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March 30, 2020

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESS CONFERENCE MARCH 30, 2020
During the most recent COVID-19 Press Conference held by Governor Asa Hutchinson, it was announced that there are now 473 positive cases of the coronavirus in the state of Arkansas. This information was reported as of 1:30 p.m. Monday March 30th.

In addition to Arkansas County being announced as the state's newest county to report a positive case, another resident has also died from the illness, bringing the states total covid-19 death count to 7. This resident was listed to be over the age of 65 and the first nursing home-related death in the state.

Out of the 473 reported cases, 62 residents have been hospitalized from the virus and 73 are workers in the healthcare industry. There are 29 people who are now considered fully recovered from the illness, however, 21 people remain on ventilators at this time.  

According to Governor Hutchinson, those ventilators are one of the key pieces of medical equipment that will be purchased with additional federal funds that are now being provided for the state of Arkansas to the tune of an extra $45 million dollars.

Hutchinson also reports that a steering committee composed of select appointees from the house of representatives was assembled in order to ensure adequate allocation of the funding in areas where resources will be most needed. 

With the number of cases continuing to increase daily throughout the state, the Governor reports that many residents are looking to the outdoors as a way to seek entertainment and exercise, however it is still important to maintain social distancing and CDC regulations during the pandemic.  The Governor called upon Stacy Hurst, Cabinet Secretary for  the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to speak at the press conference and update citizens about changes taking place at the parks in response to covid-19. Though lodges have been closed, Hurst reports that limited camping is still available within Arkansas State Parks for those who can find isolated areas to camp in self-contained RV's, and park rangers will be monitoring areas to enforce the new rules. The changes in regulations can be found online at www.arkansasstateparks.com

Again, there are 473 positive cases of the coronavirus in the state of Arkansas as of 1:30 p.m. Monday March 30th. The total covid-19 death count is now listed at 7 and there are 29 people who are now considered fully recovered from the illness, however, 21 people remain on ventilators at this time.  

We will Continue to keep you updated on the covid-19 pandemic as information develops. Stay tuned.
 

CHINA VIRUS RELIEF INFORMATION FOR ARKANSANS 
On March 27th, President Trump signed the CARES Act, legislation that will provide the emergency funds necessary to steer our economy through the outbreak of the China Virus and help Americans meet their financial needs. Part of that legislation provides a check in the form of a tax rebate to the vast majority of Americans. Information about those tax rebates is outlined below and can be found by clicking here. That legislation also provides loans to struggling businesses, non-profits, and other entities through the Small Business Administration. Those loans are also eligible for forgiveness when used for the certain purposes, including payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. Information about those loans is also outlined below and can be found by clicking here.

Senator Cotton encourages all Arkansans with questions about how the CARES act can benefit them to contact his office at (202) 224-2353 or (501) 223-9081 or by emailing through the form on his website

Recovery Checks For Americans
Background: On March 27th, President Trump signed the CARES Act, legislation that will provide the emergency funds necessary to steer our economy through the outbreak of the China Virus and help Americans meet their financial needs. Part of that legislation provides a check in the form of a tax rebate to the vast majority of Americans. Information about those tax rebates is outlined in this document.

Eligibility: All U.S. residents are eligible as long as they have a work-eligible Social Security number and meet the income requirements. People whose income is entirely from nontaxable, means-tested programs — such as Supplemental Security Income benefits — are eligible too. If a person is a dependent on someone else’s tax return — such as a young adult — they are not eligible for payments.

Click here to calculate how much assistance you will receive

For Individual Filers: Americans who file their taxes as individuals will receive up to $1,200 in assistance. If your income was less than $75,000 in 2019, you will receive the full amount of $1,200. For those making above $75,000, reduced checks on a sliding scale will be paid. For every $100 you make over $75,000, your assistance will be reduced by $5.

For Married Couples Filing Jointly: Americans who file taxes jointly will receive up to $2,400 plus $500 for every dependent under the age of 17. If your joint income was less than $150,000 in 2019, you will receive the full amount of $2,400 plus $500 for every dependent under 17. For couples making above $150,000, reduced checks on a sliding scale will be paid. For every $100 you make over $150,000, your assistance will be reduced by $5.

For Heads of Household: Americans who file taxes as heads of household will receive up to $1,200 plus $500 for every dependent under the age of 17. If your income was less than $112,500 in 2019, you will receive the full amount of $1,200 plus $500 for every dependent under 17. For those making above $112,500, Reduced checks on a sliding scale will be paid. For every $100 you make over $112,500, your assistance will be reduced by $5.

Common Questions and Answers
Q: How will I receive the assistance?
A: For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check. The IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return. This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. If you gave your bank account information to the IRS when filing your taxes, you will likely receive a direct deposit from the government. If you did not, you will likely receive a check in the mail. No later than 15 days after the date on which Treasury makes a payment to an eligible taxpayer, a notice will be sent by mail to that taxpayer’s last known address. That notice will indicate the method of payment and the amount of payment.

 

Q: When will my payment arrive?
A: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he expects most people to get their payments within three weeks.

Q: Will I have to pay taxes on these payments?
A: No

Q: Do I need to have income to qualify?
A: No.

Q: What tax year will be used to determine my income?
A: If you have already filed your taxes for 2019, your income for that year will be used to determine your assistance. If you have not filed your taxes for 2019, the IRS will use your 2018 tax filing to determine your assistance.

Q: What If I haven’t filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019?
A: If you meet the eligibility requirements for a payment but have not filed a tax return in the last two years, you must file a tax return to receive a payment. If you make less than $69,000 a year, you can find free tax filing options at the IRS Free File webpage. If you make more than $69,000 a year, there may be free options available to you offered by several commercial tax prep companies, like Intuit (TurboTax), H&R Block or TaxAct. If you want in-person tax help for free, You may qualify for the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. To qualify, you must make less than around $56,000 a year, or Live with a disability, or Speak limited English.

The program matches you with IRS-certified volunteers across the country who can help with free basic income tax preparation and electronic filing. You can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance locator tool or call 800-906-9887 to find someone to help you. Keep in mind that some locations may require an appointment.
 
Q: Would most people who are receiving Social Security retirement and disability payments each month also get a stimulus payment?
A: Yes.

Q: Will eligible unemployed people get these stimulus payments? Veterans?
A: Yes, to both

Q: If my income tax refunds are currently being garnished because of a student loan default, would this payment be garnished as well?
A: No.

