse, rendered above, features numerous amenities, including locker rooms, a pro shop and a small bar and grill with indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy the phenomenal views of the course.

“Murphy USA is very excited for what the future holds for Mystic Creek and the El Dorado Shootout,” said Senior Vice President and General Counsel, John Moore. “The new clubhouse will enhance the experience of the tournament, and we look forward to raising the bar when we bring this high-profile, professional tournament back to El Dorado in 2021.”

The El Dorado Shootout is a premier ladies professional golf tournament as part of the Symetra Tour, attracting top aspiring female golfers from across the globe who are vying for a $150,000 total purse and a significant step toward obtaining her LPGA Tour Card for the upcoming season.

For more information about the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, visit www.eldoradoshootout.com.

About the Symetra Tour
The Symetra Tour is the official qualifying tour of the LPGA Tour and enters its 41st competitive season in 2021. With the support of its umbrella partner Symetra, the Tour’s mission is to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour. Since Symetra’s inaugural sponsorship year in 2012, the Symetra Tour has grown from 16 tournaments and $1.7M in prize money to $4M in prize money awarded over the course of 24 tournaments. With more than 600 alumnae moving on to the LPGA, former Symetra Tour players have won a total of 433 LPGA titles. Follow the Symetra Tour on the web at:
www.SymetraTour.com
facebook.com/Road2LPGA
twitter.com/Road2LPGA
YouTube.com/Road2LPGA

About Murphy USA
Murphy USA (NYSE:MUSA) is a leading retailer of gasoline and convenience merchandise with more than 1,470 stations located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest United States. The company and its team of nearly 10,000 employees serve an estimated 1.6 million customers each day through its network of retail gasoline stations in 26 states. Murphy USA ranks 279 among Fortune 500 companies.

FAYETTEVILLE DOCTOR SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR MAIL FRAUD AND INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER
Fayetteville, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and Michael Missal, Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs, announced that Robert Morris Levy age 54, of Fayetteville, Arkansas was sentenced today to 240 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $497,745.70 in restitution for one count each of Mail Fraud and Involuntary Manslaughter. The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing in the U.S. District Court in Fayetteville.

According to the plea agreement, Levy held a medical license issued by the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure issued in 1997.  In 2005, the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks (“Fayetteville VA”) hired Levy to serve as the Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medical Services, a position he held until his termination in 2018. 

In 2015, Levy was interviewed by an administrative fact-finding panel regarding reports that Levy was under the influence of alcohol while on duty.  Levy denied the allegations.  In 2016, Levy appeared to be intoxicated while on duty, and a subsequent drug and alcohol test revealed Levy’s blood alcohol content was .396.0 mg/dL.  As a result, the Fayetteville VA summarily suspended Levy’s privileges to practice medicine and issued Levy a written notice of removal and revocation of clinical privileges.  Levy acknowledged that the pending proposed removal and revocation of clinical privileges was “due to unprofessional conduct related to high blood alcohol content while on duty” and in July 2016, Levy voluntarily entered a three-month in-patient treatment program, which he completed in October 2016.

Toward the end of the treatment program, Levy executed a contract with the Mississippi Physician Health Program and the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure in anticipation of returning to practice medicine at the Fayetteville VA.  In the contract, Levy agreed to maintain sobriety to ensure his ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to patients.  Levy agreed to “abstain completely from the use of . . . alcohol and other mood-altering substances” and to submit to random urine and/or blood drug screens.  Non-compliance would potentially subject Levy to loss of his medical license and, in turn, his employment by the Fayetteville VA.  Levy returned to work at the Fayetteville VA in October 2016.

As part of the contract, Levy randomly provided urine specimens and blood samples for drug testing from November 2016 through June 2018.  Each blood sample and urine specimen tested was reported negative for the presence of drugs and alcohol.  On twelve occasions beginning in June 2017 and continuing through 2018, while Levy was contractually obligated to submit to random drug and alcohol screens, Levy purchased for personal consumption 2-methyl-2-butanol (2M-2B), a chemical substance that enables a person to achieve a state of intoxication but is not detectable in routine drug and alcohol testing methodology.  On July 2, 2017, in furtherance of the scheme to defraud, Levy caused a package containing 2M2B to be shipped in interstate commerce from a chemical supply company in Virginia to Levy’s residence in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The package containing 2M2B was sent from Virginia and delivered to Levy’s home in the Western District of Arkansas by United Parcel Service, a commercial interstate carrier.    

On February 4, 2014, Levy conducted a cursory and rudimentary workup of a biopsy of a tumor in the lymph node of an Air Force veteran and rendered a diagnosis of diffuse large B cell lymphoma.  The Government’s evidence would show this diagnosis was incorrect and that Levy’s workup prior to finalizing the incorrect diagnosis was cursory and rudimentary. The Government’s evidence also showed that Levy made a patently false entry in the veteran’s medical record by stating that another pathologist agreed with Levy’s diagnosis, when in truth and fact, Levy well knew when he made the false entry in the veteran’s medical record that no other pathologist agreed with Levy’s diagnosis. The evidence also revealed that prior to Levy entering the false diagnosis, another pathologist had written to Levy, urging Levy to perform more diagnostic tests in the case due to the concern that Levy’s diagnosis of large B cell lymphoma was wrong.  The veteran died at the VHSO on July 26, 2014, of small cell carcinoma for which the veteran received no treatment to prolong his life.  The veteran was not treated for small cell carcinoma due to Levy’s grossly and criminally negligent conduct that demonstrated a wanton and reckless disregard for the veteran’s life.

“There is no more important work for our office than seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our communities in Western Arkansas,” said Acting US Attorney David Clay Fowlkes.  “The victims of this case are people who gave selflessly to ensure the safety and security of the United States.  They deserve the best medical care that we can provide for them.  They deserve to have doctors in charge of their treatment who are dedicated and vigilant, just as these victims were in their service to our Country.  Instead, this defendant’s criminal conduct in this case caused irreparable harm to the victims and their families.  We are very proud to work with the dedicated VA OIG agents to achieve this conviction and sentence.  While we can never repair what this defendant has broken, it is our hope that this sentence will serve as an important step towards comforting the victim’s families and striving to ensure that this criminal conduct will not occur again.” 

“This sentence should send a strong message that those who abuse their positions of trust in caring for veterans will be held accountable. I thank the VA OIG special agents who worked tirelessly on this case and the US Attorney’s Office for its outstanding efforts,” said VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal. “Our thoughts are with all those harmed by Dr. Levy’s actions and we hope they find some small measure of comfort from what happened here today.”

A federal grand jury indicted Levy in August 2019, and he entered a guilty plea in June 2020.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Criminal Chief Kyra Jenner and Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the United States.

COTTON STATEMENT ON BIDEN PLAN TO EXTEND U.S.–RUSSIA ARMS DEAL

Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after President Biden proposed that the New START treaty be extended for five years:

 

“President Biden is giving a gift to Vladimir Putin by unconditionally extending the New START treaty. Even worse, he announced his intention to give away the United States’ most valuable leverage within 24 hours of assuming office. This decision sets a concerning precedent for future U.S.-Russia relations. After four years of unfounded, hysterical attacks on President Trump and chest-thumping about Russia, it appears that President Biden and the Democrats have immediately reverted to their old, weak, dovish ways.

 

This extension will allow Russia to continue building tactical nuclear weapons and experimenting with exotic doomsday devices that the treaty doesn’t touch. It’ll give the Chinese Communist Party five more years to narrow the gap between its nuclear arsenal and our own. The only power this decision truly constrains is the United States, whose submarines, bombers, and missiles are decades old. This negotiating failure can only be salvaged by a full commitment to U.S. nuclear modernization.”

 

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
January 22, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The Senate passed legislation known as the “Stand Your Ground” bill, which would allow someone to use deadly force to defend themselves against an aggressor.

If enacted, the bill would remove a provision in current law that says people may not use deadly force if they are able to retreat safely.

The Senate approved the measure, Senate Bill 24, on a vote of 27-to-7, with one senator not voting. SB 24 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which must consider it before a vote of the entire House of Representatives. For a bill to become law, both chambers of the legislature must approve the exact same version of it. 

The Senate also approved SB 32, which would allow liquor stores to deliver alcoholic beverages to a customer’s home. It would make permanent the temporary allowances initiated by executive order last year, at the start of the pandemic.

Under the bill, customers can only order home deliveries if they’re 21 years of age. The store will have to use its own employees for deliveries, and not third party contractors. The bill only affects wet counties, because liquor stores could only make deliveries in the same county in which they are located.

The vote on SB 32 was close. It needed 18 votes in the 35-member Senate for approval. It passed by a vote of 19-to-9, with seven senators not voting.

In other news, the Senate approved legislation to complete the merger of Henderson State University at Arkadelphia into the Arkansas State University System. SB 116 would abolish the Board of Trustees of Henderson State and vest its duties to the Board of Trustees of the ASU System.

SB 116 also adds two members to the ASU System Board of Trustees, bringing it from five to seven.

The Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor endorsed SB 99, which would regulate “step therapy” protocols.

Health insurance companies are using step therapy in more plans nowadays, as a method of holding down costs of prescription drugs.

Under step therapy, a patient would start with an over the counter drug, for example, because it is relatively cheap. If that drug is not effective, the patent would get a more expensive prescription. Under the protocol, the patient gets more expensive drugs after the insurance company has reviewed the case and determined that the cheaper drug does not work.

According to SB 99, the protocol process can have adverse consequences for the patient’s health. The bill would allow patients to be exempt from protocols if the protocols cause the patient to not receive the most appropriate treatment.

SB 99 would require health insurers to rely on established research and clinical guidelines when they write step therapy protocols into coverage plans.

Patients and their physicians could ask for an exemption from the protocol, and the process of getting an exemption must be clear, readily accessible and convenient.

SB99 would change the law governing health insurance, prescription drugs and the authority of physicians. The bill’s sponsor said that it would be amended to address concerns of affected parties.

January 21, 2021

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 21, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,780
Confirmed Cases: 1,546
Probable Cases: 234
Total Active Cases: 158
Active Confirmed Cases: 145
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 1,580
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,360
Recovered Probable Cases: 212
Total Deaths: 41
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 3,046
Confirmed Cases: 2,378
Probable Cases: 668
Total Active Cases: 231
Active Confirmed Cases: 195
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 2,730
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,120
Recovered Probable Cases: 610
Total Deaths: 85
Confirmed Deaths: 63
Probable Deaths: 22

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,813
Confirmed Cases: 1,163
Probable Cases: 650
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 46
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 1,684
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,086
Recovered Probable Cases: 598
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 620
Confirmed Cases: 555
Probable Cases: 65
Total Active Cases: 78
Active Confirmed Cases: 63
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 530
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 482
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 301
Confirmed Cases: 234
Probable Cases: 67
Total Active Cases: 36
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 263
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 208
Recovered Probable Cases: 55
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 276,114
Confirmed Cases: 222,287
Probable Cases: 53,827
Recovered Cases: 251,252

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

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

 

SGL CARBON TO EXPAND OPERATIONS IN ARKADELPHIA
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (January 21, 2021)
– SGL Carbon, a provider of carbon-based solutions for automotives, aerostructures, and other sectors, today announced that it will expand its operations in Arkadelphia, Ark. in order to ramp up its carbon composites production. The company plans to invest approximately $4.5 million at its existing facility and increase its workforce by 35 full-time employees within three years.

“Composite battery enclosures fit perfectly to the specific needs of modern e-car chassis,” Steve Swanson, Vice President of Operations at SGL Composites Inc., said. “Thus, with the ongoing enhancement of our Arkadelphia operations, we also support the great trend towards more e-mobility in the US. In addition, our facility produces a variety of carbon and glass fiber-reinforced products for a wide range of industrial applications within the automotive and aerospace industries as well as the energy sector.”

The company’s Arkadelphia facility currently produces a variety of carbon and glass fiber-reinforced products that have a wide range of industrial applications within the automotive and aerospace industries as well as the energy sector.

SGL Carbon will expand its Arkadelphia operations by creating two new production lines in its Composites – Fibers and Materials (CFM) business unit. These new production lines will produce carbon composites to be used primarily in electric vehicles.

“SGL Carbon is not only a global leader and innovator, it is also a valued member of our state’s business community – a position it has held since it began production here in 1996,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “It’s a pleasure to congratulate the company for its continued investment in Arkadelphia. We look forward to many more years of partnership in the future.”

For decades, SGL Carbon has served as a leading producer of unique graphite and composite materials and manufacturer of products known for their versatile industrial applications.

Arkansas Department of Commerce Secretary and Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Mike Preston praised SGL Carbon’s decision to expand its Arkansas operations.

“The strength of our workforce in southwest Arkansas, partnered with our low cost of doing business, makes Arkadelphia a prime location for SGL Carbon’s two newest production lines,” Secretary Preston said. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the company as it embarks on this new endeavor.”

The project also received support from local community partners.

“The Economic Development Corporation of Clark County is pleased to partner with one of our local industries to promote job creation and expansion,” said EDCCC Chairman Celya Taylor. “This announcement shows our local tax dollars play an important role in encouraging job creation in Clark County.”

Arkadelphia City Manager Gary Brinkley said, “We are thrilled about the news that SGL will be adding new a product line and hiring additional employees.  SGL’s corporate philosophy of partnering with their customers is the same philosophy we follow in Clark County, partnering with our industries for job retention and expansion. The soundness of the Arkadelphia workforce coupled with the quality of life we enjoy in southwest Arkansas is truly a win-win scenario for everyone.”

County Judge Troy Tucker said, “We are excited about the future expansion of SGL Carbon in Clark County and with the future possibilities of this company.”

The company anticipates that the new production lines will be fully operational by the end of 2021.

About SGL Carbon
Employing around 5,100 people, SGL Carbon is a global company with more than 31 high-performing production sites in Europe, North America, and Asia. The company is a world leader in the development and production of carbon-based solutions. Its high-quality materials and products made from specialty graphite and composites are used in industrial sectors that determine the future: automotive, aerospace, solar and wind energy, semiconductor and LEDs as well as in the production of lithium-ion batteries, fuel cell and other energy storage systems. In addition, SGL Carbon develops solutions for chemical and industrial applications.

About the Arkansas Economic Development Commission The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, seeks to create economic opportunity by attracting higher-paying jobs, expanding and diversifying local economies in the state, increasing incomes and investment, and generating growth throughout The Natural State. Arkansas is a pro-business environment operating leaner, faster and more focused through a streamlined state government designed to act on corporate interests quickly and decisively. For more information, visit www.ArkansasEDC.com. The Arkansas Department of Commerce is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers. Its divisions and regulatory boards include Division of Aeronautics, Waterways Commission, Wine Producers Council, Division of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development, State Bank Department, Insurance Department, Securities Department, Economic Development Commission and Development Finance Authority. It was established July 2019 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s wide-sweeping efficiency and transformation efforts to reduce 42 cabinet agencies to 15 while maintaining services for all Arkansans.

 

January 20, 2021

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, January 21st at Catherine's Bistro at 12:00 PM. Just a reminder of our Kiwanis Meeting Thursday, January 21st at Catherine's Bistro at 12:00 PM. The program will be by Lisa Sherman who will be discussing the Ouachita Valley Family Clinic You are required to wear a mask was entering and leaving the building, if you do not have one, they will provide you with one. Your temperature will be taken, you'll sign in and report your temperature. All the chairs in the meeting room will be spaced out as required.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 20, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,762
Confirmed Cases: 1,529
Probable Cases: 233
Total Active Cases: 183
Active Confirmed Cases: 168
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,537
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,328
Recovered Probable Cases: 209
Total Deaths: 41
Confirmed Deaths: 32
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 3,006
Confirmed Cases: 2,343
Probable Cases: 663
Total Active Cases: 239
Active Confirmed Cases: 199
Active Probable Cases: 40
Total Recovered Cases: 2,682
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,081
Recovered Probable Cases: 601
Total Deaths: 85
Confirmed Deaths: 63
Probable Deaths: 22

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,798
Confirmed Cases: 1,160
Probable Cases: 638
Total Active Cases: 100
Active Confirmed Cases: 62
Active Probable Cases: 38
Total Recovered Cases: 1,651
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,067
Recovered Probable Cases: 584
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 612
Confirmed Cases: 549
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 88
Active Confirmed Cases: 74
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 512
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 465
Recovered Probable Cases: 47
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 293
Confirmed Cases: 229
Probable Cases: 64
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 253
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 203
Recovered Probable Cases: 50
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 273,594
Confirmed Cases: 220,797
Probable Cases: 52,797
Recovered Cases: 248,238

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

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

ADE LAUNCHES STATEWIDE COMMUNITY RESOURCES PORTAL  
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to launch the Statewide Community Resources Portal, a website that connects schools and communities with much-needed information about available support services around the state.

As a result of COVID-19, many students and families were in need of essential support services, or “wrap-around” services, such as financial, healthcare, and housing assistance. While many organizations provide such services around the state, a comprehensive repository of information did not exist. 

This need for the website became evident after ADE launched the ENGAGE Arkansas initiative with the Education Renewal Zones and Graduation Alliance in an effort to locate and assist students who have become disengaged or are at risk of becoming disengaged with school. As the ERZs began locating community supports for students, it was quickly determined that a quick reference list of services for families did not exist. ADE and the ERZs then partnered with the Arkansas Department of Human Services to develop the portal.

“We are excited to make this website available to everyone around the state,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “While the site will assist schools with providing much-needed services to students, the potential for this website extends beyond schools to DHS and Workforce Services offices, as well as others, around the state who also provide wrap-around services to their clients.”

The website, which is updated daily with new resources, currently contains more than 50 categories of services ranging from abuse services to daycare and transportation assistance. Community partners who are interested in adding their contact information to the site may complete the form provided at the “Statewide Supplemental Community Resources” link at the top of the website.

To access the portal, go to https://adedata.arkansas.gov/scr.
 

ARKANSAS ADDS NATIONAL REGISTER LISTINGS
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’s National Register of Historic Places has increased by a dozen new listings. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) received word this week from the National Park Service, which oversees the program, and is pleased to make the announcement of new listings in eight counties.
“Our National Register historians put together compelling presentations to the National Park Service showcasing a well-rounded slate of Arkansas properties,” says Arkansas Heritage Director Jimmy Bryant. “From a cemetery to a railroad depot; and from homes with unique architectural features to places of worship, these sites illustrate our state’s history and diversity.”  
The listings include:
Bella Vista Village Country Club (Benton County), designed by famed architect E. Fay Jones
Highway A-1 Bridge (Conway County), listed in the Historic Bridges of Arkansas Multiple Property Submission (MPS)
City Cemetery (Garland County)
Spring-Harrison Historic District (Ouachita County)
Perry Rock Island Railroad Depot (Perry County), listed in the Historic Railroad Depts of Arkansas MPS Depots
Irvin and Elizabeth Daniel House (Pulaski County)
Locust Street Overpass (Pulaski County)
Newbill-Porter House (Pulaski County)
Oak Forest United Methodist Church (Pulaski County)
Millett, Robert and Marion, House No. 1 (Pulaski County)
United Hebrew Congregation Tilles Memorial Temple (Sebastian County)
Morrow Farmstead (Washington County)

“In addition to the hard work of our historians, we truly appreciate the dedication of our State Review Board, which spend hours reviewing the nominated properties,” says Scott Kaufman, AHPP director. “The board meets three times a year and provides insight on history and architecture. Board members often challenge our team to nominate even more.”

The State Review Board is made up of Bob Kempkes, acting chair, Andrew Beaupre, Anne Speed, Carl Miller, Jr., Dr. Emily Beahm, Dr. Rodney Harris, Joe Cole, Kelsey Bardwell, Kelsey Howard, Rachel Golden, and Vernita Morgan. The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 7 and will be streamed via Facebook Live for those wishing to observe.
For more information regarding the National Register process, visit the AHPP website at www.arkansaspreservation.com or contact National Register Survey Coordinator Ralph Wilcox at 501-324-9880.
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

January 19, 2021

POP-UP COVID TESTING AT LOCAL HEALTH UNIT

There will be pop-up community Covid-19 testing. Testing will be held at the Ouachita County Health Unit located at 740 California SW in Camden on Wednesday, January 20 from 9:00 AM until Noon. Testing is for anyone with or without symptoms.  There will be no out-of-pocket expense. ID and Insurance may be requested but are not required.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 119, 2021
State officials expressed cautious optimism for the first time in many weeks regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Arkansas.

Figures reported by the Arkansas Department of Health during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update on Tuesday provided a more hopeful picture of the ongoing pandemic. Hutchinson said the health department detected just over 1,300 new cases on Tuesday - a significant decrease from the three- and four-thousand new case counts reported daily in December and early January. Tuesday's new cases follow a roughly week-long period in which new cases have fallen to their lowest figure in some time. Nonetheless, the state's cumulative cases continue to grow with more than 273,000 transmissions since the pandemic began. 

Active cases have also fallen precipitously over the past week and continued to do so on Tuesday. Hutchinson announced 1,854 fewer active cases, leaving a total of 20,940 current confirmed and probable active cases. Hospitalizations saw a slight increase of two for a total of 1,265 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. New daily deaths continue to remain relatively high with another 43 reported on Tuesday for a total of almost 4,400 since the outbreak began. 

Hutchinson said the consistent decline in the state's average daily growth rate over the past week allows for some much-desired hope.

Hutchinson then shared an update on the vaccine rollout in Arkansas. Of the 293,000 doses received by Arkansas pharmacies and hospitals, over 50 percent have been administered. Progress has been far weaker for those vaccines allocated to CVS and Walgreens to administer within Arkansas long-term care facilities. Only eight percent of the 80,700 vaccines received have been administered. Hutchinson said state officials are trying to put increased pressure on these chain pharmacies in hopes the rollout becomes more efficient than it has. State action however is limited as both CVS and Walgreens have been given federal contracts to distribute the vaccine throughout the nation. 

Hutchinson said the number one question received by state health officials is how eligible Arkansans can schedule their vaccine. He advised Arkansans to use the health department's website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov to determine if they are eligible to receive a vaccine at this time and, if so, how they can do so.

Finally, Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero provided an update on the new strains of COVID-19 first reported in the United Kingdom but now increasingly seen in the United States. Although new strains are a routine development in the evolution of a virus, Romero said the state is nonetheless actively searching for the new strain to determine when it inevitably arrives in Arkansas. 

Romero said the new strain is around 50 to 75 percent more transmissible than the older strain. However, he stressed it can be prevented just the same by thorough handwashing, wearing a facemask and through social distancing. 

In review, the state reported 1,331 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of over 273,000 transmissions. Active cases declined by 1,854 and now number just under 21,000 across the state. Deaths increased by 43 over the previous 24-hour period for a total of 4,386 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations increased slightly, growing by two to 1,265. More than 8,300 combined PCR and antigen tests were performed during the same period. Over 240,000 tests have been performed in Arkansas so far this month. We'll continue  to keep you updated on all the latest developments, both locally and across the state. 

 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Betsy Tuberville with Camden Drug.  She will be explaining the covid-19 vaccine including the different categories, how you can sign up, etc.

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

 

ADE RELEASES ABBREVIATED 2020 REPORT CARDS FOR SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, AND STATE  

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education released abbreviated versions of the 2020 School Report Cards for schools, districts, and the state. During the 2019-2020 school year, events related to COVID-19 caused a substantial disruption to onsite instruction, assessment, accountability, and reporting. Because of these events, some data typically included in accountability and reporting are not available; however, the data that are available can be used alongside other measurements to determine student and school success.

“There is no doubt that COVID has had a significant impact on student learning,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “While we don’t have all the data we would like to have to measure student and school success for the 2019-2020 school year, the 2020 School Report Cards still provide valuable information that can be used to identify best practices and areas that need improvement. I encourage parents and educators to review the data and use it to make informed decisions regarding student learning moving forward.”

Graduation rate data for 2020 is one data point that is available. The four-year graduation rate for 2020 increased from 87.6 percent to 88.8 percent. The 2020 graduation rate will be utilized in the 2021 ESSA School Index.  

Because COVID caused the closure of school buildings last spring, states received assessment waivers from conducting federally-required state testing. This lack of assessment data, which measures how much a student knows, impacted other data elements in the Report Cards, as assessment data are used in multiple calculations. As a result, the reporting of a school’s letter grade for 2019-2020 was waived. (To learn more about the impact of COVID on state and federal accountability and reporting, go to https://bit.ly/3qe6Hin.

To clarify the availability of information, each module in this year’s reports has a colored indicator that reflects data availability. A green indicator means the module is complete; a yellow indicator signifies that some of the data are available; a red indicator means that information is still needed to complete that module, and an orange indicator signifies a COVID-19 disruption and that data are unavailable for the 2019-2020 school year. Also, any value within a module marked as CV indicates a disruption due to COVID and that data are unavailable for the 2019-2020 school year. All available modules will be completed by April 15, 2021. Learn more about the modules at https://bit.ly/3oLbDuP.

To access the 2020 School Report Cards, click on the “Report Card” section at the top of the My School Info website: https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov. ADE continues to improve the Report Card and is requesting feedback. Please take the short survey at https://bit.ly/3nEoAVO (English) or https://bit.ly/3oQyRzC (Spanish).
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 19, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,746
Confirmed Cases: 1,525
Probable Cases: 231
Total Active Cases: 214
Active Confirmed Cases: 198
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 1,502
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,295
Recovered Probable Cases: 207
Total Deaths: 39
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 8


COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,997
Confirmed Cases: 2,339
Probable Cases: 658
Total Active Cases: 286
Active Confirmed Cases: 245
Active Probable Cases: 41
Total Recovered Cases: 2,628
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,034
Recovered Probable Cases: 594
Total Deaths: 83
Confirmed Deaths: 60
Probable Deaths: 23


COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,798
Confirmed Cases: 1,160
Probable Cases: 638
Total Active Cases: 100
Active Confirmed Cases: 62
Active Probable Cases: 38
Total Recovered Cases: 1,651
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,067
Recovered Probable Cases: 584
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 612
Confirmed Cases: 549
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 88
Active Confirmed Cases: 74
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 512
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 465
Recovered Probable Cases: 47
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 293
Confirmed Cases: 229
Probable Cases: 64
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 253
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 203
Recovered Probable Cases: 50
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

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

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

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: BOOZMAN DELIVERS INVESTMENTS FOR ARKANSAS WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) secured investments for Arkansas water infrastructure in the 2020
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), legislation President Donald Trump recently signed into law

State water resource leaders applauded the senator’s leadership to support Arkansas water priorities.

Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association said, “We are very appreciative for Senator Boozman’s help and assistance to Arkansas's small and rural communities that are trying to provide safe and clean water to their citizens. We are very appreciative of the Senator's help in crafting the 2020 Water Resources and Development Act because it expands the traditional scope of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ projects to assistance with small and rural community drinking and wastewater supplies. This is very welcome and Arkansas Rural Water has continually supported Congressional efforts to direct additional Corps and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation resources to small and rural community water related projects. These projects tend to be large water infrastructure projects related to the state's historical regional water management planning - that can be crafted to be regional solutions for many proximate small and rural communities. This is helpful to our membership and an appropriate use of federal water infrastructure funding. Thank you Senator for your long-time support to build and improve public drinking water and sanitation supplies in rural Arkansas which has resulted in dramatic improvements in rural public health, a clean environment, and economic development.”

 "This may be the most important thing the federal government has done for water resources and economic development in Union County,” said Robert Reynolds, Founding President, Union County Water Conservation Board and current Volunteer Advisor to the Board.

“Authorizing water supply as a Ouachita/Black River project purpose protects not only the abundant alternative surface water supply above Thatcher Dam, it protects the underground Sparta aquifer, Union County’s only source of drinking water. By providing the lightly treated Ouachita River water to major users as an alternative to Sparta aquifer groundwater, the Union County Water Conservation Board and its customers ensure the once-threatened Sparta aquifer will continue its phenomenal recovery as a high-quality source of drinking water. We can’t emphasize enough how essential the persistence, guidance, and support of our Congressional delegation has been to our success,” said Sherrel Johnson, Grants and Project Manager, Union County Water Conservation Board.

As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boozman delivered critical improvements to Arkansas water infrastructure including:
Assistance for McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River and Ouachita-Black River Navigation Projects

This language requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to provide assistance to non-federal stakeholders associated with the deepening of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation channel to a minimum depth of 12 feet. It also requires the Corps to provide assistance to stakeholders by adding water supply as a purpose for the Ouachita-Black River navigation project in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Credit or Reimbursement for Materials
Boozman’s measure allows a non-federal entity that contributes materials or services to repair, restore, replace or maintain a water resources project to be eligible for reimbursement for the value of the materials and services.

This provision will allow non-federal private or public entities to be eligible for credit or reimbursement, making it possible for a stakeholder to provide materials or money to get a project done more quickly instead of waiting on the federal government to fund important infrastructure projects in Arkansas. While it is not guaranteed that the entity will receive credit or reimbursement, it does give them the opportunity to apply to the Corps to get their money back.

Emergency Contracting
This language allows the Corps to maximize use of “tradeoff procedures” in competitive acquisitions while carrying out work with states in an area under a disaster declaration.

When responding to emergencies, time is always a critical factor. For example, if Arkansas is dealing with a major flood that shuts down its rivers, it will need to work quickly to dredge the river to ensure the system gets up and running so commerce does not slow down. This provision will allow Arkansas, in conjunction with the Corps, to select the dredging company they believe will get the job done in the most expedient and efficient manner and will not obligate them to choose the cheapest company available.

Improve Levee Safety
Boozman’s provision updates the levee safety evaluation process by requiring the Corps to provide solutions and the associated costs to fix existing deficiencies for levees that fail to meet the highest rating standard. When identifying deficiencies and describing remedies, the Corps is required to consult with relevant non-federal interests and provide them with an opportunity to comment. This will provide a much-needed road map for deficient and minimally acceptable levee systems in Arkansas to improve safety and raise their classification with the Corps.

Permits Studies of Water Resources Development Projects by Non-Federal Entities
This language would allow a non-federal entity to conduct a feasibility study on modifications or improvements to a project constructed by the Corps. The Corps is required to issue guidelines for feasibility studies of water resources development projects conducted by non-federal interests to provide sufficient information for the formulation of the studies, including processes and procedures related to reviews and assistance.

This provision would help stakeholders in future Corps projects in Arkansas complete their own feasibility studies and submit them for review. This would mean non-federal stakeholders would not be forced to wait for the federal government, allowing the non-federal stakeholder to complete its study more quickly, saving valuable time and money.

Conforming Construction Cost-Sharing for Inland Waterway Transportation
Boozman’s provision adjusts the cost-share for construction or major rehabilitation of an inland waterways navigation project to 65 percent from the general fund of the Treasury and 35 percent from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). The change in cost-share applies to projects authorized on or after the date of enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and for which the construction or major rehabilitation has not been initiated or completed by the date of enactment of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.

If constrained to a 50-50 cost share, many of the IWTF projects will not even begin construction in the next 20 years. Shifting the cost share for all IWTF projects to a 65-35 ratio could enable the currently authorized Arkansas projects to be completed more quickly.  

COTTON STATEMENT ON GENOCIDE OF CHINA’S UIGHURS Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that China’s treatment of the Uighurs constitutes ‘genocide’:

“The Chinese Communist Party is guilty of genocide against the Uighurs in Xinjiang, as Secretary Pompeo declared today. History will remember the CCP’s slave-labor camps and forced-sterilization campaigns as damning evidence of the Party’s misrule—yet another example of Communism’s brutal and dehumanizing treatment of its subjects. But the United States needn’t wait for history’s judgement. The incoming administration should make the CCP pay for its crimes by continuing to punish the officials and companies responsible for its genocide of the Uighurs. Failing to impose consequences will only embolden the CCP to use the same tactics against more innocent people.”

January 19, 2021

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 18, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,741
Confirmed Cases: 1,510
Probable Cases: 231
Total Active Cases: 224
Active Confirmed Cases: 204
Active Probable Cases: 20
Total Recovered Cases: 1,274
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,274
Recovered Probable Cases: 203
Total Deaths: 39
Confirmed Deaths:

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,977
Confirmed Cases: 2,319
Probable Cases: 658
Total Active Cases: 284
Active Confirmed Cases: 237
Active Probable Cases: 47
Total Recovered Cases: 2,611
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 2,023
Recovered Probable Cases: 588
Total Deaths: 82
Confirmed Deaths: 59
Probable Deaths: 23
COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,791
Confirmed Cases: 1,153
Probable Cases: 638
Total Active Cases: 118
Active Confirmed Cases: 65
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 1,626
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,057
Recovered Probable Cases: 569
Total Deaths: 47
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 611
Confirmed Cases: 548
Probable Cases: 63
Total Active Cases: 97
Active Confirmed Cases: 80
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 502
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 458
Recovered Probable Cases: 44
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 293
Confirmed Cases: 229
Probable Cases: 64
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 30
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 246
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 197
Recovered Probable Cases: 49
Total Deaths: 2
Confirmed Deaths: 2
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 271,968
Confirmed Cases: 218,968
Probable Cases: 52,186
Recovered Cases: 241,926

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

 

STATE TROOPER SUSTAINS INJURIES DURING FOOT CHASE OF SUSPECT

JANUARY 17, 2021
An Arkansas State Police sergeant sustained impaling injuries last night while pursuing a felony suspect.  Sergeant Nick Brown, a 15-year state police veteran, was hospitalized overnight and is expected to be released later today.
Shortly after 9 PM (Saturday, January 16th) Sergeant Brown, while on patrol in Little Rock along Interstate 30, attempted to stop a suspected stolen vehicle.  The driver of the car attempted to flee along Roosevelt Road with Sergeant Brown in pursuit.  Near the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Springer Street, the suspect driver abandoned the vehicle and fled into the National Cemetery.
While chasing the suspect on foot, Sergeant Brown was injured as he scaled a wrought iron fence.  His radio call for help was heard by other state troopers and Little Rock police officers who converged on the cemetery and began to render medical aid to the trooper.  Little Rock police later found the suspect and arrested Shaun Eddings, 41, of Malvern.
Eddings is charged with felony fleeing, reckless driving, possession of an instrument of a crime, criminal mischief (1st degree), careless and prohibited driving, assault (2nd degree), and use of another person’s property to facilitate a crime.

 

HIGHEST HONOR FOR EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AWARDED TO THREE PROGRAMS
Falls Church, VA. – Congratulations to the following Emergency Management Programs that have earned accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP): State of Arkansas, State of Maryland; and Washoe County, NV. 

 “Congratulations to those Programs that have maintained their accredited status as well as those who have joined the elite leaders in emergency management having earned accreditation through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. Through their commitment and leadership, they have proven to their communities and stakeholders that their Programs are sustainable and that they continue to focus on their communities’ best interests,” stated Nick Crossley, Director of Hamilton County, OH Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the EMAP Commission Chair. 

 Providing emergency management programs the opportunity to be evaluated and recognized for compliance with standards certified by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and recognized by the industry complies with the EMAP’s mission to build safer communities through credible standards of excellence. These Programs demonstrate accountability and focus attention on areas and issues where resources are needed to heighten their preparedness efforts to any technical or natural disaster that may affect their communities.

 To achieve accreditation, applicants must demonstrate through self-assessment, documentation and peer assessment verification that its program meets the Emergency Management Standard. The emergency management program uses the accreditation to prove the capabilities of their disaster preparedness and response systems. Accreditation is valid for five years and the program must maintain compliance with the Emergency Management Standard and is reassessed to maintain accredited status. 

 For those Programs that were undergoing a consecutive accreditation, this achievement proves just as significant. By maintaining their accredited status throughout the years, these Programs prove that they adhere to the Emergency Management Standard, and successfully maintain accreditation status to achieve a consecutive accreditation this year.

 EMAP revolutionizes emergency management programs that coordinate preparedness and response activities for disasters based on standards. EMAP recognizes the ability of emergency management programs to bring together personnel, resources and communications from a variety of agencies and organizations in preparation for and in response to an emergency, in addition to obtaining the ability to measure those capabilities. The Emergency Management Standard is flexible in design so that programs of differing sizes, populations, risks and resources can use it as a blueprint for improvement and can attain compliance with those standards in an accreditation process. The accreditation process evaluates emergency management programs on compliance with requirements in sixteen areas, including: administration, coordination, administration and finance, and laws and authorities; hazard identification, risk assessment and consequence analysis; hazard mitigation; prevention; operational planning and procedures;incident management; resource management, mutual aid and logistics; communications and warning; facilities; training; exercises, evaluations, and corrective actions; and emergency public information and education. This forms the foundation of the nation’s emergency preparedness systems. EMAP is the only accreditation process for emergency management programs.    

January 15, 2021

ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARD TO PROVIDE SUPPORT IN DC
Gov. Hutchinson approves mission for 500 Soldiers and Airmen to support 59th Presidential Inauguration
The Arkansas National Guard will mobilize and deploy approximately 500 Soldiers primarily from the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade based in Northwest Arkansas and Airmen from the 189th Airlift Wing beginning on January 17th and returning before the end of January, 2021.

Troops will deploy to Washington, D.C. for the 59th Presidential Inauguration. The presidential inauguration is considered a National Special Security Event. The U.S. Secret Service as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising and implementing security for National Special Security Events has requested support from the National Guard. The preparation for a NSSE is a cooperative effort among federal, state and district agencies. Arkansas Guardsmen will work alongside several other states’ National Guard units, the D.C. Metro Police, the U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Capitol Police and the Secret Service.

The requested missions include assistance with Traffic Control and Access Control Points, Traffic Management, Metro Station Security, Crowd Management, Patrol / Watch Stander on outside Fencing, facility security at City Hall / the National Mall, and the Lincoln Memorial among others.

“Being in the Guard is about service. Service to one’s State and their Nation. We’re sending some of our very best to support Inauguration Day activities,” said Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn, Arkansas National Guard’s Adjutant General. “Priority No. 1 is to protect people and property, and our Guardsmen are trained very well to do just that.”

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will meet in regular session on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 6:30 p, at Garrison Auditorium.
The agenda is as follows.
1. Call to order.
2. Approval of minutes of previous meetings.
3. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
      a. None
4. NEW BUSINESS
      a. Presentation and recommendation by Classified and Licensed PPG regarding approval of Personnel COVID Emergency Leave Policies.
      b.     Presentation by Johnny Embry regarding State Approval of Audio Visual

Technology Program.
      c.      Presentation and recommendation regarding approval to pay East Harding Construction from the building fund.
      d.     Presentation by Andre Toney regarding COVID 19.
      e.     Presentation by Fred Lilly to School Board Members.
      f.      Facility Rentals
5. Superintendent's report to the Board.
6. Financial report
7. Personnel
      a. Hiring
      b. Resignation
      c. Retirement

 

PROMOTIONS APPROVED BY STATE POLICE COMMISSION
JANUARY 14, 2021
Arkansas State Police Lieutenant David Williams has been promoted to the rank captain and will assume troop commander duties of Highway Patrol Division, Troop E, headquartered at Pine Bluff.  Troop E encompasses Jefferson, Arkansas, Lincoln and Desha counties.
The promotion was recommended by Colonel Bill Bryant, state police director, and approved by the Arkansas State Police Commission meeting at Little Rock today.
Captain Williams, 46, of Prairie County, is a 23-year veteran of the department and most recently has served as assistant troop commander for Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City.
Colonel Bryant also recommended to the commissioners who approved the promotion of Sergeant Craig Teague to the rank of lieutenant.  He will assume new supervisory duties within the department’s Administrative Services Division, Training Section.
Lieutenant Teague, 36, of Saline County, is an 11-year veteran of the department and has most recently been assigned within the state police training section.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 15, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,681
Confirmed Cases: 1,459
Probable Cases: 222
Total Active Cases: 208
Active Confirmed Cases: 190
Active Probable Cases: 18
Total Recovered Cases: 1,436
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,240
Recovered Probable Cases: 196
Total Deaths: 36
Confirmed Deaths: 28
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,876
Confirmed Cases: 2,240
Probable Cases: 636
Total Active Cases: 243
Active Confirmed Cases: 198
Active Probable Cases: 45
Total Recovered Cases: 2,554
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,983
Recovered Probable Cases: 571
Total Deaths: 79
Confirmed Deaths: 59
Probable Deaths: 20

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,756
Confirmed Cases: 1,127
Probable Cases: 629
Total Active Cases: 110
Active Confirmed Cases: 57
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 1,600
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,040
Recovered Probable Cases: 560
Total Deaths: 46
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 582
Confirmed Cases: 527
Probable Cases: 55
Total Active Cases: 85
Active Confirmed Cases: 74
Active Probable Cases: 11
Total Recovered Cases: 485
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 443
Recovered Probable Cases: 42
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 280
Confirmed Cases: 219
Probable Cases: 61
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 242
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 194
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 264,511
Confirmed Cases: 214,119
Probable Cases: 50,312
Recovered Cases: 235,513

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

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

January 14, 2021

OUACHITA AND CAMDEN AREA DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT COURT RESUMES
The District Court of Camden and Ouachita County resumes beginning next week on Wednesday, January 20th and Thursday, January 21st, 2021. The public may call district court for any court information at 870-836-0331 or call probation at 870-836-8544 for probation, fine payment information, and court date information. If anyone has covid or has been exposed to Covid, please call to reschedule before your court date.

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR STIMULUS DEBIT CARD
The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury Department have begun delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP), or stimulus payments, as a part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments in 2020.  The IRS began sending the initial round of payments in late December 2020 by direct deposit and by mailing checks or debits cards. Arkansans who received a paper check or debit card in the first round of stimulus payments in 2020 could expect to receive a check or debit card this time also.

“Many Arkansans are in dire need of this stimulus payment,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “This is not a scam and please do not throw away a white envelope with the U.S. Department of Treasury seal without opening it.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure Arkansans receive their Economic Impact Payments:
The card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal.
Most individuals will receive $600 and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return and $600 for each qualifying child.
Couples filing jointly with just one member of the couple with a work-eligible Social Security Number will now be eligible for payments for the taxpayers and their qualifying children.

People do not need to take any action right now to receive their stimulus payment. Eligible individuals who do not receive their payment or who did not receive their first stimulus payment can claim it (under the Recovery Rebate Credit) when they file their 2020 tax return this year. People who do not normally file tax returns should also file a 2020 tax return if they do not receive their stimulus payment.

Stimulus payments that are received in December 2020 or January 2021 by direct deposit will be automatically protected from garnishment by debt collectors. That is not true of payments that are claimed on the 2020 tax return and paid later in the year as part of the regular tax refund.

Payments are being issued based on information the IRS already has on file, people will not be able to add new bank account information or request to receive their payment by EIP Card.

For more information about the distribution of stimulus payments, Arkansans can visit the IRS press release or contact Attorney General Leslie Rutledge at ArkansasAG.gov.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 14, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,656
Confirmed Cases: 1,434
Probable Cases: 222
Total Active Cases: 198
Active Confirmed Cases: 180
Active Probable Cases: 18
Total Recovered Cases: 1,421
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,225
Recovered Probable Cases: 196
Total Deaths: 36
Confirmed Deaths: 28
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,849
Confirmed Cases: 2,215
Probable Cases: 634
Total Active Cases: 261
Active Confirmed Cases: 216
Active Probable Cases: 45
Total Recovered Cases: 2,509
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,940
Recovered Probable Cases: 569
Total Deaths: 79
Confirmed Deaths: 59
Probable Deaths: 20

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,736
Confirmed Cases: 1,109
Probable Cases: 627
Total Active Cases: 104
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 56
Total Recovered Cases: 1,586
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,031
Recovered Probable Cases: 555
Total Deaths: 46
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 16

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 568
Confirmed Cases: 517
Probable Cases: 51
Total Active Cases: 74
Active Confirmed Cases: 67
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 482
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 440
Recovered Probable Cases: 42
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 276
Confirmed Cases: 217
Probable Cases: 59
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 11
Total Recovered Cases: 242
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 194
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 262,020
Confirmed Cases: 212,464
Probable Cases: 49,566
Recovered Cases: 232,709

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

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

SAAC MAKES CALL FOR ENTRY FOR EXHIBIT OF STUDENT ARTWORK IN FEBRUARY
An open call for student artwork has been announced by the South Arkansas Arts Center. Is your child a budding artist? SAAC's Visual Arts Committee wants to show off their artwork! This is your chance to enter them into the 2021 Student Art Show and Competition at SAAC. The entry deadline for this student show is February 1, and it is open to grades K-12. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Students may enter 2-D, 3-D and multi-media original artwork at $5.00 per entry. All artwork should be unframed and delivered to the SAAC office. Sale of student art is encouraged during the exhibition. Sponsored by William P. Cook and Associates, PLLC, this fun and lively exhibit will be on display February 9-24.
Gallery manager Kelly Campbell said, "Students who enter the competition have the opportunity to sell their work if they wish, and it is always a great pleasure to notify a student that their artwork has sold. Any time students sell artwork, they are so delighted! It validates their belief in themselves, and many times it encourages them to continue creating art. I've seen it happen countless times, as an art teacher in the public school system and here at SAAC in previous student competitions." She added, "We do not take any commission on student art sales in this exhibit; all proceeds go directly to the student. I'd love to see lots of student sales, and I hope everyone comes out to see (and buy) the artwork in the SAAC Student Competition in February."
Cash prizes will be awarded. Work will be divided into four divisions for judging: K-2 Grade, 3-5 Grade, 6-9 Grade, and 10-12 Grade. Selected from all entries received, the $100 Grand Prize will go to the Best of Show, and additional cash prizes will be awarded in each division for First Place ($50), Second Place ($25), and Third Place ($15). The awards reception for this student show will be held online Saturday, February 9 at 2:00pm with judge Gay Bechtelheimer announcing the winners on SAAC's Facebook page.
Entry forms and additional information about this show is available on the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org. For more information, call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

COMMISSIONER ORDERS CRYPTOCURRENCY ARBITARGE COMPANY TO STOP FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY
Little Rock, Ark. (January 13, 2021) – The Arkansas Securities Commissioner Eric P. Munson entered a Cease and Desist Order (“Order”) against Arbirate, LLC (“Arbirate”), an online cryptocurrency arbitrage company. The Order directed Arbirate to stop selling unregistered securities in Arkansas and to refrain from committing fraud or deceit in connection with the offer or sale of any securities in Arkansas.

The Order found that Arbirate was operating a cryptocurrency arbitrage website, www.arbirate.com, which claimed to “boost profits of investors by finding the most profitable cryptocurrency combinations on the exchanges.” To induce investors, Arbirate purported to use a unique AI-based system that collects information from 20+ popular cryptocurrency exchanges. In addition, Arbirate made claims that investors would receive a 6% daily profit and receive a profit immediately upon investing.  The Order found that these representations of guaranteed, daily profits and proprietary AI-based algorithms were false.

In addition, the Arbirate website made claims that “since 2020, Arbirate has been conducting licensed activity…” The Order concluded that Arbirate did not hold securities registration with any regulatory agency, including the Arkansas Securities Department. Similarly, the Order determined that Arbirate was not operating at the principal place of business listed on Arbirate’s website or its filing with the Arkansas Secretary of State.

“We are beginning to see more and more of these cryptocurrency websites pop up trying to entice Arkansas and the public to invest in their companies,” said Commissioner Eric Munson. “These companies are using websites that look legitimate and legal, while offering promises of high returns on your investment. Do not be afraid to ask questions regarding the legitimacy and registration of a company before you invest. When in doubt, call the Arkansas Securities Department.”

Investors are encouraged to investigate before they invest. Investors should contact the Arkansas Securities Department with questions about any investment opportunity or the persons offering it for sale before investing in the product. Contact 1-800-981-4429 to report suspected fraud, inappropriate securities business practices or to obtain consumer information. 

A copy of the Cease-and-Desist Order is available on the Arkansas Securities Department’s website at www.securities.arkansas.gov. Contact Person for the case: Ryan J. Little. Direct Dial: 501-324-9266

COTTON STATEMENT ON SENATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on Senate impeachment proceedings:

“’There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.’ Those words are as true today as when Abraham Lincoln spoke them. As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence at our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the full extent of the law.

The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week. Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president. The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed.

Fidelity to the Constitution must always remain the lodestar for our nation. Last week, I opposed the effort to reject certified electoral votes for the same reason—fidelity to the Constitution—I now oppose impeachment proceedings against a former president.

Congress and the executive branch should concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power. After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job.”


COTTON, COLLEAGUES: STOP ILLEGAL PPP LOANS TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter urging U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza to prevent Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving illegal loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as they did last year. The letter may be found here. Full text may be found at the bottom of this release.

Cosigners of the letter include: Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), and Todd Young (R-Indiana).

Background:
Last year, Senator Cotton and 27 colleagues called for investigations into Planned Parenthood affiliates for pursuing illegal loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

January 14, 2021

The Honorable Jovita Carranza
Administrator
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 3rd St, SW
Washington DC 20416

Dear Administrator Carranza,

We write to urge you to take precautions so that affiliates of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest and most notorious abortion provider, do not receive loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as they did earlier this year in defiance of the law.

The coronavirus relief package Congress passed on December 21 authorizes a second round of PPP loans for certain small businesses and non-profits that received and fully spent a PPP loan earlier this year. Eligibility requirements for these “second-draw” loans are similar to the requirements for initial loans authorized under the CARES Act. Generally speaking, applicants for the initial waves of PPP loans had to employ no more than 500 employees across all of their affiliates in order to be eligible for a loan; applicants for a second-draw loan must have no more than 300 employees across all of their affiliates. As before, applicants for a second-draw loan must self-certify that they are eligible to receive such a loan; the Small Business Administration has written that “incorrect or false eligibility certifications by borrowers are subject to severe penalties.”

Planned Parenthood employs about 16,000 people nationwide. The group’s national organization, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, jealously exercises control over local affiliates, subjecting them to uniform bylaws, accreditation, frequent reviews, and mandates about what services they must provide to remain part of the Federation, such as on-site abortion. Planned Parenthood affiliates thus are ineligible to receive PPP loans, as part of an affiliated group that employs far more people than the number allowed for an initial or second-draw PPP loan. This fact was admitted by none other than Planned Parenthood’s political-action committee, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which wrote that the CARES Act “gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood affiliates and other non-profits serving people with low incomes and deny them benefits under the new small business loan program.”

Nonetheless, at least 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates illegally obtained more than $80 million in taxpayer funds during the initial rounds of PPP by self-certifying their eligibility for the program. In response, the SBA determined that these affiliates were ineligible to receive PPP loans and issued letters informing them of the consequences of false certifications of eligibility, including repayment of loans, loss of loan forgiveness, and other civil and criminal penalties. Members of this body previously have urged you to investigate these false certifications of eligibility, recover the more than $80 million in funds, and seek appropriate penalties against Planned Parenthood affiliates that broke the law.