SBA Paycheck Protection Loan Program Overview
Background: On March 27th, President Trump signed the CARES Act, legislation that will provide emergency funding to steer our economy through the outbreak of the China Virus and help Americans meet their financial needs. Part of that legislation provides loans to struggling businesses, non-profits, and other entities through the Small Business Administration. Those loans are also eligible for forgiveness when used for the certain purposes, including payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities.

Interested Borrowers/Lenders: If you are a potential borrower interested in participating in the Paycheck Protection Program, you should contact your financial institution and ask if they are a Small Business Administration 7(a) approved lender or if they intend to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program. If so, they can likely help steer you through this process. If you would like to find an approved SBA lender or if you are a financial institution interested in participating in the program, you can contact the Small Business Administration Arkansas District Office at (501) 324-7379.

Borrower Eligibility:
The bill defines eligibility for loans as a small business, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act with not more than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by SBA, if higher.

Applies current SBA affiliation rules to eligible nonprofits.

Includes sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals as eligible for loans.

For certain businesses classified under the North American Industry Classification System as “accommodation or food service,” those businesses may be eligible if they do not have more than 500 employees per physical location

Waives affiliation rules for businesses in the hospitality and restaurant industries, franchises that are approved on the SBA’s Franchise Directory, and small businesses that receive financing through the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.


Lender Eligibility: 
Provides delegated authority, which is the ability for lenders to make determinations on borrower eligibility and creditworthiness without going through all of SBA’s channels, to all current 7(a) lenders who make these loans to small businesses, and provides that same authority to lenders who join the program and make these loans.

The SBA Administrator and the Treasury Secretary can authorize additional lenders they deem to have the necessary qualifications to process, close, disburse, and service these loans. These additional lenders approved by Treasury are only permitted to make Paycheck Protection Program loans, not regular 7(a) loans.


Loan Details:
The program will be organized through the Small Business Administration.
Under this program, the government will guarantee 100% of loans made through the Paycheck Protection program through December 31, 2020.
$349 billion is available for this program through December 31, 2020.
The covered loan period of this program is from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020.
The maximum loan limit is $10,000,000.
Size of loans will be determined by payroll costs incurred by business.
Allowable uses of the loan include payroll support, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments. Payroll support includes employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, and insurance premiums.
For eligibility purposes, requires lenders to, instead of determining repayment ability, which is not possible during this crisis, to determine whether a business was operational on February 15, 2020, and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes, or a paid independent contractor.
Provides a limitation on a borrower from receiving this assistance and an economic injury disaster loan through SBA for the same purpose. However, it allows a borrower who has an EIDL loan unrelated to the pubic health emergency to apply for a PPP loan, with an option to refinance that loan into the PPP loan. The emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000 would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program.
Requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by China Virus; they will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease, and utility payments; and are not receiving duplicative funds for the same uses from another SBA program.
Waives both borrower and lender fees for participation in the program.
Waives the credit elsewhere test for funds provided under this program. Waives collateral and personal guarantee requirements under this program.
Outlines the treatment of any portion of a loan that is not used for forgiveness purposes. The remaining loan balance will have a maturity of not more than 10 years, and the guarantee for that portion of the loan will remain intact.
Sets a maximum interest rate of four percent.
Ensures borrowers are not charged any prepayment fees.
Requires the Administrator to provide a lender with a process fee for servicing the loan. Sets lender compensation fees at five percent for loans of not more than $350,000; three percent for loans of more than $350,000 and less than $2,000,000; and one percent for loans of not less than $2,000,000.
Includes a sense of the Senate for the Administrator to issue guidance to lenders and agents to ensure that the processing and disbursement of covered loans prioritizes small business concerns and entities in underserved and rural markets, including veterans and members of the military community, small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Loan Forgiveness:
Establishes that the borrower shall be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent by the borrower during an 8-week period after the origination date of the loan on payroll costs, interest payment on any mortgage incurred prior to February 15, 2020, payment of rent on any lease in force prior to February 15, 2020, and payment on any utility for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Amounts forgiven may not exceed the principal amount of the loan. Eligible payroll costs do not include compensation above $100,000 in wages. Forgiveness on a covered loan is equal to the sum of the following payroll costs incurred during the covered 8 week period compared to the previous year or time period, proportionate to maintaining employees and wages:

Payroll costs plus any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation (which shall not include any prepayment of or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation) plus payments on any covered rent obligation + covered utility payments.

The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation. To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the public health emergency, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.

Allows forgiveness for additional wages paid to tipped workers.

Borrowers will verify through documentation to lenders their payments during the period. Lenders that receive the required documentation will not be subject to an enforcement action or penalties by the Administrator relating to loan forgiveness for eligible uses. 

Upon a lender’s report of an expected loan forgiveness amount for a loan or pool of loans, the SBA will purchase such amount of the loan from the lender.

Canceled indebtedness resulting from this section will not be counted as taxable income.

Any loan amounts not forgiven at the end of one year is carried forward as an ongoing loan with terms of a max of 10 years, at max 4% interest. The 100% loan guarantee remains intact.

Other:

Requires the Administrator to register each loan using the taxpayer TIN, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, within 15 days.

Increases the government guarantee of 7(a) loans to 100 percent through December 31, 2020, at which point guarantee percentages will return to 75 percent for loans exceeding $150,000 and 85 percent for loans equal to or less than $150,000.

Allows complete deferment of 7(a) loan payments for at least six months and not more than a year, and requires SBA to disseminate guidance to lenders on this deferment process within 30 days.

Increases the maximum SBA Express loan from $350,000 to $1 million through December 31, 2020, after which point the Express loan will return to $350,000.

Requires Veteran’s fee waivers for the 7(a) Express Loan Program to be waived.

Permanently rescinds the interim final rule entitled, “Express Loan Programs: Affiliation Standards” (85 Fed. Reg. 7622 (February 10, 2020).


Common Questions and Answers
Q. Where can I apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?
A. You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. This could be the bank you already use, or a nearby bank. There are thousands of banks that already participate in the SBA’s lending programs, including numerous community banks. You do not have to visit any government institution to apply for the program. You can call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders in your area through SBA’s online Lender Match tool. You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center and they will provide free assistance and guide you to lenders.

Q. Who is eligible for the loan?
A. You are eligible for a loan if you are a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer, or if your business is in an industry that has an employee-based size standard through SBA that is higher than 500 employees. In addition, if you are a restaurant, hotel, or a business that falls within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 72, “Accommodation and Food Services,” and each of your locations has 500 employees or fewer, you are eligible. Tribal businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including religious organizations, will be eligible for the program. Nonprofit organizations are subject to SBA’s affiliation standards. Independently owned franchises with under 500 employees, who are approved by SBA, are also eligible. Eligible franchises can be found through SBA’s Franchise Directory.

Q. I am an independent contractor or gig economy worker, am I eligible?
A. Yes. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self-employed individuals are all eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Q. What is the maximum amount I can borrow?
A. The amount any small business is eligible to borrow is 250 percent of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses and any additional amounts for making payments towards debt obligations. This 8 week period may be applied to any time frame between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Seasonal business expenses will be measured using a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, whichever the seasonal employer chooses.

Q. How can I use the money such that the loan will be forgiven?
A. The amount of principal that may be forgiven is equal to the sum of expenses for payroll, and existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases, and utility service agreements. Payroll costs include employee salaries (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), hourly wages and cash tips, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums. If you would like to use the Paycheck Protection Program for other business-related expenses, like inventory, you can, but that portion of the loan will not be forgiven.

Q. When is the loan forgiven?
A. The loan is forgiven at the end of the 8-week period after you take out the loan. Borrowers will work with lenders to verify covered expenses and the proper amount of forgiveness. 

Q. What is the covered period of the loan?
A. The covered period during which expenses can be forgiven extends from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Borrowers can choose which 8 weeks they want to count towards the covered period, which can start as early as February 15, 2020.

Q. How much of my loan will be forgiven?
A. The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help you retain your employees, at their current base pay. If you keep all of your employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If you still lay off employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees. If your total payroll expenses on workers making less than $100,000 annually decreases by more than 25 percent, loan forgiveness will be reduced by the same amount. If you have already laid off some employees, you can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020.

Q. Am I responsible for interest on the forgiven loan amount?
A. No, if the full principal of the PPP loan is forgiven, the borrower is not responsible for the interest accrued in the 8-week covered period. The remainder of the loan that is not forgiven will operate according to the loan terms agreed upon by you and the lender.

Q. What are the interest rate and terms for the loan amount that is not forgiven?
A. The terms of the loan not forgiven may differ on a case-by-case basis. However, the maximum terms of the loan feature a 10-year term with interest capped at 4 percent and a 100 percent loan guarantee by the SBA. You will not have to pay any fees on the loan, and collateral requirements and personal guarantees are waived. Loan payments will be deferred for at least six months and up to one year starting at the origination of the loan. 

Q. When is the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program?
A. Applicants are eligible to apply for the PPP loan until June 30th, 2020.

 Q. I took out a bridge loan through my state, am I eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?
A. Yes, you can take out a state bridge loan and are still be eligible for the PPP loan.

 Q. If I have applied for, or received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) related to the China virus before the Paycheck Protection Program became available, will I be able to refinance into a PPP loan? 
A. Yes. If you received an EIDL loan related to the virus between January 31, 2020 and the date at which the PPP becomes available, you would be able to refinance the EIDL into the PPP for loan forgiveness purposes. However, you may not take out an EIDL and a PPP for the same purposes. Remaining portions of the EIDL, for purposes other than those laid out in loan forgiveness terms for a PPP loan, would remain a loan. If you took advantage of an emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000, that amount would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under PPP. 


SBA UPDATE TO ARKANSAS COVID-19 RESOURCES
NEW STREAMLINED PROCESS REQUIREMENTS

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

New changes were made to the Disaster Loan Application requirements!

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program has streamlined its process requirements to the qualified entities that are impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The information will be used in determining whether the applicant is eligible for an economic injury loan. If you do not submit all the information requested, your loan cannot be fully processed.

SBA is relying upon the self-certifications contained in the application to verify that the Applicant is an eligible entity to receive the advance, and that the Applicant is providing this self-certification under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 for verification purposes.

The estimated time for completing this entire application is two hours and ten minutes, although you may not need to complete all parts. 

NEW STREAMLINED PROCESS REQUIREMENTS
To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

New changes were made to the Disaster Loan Application requirements!
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program has streamlined its process requirements to the qualified entities that are impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The information will be used in determining whether the applicant is eligible for an economic injury loan. If you do not submit all the information requested, your loan cannot be fully processed.

SBA is relying upon the self-certifications contained in the application to verify that the Applicant is an eligible entity to receive the advance, and that the Applicant is providing this self-certification under penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746 for verification purposes.

The estimated time for completing this entire application is two hours and ten minutes, although you may not need to complete all parts. 

If you did not complete and submit your application in the OLD SYSTEM and submit it you will need to fill out a new application! YOU CANNOT GO BACK AND RETRIEVE ANY IN-PROCESS APPLICATIONS! 

As developments continue, SBA will send updates regarding changes for Small Businesses  and loan programs under the CARE Act. 

For a list of all the SBA partners and organizations that your small business may need such as Chamber of Commerce, SBA Lenders and State Office check out our statewide  Resource Guide.

UPCOMING WEBINARS
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is offering several no-cost webinars to help business owners respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

 

“Applying for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans,” 10 a.m. March 31 or 2 p.m. April 2 – Many Arkansas small businesses and non-profits are eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Learn about program requirements, how to apply and what to expect. ASBTDC will repeat the EIDL webinar each Tuesday and Thursday through April.

“Take Your Business Online,” 10 a.m. April 1 – Hear about steps you can take to move business online and keep sales coming.

“¡Calma! Continúe con su Negocio," 2 p.m. April 1 – Get timely tips in Spanish for managing short-term cash flow and adapting your business model.

“Connecting to Capital,” 2 p.m. April 2 – The Economic Injury Disaster Loan isn't the right option for every business. Learn about other capital options.

Links to register for each program above are available at asbtdc.org/asbtdc-events/.

SBA has created a small business resource page dedicated to COVID-19 at SBA.gov/Coronavirus. Here you will find CDC requirements for small businesses how to access SBA loan products outside of EIDL and much, much more.
We want to emphasize that public health is the priority and we’re encouraging small businesses to do their part to keep their employees, customers and themselves healthy by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most up-to-date information on COVID-19, as well as Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond.

Additionally, SBA’s Arkansas network of resource partners stand ready to assist small businesses across the state in filling out applications. These partners are seeing clients virtually to assist in minimizing impact exposure to COVID-19 and protect our small business communities.

Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center

SCORE - Counselors and Mentors for America's Small Businesses

Arkansas Women's Business Center

Startup Junkie Consulting

AR Conductor

Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center - Contracting Assistance

Arkansas Economic Development Commission 


AEDC has compiled a list of programs and resources, and will continue to update this list as additional resources become available at www.arkansasedc.com/covid19. Please sign up and encourage your businesses to sign up for direct updates from SBA at SBA Updates. We will send SBA updates twice daily from this distribution list.