An equally urgent task is to ensure Planned Parenthood affiliates do not receive additional PPP loans intended for struggling small businesses and non-profits. We therefore urge you to inform participating lenders that Planned Parenthood affiliates are ineligible to receive second-draw PPP loans, and encourage them to immediately notify SBA if a Planned Parenthood affiliate applies for such a loan through their institution. Furthermore, we urge you to refer any Planned Parenthood affiliate that applies for such a loan to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Planned Parenthood affiliates are well aware that they are ineligible to receive PPP loans, on the basis of SBA’s letters and the frank admission of their political-action committee. Their attempts to apply for PPP loans are naked attempts to defraud the United States government.

Thank you for your tireless efforts to help small businesses and non-profits survive the Covid-19 pandemic. With appropriate precautions, we can ensure that additional relief funds go to those that need it, in accordance with the law, rather than to unscrupulous organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Sincerely,

January 13,2021

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 13, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,622
Confirmed Cases: 1,409
Probable Cases: 213
Total Active Cases: 196
Active Confirmed Cases: 176
Active Probable Cases: 20
Total Recovered Cases: 1,390
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,205
Recovered Probable Cases: 185
Total Deaths: 35
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,812
Confirmed Cases: 2,192
Probable Cases: 620
Total Active Cases: 273
Active Confirmed Cases: 235
Active Probable Cases: 38
Total Recovered Cases: 2,462
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,899
Recovered Probable Cases: 55863
Total Deaths: 77
Confirmed Deaths: 58
Probable Deaths: 19

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,724
Confirmed Cases: 1,106
Probable Cases: 618
Total Active Cases: 107
Active Confirmed Cases: 54
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 1,572
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,022
Recovered Probable Cases: 550
Total Deaths: 45
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 15

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 557
Confirmed Cases: 507
Probable Cases: 50
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 57
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 481
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 440
Recovered Probable Cases: 41
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 271
Confirmed Cases: 214
Probable Cases: 57
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 237
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 192
Recovered Probable Cases: 45
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 259,873
Confirmed Cases: 210,873
Probable Cases: 48,680
Recovered Cases: 229,700

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

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

 

ARKANSAS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. COMMISSION ANNOUNCES 2021 KING HOLIDAY DAY OF SERVICE VIRTUAL CELEBRATION 
State Agency Honoring Dr. King kicks off twenty-eighth anniversary with virtual celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission announces service honorees, youth essay contest award winners

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, works with the communities of Arkansas, encouraging them to embrace alternatives to violence and to discover their common humanity through activities that stress racial and cultural diversity.  The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission implements programs that are designed to promote the tenets of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honor his life and legacy.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission announces its 2021 MLK Day of Service, King Holiday Day of Impact.  The event will be hosted virtually on the Commission’s various platforms, premiering globally on Dr. King’s birthday, Friday, January 15, 2021, on the following platforms:

Streaming on the following platforms Friday, January 15, 2021, 11:59 AM
Facebook: @AMLKC and @ArkansasED
Twitter: @AMLKC and @ArkansasED
Instagram: @AMLKC and @Arkansas_ED
YouTube: AMLKC
Website: www.ARKingDream.org and ADE.Arkansas.gov

EDUCATORS ENCOURAGED BY VACCINE DISTRIBUTION
The following statement can be attributed to AEA President Carol Fleming. 
The updated timeline for school employee vaccinations is welcome news for the educators serving on the frontlines of this public health crisis. 
Providing quality learning opportunities for Arkansas’s students while also creating as safe an environment as possible, has placed our educators in an extremely demanding situation. The return to in-person education has resulted in the deaths of more than two dozen educators and, unfortunately, continues to put children and families at risk. Vaccinations will begin to help educators feel more comfortable as they continue working to provide the face-to-face connection for which there is no replacement. 

This updated timeline brings an opportunity to return to an in-person education where every student can thrive – but only if vaccination campaigns are done safely and equitably. We urge state agencies to use consistent and transparent communications on the benefits and safety of vaccines. Until the vaccine effort begins to curb the spread of this virus, it is vital that we all continue to practice social distancing, masking, and hand washing. We urge districts to extend emergency leave for educators due to COVID-19 infection or for those forced into quarantine after potential exposure. Districts should act quickly to ensure educators are not forced to use their sick leave to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.  

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING JAN. 28 IN HOPE
LITTLE ROCK — Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Jan. 28 at First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 315 S. Main St. in Hope. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with the April R. Love Foundation, First Baptist Church of Hope, Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Bank of America Foundation. Flu vaccinations will also be available at the drive-up at no cost to the patient for those receiving a COVID-19 test.

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

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

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and four dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.
 

SAAC TO HOST "EARLY BIRDS" CORKS AND CANVAS WORKSHOP ON ZOOM
It's time to register for next virtual Zoom Corks & Canvas: Early Birds Watercolor Workshop. The class will be hosted January 28 at 6pm by artist Chris Stone. If you're looking forward to spring coming early, then this colorful, lighthearted "Early Birds" workshop is perfect for you.
Designed to be completed by each artist at home, the class's only requirements are that you clear a spot on your kitchen table, open your computer to Zoom, and get ready to have some fun. All of the art supplies you need to create your "Early Birds" watercolor will be available for pickup from SAAC. SAAC staff will even provide curbside pickup upon request. The fee for this special Corks & Canvas is $30, and you get to keep the watercolor set provided in the supply kit.

"I enjoy encouraging others to try new things. Creating a piece of art can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Although I am not professionally trained, I can show you how to have fun and relax without having to 'try to hard'," said Stone. A popular and engaging Corks and Canvas instructor, Stone has been leading workshops in a variety of media for the last six years. "My most favorite of all the medium is acrylic and charcoal, but I also enjoy working in oil and watercolor."
For more information on this Corks and Canvas class or to sign up, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website, saac-arts.org to register online. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

January 12, 2021

OPED DIRECTORS PRESENT TRAINING INCENTIVE CHECK
Representatives from the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) board of directors, SAU Tech, and Aerojet Rocketdyne officials met at the OPED offices for a check presentation ceremony on Monday January 11 at 2:00 p.m. The ceremony reflects the payment of workforce training incentives to Aerojet Rocketdyne under an agreement executed with the company in 2018 by the OPED Board of Directors. 

On October 30, 2018 Aerojet Rocketdyne executed an economic development incentives contract with OPED to create one hundred forty-one (141) net new jobs at their Camden, Arkansas facility in conjunction with new investment in building construction and equipment. Under the terms of OPED’s Industry Incentive Program, OPED agreed to pay to Aerojet Rocketdyne within the three-year term of the contract, for workforce training provided by SAU Tech. The OPED Board of Directors at their regular meeting of May 23, 2018 approved the expenditure of the incentive in the amount of $90,000.00 to Aerojet Rocketdyne for workforce training. The workforce training incentive from OPED was a part of the overall incentive package offered to Aerojet Rocketdyne by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), Calhoun County and OPED. The expansion by Aerojet Rocketdyne and the incentives were announced on August 15, 2018 by Governor Asa Hutchinson and Aerojet Rocketdyne officials at the Governor’s conference room in the state capital.        

OPED Executive Director James Lee Silliman commented “statistics have proven that most new jobs are created in a community from existing business and industry expanding their operations versus locating a new manufacturing facility in the community. Therefore, it is important that our community support its existing business and industry to retain jobs and expand their operations locally and assisting companies with workforce training is one way we can do that”.  

Jim Golden, OPED Board President stated “Aerojet Rocketdyne has created new jobs at their Camden, Arkansas facility in conjunction with new investment in building construction and equipment. The company and SAU Tech have provided adequate documentation to OPED to substantiate the company has completed the workforce training agreed to under the contract. We are pleased to present them with this incentive payment”. Silliman added “the total number of employees trained by SAU Tech for Aerojet Rocketdyne was 153”.          

COUNTY MLK HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed Monday, January 18, 2021 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule Monday, January 18, 2021.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 12, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,613
Confirmed Cases: 1,403
Probable Cases: 210
Total Active Cases: 210
Active Confirmed Cases: 187
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 1,367
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,188
Recovered Probable Cases: 179
Total Deaths: 35
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,793
Confirmed Cases: 2,182
Probable Cases: 611
Total Active Cases: 294
Active Confirmed Cases: 260
Active Probable Cases: 34
Total Recovered Cases: 2,422
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,864
Recovered Probable Cases: 558
Total Deaths: 77
Confirmed Deaths: 58
Probable Deaths: 19

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,707
Confirmed Cases: 1,099
Probable Cases: 608
Total Active Cases: 107
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 55
Total Recovered Cases: 1,555
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,017
Recovered Probable Cases: 538
Total Deaths: 45
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 15

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 551
Confirmed Cases: 502
Probable Cases: 49
Total Active Cases: 65
Active Confirmed Cases: 58
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 474
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 434
Recovered Probable Cases: 40
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 268
Confirmed Cases: 213
Probable Cases: 55
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 234
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 191
Recovered Probable Cases: 43
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 256,344
Confirmed Cases: 208,778
Probable Cases: 47,566
Recovered Cases: 226,700

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

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

MABEE FOUNDATION AWARDS $950,000 TO METHODIST FAMILY HEALTH
$950,000 challenge grant will help fund the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center in Little Rock
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Jan. 19, 2021) – The Mabee Foundation recently awarded $950,000 to Methodist Family Health for construction of the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center. The new center will replace the original chapel on Methodist Family Health’s oldest campus, the Methodist Children’s Home, in Little Rock.

This challenge grant to the Methodist Family Health Foundation for completion of the new center stipulates the nonprofit raise the total project cost of $4,256,175 by October 13, 2021. To date, Methodist Family Health Foundation has $809,000 left to raise.

“This center will include a chapel, multipurpose space, welcome center for the campus, and administrative space for our Methodist Children’s Home administrators,” said Carolyn McCone, CFRE, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation. “We also will include an outdoor labyrinth, new landscaping and enhanced parking to compliment the center.”

Plans for the center include bible studies and spiritual services, such as communion, for the Arkansas children and families Methodist Family Health serves. United Methodist Church groups throughout the state and region generously and continually volunteer to serve at Methodist Family Health, providing worship experiences like music, devotionals, vacation bible school and other spirituality services, and with this new reverent space for worship and spiritual learning, those we serve will continue to connect with the community and feed their spirits in a place where they feel love, peace and hope for their futures.

“Even with our attempts at keeping it structurally repaired, the original chapel has deteriorated to a point where our children are without a dedicated place to worship,” McCone said. “Currently, our faith-based services must be held in our gym or in individual cottages. For some of our children, these services are their first experience for worship and a relationship with God.”

In addition to the chapel, the center will provide space for:
Methodist Family Health’s best first impression to families and visitors.
Training for directors and staff; and
Meetings for community partners such as neighborhood associations and community education.

McCone said the Methodist Family Health Foundation is seeking contributions from the community to meet the challenge grant’s requirement so the new center can begin construction. To make a tax-deductible donation, donors can:
Text SLC to 501-881-2258.
Visit https://www.methodistfamily.org/donate.html and choose “MCH Renovation for chapel or other facility”.
Send a cash or check donation to Methodist Family Health Foundation, P.O. Box 56050, Little Rock, Arkansas 72215. Please note SLC on the memo line of your check.
Call 501-906-4201 to make a secure donation using your debit or credit card.

Contact Carolyn McCone, CFRE, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation at CMcCone@MethodistFamily.org or 501-906-4202 about naming opportunities, questions about the Mike Millar Spiritual Life Center capital campaign, or to make a one-time gift; arrange a yearly, quarterly, monthly or weekly pledge over the course of three years; a gift of stock or funds from an IRA; or any way that works best for you.
 

ICYMI: BOOZMAN-BACKED PROVISION EXPANDS PPP ELIGIBILITY TO LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS
WASHINGTON- Congress has expanded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to local news outlets. The provision backed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and included in the coronavirus relief package signed into law by President Trump makes more than 2,000 newspapers and 3,300 television and radio stations nationwide newly eligible for PPP loans.

“The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the crucial need for local news outlets. Ensuring our hometown newspapers, television affiliates and radio stations have access to Paycheck Protection Program loans will help keep Arkansans informed,” Boozman said.

The measure fixes the Small Business Administration (SBA) affiliation rule that prevented local news outlets owned by larger parent companies from qualifying for PPP funding. News outlets are now eligible for PPP loans as long as a radio or TV station has no more than 500 employees or an individual newspaper does not exceed 1,000 employees.

“This provision preserves Arkansans’ and citizens across the country access to local news by enabling local broadcasters to access funds. PPP funds keep journalists and other support staff on the job. Local broadcasters rely heavily on advertising by area businesses for revenue to pay employees, and with many businesses closed or operating at reduced capacity, news organizations’ ability to provide community news is at risk. Thanks to the support and leadership of Senator Boozman Arkansas Broadcasters and news organizations will be there to record and encourage the revival of civic life” said Luke Story, Arkansas Broadcasters Association Executive Director and Lesli Griffin, Arkansas Broadcasters Association Board Chair.

“Arkansas's newspapers have demonstrated over and over again during this crisis that they serve a critical responsibility in our communities. Expansion of eligibility under the Paycheck Protection Program to include more Arkansas newspapers will help maintain these vital information sources and preserve local jobs. We appreciate Senator Boozman for leading this effort,” said Ashley Wimberley, Arkansas Press Association executive director.

The provision is based on the Local News and Emergency Information Act of 2020 introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and cosponsored by Boozman. The senators have been strong advocates on behalf of the local new industry, including authoring a letter to Senate leadership last April urging a fix to the SBA’s affiliation rule. 

January 11, 2021

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be by speaker this week will be James Nixon with Highland Resources.  He will be discussing Highland:  The history, where we are today, where we’re going.

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


OUACHITA COUNTY PERSONNEL, FINANCE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEES TO MEET
Ouachita County Personnel, Finance and Law Enforcement Committees will meet at 4:30 January 21, 2021, in Courtroom A.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 10, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,602
Confirmed Cases: 1,392
Probable Cases: 210
Total Active Cases: 214
Active Confirmed Cases: 186
Active Probable Cases: 28
Total Recovered Cases: 1,352
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,178
Recovered Probable Cases: 174
Total Deaths: 35
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,785
Confirmed Cases: 2,173
Probable Cases: 612
Total Active Cases: 308
Active Confirmed Cases: 268
Active Probable Cases: 40
Total Recovered Cases: 2,401
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,847
Recovered Probable Cases: 554
Total Deaths: 76
Confirmed Deaths: 58
Probable Deaths: 18
COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,702
Confirmed Cases: 1,094
Probable Cases: 608
Total Active Cases: 119
Active Confirmed Cases: 51
Active Probable Cases: 68
Total Recovered Cases: 1,538
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,013
Recovered Probable Cases: 525
Total Deaths: 45
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 15

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 546
Confirmed Cases: 498
Probable Cases: 48
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 466
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 427
Recovered Probable Cases: 39
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 10
Probable Deaths: 2
COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 267
Confirmed Cases: 212
Probable Cases: 55
Total Active Cases: 35
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 231
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 190
Recovered Probable Cases: 41
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 255,076
Confirmed Cases: 207,749
Probable Cases: 47,327
Recovered Cases: 223,513

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

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

January 08, 2021

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. at The Business Incubator located at 625 South Adams in Camden.

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

The Agenda is as follows:
CALL TO ORDER
B.       INVOCATION – Rev. Jeffrey Franklin, Pastor – Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, 896 S. Adams Ave.,    Camden, AR                        
C.       PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D.       ROLL CALL
E.       APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1.  Minutes of Regular Meeting of December 8, 2020
2.   Minutes od Special Called Meeting of December 15, 2020
F.       ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORTS
1.  Financial Report for December 2020
G.       AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
H.       MAYOR’S REPORT
1.   Jason Holsclaw, Stephens Inc. – Water & Sewer Bonds
2.   James L. Silliman, OPED – Workforce Training Incentive Funds
 I.       OLD BUSINESS
 J.      NEW BUSINESS
1.   Resolution No. 01-21, a resolution recognizing Meetings and Procedures as set forth in the Code of                        Ordinances of the City of Camden, and adopting other procedural rules.
2.   Resolution No. 02-21, a resolution authorizing the offering of bonds to finance all or a portion of the costs           of betterments and improvements to the City’s Water and Sewer System and to refund the City’s Water and                   Sewer Revenue Bonds, Series 2015; and prescribing other matters pertaining thereto.
3.   Resolution No. 03-21, a resolution confirming the re-appointment of Darla Boroughs to the Housing                      Authority Board of Commissioners.
4.   Resolution No. 04-21, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of two (2) 2021 F150 Super Crew                   Pickups for the Public Works Department.
5.   Resolution No. 05-21, a resolution amending Resolution No. 11-17; confirming the appointment of                         William H. Archer to the Airport Commission; and for other purposes.
6.   Resolution No. 06-21, a resolution amending Resolution No. 30-17; confirming the appointment of Tim                 Jordan to the Airport Commission; and for other purposes.
7.   Resolution No. 07-21, a resolution amending Resolution No- 13-16; confirming the appointment of Tim                                           Wilson to the Airport Commission; and for other purposes.
8.   Resolution No. 08-21, a resolution confirming the appointment of Jason Fletcher to the Airport                               Commission as an Ex-Officio.
9.   Ordinance No. 01-21, an ordinance rezoning property located at 1115 Belan Street from RS-1 (Single      Family District) to RM-1 (Multi-Family District).
K.      OTHER BUSINESS
L.      ADJOURNMENT

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 07, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,526
Confirmed Cases: 1,317
Probable Cases: 209
Total Active Cases: 182
Active Confirmed Cases: 148
Active Probable Cases: 34
Total Recovered Cases: 1,309
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,142
Recovered Probable Cases: 167
Total Deaths: 34
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,667
Confirmed Cases: 2,065
Probable Cases: 602
Total Active Cases: 279
Active Confirmed Cases: 237
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 2,314
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,772
Recovered Probable Cases: 542
Total Deaths: 74
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 18

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,669
Confirmed Cases: 1,074
Probable Cases: 595
Total Active Cases: 121
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 80
Total Recovered Cases: 1,505
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,003
Recovered Probable Cases: 
Total Deaths: 43
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 13

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 524
Confirmed Cases: 476
Probable Cases: 48
Total Active Cases: 56
Active Confirmed Cases: 46
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 457
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 421
Recovered Probable Cases: 36
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 257
Confirmed Cases: 206
Probable Cases: 51
Total Active Cases: 27
Active Confirmed Cases: 17
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 229
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 188
Recovered Probable Cases: 41
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 245,916
Confirmed Cases: 200,531
Probable Cases: 43,385
Recovered Cases: 215,980
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SAAC HOSTS ARTIST RECEPTION FOR 2020/2021 MEMBERSHIP SHOWCASE
The South Arkansas Arts Center Visual Art committee will host an artist reception on Saturday, January 9th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the Merkle and Price Galleries. The reception will be hosted for small groups, with scheduled times for viewing at 6:00pm or 6:30pm. Guests are asked to RSVP for a limited-entry time slots.
The 2020/2021 Membership Showcase opened on January 7 and will run through February 3. No matter what style of art appeals to you, chances are there is something to please the eye during the SAAC's highly anticipated annual exhibition, which is open to entry by any SAAC member. Sponsored by William P. Cook & Associates, PLLC, the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public. Appointments for private viewing can be made for guests needing assistance to limit exposure.
Chairman of the Visual Art Committee, Helene Lambert, says, "This show is the place to see who's behind the mask! Your friends and neighbors are showcased at SAAC, and this is your chance to take a peek at our local talent."
The members of SAAC will once again fill the galleries with a myriad of works created in assemblage, acrylics, charcoal, glasswork, graphite, oils, pastel, photography, sculpture, and watercolor. Artist included in the exhibit are Gay Bechtelheimer, Sandy Bennett, Cherie Bright, Daisy Bright, Rudy Bright, Beth Callaway, Kelly Campbell, Jo Cunningham, Ann Downs, Jennie Harris, Katie Harwell, Sylvia Henley, Helene Lambert, Pat Lowery, Mike Means, Moises Menendez, Heidi Morgan, Ann Palculict, Lee Scroggins, Bobbi Shepherd, Mallory Slaughter, Chris Stone, Marla Tomlinson, Lisa Burton Tarver, Paul Waschka, Ann Wilson, Burney Wilson, and Ramona Wood.
Every year the exhibition brings the talent of SAAC's members to the forefront and allows them to display and sell their work in a non-competitive environment. "SAAC is all about our members, who are creating original work every day inside our walls and in their own studios," says executive director Laura Allen. "Bringing so many different artists' work together in our galleries is a beautiful way to celebrate these individuals, and their diverse points of view."
For more information about the exhibition or to attend the artist's reception, please contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit www.saac-arts.org. The exhibit reception, as approved by the Arkanas Department of Health, will be hosted for small groups on Saturday, October 9 with scheduled times for viewing at 5:30pm or 6:00pm. As per Governor Hutchinson's statewide order, face coverings are required for entry. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

January 07, 2020

GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDER RELIEVES IMPACT OF SECOND QUARTER 2020 CLAIMS FOR EMPLOYERS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Jan. 7, 2021) – On December 29, 2020, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed executive order 20-54. The order provides relief to employers by excluding unemployment claims during the second quarter of 2020 in the calculation of employer UI tax rates.
“Keeping our businesses open and our economy thriving is a priority as we navigate through this season of uncertainty,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “I signed the executive order to help provide relief to Arkansas employers who have been hit hard during the pandemic and I look forward to working with our legislature to establish a solution to mitigate COVID-19 related charges beyond the second quarter of 2020.”
“The second quarter was the highest level of unemployment for Arkansans during the pandemic,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This action avoids a catastrophic increase in UI rates for employers already struggling with the effects of the pandemic. We are grateful that members of the legislature have expressed an interest in making statutory changes in the upcoming session to ensure this relief extends beyond the end of the pandemic.”
“As a pro-business advocate, I am delighted to work with the Governor and the Department of Commerce to save employers from paying incredibly high rates due to the pandemic,” said State Senator Missy Irvin. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to find the best solution during the upcoming legislative session.”
"I appreciate Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Preston for providing this solution to a major problem for small businesses in Arkansas, said State Representative Jack Ladyman. “Without this, hundreds of small businesses in Arkansas would be devastated and possibly forced to close. I have committed to be the primary sponsor of a bill, to be presented in the 93rd. General Assembly, to make this solution permanent."
“I applaud Governor Hutchinson for signing the executive order to save our businesses from financial strain,” said State Representative Michelle Gray. “This is a necessary step in securing economic and financial stability of Arkansas’ economy. It is important for our businesses to remain open and for employees to return to work.”
The executive order allows the Division of Workforce Services (DWS) to begin notifying employers of their 2021 tax rates. Statements will be distributed as soon as possible.

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 07, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,478
Confirmed Cases: 1,275
Probable Cases: 203
Total Active Cases: 156
Active Confirmed Cases: 128
Active Probable Cases: 28
Total Recovered Cases: 1,287
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,120
Recovered Probable Cases: 167
Total Deaths: 34
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,695
Confirmed Cases: 2,029
Probable Cases: 596
Total Active Cases: 285
Active Confirmed Cases: 241
Active Probable Cases: 44
Total Recovered Cases: 2,266
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,732
Recovered Probable Cases: 534
Total Deaths: 74
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 18

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,660
Confirmed Cases: 1,071
Probable Cases: 589
Total Active Cases: 126
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 82
Total Recovered Cases: 1,491
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 997
Recovered Probable Cases: 494
Total Deaths: 43
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 13

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 516
Confirmed Cases: 469
Probable Cases: 47
Total Active Cases: 52
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 453
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 417
Recovered Probable Cases: 36
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 252
Confirmed Cases: 202
Probable Cases: 50
Total Active Cases: 26
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 225
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 183
Recovered Probable Cases: 42
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 242,593
Confirmed Cases: 198,254
Probable Cases: 44,339
Recovered Cases: 213,574
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/
For community level data in Arkansas:
https://achi.net/covid19/


COTTON STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE AT CAPITOL
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after violence broke out at the U.S. Capitol earlier today:

“Last summer, as insurrection gripped the streets, I called to send in the troops if necessary to restore order. Today, insurrectionists occupied our Capitol. Fortunately, the Capitol Police and other law-enforcement agencies restored order without the need for federal troops. But the principle remains the same: no quarter for insurrectionists. Those who attacked the Capitol today should face the full extent of federal law. 

It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence. And the senators and representatives who fanned the flames by encouraging the president and leading their supporters to believe that their objections could reverse the election results should withdraw those objections. In any event, the Congress will complete its constitutional responsibilities tonight.”

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON UNREST AT U.S. CAPITOL
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the statement below regarding the unrest and unlawful activity at the United States Capitol on Wednesday:

 “The events that transpired in Washington were not only shocking and unlawful, but represent a dark moment in our country’s history that we must reckon with today and in the days to come.

 “The Constitution gives every American the right to peaceably assemble and protest. It does not condone or provide for opportunities to sow chaos or provoke insurrection. Sadly, many of the demonstrators in the nation’s capital yesterday failed to live up to this obligation, and an alarming number willfully participated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the constitutional responsibilities of Congress. ‘The People’s House’ is the place where the will of our citizenry is rightfully expressed through its elected representatives –– not a forum for mob rule and anarchy. The perpetrators of this despicable attack should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. It is also incumbent on every American to soberly recognize that the divisions in our society have reached a place beyond troubling, and we must prayerfully and diligently work to mend those divides so that what occurred yesterday is never repeated, or worse.

 “This assault is not the final word, however. Congress was not intimidated or cowed. We eventually reconvened and ultimately certified the vote of the Electoral College, performing our prescribed constitutional duty. Amid the mayhem, there were countless acts of heroism and compassion on behalf of law enforcement, first responders, Members of Congress, our support staff and others. As we always do in times of uncertainty and trouble, Americans helped each other, prayed for one another and demonstrated that what united our ancestors over two centuries ago can still bring us together today.

 “We all, as Americans, deserved better than what we experienced –– a disturbing, demoralizing and entirely avoidable episode. We must pray for healing, and we must pledge to demand better from each other. This incident cannot define us, but it must persuade us that choosing a different and better course –– one that lives up to the high ideals which have reliably sustained the United States and inspired our exceptional story –– is the only path forward.”

DON’T LET HATE WIN
The General Assembly needs to stop a deeply flawed Hate Crimes bill and focus on real reforms
Op-Ed By Senator Trent Garner, District 27
Arkansas is in the middle of a global pandemic that has deeply impacted us all. Thousands of Arkansans have died and many more have lost their livelihoods. In the upcoming session, the Arkansas General Assembly should be laser focused on legislative changes needed to help the people.

For most of the health crisis, the legislature has been put on the sidelines by the Executive Branch. By stretching emergency powers granted in good faith by the legislature to their furthest limits, the Governor has operated with nearly unilateral authority. The 2021 General Session will be the first real opportunity for the legislature to have an equal voice in the process.

Those should be the dominant issues for the 2021 session. The leadership of the Senate should be concerned with restoring the institutional power of the people’s branch of government and with addressing the pandemic.

However, instead of making these issues our priority, the current President Pro Temp of the Senate, Senator Jim Hendren, has placed all his focus on a flawed Hate Crimes bill.

What should be a customary piece of legislation has become the dominant issue of the 2021 session, thanks to the sponsors scheduling a Press Conference designed to generate maximum media exposure and writing an Op-Ed piece in the state’s paper of record that brought glowing reviews by left-of-center media sycophants.

Instead of focusing his energy to address the pandemic, it seems that the sponsor is more worried about staking a claim in the limelight. If I were cynical, I would say the bill is less an attempt to set good public policy and more of a distraction from the administration’s handling of the pandemic.

To be blunt, the bill is deeply flawed and creates real harm against the citizens it claims to protect.

First, I’ve asked over and over for evidence that Hate Crimes legislation actually reduces bias crimes. A bias crime is a better name for these offenses, rather than the ambiguous term “hate” crime.  Not only have supporters of the bill failed to produce any evidence, but Senator Hendren admitted in a recent op-ed piece that his bill wouldn’t have much of an impact on stopping bias crimes.

From my research, it appears Hate Crimes laws have negligible impact on actually stopping bias crimes. In fact, we have a recent example in Arkansas that proves these kind of laws don’t work to stop crime.

ACT 367 of 2017 created enhanced penalties, similar to the Hate Crimes bill, for attacking law enforcement. The argument was that by enhancing penalties, we could reduce the number attacks on first responders. It is a noble goal that I supported at the time.

But instead of reducing attacks against law enforcement, the state of Arkansas has seen an explosion of attacks against our brave first responders. In Pine Bluff alone, a law enforcement officer lost his life in the line of duty, and two EMTs were shot while on a call.

Instead of the law preventing crimes it was designed to stop, it appears to have made the situation worse. Why? Because such laws aren’t designed to address the underlying issues that causes crime. Instead, they’re designed as political theater, to make it seem as if good work were being done.

The Hate Crime bill is little more than window dressing for the cause of racial injustice. I believe this is why some politicians and business lobbyists are supporting Hate Crimes legislation. It’s a superficial display to give the appearance of doing good, without actually having to make real changes that would hurt their bottom line or their political ambitions. It would be challenging and difficult to make a real impact in this fight. They fear what it would cost them. So instead, they can signal their virtue to the masses without actually doing the tough work to fix the problem that they helped create.

That is the most upsetting part of the hate crime discussion. It takes away time and energy from the actual work that needs to be done to address racial issues in our state. There has been genuine bipartisan discussion about criminal justice reforms and policing, the protection of civil liberties, and related issues. I’ve had discussions with conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity on reforms I could support.

After the senseless killing of George Floyd, I made it a point to reach out to communities that were hurting. I attended a March for Justice and walked with protesters. I went to community meetings where frank and honest discussions about race took place. Although I didn’t agree with everything being said, I did listen and I came away with a better understanding.

You know what subject never came up during those meetings? Hate Crimes.
If you are a person of faith, get ready for your deeply held beliefs to be attacked under this bill. It will weaponize hate against people of faith. The bill is a classic case of the “slippery slope” argument. By creating a standard of inequality in our legal system, it will open the door for government interference in our churches and places of worship.

We know laws like this do little to stop real bias crimes from happening, and after it fails we will see the next wave of proposals. It won’t be long until we see examples of Christian bakers being forced to abandon their beliefs in order to stay in business or our pastor’s sermons being labeled as hate speech. That is the purpose of laws like this: to get a foothold in our legal system in order to attack thought and beliefs deemed unacceptable.

The bill is one of the most extremist versions of Hate Crimes in the nation. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez couldn’t have dreamed up a more damaging and dangerous threat to civil liberties and equality. It doesn’t define what “hate” actually is. Nor does it limit the crimes that fall under its provisions.

Under this extremist bill, you could get charged with a hate crime for speeding or jaywalking. That may sound comical, but we have seen it in other states. A couple was charged with a hate crime for painting over a mural in a public street. They didn’t put hateful or racist messages, simply disagreed with anti-police messages being sponsored by the city.

The worst example of the extreme nature of the bill is the “Rapist Loophole.” For some unknown reason, the violent act of rape is exempt from being considered a hate crime. Rape is specifically listed as not being a hate crime. I can’t think of a more hateful crime than rape, and it is immoral to support any version that doesn’t protect rape victims.

Finally, Hate Crimes bills are fundamentally unfair and create inequality in the justice system. They put some citizens above others by allowing for greater punishment for the exact same crime.

Here is a hypothetical to prove my point. “Mixed twins” is a rare event where fraternal twins born to a multiracial family have different skin colors. In the best example I’ve seen, there is a picture of two beautiful little girls holding hands, one white and one black. It is an amazing picture, two sisters the same in most ways except for skin color. It always reminds me how much we are all alike, and how shallow it is to judge someone based on the color of their skin.

Imagine if those two little girls were attacked by an evil person. The criminal does the exact same crime, at the exact same time against the girls. Their injuries are exactly the same. In this example, the only difference is that the attacker hurts one girl because she is white, and the other girl because she is there. Or the reverse, the attacker hurts one girl because she is black, and the other girl because she is there.

Under proposed Hate Crimes legislation, one of those crimes would be a bias crime deserving of an additional 20% more jail time, but the other one wouldn’t. One life is worth more to our criminal justice system than the other. One life deserves more protection than the other. That is wrong.

We need to reject this embarrassment of a bill and return our focus to more important work. If you want to make an impact, call your state senator and representative and tell them to not let hate win in Arkansas. Tell them to vote against Senate Bill 3.

January 06, 2021

EDUCATORS CALL ON SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO EXTEND COVID EMERGENCY LEAVE
Educators are rightly concerned as they return to school buildings while the pandemic continues to surge across our state.  

Arkansas’s educators work tirelessly every single day to advocate for and create healthy learning spaces for students. Some have lost their lives to this terrible virus. While we know there is no replacement for the in-person connection between students and their educators, in many parts of our state these interactions are putting our families and communities at risk. 

As the state’s vaccination effort increases, we have a new opportunity to return to an in-person education where every student can thrive – but only if vaccination campaigns are done safely and equitably. We urge state agencies to use consistent and transparent communications on the benefits and safety of vaccines. The state expects to begin vaccinating educators on February 1, and we encourage the state to continue prioritizing those working on the frontlines of this health crisis, which includes school employees.  
Until the vaccine effort begins to curb the spread of this virus, it is vital that we all continue to practice social distancing, masking and hand washing. However, in many districts, the uncontrolled spread of the virus may require stronger efforts, including a shift to virtual learning. The state has made clear these decisions must originate at the local level, and AEA’s Return to Learn Committee and staff will continue working with our members to address issues in their school buildings.  

We also call on districts to extend emergency leave for educators due to COVID-19 infection or for those forced into quarantine after potential exposure. The $20 million in CARES Act funding dedicated to this effort in the 2020 fall semester has been exhausted, but more federal funding is on the way. Districts should act quickly to ensure educators aren’t forced to use their sick leave to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.  
We urge all educators to engage with their local associations and AEA Uniserv staff to join the effort to advocate for health and safety with local administrators and school boards. When educators speak up about health and safety issues, we do so to protect our students, colleagues, and community. We must take these concerns seriously and district officials must address them to slow COVID’s spread. 

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS GIVES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO RURAL MEDICAL FACILITIES TO MAINTAIN DIGITAL HEALTH NETWORK
Little Rock, Ark. (January 5, 2021) – Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded an additional $250,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) to support participating Arkansas hospitals and clinics in improving how they exchange patient information. The health insurer provided an initial grant of $817,000 to ARHP in January 2020.
The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a nonprofit organization made up of 14 hospitals and two federally qualified health centers spanning south Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) supports and works closely with the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.
The funding from Arkansas Blue Cross helps the partnership’s hospitals and their clinics maintain their participation in the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE), which is overseen by the Office of Health Information Technology (a division of the Arkansas Department of Health. SHARE provides ARHP hospitals and healthcare providers with real-time patient information.
SHARE lets users transmit and exchange patient information such as clinical care summaries, vital signs, medications, allergies, continuity of care documents (CCDs), transitions of care documents, immunization records, laboratory results, radiology report transcriptions and discharge summaries. Most importantly, providers can instantly send clinical information to other providers. SHARE’s daily reports give ARHP healthcare providers a 24-hour snapshot of critical events (such as emergency room visits and inpatient discharges).SHARE’s vision is a healthier state population and an improved healthcare system where caregivers and patients have electronic access to more complete health records and are empowered to make better health decisions with this information. SHARE’s mission is to improve the delivery, coordination and quality of healthcare throughout Arkansas through the statewide use of health information technology and clinical data exchange
ARHP hospitals and clinics have been able to use SHARE to collaborate with other medical facilities and quickly get patients the care they need,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross. “This funding is a continuation of our effort to provide quality investments in sustainable initiatives that improve care for the citizens of Arkansas.”
Arkansas Blue Cross representatives recently visited the campuses of all 16 ARHP hospitals to thank them for their hard work in the ongoing effort to fight COVID-19, connect with them on the progress of SHARE, and provide support funding to help offset some of the maintenance costs. 
“Through SHARE and Arkansas Blue Cross, our member hospitals have been able to share and have access to patient data, which has been crucial during the pandemic,” said Mellie Bridewell, the partnership’s CEO and a UAMS regional director of strategy, management and administration. “This continued financial support for 2021 helps these rural hospitals focus on caring for their patients and communities.”
ARHP hospitals and FQHCs receiving funding for SHARE include:
·      Ashley County Medical Center
·      Dallas County Medical Center
·      Magnolia Regional Medical Center
·      Medical Center of South Arkansas
·      Ouachita County Medical Center
·      Baptist Health – Stuttgart
·      Mid Delta Health Systems
·      Helena Regional Medical Center
·      Dewitt Hospital and Nursing Home
·      Delta Memorial Medical Center
·      McGehee Hospital
·      Chicot Memorial Medical Center
·      Mainline Health Systems
·      Jefferson Regional
·      Drew Memorial Hospital
·      Bradley County Medical Center



CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kawanis Club will meet
Thursday, January 7th at Catherine's Bistro at noon. The program will be by Danny Rivers and Eric Akin. They will be talking about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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


COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 06, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,453
Confirmed Cases: 1,256
Probable Cases: 197
Total Active Cases: 163
Active Confirmed Cases: 135
Active Probable Cases: 28
Total Recovered Cases: 1,257
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,257
Recovered Probable Cases: 161
Total Deaths: 32
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,584
Confirmed Cases: 1,999
Probable Cases: 585
Total Active Cases: 287
Active Confirmed Cases: 246
Active Probable Cases: 41
Total Recovered Cases: 2,224
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,697
Recovered Probable Cases: 527
Total Deaths: 73
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 508
Confirmed Cases: 463
Probable Cases: 45
Total Active Cases: 47
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 450
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 415
Recovered Probable Cases: 35
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 246
Confirmed Cases: 197
Probable Cases: 49
Total Active Cases: 24
Active Confirmed Cases: 15
Active Probable Cases: 19
Total Recovered Cases: 221
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 181
Recovered Probable Cases: 40
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 238,888
Confirmed Cases: 195,930
Probable Cases: 42,958
Recovered Cases: 210,617

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

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

THREE WAYS TO FIGHT SCAMMERS WHO TARGET YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears.  The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails.   

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement.  They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime.  They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions.  Here are three things you can do:
Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
Never give personal information, money, or retail gift cards.
Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov immediately to Social Security’s law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General.

You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there’s a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits.  If you owe money to Social Security, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appealing.

There are a few ways you can identify a scam call or email.  Remember that we will never:
Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee.
Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card.
Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem.
Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

If you do not have ongoing business with our agency, it is unlikely we will contact you.  Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away to our Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov

PRESIDENT SIGNS BOOZMAN-AUTHORED VETERANS BENEFIT PROVISIONS INTO LAW
Delivers Improved Care to Women Veterans
WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law legislation that expands veterans benefits and includes provisions authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to enhance education, pensions, burials, compensation and landmark enhancements to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care and services for women veterans.
“I applaud President Trump for signing this bill into law so we can provide more resources for veterans and expand benefits they earned,” said Boozman, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This law includes the historic Deborah Sampson Act that will enable us to better serve the needs of women veterans. We’ve worked in a bipartisan manner to get this across the finish line so we can fulfill our promise to all who have worn our nation’s uniform.”

The Deborah Sampson Act, legislation introduced by Boozman and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), eliminates barriers to care and services many women veterans face and helps ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and lack of access to needed health care. 

Additional Boozman-authored and championed provisions in the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020 signed into law include:

Expanding wartime benefits to veterans who served in the Vietnam War and have been ineligible for assistance because of differences between the war era dates at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA. Currently, DoD recognizes the Vietnam War era as November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, while the VA recognizes the Vietnam War era as February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This discrepancy has prevented members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group from qualifying for wartime veterans benefits like the veterans pension.

 Increasing the number of health car providers who are allowed to conduct the required medical exam for veterans applying for benefits in order to help reduce the existing backlog.

Improving access to specialized training that would ensure VA grant-funded cemeteries meet and maintain V the National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) National Shrine Commitment.

Updating the VA’s funeral benefits to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away.

Closing a loophole that prevents the VA from putting the names of veterans’ family members on headstones in private cemeteries. Currently, the VA is only authorized to put veterans’ family members’ names on headstones in national, state and tribal veterans’ cemeteries.

Modernizing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to permit servicemembers to deliver notice of termination of residential and car leases electronically, including by email.

Expanding the list of work-study activities that qualify for payment of work-study allowances under the VA’s rehabilitation, training and education programs.

January 05, 2021

DISTRICT COURT CANCELLED
Due to Covid-19 the District Court of Camden and Ouachita County has been cancelled through January 14, 2021. For more information you may call the District Court at 870-836-0331 or the Probation Office at 870-836-8544.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHISON’S WEEKLY COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 05, 2021
The upward trajectory of the COVID-19 virus continues in Arkansas with the state noting on Tuesday the second highest one-day increase in new cases since the pandemic began. 

During his weekly statewide COVID-19 update on Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas reported an additional 4,107 new cases. That's just days after setting a new record in one-day cases with over 4,300 on Jan. 1. Hospitalizations also hit a new high with an additional 27 patients on Tuesday. Currently there are 1,351 Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19. 

Deaths increased by 36 for a total of 3,836 since the start of the outbreak. Active cases also grew significantly. With the net increase of 1,351 active cases on Tuesday there are now over 24,000 throughout Arkansas. More than 41,000 combined PCR and antigen tests have been performed since the start of the year. 

Hutchinson said the state is receiving a lot of questions about when the vaccine will be offered to certain groups as well as the broader public. He explained the state's phased vaccine rollout remains largely the same as originally announced in December. The ongoing Phase 1A is focusing on healthcare workers then long-term care staff and residents. This phase also includes first responders, teachers and the staffs of certain pharmacies. Hutchinson said this phase should be completed by the end of the month.

The next phase, 1B, will target those 70 and older as well as frontline essential workers. This group would include postal workers, food service workers, media and utility services like power, internet and water. Phase 1C will include Arkansans 65 to 69-years-old as well as anyone 16 to 64-years-old with a high-risk medical condition. 

Hutchinson said these phases could change depending on how quickly vaccines are received and doses given. 

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key raised the issue of emergency paid sick leave for school teachers who catch COVID-19 or are quarantined because of potential exposure. School districts across Arkansas provided extra sick days last year to affected teachers and staff. State aid for that leave, however, has been depleted. Key suggested districts continue their district-level policies using local funds or assistance provided through the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill. That bill passed last week, includes over $500 million in education dollars for Arkansas.

In review, new cases in Arkansas hit their second largest one-day total on Tuesday with more than 4,100 reported. That raises the state's cumulative total of COVID-19 transmissions to nearly 239,000 since the outbreak began. Deaths increased by 36 on Tuesday for a total of 3,836. Active cases rose by 1,323 over the same period and now number over 24,000. Hospitalizations hit a new record with 1,351 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to the virus. We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 05, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,438
Confirmed Cases: 1,253
Probable Cases: 185
Total Active Cases: 166
Active Confirmed Cases: 144
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,240
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,085
Recovered Probable Cases: 155
Total Deaths: 31
Confirmed Deaths: 23
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,577
Confirmed Cases: 1,997
Probable Cases: 580
Total Active Cases: 316
Active Confirmed Cases: 276
Active Probable Cases: 40
Total Recovered Cases: 2,188
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,665
Recovered Probable Cases: 523
Total Deaths: 73
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,599
Confirmed Cases: 1,055
Probable Cases: 544
Total Active Cases: 105
Active Confirmed Cases: 36
Active Probable Cases: 69
Total Recovered Cases: 1,450
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 988
Recovered Probable Cases: 462
Total Deaths: 44
Confirmed Deaths: 31
Probable Deaths: 13

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 496
Confirmed Cases: 455
Probable Cases: 41
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 435
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 403
Recovered Probable Cases: 32
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 244
Confirmed Cases: 196
Probable Cases: 48
Total Active Cases: 28
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 215
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 177
Recovered Probable Cases: 38
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

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

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


43RD MARCH FOR LIFE SET FOR JANUARY 17
The 43rd Annual March for Life, sponsored by Arkansas Right to Life, will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday,
January 17, in Little Rock. The march marks the 48th anniversary of the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

The observance is an event that attracts thousands of Arkansans from across the state including churches
and families to participate in a peaceful, prayerful and powerful remembrance of the millions of unborn
children who have lost their lives to legal abortion.

“As we mark the rank as the No. 1 pro-life state in the country we recognize that our work is not over as
long as unborn babies are still killed from legal abortion in our state,” said Rose Mimms, executive
director of Arkansas Right to Life, adding, “We still face tremendous opposition as we work to protect the
lives of the unborn.”

Staging of marchers will be along West Capitol between Battery and Wolfe Streets behind the State
Capitol. At 2 p.m. the march will begin at Wolfe Street and continue West to East on West Capitol where
marchers will split into two groups – one to the right and one to the left – then join together on the steps at
the front of the State Capitol for a short program.

Andy Mayberry, president of Arkansas Right to Life, will serve as the master of ceremonies and
encourages all participants to remember recommendations for masks and distancing to prevent the spread
of COVID 19.

Participants in the program are keynote speakers, Monica Wood of Little Rock, and Charlisa Campbell of
North Little Rock; as well as Father Eric Polmeier, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Little
Rock, and Rev. Chad Meeks, associate pastor of Cedar Heights Baptist Church in North Little Rock.
Music selections will be performed by Rita and DeWalden Frazier and their daughter, Promise.

Also invited to attend are Gov. Asa Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, U.S.
Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve
Womack, Bruce Westerman, state constitutional officers and members of the Arkansas General
Assembly.

For more information contact Mimms at 501-663-4237 or email artl@artl.org.

SUBMIT YOUR DISABILITY UPDATE REPORT ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
We are required to conduct continuing eligibility reviews for disabled beneficiaries every three years.  This process requires that beneficiaries complete a Continuing Disability Review mailer to update information about their medical conditions and recent treatments. 

We now offer an online option to complete this update and provide any supporting documents about your medical treatment or your work.

We designed this new form with convenience in mind — and to save you time.  You can access the online form at www.ssa.gov/ssa455-online-form.  (Use either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome for the best online experience.)

You will need your Social Security number, your current address and phone number, and a valid email address to complete the form.  Also, you must have received a request for an updated disability report in the mail.

Once you “Click to Sign,” you will receive an email from echosign.com asking you to confirm your digital signature.  Check your junk folder if you don’t receive it within a few minutes.  Your signature isn’t complete — and your form won’t be processed — until you complete the instructions in your email.

Please visit our blog at blog.ssa.gov for more articles — and our frequently asked questions page at ssa.gov/faq.  Please be sure to let your friends and loved ones know about this new online option.

NOTE: The mention of Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by the Social Security Administration.

January 04, 2021

OUACHITA COUNTY QUORUM COURT TO MEET
The Ouachita County Quorum Court will have their regular meeting on Tuesday January 5, 2021 at 6:30 P.M. The Quorum Court will meet at the District Courtroom located at 109 Goodgame Street in Camden.
The Agenda is as follows:
Roll Call

Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance
Approval of Minutes

Approval of Treasurer's report
Audience participation
New Business
    An ordinance establishing the time and place of the regular monthly meeting of the Ouachita County Quorum Court
    An appropriation ordinance to appropriate funds in the solid waste fund, solid waste budget.

    An appropriation ordinance to appropriate funds in the motor fuel tax fund, highway budget
Unfinished Business
Adjournment



GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES INTENT TO GRANT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
Camden and Chidester men included

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced his intent to grant 13 pardons, two restorations of firearm rights only, and one commutation. An additional 21 clemency requests were denied and two had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates.

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

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant pardons to the following people:
John H. Allen (Chidester): Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Deliver, 2 counts (Y Felony) and Delivery of Cocaine, 2 counts (Y Felony) (CR 91-220).
This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1992 – Ouachita County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Tamara Billings (Bismarck): Criminal Attempt to Manufacture Methamphetamine (A Felony) (CR 2007-110-1) and Forgery II-2 counts (C Felony) (CR 2007-0013).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2007 – Hot Spring County and 2007 – Clark County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Hot Spring County Sheriff has raised objections.

Melinda Burns (Bentonville): Delivery of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamine)-2 Counts (Y Felony) (CR 2005-508-1).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2005 – Benton County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Jacque Casement (Pearcy): Criminal Conspiracy to Deliver a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) (C Felony) (CR 92-2829).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1994 – Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Brian A. Frye (Forrest City): Terroristic Threatening (A Misdemeanor) (CR 94-558); Burglary (B Felony) (CR 95-384); Criminal Use of a Prohibited Weapon (B Felony) (CR 95-23); Battery III (Misdemeanor) (CR-08-8850); and Battery III (Misdemeanor) (CR-08-8850).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1995 – St. Francis County, 1996 – St. Francis County, 1996 – St. Francis County, 2008 – St. Francis County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Robert W. Griffin (Mayflower): Criminal Attempt-Delivery of Controlled Substance (D Felony) and Use of a Communication Device (C Felony) (CR 2011-1202).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2011 – Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gregory D. Jones (Sherwood): Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent-Marijuana (C Felony)(CR 2002-001206).|
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2002 – Pualski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Chad Kelley (Greenbrier): Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 2005-63)
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2005 – Faulkner County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Coachie Kincaid (Forsyth, MO): Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (C Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 2004-35); Criminal Attempt to Manufacture a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (A Felony) (CR 2004-108); Possession of a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (C Felony) (CR 2004-08), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony), and Possession of Controlled Substance, Marijuana (A Misdemeanor) (CR 2006-39); Criminal Attempt to Manufacture a Controlled Substance, Methamphetamine (Revocation) (A Felony) (CR 2004-108); and Criminal Mischief in the 2nd Degree (A Misdemeanor) (CR 2007-179).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2004 – Baxter County, 2004 – Baxter County, 2006 – Baxter County, 2006 – Baxter County, and 2007 – Baxter County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application

Edward L. Lovell (Hackett): Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver (C Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR-89-196).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1989 – Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Dennis Price (Conway): Theft by Receiving (B Felony) (CR 00-186-3).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2000 – Saline County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gregory Shehane (Emerson): Possession of a Controlled Substance-Methamphetamine (C Felony) (CR 97-59-3).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1998 – Nevada County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Mike Sitmac (Bokoshe, OK): Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (B Felony) (CR-88-362) and Delivery of a Controlled Substance (B Felony) (CR-88-364).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1988 – Sebastian County and 1988 – Sebastian County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further felony criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant the restoration of firearm rights only to the following person:

Loy Cross (Camden): Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) (C Felony) (CR-95-242) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) (C Felony) (CR-95-242). 
This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1996 – Ouachita County and 1996 – Ouachita County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Sheriff of Ouachita County has signed the Recommendation of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer as required by law. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Aaron B. Lovelady (Smithville): Theft by Receiving ($500) (C Felony) (CR 2007-0327).This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (2007 – Craighead County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Sheriff of Lawrence County has signed the Recommendation of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer as required by law. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Governor Hutchinson intends to grant a commutation of sentence to the following people:
Tommy L. Hilburn: Possession of Controlled Substance (Meth) w/Intent to Deliver (Y Felony) (2002-324) (Jury Trial).
The governor has given notice of his intent to commute the sentence of Tommy L. Hilburn, who was convicted in Greene County in 2003 for the above offense, from a total of 480 months to serve in the Department of Correction to time served. There are no law enforcement objections to the application. 
 