For additional information on disaster assistance, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov
 

SAU TECH OUTLINES PLANS FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF THAT TAKE EFFECT MONDAY
SAU Tech in East Camden has updated information regarding the delivery of services, programs, and operations effective Monday, March 30. Unless otherwise directed or contacted by SAU Tech program faculty, students will not return to regularly scheduled classes on Monday. A decision will be made on Monday, April 13 about SAU Tech classes going forward during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

EVERY ARKANSAN NEEDS TO KNOW THEIR RIGHTS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS
COVID-19 has put a strain on our nation’s communities. With resources being stretched thin across Arkansas, I’m working at the Attorney General’s Office to make sure Arkansans are protected from illegal price gouging. Watch my Rutledge Report to learn more.

What is “Price Gouging”?
Price gouging is when the price of goods or services is increased more than the maximum lawful price during a public emergency. During a public emergency, the maximum lawful price is 10% above the pre-emergency price of the product.

What is the connection between COVID-19 and price gouging?
Governor Hutchinson declared a state of emergency on March 11, 2020.  During a state of emergency resources can become limited, often resulting in higher prices for consumers.  To protect consumers from additional hardship and financial strain during a state of emergency, the Arkansas Price Gouging Law goes into effect and will be enforced by Attorney General Rutledge.

What can I do to stop price gouging?
You can avoid and prevent price gouging by knowing how to identify and report any violations. Watch The Rutledge Report and visit the Arkansas Attorney General resource webpage to learn the signs of price gouging.

116 MORE BROADBAND AND TELEPHONE SERVICE PROVIDERS TAKE CHAIRMAN PAI’S KEEP AMERICANS CONNECTED PLEDGE
185 Providers Have Now Agreed to Take Specific Steps to Promote Connectivity for Americans During the Coronavirus Pandemic
WASHINGTON, March 2020 - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has announced that 116 more broadband and telephone service providers have taken his Keep Americans Connected Pledge. 

Chairman Pai launched the Keep Americans Connected Pledge with 69 broadband and telephone providers across the country agreeing to take specific steps to help Americans stay connected for the next 60 days. This announcement means that 185 companies in total have now taken the Pledge.    

“It’s critical that Americans stay connected throughout the coronavirus pandemic so that they can remain in touch with loved ones, telework, engage in remote learning, participate in telehealth, and maintain the social distancing that is so important to combatting the spread of the virus,” said Chairman Pai. “The Keep Americans Connected Pledge is a critical step toward accomplishing that goal, and I thank each one of these additional companies that have made commitments to ensure that Americans can remain connected as a result of these exceptional circumstances.” 

New pledge-takers include Advanced Communications Technology, Agri-Valley Communications, Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, ATMC, Ben Lomand Connect, BEVCOMM, Blackfoot Communications, Blanchard Telephone Company, Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative, Bloomingdale Communications, Blue Valley Tele-Communications, Bristol Bay Telephone Cooperative, Bruce Telephone Company, Bush-Tell, Cap Rock Telephone Cooperative, C Spire, Cellcom, Clear Lake Telephone Company, Cochrane Co-op Telephone, Coons Valley Farmers Telephone, Copper Valley Telecom, Cunningham Communications, Cunningham Telephone Company, D&P Communications, Dallas Network Services, DTC Communications, Dubois Telephone Exchange, EarthLink, , Emerald Broadband, Farmers Mutual Co-Op Phone Co, Ethoplex, Fatbeam, Garden Valley Technologies, GCI, Golden West Telecommunications, Granite State Communications, GRM Networks, Hancock Telephone Company, Hargray Communications, Hawaiian Telcom, Hiawatha Telephone Company, Highland Telephone Cooperative, Home Telecom, Hotwire Communications, Hughes, Industry Telephone Company, InterBel Telephone Company, Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, KPU, Lennon Telephone Company, LTC Networks, Lincoln Telephone Company, Lynxx Networks, Madison Telephone Company, Marquette-Adams Telephone Cooperative, Matanuska Telephone Association, Merit Network, Midco, Mid-Hudson Cable, Midstate Communications, Midway Telephone Company, Mosaic Telecom, Mount Horeb Telephone Company, Nelson Cable, Nemont, NfinityLink Communications, North Central Telephone Cooperative, Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company, Northern Telephone Cooperative, Northwest Communications Cooperative, Northwest Missouri Cellular, Norvado, Nsight Teleservices, Ntec, Nushagak Cooperative, Ontonagon County Telephone Company, Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative, Peninsula Fiber Network, Peoples Telephone Cooperative, Pigeon Telephone Company, Pine Belt Communications, Polar Communications, Portative Technologies, Rainbow Communications, Red River Communications, Richland-Grant Telephone Cooperative, RT Communications, Sandhill Telephone Cooperative, SCC Networks, Segra/Lumos Networks, Silver Star Communications, Sirentel, Sjoberg’s, Skyline Membership Cooperative, Solarus, STRATA Networks, SRT Communications, TCT, Thumb Cellular, Totelcom, TOWARDEX, Tri-County Communications Cooperative, TrioTel Communications, Twin Lakes, Viaero Wireless, Viasat, Wabash Communications CO-OP, Wander Internet, Wave Wireless, Wavelinc Communications, Webster-Calhoun Cooperative Telephone Association, West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative, West Kentucky and Tennessee Telephone Cooperative, West River Telecom, and WorldNet Telecommunications.  

Additionally, the associations TIA—The Telecommunications Industry Association and the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation have also endorsed the Pledge. 

The Keep Americans Connected Pledge reads as follows:
Given the coronavirus pandemis and its impact on American society pledges for the next 60 days to:
(1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
(2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
(3) open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

For more information on the FCC’s actions related to the coronavirus pandemic, including the full list of signatories, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/coronavirus.
 

SAAC TO HOST QUARANTINE ART COMPETITION
Making art is one of humanity's oldest methods of expression and connection. To provide our community with an outlet for their creative expression during this unprecedented time in all of our lives, the South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to participate in an art exhibition which will showcase any and all art created under the everyday conditions which are new to us all. This community exhibit and competition will be a fun and distracting way for artists, adults and children, to keep producing great art while at home.

SAAC executive director, Laura Allen, said about this competition, "One of the strongest ways that people have to deal with their feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic crisis is to express themselves creatively. As the quarantine began, it seemed that every artist I spoke to was working more than ever, and creatives of all types were reaching out to each other in new and innovative ways. I think it will be so interesting to bring together in one room all the work that has been created by our artistic community, while they have been engaged in these very separate pursuits."

Artists over age 18 are eligible for the adult division. Art is accepted in any medium, and two-dimensional and three-dimensional work will both be accepted. We request that the work is started on or after March 14, and completed within three days after restrictions on gatherings are lifted. At this time, we plan to accept two pieces per person - but reserve the right to limit to one per person if we are completely overwhelmed with entries (upon delivery, artist will designate first and second choices for display). This is an open competition - SAAC membership and entry fee not required, and there is no need to sign up in advance in order to participate. Our end date and our exhibit date are contingent upon the opportunity to again gather in groups. Prizes are: Best of Show $200; First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prize.

Our youngest artists are working equally hard right now, and "Kitchen Table Art: Art Created during School Closures" will showcase artwork created while the kids are at home during quarantine. Divisions for kids are grades K-4, grades 5-8, and grades 9-12. This exhibit will follow the same general guidelines as the adult division, but only one work will be accepted per student. Prizes will be awarded for First Place $75; Second Place $50; Third Place $25. Honorable mentions may be awarded with no cash prizes.

Gallery Manager Kelly Campbell said about the idea, "A friend of mine called me on the first Saturday that we went into ‘quarantine' with the idea for this exhibit, and the idea of a competition came at the very end of our conversation. She was so excited about the possibility of artists who could share the art they are creating, and I just jumped right in there with her.

"We have a large visual arts community, and many of the artists have ‘real' jobs; these circumstances provide them with the opportunity to work as full time artists, every day, to face and meet the challenges inherent in that method of working. Another artist perhaps said it best: paint like it's your job! As far as the rules go, they're very loose. We trust people to be honest about when they started, just as we trust them to complete their work within the dates that have yet to be determined. The show dates and delivery dates are also up in the air, contingent upon our release from quarantine."

Interested artists should do two things: first, get started creating! Second, they should check the SAAC Facebook page on Monday afternoons. Campbell will be posting updates weekly. She is also available by email at kelly@saac-arts.org.

For more information on this competition, please email Campbell at the above email address, or call SAAC at 870-862-5474 during our current office hours of 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March 27, 2020

RAYTHEON, AEROJET ROCKETDYNE STRIKE $1 BILLION STRATEGIC SOURCING DEAL FOR STANDARD MISSILE PROGRAMS
Landmark agreement offers Defense Department savings
TUCSON, Ariz., March 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) Missile Systems business has reached a $1 billion, five-year strategic agreement to purchase propulsion systems from Aerojet
for Standard Missile products. The deal represents a supply chain centerpiece of multi-year Standard Missiles contracts that Raytheon recently received.

"Moving to multi-year, rather than annual-year contracting enables Raytheon and its supply chain to deliver even more value to our Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy customers, and the taxpayer," said Eugene Jaramillo, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Global Supply Chain Management. "These multi-year agreements also allow our suppliers to transform the way they do business with Raytheon."

Aerojet Rocketdyne provides propulsion systems spanning Raytheon's Standard Missile family. For the SM-2™ missileSM-3® interceptor and SM-6® missile, Aerojet Rocketdyne supplies the majority of the solid rocket motors for these systems. Also, for SM-3, the company produces the Divert and Attitude Control System, a high-precision, quick-reaction propulsion system that positions the interceptor to defeat incoming ballistic missiles.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne has supported one or more variants of the Standard Missile program for more than three decades; we are proud of our contributions to these vital defense products," said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president.  "This significant agreement on multi-year contracts strengthens our current relationship and positions Aerojet Rocketdyne favorably for future business opportunities and continued growth."

Work on the programs will be spread across Aerojet Rocketdyne sites in Orange County, Virginia, the Solid Rocket Motor Center of Excellence in Camden, Arkansas, and at its Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Raytheon produces SM-2 in Tucson, and SM-3 and SM-6 in Huntsville.
 

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN RELEASES COVID-19 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Says, ‘I am encouraged when Arkansans are helping Arkansans’ and it is times like these that display 'real Arkansas Grit'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following Public Service Announcement to help inform Arkansans on ways to lessen the impact and shorten the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As transcribed below (video): 

Hi, this is Lt. Governor Tim Griffin. I just wanted to speak with you for a few moments about the coronavirus and some things we can all do to help lessen the impact and shorten the duration of this pandemic.

Number one, wash your hands frequently. Number two, keep a safe distance from others: at least six feet. Number three, don’t gather in large groups. And number four, if you’re a senior adult or have a compromised immune system, please stay at home if you can.

Also, this has impacted families and businesses economically. I hope you’ll check out my website at www.ltgovernor.arkansas.gov and see some of the resources that federal and state government have made available to those suffering during this difficult time.

You know, I’m encouraged when Arkansans are helping Arkansans – that’s real Arkansas Grit. I know we’ll get through this, and we’ll be stronger than ever. God Bless you and stay safe.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES PROPOSAL TO PROTECT AND SUPPORT HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS, PUBLIC, AND PROVIDERS
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is submitting a Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration Project (“waiver”) to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide support to Arkansans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced at a news conference today. 

The waiver will provide $116 million in additional Medicaid funding to support a number of initiatives to protect Arkansas health care workers and their patients and to support health care providers. Additional funding is aimed at helping the Long-term Services and Supports (LTSS) sector to ensure Arkansas’s vulnerable populations continue to receive care whether they reside in facilities or in their homes. The initiatives also provide additional support to rural hospitals, independent physician practices, and other Medicaid providers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

This new waiver is just one piece of federal and state efforts to help our hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians. Regulatory relief and additional payments to providers will also be provided through federal legislation.

To accomplish the specific goals of this waiver, the state is requesting approval for federal funding to support the care continuity initiatives which include:

Environmental modifications payments to eligible hospitals, independent physicians, rural health clinics, and behavioral health agencies to modify their facilities to add protective features such as drive-through testing or to reconfigure patient intake areas to allow for adequate social distancing or the purchase or lease of specialized equipment.

New flexibility and financial support to allow health care providers to adjust operations that are unique to their clinic so that they can continue to safely provide face-to-face services. This may include extending clinic hours or shifting schedules to accommodate sick visits versus healthy visits.

Payments to expand and upgrade telemedicine and to provide non-emergency transportation so that patients may continue to connect with health care providers.

Additional pay for health care workers who provide direct long-term services and supports (LTSS) in institutions as well as in homes.  This would be an additional $250 per week for non-physician direct-care workers and $500 per week for non-physician direct-care workers who are employed in a facility that treats COVID-19 patients.