 COVID-19 UPDATE – JANUARY 04, 2021
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,427
Confirmed Cases: 1,243
Probable Cases: 184
Total Active Cases: 170
Active Confirmed Cases: 143
Active Probable Cases: 27
Total Recovered Cases: 1,227
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,078
Recovered Probable Cases: 149
Total Deaths: 29
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,569
Confirmed Cases: 1,994
Probable Cases: 575
Total Active Cases: 348
Active Confirmed Cases: 304
Active Probable Cases: 44
Total Recovered Cases: 2,148
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,634
Recovered Probable Cases: 514
Total Deaths: 73
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,597
Confirmed Cases: 1,053
Probable Cases: 544
Total Active Cases: 119
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 82
Total Recovered Cases: 1,435
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 986
Recovered Probable Cases: 449
Total Deaths: 43
Confirmed Deaths: 30
Probable Deaths: 13

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 495
Confirmed Cases: 453
Probable Cases: 42
Total Active Cases: 52
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 432
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 401
Recovered Probable Cases: 31
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 244
Confirmed Cases: 196
Probable Cases: 48
Total Active Cases: 30
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 213
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 177
Recovered Probable Cases: 36
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 233,475
Confirmed Cases: 192,809
Probable Cases: 40,666
Recovered Cases: 205,462

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

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

 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN CALLS FOR STATE TO SEEK REVIEW OF PUBLIC-SCHOOL CHOICE COURT CASE
Says ‘We shouldn't allow the courts to stonewall the progress Arkansas has made on school choice'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin expressed his disapproval with last week's decision by a panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to continue exempting four south Arkansas school systems from the state's public school choice laws. Regarding the decision, Griffin issued the following statement: 

 "A three judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reached the wrong decision in this case. As Judge Kobes correctly pointed out in his dissent, the decision 'is antithetical to the goals of desegregation cases: achieving integrated schools and ending federal court supervision. This is a step back that unnecessarily restricts the legitimate policy choices of the people of Arkansas, expressed through the legislature.' This case is extremely important, and I believe Arkansas should seek review of this case by the full nine judge panel of the 8th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. School choice recognizes that parents, not the government, should determine where and how their children are educated, and we shouldn't allow the courts to stonewall the progress Arkansas has made on school choice."     

HEARINGS WITH THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DURING COVID-19

By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
In March 2020, we temporarily closed all of our Social Security Hearing Offices due to the Coronavirus pandemic and are not offering in-person hearings.  During the office closures, we are providing two flexible, safe, and secure hearing options:  either a telephone hearing or our new option of an online video hearing.   

Additional information on both of these hearing options is available here: www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_options.html

What are “online video hearings”?

Online video hearings are a secure way to conduct hearings over the internet, using a free platform called Microsoft Teams.  You and your representative, if you have one, can attend the online video hearing safely and securely from any private place with a secure internet connection using a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer.  

Like our telephone hearings option, the online video hearings option is not mandatory.  We will conduct online video hearings the same way we conduct telephone and in-person hearings.  During the hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will swear in all hearing participants and listen to your testimony.  You will see the ALJ and representative, if one has been appointed.  Other participants, such as vocational/medical experts and interpreters, will join by phone. 

What are the technology requirements to participate in an online video hearing?
You and an appointed representative, if applicable, must have access to email and a personal computer, laptop, or Android/Apple tablet or mobile device with a secure and private, high-speed Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.  The device must have a camera, microphone, and speakers.  If using a mobile device, you must download the free Microsoft Teams application. 

We will send you a link to a user guide that explains how to access and use Microsoft Teams before the date of an online video hearing.   

Please read our publication Online Video Hearings at the Social Security Administration at   www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-70-10284.pdf for additional information.  A short video about online video hearings is available at www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_video.html.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the joint session of Congress later this week:

“I share the concerns of many Arkansans about irregularities in the presidential election, especially in states that rushed through election-law changes to relax standards for voting-by-mail. I also share their disappointment with the election results. I therefore support a commission to study the last election and propose reforms to protect the integrity of our elections. And after Republicans win in Georgia, the Senate should also hold more hearings on these matters. All Americans deserve to have confidence in the elections that undergird our free government.

Nevertheless, the Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states—not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College—not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts—not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states.

If Congress purported to overturn the results of the Electoral College, it would not only exceed that power, but also establish unwise precedents. First, Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress. Second, Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect. Third, Congress would take another big step toward federalizing election law, another longstanding Democratic priority that Republicans have consistently opposed.

Thus, I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on January 6. I’m grateful for what the president accomplished over the past four years, which is why I campaigned vigorously for his reelection. But objecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term—it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.”


South Arkansas Arts Center LogoARTIST CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR SAAC'S ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SHOWCASE
The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center is hosting its annual SAAC Membership Showcase and invites all area artists to submit their work for the exhibit. The Membership Showcase will be held January 7 - Feburary 3 in the SAAC Galleries. Artists who are not SAAC members are welcome to join SAAC when they enter their artwork if they would like to participate in the show. Artwork needs to be delivered to SAAC by 5:00pm on Tuesday, January 5.
Area artists are welcome to select two favorite works, created at any point in their lifetime, and deliver them to SAAC for the Membership Show. The only rule is that work shown in the previous year's Membership Show may not be submitted again. New SAAC members may submit two entries for free when they join SAAC. For existing members, the first artwork entry is free, and the second piece is $10 to enter. Participants are encouraged to sell their work, but it is not a requirement. Entries for the show may be delivered to SAAC on Monday and Tuesday, January 4-5, 9:00-5:00 pm. Artists may pick up their works on Februry 4-5.
As in past years - anything goes! All 2-D and 3-D fine arts media will be accepted, including photography, computer generated art, jewelry, video, fiber art, and multi-media. 2-D works must be completely ready for gallery display - framed in a clean, neat and professional manner with a secure wire hanger. 3-D works, and multi-media presentations must be display ready.

"At SAAC, it's an essential part of our mission to be a place where artists of all kinds have the opportunity to create and exhibit their work," said Laura Allen, SAAC executive director. "The Membership Show is great way to get involved with the artistic community and even sell your work!"
The SAAC Membership Show is sponsored by William P. Cook and Associates. The artist reception will be hosted for small groups on Saturday, January 9, with scheduled times for viewing at 6:00pm or 6:30pm. Guests are asked to RSVP for a limited-entry time slot.
Entry forms and additional information about this show is available on the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org. For more information, call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

December 30, 2020

TREASURY AND IRS BEGIN DELIVERING SECOND ROUND OF ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS
IR-2020-280, December 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department will begin delivering a second round of Economic Impact Payments as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to millions of Americans who received the first round of payments earlier this year.

The initial direct deposit payments may begin arriving as early as tonight for some and will continue into next week. Paper checks will begin to be mailed tomorrow, Wednesday, December 30.

The IRS emphasizes that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of January 4, 2021. The IRS reminds taxpayers that the payments are automatic, and they should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.

As with the first round of payments under the CARES Act, most recipients will receive these payments by direct deposit. For Social Security and other beneficiaries who received the first round of payments via Direct Express, they will receive this second payment the same way.

Anyone who received the first round of payments earlier this year but doesn’t receive a payment via direct deposit will generally receive a check or, in some instances, a debit card. For those in this category, the payments will conclude in January. If additional legislation is enacted to provide for an additional amount, the Economic Impact Payments that have been issued will be topped up as quickly as possible.

Eligible individuals who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment this year – either the first or the second payment – will be able to claim it when they file their 2020 taxes in 2021. The IRS urges taxpayers who didn’t receive a payment this year to review the eligibility criteria when they file their 2020 taxes; many people, including recent college graduates, may be eligible to claim it. People will see the Economic Impact Payments (EIP) referred to as the Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR since the EIPs are an advance payment of the RRC.

“Throughout this challenging year, the IRS has worked around the clock to provide Economic Impact Payments and critical taxpayer services to the American people,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “We are working swiftly to distribute this second round of payments as quickly as possible. This work continues throughout the holidays and into the new year as we prepare for the upcoming filing season. We urge everyone to visit IRS.gov in the coming days for the latest information on these payments and for important information and assistance with filing their 2021 taxes.”

Authorized by the newly enacted COVID-relief legislation, the second round of payments, or “EIP 2,” is generally $600 for singles and $1,200 for married couples filing a joint return. In addition, those with qualifying children will also receive $600 for each qualifying child. Dependents who are 17 and older are not eligible for the child payment.

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 tax return, those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool by November 21, 2020 or who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

Who is eligible for the second Economic Impact Payment?

Generally, U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for this second payment.  Eligible individuals will automatically receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples and up to $600 for each qualifying child.  Generally, if you have adjusted gross income for 2019 up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, you will receive the full amount of the second payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced. 

How do I find out if the IRS is sending me a payment?

People can check the status of both their first and second payments by using the Get My Payment tool, available in English and Spanish only on IRS.gov. The tool is being updated with new information, and the IRS anticipates the tool will be available again in a few days for taxpayers.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment? What if I changed bank accounts?

The IRS will use the data already in our systems to send the new payments. Taxpayers with direct deposit information on file will receive the payment that way. For those without current direct deposit information on file, they will receive the payment as a check or debit card in the mail. For those eligible but who don’t receive the payment for any reason, it can be claimed by filing a 2020 tax return in 2021. Remember, the Economic Impact Payments are an advance payment of what will be called the Recovery Rebate Credit on the 2020 Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Will people receive a paper check or a debit card?

For those who don’t receive a direct deposit by early January, they should watch their mail for either a paper check or a debit card. To speed delivery of the payments to reach as many people as soon as possible, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, part of the Treasury Department, will be sending a limited number of payments out by debit card. Please note that the form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than for the first mailed EIP. Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a debit card this time, and some people who received a debit card last time may receive a paper check.

IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period for a check or an Economic Impact Payment card, which is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. The Economic Impact Payment Card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. It has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card. Information included with the card will explain that this is your Economic Impact Payment. More information about these cards is available at EIPcard.com.

Are more people eligible now for a payment than before?

Under the earlier CARES Act, joint returns of couples where only one member of the couple had a Social Security number were generally ineligible for a payment – unless they were a member of the military. But this month’s new law changes and expands that provision, and more people are now eligible. In this situation, these families will now be eligible to receive payments for the taxpayers and qualifying children of the family who have work-eligible SSNs. People in this group who don’t receive an Economic Impact Payment can claim this when they file their 2020 taxes under the Recovery Rebate Credit. 

Is any action needed by Social Security beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits who are not typically required to file a tax return?

Most Social Security retirement and disability beneficiaries, railroad retirees and those receiving veterans’ benefits do not need take any action to receive a payment. Earlier this year, the IRS worked directly with the relevant federal agencies to obtain the information needed to send out the new payments the same way benefits for this group are normally paid. For eligible people in this group who didn’t receive a payment for any reason, they can file a 2020 tax return.

I didn’t file a tax return and didn’t register with the IRS.gov non-filers tool. Am I eligible for a payment?

Yes, if you meet the eligibility requirement. While you won’t receive an automatic payment now, you can still claim the equivalent Recovery Rebate Credit when you file your 2020 federal income tax return.

Will I receive anything for my tax records showing I received a second Economic Impact Payment?

Yes. People will receive an IRS notice, or letter, after they receive a payment telling them the amount of their payment. They should keep this for their tax records.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about Economic Impact Payments and the 2020 Recovery Rebate, key information will be posted on IRS.gov/eip. Later this week, you may check the status of your payment at IRS.gov/GetMyPayment. For other COVID-19-related tax relief, visit IRS.gov/Coronavirus.

FIVE WAYS SSA.GOV SAVES YOU TIME
By Tonya Cater
SSA’s online tools and services save you time and make your life easier.  Often, there’s no need to contact us.  Here are five of our webpages that can make your life easier:
With your own personal my Social Security account, you can request a replacement Social Security card, verify your earnings, get future benefit estimates, obtain benefit verification letters, and more at www.ssa.gov/myaccount

Need answers to your Social Security-related questions?  Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page at www.ssa.gov/faq.

You can complete and submit your online application for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement

Access our publications library with online booklets and pamphlets, including audio versions, on key subjects at www.ssa.gov/pubs

Check out our blog for Social Security news and updates at https://blog.ssa.gov.    

VIRTUAL TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE TO HONOR 980 ARKANSAS HEROES OF DONATION JANUARY 1, 2021
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (December 29th, 2020) – On New Year’s Day, 980 Arkansas Heroes of
Donation (all organ, tissue and eye donors and donors in spirit) will be honored online with a
dedicated rose in Donate Life America’s floral sculpture in the virtual Tournament of Roses
Parade.

This year, due to COVID-19, the 130-year-old Tournament of Roses Parade has gone virtual
with a two-hour New Year celebration live on TV beginning at 8am. Since 2004, Donate Life
 people across the country and around the world to save and heal lives through the powerful
message of organ, tissue and eye donation.

As a tribute to 17 years of float participation in the Rose Parade, the Donate Life community will
feature a beautiful and symbolic floral sculpture, which will be displayed in Pasadena on New
Year’s Day. The sculpture, “Community of Life,” features a vibrant floral honeycomb built by
bees, sharing the important message that we are stronger when we work together as a
community. Twenty-one hexagonal memorial portraits of donors are interwoven within the
honeycomb, symbolizing the life donors give through organ, eye and tissue donation.

980 Arkansans will be represented by roses in the floral sculpture, provided by ARORA. Each
rose has the donor or donor in spirit’s name. A donor in spirit is an individual whose intent was
to become a donor, but for medical or other reasons was unable to complete the donation.
Along with the dedicated roses, donors’ family members were given the opportunity to write a
message of love, remembrance, gratitude and hope to their loved ones, which is included with
the rose.

“Unfortunately the Donate Life Float and Rose Parade could not take place this year, however
that doesn't take away the powerful life restoring gift each of our heroes of donation gave and
doesn’t diminish the love and need to remember and honor them,” said Beth Cameron,
Manager of Family Aftercare at ARORA. “We are so grateful in this unprecedented year of 2020
that we are able to honor each of our donors with a rose displayed in the floral sculpture.”
There are more than 114,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant -- 300 of those
Arkansans. “Each day, 20 people die waiting for a transplant, said Director of Communications
Audrey Coleman, “That is why we are so thankful for Donate Life America’s continued
participation in the Tournament of Roses Parade, because it brings the need for organ, tissue
and eye donation registration to a national stage.” For more information about the Tournament
of Roses parade, visit, www.tournamentofroses.com .

NRA-BACKED STAND YOUR GROUND LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN ARKANSAS
FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action is pleased to announce the filing of NRA-backed legislation, Senate Bill 24, in Arkansas. This important piece of legislation would eliminate the duty to retreat for victims of a crime — if passed, a victim who is attacked will no longer be required by law to try and run away. 

“Laws should favor victims — not criminals, as they do now. When crimes occur, victims have little time to decide the best course of action for survival. They should not be required to run away or face prosecution for defending themselves,” said Matt Herriman, NRA Arkansas state director. “This measure is common sense. Anyone who opposes it puts the interests of the criminal above the interests of the victim.”

SB 24, introduced by Sen. Bob Ballinger, was filed Dec. 23 and will come before the Senate Judiciary in the second week of January. Rep. Aaron Pilkington will sponsor the legislation on the House side.

“The ability for residents in rural areas, like Johnson and Pope County, where response times may be longer because of less law enforcement officers covering a larger area, is pivotal,” said Rep. Pilkington. "By the time the police or sheriff department can arrive, it could be too late for the crime victims living out in the more remote areas of our state.” 

Laws in at least 25 states provide that there is no duty to retreat in any place in which one is lawfully present. (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.) At least 10 of those states include language stating one may “stand his or her ground.” (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.)

“It is time that Arkansas move past the politics and provide clarity for good citizens who just wish to protect themselves and others,” said Sen. Ballinger of Ozark. “Over the last few years, a group of legislators went to work with prosecutors, self-defense advocacy groups, and law enforcement to craft the right stand your ground legislation for Arkansas. We look forward to it passing during this upcoming session and I will be relieved when law-abiding Arkansans get to share the protections provided in so many other states,” Ballinger concluded.

Herriman concluded, “Crime victims should not have to worry that defending themselves or their families could result in legal trouble. This is such an important measure and the NRA looks forward to working with lawmakers to score a big win in the name of self-defense for all law-abiding Arkansans.” 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 30, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,314
Confirmed Cases: 1,146
Probable Cases: 168
Total Active Cases: 144
Active Confirmed Cases: 109
Active Probable Cases: 99
Total Recovered Cases: 1,144
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,016
Recovered Probable Cases: 128
Total Deaths: 25
Confirmed Deaths: 20
Probable Deaths: 5

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,319
Confirmed Cases: 1,772
Probable Cases: 547
Total Active Cases: 249
Active Confirmed Cases: 167
Active Probable Cases: 82
Total Recovered Cases: 1,997
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,549
Recovered Probable Cases: 448
Total Deaths: 73
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,527
Confirmed Cases: 1,029
Probable Cases: 498
Total Active Cases: 113
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 76
Total Recovered Cases: 1,373
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 963
Recovered Probable Cases: 410
Total Deaths: 41
Confirmed Deaths: 29
Probable Deaths: 12

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 468
Confirmed Cases: 431
Probable Cases: 37
Total Active Cases: 52
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 405
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 374
Recovered Probable Cases: 31
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 221
Confirmed Cases: 183
Probable Cases: 38
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 15
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 195
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 167
Recovered Probable Cases: 28
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 219,246
Confirmed Cases: 182.627
Probable Cases: 36,619
Recovered Cases: 194,436

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

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

December 28, 2020

COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING DECEMBER 29 IN CAMDEN TO BE PROVIDED BY UAM
A community drive-up testing clinic for COVID-19 will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). There will be no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
The testing will be done by UAMS nurses and volunteers from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at the Planting a Seed Foundation located at 955 S. Adams St., Camden. 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 28, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,290
Confirmed Cases: 1,137
Probable Cases: 153
Total Active Cases: 165
Active Confirmed Cases: 128
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 1,101
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 988
Recovered Probable Cases: 113
Total Deaths: 23
Confirmed Deaths: 20
Probable Deaths: 3

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,278
Confirmed Cases: 1,754
Probable Cases: 524
Total Active Cases: 281
Active Confirmed Cases: 193
Active Probable Cases: 88
Total Recovered Cases: 1,924
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,505
Recovered Probable Cases: 419
Total Deaths: 73
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 17

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,493
Confirmed Cases: 1,024
Probable Cases: 469
Total Active Cases: 104
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 60
Total Recovered Cases: 1,349
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 952
Recovered Probable Cases: 397
Total Deaths: 40
Confirmed Deaths: 28
Probable Deaths: 12

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 463
Confirmed Cases: 428
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 58
Active Confirmed Cases: 54
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 396
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 366
Recovered Probable Cases: 30
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 8
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 203
Confirmed Cases: 175
Probable Cases: 28
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 177
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 156
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 214,877
Confirmed Cases: 180,289
Probable Cases: 34,588
Recovered Cases: 189,915

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

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

CRANKING UP THE SAVINGS THROUGH ENERGY EFFICIENCY

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The weather outside may be frightful, but your energy bill does not have to be. Instead of cranking up the thermostat during the cold weather months, take some free or low-cost steps to make your home more energy efficient to help save money on your utility bill.

With many customers still working or taking on other activities from home due to the pandemic, managing and conserving your energy usage is more important than ever.

Remember, heating and air conditioning can account for more than 50% of a home’s energy usage. Setting the thermostat to 68 degrees during the winter months is an easy way to reduce your energy usage. Every degree above 68 degrees can increase your bill by about 3%. So, if you crank it up to 78 degrees, for example, you could add 30% to your bill.

Adjusting the thermostat is not the only way you can help keep your heater or other appliances from going into overdrive; you also can:

Seal air leaks. Install weather stripping around your doors, windows and any location where there may be a path between the inside and outside of your home or business.

Conserve hot water. Wrap your electric water heater with a water heater blanket that can be found at local home improvement stores and set the thermostat to 120 degrees or medium.

Keep all doors and windows closed. Constant opening will let out the warm air, forcing your heater to work harder to keep the room at the set temperature.

Ensure fans are turning the right way. Fans should be run at a low speed clockwise during the winter. This helps keep the cold air from blowing down on you.

Keep the air circulating. Do not block heat registers or air returns with curtains or furniture.

Leverage the sun. During the day, open your curtains and blinds to let in the warm sunlight. Close them at night to reduce heat loss.

To learn more about energy efficiency, as well as the Entergy Arkansas energy efficiency program, visit https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/your_home/save_money/ee/home-energy-solutions/.

For those struggling to pay their utility bills due to the pandemic, Entergy has made flexible payment arrangements available through its Enhanced Customer Assistance plan. We also offer bill help for low-income customers, older adults and customers with disabilities through Entergy’s The Power to Care program and the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. To learn more about these options, visit Entergy.com/covid-19/assistance/ and select your location.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 715,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.


DELTA DAY TO DAY WITH DIABETES
Are you a person with diabetes or need diabetes resources?   Our online Delta Day to Day with Diabetes support group offers just that! The group is free and open to anyone with diabetes or anyone living or caring for someone with diabetes.
Sign up for this 8-week program that will be running from January 11 through February 28, 2021. Join our Facebook group at: www.facebook.com/groups/deltadaytodaywithdiabetes/
Register at: https://uaex.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eaJQYv1rDlWcsUl.
If you have any  questions, please contact:
Tonya S. McKenzie
Family/Consumer Science Agent
Ouachita County
tmckenzie@uaex.edu
870.231.1160

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN APPOINTS WENDY L. JOHNSON TO ARKANSAS ETHICS COMMISSION 
Says ‘Wendy's broad range of legal experience and community involvement will be beneficial to the Arkansas Ethics Commission'

LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today appointed Wendy L. Johnson to the Arkansas Ethics Commission and issued the following statement: 

 "I am pleased to appoint Wendy L. Johnson of Springdale to the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Wendy's broad range of legal experience and community involvement will be beneficial to the Arkansas Ethics Commission. I congratulate Wendy, and I am thankful for her willingness to use her skills and experience to serve our state in this position. I am thankful to Ashley Driver Younger for her outstanding service and leadership on the Arkansas Ethics Commission."

Upon being appointed, Wendy L. Johnson issued the following statement: "I am honored that Lt. Governor Tim Griffin appointed me to serve as a member of the Arkansas Ethics Commission and will approach all aspects of my appointment with careful consideration and due diligence." 

 Ms. Johnson will replace Ms.Younger on the commission. She will serve a five-year term which will begin January 1, 2021. 

About Wendy L. Johnson
Wendy L. Johnson is a Partner at the Springdale office of RMP LLP. Wendy co-leads the Investigations and Corporate Compliance practice area, where she advises clients in all significant areas of governmental investigations, compliance, white collar crime, large-scale corporate internal investigations, and complex tax investigations. Wendy is a distinguished litigator, having tried many jury trials at both the state and federal levels and having argued numerous cases before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to joinng RMP LLP, she spent more than twelve years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where she served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney. Prior to her federal service, Johnson was a state Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for over seven years in Sebastian and Logan counties. Johnson is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and of the University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. She is also an active and engaged member of her community. 

COTTON SECURES KEY PRIORITIES IN PANDEMIC RELIEF PACKAGE
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) announced that the following provisions were included in the latest Covid-19 relief package.

“After months of Democratic stalling, Congress finally passed updated relief for Arkansans and Americans around the country. I’m pleased that many provisions helping Arkansans recover and get back to work were included in the final bill,” said Cotton.

Vaccine Support:
$20 billion to purchase vaccines that will be available at no charge to anyone who needs it.
$8 billion for vaccine distribution.
$20 billion to assist states with testing.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):
2nd round of PPP loans for small businesses that have suffered losses caused by the pandemic.
Simplifies loan forgiveness applications for PPP loans of $150,000 or less.
Expenses paid with PPP loans are tax deductible.
Mandates the eligibility of religious institutions and includes small broadcasters as eligible businesses.
Planned Parenthood is barred from receiving PPP second-draw loans. Senator Cotton led 27 other senators in urging the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood after it improperly received PPP loans through the CARES Act earlier this year.

Poultry and Timber Payments:
Poultry growers under contract will be eligible for payments.
Provides $200 million in assistance to timber harvesting and hauling businesses that suffered losses greater than 10 percent as a result of the pandemic.

Livestock Dealer Trust: 
Ensures that cattle sellers receive payment if a livestock dealer becomes insolvent.
Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act:

Extends Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients who do not have other coverage.
Medicaid Access for Marshallese Arkansans: 
Extends Medicaid eligibility to citizens of Freely Associated States living in the United States, including many Marshallese residents of Northwest Arkansas.
Water Resources Development Act:
Authorizes the McClellan Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS) channel deepening project.
Authorizes the Ouachita and Black Rivers water supply project.
Rural Access to Hospice Act:
Allows beneficiaries to keep their known Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and RHC physician when they choose to enter hospice.

Federal Reserve:
Ensures that Federal Reserve emergency lending powers cannot be repurposed beyond their goal of restoring functioning credit markets.

The legislative package also included several national security priorities for Senator Cotton, including:

Taiwan Assurance Act:
Senator Cotton introduced the Taiwan Assurance Act in 2019 to enhance the U.S.-Taiwan relationship and bolster Taiwan's participation in the international community.
Huawei Replacement Funding: 
Provides funding for rural carriers to remove Huawei gear from their networks.

BOOZMAN SECURES FUNDING FOR ARKANSAS PRIORITIES
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) subcommittee, secured provisions in the omnibus that stand to deliver benefits to the Natural State.

“Congress has an obligation to fund the government. Passing the appropriations bills ensures we are investing in programs that support the needs of Americans. I’m proud to craft legislation that fully funds the VA MISSION Act and electronic health record modernization programs while supporting new initiatives to reduce and prevent veteran suicide,” Boozman said. “I’m pleased Congress approved resources for programs important to Arkansas.”

Boozman authored the section of the bill that funds military construction and veterans affairs. He also secured resources for several Arkansas-related priorities:

Air Force Training: $8 million to support training at Razorback Range.

Pine Bluff Arsenal: Over $30 million for munitions manufacturing.

Fort Chaffee: $15 million for the construction of the Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center which will provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best.

188th Wing:  $2.6 million for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program renewable energy project.

Department of Defense Research: Funding for collaborative reearch in which Arkansas companies are engaged, including more than $34 million for silicon carbide research to make smaller components for more sophisticated modern weapons.

National Center for Toxicological Research: $66.7 million to support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research to promote and protect public health conducted at the National Center for Toxicological Research. This facility is located in Jefferson County.

Rural Broadband: $635 million to help close the digital divide and invest in rural broadband through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program.

Rural Development: Expanding business development and job training opportunities in rural areas, including $2.8 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Access (ATTRA) program which connects Arkansas agricultural producers to information that helps them improve their operations. ATTRA administers the Armed to Farm program that assists veterans in transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. ATTRA has a regional headquarters located in Fayetteville.

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA): $290 million to support effective and innovative drug control efforts by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in HIDTA areas. In Arkansas this includes Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski and Washington counties.

Veterans Treatment Courts: Support for critical components of our judicial system that offer an alternative treatment to jail for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Veterans treatment courts received $25 million to help break the cycle of addiction.

Law Enforcement Grants: $484 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program which provides federal, state and local governments the tools to prevent and combat crime and keep their communities safe. In Arkansas, Byrne JAG helps fund multi-jurisdictional programs like Drug Task Forces.

SRF WIN Funding: $5 million is included to help meet underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs, a program Boozman-authored last Congress to create an innovative approach to modernizing critical water infrastructure.

Community Health Centers (CHC): In Arkansas, there are more than 130 CHC facilities that help nearly 200,000 people get the medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care services they need. The Senate allocates $1.68 billion for these health facilities.

Delta Regional Authority (DRA): The DRA works to improve economic opportunity for residents of the Delta region through targeted investments. The bill includes more than $30 million for the DRA which supports grants to the region and funding for basic public infrastructure development and transportation improvements.

Small Business Development: More than $30 million is included for programs that support small business development such as the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, Women’s Business Centers and Regional Innovation Clusters program.

McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS): The bill includes report language discussing the importance of the MKARNS inland waterway deepening and encourages the Army Corps of Engineers to provide funds for non-structural activities, such as channel deepening, when funding is sufficient to accommodate such projects.

National Feral Swine Damage Management Program: Increases funding to the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to reduce adverse ecological and economic impacts caused by feral swine across Arkansas and the nation.

Community Development Block Grant: The bill provides $3.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, the federal government's largest and most widely available source of financial assistance supporting state and local government-directed neighborhood revitalization, housing rehabilitation and economic development activities. Grants are used to implement plans intended to address housing, community development and economic development needs, as determined by local officials.

Contract Tower Program: The bill funds this program—which provides enhanced safety, improved air traffic control services and significant Federal Aviation Administration cost savings—at $173 million. This program benefits aviation safety by allowing small commercial service and general aviation airports to receive air traffic control services.  There are five contract towers in Arkansas: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Texarkana.

University Transportation Centers: $78 million for researching and developing improved transportation methods. The Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center at the University of Arkansas has been a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center since 1992. 

Workforce Training: $35 million for the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative to support workforce training and education in rural communities across the Delta and Appalachian regions.

Head Start and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program: $135 million increase for Head Start and $85 million increase to provide child care assistance for families in need. CCDBG funds are critical to supporting the needs of working parents and enabling child care to continue to operate, a key to economic recovery.

Water Infrastructure: $1.1 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund which helps public water systems finance the costs of infrastructure improvements needed to achieve or maintain compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and to protect public health. $1.6 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to provide communities low-cost financing for water quality improvement projects.

 

December 22, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 22, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,199
Confirmed Cases: 1,066
Probable Cases: 133
Total Active Cases: 175
Active Confirmed Cases: 141
Active Probable Cases: 34
Total Recovered Cases: 1,001
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 905
Recovered Probable Cases: 96
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 3

COVID-19 METRICS FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,071
Confirmed Cases: 1,605
Probable Cases: 466
Total Active Cases: 212
Active Confirmed Cases: 116
Active Probable Cases: 96
Total Recovered Cases: 1,790
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,433
Recovered Probable Cases: 357
Total Deaths: 69
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 13

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,413
Confirmed Cases: 1,001
Probable Cases: 412
Total Active Cases: 100
Active Confirmed Cases: 56
Active Probable Cases: 44
Total Recovered Cases: 1,275
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 917
Recovered Probable Cases: 358
Total Deaths: 38
Confirmed Deaths: 28
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 432
Confirmed Cases: 400
Probable Cases: 32
Total Active Cases: 59
Active Confirmed Cases: 58
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 364
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 334
Recovered Probable Cases: 30
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 8
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 200
Confirmed Cases: 173
Probable Cases: 27
Total Active Cases: 23
Active Confirmed Cases: 17
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 176
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 155
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 203,107
Confirmed Cases: 171,672
Probable Cases: 31,435
Recovered Cases: 177,629

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

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

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE LEADS MULTI-STATE COALITION SUPPORTING NRA
Says, ‘I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is leading a coalition of 16 States that have filed an amicus brief supporting the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James. The NRA’s lawsuit seeks to block James’s politically motivated attempt in a separate lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, which is the country’s oldest civil rights organization and leading Second Amendment advocacy organization. New York hopes its lawsuit to dissolve the NRA will undermine Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

“New York’s lawsuit is a political stunt by a liberal attorney general who promised in her campaign to go after the NRA. It is designed to undermine our Second Amendment right,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms. That is why I oppose the New York Attorney General’s political stunt and am proud to lead these 16 States in supporting the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. I repeat my invitation to the NRA: The Natural State would happily welcome an organization that fights for the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans and all Americans.”

In August, Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in New York state court seeking to dissolve the NRA. Separately, the District of Columbia Attorney General filed an action against the non-profit organization NRA Foundation, but the DC lawsuit tellingly did not seek dissolution.

Subsequently, the NRA responded by suing Attorney General James in New York federal court, claiming that her dissolution lawsuit violated the First Amendment by seeking to punish the NRA for its constitutionally protected Second Amendment advocacy.

Arkansas’s amicus brief supports the NRA’s federal-court lawsuit. Arkansas argues that James sought dissolution because she doesn’t like the NRA’s political advocacy, its members’ political views, and the organization’s defense of a fundamental constitutional right. The brief argues that New York’s lawsuit violates the First Amendment because it was designed to retaliate against the NRA and its members for these constitutionally-protected activities. The brief makes clear that state regulations of non-profits and charitable organizations are essential to protecting the public. But it also criticizes New York’s politically motivated enforcement of its regulations. Such regulations should never be used to attack a government official’s political opponents.

Arkansas is joined in the amicus brief by Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
 


BOOZMAN VOTES TO SUPPORT ADDITIONAL COVID-19 RELIEF
Secures funding for agriculture & Medicare payments for physicians
 WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted for nearly $900 billion in additional COVID-19 relief for struggling Americans and hard-hit small businesses, along with additional funding to safely open schools and strengthen efforts to defeat the virus so we can reopen America.

The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 92-6. It had already been approved by the House of Representatives and has been sent to President Trump to be signed into law.

“This overdue lifeline will help struggling Americans, keep small businesses from shuttering and help to get our kids safely back in school. It will strengthen our efforts to defeat the virus by dramatically increasing efforts to purchase and distribute lifesaving vaccines,” Boozman said. “The coronavirus doesn’t care if you are a Republican or a Democrat, so relief for Americans impacted by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis should not have been subjected to political posturing that delayed crucial assistance until the eleventh hour. It is necessary that we are unified in order to deliver relief in a more timely manner.”

Boozman—who is slated to serve as the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee during the 117th Congress—worked to ensure that programs helping America’s agriculture producers received $13 billion in funding.

“Things are certainly tough in farm country right now. Commodity prices have been down, input costs up. Farmers have weathered trade wars and inclement weather. COVID-19 was one more huge complication for our agricultural producers. I am pleased that we were able to direct ample funding to programs that specifically help our farmers and ranchers navigate these challenging times,” Boozman said.

Additionally, Boozman successfully led efforts to include language preventing Medicare payment cuts to physicians. The provision is based on legislation he recently introduced, the Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, that ensures payments to physicians are maintained at current levels.

“Cutting physician payments is the last thing that should happen doing when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Patients deserve access to quality and affordable health care. This legislation is necessary to achieve this,” Boozman said. 

Highlights of the latest round of COVID-19 relief
Support for medical efforts to identify, treat and combat COVID-19:
Vaccines: $20 billion for purchase of vaccines and another $8B for distribution;
Testing: $20 billion to assist states with testing;
Provider Relief Fund: $20 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, including the use of unobligated funds, which helps make up for health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19;
Telehealth: $250 million dedicated to telehealth, with an additional $300 million specifically for rural broadband buildout.

Relief for struggling Americans includes:
Direct Checks: A second round of direct checks of $600 for individuals and qualifying dependents;
Unemployment Assistance: Temporary extension of all unemployment assistance created by the CARES Act and allows a supplemental $300 per week for unemployed Americans through March 14, 2021;
Rental Assistance: $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, targeted for individuals who lost their source of income, and an extension of the eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021;
Child Care Assistance: $10 billion for child care programs that allow parents to return to work;
Hunger Relief: $13 billion for emergency food assistance, including increased SNAP assistance, as well as funding for food banks and food pantries.

Help for small businesses:
Extends and Enhances the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Extends the PPP and adds deductibility for PPP expenses;
Expands Eligibility for PPP: Gives businesses experiencing severe revenue reductions an opportunity to apply for additional loans. Nonprofits, local newspapers and small broadcasters are now eligible for the program. Ensures that churches and faith-based organizations are eligible for the program;
Funding for Entertainment Venues: Dedicates $15 billion for live entertainment venues, independent movie theaters and museums;
Replenishes Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Program: $20 billion to assist businesses that were hardest hit by the economic impacts of the coronavirus. 
Funding to safely reopen schools:
K-12 and Higher Education Institutions: Includes $82 billion in funding for schools and universities to assist with reopening for in-person learning.  

December 21, 2020

HOMICIDE IN OUACHITA COUNTY-SHERIFF ASKS FOR HELP
On Saturday December 19, 2020 at approximately 4:37 P.M., The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department along with Ouachita County EMS were dispatched to a residence on Mt. Holly Road just outside of the city limits of Camden to a report of someone screaming for help. Upon arrival at the residence Deputies and EMS made contact with 53-year-old Bryant Bailey lying on the ground in front of his residence. Bailey had suffered gunshot wounds and was transported to the Ouachita County Medical Center where Bailey succumbed to his injuries. Anyone who has any information pertaining to this homicide are asked to come forward. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for this homicide. The Ouachita County Sheriff's Department, Arkansas State Police, Camden Police Department and 13"1 Judicial Task Force are working together in this matter.

 

UAMS TO PROVIDE COVID-19 DRIVE-UP TESTING DECEMBER 29TH IN CAMDEN
LITTLE ROCK – Drive-up testing for COVID-19 will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Dec. 29 at Planting a Seed Foundation, 955 S. Adams St. in Camden. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for testing. Up to 200 community members will be tested. 

The testing will be conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in cooperation with Planting a Seed Foundation, Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Bank of America Foundation. Flu vaccinations will also be available at the drive-up at no cost to the patient for those receiving a COVID-19 test.

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

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

 UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — COPD, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and four dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

 

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF HOLIDAY MESSAGE
The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office Department asks residents to be careful over the Christmas Holiday. Follow all traffic laws. Buckle up. When traveling, let someone knows your destination, the route you’re taking and your estimated time of arrival. Carry a cell phone in case of emergency. If you drink, don’t drive. Have a designated driver. Call 231-5300 or dial 911 in case of emergency. Merry Christmas from the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 21, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,190
Confirmed Cases: 1,052
Probable Cases: 1323
Total Active Cases: 182
Active Confirmed Cases: 147
Active Probable Cases: 35
Total Recovered Cases: 985
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 891
Recovered Probable Cases: 94
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 3

COVID-19 METRIC FOR UNION COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 2,041
Confirmed Cases: 1,599
Probable Cases: 442
Total Active Cases: 211
Active Confirmed Cases: 127
Active Probable Cases: 84
Total Recovered Cases: 1,762
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,416
Recovered Probable Cases: 346
Total Deaths: 68
Confirmed Deaths: 56
Probable Deaths: 12

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,409
Confirmed Cases: 998
Probable Cases: 411
Total Active Cases: 113
Active Confirmed Cases: 60
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 1,258
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 910
Recovered Probable Cases: 348
Total Deaths: 38
Confirmed Deaths: 28
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 431
Confirmed Cases: 399
Probable Cases: 32
Total Active Cases: 62
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 360
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 330
Recovered Probable Cases: 30
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 8
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 196
Confirmed Cases: 170
Probable Cases: 26
Total Active Cases: 20
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 175
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 153
Recovered Probable Cases: 22
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 201,650
Confirmed Cases: 170,603
Probable Cases: 31,047
Recovered Cases: 175,387

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

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

 

LOCKHEED MARTIN TO ACQUIRE AEROJET IN $5 BILLION DEAL
BUSINESS MANUFACTURING NEWS BRIEFS

By Talk Business & Politics Staff
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp. is set to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings in a $5 billion deal, which is a 33% premium above Aerojet’s Dec. 18 stock closing price. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Lockheed has a large operation in Camden, Ark., and Aerojet has a rocket motor testing facility affiliated with the Camden operations.

A large steel casting bell used to help build large solid rocket motors for the Atlas V rocket was in March 2020 installed in Aerojet Rocketdyne’s plant in Camden. The bell, relocated from Sacramento, Calif., is part of a new investment in its Camden facility. In Camden, the Aerojet Rocketdyne bell will be used to produce large solid rocket motors for programs, including hypersonics and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Camden facility will be able to produce motors up to 470 inches long and up to 100 inches in diameter. Aerojet is a vendor to Lockheed Martin on the project.

“We are pleased to bring together our complementary companies in a transformative transaction that will provide premium cash value for our stockholders and tremendous benefits for our employees, customers and partners,” said Eileen Drake, CEO and president of El Segundo, Calif.-based Aerojet. “Joining Lockheed Martin is a testament to the world-class organization and team we’ve built and represents a natural next phase of our evolution. As part of Lockheed Martin, we will bring our advanced technologies together with their substantial expertise and resources to accelerate our shared purpose: enabling the defense of our nation and space exploration.”

Lockheed Martin in October 2019 broke ground on a new $142 million Long Range Fires Production Facility in Camden that is estimated to add 326 jobs. Once construction is complete by the beginning of 2021, the new Long Range facility will add more than 70,000-square-feet of production and office space to the current property in Highland Industrial Park, supporting increased orders for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), the Low-Cost Reduced-Range Practice Rocket (LCRRPR) and other associated work.

December 18, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 18, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,128
Confirmed Cases: 1,017
Probable Cases: 111
Total Active Cases: 170
Active Confirmed Cases: 151
Active Probable Cases: 19
Total Recovered Cases: 935
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 846
Recovered Probable Cases: 89
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 3

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,949
Confirmed Cases: 1,538
Probable Cases: 411
Total Active Cases: 177
Active Confirmed Cases: 102
Active Probable Cases: 75
Total Recovered Cases: 1,707
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,381
Recovered Probable Cases: 326
Total Deaths: 65
Confirmed Deaths: 55
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,377
Confirmed Cases: 984
Probable Cases: 393
Total Active Cases: 117
Active Confirmed Cases: 63
Active Probable Cases: 54
Total Recovered Cases: 1,223
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 894
Recovered Probable Cases: 329
Total Deaths: 37
Confirmed Deaths: 27
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 405
Confirmed Cases: 374
Probable Cases: 31
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 342
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 315
Recovered Probable Cases: 27
Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 187
Confirmed Cases: 163
Probable Cases: 24
Total Active Cases: 19
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 167
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 146
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 194,543
Confirmed Cases: 165,512
Probable Cases: 29,031
Recovered Cases: 169,745

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

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

WINNING TITLES ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2020 ARKANSAS TEEN BOOK AWARD
LITTLE ROCK, Dec. 16 – Arkansas teens have chosen four books to share the 2020 Arkansas Teen Book Award.
The Level 1 winner, chosen by seventh- through ninth-graders, is “I am Still Alive” by Kate Alice Marshall. “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black was voted the runner-up.

The Level 2 winner, chosen by students in 10th through 12th grades, is “Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson. “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas was voted the runner-up.
The Arkansas Teen Book Award began in 2009 as a cooperative effort between public and school librarians across the state. Arkansas has long recognized quality children’s literature through the Charlie May Simon and Arkansas Diamond awards, yet the acknowledgment of young adult literature had been greatly neglected.
The steering committee for the teen award now consists of public librarians and school library media specialists from varying backgrounds and service areas around the state. Each year,dozens of volunteer readers working with teens across the state give their time to reading the nominated titles. The primary sponsoring organization is the Arkansas State Library, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education.

Nominations are accepted from the public and all eligible titles are included for consideration by the steering committee. These books are read and voted on by teachers and librarians across Arkansas to narrow the selections to a manageable reading list. This reading list is distributed statewide and then teens cast their votes for their favorite titles to determine the ultimate winners of the award.

The Arkansas State Library, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, provides the resources, services, and leadership necessary to meet the educational, informational and cultural needs of the citizens of Arkansas and provides guidance and support for the development of local public libraries and library services. For more information on the library’s services, visit www.library.arkansas.gov.

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OFFENSE
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Alejandro Aurioles, age 32, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 97 months in federal prison without the possibility of parole followed by 10 years of supervised release on one count of accessing the Internet with the intent to view child pornography.  The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court records, on October 26, 2018, detectives with the Hot Springs Police Department received a Cybertip report of child pornographic images being downloaded to a Hot Springs telephone number.  Detectives traced the phone number back to a cell phone associated with Aurioles.  On or about December 21, 2018, Aurioles was arrested on a state charge and admitted to Hot Springs detectives that he had downloaded images of child pornography using his cell phone and sold those images to others on two occasions.  During a search of his two cellular phones, thousands of child pornography images and videos of child sexual abuse were forensically recovered. 

Aurioles was indicted in March of 2019 and entered a guilty plea to a related case in September of 2019. 

This case was investigated by the Hot Springs Police Department and the FBI.  Assistant United States Attorneys Kim Harris and Ben Wulff prosecuted the case for the United States.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

BOOZMAN, COTTON APPLAUD CONFIRMATION OF GREGORY TABOR TO SERVE AS U.S. MARSHAL
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) applauded Senate confirmation of Gregory Tabor to serve as U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas.

“Greg Tabor will serve the people of Arkansas the same way that he served the citizens of Fayetteville—with honor and distinction. Greg has developed a wealth of experience through decades of law enforcement service that will enable him to excel in this new role. His leadership skills and expertise will make him an asset to the U.S. Marshal Service. We congratulate Greg and look forward to working with him,” the senators said.

Tabor previously served as the Chief of Police at the Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA). Prior to taking the job at XNA, he served for 34 years with the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas Police Department, beginning in 1985 until he retired as the Chief of Police in 2019. In addition to serving in the police department, Tabor was the Chairman of the Board for the Fourth Judicial District Drug Task Force. He earned his Police Officer Certificate from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
December 18, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The United States Supreme Court upheld an Arkansas law regulating pharmacy benefit managers, which negotiate agreements between health insurance companies and drug stores.

When people get prescriptions from their local drug store, in most cases they don’t pay the full cost. They have insurance, or get help from a government-subsidized program.

Pharmacy benefit managers say that they negotiate discounts for health insurers. That promotes competition and encourages pharmacies to search for the lowest possible wholesale prices.

However, pharmacies told legislators that in many cases they were being reimbursed for less than the wholesale price of the prescriptions, or at such a low rate their profit margins were close to zero. Some pharmacists told of having to refuse to fill prescriptions because they would have lost hundreds of dollars.

The Arkansas legislature has enacted several laws over the years to level the playing field. In 2015 the legislature passed Act 900, which was quickly challenged in court by an association representing the pharmacy benefit managers.

Act 900 was the law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld unanimously. Other state laws have been enacted since, such as legislation enacted during a 2018 special session that requires pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed by the state Insurance Department.

It also prohibits pharmacy benefits managers from writing gag rules into their contracts with pharmacists. That means pharmacists will be able to advise customers on how to purchase alternative prescriptions that are equally effective but not as expensive.

Legislators had been told that pharmacy benefit managers were reimbursing independent drug stores at a lower rate than they reimbursed pharmacies with which they had a corporate affiliation. That is not allowed under Act 900 of 2015.

Arkansas became the first state to impose comprehensive regulations on pharmacy benefit managers, but many other states have followed suit and 45 states joined the Arkansas side in the lawsuit before the Supreme Court. The District of Columbia and the federal government also joined Arkansas.

Organizations of pharmacists and physicians filed legal briefs in support of the Arkansas law. A national trucking company and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed legal briefs in support of the pharmacy benefit managers.

The latest piece of legislation regulating the industry is Act 994 of 2019, which sets out procedures for updating “maximum allowable cost lists.”

The lists are the basis of reimbursements that are paid to local pharmacies. National averages for generics and wholesale drugs are factored in, and the process should be more transparent for everyone. One result should be the elimination of a practice that hurt local pharmacists, which was the retroactive collection of charges by benefit managers.

The Supreme Court ruling was celebrated by Arkansas pharmacists. Every sector in the industry is preparing for more changes in pricing and regulation, simply because prescription drugs account for such a large portion of the overall costs of health care.

For example, during legislative hearings a representative of pharmacy benefits managers told senators that the costs of drugs makes up 22 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums.

December 17, 2020

OUACHITA COUNTY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
"Ouachita County Where People and the Future Are Top Priority"
The Ouachita County Courthouse will be closed December 24, 25 and 28, 2020 in observance of the Christmas holiday.
Friday, January 1, 2020 The Courthouse will be closed for New Year’s Day. The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule.

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 16, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,103
Confirmed Cases: 995
Probable Cases: 108
Total Active Cases: 174
Active Confirmed Cases: 158
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 907
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 818
Recovered Probable Cases: 89
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 18
Probable Deaths: 23

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,909
Confirmed Cases: 1,528
Probable Cases: 381
Total Active Cases: 158
Active Confirmed Cases: 103
Active Probable Cases: 55
Total Recovered Cases: 1,686
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,370
Recovered Probable Cases: 316
Total Deaths: 65
Confirmed Deaths: 55
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,359
Confirmed Cases: 972
Probable Cases: 387
Total Active Cases: 118
Active Confirmed Cases: 65
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 1,206
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 881
Recovered Probable Cases: 325
Total Deaths: 35
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 399
Confirmed Cases: 369
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 51
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 336
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 311
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 181
Confirmed Cases: 158
Probable Cases: 23
Total Active Cases: 18
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 162
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 141
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 181,504
Confirmed Cases: 163,230
Probable Cases: 28,274
Recovered Cases: 167,631

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

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

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN APPLAUDS ARKANSAS'S STATUS AS MOST PRO-LIFE STATE IN AMERICA 
Says ‘I will continue working to...foster a culture that respects and treasures human life'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement following Family Council's press conference announcing Arkansas ranked the most pro-life state in America: 

 "I am proud that Arkansas has been named the most pro-life state in America. The people of Arkansas value the sanctity of human life and want their elected leaders to implement laws that protect society's most vulnerable members -- precious, innocent, unborn children. While we have made great strides to reduce the number of abortions in Arkansas, much work remains to be done. I will continue working to strengthen our pro-life laws and foster a culture that respects and treasures human life." 

COTTON, BOOZMAN BILL TO DESIGNATE NATIONAL COLD WAR CENTER IN BLYTHEVILLE
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) introduced a bill that would designate the museum at Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville, AR as the National Cold War Center.

“Eaker Air Force Base played a key role in the defense of our nation during the Cold War—we ought to preserve its legacy and encourage the continued education of future generations. Our bill will officially recognize the museum in Blytheville as the nation’s National Cold War Center, which will help preserve this important history and be a boon to local tourism,” said Cotton.

“The Blytheville Air Force Base exhibition is dedicated to sharing the stories and educating the public about the community’s role in our national security. I’m proud to honor the accomplishments of the men and women who served at Eaker Air Force Base by recognizing the museum as the National Cold War Center so we can pay tribute to their contributions to our defense,” Boozman said.

Background:
The world’s largest and most comprehensive museum about the Cold War is in production in Blytheville, Arkansas.

Eaker Air Force Base, the site of the museum, was home to approximately 300,000 men and women from 1942-1992 and is America’s best preserved Strategic Air Command Alert Aircrew Facility and Nuclear Weapons Storage Area.


CONGRESS SENDS BOOZMAN INITIATIVE ENHANCING BENEFITS FOR WOMEN VETERANS TO PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON— Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation to sign into law championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that will enhance Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care and services for women veterans.

The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020, a package of veterans’ health care and benefits improvement. It includes the Deborah Sampson Act, legislation that will eliminate barriers to better support the needs of women who answer the call to serving their nation in uniform.

“We need to create a culture at the VA that welcomes women veterans and makes them feel like they belong. It’s long overdue that we update the belief that when a woman seeks care at the VA it’s because her husband is the veteran,” Boozman said on the Senate floor.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Boozman and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT). Their bill garnered support from leading Veteran Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

“Women veterans comprise approximately 10 percent of the veteran population and are the fastest growing cohort within the veteran community. The VFW applauds Senator Boozman for his perseverance to ensure the Deborah Sampson Act becomes law. The Deborah Sampson Act would require VA to address privacy concerns and improve access, expand the amount of time new mothers are given to find health care coverage for their newborns, increase staff cultural competency, eliminate harassment and assault, and make other much-needed improvements to women veterans health care. The VFW believes that VA can provide the highest quality of care to women veterans to guide and assist them during their seasons of life,” said Tammy Barlet, VFW Associate Director of National Legislative Services.

“As the fastest growing veteran cohort, it is past time that women veterans receive care that is equal to both their male veteran counterparts and care that civilians receive,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “We applaud Senator Boozman and Senator Tester for their continuous dedication to women veterans over the years and ensuring that the Deborah Sampson Act was passed before the end of the 116th Congress.”

There are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. According to VA data, women comprise 10 percent of the veteran population. That number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years.
 

COTTON, SMITH, SUOZZI INTRODUCE BILL TO STOP CHINESE FORCED ORGAN HARVESTING
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Congressmen Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Tom Suozzi (D-New York) today announced the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act, which aims to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience. According to an international tribunal  in London, Chinese doctors harvest organs from detainees in Chinese prison camps—sometimes while patients are still alive—for sale in a market worth $1 billion a year.

“There is growing evidence that the Chinese Communist Party has and continues to harvest organs from prisoners and members of Chinese religious groups. This bill will identify and punish CCP members involved in forced organ harvesting. It’s past time to hold Beijing accountable for these heinous acts,” said Cotton.

 “Organ harvesting is a barbaric, inhumane and egregious act of global significance as transnational human trafficking gangs, terrorist organizations, profiteers and even governments – China’s Communist regime in particular – kill innocent people and sell their organs for profit,” said Smith. “A global problem requires a global response. Under our bill, organ harvesters and traffickers, who often prey on vulnerable populations like political prisoners or minorities, will be identified and exposed by the State Department with the goal of punishing perpetrators and promoting effective sanctions and restrictions on travel. The bill will help shed more light on these horrific activities, enable the naming of names of the vicious perpetrators and ultimately help put an end this gruesome human rights abuse.” 

"For years, the Chinese Communist Party has continued to take advantage of prisoners and members of ethnic minority and religious groups. Today, we are still witnessing them take further advantage of these groups through organ harvesting," said Suozzi. "Members of the Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for these unspeakable actions. Forced organ harvesting has no place in our world."

Background 
The Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act:
Authorizes the U.S. government to deny or revoke passports for illegal organ purchasers.
Mandates annual reporting on forced organ harvesting in foreign countries. This State Department reporting would identify foreign officials and entities responsible for forced organ harvesting.
Mandates an annual report on U.S. institutions that train organ transplant surgeons affiliated with foreign entities involved in forced organ harvesting.
Prohibits the export of organ transplant surgery devices to entities responsible for forced organ harvesting.
Sanctions foreign officials and entities that engage in or otherwise support forced organ harvesting.

December 16, 2020

2020 ARKANSAS CENTURY FARM INDUCTEES
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward recently took part as the Arkansas Department of Agriculture inducted 30 additional Arkansas farms into the Arkansas Century Farm program.

The Arkansas Century Farm program recognizes Arkansas farms of 10 acres or more owned by the same family for at least 100 years. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture began the Century Farm program in 2012 to highlight the contributions of these families to the agriculture industry as well as their overall contributions to our state.

Agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry, contributing more than $21 billion to the state’s economy annually and providing more than 269,000 jobs, one of every six jobs, in the state. Arkansas consistently ranks in the top 25 nationally in the production of more than 15 agricultural commodities.

“Year after year, decade after decade, and in the face of many challenges, Century Farm families go out and put everything on the line to earn a living and produce our food, our fabrics, our timber,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “Farm families are great for our economy, and they also are part of the fabric of our state. They imbue our state with the same common sense and solid values that are the bedrock of their family farm. For the good of Arkansas, I hope their children and grandchildren choose to continue the family farm, and that someday, Arkansas will create a Two-Century Farm Family program.”

About 494 farms are currently recognized as Arkansas Century Farms throughout the state. The 30 newly inducted Century Farms are located in the following 23 counties: Arkansas, Bradley, Cleburne, Columbia, Conway, Craighead, Drew, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Howard, Independence, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Ouachita, Perry, Scott, Searcy, Sharp, Washington, White and Woodruff. Ouachita County, Walthall’s Tree Farm was added as well as S4 Cattle Company in Columbia County

ONE IN FOUR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WILL CLOSE DOORS IF ECONOMIC CONDITIONS DON’T IMPROVE SOON
Over half of small business owners plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine
LITTLE ROCK (Dec. 15, 2020)–The NFIB Research Center released its latest national survey focusing on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed shutdowns has had on small businesses. This is the 14th survey since early March. One-in-four small business owners reported that they will have to close their doors in the next six months if the current economic conditions don’t improve, up 5% from last month. Another 22% of owners anticipate they will be able to operate no longer than 7-12 months under current economic conditions.

“Many small businesses are facing additional challenges right now related to weather conditions and renewed business restrictions across the country,” said Holly Wade, Executive Director of NFIB’s Research Center. “The next few months might prove to be the most difficult time for small businesses since the initial shutdown last spring. It is crucial that Congress provides financial relief for small businesses as we head into the winter months.”

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “Our members need additional assistance because unless something happens soon, more businesses will close, and more people will be out of work.”
Key findings from the survey include:
The majority of Paycheck Protection Program borrowers (91%) have spent their entire PPP loan.
If eligible, 45% of small business owners would apply or re-apply for a second PPP loan and 33% would consider applying.
Significantly more borrowers have submitted their PPP loan forgiveness application over the last month – 44% of owners have submitted one, up from 26% last month.
Thirty-six percent of PPP borrowers are not yet ready to submit their forgiveness application and 20% are ready but their bank is not yet accepting them.
Almost half of small business owners who have submitted a PPP loan forgiveness application have received final confirmation from the SBA and over three-fourths of them had 100% of their loan forgiven.
Sixteen percent had 99-91% of their loan forgiven and 6% received less.
Receiving an EIDL grant was the reason for 85% of those who did not receive 100% forgiveness on their PPP loan.
Of those PPP borrowers who have not submitted their forgiveness application yet, 56% report that they plan to submit it by the end of the year.
Twenty-two percent plan to submit their application in January and another 6% in February.
After using the PPP loan, 22% of borrowers have or anticipate having to lay off employees in the next six months, a slight increase from 19% a month ago.
About half (53%) of borrowers anticipate needed additional financial support over the next 12 months.
Twenty percent of PPP loan borrowers find that the forgiveness application was difficult or moderately difficult process.
Twenty percent found the process slightly difficult and 19% said the process was not at all difficult.
About one-third (34%) of small business owners have applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
Eighty-two percent of applicants had their loan approved and 8% of applicants were denied.
One in five small business owners have applied for a state or local grant.
Fifty-three percent of owners received one.
Nineteen percent of small employers reported they have fewer employees than they did this time last year and 11% have significantly less.
Eight percent of small business employers report that their current number of employees is more than they employed this time last year.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of small employers report their workforce numbers are about the same.
Sales levels are still 50% or less than they were pre-crisis for one-in-five (20%) small businesses with another 29% at sales levels of 51%-75% of pre-crisis.
Over one-third (36%) are back or nearly back to where they were with sales between 76%-100% of pre-crisis levels with another 14% exceeding pre-crisis sales levels.
Most small business owners do not expect business conditions to improve to normal levels until next year at the earliest.
Four percent report conditions are back to normal now but 47% of owners anticipate it taking until sometime in 2021.
Thirty-six percent anticipate 2022 and 13% are less optimistic and don’t expect conditions to full improve until after 2022.
Twenty-seven percent of small employers have had an employee take COVID-19 related paid sick leave or family leave as mandated and offered through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Only 37% of them have claimed the tax credit or an advance refund for reimbursement of those costs.
About one in five (19%) of small employers are very concerned about their employees contracting COVID-19 with another 30% moderately concerned.
Thirty-one percent of owners are very or moderately concerned about contracting COVID-19 themselves while operating their business.
As more of the general population are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, 36% of small business employers will encourage their workers to get vaccinated.
Twenty-eight percent report that they might encourage them to do so.
Over half (56%) of small business owners plan to get vaccinated.
Twenty-eight percent say they’ll get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to them and 28% report they will get vaccinated but not right away.

This publication marks NFIB’s 14thSmall Business COVID-19 survey assessing the health crisis impact on small business operations, economic conditions, and utilization of the targeted small business loan programs. The first series was published in early March 2020 with subsequent publications every 2-3 weeks and can found here.The full survey of the 14thedition is available here.

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 16, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,081
Confirmed Cases: 977
Probable Cases: 104
Total Active Cases: 169
Active Confirmed Cases: 169
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 894
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 808
Recovered Probable Cases: 86
Total Deaths: 17
Confirmed Deaths: 15
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,863
Confirmed Cases: 1,507
Probable Cases: 356
Total Active Cases: 149
Active Confirmed Cases: 104
Active Probable Cases: 45
Total Recovered Cases: 1,650
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,349
Recovered Probable Cases: 301
Total Deaths: 64
Confirmed Deaths: 54
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,348
Confirmed Cases: 968
Probable Cases: 380
Total Active Cases: 124
Active Confirmed Cases: 72
Active Probable Cases: 52
Total Recovered Cases: 1,189
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 870
Recovered Probable Cases: 319
Total Deaths: 35
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 391
Confirmed Cases: 361
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 49
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 328
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 305
Recovered Probable Cases: 23
Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 156
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 16
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 160
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 139
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 189,198
Confirmed Cases: 161,592
Probable Cases: 27,626
Recovered Cases: 165,467

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

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

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SECRET SANTA IS A NOT-SO-SECRET SCAM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
LITTLE ROCK – Secret Santa and Secret Sister scams are popular on social media. They are often disguised as a fun holiday exchange, when in reality, they can turn into a devilish scam costing money, your personal information, and heartache during the holidays. The scam works by requesting that you send online “friends” relatively inexpensive gifts, gift cards or money to those on an email or social media chain, with the promise that you, too, will receive gifts in the exchange. At the very least, participants will spend money and send gifts without getting anything in return. At worst, scammers will use personal information posted on social media, often leading to identity theft.

“It may seem harmless to participate in an online gift exchange, but always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “There are scammers online looking to take advantage of Arkansans’ good nature and consumers should carefully protect their wallet and personal information.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers to avoid the Secret Santa and Secret Sister scam:
Consumers should never disclose their personal information to an unknown person online because it could result in identity theft or the opening of other accounts in their name.
It is unlikely that a consumer will receive any gifts in response to such a scheme; if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Consult the terms of use for Facebook and other social media platforms as they may prohibit such schemes – report these scams to the social media platform.
Review guidance available from the U.S. Postal Service because it may be illegal to send the requested gift cards.
Consumers should safeguard their banking and financial information to prevent theft due to scams.
When using the internet, consumers should ensure that they are using a verified, secure, and encrypted website when sharing any personal or financial information online.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

SENATORS BOOZMAN & COTTON PAY TRIBUTE TO FALLEN HELEN-WEST HELENA OFFICE
WASHINGTON–Arkansas Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of Helena-West Helena Police Department Officer Travis Wallace who was killed in the line of duty on November 12, 2020.

“Officer Wallace served with professionalism and dedication,” Boozman said. “He demonstrated his passion and commitment for helping those in need. We celebrate his life and example of courageous selfless public service.”

“Officer Wallace did his job and his duty with honor. Now his watch has ended, but we will always remember the great sacrifice he made to keep his community and our state safe. May he rest in peace,” Cotton said.

 

December15, 2020

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 1, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,064
Confirmed Cases: 967
Probable Cases: 97
Total Active Cases: 181
Active Confirmed Cases: 168
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 865
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 783
Recovered Probable Cases: 82
Total Deaths: 17
Confirmed Deaths: 15
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,839
Confirmed Cases: 1,498
Probable Cases: 341
Total Active Cases: 144
Active Confirmed Cases: 109
Active Probable Cases: 35
Total Recovered Cases: 1,631
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,335
Recovered Probable Cases: 296
Total Deaths: 64
Confirmed Deaths: 54
Probable Deaths: 10

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,334
Confirmed Cases: 969
Probable Cases: 369
Total Active Cases: 128
Active Confirmed Cases: 82
Active Probable Cases: 46
Total Recovered Cases: 1,173
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 857
Recovered Probable Cases: 316
Total Deaths: 33
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
T
otal Cumulative Cases: 391
Confirmed Cases: 361
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 66
Active Confirmed Cases: 60
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 317
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 294
Recovered Probable Cases: 23
Total Deaths: 8
Confirmed Deaths: 7
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 156
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 16
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 160
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 139
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 187,057
Confirmed Cases: 160,356
Probable Cases: 26,701
Recovered Cases: 163,351

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

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

 

December 14, 2020

CAMDEN ARKANSAS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG POSSESSION
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Justin Tyrone Seguin, age 37, of Camden, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 100 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession of  Methamphetamine with the Intent to Distribute. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

In July of 2019, investigators with the Camden police department obtained a search warrant for Seguin’s residence in Camden, Arkansas. The search warrant authorized investigators to search the residence for controlled substances and other records indicating ownership and occupancy. On July 19, 2019, Investigators executed the search warrant. When officers entered Seguin’s bedroom, he struck an officer and resisted arrest.  After being subdued, a search of his bedroom revealed digital scales containing methamphetamine residue, marijuana and three bags of methamphetamine weighing approximately 45 grams. 

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

This case was investigated by the Camden Police Department, the FBI, and Assistant United States Attorney Ben Wulff prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

DRIVE MERRY, BRIGHT, AND SOBER THIS HOLIDAY SEASON: DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER
DECEMBER 14, 2020

Law enforcement agencies across Arkansas and the nation are prepared to launch a two-week long intensified enforcement plan aimed at drivers who choose to drive impaired.  In advance of the holiday travel period state troopers, local police, and sheriff’s deputies want to remind drivers of their stepped-up patrols along U.S. and state highways, as well as local streets and county roads.

 Beginning this Friday (December 18th) and continuing through January 1, 2021, motorists will witness an increased presence of state and local law enforcement whether they’re traveling across the state or across the country. 

The national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over operation incorporates public service advertising and messaging coupled with assurances from law enforcement officers of zero tolerance for drunk driving.  Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over is intended to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

A look back at national fatality statistics sadly tells the story of tragic consequences from 2018 when one person every 50 minutes lost their life as the result of a drunk-driving motor vehicle crash.  Reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that on average more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2014 through 2018 as the result of drunk driving related crashes.

“The Christmas and New Year’s holiday period should be an enjoyable time for our Arkansas families, not a marker of death for a loved one who was involved in a drunk driving crash,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.

“We need a commitment from everyone that they’ll drive sober so that everyone can have a safe holiday.  This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it claims far too many lives,” Colonel Bryant stated.

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA wants to remind everyone of the many resources available and the precautions to take, ensuring that everyone gets home safely.

Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive.  Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the nearest law enforcement agency. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

Guard against allowing a friend who has been drinking to drive.  Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely. “Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Colonel Bill Bryant. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for your destination.  That’s why, during the holiday season, we will make zero exceptions and arrest all drunk drivers. There are no excuses,” he said. 

For more information about the 2020 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org

ONE DEAD, ANOTHER WOUNDED IN BRINKLEY, SUSPECT BEING SOUGHT
DECEMBER 11, 2020
One person was shot and died, another was wounded, at a Brinkley residence yesterday (Thursday, December 10th).  Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police have been assigned to lead the investigation and search for a suspect.

Officers of the Brinkley Police Department contacted state police about 5 PM after they found the crime scene inside a home at 13 East Willow Street.
Kaleisha McNeil, 25, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Tavious Alexander Palmer, 26, was transported to a Memphis hospital and is reported to be in serious condition.  Both McNeil and Palmer lived at the Willow Street residence.

Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division developed leads and collected evidence overnight at the crime scene leading them to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Chadwick Reed, 37, of 111 North Brinkley Avenue, Brinkley.  Reed is charged with Murder, Aggravated Assault, Battery (1st degree) and three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.  (*An image file of Reed is copied to this news release.)
McNeil’s body was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to confirm a manner and cause of death.

HEBER SPRINGS COUPLE PLEAD GUILTY TO DISTURBING ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE IN BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER
Fort Smith, Arkansas – Two people pleaded guilty in federal court today to unlawfully excavating and damaging archaeological resources in Buffalo National River, a National Park under the control of the U.S. Department of the Interior, announced Western District of Arkansas First Assistant U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes.

In U.S. District Court hearings held this afternoon via video teleconference, Michael L. Walters, age 64, of Heber Springs, Ark., and Yvonne Jenay Walters, age 55, formerly of Heber Springs, each pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. Previously, a federal grand jury indicted both defendants for violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, damage to U.S. property and theft of U.S. property. United States Magistrate Judge Mark E. Ford presided over the hearings and accepted the guilty pleas.

According to the plea agreement filed in this case, on Aug. 29, 2015, U.S. Park Rangers patrolling the Grinders Ferry area of the Buffalo National River observed Yvonne Walters taking rocks and minerals from a gravel bar. Rangers then found Michael Walters digging nearby, in what park records list as a prehistoric archaeological site. The couple admitted they had come to the park to search for rocks and artifacts, including Native American arrowheads. Further investigation revealed the couple had been to the same area previously to dig for rocks and artifacts. Both were involved in searching for, locating, excavating, trading, and selling artifacts, and actively engaged in social media group communities with the same interests.

Michael and Yvonne Walters’ sentences will be determined by the court at a later date, following the U.S. Probation Office’s completion of a presentence investigation. Based on their guilty pleas, the maximum penalties for each defendant include imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $100,000. The defendants also agreed to forfeit artifacts, tools and equipment, and to pay $4,111 restitution to the National Park Service.

The case was investigated by special agents of the National Park Service, Investigative Services Branch, and U.S. Park Rangers at Buffalo National River. Assistant United States Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich is prosecuting the case for the United States.

The National Park Service reminds the public that public lands are protected by federal laws and regulations. In 1979, Congress enacted the Archaeological Resources Protection Act to protect an irreplaceable part of the Nation’s heritage. The act prohibits excavating, removing, damaging, or otherwise altering or defacing any archaeological resource located on public or Indian lands, or attempting to do so.

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 14, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 METRICS FOR OUACHITA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,052
Confirmed Cases: 955
Probable Cases: 97
Total Active Cases: 188
Active Confirmed Cases: 173
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 847
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 767
Recovered Probable Cases: 80
Total Deaths: 16
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,836
Confirmed Cases: 1,495
Probable Cases: 341
Total Active Cases: 158
Active Confirmed Cases: 117
Active Probable Cases: 41
Total Recovered Cases: 1,615
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 1,324
Recovered Probable Cases: 291
Total Deaths: 63
Confirmed Deaths: 54
Probable Deaths: 9

COVID-19 METRICS FOR COLUMBIA COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,322
Confirmed Cases: 960
Probable Cases: 362
Total Active Cases: 129
Active Confirmed Cases: 87
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 1,161
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 847
Recovered Probable Cases: 314
Total Deaths: 32
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 METRICS FOR DALLAS COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 388
Confirmed Cases: 358
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 70
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 311
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 288
Recovered Probable Cases: 23
Total Deaths: 7
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 METRICS FOR CALHOUN COUNTY
Total Cumulative Cases: 177
Confirmed Cases: 156
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 16
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 160
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 139
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0
ARKANSAS
Total COVID-19 Cases: 185,702
Confirmed Cases: 159,123
Probable Cases: 26,579
Recovered Cases: 161,337\
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ADOPTS NEW COMPUTER SCIENCE AND COMPUTING ACADEMIC STANDARDS, COURSES 
New Standards, Courses Will Be Implemented Statewide in Fall 2021
LITTLE ROCK — The State Board of Education adopted the 2020 revised Arkansas Computer Science and Computing Standards and high school courses at its meeting today. These new standards, which have served as a national example of excellence in Computer Science education, include new updates and learning components that align with industry-standard Computer Science best practices.

“I am excited by the adoption of the new Computer Science and Computing Standards,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “When we started this initiative in 2015, I knew that engaging our students through top quality K-12 education in these concepts would be critical to the state’s success. The skills these newly-adopted standards develop when taught at the K-8 level and the pathways the courses establish at the high school level will ensure that Arkansas students will continue to prepare for the fastest-growing and most-lucrative career fields.”

The new standards and courses include the following:
full revision and update of the Computer Science Practices;
full revision and update of the K-8 (grade specific) Computer Science Standards;
full revision and update of the Coding Block for Grades 7 and 8;
full revision, update, and sequencing into program-specific, three-year pathways of the following high school course programs of study: Cybersecurity, Game Development and
Design, Mobile Application Development, Networking, Programming, and Robotics;
creation and sequencing into program-specific, three-year pathways of the following high school course programs of study: Computer Engineering and Data Science; and 
update of the following Computer Science and Computing options: Independent Study and Internship.

The standards and courses adopted were the result of more than 3,000 hours of work conducted by a standards committee comprised of 48 educators, industry representatives, and state agency employees. In addition, more than 1,500 hours of additional work on the standards was conducted by the state’s #ARKidsCanCode / #CSforAR Team, consisting of nine statewide Computer Science specialists and additional personnel from the ADE Office of Computer Science.

“I want to thank the State Board of Education for their consideration and adoption of these standards today,” State Director of Computer Science Anthony Owen said. “These standards are the result of thousands of hours of online collaboration by Arkansas educators, industry leaders, and the #ARKidsCanCode / #CSforAR Team, which I have been honored to build and lead these past five years. I am confident that they will serve not only to guide high-quality instruction across Arkansas, but will stand again as a model that other states will emulate.”

The standards and courses approved by the State Board are available at https://bit.ly/3m7A43z and will be posted at http://cs.arkansas.gov within the coming days.

This is Computer Science Education Week; Arkansas is releasing a new Computer Science-related announcement and/or commitment each day this week. For a full listing of the announcements as they are made, please visit the ADE Computer Science and Computing Initiative webpage at http://cs.arkansas.gov. Key Announces New Appointments to ADE Team  

ADE ANNOUNCES THREE APPOINTMENTS
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key announces three new appointments to the department’s team. Stacy Smith will serve as a deputy commissioner for the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Sonja Wright-McMurray has been named the senior associate director for the Division of Career and Technical Education, and Teletha Leonard will serve as the human resources director for ADE.
“As we continue to streamline processes and improve efficiencies under transformation, it is essential to have the right team in place,” Key said. “These three outstanding team members not only have a wealth of knowledge in their respective fields, but they also bring real-world experience that will enhance the services we provide internally and externally to students, educators, and schools.”
Stacy Smith
Stacy Smith, the current director of the Office of Coordinated Support and Service, will continue in that role and also will serve alongside Dr. Ivy Pfeffer as an additional deputy commissioner for DESE. As deputy commissioner, Smith will oversee the Learning Services and Public School Accountability divisions. She assumes her new position Dec. 16.
Smith served as a former assistant commissioner of Learning Services from March 2016 to July 2020, when she assumed the position as the director of OCSS. She previously served as the DESE director of Curriculum and Instruction from July 2014 to March 2016 and has been a principal at Hill Farm Elementary School in the Bryant School District and Fountain Lake Elementary School in the Fountain Lake School District. 
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master in Educational Leadership from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and an Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Sonja Wright-McMurray
Sonja Wright-McMurray has been named the senior associate director for the Division of Career and Technical Education. Assuming her new position Dec. 13, Wright-McMurray will oversee all CTE programs, special populations, Career Coaches, and accountability for the division.
Wright-McMurray has been with the division since 2009. Prior to being named the new senior associate director, Wright-McMurray has been the associate director of Accountability, Career Readiness, and Technical Programs for the division from 2019 to 2020, during which she provided management and oversight for seven CTE programs. Previously, Wright-McMurray served as the associate director of CTE Special Projects and associate director of the Arkansas College and Career Coach Program at the division. She also was the director of Minority Student Services at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway and director of Upward Bound at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.
Wright-McMurray holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She currently is working on a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Leadership from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, with an anticipated graduation date of December 2021.
Teletha Leonard
Teletha Leonard has been named the human resources director for ADE. In this role, Leonard will oversee the human resources functions and processes for the department. She begins her new role Dec. 28.
Leonard was the senior human resources director for Benefits and Employee Services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences from October 2016 to October 2020. Prior to serving in the senior HR director role, Leonard was the human resources director in that division from August 2003 to October 2016. She previously served as the area manager in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, a member of the adjunct faculty at the UAMS College of Public Health, and a faculty member with the University of Phoenix.
Leonard has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Master of Arts in Human Resources Management from Webster University at Little Rock, a Professional Human Resources PHR Certification, and a Society of Human Resource Management Certification SHRM-CP.

Food box Give-Away
Merry Christmas
The Mt Holly Circuit consisting of New Union AME Church, Ogemaw and
Union AME Church, Mt Holly
Rev. Artis L. Fletcher, Sr., Pastor
Provides Christmas dinner baskets.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Stephens City Park
12:30 – until all boxes are gone. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
870-718-1096

CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM ANNOUNCED FOR SAAC PRODUCTION OF LOVE LETTERS
A small but mighty group of South Arkansas Arts Center theatre veterans will come together this month to stage a live production of A.R. Gurney's classic play, "Love Letters". The limited-run production is for December 18-20, with seating limited to 50 guests per performance to meet physical distancing requirements. The show features only two actors on stage throughout the performance. Abby Cate and Greg Oden will star as lifelong friends and sometime lovers Melissa and Andrew. Seated across the stage from one another, they read letters from throughout their decades-long relationship. Both Abby and Greg are familiar names and faces to everyone in the South Arkansas creative community. Abby, who has appeared on the SAAC stage dozens of times over the years, makes a memorable impression whether she is in a starring role or supporting character. Greg, who got laughs at SAAC most recently as part of the "talking picture" in "Singin' in the Rain", is an accomplished musician and choral director.
Longtime theatre veterans Marsha Antoon and Mary Egerer are leading the production as directors. Marsha, who most recently appeared in "Three Musketeers" has also directed multiple productions. Mary, who can best be described as a founding mother of the SAAC theatre, is truly a jack of all trades, from singing and dancing to designing costumes and painting sets.Rhett Davis is lending a hand as assistant director, and Jacob George as technical director. Rhett, who also appeared in "Three Musketeers", finds creative inspiration both on stage and backstage. Jacob has served as the sound designer for many productions, including "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and took the stage most recently as Snoopy in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown".
Each of these players is volunteering their time to this project in an effort to boost the morale of the area's theatrical community during the difficult days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions on performances and audience capacity have presented a mighty challenge, but this team has diligently worked within the health department guidelines to create a safe and engaging opportunity for the audience, no matter how small.
To ensure social distancing, the performances are limited to 50 tickets, which must be reserved at www.saac-arts.com or by calling 870-862-5474. Face coverings are required.

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF $10 MILLION FOR NATIONAL OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME ORGANIZATIONS TO EXPAND WORKFORCE PATHWAYS FOR YOUTH
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $10 million to fund national out-of-school time organizations that will expand workforce pathways for youth ages 14-21.Through the Workforce Pathways for Youth program, the Department seeks to increase alignment between workforce and out-of-school programs, and expand job training and workforce pathways for youth, including career exploration, job readiness and certification, soft skill development, summer jobs, year-round job opportunities and apprenticeships. Employers in the U.S. require a skilled and educated workforce. With strong partnerships between out-of-school time organizations, local workforce entities and state and local education agencies, these programs may provide opportunities for workforce readiness, career exploration, career preparation and career training to connect young adults to the skills necessary to become college and career ready. Providing youth with exposure to career possibilities and mentors based on student interest, aptitude and labor market needs helps out-of-school time participants gain critical skills through real world work experiences that enhance their employability.Grants under this program will be awarded to national out-of-school time non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations with local affiliate networks. Applicants must also include the following organizations as required partners on the application:
A minimum of one organization involved in administering the workforce development system established under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which are limited to State Workforce Development Boards, Local Workforce Development Boards and Indian and Native American entities (as outlined in Section 166 of WIOA);A minimum of two employer partners, or an industry/trade association that represents employers; and
A minimum of one state or local education agency (including high schools and school districts) or an alternative education program.
While the required partners reflect collaboration between secondary education, employers and workforce development, the Department strongly encourages applicants to collaborate with other partners that can support and advance the work of the project. These include organizations functioning as workforce intermediaries; labor-management organizations; community-based organizations; and training providers and service providers. They also include organizations that support outreach and training activities, such as industry-led training organizations, industry intermediaries, unions or educational organizations; Small Business Development Centers; American Job Centers; community organizations that provide social support and/or wrap-around services; YouthBuild programs; Job Corps centers; WIOA Youth programs; foundations and philanthropic organizations; and federally funded youth-serving programs.

View this funding opportunity. Applications are due by 4 p.m. EST on Feb. 4, 2021.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

ICYMI: U.S. Department of Labor Acts to Help American Workers and Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR TAKES A RANGE OF ACTIONS TO AID AMERICAN WORKERS
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:​
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.
Keeping America’s Workplaces Safe and Healthy:
U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA Announces $3,504,345 In Coronavirus Violations – Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through Dec. 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations arising from 263 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totaling $3,504,345.

Defending Workers’ Rights to Paid Leave and Wages Earned:
U.S. Department of Labor Recovers Back Wages for 55 Workers After Louisiana Seafood Processor Fails to Provide Required Sick Leave – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a Louisiana seafood processor has paid $42,900 in back wages to 55 employees to resolve violations of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Texas Cabinet Manufacturer Pays Back Wages to Employee Wrongly Denied Paid Leave to Care for Child During Pandemic – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a cabinet manufacturer based in Taylor, Texas has paid an employee $3,736 in back wages for wrongly denying leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Pasadena, Texas, Employer Pays Back Wages to Employee Wrongly Denied Paid Sick Leave After Doctor’s Order to Quarantine – After an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, a testosterone replacement center in Pasadena, Texas has paid back wages of $3,432 to an employee to whom it wrongly denied emergency paid sick leave and terminated despite a doctor’s order for the employee to quarantine with coronavirus symptoms.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor is focused on protecting the safety and health of American workers, assisting our state partners as they deliver traditional unemployment and expanded unemployment benefits, ensuring Americans know their rights to new paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, providing guidance and assistance to employers, and carrying out the mission of the Department.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO STOP MEDICARE PHYSICIAN PAYMENT CUTS
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) planned physician payment cuts scheduled to begin January 1, 2021.

The Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 would ensure payments to medical physicians are maintained at current levels for the next two years.

“Cutting physician payments is the last thing CMS should be doing when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Patients deserve access to quality and affordable health care. This legislation is necessary to achieve this,” Boozman said.

“If our heroes this year are people who wear scrubs, then it is unconscionable to hit them with Medicare cuts as a New Year’s gift,” Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation needs to be passed before the holidays to provide relief to the very healthcare professionals who bear the burden of fighting this pandemic.”

“Health care providers in North Dakota and across the country face significant financial strain caused by COVID-19. They can’t afford these cuts, and we can’t afford to lose their services,” said Cramer. “Our bill helps ensure these providers can continue the admirable service they’ve displayed throughout the pandemic without having another reason to worry about their bottom line.”

“Many frontline health care providers face substantial Medicare reimbursement cuts beginning on January 1st. Our health care system is already under tremendous strain due to the pandemic. Our bill stops these cuts from taking effect and imposing any further burden on our providers during this public health emergency,” Cotton said.

“These reimbursement cuts primarily fall on the backs of health care providers across non-primary care specialties – from radiology to physical therapy to orthopaedic surgery. If these ill-timed payment cuts go into effect, they could have a devastating effect on providers, health care practices, and, most important, patient access to care,” said Collins. “Our legislation would halt these payments cuts from going into effect at the start of the New Year, helping to ensure that we do not further burden our health care system that is already struggling due to the pandemic.”

The legislation is supported by a number of health care industry groups including the American Medical Association, American Optometric Association, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.

“Our nation’s physicians are under incredible strain due to COVID-19, and this bill begins to correct a misguided and ill-timed policy that would cut health care spending in the middle of a pandemic. Time is running out to reverse these cuts and protect patients. We thank Sen. Boozman for his leadership on this issue and will continue to partner with him and his Congressional colleagues to protect patients’ access to quality surgical care,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, American College of Surgeons Executive Director.

Last week, Boozman led a bipartisan group of senators calling on Senate leadership to stop the scheduled cuts.

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN).

Boozman: “NDAA makes critical investments to defend our country against evolving threats”

SENATOR JOHN BOOZMAN WILL VOTE TO SUPPORT THE FISCAL YEAR 2021 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) will vote to support the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes defense priorities he championed to improve military readiness, expand services for military families and invest in Arkansas’s role in our national defense.

“Congress has a responsibility to bolster our national security and ensure the men and women in uniform have the resources, tools and training necessary to help them carry out their missions. The NDAA makes critical investments to defend our country against evolving threats posed by adversaries like China while supporting our troops with a three percent pay raise and improving the housing and child care needs of military families. While the bill may not be perfect, it will modernize our military and ensure service members have the capabilities to defend our interests,” Boozman said.

Arkansas-related provisions championed by Boozman are highlighted below:

Authorizes a new Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee. Boozman secured funding to construct the center which will provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best.

Increases funding for the 188th Wing renewable energy project.

Maintains the Air Force’s C-130 fleet which will strengthen the Little Rock Air Force Base mission.  

Improves child care assistance for military families who are assigned to around-the-clock, stateside rotations units—like the 188th Wing in Fort Smith. The provision directs the Department of Defense to research, report and provide recommendations to Congress on how to provide 24-hour child care to military families.

Authorizes funding supporting the deployment of the Iron Dome short-range protection system to the U.S. Army. Earlier this year, Boozman encouraged the Army to incorporate the protection system into the force and called on then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to deploy capabilities to safeguard U.S. and coalition members in the Middle East. A portion of the Iron Dome defense system is produced in Camden, Arkansas.

Boozman also successfully led the effort to secure funds for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes to continue after the Department of Defense planned to eliminate the media outlet.

December 10, 2019

CAMDEN CITY COUNCIL TO MEET IN SPECIAL SESSION
The City Council will meet for Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 6:00 pm in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The following item is on the Agenda:

1.  Resolution No. 42-20, adopting the Budget for 2021
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 10, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.


 

This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,005
Confirmed Cases: 915
Probable Cases: 90
Total Active Cases: 191
Active Confirmed Cases: 176
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 799
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 724
Recovered Probable Cases: 75
Total Deaths: 14
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,775
Confirmed Cases: 1,461
Probable Cases: 314
Total Active Cases: 141
Active Confirmed Cases: 108
Active Probable Cases: 33
Total Recovered Cases: 1,573
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,301
Recovered Probable Cases: 272
Total Deaths: 61
Confirmed Deaths: 52
Probable Deaths: 9: 
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,265
Confirmed Cases: 920
Probable Cases: 345
Total Active Cases: 113
Active Confirmed Cases: 71
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 1,124
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 823
Recovered Probable Cases: 301
Total Deaths: 28
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 2

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 367
Confirmed Cases: 339
Probable Cases: 28
Total Active Cases: 62
Active Confirmed Cases: 55
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 299
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 278
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 167
Confirmed Cases: 148
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 16
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 150
Recovered Confirmed Cases: 131
Recovered Probable Cases: 19
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 178,454
Confirmed Cases: 154,073
Probable Cases: 24,781
Recovered Cases: 156,286

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

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

 

 

19-YEAR-OLD CRITICALLY WOUNDED BY GUNFIRE ALONG I-40, NORTH LITTLE ROCK
DECEMBER 9, 2020
The Arkansas State Police is investigating a shooting incident that occurred in North Little Rock Tuesday evening (December 8th).

A short time before 9:45 PM, state troopers discovered a car parked on the Interstate 40 off-ramp, leading onto U.S. Highway 67/167.  The driver of the car had been shot.

Stephen DeWayne Gilbert Jr., 19, of North Little Rock sustained a gunshot wound from what is believed to be a drive-by shooting that occurred nearby along I-40.  Gilbert was transported from the crime scene by ambulance and was last reported to be in critical condition at a Little Rock hospital.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been assigned to the case.
 

ARKANSAS, MINORITY HEALTH COMMISSION MOBILE HEALTH UNIT IS COMING TO A LOCATION NEAR YOU!
Arkansas, Minority Health Commission Mobile Health Unit is coming to a location near you! Get screened for Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Glucose/A1C, Covid-19 Screening and get Health Education. This is a Drive-through Clinic. The Mobile Health Unit will be at the following locations next week.

Dec. 14 | 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Stamps Senior Center
228 Church St, Stamps, AR 71860

Dec. 16 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
First Baptist Church - Fordyce
501 N Main St. Fordyce, AR 71742 

Dec. 17 | 1 - 3 p.m.
St. Paul UMC - El Dorado
700 W 8th St, El Dorado, AR 71730

 Dec. 19 | 8 a.m. - Noon
Immanuel Baptist Church
201 E. Holly, Sheridan, AR 72150

 Dec. 29 | 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Miller Co. Senior Center
1007 Jefferson Ave. Texarkana, AR 71854

A Mobile Health Unit (MHU) is a screening center on wheels. This initiative will provide an avenue to double our preventive screenings by reaching people where they are within the state. The MHU will provide preventive screenings, health education and allow an opportunity of coordination of care with the MHU coordinator.  Screenings will include: COVID-19 testing, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, A1C, HIV, height, weight and BMI. The MHU coordinator will follow-up with patients that have abnormal results and share county level resources for follow-up medical care. The MHU will support a partnership with Arkansas Foodbanks statewide. 
 

South Arkansas Arts Center LogoSAAC DRAMA CLUB PRESENTS "A CHRISTMAS CAROL...A RADIO PLAY"
Presented by the South Arkansas Arts Center Drama Club, "A Christmas Carol...A Radio Play" will be performed on stage Friday, December 11 at 7pm and Saturday, December 12 at 2pm.

The familiar story will be told as a radio drama onstage, complete with sound effects and music cues. "A Christmas Carol" begins with the storyteller and his friends discussing the tale of the mean and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge. They decide on an opening line, and the storyteller begins, transforming into Scrooge as he speaks.

Throughout, the storyteller remains in the Scrooge characterization, as the other actors narrate in their natural voices and assume new voices and dialects to become every character in the tale. A Christmas Carol is staged with minimal costuming and a simple set. The actors perform into floor microphones, while all sound effects and music are performed live. The original Dickens story is all here, too, just told in a different way.

Scrooge is being portrayed by SAAC newcomer, Abbi Brewer, joined by many veterans of the SAAC stage: Gideon Moncrief as Tiny Tim, Hannah Elizabeth as Bob Cratchit, Mary Claire Parker as Marley, Mason Halstead as Fred, Ellis Lyles as Fezziwig, Tiffanie Duke as Ghost of Christmas Present, Isai Hurtado as Ghost of Christmas Future, Emma McGee as Fan, Sarah Faith as Belle, Alyssa Purifoy as Belinda Cratchit, Avery Hall as Peter Cratchit, and Riya Nelson as Fred's Wife. 

SAAC teens and their teachers have worked hard to create an enjoyable theatrical production while observing the Arkansas Department of Health's COVID-19 restrictions. Their priority has been creating and maintaining a safe environment for each other, while learning how to use their voices and hands to interpret their characters from a distance, without their usual movements, touching, or physically interacting with the other members of the cast.

Director Lynn Gunter felt this script was a perfect fit for this semester's project. The show is set at Christmastime 1918. WWI has finally come to a close, but a new war has begun and is raging: the Spanish Flu. Many are dying. Masks are common attire, as people try to stay well. Life is difficult. Yet, in the midst, there is something that is bringing families together for a moment of laughter and entertainment. What? The radio. Jump forward to 2020, where COVID and restrictions have been placed on us. Life is difficult. So, what a better time and way to introduce the SAAC Teen Drama Class to the past and a form of acting they have yet to encounter. 

The production team for this play has a long history of commitment to the SAAC teen drama group and the community, and most of them have been together for more than 10 productions. Lynn Gunter has directed young actors for years, and she and Cassie Hickman, assistant director, have teamed up again for some holiday magic. They are joined by Hannah Davis, stellar acting coach; April Hoover, a genius at set design; Jacob George, who deftly runs light and sound design; Bob Stephenson, production assistant and wizard of everything; and student crew member, Maddy Couture.

Tickets are $5, limited to 50 seats for physical distancing. Masks are required.

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

 

SENATE PASSES BOOZMAN BILL TO BOLSTER VA CARE AND SERVICES FOR WOMEN VETERANS
Approves Legislation Aimed at Reducing VA Backlog & Expansion of Benefits for Vietnam Vets
WASHINGTON— The Senate passed a package of veterans’ health care and benefits improvements that incorporates a number of U.S. Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) legislative priorities, including enhancing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care and services for women veterans.

The Deborah Sampson Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Boozman and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), was included in the comprehensive veterans package. The Boozman-Tester language will eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and go without needed health care. 

“VA facilities need to be updated to accommodate the growing number of women veterans so we can meet their needs. Ensuring the VA has the capability to provide more equitable care and services is key to fulfilling our promise. Passage of this bill will enable us to better support women who answer the call to serve their nation in uniform,” Boozman said.

“This is a groundbreaking moment as we push VA to provide better access to care and services for the nearly two million living women veterans across the country,” said Ranking Member Tester“Women have served in uniform since the American Revolution and are now the fastest growing population of veterans in the country. It’s our responsibility to make sure VA health care and benefits are tailored to meet their needs and are accessible to them and their families. Unanimous passage of our Deborah Sampson Act sends a clear message to women veterans—and the American public—that Congress is willing to come together to do what’s necessary and follow through on this sacred duty.”

There are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. According to VA data, women comprise 10 percent of the veteran population. That number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years.

The senators first introduced the legislation in 2017. Their bill garnered support from leading Veteran Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Additional Boozman-authored and championed provisions approved by the Senate in the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020 include:

  • Expanding wartime benefits to veterans who served in the Vietnam War and have been ineligible for assistance because of differences between the war era dates at the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA. Currently, DoD recognizes the Vietnam War era as November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, while the VA recognizes the Vietnam War era as February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. This discrepancy has prevented members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group from qualifying for wartime veterans benefits like the veterans pension.
  • Increasing the number of health care providers who are allowed to conduct the required medical exam for veterans applying for benefits in order to help reduce backlog.
  • Improving access to specialized training that would ensure VA gtant-funded cemeteries meet and maintain the National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) National Shrine Commitment.
  • Updating the VA’s funeral benefits to treat all non-service-connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away.
  • Closing a loophole that prevents the VA from putting the names of veterans’ family members on headstones in private cemeteries. Currently, the VA is only authorized to put veterans’ family members’ names on headstones in national, state and tribal veterans’ cemeteries.
  • Modernizing the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to permit servicemembers to deliver notice of termination of residential and car leases electronically, including by email.
  • Expanding the list of work-study activities that qualify for payment of work-study allowances under the VA’s rehabilitation, training and education programs.
     

    COTTON STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT BETWEEN ISRAEL AND MOROCC
    Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco:

    “I commend our friend and partner, the Kingdom of Morocco, for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. Morocco’s decision is another vital step towards peace in the Middle East and Africa. This achievement further advances the promise of The Abraham Accords and was reached thanks to the vision of the president and his team.”


    COTTON INTRODUCES BILL TO INCREASE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
    Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Child Support Works Act, a bill that would increase child-support payments to custodial parents and children. The Child Support Works Act would allow state child-support agencies to be reimbursed for operating mandatory work programs for non-custodial parents. These programs have proven effective at helping non-custodial parents develop positive work ethics and fulfill the requirements of their child-support orders.

    This bill is supported by the National Child-Support Enforcement Association.

    “Fathers have an obligation to care for their children. Child-support orders can help parents fulfill this obligation by requiring them to work. This bill would provide additional resources to state child-support agencies so they can help parents get back on their feet and provide for their family,” said Cotton.

    Background:
    Child-support enforcement is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the country, lifting more than one million families over the poverty line each year. However, approximately one-quarter of child-support cases aren’t paid, often because the non-custodial parent doesn’t have a job. 

    At least 30 states and the District of Columbia operate some form of program to help or require non-custodial parents to find work if they are underemployed, unemployed, or delinquent on their child-support order. These programs have proven effective at increasing child-support payments and employment among non-custodial parents. Court-ordered programs have proven especially effective.

    The federal government partially reimburses states for expenses they incur through their child-support enforcement programs, but currently child-support work programs are not eligible for reimbursement. The Child Support Works Act would allow states to be reimbursed at the normal, 66% matching rate for expenditures on mandatory work programs for non-custodial parents who are underemployed, unemployed, or behind on their child-support payments.

December 09, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 08, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 966
Confirmed Cases: 883
Probable Cases: 83
Total Active Cases: 200
Active Confirmed Cases: 183
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 642
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 587
Recovered Probable Cases: 55
Total Deaths: 14
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,719
Confirmed Cases: 1,420
Probable Cases: 299
Total Active Cases: 113
Active Confirmed Cases: 85
Active Probable Cases: 28
Total Recovered Cases: 1,547
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,284
Recovered Probable Cases: 263
Total Deaths: 59
Confirmed Deaths: 51
Probable Deaths: 8
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,627
Confirmed Cases: 1,360
Probable Cases: 267
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,222
Confirmed Cases: 897
Probable Cases: 325
Total Active Cases: 109
Active Confirmed Cases: 67
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 1,086
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 804
Recovered Probable Cases: 282
Total Deaths: 27
Confirmed Deaths: 26
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 357
Confirmed Cases: 331
Probable Cases: 26
Total Active Cases: 58
Active Confirmed Cases: 51
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 293
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 274
Recovered Probable Cases: 19
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 167
Confirmed Cases: 148
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 16
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 150
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 131
Recovered Probable Cases: 19
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 174,325
Confirmed Cases: 150,612
Probable Cases: 23,713
Recovered Cases: 153,088

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

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


STATE REVIEW BOARD OF THE ARKANSAS HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROGRAM MAKES SUGGESTIONS
Includes the Spring-Harrison Historic District, Camden (Ouachita County)
The State Review Board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program approved December 2nd delisting several properties and reviewed nominations for new listings for the Arkansas Registration and the National Register of Historic Places.

The State Review Board unanimously approved sending properties to the National Park Service (NPS) and National Register of Historic Places for consideration. Properties forwarded are:
Perry Depot, Perry (Perry County), commonly referred to as the Rock Island Railroad Depot
Highway A-1 Bridge, Plumerville (Conway County)
Spring-Harrison Historic District, Camden (Ouachita County)
Bella Vista Village Country Club, Bella Vista (Benton Co
unty)
Newbill-Porter House, Little Rock (Pulaski County) CLGOak Forest United Methodist Church, Little Rock (Pulaski County) CLG
Walter Vestal House, North Little Rock (Pulaski County) CLG
Locust Street Overpass, North Little Rock (Pulaski County) CLG
Irvin and Elizabeth Daniel House, North Little Rock (Pulaski County) CLG
City Cemetery, Hot Springs (Garland County) CLG
United Hebrew Congregation, Tilles Memorial Temple, Fort Smith (Sebastian County) CLG
Reiffs Chapel Cemetery, Fayetteville (Washington County) CLG

Certified Local Governments (CLG) is a program that helps communities save the historic character of a place and is jointly administered by the NPS and the State Historic Preservation Offices.
The meeting included opportunities where properties originally slated for the Arkansas Register were deemed to have met criteria to receive nominations for the National Register. These include Willow Oaks Acres Horse Barn, Prescott (Nevada County), which meets criteria based on historic events and distinctive characteristics of construction; Morrow Farmstead, Morrow (Washington County), proposed due to local significance, which contributed to the broad patterns of history; Castleberry Building, Salem (Fulton County), which merits consideration due to historical significance and distinct architectural characteristics; and the Robert and Marion Millett House #1, North Little Rock (Pulaski County), which is part of a Certified Local Government and is being nominated to the National Register based on local significance and distinctive design that possesses a high artistic value. The AHPP staff will revise these nominations and send them on to the NPS for consideration.

Additional Arkansas Register nominated properties include Primrose Cemetery, Little Rock (Pulaski County), W. F. Branch High School, Newport (Jackson County) along with Zero Milestone, Little Rock (Pulaski County), a property inside a CLG.

The State Review Board approved the delisting of two National Register entries; the Castleberry-Harrington Historic District, Republican (Faulkner County) was demolished in 2019, and the Charles Hampton Tracy House, Star City (Lincoln County) that burned Labor Day weekend.

The State Review Board is made up of Acting Chair Bob Kempkes, Andrew Beaupre, Anne Speed, Carl Miller, Jr., Dr. Emily Beahm, Dr. Rodney Harris, Joe Cole, Kelsey Bardwell, Kelsey Howard, Rachel Golden and Vernita Morgan.

For more information about the National Register, please contact Ralph Wilcox, National Register and survey coordinator, at 501-324-9880. More information on the National Register of Historic Places, including the qualifications, visit www.arkansaspreservation.com/Historic-Properties/National-Register/national-register-of-historic-places
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is an agency of Arkansas Heritage. AHPP is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other divisions are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Arkansas State Archives. Arkansas Heritage is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.   

 

BOOZMAN CALLS FOR FUNDING OF PUBLIC LANDS PAYMENTS TO SUPPORT RURAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) pressed congressional leaders to fund programs in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill that provide resources for essential services for rural counties.