Additional payments to nursing facilities that treat a disproportionate share of COVID-19 patients.

With this additional funding, providers will have the flexibility to continue efficiently responding to the needs of Arkansans in ways that Medicaid does not typically finance. This method of structuring payments also ensures program integrity, as DHS must approve the request for funding in advance. 

To help prevent negative impacts to the physical and mental health of a Medicaid-eligible child in foster care, DHS would also provide an additional monthly payment of $500 to all foster families during the emergency period. 

“Health care today cannot be delivered as it was just two weeks ago,” Governor Hutchinson said at the news conference. “Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, residential facilities, other licensed practitioners must now re-engineer their practice patterns to protect the lives of their patients and their employees. This proposal places a particular emphasis on Arkansas’s rural providers who face even greater challenges due to distance and less infrastructure compared to more populous areas.”

Cindy Gillespie, Secretary of DHS, joined the Governor at the news conference. 

“This is designed to address COVID-19 related expenses that are hitting small hospitals, independent physicians, community providers,” Gillespie said. “These are things that Medicaid normally can’t pay for, and will help ensure continuity of care at a very critical time for Arkansans.”


ARKANSAS DELEGATION ASKS FOR MEDICAID FLEXIBILITY IN VIRUS RELIEF
Washington, D.C.
– Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas), along with Representatives Rick Crawford (R-Arkansas), French Hill (R-Arkansas), Steve Womack (R-Arkansas), and Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to President Trump asking him to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for increased flexibility in using Medicaid to support coronavirus relief efforts.

In part, the delegation wrote:

“Most importantly, providers will be paid to continue to deliver services rather than reimbursed for lost revenue.  It will keep everyone from the receptionist to the home health worker to the clinic nurse fully employed, which in turn will allow them to continue to support their families, to pay their bills, and to keep money in the local economy.  Healthcare providers at all levels, not just hospitals, need access to new financing to help them adapt to the COVID-19.  We deeply appreciate your consideration, and we urge the swift approval of Governor Hutchinson’s request for this Demonstration.”

Full text of the letter may be found below.
March 26, 2020

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write to express our full support for Arkansas’s Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration Project (the “Demonstration”) submitted by Governor Asa Hutchinson to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  This Demonstration is of true national significance in that it will allow Arkansas to respond to the COVID-19 health emergency and to avert the threatening economic crisis.  This proposal will provide access to the care Arkansans need, and it will help keep our health care providers’ businesses open and their workforce employed. 

In a little over two weeks, the COVID-19 has completely changed the health care delivery system in Arkansas and across the nation.  Hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, residential facilities, and other licensed practitioners must now re-engineer their practice patterns to protect the lives of their patients and their employees.  Arkansas’s proposed Demonstration places a particular emphasis on our rural providers who face even greater challenges due to distance and less infrastructure compared to more populous areas.

This proposed Demonstration will help jumpstart the ability of health care providers to respond most efficiently and effectively by giving them certainty and flexibility to use funds in ways Medicaid does not typically finance.  Structuring payments in this approach also ensures program integrity as the Arkansas Department of Human Services must approve in advance the request for funding.  Furthermore, it provides greater program integrity protection because costs will be directly auditable and is less complex than building increases into rates. 

Most importantly, providers will be paid to continue to deliver services rather than reimbursed for lost revenue.  It will keep everyone from the receptionist to the home health worker to the clinic nurse fully employed, which in turn will allow them to continue to support their families, to pay their bills, and to keep money in the local economy.  Healthcare providers at all levels, not just hospitals, need access to new financing to help them adapt to the COVID-19.  We deeply appreciate your consideration, and we urge the swift approval of Governor Hutchinson’s request for this Demonstration.

    Sincerely,

cc:       Honorable Alex Azar, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Honorable Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
 Mr. Russell Vaught, Deputy Director, Office of Management & Budget

 
 

March 27, 2020

ARKANSAS DELEGATION ASKS FOR MEDICAL FLEXIBILITY IN CORONAVIRUS RELIEF

WASHINGTON — Arkansas Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton along with Representatives Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman sent a letter to President Trump asking him to support Governor Asa Hutchinson’s request for increased flexibility in using Medicaid to support coronavirus relief efforts.

 In part, the delegation wrote:

“Most importantly, providers will be paid to continue to deliver services rather than reimbursed for lost revenue. It will keep everyone from the receptionist to the home health worker to the clinic nurse fully employed, which in turn will allow them to continue to support their families, to pay their bills, and to keep money in the local economy. Healthcare providers at all levels, not just hospitals, need access to new financing to help them adapt to the COVID-19. We deeply appreciate your consideration, and we urge the swift approval of Governor Hutchinson’s request for this Demonstration.”

The letter may be found here.

 

 

 

ATTN: OUACHITA COUNTY FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS
According to Ouachita County Judge Robert McADoo, as of this morning only 28.1% of Ouachita County has been counted in the 2020 Census. Please make sure you get counted by phone, online or mail.

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories.

The count is mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in the United States and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each home will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire—online, by phone, or by mail—between March 12-20.

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

It's also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.

The 2020 Census is happening now. You can complete your questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail.

The time is now. Help shape your future, and your community's future, by responding to the 2020 Census. For the first time, you can choose to complete the census online, by phone, or by mail. Find out more about each of these methods below:

Online Response Guide

Phone Response Guide

Paper (Mail) Response Guide

Please note that if you are responding online, you must complete the census in one sitting, as you don't have the ability to save your progress. 

You should be counted where you are living and sleeping most of the time as of April 1, 2020. If you are responding for your home, count everyone who lives and sleeps there most of the time as of April 1, 2020. This includes young children, foster children, roommates, and any family members or friends who are living with you, even temporarily.

People in some living situations—including students, service members, and people in health care facilities—may have questions about how to respond or where they should count themselves. You may also have questions if you are moving, have multiple residences, or have no permanent address.

For more information, please visit  Who to Count.

CAMDEN WATER UTILITIES ANNUAL CITY-WIDE FLUSH POSTPONED
Camden Water Utilities has postponed the Annual City-Wide Flush that was scheduled to begin  the week of March 30 to April 3, 2020.



POPE COUNTY SHOOTING INCIDENT LEAVES ONE DEAD
MARCH 26, 2020
A Pope County Sheriff’s Deputy shot a man late yesterday (March 25th) as the individual approached the deputy brandishing a knife.  The Arkansas State Police has been requested by the Pope County Sheriff to investigate the incident.