In a bipartisan letter,  Boozman and his colleagues call for robust funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS).

PILT provides federal payments to nearly 1,900 local governments across 49 states to help offset losses in property taxes because of nontaxable federal land. In Arkansas, 67 counties received more than $7.6 million in PILT Funding for Fiscal Year 2020.

SRS was enacted to financially assist counties with public, tax-exempt forestlands. In the most recent SRS Payment Report, Arkansas received more than $6 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2019.

Boozman has supported efforts to provide long-term certainty for these programs so they can better assist rural counties with large tracts of federal lands.

“SRS and PILT serve as a lifeline to rural America’s local governments and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budgets of these rural counties have taken a hit,” senators wrote in the letter. “With additional demands on their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities and counties are stretched thinner than ever.”

The letter was authored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Full text of the letter is below.
Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy:
We write to share our steadfast support for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Specifically, we urge you to include a reauthorization of SRS and maintain robust PILT funding as part of the appropriations process.

SRS and PILT serve as a lifeline to rural America’s local governments and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budgets of these rural counties have taken a hit. These two programs fund roads, schools, law enforcement, and essential county services, such as public health programs. With additional demands on their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities and counties are stretched thinner than ever.
Despite being small, rural, and generally relatively remote, county governments that rely on SRS and PILT are responding to the same national health crisis facing larger cities and urban areas. Extending and funding these two programs has wide, bipartisan support, which was on display as recently as 2019, when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on PILT and SRS.
As Congress works to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that public lands provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, grazing opportunities, and wood fiber for local economies, a short-term reauthorization is critical for counties across the country.
In order to assist these rural counties’ response to the current public health crisis, as well as to invest in infrastructure, schools, and law enforcement, Congress must include a reauthorization of SRS, including the programmatic amendments to S. 430 passed on a broad bipartisan basis in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Further, we urge you to maintain robust funding for PILT as you continue funding negotiations for the remainder of the fiscal year.

ENTERGY ARKANSAS, ADE PARTNER FOR ONLINE CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION COURSES
Grant of nearly $500,000 will provide more trade, industry training
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In a year when remote learning has become more important than ever, representatives of Entergy Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education announced today a $482,000 grant that will be used to develop 20 new Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that will be available to high school students and adults next fall.

“In addition to affordable and reliable electricity, we need a good business environment, good transportation and qualified employees to help businesses grow if we want our state and communities to be successful,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “To that end, Entergy Arkansas is proud to support these efforts with nearly a half a million dollars from the Entergy Charitable Foundation.” 

In Arkansas, a majority of high school students are enrolled in one or more CTE programs of study, which are designed to prepare them for college and career after graduation.

“We are excited to partner with Entergy Arkansas to offer additional CTE courses to students around the state,” said Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key. “CTE is essential, as it provides high school students the opportunity to build workforce skills that will enhance learning and employability. Fifty three percent of CTE students earn a median income of $55,000 or higher after graduation, and 68 percent of students who complete a CTE program of study earn a post-secondary credential. These additional opportunities will expand the workforce pipeline to address critical economic development needs.”

When schools closed in the spring due to COVID-19, CTE students experienced a loss of access to in-person instruction and hands-on experience, potentially creating a gap in the pipeline of prepared workers. As a result, the Department of Education began working with $300,000 in CARES Act Funds to develop a plan for online and blended learning with its CTE Playbook, a template for 80 classes in multiple areas such as business and marketing, agriculture technology, STEM, and welding.

Because of the need for more trade and industry coursework, the department is partnering with Entergy Arkansas to create 20 additional courses to better prepare students for jobs in manufacturing and industry. Based on research and input from Arkansas businesses regarding their workforce needs, online CTE coursework in industrial equipment technologies; precision machining; machine power and equipment systems; mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems; and metal fabrication are among the 20 courses that will be available to students for the 2021-2022 school year.

“Technology has advanced tremendously in the last few years while Arkansas competes every day in recruiting for new and expanding business,” said Danny Games, director for Entergy Arkansas Business and Economic Development. “These companies require an educated and skilled workforce that can satisfy their needs and, in turn, provide higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. These CTE courses should benefit students and their potential employers for years to come.”

The 20 new Trade and Industry CTE courses will be available to high school students in July 2021, while other CTE courses will be made available over the next two years. The State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Office of Skills Development will provide additional consultation to reflect business and industry needs.

“I am also glad to announce that a separate portal will be built to make these CTE courses available to persons already in the workplace who are looking to learn new skills and advance their careers,” Landreaux said. “Our message is this – if you missed out on opportunities like this in high school, a little time and energy on nights and weekends now can mean more opportunities for advancement and a better-paying job in the future.”

Employers and employees will have access to the 20 new courses at a nominal cost by fall 2021.

“We appreciate Secretary Johnny Key and the Department of Education for their support of this initiative for adult learners, as well,” Landreaux concluded.

The CTE grant is made possible by Entergy Arkansas and the Entergy Charitable Foundation as part of $1.13 million dollars Entergy has invested or committed in Arkansas over the past five years to develop the state’s workforce and support its customers and communities.

Other funding investments and commitments include $50,000 to the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Be Pro, Be Proud initiative; $350,000 for the Academies of Central Arkansas; and $250,000 for the Jobs for Arkansas Graduates high school programs across the state. The Arkansas grants are part of an overall Entergy initiative to provide $5 million across its four-state utility service area.

For more information about the CTE Playbook and related coursework, visit http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/special-projects/statewide-playbook.

AIE EXHIBIT SHOWING IN SAAC’S LOBBY GALLERY
The South Arkansas Arts Center is hosting a new fun and colorful exhibit in the Lobby Gallery done in conjunction with the Artist in Education program and Washington Middle School art department.  The show, entitled “Self Portraits”, will hang through December 20, 2020.

 Lisa Burton Tarver, AIE artist, collaborated with Brinkley Aycock, art teacher at Washington Middle School for this very insightful project.  Tarver had done this project a couple of years ago at the high school and it was such fun for the kids that she wanted to recreate it with the fifth and sixth grade art students.  She began this project last year in the late fall, going to help the art class two or three times a week.  It took a couple of months to finish and get it all together and then COVID hit and everything came to an abrupt halt.  “I promised the kids that their art would hang at SAAC,” said Tarver.   “It just took a little longer than we thought, with everything being slow due to COVID.  I wanted them to see their work hanging in the gallery because it is all so fabulous and fun.  Seeing their own art in an exhibit is so good for their confidence and might spur them on to try some more!”

 This progressive project began with Tarver taking a portrait type photograph of the student, the student drew a sketch of themselves from the photograph and then painted their self-portrait from the sketch. The photograph and sketch hang next to the painted version so the viewer can see the fascinating progression of the project. 

 “This is a very self-exploratory thing for the kids and they did such a good job.  Some of them saw themselves in a different way after they started painting and changed their hairstyles and other features to what they prefer.  One student even added rhinestone earrings to his portrait to show off his pierced ears.  They really personalized each one.  I am so proud of their hard work.  It really paid off big!  I’m so glad the portraits are finally hanging and they can all some see them now.”

 Gallery viewing hours at SAAC are Monday- Friday, 9:00-5:00.  Masking is required and social distancing practiced, as well as sign in.  For more information about “Self Portraits”, please call the 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.

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO STUDY TRANSFER OF ISRAEL FROM EUCOM TO CENTCOM
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) today introduced the Israel CENTCOM Reclassification Act (ICRA), a bill which would require the Department of Defense to conduct a study, in consultation with the Israeli government, on transferring Israel from the United States European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility to the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility. “Tasking CENTCOM to serve as the primary U.S. defense coordinator with Israel instead of EUCOM would acknowledge the new political reality of the Middle East under the Abraham Accords. Our bill requires a study of the potential transition, which could increase U.S.—Israel military cooperation with regional partners and help better secure the Middle East against threats like Iran,” said Cotton.

“Moving Israel under CENTCOM’s responsibility has the potential to be a win-win for U.S. servicemembers and our ally, Israel. Through this study, the Pentagon will see the benefits of streamlining our chain of command and help bolster our military partnerships in the Middle East against threats around the globe,” said Ernst.

“Israel continues to be one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, and we must ensure we maintain our military partnership with the changing dynamics in the region,” said Tillis. “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation that will study whether transferring Israel from European Command to Central Command is in the best interest of our respective countries.”

“Transferring Israel from EUCOM to CENTCOM would be an acknowledgement of the new dynamics in the Middle East, reflecting the newfound peace and stability made possible by the historic Abraham Accords President Trump secured this year,” said Cramer. “This commonsense move would allow better coordination between the United States and our Middle East allies, and we expect the study our bill would create would reflect that.”

Background:

The historic Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have dramatically changed the Middle East security environment in favor of peace and cooperation between Israel and neighboring Arab countries.

With this new regional reality, transferring Israel to CENTCOM—which handles military operations in the Middle East—may help optimize coordination among the United States, Israel, and other partners in the Middle East on regional security issues, such as countering Iran.

Reclassifying Israel as part of CENTCOM would advance the mission of the Abraham Accords by deepening coordination between the United States and its allies and partners in the Middle East on vital defense activities and would ensure that U.S.-Israel military cooperation accounts for current realities in the region.

 
 
 
 

DECEMBER 8, 2020

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES PUSH TO PREVENT LOOMING CMS CUTS TO MEDICARE PAYMENTS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) along with 46 Senate colleagues, called on Senate leaders to ensure that any year-end legislative package address the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) dangerous decision to severely cut physician payments beginning January 1, 2021.

“Health care professionals across the spectrum are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 emergency as they continue to serve patients during this global pandemic,” the senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The payment cuts finalized by CMS would pose a threat to providers and their patients under any circumstances, but during a pandemic the impact is even more profound.”

Text of the letter is below:

Dear Leaders McConnell and Schumer:

We write to express our support for addressing upcoming physician payment cuts in ongoing legislative negotiations. We believe these cuts will further strain our health care system, which is already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services over the long-term.

On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021. The fee schedule includes several positive attributes, including improvements for maternity care and much-needed payment increases for physicians delivering primary and other essential outpatient and office-based care to some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients. These changes should take effect on January 1, 2021, as planned.

However, a statutory budget neutrality rule requires that any increases in Medicare payments for these office visits, also known as evaluation and management (E/M) services, must be offset by corresponding decreases. As a result, many practitioners including surgeons, specialists, therapists and others face substantial cuts beginning on January 1, 2021, if Congress does not take action to provide relief.

Health care professionals across the spectrum are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 emergency as they continue to serve patients during this global pandemic. The payment cuts finalized by CMS would pose a threat to providers and their patients under any circumstances, but during a pandemic the impact is even more profound. Therefore, we hope to work with you to address this critical issue.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

BOOZMAN CALLS FOR FUNDING OF PUBLIC LANDS PAYMENTS TO SUPPORT RURAL COMMUNITIES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) pressed congressional leaders to fund programs in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill that provide resources for essential services for rural counties.

In a bipartisan letter, Boozman and his colleagues call for robust funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS).

PILT provides federal payments to nearly 1,900 local governments across 49 states to help offset losses in property taxes because of nontaxable federal land. In Arkansas, 67 counties received more than $7.6 million in PILT Funding for Fiscal Year 2020.

SRS was enacted to financially assist counties with public, tax-exempt forestlands. In the most recent SRS Payment Report, Arkansas received more than $6 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2019.

Boozman has supported efforts to provide long-term certainty for these programs so they can better assist rural counties with large tracts of federal lands.

“SRS and PILT serve as a lifeline to rural America’s local governments and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budgets of these rural counties have taken a hit,” senators wrote in the letter. “With additional demands on their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities and counties are stretched thinner than ever.”The letter was authored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and Leader McCarthy:

We write to share our steadfast support for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Specifically, we urge you to include a reauthorization of SRS and maintain robust PILT funding as part of the appropriations process. 

SRS and PILT serve as a lifeline to rural America’s local governments and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budgets of these rural counties have taken a hit. These two programs fund roads, schools, law enforcement, and essential county services, such as public health programs. With additional demands on their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities and counties are stretched thinner than ever. 

Despite being small, rural, and generally relatively remote, county governments that rely on SRS and PILT are responding to the same national health crisis facing larger cities and urban areas. Extending and funding these two programs has wide, bipartisan support, which was on display as recently as 2019, when the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on PILT and SRS. 

As Congress works to establish a permanent county payments solution, diversify rural economies, improve forest management and forest health, strengthen historic forest revenue sharing with local governments, and ensure that public lands provide a range of values such as clean water, jobs, grazing opportunities, and wood fiber for local economies, a short-term reauthorization is critical for counties across the country.

In order to assist these rural counties’ response to the current public health crisis, as well as to invest in infrastructure, schools, and law enforcement, Congress must include a reauthorization of SRS, including the programmatic amendments to S. 430 passed on a broad bipartisan basis in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Further, we urge you to maintain robust funding for PILT as you continue funding negotiations for the remainder of the fiscal year.

December 04, 2020

OUACHITA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER SUSPENDS VISITS TO PATIENTS
Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Ouachita County Medical Center is refining it visitor access policy to protect patients, healthcare workers, and the community at large.
As of December 4, 2020, OCMC is suspending all routine, in-person visits to our hospitalized patients. We encourage everyone to use alternative ways of interacting, including phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, and other means. Visitors will not be allowed at this time.

 

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, December 8, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Social distancing will be practiced and a face covering will be required.

 

The Agenda is as follows:
CALL TO ORDER

INVOCATION – Rev. Bennie Morgan, Pastor – Timothy United Methodist Church, 1800 California Ave., Camden, AR

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

ROLL CALL

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
1.  Minutes of Regular Meeting, November 10, 2020     

ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
1.  Financial Report for November 2020

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

MAYOR’S REPORT     
Presentation by Mayor Lott
Presentation by Airport Commission      

OLD BUSINESS

NEW BUSINESS
Ordinance No. 40-20, an ordinance rezoning property located at 2350 Fairview Road from RS-1 (Single     Family District) to RS-2 (Single Family District).
Resolution No. 36-20, a resolution awarding the bid for towing both regular and large sized City vehicles for the year 2021.
Resolution No. 37-20, a resolution awarding the bid for batteries for the year 2021.
Resolution No. 38-20, a resolution awarding the bid for oils and lubricants for the year 2021.                       
Resolution No. 39-20, a resolution awarding the bid for tires and tubes for the year 2021.
Resolution No. 40-20, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of two (2) 2021 F150 Super Crew Cab Pickups for the Public Works Department.  

OTHER BUSINESS

ADJOURNMENT

FLAGS ORDERED TO HALF-STAFF
Governor Asa Hutchinson has ordered the Arkansas and United States flags to be lowered to half-staff in tribute to the memory of North Little Rock Police Sergeant J.L. Buck Dancy, 62, who died in the line of duty on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. The flag will fly at half-staff from today until sunset Tuesday, December 8, 2020, the day of his interment.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 03, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 836
Confirmed Cases: 762
Probable Cases: 74
Total Active Cases: 179
Active Confirmed Cases: 160
Active Probable Cases: 19
Total Recovered Cases: 642
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 587
Recovered Probable Cases: 55
Total Deaths: 14
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,627
Confirmed Cases: 1,360
Probable Cases: 267
Total Active Cases: 104
Active Confirmed Cases: 79
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 1,464
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,230
Recovered Probable Cases: 234
Total Deaths: 59
Confirmed Deaths: 51
Probable Deaths: 8
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,627
Confirmed Cases: 1,360
Probable Cases: 267

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,159
Confirmed Cases: 851
Probable Cases: 308
Total Active Cases: 138
Active Confirmed Cases: 68
Active Probable Cases: 70
Total Recovered Cases: 996
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 759
Recovered Probable Cases: 237
Total Deaths: 25
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 1

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 324
Confirmed Cases: 304
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 54
Active Confirmed Cases: 45
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 264
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 253
Recovered Probable Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 155
Confirmed Cases: 136
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 22
Active Confirmed Cases: 18
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 132
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 117
Recovered Probable Cases: 15
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 164,310
Confirmed Cases: 142,722
Probable Cases: 21,588
Recovered Cases: 144,624

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

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

 

UAMS OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING UNDER STATE POLICE INVESTIGATION
A 39-year-old Little Rock man was shot and critically wounded this morning by a University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) police officer.  Tyrone Washington reportedly had attempted to drive away in a stolen truck that had been parked near the UAMS emergency department about 2:45 AM.

UAMS authorities contacted the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division requesting special agents conduct an investigation into the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.

According to UAMS police, one of their officers had blocked Shuffield Drive to prevent the truck from leaving the hospital campus.  An officer approached Washington, who was seated as the driver of the truck and requested he stop the truck engine.  Washington refused to comply leading the officer to reach inside the truck cab in an attempt to gain access to the vehicle ignition switch.  With the officer’s arm inside the cab, Washington accelerated the truck causing the officer to be dragged a short distance before he was able to free himself from the moving vehicle.
As the officer began to fall from the truck, a second UAMS officer fired a service weapon at the driver, wounding Washington, who was then transported back to UAMS where he is being treated.
The officer who fell from the truck was also treated at UAMS for minor abrasions and bruises.  The officer was later released.

State police CID special agents assigned to the case are preparing an investigative file that will be turned-over to the 6th Judicial District prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Questions relating to the identity of the UAMS police officers involved in the incident or their current administrative status should be directed to the UAMS public affairs personnel.
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T LET SCAM UTILITY BILL CALLS RUIN YOUR HOLIDAYS
LITTLE ROCK – As the weather gets colder and the holidays approach, scam artists are using an age-old con to mislead Arkansans into believing their utility bills are unpaid. Scammers will call consumers using high pressure tactics and tell consumers that they must pay immediately over the phone, by money order, or bitcoin or their service will be turned off. This is absolutely false and a prime indicator of a scam.

“Arkansans should be skeptical of unsolicited calls in which the person is demanding immediate payment by phone and claiming that a water, electric or gas bill is late,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I urge Arkansans to hang up and reach out to the utility company directly, using the number on their last bill or the company’s website to determine the status of their bill.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to ensure payment is sent to the utility company safely, securely and timely:
Contact the utility company directly by calling the listed number and verifying the amount owed.
Drop off the payment at the utility office or an authorized payment location.
Pay online on the utility company’s website with a credit card or call the company directly.
Consider participating in an automated bank account draft system, if it is offered.
Mail the payment to the company directly.

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

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

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at consumer@arkansasag.go vor visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 


VICKSBURG DISTRICT EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED FOR EXPERTISE AT 2020 USACE NATIONAL AWARDS CEREMONY
VICKSBURG, Miss. – Three employees with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District were recently recognized at the 2020 USACE National Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The annual ceremony on Nov. 12 honored district employees for outstanding contributions to USACE’s mission in a variety of categories and specializations, including levee safety, public service and value engineering.

Brad Arcement, a branch chief for the USACE Levee Safety Center, was named “Levee Safety Professional of the Year” for USACE for his work as a lead facilitator or co-facilitator on multiple large-scale levee projects. Arcement has helped engineers and technical experts across USACE scope risk assessments to support studies and implement risk-informed designs. His technical skill and dedication have significantly enhanced the implementation of risk-informed design for USACE’s dam and levee safety programs. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Arcement earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Louisiana Tech University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Mississippi Engineering Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and the Deep Foundation Institute. 

David Dyer, chief of the district’s Office of Counsel, received the Chief Counsel’s Bert Pettinato and Barb Lollar Award for Pride in Public Service The award recognized Dyer’s dedication to mentoring and guiding his staff toward professional advancement in support of the USACE mission. As a result of his leadership, his office pursues a critical role in providing inter-district legal services, both nationally and internationally, and he has encouraged several members of his staff to pursue and obtain advanced degrees in fields that complement the Office of Counsel’s engagement in the USACE legal enterprise. 

Dyer holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University, a JD degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in business administration from Loyola University in New Orleans. Dyer began his career with USACE in 2007 with the New Orleans District, where he managed several large procurements and disputes related to the hurricane storm damage and risk reduction system. He has served as district counsel with the Vicksburg District since 2017.

John Madison, a value engineering officer for the Engineering and Technical Services Branch, received the Value Engineering Professional Award in the “Wild Duck” category, which recognizes an officer who has demonstrated a high degree of determination and integrity. As part of the Value Engineering team, Madison helps ensure district efforts deliver optimal outputs through cost analysis and detailed studies. His work on projects such as the Monroe floodwall bank stabilization and the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, Lindy C. Boggs Lock and Dam sediment barrier wall upgrade resulted in an estimated savings of $3 million and $12.4 million, respectively.
Madison holds a master’s degree in biosystems engineering from Mississippi State University. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Mississippi and holds a value methodology associate certification.

“We are extremely proud of our team members for their dedication and valuable contributions to our organization,” said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. “Their hard work ensures we can execute our mission at the highest possible level and deliver quality products and services to our partners and the communities we serve.”

USACE employs more than 34,000 government civilian and 700 military personnel.
The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.

 

COTTON ANNOUNCES RESOLUTION URGING EUROPEAN UNION TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ONLINE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today announced he will introduce a resolution urging the European Union to amend its ePrivacy Directive to assure tech companies may continue to use technology that identifies and combats child exploitation online. In its current form, the ePrivacy Directive outlaws critical tools used to combat the sexual manipulation of children.

“A world that turns a blind eye to child sexual exploitation has lost its way. This Directive, as written, will allow undetected proliferation of online child exploitation at alarming rates. But the EU can still fix it. My resolution will urge the European Parliament to pass critical changes that prioritize our children’s safety. Closing our eyes to child exploitation doesn’t mean it stops—we must fight this evil together,” said Cotton.

Background: 
Several tech companies voluntarily use certain technologies—including hashing, PhotoDNA, and anti-grooming tools—to detect child sexual abuse material and grooming behavior on their platforms.

These technologies identify millions of instances of child exploitation online, which are then reported to the CyberTipline, a global hotline for online child exploitation operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2019 alone, the CyberTipline received reports of 69 million images, videos, and files related to child sexual abuse, and more than 3 million of these images and videos originated from offenders in the EU.

The ePrivacy Directive, set to take effect just before Christmas, would make it illegal for tech companies to use this technology in the EU. In its current form, this Directive threatens our ability to protect children from online exploitation—not just in the EU, but globally.

The European Commission recently noted that the EU “has become the largest host of child sexual abuse material globally.” If this problem goes unaddressed, internet predators in the EU will abuse children all over the world, including freely trading illegal images of American children without consequences.

It is unclear whether tech companies will continue to use these technologies in other countries if forced to exclude users in the EU, a devastating blow to child safety everywhere

December 03, 2020

PUBLIC NOTICE SPSC FLUSHING LINES
Shumaker Public Service Corporation will begin flushing water lines on December 7 through January 1, 2021. Flushing will begin in Highland Industrial Park on December 7th and will move into the East Camden residential area that same day. This process will take approximately 20 work days to complete. We ask that you take precautions while doing laundry due to sediments stirred up in the lines. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

THE LITTLE GRAND CANYON IS JUST ONE THING TO LOVE AT THIS UNDERRATED STATE PARK IN ARKANSAS
By Carol Ann Carson
Petit Jean, Devil's Den or Mount Magazine may be the some of the first state parks that come to mind when thinking about Arkansas but by no means is this the end of the list! Some of the more underrated state parks, like today’s feature, are worth an entry to your Natural State bucket list. The spillway dubbed Arkansas’ Little Grand Canyon  is probably the most noteworthy feature of White Oak Lake State Park. However, this geological wonder is just the beginning of this state park’s discoverable treasure! Let’s head south and explore this gorgeous lakeside park.

We're aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here: onlyinyourstate.com/nominate

 

SAU TO HAVE TRADITIONAL HOLIDAY LIGHT DISPLAY
MAGNOLIA – While the annual Celebration of Lights ceremony won’t be held this year, Southern Arkansas University will still offer its festive holiday lighting displays throughout campus. The lighting displays will be turned on at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, and will remain lit each evening throughout the holiday season.

From the large tree at Overstreet Hall, to the Bell Tower and Centennial tree, to colorful displays at the Alumni Center, the Mulerider Activity Center, and Greek Theatre, the traditional displays will light up the campus.

“Even though we can’t have our annual lighting ceremony, we are excited to still bring this wonderful tradition to the community,” said Brad Stout, director of Student Affairs Facilities. “We encourage everyone to drive through campus and enjoy the lights.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 03, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 815
Confirmed Cases: 749
Probable Cases: 66
Total Active Cases: 187
Active Confirmed Cases: 174
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 613
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 560
Recovered Probable Cases: 53
Total Deaths: 14
Confirmed Deaths: 14
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,606
Confirmed Cases: 1,344
Probable Cases: 262
Total Active Cases: 103
Active Confirmed Cases: 78
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 1,444
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,215
Recovered Probable Cases: 229
Total Deaths: 59
Confirmed Deaths: 51
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,141
Confirmed Cases: 840
Probable Cases: 301
Total Active Cases: 143
Active Confirmed Cases: 69
Active Probable Cases: 74
Total Recovered Cases: 974
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 747
Recovered Probable Cases: 227
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 317
Confirmed Cases: 299
Probable Cases: 18
Total Active Cases: 54
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 257
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 246
Recovered Probable Cases: 11
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 155
Confirmed Cases: 136
Probable Cases: 19
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 129
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 114
Recovered Probable Cases: 15
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 161,521
Confirmed Cases: 140,705
Probable Cases: 20,816
Recovered Cases: 142,600

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

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



USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT LAUNCHES NEW PAYMENT SYSTEM FOR FEE COLLECTION AT LAKE OUACHITA CAMPGROUND
VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District has launched a new electronic payment system for fee collection and reservations at Twin Creek Campground at Lake Ouachita.

Launched Dec. 1, Scan and Pay is a QR code-based feature of the Recreation.gov mobile app that will allow campers to reserve campsites in person on a first come, first served basis only and reduce contact between rangers and the public. To claim and purchase a campsite, visitors must be physically present and use the app to scan the QR code at a nearby kiosk. Campers must also take a self-check-in card from the kiosk and write down their campsite number, arrival and departure dates, and their Recreation.gov confirmation number. The card must be attached to the campsite post. Both the QR code and confirmation number or the check-in card will serve as a proof of purchase throughout their stay.

The new payment system is a pilot program for the Lake Ouachita campgrounds. Twin Creek is a Class B campground that offers 15 campsites and various amenities such as a boat ramp, swimming beach and fishing pier.

Recreation visitors should practice social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions required and recommended by local, state and federal authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC guidance on visiting parks and recreation facilities can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html.

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

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


SENATE APPROVES COTTON-WHITEHOUSE ALS DISABILITY INSURANCE ACCESS ACT
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) applauded Senate passage of the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, their bipartisan legislation to eliminate the five-month waiting period before ALS patients can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The legislation would build on previous steps by Congress and the Social Security Administration to accommodate the difficult prognosis for those diagnosed with ALS. 
Whitehouse and Cotton first introduced the ALS Disability Insurance Act in 2016. The legislation awaits approval in the House, where it is sponsored by Congressmen Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Peter King (R-NY).

“Americans suffering from ALS shouldn’t have to wait for assistance, especially given their tragically short life expectancy—and now they won’t have to,” said Cotton. “By waiving the statutory disability benefits waiting period, our bill makes support available to those suffering from this terrible disease much faster. I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for supporting this important legislation, and I strongly urge the House to do the same.”

“Allowing Americans who face this difficult diagnosis to immediately receive the benefits they have earned is a simple act of humanity that will make life easier for ALS patients and their families,” said Whitehouse. “I hope the House will act quickly so we can finally eliminate this bureaucratic obstacle.”

“ALS is a cruel disease that progresses fast, currently without a cure. Help can’t come soon enough once someone is diagnosed and this bill recognizes that. It takes courage to be a true champion for patients and we are grateful to Senators Whitehouse and Cotton for introducing this legislation,” I AM ALS CEO Danielle Carnival said. “To the thousands of advocates who drove this bill forward, you are our hope. You are changing history one step at a time. This passage in the Senate is in celebration of your efforts.”
“The ALS Association and ALS community urges the House to immediately pass the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act, which just passed the Senate,” said Calaneet Balas, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “The legislation would make SSDI benefits accessible to people with ALS right away. Our community has worked tirelessly with congressional champions over the years laying the groundwork for this bill, educating lawmakers and the public about the rapid progression of ALS and the long delays in diagnosis. Over the course of a five-month waiting period, many people living with ALS will experience serious loss of ability and will have incurred significant expenses for care and treatment. They urgently need support.”

Background:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the ability of the brain to control muscle movements. Individuals with ALS progressively lose the ability to speak, walk, and breathe. The intended purpose of a five-month waiting period is to allow temporary conditions to reverse. However, there is currently no cure or treatment to halt or undo the effects of ALS, and some ALS patients lose their fight with the disease before ever receiving benefits. The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act would help alleviate some of the financial hardship that accompanies an ALS diagnosis, and support those living with ALS and their families.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO STOP “DOXING” OF GOVERNMENT WORKERS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), David Perdue (R-Georgia), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), and Rick Scott (R-Florida) introduced the Public Servant Protection Act, a bill designed to protect government workers, officials, and appointees from being targeted at their homes.

Specifically, the bill gives all government employees, elected officials, and appointees at all levels (Federal, State, Local, and Tribal) the right to have their home addresses and phone numbers—or the home addresses and phone numbers of their immediate family members—removed from any publicly-displayed website. The bill also makes it a criminal offense to post a government official's (or their immediate family members’) home address or phone number with the intent to cause them physical harm. Penalties would include a fine and up to a year in prison or, if injury or death results, up to life in prison. 

“No public servant should be endangered or subject to harassment for doing their job. But as activist mobs increasingly target elected officials and police officers, additional protection is warranted. Our bill will help shield government workers and officials by increasing penalties on malicious actors and protecting workers’ personal information,” said Cotton.

“Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges already serve the public at tremendous risk. They should not be forced to live with the added fear of having their personal home information widely available on the internet for use by violent criminals. Empowering these officials to keep their personal information private will help protect our protectors and their families," said Blackburn.

“Now more than ever, the law enforcement community needs our support,” said Perdue. “The ‘Defund the Police’ movement pushed by radical Democrats has led to an alarming increase in attacks on police officers, and their families. No public servant should ever be targeted for doing his or her job. I will always stand with our law enforcement officers as they work to keep our communities safe.”

“Law enforcement, government officials and prosecutors have dedicated their lives to serving our communities,” said Loeffler.  “Unfortunately, fueled by today’s Left wing aggressive cancel culture agenda, their service and livelihoods are under attack. As a strong supporter of our men and women who swear an oath to protect and serve, I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to prevent dedicated government officials at all levels from being targeted or attacked for doing their jobs.”

“Anyone who maliciously publishes personal information of government officials—including judges and police officers—puts innocent lives at risk. Tactics like this have led to tragic outcomes that should have never happened. This bill puts safeguards in place that will help end this trend. Public servants should not have to live in fear of aggressive activists who want to see them harmed,” Boozman said.

“I’m proud to sponsor the Public Servant Protection Act to protect hardworking public servants and their family members. These individuals dedicate their lives to serving the American people, and it’s disgusting that they would have to live in fear of targeted harassment, harm or violence in their own homes, just for doing their jobs,” said Scott.

Background:
In July 2020, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas was targeted by a man who came to her home and killed her husband and son when they answered the door. This year, anti-police rhetoric, law enforcement officer deaths, and targeting have also increased. Mobs of activists have even targeted officials at their homes. This bill is designed to protect public servants from the rising number of people and groups that call for harassment and violence against public officials with whom they disagree.

This bill is also endorsed by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the National District Attorneys Association.

December 01, 2020

IT’S CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN… WITH NORTH POLE FANTASY FUN & EVENTS ALL DECEMBER LONG!
Get ready for Christmas events all month starting Friday, December 4th at 6:00 pm with the lighting of the Ouachita County Courthouse.  Join us as we flip the switch to light everything up with holiday music. 
At 6:30 the Ouachita County Fair Board invites all kids to come ride in the “Kid’s Light Parade” starting at the Courthouse. Bring your trikes, bikes, wagons, hoverboards or remote-control cars and Deck them out with lights and decorations for this fun ride with prizes After the kids’ parade, let them take part in the Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt at 7:00 pm. The Candy Cane Hunt is Sponsored by the Camden Police Department and will take place on the Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot.

Saturday, December 5th will be a fun filled day starting with the Run Run Rudolph 5k on the Camden Trace beginning at 8:00 am. Browse the the Camden Christmas Market setup at the Ouachita Recreation Center from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, Complete with the Baggo tournament starting at 10:00 am. When you get hungry, sample all the goodness of the Holiday Chili Cookoff that will take place from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. As the evening sets, experience the “Winter Wonderland Walk Through” making your way through the North Pole stations in the Downtown City Camden Park. Complete the day with live Entertainment at 7 pm as the Ouachita County Community Concert Association presents Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride at the Event Center at Fairview Park.

Christmas in Camden, A North Pole Fantasy events continues Saturday, December 12th. Starting at 1:00 pm there will be the “12 Strays of Christmas” sponsored by H & P Alliance and Native Dog.  Bring your 4-legged friends to get their Christmas photos and shop the pet booths outside at Native Dog in Downtown Camden, followed by the “Deck the Paws” pet parade.  Be sure to bring their Christmas finest to dress them for their parade through downtown. Join in the Fun at the Toys for Tots Benefit Co-Ed Softball tournament sponsored by the Camden Co-Ed Softball League. At 1 pm don’t miss the Winter Wonderland Pageant at Ouachita County Recreation Center. Finish your night at one of the free performances of the Living Nativity performed by First Baptist Church in Farmers Bank Parking Lot at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00 and  7:30 pm complete with Christmas vendors and Strolling Carolers.

Get ready for “Guy’s Night Out”.  Ladies, stop by participating stores to make your Christmas “wish list” and the stores will contact your guy and let them know they have your list.  Then on Thursday December 17th, stores will be open a little later for your guy to come shop.  Local Restaurants will be offering “Guy Specials” to top off their shopping night.

For a full list of Christmas in Camden events, visit Explore Camden dot com.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON’S COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 01, 2020
New daily cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas continue to rank among the highest since the pandemic began. A total of 1,950 new confirmed and probable cases of the virus were reported on Tuesday during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's weekly statewide update. Other figures from across the state included 10 additional deaths for a total of 2,512 since the start of the outbreak. Hospitalizations grew by 11 over the past 24 hours, leaving 1,074 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications. Active cases saw a slight decrease and number just over 16,000. Recoveries grew by around 2,000 cases on Tuesday, which means 141,000 Arkansans have caught the virus and since recovered.

Hutchinson said Thanksgiving Day was an opportunity this year to recognize the supreme efforts made by healthcare workers in Arkansas, and to thank Arkansans who are helping combat the virus by following state guidelines. 

During a slideshow presentation, Hutchinson said Southwest Arkansas continues to see the highest rate of COVID-19 patients in the state who require ICU treatment. Currently, over 57 percent of ICUs in the southwest corner of the state are occupied by COVID-19 patients. That's around 20 points higher than anywhere else in Arkansas.

Troy Wells, CEO of Arkansas Baptist Health, said the increasing hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Arkansas is putting stress on hospitals and healthcare workers. And especially the state's ICU facilities.

Wells said the state's Trauma Communications Center, also known as Trauma Com, is being re-tooled to help address that problem. Trauma Com will work with hospitals across the state to catalog available resources and ensure COVID-19 patients receive prompt access to quality care - even if that means they while not have access to their nearest hospital.

Finally, Hutchison said the state was hoping to help new teachers in Arkansas by waiving the state-mandated application fee. 
In review, 1,950 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday for a statewide cumulative total of 159,309. Deaths grew by 10 to 2,512 while hospitalizations increased by 11 to 1,074 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications. Active cases declined slightly and currently number just over 16,000.

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – DECEMBER 01, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.


 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 776
Confirmed Cases: 716
Probable Cases: 60
Total Active Cases: 195
Active Confirmed Cases: 183
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 568
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 520
Recovered Probable Cases: 48
Total Deaths: 12
Confirmed Deaths: 12
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,568
Confirmed Cases: 1,319
Probable Cases: 249
Total Active Cases: 109
Active Confirmed Cases: 85
Active Probable Cases: 24
Total Recovered Cases: 1,400
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,183
Recovered Probable Cases: 217
Total Deaths: 59
Confirmed Deaths: 51
Probable Deaths: 8

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,100
Confirmed Cases: 818
Probable Cases: 242
Total Active Cases: 142
Active Confirmed Cases: 73
Active Probable Cases: 69
Total Recovered Cases: 934
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 721
Recovered Probable Cases: 213
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 302
Confirmed Cases: 286
Probable Cases: 16
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 245
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 236
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 150
Confirmed Cases: 133
Probable Cases: 17
Total Active Cases: 28
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 121
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 108
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 1
Confirmed Deaths: 1
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 157,359
Confirmed Cases: 138,056
Probable Cases: 19,303
Recovered Cases: 138,696

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

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


 

SHARE YOUR LIGHT OF PEACE, STABILITY AND HOPE WITH ABANDONED, ABUSED AND NEGLECTED ARKANSAS CHILDREN, FAMILIES
Little Rock, AR (Nov. 24, 2020) – Methodist Family Health is continuing its ongoing mission of providing the best possible care to those who need our help by appealing to everyone during the holiday season to Share the Light. 

Share the Light is a Christmas fundraising campaign that seeks donations from caring individuals, businesses, organizations and churches that wish to help others in need. This campaign helps to rebuild shattered lives by giving children and families the psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual care they need to overcome addictions, behavioral issues, grief and many other problems they face. In the last year, more than 5,000 Arkansas children and families benefited Methodist Family Health’s statewide, complete continuum of care, and there were almost 160,000 episodes of care administered because of the generosity of fellow Arkansans.

Methodist Family Health has inspiring people willing to talk about how our continuum of care has affected their lives, made a positive difference and how Arkansans can help support our mission.  Our website has a page dedicated to Share the Light where you can hear a few of the stories on what Methodist Family Health has been able to offer by way of assistance for people during their time of need: https://www.methodistfamily.org/christmas-appeal.html

If you would like to schedule a virtual interview with some of our recipients of care on how the program has helped them and what it was like getting the help they needed, please contact Kelli Reep, director of communications, at 501-766-1260 or kreep@methodistfamily.org.

CARTI ANNOUNCES PLANS AND LOCATION FOR CANCER CENTER IN EL DORADO
Plans to Renovate Existing Downtown Building 
LITTLE ROCK, AR (November 30, 2020) – CARTI announced today the location of its sixth comprehensive CARTI Cancer Center to be built in El Dorado. The cancer center will be located in the previous Office Depot location at 1601 North West Avenue, El Dorado. The building’s custom remodel is set to begin December 2020 and the project is anticipated to be completed by late summer 2021. With more than 25,000 square feet, the cancer treatment facility’s planned services will include comprehensive services to treat patients at every stage of their cancer treatment journey. 

This will be CARTI’s fourth comprehensive cancer center to launch in the past two years and its fifth cancer center within CARTI’s footprint of 19 total locations across Arkansas, including several locations in south Arkansas. 

“CARTI’s presence in South Arkansas began more than 21 years ago with a treatment center in El Dorado,” said Adam Head, CARTI president and chief executive officer. “Patients in El Dorado and surrounding south Arkansas and north Louisiana communities continue to place their trust in CARTI and the unparalleled care we provide. Our expansion is driven by our mission to provide trusted cancer care close to home. We look forward to bringing the most advanced technologies and expertise to the residents of Union County and the surrounding areas with a beautiful and expansive cancer center. Additionally, by renovating an existing building in downtown El Dorado, we are investing in the vitally important revitalization efforts happening within El Dorado and south Arkansas.” 

Together, CARTI’s renowned providers will serve the region’s patients and families with a team approach to comprehensive cancer treatment. 

“We are grateful to CARTI’s leadership and medical team for their eagerness to expand their expert-level cancer care in our community,” said El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer. “Not only will this facility revitalize a large existing structure in our downtown area, but it will also expand the landscape of our community’s health care offerings. Especially in light of the unprecedented times we’re living in due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are fortunate for CARTI’s strength and determination to open this new treatment center and to provide specialized oncology options for the wonderful people of Union County and surrounding communities.” 

ABOUT CARTI
CARTI is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary cancer care provider offering medical and surgical oncology, diagnostic radiology, and radiation oncology. With 19 treatment locations in 16 communities across the state, CARTI’s mission is to provide world-class, accessible cancer treatment to the patients and families it serves. 

Medical oncology is offered in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Bryant, Clarksville, Clinton, Conway, Crossett, El Dorado, Heber Springs, Magnolia, Russellville and Stuttgart. Radiation therapy is offered in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Mountain Home and Searcy. Mammography screenings are provided at The Breast Center at CARTI, with locations at the CARTI Cancer Centers in Little Rock and North Little Rock. 

For more information, visit CARTI.com. 

November 25,2020

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN BUDGET WORKSHOP
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have a Budget Workshop on Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Masks & Social Distancing requirements remain in effect.



OUACHITA COUNTY QUORUM COURT BUDGET HEARING
The Ouachita County Quorum Court will have a Budget hearing on Monday November 30, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ouachita County Detention Complex and the Regular Quorum Court meeting for December will be Tuesday, December 8th at the Ouachita County Detention Complex District Courtroom.

 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: BETTER WATCH OUT FOR SCAM ARTISTS COMING TO TOWN
LITTLE ROCK – The most popular shopping days are upon Arkansans and whether shopping online or in-store, scammers can get pretty creative when trying to steal money from consumers. Con artists will take any opportunity to steal money, personal information, or even your identity this holiday season.

“It’s important for Arkansans to always be careful whether they are shopping online or in-store this Christmas season,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Far too often, I’ve seen the lengths that scam artists will go to in an attempt to steal money from hard-working Arkansans.”

Attorney General Rutledge provides the following tips to help keep consumers safe while shopping online:

Look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar, and the abbreviation “https” in the web address to be sure information is secure and to help guard the security of your information as it is transmitted to a website. Be sure your browser has the most up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer.

Check the online merchant’s privacy policy before providing any personal financial information and determine how the information will be used or shared with others. Some websites’ disclosures are easier to find than others — look at the bottom of the home page, on order forms or in the “About” or “FAQs” sections of a site.

Read and understand return, refund and shipping policies before you make your purchase.

Pay by credit card, which is the most secure payment method. Under federal law, charges can be disputed and consumer liability for theft is limited so long as consumers promptly notify the bank or credit card issuer. Additionally, many credit card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the purchaser pays nothing if his or her credit card is stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.

Keep personal information private. Do not disclose personal information – address, telephone number, Social Security number, bank account number or email address – unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it and how they will use it.

Be cautious when buying gifts from an online auction. Understand how the auction works and check out the seller’s reputation before bidding. Always ask about terms of delivery and return options. Never wire money for the purchase; use some other form of payment.

Keep records of online transactions and check for emails from merchants while doing business. Merchants may email important information about purchases.

Promptly and thoroughly review monthly credit card and bank statements for any errors or unauthorized purchases. Notify the credit or debit card issuer immediately if a card or checkbook is lost or stolen or if you suspect someone is using your accounts without your permission.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 25, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 652
Confirmed Cases: 597
Probable Cases: 55
Total Active Cases: 157
Active Confirmed Cases: 136
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 483
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 449
Recovered Probable Cases: 34
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,475
Confirmed Cases: 1,257
Probable Cases: 218
Total Active Cases: 135
Active Confirmed Cases: 98
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 1,284
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,110
Recovered Probable Cases: 174
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1017
Confirmed Cases: 775
Probable Cases: 242
Total Active Cases: 139
Active Confirmed Cases: 76
Active Probable Cases: 63
Total Recovered Cases: 854
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 675
Recovered Probable Cases: 179
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 278
Confirmed Cases: 268
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 61
Active Confirmed Cases: 58
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 211
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 204
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 132
Confirmed Cases: 117
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 30
Active Confirmed Cases: 24
Active Probable Cases: 6
Total Recovered Cases: 102
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 93
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 148,312
Confirmed Cases: 130,826
Probable Cases: 17,486
Recovered Cases: 128,831

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

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

BOOZMAN AWARDED FOR COMMITMENT TO SMALL BUSINESS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) was awarded the ‘Guardian of Small Business’ award from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business association. Boozman received this honor for his outstanding voting record in support of small business owners and employees.

“Small business owners are facing extraordinary challenges as a result of the COVID-19 economic downturn. I’m proud to support policies that will help provide certainty and economic relief so these job creators can survive and continue to employ Arkansans. I appreciate this recognition and remain committed to advocating for the success of our state’s small businesses,” Boozman said.

“This award goes to members of Congress who support small businesses, and Senator Boozman stands up for small business owners and employees in Arkansas and throughout the country,” NFIB Arkansas State Director Sylvester Smith said.

“NFIB’s policy positions are driven by its members, and we report NFIB Key Votes back to our membership,” NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman said. 

“We are proud to recognize the elected officials like Senator Boozman who earned this distinction in the 116th Congress by taking pro-small business votes supporting financial assistance programs and tax relief and opposing increased labor costs.”

BOOZMAN ENCOURAGES SUPPORT FOR LOCAL RETAILERS
Recognizes Small Business Saturday
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement encouraging Arkansans to support small businesses in their communities Saturday, November 28 as part of Small Business Saturday:

“Many small businesses continue to experience hardships as a result of COVID-19. Their success depends upon customers willing to support them. We can help make their holidays brighter by boosting sales for our local, independently-owned businesses. Small Business Saturday is a great time to show our appreciation for the entrepreneurs in Arkansas,” Boozman said.

In 2019, shoppers spent a record high $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday.

 
 

November 24, 2020

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT HOLIDAY STATEMENT
The Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department asks residents to be careful over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Follow all traffic laws. Buckle up. When traveling, let someone knows your destination, the route you’re taking and your estimated time of arrival. Carry a cell phone in case of emergency. If you drink, don’t drive. Have a designated driver. Call 231-5300 or dial 911 in case of emergency. Happy Thanksgiving form the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office.

 

QUARANTINE RELIEF PROGRAM
The Quarantine Relief Program (QRP) was developed to help individuals that are quarantined due to COVID-19.  After a positive test, the patient is subjected to social isolation and separated from society.  If patient has lack of family or financial support, social isolation can lead to patient re-entering society and spreading the virus.  Also the people that patient has come in contact with will be quarantined for 2 weeks.  This person may also need assistance through this program.

If you or someone you know needs help obtaining necessary supplies while quarantined, please call The Hub at 870-231-1111.

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S COVID PRESS CONFERENCE – NOVEMBER 24, 2020
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 complications continue to increase in Arkansas. Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported during his weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday that nearly 1,000 Arkansans are currently hospitalized due to the virus. 

In other statewide figures, an additional 2,122 cases were reported on Tuesday for a statewide, cumulative total of over 148,000. Of those, just over 17,000 are currently active. Deaths rose by 14 on Tuesday to a total of 2,405 since the pandemic began. An additional 1,800 recoveries were reported over the past 24 hours. That means nearly 129,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus and since recovered. 

Testing efforts remain strong, with combined antigen and PCR tests numbering around 15,000 since Monday. So far the state has overseen more than 300,000 tests in November, or nearly 10 percent of Arkansas' population.

Hutchinson provided an update on the process the state uses for its contact-tracing efforts. He said the state has triaged contact tracing efforts into two levels. Which priority a person may fall in is dependent on how long it's been since their initial exposure was detected. Either way, Hutchinson said the state is investigating each confirmed COVID-19 patient and reaching out to anyone they may have exposed. 

One of the challenges the state has faced is Arkansans, understandably, not answering calls from unknown numbers. Hutchinson said the state will use one of the following three numbers in its contact tracing efforts: 877-272-6819, 833-283-2019 and 501-686-5875. The governor urges all Arkansans to answer if they receive a call from one of these three phone numbers.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero is again stressing families to be cautious as they gather this Thanksgiving. He urges Arkansans to try and keep their get-togethers to a "nuclear Thanksgiving;" that is, a Thanksgiving event limited to the immediate members of your household. He shared a few other words of advice on how people can do their best to celebrate safely this holiday.

Romero shared a little good news in regards to the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the future. He said the state is hoping to receive the first shipment of vaccines starting around the beginning of 2021. Those initial vaccinations will be set aside for healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in Arkansas. Romero however said vaccines for the general public will likely not be available until the second or third quarter of the year.

Troy Wells, CEO of Arkansas Baptist Health in Little Rock, gave an update on the state of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. He said hospitalizations continue to rise but that hospitals in the state still have capacity available. Nonetheless, he said it's safe to say hospitals and healthcare workers are busier than ever with the increasing COVID caseload. He gave a specific shoutout to healthcare professionals across Arkansas for their tireless dedication to treating victims of the pandemic.

In review, the state reported an additional 2,122 cases on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 148,000 since the outbreak began. Deaths rose by 18 to 2,405 and hospitalizations by 14 to 988. Active cases of COVID-19 grew by 330 on Tuesday to a currently confirmed total of 17,000 confirmed active cases in the state. Over 15,000 tests were performed between Monday and Tuesday.

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

ARREST MADE IN I-530 HOMICIDE
NOVEMBER 23, 2020
Anthony Madison, 20, of Pine Bluff has been arrested and charged in connection with the September 3, 2020 homicide and attempted murder of three others individuals that occurred along Interstate 530 south of Little Rock.

A copy of the original Arkansas State Police news release reporting the incident can be found at:
https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/news/gunfire-along-i-530-claims-one-death-three-injured/Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been the lead investigators assigned to the case.

Madison appeared in Saline County court today and is currently being held in the Saline County Detention Center without bond.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 629
Confirmed Cases: 575
Probable Cases: 54
Total Active Cases: 152
Active Confirmed Cases: 129
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 465
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 434
Recovered Probable Cases: 31
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,461
Confirmed Cases: 1,249
Probable Cases: 212
Total Active Cases: 133
Active Confirmed Cases: 97
Active Probable Cases: 36
Total Recovered Cases: 1,272
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,103
Recovered Probable Cases: 169
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1000
Confirmed Cases: 769
Probable Cases: 231
Total Active Cases: 130
Active Confirmed Cases: 75
Active Probable Cases: 55
Total Recovered Cases: 846
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 670
Recovered Probable Cases: 176
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 269
Confirmed Cases: 259
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 56
Active Confirmed Cases: 53
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 207
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 200
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 130
Confirmed Cases: 115
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 99
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 89
Recovered Probable Cases: 10
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

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

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

 

NFIB: SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT THIS SEASON
LITTLE ROCK (Nov. 23, 2020) -- NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith says it's important this season to shop local on Small Business Saturday, either in person, online or over the phone. Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

"This pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Arkansas' small businesses," Smith said. "Businesses have had to make changes to keep customers and employees safe, but revenue is down, and some businesses have had to close for good.

"That’s why we need to make a point of supporting local businesses on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season," Smith said. "If you can't support them in person, support them by shopping online or ordering by phone and taking advantage of curbside pickup or delivery. Or, buy gift certificates you can redeem once things get back to normal.

"Small businesses are the foundation of Arkansas's economy," Smith said. "By helping them get through this crisis, we'll make our communities stronger in the year ahead." 

The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation's leading small business advocacy organization. To learn more about NFIB in Arkansas, visit www.NFIB.com/AR and follow @NFIB_AR on Twitter.

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN CALLS FOR A COMPLETE PHASE-OUT OF ARKANSAS'S PERSONAL INCOME TAX
Says 'Eliminating the income tax will incentivize work and productivity, attract high-quality, good-paying jobs, and unleash Arkansas small businesses'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin today called for a complete and total phase-out of Arkansas's personal income tax over a period of several years and provided the following statement: 

"Governor Hutchinson and the General Assembly deserve tremendous credit for lowering our chronically uncompetitive income tax rates from 7.0% to 5.9%, starting in 2015. However, there is much more work to be done. Now more than ever before, states are competing with each other: for jobs, for new movers, for skilled workers, and for quality of life. Arkansas needs bold ideas if we are to make our state the best possible place to live, work, and raise a family. That's why I'm calling for a complete and total phase-out of Arkansas's personal income tax. Eliminating the income tax will incentivize work and productivity, attract high-quality, good-paying jobs, and unleash Arkansas small businesses. I am ready to chart a course that leads Arkansas to a brighter future -- one with zero income tax. That conversation begins today.

"Eliminating the income tax won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight. It could take 10 years or possibly even longer. How long it will take to achieve this goal will depend on a number of factors, including our rate of economic growth and our commitment to spending discipline and reform of state government. We must be responsible and do it in a way that protects funding for essential government services, especially for our most vulnerable citizens. But this goal should be our North Star - every tax-related decision in state government should be made through the prism of whether it moves us closer to or further away from this goal. I know from many conversations with both legislators and Arkansans from all corners of our state that they are ready for this bold idea." 
 

South Arkansas Arts Center LogoSAAC TO HOST SOCIALLY DISTANT THEATRE EVENTS
The Theatre Steering Committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center announces plans to honor SAAC's rich theatrical past with an exhibition of photo montages of shows from the organization's half-century of history. Entitled "Love Letters to SAAC," the exhibit will include photography from shows throughout the decades and will be on display in the Merkle Gallery December 1-20.
The exhibition will be celebrated with a socially-distanced reception at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 4. While there is no entry fee, guests are asked to RSVP for a limited-entry time slot at www.saac-arts.org. In the gallery, they can enjoy a single-serving refreshment and take a walk down memory lane while viewing the montages. They are even asked to help us identify a few of the stars of days gone by.
Mary Egerer, who has been an integral part of the SAAC theatre community since her first production of "The Sound of Music" in 1966, is enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing so many photo montages again. "They bring back so many memories, from friends I haven't seen in many years to the specific details of the costumes and the music from the different shows," she said. "We need to find a way to remember everyone who has been a part of this wonderful organization and our lives!"
The event will also be an opportunity to purchase tickets for the extremely limited seats to SAAC's production of "Love Letters" by A.R. Gurney, scheduled for December 18-20. Love Letters is the story of Melissa and Andrew, childhood friends who grow up and go off to college, war, and careers. They remain in touch via handwritten letters, and even kindle a brief romance for a time. The play is told entirely in correspondence, over the course of about 50 years. As the letters the send to each other are read aloud, it creates an evocative, touching, frequently funny, but very revealing and meaningful story of two lives. To ensure social distancing, the performances are limited to 50 tickets, which must be reserved at www.saac-arts.com or by calling 870-862-5474. Face coverings are required.
"Although we can't produce large-scale theatrical productions and musicals because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre committee really wanted to find a way to produce something creative for the community that could be done safely and for a very small audience," said executive director Laura Allen. "This show presents a wonderful solution without sacrificing the author's intent."
To honor our community's sacrifices during this ongoing pandemic, all tickets are available for the SAAC member price of $10. Call 870-862-5474 or visit the website for more information.  

November 23, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 608
Confirmed Cases: 556
Probable Cases: 52
Total Active Cases: 146
Active Confirmed Cases: 123
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 450
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 421
Recovered Probable Cases: 29
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,450
Confirmed Cases: 1,241
Probable Cases: 209
Total Active Cases: 131
Active Confirmed Cases: 94
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 1,263
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,098
Recovered Probable Cases: 165
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 988
Confirmed Cases: 759
Probable Cases: 229
Total Active Cases: 129
Active Confirmed Cases: 69
Active Probable Cases: 60
Total Recovered Cases: 835
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 666
Recovered Probable Cases: 169
Total Deaths: 24
Confirmed Deaths: 24
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 265
Confirmed Cases: 255
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 204
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 197
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 127
Confirmed Cases: 112
Probable Cases: 15
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 96
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 86
Recovered Probable Cases: 10
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 145,173
Confirmed Cases: 128,493
Probable Cases: 16,680
Recovered Cases: 125,153
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

PUBLIC NOTICE SPSC FLUSHING LINES
Shumaker Public Service Corporation will begin flushing water lines on December 7th through January 1, 2021. Flushing will begin in Highland Industrial Park on December 7th. and will move into the East Camden residential area that same day. This process will take approximately 20 workdays to complete. We ask that you take precautions while doing laundry due to sediments stirred up in the lines. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


FRANKENBERG NAMED VICE PRESIDENT AND CFO OF AECC/AECI
Little Rock, Ark. — Nov. 20, 2020 — David Frankenberg has been named as vice president and chief financial officer of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI) effective Jan. 1, 2021. Frankenberg replaces Michael Henderson, who is retiring after 36 years of service with AECC and AECI.

Frankenberg has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and finance, including more than 12 years in the utility industry. Most recently, he served as the director of enterprise forecasting and financial planning for Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the operator of the nation’s largest public power system and power supplier to a population of approximately 10 million people. While at TVA, Frankenberg held additional director-level roles covering areas such as technical accounting, enterprise risk management, Sarbanes-Oxley internal controls compliance, operational accounting and budgeting, and Securities and Exchange Commission reporting.

“I want to thank Michael Henderson for his dedication and leadership to AECC and AECI and wish him the best in his future endeavors as CEO of Today’s Power, Inc.,” said Buddy Hasten, president/CEO of AECC/AECI. “We welcome David to the AECC/AECI family and look forward to his leadership in driving the continued long-term financial success of both the generation and transmission cooperative and the statewide services association.”

In addition to Frankenberg’s experience in the electric utility industry, he has also held financial leadership roles in the mining and pharmaceutical industries subsequent to his time in public auditing. Frankenberg holds several certifications, including Certified Public Accountant. He earned both a masters and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from the University of Tennessee.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.


HOW TO REPLACE A MISSING SOCIAL SECURITY CARD ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
If you need to replace your lost or misplaced Social Security card, our online application makes getting a replacement card easier than ever.  Requesting a card replacement online is available if you live in the District of Columbia or one of the 45 states that can verify state ID information for us.  If you’re only requesting a replacement card and you’re making no changes, you may be able to use our free online service.

All you need to do is create a personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount and meet certain requirements.  Opening a personal my Social Security account is easy, convenient, and secure.  We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features.  Once you have a personal account, simply follow the instructions to request a replacement Social Security card.

You can apply for a replacement card online, if you meet all of the following requirements:

Are a U. S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses).

Are not requesting any changes to your card (including a name change).

Have a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

In many cases, you may not need a replacement card; often, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.

But if you do need a replacement card, please visit our website at www.ssa.gov/ssnumber to find out if you can take advantage of this convenient online service.

 

November 20, 2020

SEVEN ARKANSAS COMMUNITIES RECEIVE WATER AND WASTEWATER PROJECT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved $2,422,683.37 for water and wastewater projects serving more than 2,786 people in seven Arkansas communities on November 18, 2020. The projects are as follows:

The Beaver Dam Drainage District in Greene and Randolph Counties received a $1,030,000 loan from the Water Development Fund for restoration of the existing drainage system which benefits 15,120 acres of agricultural land in the two counties.

The City of Dover in Pope County received a $375,000 loan with principal forgiveness from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. These project funds will be used to conduct a sanitary sewer evaluation survey of the existing collection system and to develop a prioritized plan for rehabilitation, repairs, and replacement of the system. This project will benefit 588 sewer customers.

The Wilburn Water Association in Cleburne County received a $403,532.37 grant from the Water Sewer & Solid Waste Fund to connect the Association’s water system to the Heber Springs Water System and decommission the Association’s existing water treatment plant. This project will benefit the Association’s 326  water customers.

The Wright-Pastoria Water Association in Jefferson County received a $356,460 loan from the Arkansas Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to replace the existing water meters with an upgraded drive-by meter system.  The new meters will log customer data in a more efficient manner and will reduce the operational costs of the Association. The Wright-Pastoria Water Association also received an increase in funding of $64,650 on an existing loan. The customer base for the Association is 444. 

The City of Turrell in Crittenden County received a $114,040 grant from the Water Sewer & Solid Waste Fund to replace outdated water meters, a master meter, and an ultrasonic meter on the force main for the City for Jericho. Turrell has approximately 186 sewer customers.

The City of Hampton in Calhoun County received $56,650 in additional funding on an existing loan.   The customer base for the project is 568.

The City of Fifty-Six in Stone County received $22,351 in additional emergency funding.  The City of Fifty-Six has a customer base of 230.

More information about the Natural Resource Division’s water and wastewater programs can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/ or by contacting Debby Dickson at debra.dickson@arkansas.gov or 501-682-0548 or Debra Banks at debra.banks@arkansas.gov or 501 682-0547.

Learn more about the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at agriculture.arkansas.gov.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 20, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 562
Confirmed Cases: 518
Probable Cases: 44
Total Active Cases: 120
Active Confirmed Cases: 101
Active Probable Cases: 19
Total Recovered Cases: 430
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 405
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,393
Confirmed Cases: 1,196
Probable Cases: 197
Total Active Cases: 98
Active Confirmed Cases: 66
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 1,239
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,081
Recovered Probable Cases: 158
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 929
Confirmed Cases: 723
Probable Cases: 206
Total Active Cases: 101
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 53
Total Recovered Cases: 805
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 652
Recovered Probable Cases: 150
Total Deaths: 23
Confirmed Deaths: 23
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 254
Confirmed Cases: 244
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 52
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 196
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 190
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 117
Confirmed Cases: 105
Probable Cases: 12
Total Active Cases: 28
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 89
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 80
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 139,855
Confirmed Cases: 124,165
Probable Cases: 15,690
Recovered Cases: 120,545
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SOCIAL SECURITY IS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
In November, we show gratitude for the many things we are thankful for throughout the year.  Family usually tops the list.  The strong women in our lives are one of the central figures we appreciate.

More women in the 21st century work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history.  Yet, on average, women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men.

The majority of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women.  Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings.  And women may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men.  These are three key reasons why Social Security is vitally important to women.

If you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years, and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits.  Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not.  If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.

The sooner you start planning for retirement, the better off you’ll be.  We have specific information for women at www.ssa.gov/people/women.  You can also read the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf.

Please share these links with friends and family you love.

November 20, 2020

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES FAULKNER COUNTY WOMEN SENTENCED FOR MEDICAID FRAUD 
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the conviction of two Faulkner County women for Medicaid fraud and elder abuse. Vonita Pitones and Juanita Rowden (Juanita Cruz) pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception, a Class C felony, and abuse of adults, a Class D felony, in Faulkner County Circuit Court.

Pitones was sentenced to three years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with an additional two years suspended imposition of sentence. Rowden was sentenced to five years probation and also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500. As part of the sentencing agreement, they must jointly and severally pay $2,639 in restitution to the Arkansas Medicaid Program Trust Fund.

“Investigators and Arkansas Attorney General’s office attorneys work tirelessly to investigate and prosecute those who commit Medicaid fraud and elder abuse,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will ensure that people attempting to defraud and hurt Arkansans are held accountable and that type of action is not tolerated in our State.”

Rowden provided private care to the victim and unlawfully filled out Medicaid documents to allow her daughter, Pitones, to be her home health aide through Absolute Care in Conway. Pitones billed for Medicaid services not provided including changing and bathing the victim. Neither Rowden nor Pitones provided adequate care and the victim was neglected. The victim’s daughter found her mother in need of medical attention. She was hospitalized for dehydration, sepsis, pneumonia and several pressure wounds. The victim passed away eight days later. The case was referred to the Attorney General's Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by the Faulkner County Prosecutor’s Office and was prosecuted in conjunction with them.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

November 19, 2020

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that OV Thomas, age 36, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to a total of 188 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance that Contained Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the spring of 2019, Detectives with the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation into Thomas for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas. The investigation determined that Thomas was an upper level member of a drug distribution ring, which operated primarily in the Western District of Arkansas.  In March, June and July of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Thomas.

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

This case was investigated by the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trent Daniels prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 17 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Texarkana, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that, Christopher Ryan Johnson, 37, of Devine, Texas, was sentenced yesterday to 210 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in the United States District Court’s Texarkana Division.

According to court records, on October 22, 2018, an Arkansas Sate Police Trooper stopped a Chevy pickup for a traffic violation in Hempstead County, Arkansas.  Johnson, the truck’s driver and sole occupant, gave conflicting stories about who owned the truck, and exhibited other behaviors that caused the Trooper to suspect he might be transporting controlled substances.  The Trooper asked Johnson for consent to search the truck, which he granted.  In the course of the consent search, troopers located a small amount of marijuana in the cab of the truck, and began to search the truck based upon probable cause.  In so doing, they began attempting to open a large, locked toolbox in the bed of the truck, for which Johnson claimed he did not have a key.  As they did so, Johnson fled on foot across the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30, toward the center median.  One trooper was able to catch up with Johnson, and had to pull Johnson out of the path of an eastbound semi truck.  As several troopers struggled to subdue Johnson in the center median, Johnson produced a knife and refused the troopers’ orders to drop it.  Ultimately, Johnson was tased and taken into custody, but not before a trooper’s fingers were cut by the knife Johnson was holding.

After Johnson was arrested, the Troopers opened the toolbox in the bed of the truck.  Inside, they found approximately 22 pounds of suspected methamphetamine.  A Drug Enforcement Administration crime laboratory later determined that it was a mixture of a substance containing at least 9,480.1 grams (over 20 pounds) of pure methamphetamine.

Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury in February of 2019, and entered a guilty plea in September of 2019.

This case was investigated by the Arkansas State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Arkansas Highway Police.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

SOCIAL SECURITY SPOUSES’ BENEFITS EXPLAINED
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
Understanding how your future retirement might affect your spouse is important.  Here are a few things to remember when you’re planning for your retirement.  Your spouse’s benefit amount could be up to 50 percent of your full retirement age benefit amount.  If you qualify for a benefit from your own work history and a spouse’s record, we always pay your own benefit first.  You cannot receive spouse’s benefits unless your spouse is receiving their retirement benefits (except for divorced spouses).

If you took your reduced retirement first while waiting for your spouse to reach retirement age, your own retirement portion remains reduced.  When you add spouse’s benefits later, the total retirement and spouses benefit together will total less than 50 percent of the worker’s amount.  You can find out more about this at www.ssa.gov/OACT/quickcalc/spouse.html.

If your spouse’s retirement benefit is higher than your retirement benefit, and he or she chooses to take reduced benefits and dies first, your survivor benefit will be reduced, but may be higher than what your spouse received.

If your deceased spouse started receiving reduced retirement benefits before their full retirement age, a special rule called the retirement insurance benefit limit may apply to you.   The retirement insurance benefit limit is the maximum survivor benefit you may receive.  Generally, the limit is the higher of:

The reduced monthly retirement benefit the deceased spouse would have been entitled to if they had lived, or

82.5 percent of the unreduced deceased spouse’s monthly benefit if they had started receiving benefits at their full retirement age (rather than choosing to receive a reduced retirement benefit early).

Knowing about these benefits can help you plan your financial future.  Access a wealth of useful information and use our benefits planners at www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement.
 

SURVEY SAYS: COST OF THANKSGIVING FEAST DOWN SLIGHTLY
Lower cost of ham, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie mix behind price drop
LITTLE ROCK — For the second year in a row, the average cost of the classic Thanksgiving meal reflected a modest decrease, according to Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 35th annual survey of items included in the holiday feast. This year’s meal will cost $57.14 for a family of 10, down 61 cents from last year’s average of $57.75.

Mark Lambert, director of Commodity Activities and Economics for Arkansas Farm Bureau, said a decrease in wholesale pork prices offset the slight increase in turkey prices.

“Ham prices saw a decrease on a per-pound basis of 20 cents, which can be attributed to record pork production and a six percent decrease in wholesale prices,” Lambert said. “Also, freezers saw a 32-percent decrease from a year ago in their bone-in ham stocks. Turkey prices increased by three cents per-pound, which was due to higher wholesale prices and inventory in freezers almost equal to a year ago.”

According to Lambert, disruptions in the second quarter due to covid-19 outbreaks in poultry processing plants had very little impact on turkey stocks.

 “That American consumers continue to be able to prepare the meal for less than $6 per person is testament to the efficiency of our farmers and ranchers and despite the pandemic, providing them access to affordable food for the holiday season,” he said.

 The statewide average is based on responses from members of the Arkansas Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee and other volunteers who surveyed food prices at 10 grocery stores and supermarkets across the state. They were asked to report the “best in-store price” of 15 items included in the meal and are allowed to take advantage of advertised specials, excluding discount coupons and purchase requirements.
Arkansas food prices remain more affordable than elsewhere in the U.S. American Farm Bureau’s national survey revealed an average price of $60.11 or roughly $6 per person.

“This has truly been a challenging and unusual year for all Americans,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau president Rich Hillman. “Yet, despite the pandemic and disruptions in the supply chain earlier in the year, we continue to have the most affordable and abundant food supply in the world. Our farmers, ranchers and those in our food production and delivery system have worked tirelessly to ensure our families have access to the nutritious, abundant food they’ve come to expect. As we do each Thanksgiving, many families and charitable organizations will share the meal with those who are not as fortunate, and that is truly reason to give thanks,” Hillman said.

Though unscientific, the survey is intended to be a snapshot of actual prices across Arkansas and the nation. The survey period was Oct. 30 – Nov. 12. Click here for a comparison price chart of items in the survey. The average cost of a 16-pound young tom turkey was $17.36 or $1.09 per pound. That’s up from $1.06 per pound last year. American Farm Bureau’s national survey reported an average of $19.39 or $1.21 per pound for the whole bird. The average price of a four-pound half bone-in ham is $7.42 or $1.86 per pound, down from $2.06 per pound in 2019. The cost of protein products such as turkey and ham are the major drivers of the cost of the meal.

Other items in the shopping list that reflected price increases are a 5-pound bag of russet potatoes which cost $2.93 or $.59 per pound, up from $2.62 last year. A gallon of whole milk averaged $3.69, up 40 cents from $3.29 last year.

 Conversely, items that dropped in price were a three-pound bag of sweet potatoes at $2.84, down from $3.16 last year and a 30-oz can of pumpkin pie mix at $3.26, down 13 cents from 2019.

 The remaining items surveyed included a package of fresh cranberries, carrots, celery, frozen green peas and green beans, frozen pie shells, cubed stuffing mix, dinner rolls, and a ½-pint carton of whipping cream.
 


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

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 547
Confirmed Cases: 505
Probable Cases: 42
Total Active Cases: 111
Active Confirmed Cases: 94
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 424
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 399
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,380
Confirmed Cases: 1,191
Probable Cases: 189
Total Active Cases: 93
Active Confirmed Cases: 68
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 1,231
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,074
Recovered Probable Cases: 157
Total Deaths: 56
Confirmed Deaths: 49
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 913
Confirmed Cases: 717
Probable Cases: 196
Total Active Cases: 97
Active Confirmed Cases: 49
Active Probable Cases: 48
Total Recovered Cases: 793
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 645
Recovered Probable Cases: 148
Total Deaths: 23
Confirmed Deaths: 23
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 252
Confirmed Cases: 243
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 53
Active Confirmed Cases: 49
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 193
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 188
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 113
Confirmed Cases: 102
Probable Cases: 11
Total Active Cases: 31
Active Confirmed Cases: 28
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 82
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 74
Recovered Probable Cases: 8
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0
Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 137,617
Confirmed Cases: 122,481
Probable Cases: 15,136
Recovered Cases: 118,751

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

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

November 18, 2020

CROSSETT MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 5 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Christopher Gibson, age 41, of Crossett, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 63 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for one count of being a Felon In Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court records on October 9, 2019, Arkansas State Parole Officers and Ashley County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a parole search on Gibson at Gibson’s residence, which is located in the Western District of Arkansas. During the search of his residence, officers located and seized a loaded Mossberg 12-guage shotgun and several shotgun shells.  Gibson was taken into custody without incident.

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

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 18, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 526
Confirmed Cases: 488
Probable Cases: 38
Total Active Cases: 95
Active Confirmed Cases: 82
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 419
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 394
Recovered Probable Cases: 25
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,358
Confirmed Cases: 1,176
Probable Cases: 182
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 59
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,222
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,069
Recovered Probable Cases: 153
Total Deaths: 55
Confirmed Deaths: 48
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 890
Confirmed Cases: 708
Probable Cases: 182
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 787
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 642
Recovered Probable Cases: 145
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 242
Confirmed Cases: 233
Probable Cases: 9
Total Active Cases: 47
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 189
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 184
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 111
Confirmed Cases: 101
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 77
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 70
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 135,902
Confirmed Cases: 121,153
Probable Cases: 14,749
Recovered Cases: 117,608
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

SIGN UP FOR MEDICARE PART B ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
For many people, signing up for Medicare Part B doesn’t require you to leave the comfort of home.  Please visit the Medicare Part B webpage at secure.ssa.gov/acu/ophandler/loginSuccess  if:
You’re enrolled in Medicare Part A.
You would like to enroll in Part B during the Special Enrollment Period.

You can complete form CMS-40B (Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B [Medical Insurance]) at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms-Items/CMS017339 and CMS-L564 at www.cms.gov/Medicare/CMS-Forms/CMS-Forms/Downloads/CMS-L564E.pdf (Request for Employment Information) online.

You can also fax the CMS-40B and CMS-L564 to 1-833-914-2016; or return forms by mail to your local Social Security office.  Please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if you have any questions.  

 Note:  When completing the forms:
State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
Submit one of the following types of secondary evidence by uploading it from a saved document on your computer:
Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

 Please let your friends and loved ones know about this online, mail, or fax option.

CAIR WELCOMES INTRODUCTION OF HATE CRIME BILL IN ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE 
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/17/2020) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed the introduction of anti-hate crime legislation in the Arkansas legislature.    

On Monday, state lawmakers in Little Rock filed legislation combating hate crimes, the latest in a series of attempts. The bill is designed to strengthen penalties for discrimination based on sex, national origin, religion, and a number of other factors. 

Penalties under this new bill could increase sentences by up to 20 percent. Arkansas currently has legislation increasing sentences for hate crimes by law enforcement and first responders. However, it is among the few states (Arkansas, South Carolina, Wyoming) without existing anti-hate crime legislation. Previous attempts have been made in the state legislature and have yet to succeed. 

The latest hate crime bill will be introduced when the legislature comes back into session, in mid-January 2021. 

 SEE: Arkansas Lawmakers File Hate Crime Bill 
https://wreg.com/news/arkansas-lawmakers-file-hate-crime-bill/        

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.   

SENATORS INTRODUCE RESOLUTION HONORING THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FOR RECEIVING NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
WASHINGTON–The Senate Hunger Caucus has unveiled an effort to honor the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

The caucus co-chairs—Sens. John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jerry Moran (R-KS)—have introduced S.Res.774 that congratulates the WFP for being awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, affirms the organization’s mission and expresses support for the leadership of WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

Additionally, the resolution reiterates the Senate’s commitment to the goal of working with the international community to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition through the work of the WFP.

“Eliminating hunger at home and abroad takes an all-hands-on-deck approach. It requires leaders with visionary solutions and supporting team members who are willing to put in the hard work to bring about meaningful change. David Beasley and his team at the WFP embody these principles. I congratulate them and offer my continued support as we work together toward a world where hunger is no longer an issue,” said Boozman.

“For nearly 60 years, the World Food Program has been on the front lines fighting hunger, preventing famines and responding to humanitarian crises across the world,” said Brown. “The WFP is a worthy recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize and I congratulate the women and men of the WFP who have worked so hard to make the world a better place. I am honored to join my colleagues on the Senate Hunger Caucus to recognize the outstanding work of the WFP.”

“World Food Program staff and volunteers are on the front lines fighting famine, hunger and malnutrition in the world’s most difficult to reach regions. Awarding WFP with the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize is not only commendation of the incredible work WFP does, but also a recognition that food security is essential to fighting poverty and achieving a more just and equitable world. As the world deals with an unprecedented pandemic, conflict and displacement, we must not forget that hunger is often one of the first effects of unrest. I congratulate WFP for this well-deserved honor and along with my colleagues remain committed to fighting hunger and malnutrition around the world,” said Casey.

“So many in America and across the globe suffer from a shortage of food. The World Food Program has been a steadfast leader in the fight to end world hunger, providing innovative solutions and determination to end this struggle. I’m proud to join members of the bipartisan Senate Hunger Caucus to introduce a resolution that commends the WFP’s Nobel Peace Prize and recognizes the need to continue our efforts in the Senate to end world hunger,” said Durbin.  

 “As hunger impacts families here in the United States and around the globe, it will take collaboration between producers, Congress and organizations like the World Food Program to eradicate hunger,” said Moran. “Fighting hunger is not only the morally right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do for our producers, and I applaud the World Food Program and the work they do each day to end hunger.”

“We are deeply grateful for this bipartisan recognition from the leaders of the Senate Hunger Caucus. From the time of the United Nations World Food Program’s creation in 1961, the United States has remained a stalwart and generous donor in support of our lifesaving work in more than 80 countries around the world,” said Barron Segar President & CEO of World Food Program USA. “Being named the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is a timely and decisive acknowledgement that ending hunger is a critical first step towards peace. The award is a tribute to the sacrifice and commitment of the U.N. World Food Program’s 18,000 staff, many of whom work on the frontlines of hunger and conflict, delivering food assistance that offers hope to some of the most vulnerable people, living in some of the world’s most remote and insecure locations.”

November 17, 2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE - NOVEMBER 17, 2020
State officials warn Arkansas is on the precipice of an uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases. Now, more than ever, Arkansans are being asked to do their part in slowing the spread of the virus. That was the message shared during Gov. Asa Hutchinson's COVID-19 Taskforce press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Hutchinson said Arkansas' COVID-19 situation has escalated greatly in recent days and weeks. Figures shared on Tuesday back up the concerns of Hutchinson and other state officials. Hutchinson reported a case increase of more than 1,500 over the past 24 hours. In total, nearly 136,000 Arkansans have contracted the virus since the outbreak began in the spring. Hospitalizations continue to rise to unprecedented levels with another 34 reported on Tuesday. That leaves 895 Arkansans currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Deaths increased by 20 in Arkansas to a total of 2,245. 

The state's testing regiment remains stronger than ever, with more than 10,000 combined PCR and antigen tests performed on Monday. Officials say the high level of testing evidences both the capacity of and demand for COVID-19 tests in Arkansas.

Hutchinson cited a new White House report warning Arkansas' COVID-19 situation could dramatically worsen in the coming days and weeks. He said the study suggests an additional 1,000 Arkansans could die from the virus before Christmas.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero once again urged everyone in the state to follow local and state health guidelines. He stressed that reversing the case growth relies upon every Arkansans to do their part.

In response to the virus' increasing impact on Arkansas, Hutchinson said the state is ramping up compliance checks and actions. Mike Moore with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration stated compliance officers are checking more bars and restaurants across the state to ensure they're following social distancing and mask requirements. 

Again, more than 1,500 new cases were reported on Tuesday. That raises Arkansas' cumulative total of confirmed and probable cases at nearly 136,000 since the pandemic began. Deaths increased by 20 to 2,245 while hospitalizations grew by 34 to 895. Active cases of the virus in Arkansas grew by 91 to 16,576.  We'll continue to keep you updated on all the latest developments. 

CHRISTMAS IN EL DORADO
FREE Events in Downtown El Dorado AR
Hometown is Downtown for the Holidays in El Dorado!

El Dorado, Arkansas, - Hometown is Downtown for the Holidays and Main Street El Dorado is inviting you to celebrate Christmas traditions and complete your holiday shopping with a series of festive activities throughout the season in El Dorado's award-winning downtown!

"Let's All Open Together" is the tagline to remember in a nod to the holiday shopping season, which has officially kicked off, and a call to shop locally by exploring downtown shops to find great bargains and the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list. For those who are simply looking to soak up the ambiance and energetic cheeriness of the holiday season, downtown El Dorado will transform into a quaint Christmas village, awash in red-and-green lights and other yuletide decorations.

"We all need a little Christmas with everything that's been going on this year," said Beth Brumley, executive director of Main Street El Dorado. "We want to make it as normal as possible for 2020 and it helps the merchants, who already rely on the holidays and fourth-quarter sales to close out the year," Brumley said. Main Street is teaming up with Murphy USA and the Downtown Business Association to present the Hometown is Downtown El Dorado for the Holidays promotion with coronavirus (COVID-19) health and safety protocols in mind.

Activities range from the annual holiday lighting ceremony to Black Friday sales events and an opportunity to visit with Santa, while socially distancing, of course!

Highlights include:
The Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony, the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season in El Dorado, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, November 19, on the east (Jefferson Avenue) side of the Union County Courthouse Square:

The night will be filled with live entertainment from local dance groups, singers and other performers. The Salvation Army of El Dorado will hand out free cookies and hot chocolate to the crowd and launch its 2020 Red Kettle Campaign, a charitable fundraiser.

First responders - law enforcement officers, firefighters and healthcare workers - will be honored during the ceremony and will conduct the ceremonial "flipping of the switch" to turn on the holiday lights.

Local television news station KTVE will also broadcast its weather report live on location. Space for the lighting ceremony is limited to the first 300 people. The event area will be blocked to traffic.

Crowds will enter at intersection of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue and exit at the intersection of Elm Street and Jefferson Avenue.

Those who enter and exit the event area will be counted. Face masks will be required.

The community will be invited to help pick a winner in a Window Decorating Contest that starts on the night of the lighting ceremony and is open to downtown merchants.

The deadline is Monday, November 16, to submit entry forms to Main Street El Dorado. Displays must capture the Home is Downtown for the Holidays theme. Entries will be judged on visual impact, creativity, overall use of the theme and incorporation of store products.

Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third-place winners. A winner will also be selected for the People's Choice award.

People will be able to take selfies and vote on their favorite window display by submitting the photos to mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.

Contest winners will be announced at 5:30 p.m. on First Thursday — 4 until 7 p.m., December 3 — on local radio station KIX 103, who will be broadcasting live from downtown El Dorado

The Downtown Open House is set for 1 until 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 22. Shoppers are encouraged to stroll downtown to see what's new for the holiday season and take advantage of specials, sales and treats at retail stores and restaurants for a safe and enjoyable shopping and dining experience.

Downtown businesses will open from 8 p.m. until midnight on Thanksgiving (November 26) to offer Black Friday deals. Merchants will throw a pajama party so feel free to wear your PJs!

Shop Small Saturday is slated for Saturday, November 28. The national campaign is promoted by American Express to encourage Americans to make a big impact by supporting small businesses.

Stores will open at 10 a.m. in downtown El Dorado.

Santa will also arrive on his sleigh and he will be available for photobombs from noon until 4 p.m.

Photos with Santa will be free for shoppers who present receipts that list purchases from downtown shops and restaurants between November 22 and November 28. Photos will be $5 without a receipt Shoppers may use their cellphone or cameras to snap their own photos or ask a Main Street El Dorado representative to take a photo.

Not sure what to get for a family member, friend or co-worker? Main Street El Dorado gift cards make great Christmas gifts and are available for purchase throughout the holiday season. Gift cards are $25 each and may be used like cash at participating downtown businesses.

Those who purchase gift cards between November 19 and December 3 will be eligible to enter a drawing that will be held on First Thursday in December. An announcement about the prize is forthcoming.

For more information or to purchase a gift card, call the Main Street El Dorado office at 870-862-4747. Also, visit mainstreeteldorado.org or the Main Street El Dorado Facebook page.
 

HOT SPRINGS WOMAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that Lessie Gallo, age 39, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to a total of 300 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance that Contained Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

In the summer of 2019, Detectives with the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration launched an investigation into Gallo for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  The investigation determined that Gallo was the head of an extensive drug distribution network that operated primarily in the Western District of Arkansas.  In July and August of 2019, detectives conducted multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Gallo.

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

This case was investigated by the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trent Daniels prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

$5.5 MILLION LITERACY SUBGRANTS AWARDED TO 128 SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS 
LITTLE ROCK — Students around the state will soon experience the benefits of enhanced literacy programs thanks to the distribution of $5.5 million in federal funds this year. 

The U.S. Department of Education previously awarded the Arkansas Department of Education a five-year grant totaling $38 million (the most allowed under the grant) for the Arkansas Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program, which will improve literacy outcomes for students in grades Pre-K through 12. Ninety-five percent of the funds will be subgranted to schools, districts, and community partners. 

Since being awarded the grant, ADE accepted applications for the Successful Outcomes for Arkansas Readers subgrant and has identified the following 128 schools and districts that will receive funds this first year: https://bit.ly/3nwdXFh. An additional $1.2 million is awarded to the Arkansas Imagination Library, a program under Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that provides free books to families.

“We were extremely excited to award these much-needed funds to deserving schools and districts that submitted comprehensive plans to improve literacy at their schools and in their communities,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “I cannot stress enough the importance of building a strong foundation in reading, and through this grant, educators will take their literacy programs to the next level, resulting in increased student access to books, robust reading programs, and an improved culture of reading.”

Schools and districts will use the grants to do the following:
develop and implement a comprehensive literacy instruction plan across all content areas;
provide high-quality professional development opportunities for educators;
provide assistance to leadership regarding the support, development, administration, and evaluation of high-quality literacy initiatives;
coordinate the involvement of early childhood educators;
foster collaboration among various stakeholders; and
build a culture of reading.

The subgrants build upon the efforts of R.I.S.E. Arkansas (Reading Initiative for Student Excellence) that was launched by ADE and Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January 2017. The program’s objectives are to strengthen reading instruction, create community collaboration, and build a culture of reading.

To learn more about R.I.S.E. Arkansas, visit http://www.risearkansas.org.

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 20, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden.

 

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

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 507
Confirmed Cases: 472
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 70
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 413
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 390
Recovered Probable Cases: 23
Total Deaths: 11

Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,347
Confirmed Cases: 1,170
Probable Cases: 177
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 1,210
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,061
Recovered Probable Cases: 149
Total Deaths: 55
Confirmed Deaths: 48
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 878
Confirmed Cases: 704
Probable Cases: 174
Total Active Cases: 81
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 437
Total Recovered Cases: 775
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 638
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 236
Confirmed Cases: 228
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 43
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 187
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 182
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 110
Confirmed Cases: 100
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 73
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 66
Recovered Probable Cases: 7
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0


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

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

 

SHANNON WILLIAMS NAMED AFFILIATE OFFICER FOR ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
Little Rock, Ark. (Nov. 17, 2020) – Shannon Williams has been named Arkansas Community Foundation’s affiliate officer. With $442 million in assets, the Community Foundation is a statewide grant-making organization providing tools for charitable giving to all 75 counties through its network of 29 affiliate offices statewide. 

“Shannon is passionate about serving and advocating for nonprofits, communities and underserved populations. His education and experience make him a great fit for working with our affiliate network across Arkansas,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation president and CEO.

A native of Lake Village, Williams administers statewide outreach through the affiliate program and provides liaison support between the central office and local affiliate staff and advisory boards. He is excited to contribute his knowledge and talents to help respond to Arkansans' needs and achieve the mission of Arkansas Community Foundation to engage people, connect resources and inspire solutions to build community throughout the state.

He most recently served as an organizational development consultant for the University of North Texas System. Before that, he served as an organizational development specialist for Baptist Health System and as the retention counselor for the University of Central Arkansas College of Education's Partnership for Transition to Teaching Grant Program.

Williams earned a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies from the University of Central Arkansas and a master's degree in Higher Education and three bachelor's degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is a certified StrengthsFinder Facilitator and a trained coach.

For more information about the Foundation’s affiliate network, visit www.arcf.org/affiliates or call 501-372-1116.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $310 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 29 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

 
 
 

November 16, 2020


SUPPORT FOR VETERANS NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH CARES ACT FUNDING
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Steering Committee has approved a proposal by the Arkansas Department of Human
Services (DHS) Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) to fund mental health services, outreach and education, and crisis intervention through December 2020 for veterans experiencing mental health issues during the public health emergency.

Senator Trent Garner of El Dorado emphasized that the deadline is very soon. Organizations must apply detailing their requested needs and proposed budget for eligible costs by Wednesday, November 18.

The pandemic has had an adverse impact on the mental health of many Arkansans, and some veterans have been severely affected,” Garner said.

“The holidays can be stressful, and they tend to increase the need for suicide prevention and crisis interventions,” he said.

This proposal aims to make sure there are targeted efforts underway to support Arkansas veterans and connect them to services in their communities.

Non-profit veteran service organizations may submit proposals for equipment costs and delivering direct services to veterans experiencing mental health conditions through December 30, 2020.
- $3.4 million will be dedicated to fund direct support for veterans and their families.
- To be eligible organizations must have:
- Mission and vision that align with addressing the needs of Arkansas veterans;
- Demonstrated history of service to Arkansas veterans;
- Leadership and staff that are representative of Arkansas veterans;
- Demonstrated history of clear strategies for engaging Arkansas veterans; and
- Been in operation since March 1, 2019.

Here is a list of eligible services and expenditures:
- First Aid & Trauma Supplies
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Naloxone
- Training & Professional Development
- Hosting Seminars, Support Groups
- Food Assistance for Veterans and Families
- Housing Expenses for Veterans Who are Homeless
- Outreach & Education Campaigns about Available Services
- Information Technology Support & Equipment

• Applications are available at: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/procurement/details/cares-act-supports-for-veterans-with-behavioral-health-needs-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.

Organizations may submit applications for up to the following amounts:
▪ Organizations with 0 to 4 employees may submit for up to $15,000
▪ Organizations with 5 to 15 employees may submit for up to $30,000
▪ Organizations with 15 to 30 employees may submit for up to $$60,000
▪ Organizations with 30 or more employees may submit for up to $100,000
All recipients will be subject to weekly monitoring on activities and services provided to ensure accountability with CARES Act funds and activities.

 

GIVING TUESDAY CONTRIBUTIONS WILL HELP ARKANSAS CHILDREN, FAMILIES AT METHODIST FAMILY HEALTH
LITTLE ROCK (Nov. 16, 2020) - Many families this year have had to face numerous challenges ranging from employment uncertainty to a global pandemic. Methodist Family Health wants to remind everyone that it’s more important than ever to give back to your community and help support those in need.  Coming up on Tues., Dec. 1, Giving Tuesday is one way that you can help.  This day has been marked as a global effort to encourage people to do good and help those around them.

Arkansans are known for their generosity, and Methodist Family Health asks you to help the children and families of our state by donating to the Methodist Family Health Foundation’s compassion fund.

“Our compassion fund helps us with things to help further the child along in their therapy,” said Carolyn McCone, executive director of the Methodist Family Health Foundation. “These are items such as gas/food gift cards that support a child’s therapy in direct correlation to Methodist Family Health services; unreimbursed needs such as eye/dental appointments, eye glasses, contacts and dental implants; an unfunded necessity item such as a specific size undergarment or clothing; and special therapy needs.”

Methodist Family Health is looking for organizations and individuals in Arkansas to help support our mission of providing the best possible care to those who may need our help. To contribute, visit https://www.methodistfamily.org/donate.html, text TUES to 501-881-2258, visit https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/hub and search for Methodist Family Health Foundation, call 501-906-4201 to make a secure contribution with your debit or credit card, or mail your cash or check donation to Methodist Family Health Foundation, P.O. Box 56050, Little Rock, AR 72215-6050.

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement designed to unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities around the world. Created in 2012 as a day that encourages people to do good, it has grown into a global movement.

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

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will hold their regular meeting  on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. at Garrison Auditorium.
The agenda is as follows:
1. Call to order.
2. Approval of minutes of previous meetings
3. Communication

4. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
a. None

5. NEW BUSINESS
a. Recognition of Cindy Bever - High Reliability Teacher Cohort for Arkansas
b. Recognition of Cynthia Outlaw - Region 3 Choral Director of the Year
c. Recognition of Jimna Betts - Cognitive Academic Language Therapist
d. Presentation of Math Grant by Judy Dunmire
e. Facility rentals
6. Superintendent's report to the Board
7. Financial report
8. Personnel
a. Hiring
b. Transfer
c. Resignation
d. Retirement

EL DORADO MAN SENTENCED TO 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON ON DRUG CHARGES
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that on November 10, 2020, Thomas Lovett, 36, of El Dorado, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for Aiding and Abetting the Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

In July 2019, as part of an ongoing operation targeting South Arkansas drug traffickers, agents of the FBI and the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine that was arranged and facilitated by Lovett. 

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

This case was investigated by the FBI, the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the El Dorado Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

INDEPENDENT EVALUATION VALIDATES SUCCESS OF ARKANSAS PLC AT WORK® PROJECT
LITTLE ROCK —
An independent evaluation of Arkansas’ Professional Learning Communities at Work® project determined that the program has positively impacted student achievement on the ACT Aspire assessment.

Education Northwest, a third-party research firm that conducts external evaluations of programs to determine their effectiveness, evaluated Arkansas’ PLC at Work® model. After only two years of data, the firm found that Arkansas’ program positively impacted students’ math ACT Aspire scores, as well as the math scores among specific student subgroups. Arkansas’ efforts also resulted in student math achievement gains that exceeded those attributed to other professional learning programs.

“The Education Northwest report confirms what we have known the last couple of years: When a culture of collaboration is created that is entirely student-focused, then student achievement increases,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “When we were introduced to the PLC at Work® model a few years ago, we knew it was critical to success here in Arkansas. This report not only validates educators’ hard work in changing the culture at their school, it also confirms that students are responding to these efforts, resulting in enhanced learning. We are extremely pleased with these results, and I’m excited to see future successes from the program.”

Education Northwest started the three-year study with the first Arkansas PLC at Work® cohort (which includes nine schools and one district). The firm intended to complete the study after the 2020 state assessment; however, COVID suspended testing this spring. The study will conclude in 2021 after state assessments are administered.
To read the full report and learn more about the PLC at Work® process, go to https://bit.ly/36CEdqF.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 16, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 494
Confirmed Cases: 459
Probable Cases: 35
Total Active Cases: 78
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 404
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 383
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 11
Confirmed Deaths: 11
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,336
Confirmed Cases: 1,161
Probable Cases: 175
Total Active Cases: 82
Active Confirmed Cases: 59
Active Probable Cases: 23
Total Recovered Cases: 1,200
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,055
Recovered Probable Cases: 145
Total Deaths: 54
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 870
Confirmed Cases: 701
Probable Cases: 169
Total Active Cases: 86
Active Confirmed Cases: 44
Active Probable Cases: 42
Total Recovered Cases: 762
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 635
Recovered Probable Cases: 127
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 232
Confirmed Cases: 225
Probable Cases: 7
Total Active Cases: 42
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 184
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 181
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 104
Confirmed Cases: 94
Probable Cases: 10
Total Active Cases: 37
Active Confirmed Cases: 33
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 67
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 61
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 133,040
Confirmed Cases: 118,843
Probable Cases: 14.197
Recovered Cases: 114,312

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

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

November 13, 2020

STATE POLICE CID WILL LEAD INVESTIGATION IN MURDER OF HELENA POLICE OFFICER
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are in northwest Mississippi today where two men wanted in connection with the murder of a Helena – West Helena Police Officer yesterday were apprehended early this morning by U.S. Marshals.  Latarius Quayshun Howard, 29, the suspected gunman in the murder, surrendered without resistance in Shaw, Mississippi shortly after 6 AM.  Bruce Hillie, 24, the alleged getaway driver, was apprehended in Indianola, Mississippi.   
The Arkansas State Police will be the lead law enforcement agency to investigate the Thursday evening shooting incident.  Special agents assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division will be responsible for preparing an investigative case file for the Phillips County prosecuting attorney who has filed the state’s charges.  Howard faces a capital murder charge, Hillie, is charged with hindering apprehension.  Both are being held in the Sunflower County Jail at Indianola, Mississippi and will face an extradition hearing before being returned to Arkansas.
Officer Travis C. Wallace, 41, was struck by gunfire during a gun battle with Howard about 6:11 PM outside the Delta Inn located at 1207 U.S. Highway 49 in Helena-West Helena.  Officer Wallace and other local police officers had been looking for Howard who was wanted on charges stemming from a shooting incident in Helena – West Helena about a week ago.
Howard was spotted by Officer Wallace riding in a sport utility vehicle about exit the motel parking lot and turn onto U.S. Highway 49.  The officer used his patrol car to block the truck’s exit, at which time Howard exited the vehicle and reportedly began advancing on the officer while firing a gun.  Officer Wallace returned fire, however there has been no report that Howard was injured.  After wounding Officer Wallace, Howard and the driver, believed to be Hillie, then fled from the crime scene.
Officer Wallace was transported to an area hospital where he died at 7:10 PM.

INTENSIFIED SEATBELT ENFORCEMENT SET TO BEGIN AS THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY TRAVEL APPROACHES
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Arkansas families have begun making their Thanksgiving holiday preparations.  For many Arkansans, the plans include highway travel across the state or nation.  Local and state law enforcement officers always wish the safest travels for all, but inevitably the festivities are cut short for some as the result of a motor vehicle crash.  The importance of seat belt use is greater than ever and that’s why Arkansas law enforcement agencies are reminding all drivers and their passengers to always buckle-up.  It can make the difference between an everlasting tragedy and living to celebrate next year.
Beginning Monday (November 16th) the annual U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s national Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement plan begins and will be operational for two weeks.  Aimed at enforcing seat belt use laws to help keep people safe, the national seat belt campaign runs concurrent with the upcoming travel season which typically includes an uptick in traffic volume.
“During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll join forces with other law enforcement agencies across local and state lines to ensure the seat belt safety message gets out to all drivers and passengers,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “By far, buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life during a crash.  We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time.  The loss of life and devastating injuries that could’ve been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt is saddening when all anyone had to do was obey the law.”
According to NHTSA, in 2018, there were 9,778 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States. In that same year, 56 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed at night (6 p.m.–5:59 a.m.) were not wearing their seat belts.  The staggering statistics associated with nighttime travel has prompted the Click It or Ticket campaign to place added emphasis on evening enforcement.  Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.
For more information about highway safety during Thanksgiving, go to www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

COMMISSION APPROVAL FOR SERGEANT PROMOTION
NOVEMBER 12, 2020
Corporal Michael Garlington, 49, of Faulkner County, has been promoted to the rank of sergeant.  The promotional recommendation was made by Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and approved by the Arkansas State Police Commission today during a regular monthly meeting.

Sergeant Garlington is a 22 year veteran of the department and most recently been assigned as a special agent in the Criminal Investigation Division, Company A headquartered at Little Rock.  He will assume supervisory duties under a new assignment with CID, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff.


BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANT
In partnership with Chambers of Commerce, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is helping business owners navigate the new Business Interruption Grant.

The grant is open to Arkansas small businesses in the service and hospitality industries.

The application period is limited to Nov. 16-25, so the time to act is now!

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, in cooperation with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, will administer the grant program utilizing $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN GRIEVES THE LOSS OF FALLEN HELENA-WEST HELENA POLICE OFFICER
Says ‘I am heartbroken for the family of the officer, the community, and the Helena-West Helena Police Department who lost one of their own’
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin issued the following statement in response to the killing of a Helena-West Helena police officer in the line of duty:

"We face a new day with the knowledge that another Arkansas officer was senselessly taken from us in the line of duty. It is intolerable. This officer was seeking justice for a shooting victim when he was shot and killedI am heartbroken for the family of the officer, the community, and the Helena-West Helena Police Department who lost one of their own. Our officers and their families should not have to fear this type of loss, yet it is one that is increasingly more real to the law enforcement community. I am praying for those grieving and for the killer to be brought to swift justice.”
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 13, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 465
Confirmed Cases: 435
Probable Cases: 30
Total Active Cases: 61
Active Confirmed Cases: 52
Active Probable Cases: 9
Total Recovered Cases: 394
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 373
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,302
Confirmed Cases: 1,136
Probable Cases: 166
Total Active Cases: 83
Active Confirmed Cases: 61
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,165
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,028
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 54
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 7

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 839
Confirmed Cases: 682
Probable Cases: 157
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 35
Total Recovered Cases: 744
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 622
Recovered Probable Cases: 122
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 211
Confirmed Cases: 207
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 21
Active Confirmed Cases: 20
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 184
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 181
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 95
Confirmed Cases: 84
Probable Cases: 11
Total Active Cases: 34
Active Confirmed Cases: 29
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 61
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 55
Recovered Probable Cases: 6
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 128,006
Confirmed Cases: 115,228
Probable Cases: 12,778
Recovered Cases: 111,357

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

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

 

NEARLY ONE-IN-FOUR TEENS LESS LIKELY TO CONSIDER STARTING A BUSINESS AS AN ADULT AS THE RESULT OF COVID-19 IMPACT
Research by Junior Achievement Coincides with National Entrepreneurship Month, which is in November
(Little Rock, Arkansas) – A recent survey for Junior Achievement (JA) by research firm ENGINE Insights shows that nearly one-in-four teens (22%) say they are less likely to consider starting a business as an adult due to the impact of COVID-19 on small business. The release of the survey results coincides with National Entrepreneurship Month in November. The 2020 survey of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 was conducted from October 20 to 25, 2020.  

"Entrepreneurship drives innovation, creates jobs, and builds communities, but these results raise some concerns about what business creation will look like in the future," said Tonya Villines, President of Junior Achievement of Arkansas. "It’s important that we encourage today’s young people to consider entrepreneurship as a career option for the future. That’s why entrepreneurship is one of the main areas of focus for Junior Achievement’s educational experiences.”

To help introduce teens to entrepreneurship, for the past five years Junior Achievement has offered JA Launch Lesson. JA Launch Lesson is a point-of-entry program delivered by community entrepreneurs. Students gain firsthand knowledge about starting a business and the entrepreneurial journey. Since its introduction, JA Launch Lesson has reached more than 210,000 teens. This year virtual options of the program will be offered.