About 5:15 PM, Wednesday, the sheriff’s department dispatched the deputy to 675 Hickey Mountain Loop in the London community.  An initial call to the sheriff’s department reported there was a suicidal individual at the address.
 
Glenn A. White, 53, of London was pronounced dead at the scene.  White’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where it will undergo an autopsy.

Questions relating to the identity of the sheriff’s deputy and administrative status of the deputy should be directed to the Pope County Sheriff’s Department.

Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division will prepare an investigative file to be submitted to the prosecuting attorney who will decide whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF CARES ACT
WASHINGTON- 
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement after voting in support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

 “The coronavirus is overwhelming our healthcare system and is inflicting a dramatic financial toll on American workers, families and small businesses. The magnitude of this crisis urgently requires us to think big and act big. The CARES Act provides emergency relief to those upended by the devastation this outbreak is causing. Providing funds directly to hardworking Americans, resources to help job creators continue operations, and support for the men and women of the medical community who are on the frontlines treating patients and working to find a cure is necessary to address this emergency.”

 
 

MARCH 25, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAMMERS CREATE FRENZY WITH FAKE GOVERNMENT CHECKS
LITTLE ROCK – As Congress works to complete the COVID-19 economic stimulus package, con artists have also been working non-stop to identify new ways to take advantage of Arkansans concerned about the economy. These scammers impersonate government officials and reach out to Arkansans by phone, email or social media demanding the victims’ personal and banking information to verify their eligibility for the government’s stimulus check.

“Bad actors come out in bad situations and will do anything to make a quick buck on the backs of concerned Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The federal government will never reach out asking for personal and banking information in order to confirm your eligibility for payment.”

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to keep you and your pocketbook safe.
Only rely on official government websites (.gov) for economic relief information.
Never give out your personal information over the telephone or email.

When information becomes available, the Attorney General’s website will direct you to reliable sources.

Arkansas residents encountering someone demanding personal information to receive federal funds or other assistance should immediately contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office by visiting ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.
 

TEMPORARY DRIVER LICENSE TESTING SCHEDULE CONTINUES
The Arkansas State Police will continue Class D (conventional motor vehicle) driver license testing under the temporary and limited adjustments made effective on March 18th.   State police commanders had planned to re-consider the schedule adjustments on March 27th.  That date has now been extended to the end of business day, Friday, April 3rd. 
 
No changes have been implemented, nor planned, relating to commercial driver license applicants.  CDL testing is continuing on a regular schedule.
 
Changes to the Class D schedules became necessary as city and county government buildings where state police driver license testing occurred began to temporarily close or limit public access.
 
Driver license testing is now restricted to Arkansas State Police Troop Headquarters (with the exception of Troop J at Clarksville).  Testing in the River Valley area is limited to a testing center operated in Russellville at 765 Hob Knob Road.  Only the knowledge portion of the Class D driver license is being administered during the temporary schedule.  No skills tests are being offered.
 
A directory of Arkansas State Police Headquarters with addresses and telephone numbers can be found at https://asp.arkansas.gov/divisions/highway-patrol/

MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY
Lockheed Martin Corp., Missiles and Fire Control, Dallas, Texas, is being awarded a $932,836,737 modification (P00026) to previously-awarded contract HQ0147-17-C-0032 to exercise an option for the production of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors and associated one-shot devices to support the U.S. government (USG) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case requirements.  The THAAD interceptors and associated one-shot devices will be procured under fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract line items.  The value of this contract is increased from $5,366,947,800 to $6,299,784,537.  The work will be performed in Dallas, Texas; Sunnyvale, California; Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; and Troy, Alabama, with an expected completion date of April 1, 2026.  Fiscal 2020 USG procurement funds in the amount of $327,498,097; and KSA FMS funds in the amount of $605,338,640 are being obligated at time of award.  The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, Alabama, is the contracting activity.

SEND A SENTIMENT AND SHARE A SMILE
Methodist Family Health Asks Arkansans to Send Notes, Letters or Cards to Children in Residential Programs
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Mar. 23, 2020) – As a way to bring some joy to the Arkansas children in its residential programs, Methodist Family Health is asking the community to send notes, letters or cards to the children and families in their residential programs.

“Do you remember getting a letter in the mail that was all yours?” asked Kelli Reep, director of communications with Methodist Family Health. “Or a birthday card, a note from a friend, a magazine clipping from your family? Remember the grin you got when seeing that envelope in their handwriting? That’s what we want our kids to experience, especially during this COVID-19 event.”

If you are looking for a way to share with someone during this COVID-19 event, you can send a postcard, greeting card, note or letter to any of the children in Methodist Family Health’s locations below.

“Whether it's a letter on notebook paper, a postcard from the post office, a hand-drawn picture from your child or a card saying, ‘You are the best, and I believe in you,’ your sentiment will bring a lot of light to children in our care who are abandoned, abused, neglected and managing psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues,” Reep said.

Send your mail to any of the addresses below:

·     Boys or girls ages 4 to 17 in the acute unit at Methodist Behavioral Hospital, 1601 Murphy Drive, Maumelle, Arkansas 72113

·     Boys ages 4 to 11 in the subacute unit at Methodist Behavioral Hospital, 1601 Murphy Drive, Maumelle, Arkansas 72113

·     Boys ages 6 to 17 in the subacute unit at Dacus Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center at 211 W. Church St., Bono, Arkansas 72416

·     Boys and girls ages 6 to 17 in the subacute unit at Little Rock Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center at 2002 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock, Arkansas 72204

·     Boys and girls ages infant to 12 in the Arkansas CARES program at 2002 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock, AR 72204

·     Moms in the Arkansas CARES program at 2002 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock, Arkansas 72204

·     Girls ages 12 to 18 in the therapeutic group home at Helena-West Helena at 471 Phillips Rd. 251, Lexa, Arkansas 72355

·     Boys ages 12 to 18 in the therapeutic group home in Little Rock at 2002 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock, Arkansas 72204
·     Boys ages 12 to 18 in the therapeutic group home in Magnolia at 211 N. Pecan, Magnolia, Arkansas 71753

PASSiON PLAY CANCELS EASTER PERFORMANCE
At the request of the State of Arkansas, we will NOT be performing the Great Passion Play on Easter weekend and will NOT be hosting an outdoor sunrise service at the Christ of the Ozarks.

We at the Passion Play are praying the Lord will intervene in this crisis and help us in His way for His glory. We do plan on performing the Passion Play. The date of our 2020 season opening is yet to be determined.