Despite the concerns of some teens about starting a business, the survey shows a majority remain open to the idea of being an entrepreneur. More than two-thirds (68%) of teens were "likely" to consider starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur as an adult.

Other findings of the survey include:
Nearly a third of teens (30%) said they would need a “role model in business” to consider becoming an entrepreneur. While most teens (52%) said they need "someone to invest" in their business to consider being an entrepreneur

 Three-in-ten (31%) of teens stated their greatest concern with starting a business is “not having enough money”. 

Methodology
This Youth CARAVAN survey was conducted by ENGINE INSIGHTS among a sample of 1,000 respondents aged 13-17. This survey was live on October 20-25, 2020. 

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. The data have been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the 18+ population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

About Junior Achievement of Arkansas
Junior Achievement is the state’s only organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches over 13,000 students per year across Arkansas.

For more information, visit www.jaark.org or follow the organization on Facebook at JuniorAchievementArkansas and on Twitter @JAArkansas 

November 11, 2020

cCITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MET IN REGULAR SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order promptly at 7 pm. Social distancing was practiced, and a face covering was required.

The Invocation was given by Greg Nettles, Pastor of the Bethel AME Church, 515 Madison Avenue NE in Camden. The invocation was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. It was noted that once again, Alderman Joe Askew did not take part in the pledge and stood with his back turned to the flag. City Clerk Donna Stewart called the Roll. All Aldermen were present.

The minutes of the Special called meetings of September 09, 2020 and September 22nd as well as the minutes of the regular meeting of October 13, 2020 were approved as well as the Financial Report for October 2020.

Alderman Chris James Bell move Resolution 35-20 to the next item on the agenda.  Resolution #35-20 was a resolution appointing an Alderman to fill the vacancy that was created in Ward 2, Position 2, and to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of office. The Resolution was moved to the top of the agenda. William McCoy was elected to fill that position in the November 3rd election. McCoy was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Chip Simmons. The Mayor swore in Alderman McCoy and he took his place at the Council Table.
The meeting moved to the Audience Participation part of the meeting.
Mayor’s Report. Streets have been taken care of. Thanks to Kevin Franklin for his work and leadership on parks and streets projects. He reminded that Covid is alive and well and asked that if anyone need to see someone at City Hall, please call and make an appointment. He talked about the upcoming Christmas events in Downtown Camden. Budget Workshops are going well and there will be one more called before the December meeting.

Old business was next on the agenda.
Resolution #21-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the city website. Motion was made and approved. There was a short discussion. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Ordinance #17-20, an ordinance amending ordinance #19-86 (Camden code section 2-97.2) regarding the airport commission; and for other purposes. This Ordinance will allow coordination between the Airport Commission and the City. Alderman Askew expressed frustration regarding the lack of communication between the Commission and the City. City Attorney Michael Frey explained how things have been working between the two entities and said there are some issues, and this Ordinance is a starting place to fix the issues. After a lengthy discussion, the Ordinance passed.

The Council turned their attention to new business.
Ordinance #41-20 is an ordinance repealing ordinance #02-14 assessing a lien on certain property located at 555 Grinstead Street SE. Motion was made to suspend the rules and move to the third reading. Motion passed. There was a discussion regarding the reduction of the lien. Motion was made to change the $500 to $590 which is the normal 20% usually assessed when a lien is reduced. Amended was approved. Ordinance passed with amendment.

Resolution no. #32-20, a resolution approving the appointment of Mike Smith to the Water and Sewer Commission. Resolution passed.

Resolution #33-20 was a resolution authorizing the payment for a portion of salary for the 39th Arkansas Judicial District Court Judge. Resolution passed.

Resolution #34-20, a resolution amending resolution no. 34-10; setting policy for employee health insurance benefits; and for other purposes. This Resolution would change the amount of money the City Pays for Employee Insurance. The City would be paying more as insurance has gone up not causing undue hardship on the City employees. Resolution passed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:03 pm.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 11, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 442
Confirmed Cases: 415
Probable Cases: 27
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 387
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 367
Recovered Probable Cases: 20
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,277
Confirmed Cases: 1,126
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 64
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 1,152
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,015
Recovered Probable Cases: 137
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 831
Confirmed Cases: 677
Probable Cases: 154
Total Active Cases: 80
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 37
Total Recovered Cases: 729
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 612
Recovered Probable Cases: 117
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 205
Confirmed Cases: 201
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 17
Active Confirmed Cases: 16
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 87
Confirmed Cases: 79
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 29
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 58
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 53
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 124,235
Confirmed Cases: 112,736
Probable Cases: 11,499
Recovered Cases: 109,235

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

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

 

GRIFFIN APPLAUDS GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON'S CALL FOR CONTINUED INCOME TAX RELIEF
Says 'I am excited about Governor Hutchinson's commitment to lowering Arkansas's income tax burden further for the hardworking families of our state'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Griffin released the following statement regarding Governor Hutchinson’s announcement that he would pursue further income tax relief in the 2021 legislative session:

"I am excited about Governor Hutchinson's commitment to lowering Arkansas's income tax burden further for the hardworking families of our state. Reducing the income tax will incentivize work, job creation, and economic productivity and will make Arkansas more competitive with other states. I also support reducing the sales tax burden on used automobiles, a Clinton-era tax that disproportionately harms lower-income Arkansans."
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T TEST YOUR LUCK OVER A TROPHY BUCK
LITTLE ROCK – Even though many activities have changed in 2020, Arkansas is still an outdoorsman’s paradise. According to Arkansas law, all hunters are required to carry a valid Arkansas hunting license while hunting and must check all harvested deer within 12 hours.

“Hunting in Arkansas is deeply rooted in our culture, tourism and family traditions,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansans are well-aware of the importance of hunting safely, responsibly and legally because they are conservationists dedicated to passing on our great traditions to the next generation. I am deeply grateful for the many Wildlife Officers committed to preserving the resources of the The Natural State for future generations.”

Attorney General Rutledge urges hunters to follow all regulations and to use the guidebooks and other resources provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Arkansas hunters and anglers 16 years or older are required to purchase a hunting or fishing license. A license can be purchased online through the AGFC smartphone app, agfc.com, or over the phone at 501-223-6300, at participating sporting goods stores, nature centers and at AGFC offices.

Arkansas hunters and anglers can carry a digital copy of their hunting and fishing licenses using the AGFC smartphone app. The digital copy also may be carried on their phone as a screenshot of the license image or as an image saved in their phones’ files. They may also carry their license as a paper copy or even a reloadable plastic card to show proof of purchase.

Arkansas hunters are required to check harvested deer within 12 hours, either by the AGFC app, , or by phone at 877-731-5627.

Anyone born after 1968 must complete a hunter education course to hunt in Arkansas, which can be completed via instructor or online. Children under 16 may hunt without hunter education as long as they are under the direct supervision of someone who is 21 years or older.


VIRTUAL SECRET SANTA THE PERFECT WAY TO GIVE AND STAY SAFE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Little Rock (Nov. 10, 2020) - Kids in our treatment facilities often have a difficult time around the holidays.   With COVID-19 protocols in place, it has made it even more difficult for kids to get the support they need in our treatment and residential facilities around the state.   Many times, our kids and families have been abandoned, abused, neglected, or struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional, or spiritual issues. 

If you would like to participate and make a child’s life a little happier this holiday season or if you have any questions about the program, please reach out to Amy Shores at ashores@methodistfamily.org.

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS RELEASE OF SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE BILLS
WASHINGTON- The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday, released each of its Fiscal Year 2021 funding bills including the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) bill authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR).

“Funding the government is the most important responsibility of Congress. I’m proud of the bipartisan collaboration that resulted in the support of veteran programs and national defense facilities. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to work together with the Senate so we can provide this certainty for Americans,” Boozman said.

Community Health Centers (CHC):
In Arkansas, there are more than 130 CHC facilities that help nearly 200,000 people get the medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care services they need. The Senate allocates $1.7 billion for these health facilities.
Delta Regional Authority (DRA): The DRA works to improve economic opportunity for residents of the Delta region through targeted investments. The proposed Senate bills include more than $30 million for the DRA which supports grants to the region and funding for basic public infrastructure development and transportation improvements.
Small Business Development: More than $30 million is included for programs that support small business development such as the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, Women’s Business Centers and Regional Innovation Clusters program.
McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS): The bill includes report language discussing the importance of the MKARNS inland waterway deepening and encourages the Army Corps of Engineers to provide funds for non-structural activities, such as channel deepening, when funding is sufficient to accommodate such projects.

<strong style=" https=" https"="" href="">The Senate will now begin negotiations with the House of Representative so a final agreement can be reached to fund the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2021.

November 10, 2020

MAGNOLIA WOMAN SENTENCED TO OVER 9 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Ashley Martin (a/k/a “Hey Bae Bae”), 34, of Magnolia, Arkansas, was sentenced November 6, 2020, to 110 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in the United States District Court’s El Dorado Division.

According to court records, on June 3, 2019, while conducting operations in the Columbia County area, investigators with the FBI and 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force saw Martin and co-defendant, Jarred “Chase” McDaniel, 34, also of Magnolia, Arkansas, in a vehicle traveling east on Highway 82.  Knowing that Martin had an outstanding felony arrest warrant and that McDaniel (who was driving) did not have a valid driver’s license, investigators contacted Arkansas State Police. After an Arkansas State Trooper stopped the vehicle and placed Martin and McDaniel under arrest, the Trooper conducted a vehicle search.  During the search, the Trooper located a red Nike shoebox that contained two zip-lock bags of suspected methamphetamine.

The DEA crime laboratory has since determined that the zip-lock bags contained approximately three and a half pounds of a substance containing methamphetamine.

Martin and McDaniel were indicted by a federal grand jury in June of 2019.  Martin pleaded guilty in February 2020.  McDaniel has also pleaded guilty and is currently awaiting sentencing.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Magnolia Police Department and Columbia County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.
 

STATE POLICE FOLLOW MURDER CASE LEADS TO OREGON; ARREST MADE IN REBEKAH GOULD HOMICIDE
NOVEMBER 9, 2020
A Texas man visiting Izard County in 2004 has been arrested and charged with murder (1st) degree in connection with the death of Rebekah Christian Gould, whose body was discovered 16 years ago on a hillside off Arkansas Highway 9 south of Melbourne.  
William Alama Miller, 44, now a resident of Cottage Grove, Oregon was arrested Saturday night (November 7th) by a Special Agent of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.  The arrest occurred in Lane County Oregon after the state police special agent assigned to the case learned Miller had returned to his home following an extended stay in the Philippines.
Miller will remain in the Lane County Jail in Eugene, Oregon pending an extradition hearing.
Ms. Gould was 22 years-old when she was murdered.  In the days leading up to the discovery of her body on September 27, 2004, family members had reported Ms. Gould missing, leading to a community based search across Melbourne and much of Izard County.
Izard county law enforcement authorities handed-off the criminal investigation to Arkansas State Police immediately while the search was underway.  Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division have devoted hundreds of hours to the case which was never classified as a cold case.
Upon learning of the arrest, Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police stated, “The special agents assigned to this case never abandoned any hope of finding the necessary evidence and facts to lead them to a suspect and an arrest.  This case is a testament to the Criminal Investigation Division and the devotion the special agents assigned to the division possess in helping police and sheriff’s department across Arkansas with their toughest cases.”

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 10, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 435
Confirmed Cases: 410
Probable Cases: 25
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 4
Total Recovered Cases: 384
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 363
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,261
Confirmed Cases: 1,110
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 55
Active Probable Cases: 13
Total Recovered Cases: 1,140
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,008
Recovered Probable Cases: 132
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 807
Confirmed Cases: 664
Probable Cases: 143
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 27
Total Recovered Cases: 721
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 605
Recovered Probable Cases: 116
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 201
Confirmed Cases: 197
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 13
Active Confirmed Cases: 12
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 182
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 179
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 81
Confirmed Cases: 73
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 25
Active Confirmed Cases: 22
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 56
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 51
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 122,811
Confirmed Cases: 111,761
Probable Cases: 11,050
Recovered Cases: 108,201

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

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

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS UNVEILS NEW ENTERGY EFFICIENCY MARKETPLACE
Online site provides discounted items to save money, energy
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Just in time for holiday shopping, the new Entergy Arkansas Marketplace provides residential customers a convenient way to purchase reduced-cost, energy-saving products. Through the online marketplace, Entergy Arkansas customers can purchase discounted LED light bulbs, smart thermostats and advanced power strips that reduce energy use.

A part of the Entergy Solutions Program, the Entergy Arkansas Marketplace offers free shipping on all orders over $35 and a flat shipping rate of $5 for orders under $35. There are quantity limits on some discounted items.

“Part of a clean energy future involves partnering with customers to create simple and innovative ways to improve energy efficiency in their homes,” said Gabe Munoz, Entergy Arkansas manager, Energy Efficiency. “Our Entergy Solutions Program gives customers the opportunity to save money by leveraging technologies to reduce the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades.”

Entergy Arkansas shares some simple steps customers can take now to reduce energy costs and save on their monthly bills:
Use energy-efficient LED light bulbs.
Run dishwashers and washing machines only when fully loaded.
Lower water heater temperature.
To make sure the air can circulate, don’t block heat registers or air returns with curtains or furniture.
Ensure ceiling fans are turning clockwise to pull air up in the winter.
Unplug unused appliances or use an advanced power strip.
Set thermostats at 68 degrees during the winter months.

To learn more or participate in additional Entergy Solutions energy efficiency programs, customers can visit entergysolutionsar.com.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 715,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN ANNOUNCES 1ST QUARTER EARNINGS
Treasury hits $400 million milestone
Little Rock, Ark. – The State Treasury reported first quarter earnings of $6.8 million for fiscal year 2021, which ended Sept. 30. The earnings push the total amount earned to more than $400 million during Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s administration. 
“As I reported to the State Board of Finance in our previous meeting, FY 21 is shaping up to be a difficult year for the Treasury,” Milligan said. “While it was undoubtedly a tough quarter, I’m learning to celebrate the successes where I can. As of Sept. 30, my administration has earned the State and the hardworking taxpayers of Arkansas more than $400 million dollars.

“When I first came into office, I pledged to make Arkansans’ tax dollars work harder, and we are doing that. We are doing the best we can with the money we’ve been entrusted, and I’m very proud of this accomplishment.”

The Treasurer also addressed public concerns about why it seems the Treasury’s investment portfolio is not rebounding as quickly as many constituents’ 401K plans appear to be.

“Most 401K plans are made up of both stocks and bonds, and typically the younger someone is, the higher percentage they have of higher-risk investment types such as equities or commodities. Your State Treasury, on the other hand, is limited to more stable, fixed-income securities, which produce lower yields,” Milligan said. “So our ‘rebound’ is going to be slower and look more like someone’s 401K account who is nearing retirement, with investments in CDs, municipal bonds and other more secure assets.”

Milligan gave his investment report to the State Board of Finance today during its regular quarterly meeting.

He also reported that the Treasury had created a new program called “Invest Arkansas,” which authorizes treasury investment staff to purchase municipal bonds of state universities, school districts, cities and counties. It has already secured more than $50 million in Arkansas bonds.

“Like many families in our state who are taking the opportunity to refinance their home mortgages, entities within Arkansas are using this opportunity to refinance their public debt to get better rates and reduce their payments,” Milligan said. “Through ‘Invest Arkansas,’ we are keeping money in Arkansas and earning better yields at a time when interest rates are at zero percent.”

BUFFALO RIVER CONSERVATION COMMITTEE IS ACCEPTING GRANT APPLICATIONS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC) is accepting applications through December 15, 2020 for assistance with funding projects that will benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed.    

Governor Hutchinson established the BRCC through Executive Order 19-14 on September 23, 2019.  The BRCC is tasked with leading and assisting projects that benefit water quality and resource management in the Buffalo River Watershed with an emphasis being placed on items that engage local stakeholders and landowners that have a positive impact on water quality and are beneficial for landowners within the Watershed.

Approximately $167,400 is available for disbursement.  Funding for the BRCC efforts was made available through Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature.  Applications can be found at https://www.cognitoforms.com/ArkansasAgriculture1/brccgrant.   

The BRCC membership consists of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of the Department of Energy and Environment, Secretary of the Department of Health, and Secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.

The members of the BRCC are required to work in cooperation with one another to identify opportunities to leverage their Department’s unique expertise, relationships, focus areas, and funding mechanisms in support of the vitality of the watershed.

The BRCC includes a subcommittee consisting of key stakeholders representing local landowners, conservation organizations, environmental and technical experts, representatives of the tourism industry, local county and municipal officials and federal partners.  The subcommittee assists with identifying opportunities for training, relationship building, and specific projects, in service to preserving and enhancing water quality within the Buffalo River Watershed.

More information about the BRCC can be found at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/buffalo-river-conservation-committee/.  

 
 
 

November 09, 2020

THE CITY OF CAMDEN PRESENTS CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN, A NORTH POLE FANTASY!
Experience the magic of the holiday season during Camden’s "North Pole Fantasy” 2020 Christmas celebration!

While we won’t be able to pack stores with crowds or have some activities from last year to maintain social distancing, we still have amazing plans for safe and fun holiday shopping & dining experiences in Camden November-December.

Watch as beautiful new Christmas decorations appear around Camden this year for great community displays! You will again get to enjoy the giant community tree along with other new decorations at the corner of Washington and California Ave. Residents and guest are invited to come hang your ornament on the community tree. A great new display will be located downtown in the city park located at Washington and Adams. This display will delight the imagination of both young and old. Children be sure to come down and drop your letters off in the Santa Mailbox and get your wish list in early. This year will have a new huge 19 foot led Christmas tree complete with digital lightshows. There will also be 2 special photo ops located in the park. One for daytime and one for night, so be sure to bring family and friends down to get your photo.

The Christmas light poles throughout Camden will be decked out as the “Parade of Trees”.

* If you would like to reserve a light pole to decorate as a tree, email director@camdendowntownnetwork.org to reserve one.

Holiday Fun & MORE:
The 2020 Camden Christmas Campaign schedule is filled with TONS of activities from for the entire family:

Saturday, November 14th
• On Saturday, November 14th, 1:30PM join us for a special Christmas Wreath Workshop. This workshop will be held at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. Attendance to this event will be very limited, so do not delay on signing up. The cost of the workshop is $75.00 which will include all supplies and instruction to be able to leave this afternoon with your completed wreath, ready to hang. Prepayment is required to confirmation your registration. You can pay via paypal (https://py.pl/1hIVEi) or drop off at 136 W. Washington St in Camden. Deadline to sign up for this workshop is November 2nd.

December 1st – 18th
• Join in the fun to find “Camden’s Elf on the Shelf”. December 1st through the 18th (except for Sundays). Camden’s Elf will be moving all over town. Be sure to watch for the clue to be released each morning on where to find it. Clues can be found on the City of Camden Facebook page. Be the 1st person each morning to find it and post a selfie for your name to go into a drawing for a great grand prize.

Friday, December 4th
• Courthouse Lighting Friday, December 4th is a special night to delight all children. The evening will start off at 6PM with the lighting of the Ouachita County Courthouse. Join us as we flip the switch to light everything up and have a short time of holiday music.

• At 6:30 PM the Ouachita County Fair Board invites all kids to come ride in the special “Kid’s Light Parade”. Children of all ages bring your trikes, bikes, wagons, hoverboards, battery operated cars. Deck them out with battery operated lights and decorations. The line-up will be at the parking lot at Jefferson St. & Harrison Ave. across from the courthouse. Parents are invited to walk beside your child or pull their wagon. The children will make their way around the block and past the Christmas displays to celebrate their own night parade. To sign up, contact Missy Chambers.

• At 7:00 PM, join the Camden Police Department on the Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot for the Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt. Children bring your bags to hunt throughout downtown to find the dozens of hidden candy canes. The hunt will be open to children 10 and under. This is free to the public. All children should be accompanied by an adult and bring a flashlight.

• Saturday, December 5th will be a fun filled day at the Ouachita Recreation Center sponsored by Ouachita County Fair Board. You will find a Christmas market set up from 10:00 AM till 3:00 PM.
• Join in the fun of a Chili Cook Off and sample all the goodness from 11:30 AM till 1:30 PM.
• A Baggo Tournament will start at 10:00 AM.
• As the evening winds down join us for the “Winter Wonderland Walk Through” as you make your way through different North Pole stations.
• Saturday, December 5th at 7 PM the Ouachita Community Concert presents Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride at the Event Center at Fairview Park. Tickets $10 at the door, or free if you have a membership.

Saturday, December 12th
• On Saturday, Dec. 12th, H & P Alliance and Native Dog will sponsor the “12 Strays of Christmas”. Bring your 4-legged children out for this special time to get their Christmas photos, shop the great pet booths and learn how you can be a foster home to help a pet through a difficult time. We will end the evening with a “Deck the Paws” pet parade. So be sure to bring their Christmas finest to dress them for their parade through downtown.

• Living Nativity in the Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot. There will be four performances of the Living Nativity - 6:00 PM, 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM, and 7:30 PM. There will also be Christmas vendors and Strolling Carolers.

Thursday, December 17th
• On Thursday, December 17th we have a great “Guy’s Night Out”. We know it’s hard to shop for your lady, after all which scent, flavor or collection does she like this year….let us help you!! Ladies, we invite you to stop by participating stores to make your Christmas “wish list”. The stores will contact your guy….which might be your husband, dad, son, brother….etc. to let them know they have your list. On this Thursday, stores will be open a little later to allow your guy to come shop. Restaurants will also be offering “Guy Specials” to top off their shopping night.

All November Long
• As we move forward through November watch as beautiful new Christmas decorations appear in 2 locations this year for great community displays! You will again get to enjoy the giant community tree along with other new decorations at the corner of Washington and California Ave.

• Residents are welcome and encouraged to come hang your ornament on the community tree.

• A great new display will be located downtown in the city park located at Washington and Adams. This display will delight the imagination of both young and old.

• Children be sure to come down and drop your letters off in the Santa Mailbox and get your wish list in early.

• This year will have a new 19’ LED tree which will delight you with it lightshows. There will also be 2 special photo ops located in the park. One for daytime and one for night, so be sure to bring family and friends down to get your photo.

• The Christmas light poles will be decked out as the “Parade of Trees”. If you would like to reserve a light pole to decorate as a tree, email director@camdendowntownnetwork.org to reserve one.

All December Long
• For December you will see the windows of downtown presented as special Christmas storybooks. Be sure to come drive or stroll through as you “read” the story as you proceed down the street.

For more information, contact:
Charlotte Young
Camden Christmas Events:
870-807-1468
christmas@explorecamden.com
ExploreCamden.com /
www.facebook.com/ExploreCamden


CITY OF CAMDEN THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The City of Camden Public Works Department and the City of Camden will be closed on Thursday November 26th and Friday, November 27th in observance of Thanksgiving. The Sanitation Department will run on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day routes on Wednesday, November 25th. Friday, November 27th route will run as scheduled. The Transfer Station will be closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 27th.  If you have questions, call the Public Works Department At 837-5573. The City of Camden wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

EL DORADO MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
El Dorado, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Marcus Damon Howard, 42, of El Dorado, Arkansas, was sentenced on November 6, 2020, to 120 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime.  The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in the United States District Court’s El Dorado Division.

According to court records, on July 1, 2018, Investigators with the Criminal Apprehension Division (CAD), observed a vehicle fail to stop at a stop sign. As the vehicle continued travelling, Investigators observed the driver throw a cigarette pack wrapper out of the driver’s window.  Based upon the observed violations, Investigators conducted a traffic stop. When the vehicle stopped, Investigators made contact with its driver and sole occupant Howard.  Investigators were advised that Howard was on active state parole and had a search wavier on file. A search of the vehicle resulted in Investigators locating a clear plastic bag that contained 18 smaller plastic baggies of suspected marijuana and 2 baggies of suspected methamphetamine.  CAD Investigators also conducted a search of Howard’s residence. That search resulted in Investigators locating three firearms, miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, fentanyl, additional marijuana and additional methamphetamine.

The suspected fentanyl and methamphetamine were sent to the DEA Crime laboratory for analysis. The laboratory was able to confirm positive test results for fentanyl and methamphetamine. 

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

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

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, El Dorado Police Department, and Union County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 09, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 434
Confirmed Cases: 409
Probable Cases: 25
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 383
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 361
Recovered Probable Cases: 22
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,261
Confirmed Cases: 1,110
Probable Cases: 151
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 58
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 1,136
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 1,005
Recovered Probable Cases: 131
Total Deaths: 53
Confirmed Deaths: 47
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 805
Confirmed Cases: 662
Probable Cases: 143
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 710
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 597
Recovered Probable Cases: 113
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 198
Confirmed Cases: 194
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 11
Active Confirmed Cases: 10
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 79
Confirmed Cases: 71
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 24
Active Confirmed Cases: 21
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 55
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 5
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 121,866
Confirmed Cases: 110,932
Probable Cases: 10,934
Recovered Cases: 107,287
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

November 06, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 06, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 418
Confirmed Cases: 396
Probable Cases: 22
Total Active Cases: 41
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 367
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 346
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,234
Confirmed Cases: 1,088
Probable Cases: 146
Total Active Cases: 64
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 16
Total Recovered Cases: 1,118
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 994
Recovered Probable Cases: 124
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 777
Confirmed Cases: 646
Probable Cases: 131
Total Active Cases: 71
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 33
Total Recovered Cases: 684
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 586
Recovered Probable Cases: 98
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 192
Confirmed Cases: 188
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 5
Active Confirmed Cases: 4
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 71
Confirmed Cases: 63
Probable Cases: 8
Total Active Cases: 18
Active Confirmed Cases: 13
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 53
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 117,360
Confirmed Cases: 107,292
Probable Cases: 10,068
Recovered Cases: 104,816

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

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


GOVERNOR PROCLAIMS NOVEMBER ARKANSAS SOYBEAN MONTH, COMMENDING THE WORK OF ARKANSAS SOYBEAN PRODUCERS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Nov. 5, 2020)  - This month, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is recognizing the state's No. 1 row crop by declaring November Arkansas Soybean Month in honor of soybean producers and the significant economic impact of the soybean industry. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward met with the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) this week to present the proclamation on the Governor's behalf.

"Agriculture is our state's number one industry, contributing more than $21 billion in economic value to the state's economy and providing more than 269,000 jobs, one of every six jobs, in the state. Arkansas ranks 11th in the nation for soybean production, and we appreciate the many farm families who make the soybean industry such an important part of Arkansas's diverse agricultural industry," said Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. 

Last year Arkansas harvested 2.61 million acres, yielding 128 million bushels. Covering more acres in Arkansas than rice, corn, sorghum and wheat combined, the Arkansas soybean industry contributed $1.15 billion to the state's economy in 2019. Known for its versatility, the commonly referred to "miracle bean" can be found in a variety of forms in supermarkets, hardware stores, biodiesel and more. Additionally, soy plays a significant role in animal nutrition. High in protein, amino acids and energy, soybeans are one of the best livestock feed ingredients available.

"Arkansas Soybean Month is a time to celebrate the soybean producers who work tirelessly to keep soybeans the top row crop in Arkansas. Soybeans are crucial to the agriculture industry in Arkansas, and the agriculture industry helps drive Arkansas's economy," said Donald Morton, chairman of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) and Prairie County soybean grower. "We are proud Arkansas producers, and we're grateful for our consumers."

Gov. Hutchinson, Secretary Ward, and the ASPB invite all Arkansans to follow ASPB on  Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for ideas about how to celebrate Arkansas Soybean Month. You can also visit the ASPB website at TheMiracleBean.com to find recipes, career and research videos and podcasts, and meet the farmer-leaders who serve on the ASPB.

To learn more about the Arkansas soybean industry, watch The Arkansas Soybean Brand Documentary, a short, two-and-a-half minute video offering a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to sustain this valuable industry..  

ARKANSAS MINORITY HEALTH COMMISSION BRINGING MOBILE HEALTH UNIT
Our Mobile Health Unit is coming to a location near you!
November Dates:
Nov. 10 | 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Community Family Enrichment Center | 301 N. 23rd St., Arkadelphia, AR 71923
Nov. 12 | 10 a.m. - Noon | Lakeside Baptist Church| 3601 Malvern Ave., Hot Springs, AR 71901
Nov. 14 | 1 - 4 p.m. | Bald Knob City Hall | 3713 AR-367, Bald Knob, AR
Nov. 17 | 9 - 11 a.m. | Miller Co. Senior Center | 1007 Jefferson Ave. Texarkana, AR 71854
Nov. 18 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. | First Baptist Church - Fordyce | 501 N. Main St., Fordyce, AR 71742 
Nov. 20 | 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Interfor Monticello | 211 Old Troy Rd., Monticello, AR 71655
Nov. 24 | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Prescott Senior Center | 419 E Main St. Prescott, AR 71857
Nov. 30 | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Hope Senior Center |102 S Main St. Hope, AR 71801

December Dates: 
Dec. 2 | 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. | Ashdown Senior Center | 1331 Gordon Dr., Ashdown, AR 71822
Dec. 5 | 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. | St. Barbara's Catholic Church | 503 W. DeQueen Ave., DeQueen, AR 71832
Dec. 8 | 9 a.m. - Noon | Glenwood Church of Nazarene | 776 Hwy 70 East, Glenwood, AR 71943
Dec. 14 | 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. | Stamps Senior Center | 228 Church St. Stamps, AR 71860
Dec. 17 | 1 - 3 p.m.| St. Paul UMC - El Dorado | 700 W 8th St. El Dorado, AR 71730
Dec. 19 | 7:30 a.m. - Noon | Immanuel Baptist Church | 201 E. Holly, Sheridan, AR 72150

A Mobile Health Unit (MHU) is a screening center on wheels. This initiative will provide an avenue to double our preventive screenings by reaching people where they are within the state. The MHU will provide preventive screenings, health education and allow an opportunity of coordination of care with the MHU coordinator.  Screenings will include: COVID-19 testing, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, A1C, HIV, height, weight and BMI. The MHU coordinator will follow-up with patients that have abnormal results and share county level resources for follow-up medical care. The MHU will support a partnership with Arkansas Foodbanks statewide. 

For more information contact Beatriz Mondragon at Beatriz.Mondragon@arkansas.gov or 501-683-4960. To schedule the unit, click here. 

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW FROM SENATOR TRENT GARNER
November 6, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – The state is helping people who have trouble paying their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic.
People affected by the pandemic are eligible for help if their household income is less than 80 percent of the median income in their area. They can qualify for two-and-a-half months of rent under the newly created Fresh Start program.

Money comes from about $10 million in relief grants received by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee. It will be administered by the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association (ACAA).

To get help, apply to your local Community Action Agency, which are non-profit organizations. There are 15 in Arkansas and they serve all 75 counties in the state.

The CARES Act Steering Committee comprises top state officials appointed by the governor. The group considers how best to allocate about $1.25 billion in federal relief funds approved by Congress at the beginning of the pandemic.

The state Secretary of Commerce, who is over the AEDC, said that short-term rental assistance provided through the Fresh Start program would benefit both renters and landlords.

A recent survey by the United States Census Bureau estimated that as many as 139,000 Arkansas households are in danger of not being able to pay rent, specifically because of financial hardships created by the pandemic.

If you’re interested in applying for rental assistance, a list of community action agencies and their contact information is available on the ACAA website. It is at acaa.org.

Click on the tab first tab on the front page of the site, which is labeled “Emergency Services.”  It opens to a new page and Rent Payment Assistance Information is the top tab on the new page. If you click on it, you will see a list of the 15 community action agencies in Arkansas and their contact information. It also lists the counties that each agency serves.

College Athletics
State-supported colleges and universities spent $191.5 million last year on athletics, which was 4.8 percent below the amount they spent the previous year.

State law requires the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to set uniform standards for institutions to report athletic expenditures, so that comparisons are fair.

The bulk of the money spent on athletics was generated by income from athletic events, such as ticket sales and souvenir sales. That category generated $115 million, or more than 59 percent of the total.

Student fees for athletics generated more than $26 million, which amounted to 13.5 percent of the total spent on sports.

The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville accounted for the lion’s share of athletic spending, about $117 million. Arkansas State University at Jonesboro was second, spending about $21 million on athletics last year.

The University of Central Arkansas at Conway spent about $13 million on athletics, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock spent $9 million, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff spent $7.8 million and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville spent about $6 million.

Seven of the state’s two-year colleges spent $1.7 million on athletics.

About 8 percent of athletic department spending came from transfers from colleges and universities’ education and general accounts. That amounted to $15.7 million.

 

November 05, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 05, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 410
Confirmed Cases: 389
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 39
Active Confirmed Cases: 39
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 361
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 340
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,220
Confirmed Cases: 1,079
Probable Cases: 141
Total Active Cases: 62
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,106
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 986
Recovered Probable Cases: 120
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 768
Confirmed Cases: 642
Probable Cases: 126
Total Active Cases: 68
Active Confirmed Cases: 38
Active Probable Cases: 30
Total Recovered Cases: 678
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 582
Recovered Probable Cases: 96
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 190
Confirmed Cases: 186
Probable Cases: 4
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 181
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 55
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 53
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 50
Recovered Probable Cases: 3Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 115,812
Confirmed Cases: 106,137
Probable Cases: 9,675
Recovered Cases: 103,762

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

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

CADC TO GIVE EMERGENCY FOOD BOXES
The CADC will be giving out Emergency Food Boxes on November 10th at Carnes Park, 955 Adams Avenue in Camden. The boxes will be given out between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 am. Each box will contain over 50 pounds of food including meat, vegetables and baking goods. A Photo ID is required and you must meet income guidelines. Remain in your vehicle. Call 836-3200 for more information.

OUACHITA COUNTY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed Wednesday 25, Thursday 26 and Friday 27th of November for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule excluding Thursday Thanksgiving Day, that day will be picked up on Friday November 27th, 2020.

RAYTHEON AWARDED CONTRACT
Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded a $24,814,227 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-18-C-5407 for procurement of fiscal 2021 Navy Standard Missile-2 intermediate level provisioned items ordered spares; and to exercise one-year options for fiscal 2021 Standard Missile-2 and Standard Missile-6 repairs and maintenance.  Work will be performed in Camden, Arkansas (72%); Tucson, Arizona (19%); Anaheim, California (6%); and San Diego, California (3%), and is expected to be completed by July 2024.  Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $24,814,227 will be obligated at time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.  The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. (Awarded Nov. 2, 2020)

 

GRIFFIN NAMES HANNAH BUNCH DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Says Bunch is a 'proven conservative' who brings 'communications and digital experience,'  'shares my values,' and 'has a passion to serve the people of Arkansas'
 LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today announced the hiring of Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director Hannah Bunch:
 "I am excited to welcome Hannah Bunch to my team. She is a proven conservative who brings communications and digital experience to the office. She shares my values, has a passion to serve the people of Arkansas, and will be an asset when working with the state legislature."
Bunch worked previously as the Community Engagement Director for Americans for Prosperity- Arkansas. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. While in college, Bunch served as Vice Chair of Arkansas Federation of College Republicans and Student Body President. She helped found the Northeast Arkansas Reentry Coalition and served as a board member for Options on Main, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Jonesboro. She has experience in communications, policy research, and building coalitons with diverse groups.
 "I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve the State of Arkansas by working alongside Lt. Governor Griffin as he serves Arkansans by working to lower taxes, ensuring a fiscally responsible state government, and advancing liberty in our state," said Bunch.

November 04, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 04, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 407
Confirmed Cases: 386
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 45
Active Confirmed Cases: 45
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 352
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 331
Recovered Probable Cases: 21
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,199
Confirmed Cases: 1,066
Probable Cases: 133
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 10
Total Recovered Cases: 1,097
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 980
Recovered Probable Cases: 117
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 764
Confirmed Cases: 641
Probable Cases: 123
Total Active Cases: 72
Active Confirmed Cases: 40
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 670
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 579
Recovered Probable Cases: 91
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 188
Confirmed Cases: 185
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 180
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 54
Probable Cases: 6
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 51
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 48
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 114,519
Confirmed Cases: 105,223
Probable Cases: 8,398
Recovered Cases: 101,507
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

ARKANSAS VOTERS PASS ISSUE 1 BY “OVERWHELMING MARGIN”
Vote for Roads Campaign Issues Statements After Passage

LITTLE ROCK – Tonight, by passing Issue 1, Arkansas voters paved the way to a brighter future, better roads, and a stronger economy across the state. This critical continuation of funding for Arkansas highways, roads, and bridges—all without raising taxes—will benefit every resident and every small business that calls Arkansas home.

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Shannon Newton, Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1. Campaign Chair, released the below statements following the passage of Issue 1:

“Good roads are vital to the growth and success of our state, and tonight, Arkansas voters made that clear in passing Issue 1 by an overwhelming margin,” said Governor Hutchinson. “I’m delighted by the results, and I look forward to building better roads, a stronger economy, and a safer Arkansas in every corner of the state.”

“From day one of the Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1. campaign, our message was about giving Arkansans what they want and need - better roads,” said Newton. “Tonight, the voters have spoken and said they’re ready for their potholes to be fixed, less traffic, and overall safer roads in every corner of our state. The passage of Issue 1 means we can do all of those things. We are thrilled with the results and are excited to fulfill the promises that Issue 1 has made to all Arkansans.”
To learn more about the Issue 1 campaign, visit www.VoteForRoads.com.

REMINDER: GRANT TO AID THE ARKANSAS SERVICE AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRIES Application period: Monday, November 16 through Wednesday, November 25
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (ADPHT), the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), and the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) received approval to proceed with a grant program utilizing $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Arkansas Legislative Council recently approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020. 

 The program will utilize $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in these industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives. Grants can be for up to $250,000 each.

Applicants will have plenty of time to plan an application with a Facebook Live question and answer session the week of November 2nd and an applicant help phone line opening on November 9th, one week before the application period opens. All applications will be completed online.

 A link to the application will be posted on www.ArkansasReady.com.

Review frequently asked questions and answers here:
https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/faq_document_october_20_2020.pdf

You can find grant rules here:
https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/oct_14_2020_rules_business_interruption_grant.pdf

 View a checklist for applicants here: https://arkansasready.com/site/assets/files/1887/checklist_for_applicants_october_20_2020_final.pdf

The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.
 

ASP/CID JOINS IN PIKE COUNTY SUSPECTED MURDER INVESTIGATION
NOVEMBER 3, 2020

The apparent murder of a 63-year-old Pike County woman has led state police Criminal Investigation Division Special Agents to join in the investigation.  The body of Theresa Humphry was found at her home this morning.
Pike County Sheriff’s Deputies located the body at 307 Billstown Road in Delight and requested the Arkansas State Police to assist them in the criminal investigation.
A 39 year-old man has been taken into custody and is being held at the Pike County Jail while the investigation continues this afternoon.  Special Agents expect to submit information to the Pike County prosecuting attorney for the consideration of formal charges.

Humphry's body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.

 

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HONORS TWO FAYETTEVILLE ARKANSAS POLICE OFFICERS IN THE FOURTH ANNUAL ATTORNEY GENERAL’S AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE IN POLICING
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, United States Attorney General William P. Barr and Justice Department leadership announced today that two Fayetteville, Arkansas Police Officers are recipients of the Fourth Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.

The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in policing. The awarded officers and deputies have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in community policing. This year, the department received 214 nominations recognizing a total of 355 individual officers, deputies, and troopers. There were 39 states represented in the nomination pool, covering state, local, campus, sheriff, and other agency types.

“We are so proud and thankful to work with tremendous law enforcement officers throughout the Western District of Arkansas,” said First Assistant United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes. “Officer Eucce and Corporal Floyd both exemplify what we see in officers throughout Arkansas: dedication, bravery, and excellence in policing.  The bravery and sound tactics that Officer Eucce and Corporal Floyd showed in the face of terrible danger and tragedy is remarkable.  They are both certainly very deserving of this recognition.  We are fortunate to have such courageous, selfless, and well-trained officers keeping our communities safe.”

“There is no career nobler than that of a police officer, and the 23 officers we honor this year demonstrate that clearly,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “These individuals are distinguished in their service for field operations and criminal investigations – from investigating homicides to drug trafficking to sexual exploitation and assault – to making positive change in their communities through innovative outreach to local residents. Their actions are a testament to what law enforcement officers contribute to our nation each day, keeping us safe from violent crime and building more trusting communities, and they are deserving of our collective thanks. I am pleased to honor these 23 officers for their distinguished service in policing.”

The Department of Justice works closely with local law enforcement and strives to be a ready resource for them. The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing is just one more way the department can show its continued commitment to the profession and honor the men and women who so bravely serve it.

Attorney General Awards for Distinguished Service in Policing 2020

Officer Natalie Eucce and Corporal Seay-Peter Floyd, Fayetteville Police Department (Arkansas)

In December 2019, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, an individual determined to assassinate law enforcement officers, and armed with 100 rounds of ammunition, approached a police car and fired 10 times, killing Officer Stephen Carr. Hearing the shots and seeing the suspect, Corporal Seay-Peter Floyd – with no regard for his personal safety – pursued the suspect and fired. Officer Natalie Eucce (Officer Carr’s partner) and Sergeant James Jennings joined Corporal Floyd in pursuing the suspect and fired as well. The suspect was pronounced dead on the scene. It is very likely more officers would have lost their lives that night, if it were not for the bravery of Corporal Floyd and Officer Eucce.

Twenty-two other law enforcement officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions across the country also received awards from the Attorney General.

 
 
 

November 03,2020

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON COVID-19 UPDATE - NOVEMBER 03, 2020
Total deaths in Arkansas due to COVID-19 topped 2,000 on Tuesday as the virus' third wave continues to impact the state. 

During his weekly COVID-19 Taskforce update, Gov. Asa Hutchinson reported 18 additional deaths across the state over the previous 24-hour period. Confirmed and probable deaths related to the virus now number 2,003. An additional 878 cases were reported as well for a cumulative total of 114,519. Hospitalizations did decrease by 21, leaving 667 Arkansans still hospitalized due to the virus. Slightly more than 6,400 tests were performed since Monday. State officials said over 310,000 tests were performed in October. That equals more than 10 percent of Arkansas' population.

Hutchinson provided a few more details on the state's winter strategy in response to the ongoing pandemic. The strategy consolidates most of the tactics already encouraged by state officials, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Other elements of the strategy include continued contact tracing and quarantine protocols, encouraging Arkansans to get their flu shots, and compliance checks to ensure businesses are following health guidelines. Finally, the winter strategy seeks to develop the plan to distribute vaccines once they become available.

Bo Ryall, CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association, provided some details over COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arkansas. Despite a decline on Tuesday, hospitalizations remain at their highest level since the pandemic began. Ryall said hospital capacity is tight but manageable. The real risk, he stressed, is a developing shortage in healthcare workers.

Before concluding Tuesday's press conference, Arkansas Health Secretary Jose Romero issued an appeal to all Arkansans. He encourages everyone to take extra precautions when gathering with family this holiday season. 

Finally, Hutchinson shared some information suggesting COVID-19 is currently the third-leading cause of death in Arkansas - behind only cancer and heart disease. This is in relation to data from 2018.

In review, an additional 878 cases were reported on Tuesday for a cumulative total of 114,519 since the outbreak began. Deaths increased by 18 and now number slightly more than 2,000 overall. Hospitalizations saw a decrease of 21 patients to 667 still hospitalized. 

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

COVID-19 UPDATE – NOVEMBER 03, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 404
Confirmed Cases: 383
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 3
Total Recovered Cases: 344
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 326
Recovered Probable Cases: 18
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,198
Confirmed Cases: 1,065
Probable Cases: 133
Total Active Cases: 58
Active Confirmed Cases: 46
Active Probable Cases: 12
Total Recovered Cases: 1,088
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 973
Recovered Probable Cases: 115
Total Deaths: 52
Confirmed Deaths: 46
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 760
Confirmed Cases: 638
Probable Cases: 122
Total Active Cases: 73
Active Confirmed Cases: 41
Active Probable Cases: 32
Total Recovered Cases: 665
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 575
Recovered Probable Cases: 90
Total Deaths: 22
Confirmed Deaths: 22
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 188
Confirmed Cases: 185
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 2
Active Confirmed Cases: 1
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 180
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 178
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 60
Confirmed Cases: 55
Probable Cases: 5
Total Active Cases: 9
Active Confirmed Cases: 7
Active Probable Cases: 2
Total Recovered Cases: 51
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 48
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

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

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

 

AEDC TO HOST VIRTUAL MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE CERTIFICATION WORKSHOP
The Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWOBE) division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) will host its first virtual Arkansas Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Certification Assistance Workshop training Wednesday, November 18, to help business owners learn more about the certification process for state vendors and available resources.
“Now more than ever, we want to do everything we can to bring valuable resources to our state’s minority and women-owned businesses,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This training will help guide eligible participants through the certification process that will increase the potential for contract opportunities through the state of Arkansas.”
The Certification Assistance Workshop provides attendees information and practical assistance for the state certification application process. In addition, businesses learn how to connect with state contracting opportunities and other benefits of becoming certified. Due to effects of COVID-19, the November workshop will be virtual.
To be eligible, the business must be a for-profit company operating for at least two years. Participants must be interested in learning how to grow their business as well as the benefits of the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Certification program and have questions about the application process.

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

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

The training will be held Wednesday, November 18, beginning at 10 a.m. and should last about an hour. Participants must RSVP through the AEDC Eventbrite page. 

HARRISON ARKANSAS MAN CHARGED IN CONNECTION TO SETTING A WILDLAND FIRE IN BUFFALO NATIONAL RIVER Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Jacob Walls, age 28, of Harrison, Arkansas, has been arrested and charged in connection to a wildland fire set in February 2019 within the Buffalo National River.

In February 2019, National Park Service (NPS) Firefighters and US Park Rangers were dispatched to the report of a wildland fire, in Newton County, near Pruitt. The indictment alleges that Walls willfully and without authority and consent of the United States set fire to National Park Service land.  The fire was contained by NPS Firefighters to prevent its spread onto private lands.  Walls was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in March and a trial date has been set for December 7, 2020. The Honorable Mark E. Ford, United States Magistrate Judge, presided over the arraignment in the United States District Court in Fort Smith.

The case was investigated by the National Park Service (NPS), Investigative Services Branch, the US Park Rangers at Buffalo National River, the Newton County Sheriff’s Department and the 14th Arkansas Judicial District Prosecutor's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Claude Hawkins is prosecuting the case for the United States.

An indictment is an allegation and Wells is presumed innocent until convicted. Wells faces up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.00 if convicted.


STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING OVERNIGHT NORTH LITTLE ROCK INTERSTATE 30 SHOOTING INCIDENT
NOVEMBER 2, 2020
A teenager was critically wounded last night (Sunday, November 1st) from gunfire directed at the car he was in as it pulled onto the Interstate 30 access ramp at Broadway in North Little Rock.  The shooting incident was reported to Arkansas State Police at 10:20 PM.
The 14 year-old male sustained a gunshot wound fired by an occupant in a yellow Dodge Challenger.  The driver of the car carrying the victim and another teen proceeded directly to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in the aftermath of the shooting.  Neither the driver, nor the other passenger were injured.  All three are residents of Little Rock.
State troopers of the Highway Patrol Division and Special Agents of the Criminal Investigation Division are working together in a search for suspects and a vehicle connected to the shooting incident.

U.S. SEMIQUINCENTENNIAL COMMISSION LAUNCHES A “NOVEMBER SALUTE” TO CELEBRATE THE LIVES OF AMERICA’S SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 
Program honors veterans, active duty military and all who have served in defense of freedom
 Washington, DC – In recognition of Veterans Day and the millions who have served in our nation’s military, the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission today announced the launch of the America 250 November Salute,  a month-long celebration of veterans, active duty military and their families.

“We wouldn’t be celebrating the 250th Anniversary of our nation without the brave service and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and all those who have worn our nation’s uniform,” said Dan DiLella, Chairman of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. “We hope the November Salute offers all Americans the opportunity to remember, thank, and honor the men and women who defend our freedoms and democracy.”

Throughout the month, Americans will have the opportunity to submit a photo of themselves or their loved ones to an online photo mashup generator, with America 250 branded photo filters commemorating the service of veterans, active duty military and in remembrance of those who have gone before us. The filtered image will be available for the user to download and display in an online “Gallery of Salutes” for all Americans to see and enjoy.

Americans will be able to submit their photos beginning November 1, 2020 through the end of the month on www.NovemberSalute.America250.org. The full Gallery of Salutes will also be available on the America 250 website, www.america250.org. As an official program of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, photos from the America 250 November Salute will be shared with the U.S. National Archives.

“In the lead up to America’s 250th birthday in 2026, the service of our nation’s heroes and their families will be an incredibly important theme,” added DiLella. “We look forward to establishing additional activations and partnerships that honor, recognize and celebrate their important role in the history and future of our country.”

Officially known as the United States Semiquincentennial, “America 250” will be the most expansive and inclusive milestone in our nation’s history. During the official commemorative period beginning this year and culminating on July 4, 2026, America 250 has the opportunity to engage nearly 350 million Americans and millions more friends worldwide through engaging programs, educational outreach and signature events. More information about the Commission’s vision and approach to programming can be found in Inspiring the American Spirit, its report submitted to the President on December 31, 2019.

About U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission
The U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission was established by Congress to inspire all Americans and each American to participate in our greatest milestone ever—the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the United States. The Commission is charged with orchestrating the largest and most inclusive anniversary observance in our nation's history. The Commission will work with public and private entities across the country to make America 250 a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all Americans. For more information visit www.america250.org and visit us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

NOVEMBER 3, 2020


Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES LAWSUITS INVOLVING ILLEGAL PYRAMID SCHEMES
Says, ‘Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the first step in a law enforcement sweep against illegal pyramid schemes organized and operated in Arkansas. The State has filed lawsuits in Faulkner and Saline Counties alleging Defendants represented to consumers that they could earn a 700% return on investment and “bless” their communities by joining a “Blessing Loom” board and recruiting others to do the same. No products or services were offered in exchange for the payment, only the opportunity to earn money. But, when new participants stopped joining and the pyramids’ organizers started using consumers’ money as their own, consumers lost every dollar contributed and unwittingly participated in illegal pyramid schemes.

“These lawsuits demonstrated that we will not stand by while con artists use deceptive tactics to dupe consumers into get-rich-quick schemes,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As scam artists find new ways to exploit consumers’ economic fears during the coronavirus pandemic, my office will tirelessly work to hold these bad actors accountable for swindling Arkansans out of their money with promises of large payouts and community goodwill. Remember, when people pay a fee for the opportunity to earn money simply by recruiting others into a program, those people are likely involved in an illegal pyramid scheme. Don’t be fooled by testimonials that these schemes work.”

Rutledge’s suit filed in Faulkner County alleges the Lackland family violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) by organizing and operating a pyramid scheme they called “Passionate Minds Circle of Wealth.” Within eight months, more than $320,000 was deposited into separate bank accounts held by Scottie Lackland and his wife Valentina from Marion, their adult daughter Sydney Lackland from Marion, and their son Scottie D. Lackland II from Conway, who is also employed as a Little Rock Police Officer. Consumers were encouraged to join with a $500 “gift” that would grow into a $4,000 “blessing” in just 28 days, but, instead, the Lacklands converted consumers’ money and used it to pay off their debt, bolster their savings accounts, and purchase luxury goods and services, including plastic surgery.

Rutledge’s suit filed in Saline County alleges similar ADTPA violations were made by Alexander-resident Ramona McGee, who is employed by the Little Rock School District as a coach at Pulaski Heights Middle School. McGee held weekly meetings to recruit participants to join the pyramid scheme she organized, called the “Family Blessing Circle.” In exchange for a $1,400 “donation,” McGee represented participants would receive $11,200 in four to six weeks. Over just a few months, she deposited tens of thousands of dollars into her checking account and used that money to pay for vacations, shopping sprees and jewelry. Consumers were left with nothing to show for their spent money.

Each Defendant faces a $10,000 fine for each violation of the ADTPA.

Attorney General Rutledge has identified several tips for Arkansans to use in protecting themselves against pyramid schemes:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Know that large sums of money generally do not result from small investments.
  • Be wary of “opportunities” to invest your money in programs that require you to bring in subsequent investors to increase your profit or recoup your initial investment.
  • Just because something appears to be fun and was shared by a friend or family member, doesn’t mean there isn’t an inherent risk.
  • Independently verify the legitimacy of any investment before you invest.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to schemes similar to this, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

 
 
Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ENCOURAGES ALL ARKANSANS TO PRACTICE CIVIC DUTY ON ELECTION DAY
IIt’s Election Day and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is encouraging all Arkansans to make their vote count. Elections give you a voice. You can make decisions about the candidates and issues that directly impact our communities. There are hundreds of important elections to vote on this year—ranging from national races like the ones for President and Congress, to state and local races for county judge, mayor, school board, and many others. Like many years, Arkansans can also decide whether to approve amendments to the Arkansas Constitution.
“We live in a country with free and fair elections, and our vote and voice matter. I want all Arkansans to have the opportunity to make their choices this year,” said  Attorney General Rutledge. “This is one of the most important rights we have as Americans and I ask you all to go to the polls and cast your ballots.”
In 2020, Arkansas has seen a record number of early voting totals. More than 750,000 ballots were cast in the two weeks leading up to Election Day and over 115,000 absentee ballots were returned to county clerks. If you plan to vote today, get to the polls early and be prepared to wait in line. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. If you are in line by 7:30 p.m. you will be allowed to vote. If you have already voted, you can rest assured that all valid ballots will be counted no matter how long it takes.
Attorney General Rutledge released the following information for voters heading to the polls on Election Day:
 
  • Confirm your voting registration, location and precinct at VoterView.org.
  • The Arkansas Department of Health issued guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
  • Review candidate information and ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.
 
For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide or if you would like to report a voting concern, please contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.
 
 

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS MODIFICATION OF RICE TARIFF LINES
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced a modification to rice tariff lines in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program: 

“This step in the right direction is a win for American rice producers,” Boozman said. “Our rice farmers can compete with anyone on the world stage. This update will help level the playing field to ensure our American farmers are not being undercut by international growers. I appreciate the Administration for listening and responding to this petition from our farmers.” 

In September, Boozman led a letter in support of the USA Rice Federation’s petition urging United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of commodities eligible for duty-free import under GSP. 

“We are pleased to see the Administration’s recognition that U.S.-grown rice is an important, import-sensitive crop and they are largely removing incentives for our foreign competitors to ship it to the U.S. by eliminating the outdated duty-free access they enjoyed under the GSP Program,” said USA Rice Chair Bobby Hanks. 

 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES ARREST OF 
INDEPENDENCE COUNTY MAN FOR 
POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the arrest of an Independence County man for crimes involving children.

David Shannon Canady, 39, of Batesville, was arrested by the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit on three counts of distributing, possessing or viewing of matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. He is currently being held at the Independence County Detention Center.

Special agents in the Attorney General’s Office, working in partnership with the Independence County Sheriff’s Office, seized a desktop computer, a 2 terabyte hard drive and a cellphone from the home. The file will be turned over to 16th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Eric Hance.

 

OCTOBER 30, 2020

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS SEND ADDITIONAL CREWS TO ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI
Little Rock, Ark. — Oct. 30, 2020 — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas have dispatched an additional 60 professional line workers and equipment to Alabama and Mississippi to assist with outages related to natural disasters. The second wave of 60 line workers brings the total of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen assisting with power restoration efforts to 108.
On October 28, 48 Arkansas crews traveled to Oklahoma to assist with ice storm outages and to Mississippi to assist with Hurricane Zeta outages. Electric cooperatives sending crews represent Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. of Little Rock, C&L Electric Cooperative of Star City, Clay County Electric of Corning, First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville, Ozarks Electric Cooperative of Fayetteville, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton, Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative of Mena and South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Arkadelphia.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 30, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.




COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 394
Confirmed Cases: 373
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 53
Active Confirmed Cases: 48
Active Probable Cases: 5
Total Recovered Cases: 331
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 315
Recovered Probable Cases: 16
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,150
Confirmed Cases: 1,025
Probable Cases: 125
Total Active Cases: 54
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 1,047
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 945
Recovered Probable Cases: 102
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6

COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 731
Confirmed Cases: 619
Probable Cases: 112
Total Active Cases: 65
Active Confirmed Cases: 37
Active Probable Cases: 25
Total Recovered Cases: 645
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 561
Recovered Probable Cases: 84
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 181
Confirmed Cases: 178
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 4
Active Confirmed Cases: 3
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 54
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 4
Toal Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 48
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 45
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Detaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 109,712
Confirmed Cases: 101,588
Probable Cases: 8,124
Recovered Cases: 97,340

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

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

STATE CAPITOL WEEK IN REVIEW
From Senator Trent Garner
October 30, 2020
LITTLE ROCK – At the beginning of this year, there were more than 2,000 licensed childcare programs in Arkansas. They had slots for 194,000 children.

By mid-April, about half the facilities had closed. Although most have been able to re-open, as of early October at least 20 had closed permanently. They had slots for more than 1,140 children.

The numbers change every day, according to the state director of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education. She reported to lawmakers about the impact of the pandemic on childcare facilities and the families that rely on them.

The official statistics support what working parents already know. It is more difficult than ever to find affordable childcare of high quality.

Many childcare programs had to close because they struggled to hire staff. They had to limit groups of staff and children to 10 or fewer people. Staff are required to wear masks.

From March through early October, 416 workers at childcare facilities contracted Covid-19. During that same period, 273 children tested positive for the virus. Those numbers continue to go up, generally at a steady ratio of two workers for every child.

Before the pandemic there had been about 400 facilities that did not have children whose childcare was subsidized by the government. According to the director, several hundred have taken steps to participate in child are assistance programs.

Arkansas has received federal relief assistance to pay for grants and loans to people and businesses especially hard hit by the pandemic.

In late March, the Division increased the amounts of vouchers by $10 for each infant or toddler and $7 for each child in pre-school. Vouchers for school aged children in after school care went up $5 per child. The increased value of vouchers in Arkansas has cost the government about $11 million to date.

The state Division of Child Care has distributed about $26 million so far to help facilities and families. For example, about 6,000 families are getting financial assistance for childcare because one of the parents is considered an essential worker. Those jobs are in health care, sanitation, the food supply chain, childcare and education and emergency response.

More than $6 million in relief funds have paid for thermometers, cleaning supplies, masks and protective equipment that are now required by childcare facilities.

At the same legislative meeting in which lawmakers heard about the effect of the pandemic on childcare facilities, a state tax official reported on the extent of tax credits now available to families with children in care.

The state offers an individual income tax credit of 20 percent of the allowable federal credit. In the past two years, more than 50,000 Arkansas taxpayers took advantage of the state credit. It is claimed on line 35 of the Arkansas return.

In 2018, a total of $6.3 million in credits was claimed by 54,007 Arkansas taxpayers. In 2019 a total of 51,254 taxpayers claimed $6 million in childcare credits.

Arkansas also offers an early childcare tax credit for dependent children in an approved day care facility. It also is equal to 20 percent of the allowable federal early childcare credit. It is on line 43 of the Arkansas return.

About a thousand taxpayers a year claim it and saved from $114,000 to $137,000 on their taxes the past two years. A taxpayer may not claim both the childcare and the early childcare credits.
 

COTTON STATEMENT AFTER U.S. CHANGES PASSPORT POLICY TOWARD JERUSALEM
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the United States announced that Americans born in Jerusalem can now choose Israel as the country of birth on their passports:

"Jerusalem is the spiritual center of the Jewish people and the rightful capital of Israel. It took many years for the United States to acknowledge these truths, and many more for them to shape our diplomacy. But President Trump and Secretary Pompeo have made support for Israel central to America's foreign policy in the Middle East. Today's announcement reinforces our policy that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel."

 
 

October 29, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 29, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 385
Confirmed Cases: 364
Probable Cases: 21
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 47
Active Probable Cases: 8
Total Recovered Cases: 320
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 307
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,130
Confirmed Cases: 1,007
Probable Cases: 123
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 26
Active Probable Cases: 18
Total Recovered Cases: 1,037
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 938
Recovered Probable Cases: 99
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 711
Confirmed Cases: 609
Probable Cases: 102
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 29
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 640
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 559
Recovered Probable Cases: 81
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 178
Confirmed Cases: 177
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 6
Confirmed Deaths: 6
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 53
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 7
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 46
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 43
Recovered Probable Cases: 3
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 108,640
Confirmed Cases: 100,751
Probable Cases: 7,889
Recovered Cases: 97,450

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

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

 

GENERAL DYNAMICS, OUACHITA ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE AND TODAY’S POWER, INC. ALIGN BRINGING SOLAR + BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE ONLINE IN SOUTH ARKANSAS
Battery Storage and Solar Power Boosts Renewable Energy Footprint in South Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, AR & ST. PETERSBERG, FL- Florida-based aerospace and defense corporation, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS), announced earlier this year a partnership with Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) of North Little Rock, Arkansas, to develop two solar arrays at their facilities based in Calhoun County, Arkansas.

The projects, now finished, provide the defense company with clean electricity. In addition, this project marks the dramatic arrival of battery energy storage in the already robust renewable footprint of South Arkansas. Two Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) for Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC) were coupled with the two solar arrays installed for General Dynamics-OTS.

Project Background
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems began the information gathering for this project in 2018 with the objective of attaining energy cost reduction and environmental sustainability. With the existing strategic partnership with Ouachita Electric Cooperative and the State of Arkansas, it was apparent that there was viable opportunity to create a solution that would benefit the environment, the surrounding community, and General Dynamics-OTS.  This project provides the backbone for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our Operations’ carbon footprint. The Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by General Dynamics-OTS requested options for a Solar Power Services Agreement (SPSA) that took into account federal investment tax credits ('ITCs') and the accelerated depreciation allowance. TPI was chosen as the developer for this project after the RFP phase was completed and provided all the equipment, materials, and services needed for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the completed solar facility.

Shortly after the decision of General Dynamics-OTS to go solar, and as more renewables are coming online, OECC saw the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that could enhance the distribution system's resiliency by leveraging the opportunity to demonstrate grid reliability with battery storage and solar energy.

Technical Specifications

The two solar arrays are each 1.2 megawatts (MW) in size and combined, consist of more than 6,400 Tier 1 solar panels. Together, these innovative systems are projected to produce approximately 91 million kWh over the next 25 years, offsetting the defense company’s carbon footprint by 64,341 metric tons.  

“Together with our partners TPI and OECC, we have found a solution for expanding our usage of renewable energy and attaining environmental sustainability. This project not only lowers cost, but more importantly, it positively impacts our employees, our community, and the environment. This initiative is the foundation for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our Operations’ carbon footprint,” said Eric Ellis, VP Precision Systems at General Dynamics-OTS.

The solar systems will power General Dynamics-OTS Camden Operations which is an industry leader in the high rate production, system integration and testing of energetic products. As part of General Dynamics-OTS, Camden Operations serves as the company’s explosive load, assemble and pack facility, supporting a variety of U.S. military programs, including the HYDRA 70 2.75 inch rocket, Hellfire, Javelin, Stormbreaker and JASSM warheads, the Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS), and various other ordnance programs. Camden Operations houses over 880,000 square feet of manufacturing and storage space with approximately 300 employees.

The two on-site energy storage systems store electricity generated from the two solar installations and have an output of 2.4 MW for two hours.  TPI has developed the battery energy storage system to minimize the wholesale power costs of OECC while also increasing the resiliency of the grid for all OECC customers, as this facility will also supplement the other distribution facilities of Ouachita Electric, such as the OECC substation in Hampton.

"GD would operate on its own power during regular operations, and OECC would be able to monitor the delivery of electricity to substations and the battery energy storage facility. This provides the co-op the opportunity to restore electricity in the event of an outage. This is quicker than traditional restoration and, because of our fiber connections, we can do this remotely." - Mark Cayce 

He also said, "being able to provide backup power will eventually be a requirement to provide reliability. We don't want to be in a situation where we have to cut off people, or we're short on generation. These issues will be taken out of the equation by the batteries."

“TPI is excited to partner with GD-OTS and OECC to provide both entities with significant savings.  With this renewable sustainable net metering facility, GD-OTS can produce more economical defense products which helps all Americans and the solar plus storage facility will help OECC achieve significant savings for all of its members.  Its rare when 1 project can benefit so many consumers.  I applaud the leadership of GD-OTS and OECC on making this project a reality”, said Michael Henderson, President of TPI.
ABOUT

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS) is a global systems developer and manufacturer of munitions, weapons and tactical systems. It is the purpose of General Dynamics-OTS to empower the United States Armed Forces and its Allies through readiness and innovation to protect what is most important – the warfighter.

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

Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) is one of the nation’s most experienced renewable energy companies with more utility-scale projects than any Arkansas-based company. A wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., TPI is a full-service provider able to carry out all phases of any solar or battery storage project including, but not limited to, full bill / rate analysis, site evaluation, engineering procurement, design, commissioning, monitoring, operating and maintaining projects.

STATE TROOPERS & ASP PERSONNEL HONORED AT STATE CAPITOL CEREMONY
OCTOBER 28, 2020
(LITTLE ROCK) – Trooper Matt Price, 36, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented with the prestigious Arkansas State Police Trooper of the Year Award (2019) at the Arkansas state capitol tonight during the department’s’ annual award ceremony.

Twenty-one state troopers and two civilian employees were presented awards in six different service categories.  The award recipients were selected based on nominations through their respective chain of command for particular acts of extraordinary service that exceeded standards of expectations in their assigned duties as defined in the Arkansas State Police Policy and Procedures Manual.

Governor Asa Hutchinson and Jami Cook, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Public Safety, addressed state police personnel through pre-recorded messages.  Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police presented the awards.

Trooper Price was selected as Trooper of the Year (2019) based on a May 29, 2019 Crawford County manhunt involving a bank robbery suspect.

Trooper Price, a four-year veteran of the department, encountered the suspect fleeing the area in a vehicle along Interstate 40.  While attempting to stop the vehicle, the driver began firing a gun at Trooper Price who returned fire wounding the suspect yet continued to flee until Trooper Price was able to take the robbery suspect into custody.

The actions of Trooper Price also led to his nomination and receiving the Arkansas State Police Medal of Valor in addition to being considered among the nominees for Trooper of the Year (2019).

Arkansas State Police Civilian of the Year (2019):

Mike Patterson, 55, of Saline County, was presented the Arkansas State Police Civilian of the Year (2019) Award.  Patterson, a 15-year veteran of the department, is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division command and administrative headquarters at Little Rock.

 Working in an administrative assistant capacity, Patterson was recognized for streamlining multiple accounting processes and providing an improved means of personnel resource and division operating costs analysis.

A civilian of the year award nominee is considered through their respective chain of command based on extraordinary performance or contribution to the mission of the Arkansas State Police.  Civilian employees are defined as non-commissioned employees who work in all divisions of the agency.  Qualifications for the award pursuant to policy must be exemplary as to set the employee apart and above a peer.

Other award recipients recognized during the evening ceremony were:
Lifesaving:
Corporal Billy Turnipseed, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in an August 17, 2019 incident.  While assisting another trooper investigating a motor vehicle crash, Trooper Turnipseed observed one driver had attempted to commit suicide.  The driver briefly held troopers at bay with a knife, leading Trooper Turnipseed to disarm the driver and begin immediate lifesaving measures while awaiting emergency medical personnel to respond to the crash scene.

Trooper First Class Bo Hays, assigned to Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in an August 27, 2019 incident.  TFC Hays responded to a shooting incident at a Polk County residence.  Once inside the home, TFC Hays found the wounded victim lying in a pool of blood and immediately began lifesaving measures by applying a tourniquet that stopped the bleeding.  TFC Hays continued to use his training to render medical aid to the victim until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Trooper James Ray, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a June 2, 2019 incident.  Trooper Ray was among a group of first responders who hiked into a remote area north of Ozark in search of a helicopter that had reportedly crashed.  At the crash site, the first responders discovered three of the four individuals onboard the helicopter had died.  While preparing to extricate the lone survivor, Trooper Ray discovered that a tourniquet that had been applied to a leg of the survivor had failed to stop the bleeding.  Trooper Ray applied his own tourniquet and successfully stopped any further loss of blood.

Trooper Lonnie Moore, assigned to Troop J, headquartered at Clarksville, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role a February 27, 2019 incident.  Trooper Moore encountered an individual threatening to commit suicide.  The distraught man had crossed a guardrail on the outer edge of an Interstate 40 overpass.  Trooper Moore successfully established rapport with the man and began slowly closing the distance between the two, eventually making contact and holding the man until others could move toward them and pull the man to safety.

Trooper Lukas Tankersley, assigned to Troop K, headquartered at Hot Springs, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a May 3, 2019 incident.  While assisting Garland County sheriff’s deputies at the scene of a shooting, Trooper Tankersley used emergency medical equipment and supplies gathered from his patrol car to assess the victim who had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest.  Trooper Tankersley made repeated attempts to close the wound with a chest seal, leading him to pack the wound with gauze, and keeping pressure on the wound until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Trooper Tyler Porter, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for his role in a February 2, 2019 incident.  Responding to a call of a medical emergency at a nearby residence, Trooper Porter found his grandfather there and determined he had sustained a leg injury, causing a significant amount of blood to have been lost.  He was also experiencing a loss of consciousness.  Trooper Porter applied pressure bandages and a tourniquet to the wound until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Investigator Patricia Holloway, assigned to the Crimes Against Children
Division, Area 3, was presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for her role in a November 25, 2019 incident.  While investigating a case involving a two-year-old child, Investigator Holloway discovered “extreme” bruising over the child’s entire body and made immediate arrangements to have the boy taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  Although the child had already been examined at a home county clinic, physicians at Children’s Hospital found evidence of ITP, a condition causing a person’s platelet count to fall below an accepted medical scale and range.  The child’s platelet count was dangerously low and was in a life-threatening range.  Physicians have credited Investigator Holloway’s assessment with saving the child’s life.

Distinguished Meritorious Service Awards:
Lieutenant Kevin Richmond (Special Agent), assigned to Criminal Investigation Division, Company D was presented the department’s Distinguished Meritorious Award.  The award is the department’s highest form of recognition for meritorious service or achievement.  In May 2017, Lieutenant Richmond was assigned additional command duties with the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, specifically developing and managing the $320,000 task force budget, purchasing and providing equipment and training for 50 affiliate agencies and 1,644 law enforcement officers.  Under Lieutenant Richmond’s command, the task force opened more than 1,400 cases, resulting in 247 arrests.  While supervising the task force, Lieutenant Richmond increased the number of participating agencies, coordinated thousands of cyber tips and identified 79 child victims.  Although the command positon is primarily an administrative function, Lieutenant Richmond planned and executed a 2019 undercover operation to identify adults who were seeking children for illicit activities.  The operation resulted in the arrests of one dozen suspects charged with state and federal crimes.  During his special assignment, Lieutenant Richmond continued to lead the investigative work and supervise Arkansas State Police Special Agents assigned to Company D encompassing nine north and west Arkansas counties.

Medal of Valor:
The Medal of Valor is the highest award presented to a commissioned or civilian employee of the Arkansas State Police. The Medal of Valor is earned for extraordinary acts of valor and gallantry that clearly set the individual apart from other employees.

Corporal Chad Staley was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in an August 21, 2019 incident while he was assigned to the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  The team responded to a Van Buren County hostage standoff situation.  Corporal Staley developed an entry plan for the team to gain access to a residence where an armed individual was holding a nine year-old boy hostage.  The plan was executed flawlessly, allowing troopers to enter undetected, confronting the gunman and safely extricating the child.

Trooper Garrett Brock, assigned to Troop F, headquartered at Warren was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in an October 17, 2019 incident.  While leaving Warren Trooper Brock initiated a traffic stop after observing a driver violation.  The driver refused to comply and began to flee the area.  During the course of a motor vehicle pursuit through a rural area of Bradley County, the driver of the suspect vehicle lost control of the car causing it to crash alongside a gravel road.  The driver exited the vehicle and raised a handgun, pointing it at Trooper Brock.  The suspect began to open fire on Trooper Brock who returned fire, striking the suspect who later died.

Sergeant Philip Hydron and Corporal Mike Nelson were presented Medals of Valor for their roles in an August 27, 2019 incident while assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  A homicide suspect who was believed to have killed two women in West Helena had barricaded himself inside a local residence.  After four hours while troopers attempted to make contact with the suspect, an arrest team was formed to approach the residence at which time the suspect exited the house.  Sergeant Hydron and Corporal Nelson moved-in to establish communication with the suspect who then raised a gun, pointing it in the direction of the two troopers.  In an attempt to distract the suspect, state police snipers engaged the suspect with gunfire as both Sergeant Hydron and Corporal Nelson moved toward the residence.  An ensuring exchange of gunfire led to the death of the suspect.

Trooper Matt Price, assigned to Troop H, headquartered at Fort Smith was presented the Medal of Valor for his role in a May 29, 2019 incident.  During a Crawford County manhunt for a bank robbery suspect, Trooper Price encountered the suspect fleeing the area in a vehicle along Interstate 40.  While attempting to stop the vehicle the driver began firing a gun at Trooper Price who returned fire wounding the suspect, yet continued to flee until Trooper Price was able to take the robbery suspect into custody.

Troopers Cross:
The Trooper’s Cross is awarded to Troopers and civilian employees who demonstrate courage at a level not justifying the Medal of Valor.

Corporal Andrew Ault and Corporal Jason Baethke were presented the Trooper’s Cross for their roles in an August 27, 2019 incident while both were assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  As two team members approached a West Helena residence where a homicide suspect had barricaded himself inside the home after allegedly killing two women, Corporals Ault and Baethke were assigned in sniper positions to cover the troopers approaching the residence.  (*See narrative for Medal of Valor presented to Sergeant Philip Hydron and Corporal Mike Nelson.)  Corporals Ault and Baethke engaged the suspect with gunfire as he exited the residence aiming a gun at the two SWAT team troopers nearest the house.

Corporal Houston Talley (Special Agent), assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, headquartered at Pine Bluff, was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in an April 29, 2019 Jefferson County incident.  Special Agent Talley was off duty traveling with his family when he witnessed a motor vehicle crash.  S/A Talley stopped at the crash site and began to render aid to the injured victims.  Inside one of the vehicles, he found the entrapped driver, a woman, who said her two young grandchildren were in the backseat.  Using a pry bar, S/A Talley was able to open one of car doors to extricate the driver, then began to crawl his way into the rear of the car which had been crushed, forcing the rear seat into the trunk.  After moments of searching for the children, S/A Talley saw a child safety seat embedded in the floorboard.  Still strapped into the car seat was an infant who S/A Talley removed from the wreckage, only to return and begin searching for the second child.  Near the rear of the car, tangled within the crushed backseat, S/A Talley found a 4-year-old boy. Unable to remove the child until additional assistance arrived, S/A Talley stayed with the youngster in an attempt to provide moral comfort and render any medical aid he could.  The young boy later died, however his grandmother and sister survived.

Corporal Robert Kyle Jones, assigned to Troop G, headquartered at Hope was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in a July 16, 2019 Howard County water rescue incident.  Two women and a small child were trapped inside a bus that had stalled along a flooded roadway near Dierks.  As heavy rain continued to fall, and realizing it would be only a short time before the already swift current of the rising waters would turn into a churning river, Corporal Jones drove to his nearby home to retrieve a kayak and three life vests.  He then returned to the area only to see his worst fear; water already inside the bus and quickly rising.  Upstream from the bus Corporal Jones entered the fast-moving stream and maneuvered the kayak toward the vehicle knowing he would have to crash into the rear of the bus in what would be his one and only chance of getting inside to save the three occupants.  With the help of the adult women, Corporal Jones was able to crawl through a window of the bus in order to get the life vests into the hands of the occupants.  He then exited the bus through an emergency exit, re-entered the kayak and reached for the child being handed to him by the women.  Once Corporal Jones was able to get the child into the hands of emergency personnel on higher ground, he returned to the bus twice more, successfully rescuing both adults.

Sergeant Nicholas Brown was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in an August 21, 2019 incident while assigned to the Arkansas State Police Special Weapons and Tactics Team.  As the team developed an entry plan to extricate a child hostage that was being held by a Van Buren County gunman, Sergeant Brown volunteered to place himself in harm’s way and single handedly remove a barricade that had been placed against an exterior doorway.  Gaining an unobstructed access to the particular entry point to the residence was vital to the plan as it would facilitate a means to enter the home undetected.  Sergeant Brown was successful in his mission to remove the barricade allowing the team to enter and safely remove the hostage.

Trooper Michael Kyle Ellison, assigned to Troop A, headquartered at Little Rock, was presented the Trooper’s Cross for his role in a November 11, 2019, Pulaski County incident.  Sherwood police had contacted Troop A telecommunications requesting assistance in getting a vehicle stopped that was fleeing the area.  As the Sherwood officers entered North Little Rock, the fleeing driver headed for Interstate 40 and eventually moved onto Interstate 30 (westbound).  Trooper Ellison took the lead in the pursuit as it continued into southwest Little Rock along I-30 and onto Baseline Road.  As the fleeing suspect continued to increase the speed of the vehicle he was driving and approaching Stagecoach Road, Trooper Ellison realized an opportunity was ahead that would allow for a PIT maneuver, forcing the car off the roadway and eliminating any threat of danger to other motorists.  As the PIT was executed, the suspect lost control of the car, causing it to crash.  Trooper Ellison then began to coordinate the extrication of the driver from the crash and set-up a clear path for emergency medical personnel to access the area.

Distinguished Service Award:
The Distinguished Service Award honors citizens or law enforcement officers from other agencies who assist the Arkansas State Police in the apprehension of a criminal in a manner that clearly and directly places the individuals in jeopardy, physical harm or death.

Dylan Boucher of Pocahontas has been awarded the Arkansas State Police Distinguished Service Award for his role as a private citizen coming to the aid of an Arkansas State Trooper on October 17, 2019.  Boucher had witnessed a motor vehicle crash along U.S. Highway 67.  When Boucher saw one of the drivers leave the crash scene, he contacted Arkansas State Police Troop B Headquarters in Newport and began following the vehicle, keeping a Troop B telecommunications operator advised of his location.  Trooper Andrew Lay was dispatched to the area and intercepted the hit and run driver.  Trooper Lay initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver who began to resist the trooper’s attempt to arrest him.  The two began to wrestle alongside the highway.  Boucher had remained at the traffic stop and stepped from his vehicle to assist Trooper Lay getting the suspect under control.

Official Commendations: 
*Presented for acts of exemplary service and awarded during the course of 2019 during regular monthly meetings of the Arkansas State Police Commission. Certificate. * *Supporting information for the commendations is available upon request.
Corporal Brandon Trewyn
Trooper Drew Pannell
Trooper John Bass
Corporal Robert Stewart
Corporal Shane Alkire
Corporal Aaron Keith
Corporal Jason Davis
Trooper Trevor Stevenson
Trooper Spencer Morris
TFC Joshua Porter
Corporal Dwight Lee
TFC Chris Shor

OCTOBER 27, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 28, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 379
Confirmed Cases: 359
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 49
Active Confirmed Cases: 42
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 320 
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 379
Confirmed Cases: 359
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 49
Active Confirmed Cases: 42
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 320
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 307
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0
COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,122
Confirmed Cases: 1,004
Probable Cases: 118
Total Active Cases: 40
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 15
Total Recovered Cases: 1,033
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 936
Recovered Probable Cases: 97
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6
COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 704
Confirmed Cases: 607
Probable Cases: 97
Total Active Cases: 51
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 632
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 556
Recovered Probable Cases: 76
Total Deaths: 21
Confirmed Deaths: 21
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 179
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 3
Active Confirmed Cases: 2
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 171
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 169
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 53
Confirmed Cases: 50
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 7
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 46
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 44
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 107,679
Confirmed Cases: 100,061
Probable Cases: 7,618
Recovered Cases: 96,322
For additional information, click on one of the links below. 
https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus
https://www.cdc.gov/

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

 

DON’T LET PHANTOM POWER TRICK YOU INTO HIGHER ENERGY USAGE
Devices can haunt your home year-round
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – While ghosts and goblins only come out at Halloween, phantom power can haunt your electric bill year-round. With a few tips and tricks, however, you can scare away unnecessary energy usage.

Phantom power, also known as standby power, vampire power or phantom load, is the energy used by certain plugged-in appliances and electronic devices, even when they are in standby mode or turned off.

The most common culprits include electronics with remote controls, built-in clocks or timers and instant-on features such as televisions, computers, printers and video game consoles.

While it might seem like a trivial amount, it’s spooky how much wasted energy can add up over time and affect monthly utility bills. According to the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, phantom power accounts for as much as 10% of residential electricity usage.

High electric bills can be frightening, but with a little care and attention, they don’t have to be. Use these tips to keep high electric bills from haunting you.
Vanquish phantom load by turning off appliances and electronics that use power even when you’re not using them. These “vampires” sit in stand-by mode and suck energy that can add to the cost of your bill. Plug these devices into power strips and turn them off regularly with the push of a button.
Banish sneaky phone chargers and power adapters by unplugging them and whatever they are charging when not needed.
Trap escaping air from windows and doors by using caulking or weather stripping leaky areas and closing chimney flues
Ward off witches by lowering the heat on that fiery cauldron (aka water heater).
Scare away ghosts with LED bulbs, which last longer and use less energy than traditional bulbs.
Guard against evil power surges from lightning or voltage spikes by using surge protectors on expensive electronics and appliances.
Mummify’ your house with new insulation in walls and attics.
Engage the superheroes of energy efficiency with the Energy Solutions program.
Treat yourself to a new Energy Star-rated appliance.

ABOUT ENTERGY ARKANSAS
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 715,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.

SIMMONS BANK DONATES $25,000 TO EL DORADO UAMS REGIONAL CAMPUS
EL DORADO, Arkansas – On Oct. 28 Simmons Bank presented $25,000 to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) representatives to help fund the coming UAMS regional campus in El Dorado. The campus represents a joint effort by the Medical Center of South Arkansas (MCSA) and UAMS to increase medical access throughout south Arkansas by training primary care physicians to serve Union County.

“The arrival of the UAMS regional campus in El Dorado will represent a very special moment for our community, bringing benefits that range from enhanced medical services and education to boosted economic opportunity,” said Rob Robinson, Simmons Bank’s El Dorado community president. “We at Simmons feel honored to support a program that will positively impact so many individuals and families.”

The UAMS regional campus in El Dorado hopes to open its clinic in January 2022 and begin training medical college graduates to become family medicine residents by July 2023.

“I am very thankful to Simmons Bank for this investment to improve health care in El Dorado,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “Community partnerships like these are essential to increasing access to health care across the state. We are looking forward to establishing a new regional campus in El Dorado.”

UAMS has committed to building its ninth regional campus in El Dorado. The majority of family practice physicians in rural areas of the state are trained at one of UAMS’ eight regional campuses. Creating a regional campus will provide an influx of physicians and health care professionals to create a sustainable educational and training pipeline and make it easier to maintain consistent levels of care.

Regional Campuses, originally called Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), was started in 1973 through the efforts of then-Gov. Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas Legislature and UAMS to train medical residents and provide clinical care and health education services around the state. Its eight regional campuses are located in Batesville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena-West Helena, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Pine Bluff and Texarkana. UAMS is working to expand the number of campuses across the state.

Simmons’ donation to the UAMS Regional Program follows on the heels of its $1 million gift to support the Jefferson County Health Unit and the Veteran’s Services Office earlier this month and a $1 million gift to Arkansas Children’s in May to support construction of a new pediatric clinic in Pine Bluff. 
 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF HARRISON WWII VETERAN
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service of World War II veteran Perry Harness in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans. 

Harness was born in Bear Creek, Arkansas on February 13, 1925. As the son of farming parents during the Great Depression, he understood the value of hard work and the importance of family at a very young age. Harness grew up in a small cabin with his parents, eight siblings and his grandparents who were a close part of his early life. 

“We were a poor family but proud…hard times that I am so glad I went through. I would not want to go back,” he recalled. 

Harness was well aware of the worries his parents had about their children serving in uniform since three of his older brothers were also in the military at the time he was drafted. When asked why his father picked up a raincoat and went to the orchard every evening, Harness’ mother replied that the “raincoat is to kneel on and the prayer [is] for all of the boys that were in service.”

Upon graduating from Marshall High School, Harness began his service in the Army. If you were “breathing and warm, they’d take you because they needed ‘em,” he said.

Harness trained at Camp Wheeler, near Macon, Georgia which he described as “seventeen of the hardest weeks of my life.” He then shipped off to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth, an ocean liner used for troop transport. 

Harness landed in Scotland, but soon found himself in France for the Battle of the Bulge. 

Though Harness trained in heavy artillery, the demand for front line troops was too great to ignore. “They were really looking for troops when they put me on the front line,” Harness explained. During his time in battle, Harness was a rifleman before getting his final job in the military: carrying the bazooka. 

After weeks of intensive fighting in the cold and snowy battlefield, Harness was shot in the knee. Despite being under enemy fire and having limited immediate medical attention, he was able to find help, and get a ride to a treatment facility. The injury he sustained prevented Harness from continuing to serve in the Army. He was honorably discharged with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

“Thank God for a bad shooter,” Harness joked. 

After returning to Arkansas, Harness got married and became a shoe salesman for what is now known as Harness Boots and Shoes on the square in Harrison. 

In 1946, Harness was a founding member of the Boone County Disabled American Veterans. Just as he did in battle over 75 years ago, Harness continues to fight for those who have served our nation. 

“Perry Harness’ life is a continuous story of fighting for causes much larger than himself, and I thank him for his service. I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said. 

Boozman will submit Harness’ 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.

COTTON STATEMENT ON JUDGE BARRETT’S CONFIRMATION
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below after Judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court:

“Judge Barrett has earned the confidence of the United States Senate and the trust of the American people. Her confirmation is a triumph for the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and our nation.”
 

BOOZMAN VOTES TO CONFIRMJUDGE BARRETT TO SERVE ON THE SUPREME COURT
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court:

“Judge Barrett has demonstrated that she is eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Her resume is impeccable. Her demeanor is calm and unshakeable. Perhaps most importantly, her understanding of the role shows she will be a fair-minded and thoughtful jurist who steers clear of legislating from the bench. 

Judge Barrett has earned the trust and confidence of the Senate and the majority of the American people. I congratulate her on this honor and look forward to her tenure on the Supreme Court.”
 

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE’S STATEMENT ON APPOINTMENT OF AMY CONEY BARRETT AS U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
"LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

“As the mother of a two-year old daughter, I am personally and professionally thrilled about today’s historic confirmation of the first mother of young children to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As a strong and brilliant jurist, Judge Barrett will adhere to the rule of law to protect our Constitution and our country. I look forward to the many opportunities in which Justice Barrett will hear cases from our office which impact the lives of all Arkansans.”

October 26, 2020

EARLY VOTING CONTINUES IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early voting continues this week at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You can vote at the Courthouse from 8am to 6pm Monday through Friday and 10 to 4 Saturday and 8 to 5 on Monday November 2nd. Friday, October 30th and Saturday October 31st all polling places will be open for early voting the same hours as the Courthouse.


 

The following voting locations will be open on Friday, October 30th from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 31st from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm
Bearden Lion’s Club
Calvary Baptist Church
Chidester City Hall
Elliot Baptist Church
Ross Center (Thrive Church)
The Word Family Church

You can vote at any of the voting sites regardless of where you live in the County.

Remember to take your photo ID with you. Arkansas State Law requires that a picture ID is necessary to vote.

As of Saturday, October 24th, 2,887 votes had been cast in the County. The Clerk’s Office has received 1,227 absentee ballots.
 

Arkansas AG logoATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CASTING YOUR VOTE IN 2020
LITTLE ROCK – Election Day 2020 is quickly approaching - a time when Arkansans have the opportunity to have their constitutional rights heard by making important decisions on candidates and issues being considered on the ballot. This year has brought forward challenges that have required additional precautions which will ensure all Arkansans are safe while executing their voting rights. Despite any concerns with the changes, it is important for Arkansans to know that the integrity of the election is preserved and that when a ballot is cast, it will be counted.

“Voting is one of the most important rights we have as Americans,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “We are blessed to live in a country with free and fair elections where our voice truly matters when we exercise our right to vote.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following voter information list:

Confirm your voting registration, location and precinct with your county clerk on your voter registration card or online at VoterView.org.

Check with your County Clerk to view a sample ballot before you vote.

Due to COVID-19, you may request an absentee ballot from the County Clerk’s office by printing an English or Spanish  absentee ballot application and return it by mail or in person to your county clerk by October 27.

The Arkansas Health Department issued a guidance for voters to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.

Review candidate information and ballot issues by visiting the Secretary of State’s Elections website.

Research ballot issues from a non-partisan source beforehand to be a more informed voter.

Early voting for Arkansas began Monday, October 19th and will run through Monday, November 2nd, the day before Election Day. The polls are open on Monday through Friday 8am-6pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm with hours on Monday the 2nd at 8am to 5pm.

Absentee ballots must be returned to your County Clerk by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, November 3. Military ballots must be post marked by Election Day and received by Friday, November 13.

For tips on what to expect at your polling location, you can review the Secretary of State’s Voting 101 Pocket Guide or if you would like to report a voting concern, please contact the State Board of Election Commissioners at (501) 682-1834 or visit arkansas.gov/sbec.

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at OAG@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 26, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.

 


COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 374
Confirmed Cases: 354
Probable Cases: 20
Total Active Cases: 50
Active Confirmed Cases: 43
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 314
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 30
Recovered Probable Cases: 13
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,118
Confirmed Cases: 1,002
Probable Cases: 116
Total Active Cases: 55
Active Confirmed Cases: 34
Active Probable Cases: 21
Total Recovered Cases: 1,014
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 925
Recovered Probable Cases: 89
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 690
Confirmed Cases: 598
Probable Cases: 92
Total Active Cases: 44
Active Confirmed Cases: 27
Active Probable Cases: 17
Total Recovered Cases: 627
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 552
Recovered Probable Cases: 75
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 179
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 3
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 168
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 166
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 48
Confirmed Cases: 46
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 5
Active Probable Cases: 1
Total Recovered Cases: 42
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 41
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

Arkansas
Total COVID-19 Cases: 106,115
Confirmed Cases: 98,880
Probable Cases: 7,235
Recovered Cases: 94,528

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

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


 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN NAMED RECIPIENT OF NLGA IMPROVING LIVES AND COMMUNITIES AWARD
Says, ''A truly healthy and vibrant Arkansas' requires tackling problems like 'homelessness, recidivism, and substance abuse.'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin announced today that he has been awarded the Anthem Improving Lives and Communities Award by the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA). The Improving Lives and Communities Award honors dedicated public servants who work to enhance the lives of their constituents and impact every aspect of community life by addressing social drivers of health such as nutrition, affordable and accessible housing, economic stability, and transportation in order to promote the wellbeing and quality of life for individuals and families. 

 Lt. Governor Griffin has been selected to receive this award due to his extensive community involvement and leadership. Lt. Governor Griffin serves on the board of Our House shelter for the working homeless, as well as on the board of Pathway to Freedom, a nonprofit, faith-based prison ministry at the ADC unit in Wrightsville that prepares inmates to be reintegrated back into society. He has also served on the boards of the Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. 

 Upon receiving the award, Lt. Governor Griffin released the following statement: "I am honored to receive this award, and I thank Anthem and the NLGA for bringing awareness to these critical issues. If we want a truly healthy and vibrant Arkansas, we must continue to tackle the toughest societal problems that impact Arkansans. I remain committed to finding solutions to issues such as homelessness, recidivism, and substance abuse, so that every Arkansan can live a healthy life and fulfill their God-given potential."
 

LYON COLLEGE AND STONE WARD ANNOUNCE DATA SCIENCE PARTNERSHIP
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Oct. 26, 2020) – Lyon College and Stone Ward have created a data science partnership, which provides real-world experience to students by allowing them to collaborate and work alongside Stone Ward’s analytics team. The partnership will focus on analyzing client data and offer analyses and recommendations to Stone Ward and its clients to help move their business forward. In addition to hands-on experience, Lyon students will also have the opportunity to earn academic credit by participating in micro-internships with Stone Ward. 

Stone Ward, a Little Rock based advertising agency, contacted Lyon after the College announced its addition of the data science program this past spring. Lyon College is the first private college to add data science as a major in Arkansas. 

“Stone Ward is committed to building good for our clients and the community. This collaboration will allow us to share our knowledge and resources with the students at Lyon College to help advance the field of data analytics,” said Millie Ward, president of Stone Ward. “With today’s business climate becoming increasingly more digital-driven, we hope that more students will consider data and analytics as a career path for their future.” 

Lyon’s new data science professor, Dr. Torumoy Ghoshal, said finding access to real-world data can be difficult, so the partnership is a great opportunity for students. Working with “real-world data” will prepare students “for real-world challenges,” he said.

Associate Professor of Computer Science David Sonnier agreed, “The use of real data will allow us to bring our students from the ‘toy data’ level to the next level, which reflects the real world.”

"As one of the first agencies to form this type of innovative partnership, Stone Ward will have even greater access to some of the brightest, up-and-coming analytical minds in the state to enhance our already deep business insights into custom algorithms, models, and machine learning,“ said Brett Parker, director of media and digital services at Stone Ward. “Our marketing analytics will be even stronger moving forward, which is a desperately needed business solution amid the exponential growth of data in virtually all aspects of life.”

“The projects they will complete are likely to make their resumes stand out,” said Ghoshal. “The potential internship opportunities will give them first-hand experience with industry level data science projects.”

According to the organizations’ memorandum of understanding, students will use the consumer information in several ways to help clients, such as selecting media channels to promote a particular product, determining company performance, and finding effective price points on particular products or services.

Provost Melissa Taverner added that the partnership “also will require students to practice effective interpersonal communication with Stone Ward professionals.”

“This kind of experience is ultimately our goal for all of our students,” she said

October 23, 2020

WHITE OAK LAKE STATE PARK’S “HALLOWEEN IN THE PARK” CANCELED
Bluff City, AR – Due to the health pandemic, White Oak Lake State Park will not be hosting “Halloween in the Park” this year. The park remains open to camping and day-use visitors.

Unregistered guests are not permitted within the campground. The park closes at 10 p.m. to unregistered guests. For more information please contact the park’s Visitor Information Center at 870-685-2748.

ARKANSAS LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL APPROVES  BUSINESS INTERRUPTION GRANT FOR CERTAIN ARKANSAS BUSINESSES LAST WEEK THE
 Arkansas Legislative Council approved a business interruption grant for certain Arkansas businesses in the personal care, tourism, travel, recreation and hospitality industries. The grant will provide reimbursement for a portion of specific eligible expenses incurred by businesses in these industries between March 1 and Sept. 30, 2020.
 The program will utilize $50 million in CARES Act funds for Arkansas businesses in these industries significantly impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Arkansas small businesses having 250, or fewer, full-time employees located in Arkansas may seek reimbursement for expenses associated with COVID-19 mitigation or certain listed business interruption expenses due directly to local, state or federal government COVID-19 directives. Grants can be for up to $250,000 each.
Applicants will have plenty of time to plan an application with a Facebook Live question and answer session the week of Nov. 2 and an applicant help phone line opening on Nov. 9, one week before the application period opens. All applications will be done online. A link to the application will be posted on www.ArkansasReady.com. An applicant checklist and FAQs regarding the grant can be accessed here: https://arkansasready.com/news/
The grant application period will open Monday, Nov. 16, and close Wednesday, Nov. 25. Grants will be awarded on a prorated basis depending on the total number of applicants and the amount of reimbursement requested. The program anticipates making grant awards in late December.

COVID-19 UPDATE – OCTOBER 23, 2020
This morning the Arkansas Department of Health reported the following numbers. Numbers will be updated later today.
COVID-19 Metrics for Ouachita County
Total Cumulative Cases: 351
Confirmed Cases: 335
Probable Cases: 16
Total Active Cases: 38
Active Confirmed Cases: 31
Active Probable Cases: 7
Total Recovered Cases: 304
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 295
Recovered Probable Cases: 9
Total Deaths: 9
Confirmed Deaths: 9
Probable Deaths: 0

COVID-19 Metrics for Union County
Total Cumulative Cases: 1,100
Confirmed Cases: 990
Probable Cases: 110
Total Active Cases: 47
Active Confirmed Cases: 25
Active Probable Cases: 22
Total Recovered Cases: 1,004
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 922
Recovered Probable Cases: 82
Total Deaths: 49
Confirmed Deaths: 43
Probable Deaths: 6


COVID-19 Metrics for Columbia County
Total Cumulative Cases: 667
Confirmed Cases: 582
Probable Cases: 85
Total Active Cases: 33
Active Confirmed Cases: 19
Active Probable Cases: 14
Total Recovered Cases: 615
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 544
Recovered Probable Cases: 71
Total Deaths: 19
Confirmed Deaths: 19
Probable Deaths: 0

 

COVID-19 Metrics for Dallas County
Total Cumulative Cases: 178
Confirmed Cases: 176
Probable Cases: 2
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 167
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 165
Recovered Probable Cases: 2
Total Deaths: 5
Confirmed Deaths: 5
Probable Deaths: 0


COVID-19 Metrics for Calhoun County
Total Cumulative Cases: 47
Confirmed Cases: 46
Probable Cases: 1
Total Active Cases: 6
Active Confirmed Cases: 6
Active Probable Cases: 0
Total Recovered Cases: 41
Recovered  Confirmed Cases: 40
Recovered Probable Cases: 1
Total Deaths: 0
Confirmed Deaths: 0
Probable Deaths: 0

 

Arkansas

Total COVID-19 Cases: 102,798
Confirmed Cases: 96,292
Probable Cases: 6,806
Recovered Cases: 92,288

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

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

COTTON & GALLAGHER INTRODUCE BILL TO CLOSE LOBBYING LOOPHOLES FOR CHINESE COMPANIESWashington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) today announced they will introduce the Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, which would close loopholes that allow lobbyists for Chinese companies to avoid registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The bill comes after Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr last month expressing concerns about these loopholes and whether individuals lobbying on behalf of certain Chinese companies should be required to register under FARA..

“Chinese companies—particularly powerful ones—are all arms of the Chinese Communist Party and remain ultimately under state control. It’s time our laws recognize that reality. Our bill will close legal loopholes and force lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents," said Cotton.

"Even nominally private Chinese firms are not like normal companies. All Chinese firms, and especially those significant enough to register lobbyists in Washington, D.C., are subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party," said Gallagher. "This bill ensures companies subject to the direction of the CCP face appropriate disclosure standards and Americans better understand how our adversaries seek to use the swamp against us." 

Following calls from Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton, the U.S. Department of Defense released lists of Chinese companies affiliated with the People's Liberation Army. Despite the publication of these lists, individuals lobbying on their behalf can still receive exemptions, including for commercial activity, that allow them to register under the less transparent Lobbying Disclosure Act.

OCTOBER 23, 2020

COTTON & GALLAGHER INTRODUCE BILLTO CLOSE LOBBYING LOOPHOLES FOR CHINESE COMPANIES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) announced they will introduce the Chinese Communist Party Influence Transparency Act, which would close loopholes that allow lobbyists for Chinese companies to avoid registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The bill comes after Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr last month expressing concerns about these loopholes and whether individuals lobbying on behalf of certain Chinese companies should be required to register under FARA. 

“Chinese companies—particularly powerful ones—are all arms of the Chinese Communist Party and remain ultimately under state control. It’s time our laws recognize that reality. Our bill will close legal loopholes and force lobbyists for Chinese companies to register as foreign agents," said Cotton.

"Even nominally private Chinese firms are not like normal companies. All Chinese firms, and especially those significant enough to register lobbyists in Washington, D.C., are subject to the extrajudicial direction of the Chinese Communist Party," said Gallagher. "This bill ensures companies subject to the direction of the CCP face appropriate disclosure standards and Americans better understand how our adversaries seek to use the swamp against us." 

Following calls from Rep. Gallagher and Sen. Cotton, the U.S. Department of Defense released lists of Chinese companies affiliated with the People's Liberation Army. Despite the publication of these lists, individuals lobbying on their behalf can still receive exemptions, including for commercial activity, that allow them to register under the less transparent Lobbying Disclosure Act.

OCTOBER 22, 2020

EARLY VOTING IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early Voting started on Monday at the Ouachita County Courthouse. According to County Clerk Britt Williford, as of Tuesday afternoon 1147 voters had been through the Courthouse to cast their vote.

Early voting continues through 5 pm November 2nd. Hours to vote are from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturdays and 8 to 5 on Monday November 2nd.

The following voting locations will be open on Friday, October 23rd from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 24th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. They will be open again Friday, October 30th from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm and Saturday, October 31st from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Bearden Lion’s Club
Calvary Baptist Church
Chidester City Hall
Elliot Baptist Church
Ross Center (Thrive Church)
The Word Family Church

You can vote at any of the voting sites regardless of where you live in the County.

Remember to take your photo ID with you. Arkansas State Law requires that a picture ID is necessary to vote.

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING
The OPED Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 10:00 am in the OPED Training Room located at 570 Ben Lane SE, in Camden.

Please wear a mask. Hand sanitizer will be availabl