Visit us online at GreatPassionPlay.org


GOV. HUTCHINSON PROCLAIMS APRIL 2020 SECOND CHANCE MONTH IN ARKANSAS  
Resolution Supports Second Chance Month and Prison Fellowship’s Efforts to Unlock Better Futures for Former Inmates
Washington, D.C.
Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement after Governor Asa Hutchinson proclaimed April 2020 as Second Chance Month for the state of Arkansas:

“We are honored that Governor Hutchinson signed this resolution—designating April 2020 as Second Chance Month in the state of Arkansas,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for Prison Fellowship. “There is no such thing as a throwaway person, and by granting second chances to those who have earned them, we will be contributing to the restoration of families, communities and our nation.  Together, we are working to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. We believe people with a past can rise from their failure, repay their debts, and that healing is possible for our communities affected by crime.”

For far too many who have served time behind bars, release from incarceration brings a new kind of prison. Some 65 million Americans have a criminal record. This limits their access to jobs, education, housing and other things necessary for a full and productive life. Any hope and new identity found while incarcerated can be quickly lost upon release when faced with the “second prison”—the more than 44,000 documented social stigmas and legal restrictions that inhibit opportunities to rebuild someone’s life after paying a debt to society.

Prison Fellowship®
Prison Fellowship is the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading voice for criminal justice reform.  With more than 40 years of experience helping restore men and women behind bars, Prison Fellowship advocates for federal and state criminal justice reforms that transform those responsible for crime, validate victims, and encourage communities to play a role in creating a safe, redemptive, and just society.

 

BOOZMAN URGES SENATE PASSAGE OF CARES ACT
“We can’t afford to wait”
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) urged Senate members to work together to pass emergency legislation to deliver relief for American workers, families and small businesses financially challenged due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Senate is considering its phase three plan, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

“We have to create a path to economic recovery…This is not stimulus plan, it’s an existence plan. We need to be helping Americans through this crisis by providing cash payouts, expanding unemployment benefits and by ensuring that there will be jobs for them to return to when this is all over. We have to pass this bill,” Boozman said.

The following is Boozman’s speech as prepared for delivery:

I arrived in Washington in November of 2001 after winning a special election to serve the people of the Third District of Arkansas in the House of Representatives.  

This was shortly after 9/11. 

It was an anxious time in the Capitol. Every one of my colleagues sought to find ways to work together to move major pieces of legislation that helped return a sense of normalcy that Americans so desperately sought in the wake of the attacks. 

Given all that is at stake right now, for the life of me, I have not been able to understand why we have been struggling to do the same now.

Thankfully, the partisanship that dominated these past few days has subsided. It appears that we can now move forward after this unnecessary delay.

This is vital as we can’t afford to wait.

Many small businesses in America’s large cities and small towns alike are being forced to close during this crisis both to protect public health and because of a shrinking customer base, as consumers are urged to stay home to reduce the spread of the disease.  

The unexpected closure for small business owners, through no fault of their own, may prevent many of them from reopening by the time this is behind us.  

Those employed at these operations will be among the hardest hit financially by this crisis. 

Entire industries that are vital to our nation’s economic wellbeing have been crushed by this pandemic.  

The markets have taken a huge hit from this crisis, putting the retirement security of millions of Americans in jeopardy.  

And it is certainly expected that our health care sector, strained to capacity by the coronavirus pandemic, will face substantial challenges moving forward. 

Congress’s initial responses in the wake of the crisis were promising.       

We came together to pass a comprehensive package to dramatically increase efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, treat Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 and support research to find a vaccine. 

President Trump signed this bipartisan, bicameral emergency supplemental appropriations package that provided a surge in funding throughout the government—almost eight billion dollars—to meet the growing challenge we face.  

It promotes a government-wide approach—channeling the collective energy, knowledge and talents of federal, state and local public health officials and healthcare professionals to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and treat those who have been affected.

After that, the House passed a bipartisan relief bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that includes paid emergency leave for workers, widespread coronavirus testing at no additional cost to patients and enhanced food security initiatives. 

Last week my colleagues in this chamber worked together to approve the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the president signed it into law.  

This was the first step in our efforts to provide economic relief. We called it phase two.  

There several aspects of that bill that the Senate would like to have changed, but for the sake of urgency and building bipartisan momentum, we passed the bill without a single amendment.  

We put our differences to the side and did what we believed was in the best interest of the American people. 

Republicans and Democrats alike agree that much more needed to be done to help individual Americans negatively affected by this crisis and stave off a massive economic disaster. That’s what this bill does. 

Phase one provided immediate funding to address the public health crisis.  

Phase two—the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—marked the beginning of our efforts to address the coronavirus’s economic impact. 

It has a number of helpful provisions in it, but we have to build upon this effort and provide more relief to the American people in this time of crisis. 

That is phase three—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—the bill we have been trying to move forward over the past several days.

The CARES Act would send billions of dollars to hospitals and healthcare providers—the men and women on the front lines of this fight. 

It would send direct checks to millions of American households to offset the economic impact of the crisis and allow for a much-needed injection of liquidity into our economy.  

It would expand unemployment insurance while stabilizing industries to prevent mass layoffs.  

And it would provide dramatic relief to the lifeblood of our economy—our small businesses—which have taken a massive hit as a result of this unprecedented public health crisis. 

We have to create a path to economic recovery.  We have told Americans they can’t go to work.  Businesses are unable to operate and, as a result of these measures, individuals are not getting a paycheck. 

We need to be helping them through this crisis by providing cash payouts, expanding unemployment benefits and by ensuring that there will be jobs for Americans to return to when this is all over.  This is not stimulus plan, it’s an existence plan. We have to pass this bill.  Americans have lost faith in many of their institutions. This is a defining moment.  

We have a chance to restore some of the confidence that has been lost by putting the needs of the nation over the wishes of the political class. 

Americans are looking toward to Washington for leadership right now. This is a true test. Let’s pass this bill and show them that we can rise up to the massive challenge before our nation.

APPEAL AGAINST PANIC PURCHASES: THIS IS HOW LONG YOUR TOILET PAPER IN THE QUARANTINE REALLY LASTS
Many people are hoarding toilet paper during the Corona crisis. But how much toilet paper does one really need to survive the quarantine? Do you have enough supplies, or should you really do some shopping? This can now be calculated on a website. There are also some tips on how to stretch the supply and on alternatives to toilet paper.

 At https://www.blitzresults.com/en/toiletpaper/ <https://www.blitzresults.com/en/toiletpaper/>  you can calculate how long your own stock of toilet paper will last. All you have to know is how many rolls are in your own possession and what your individual "usage behavior" is like. The calculator estimates how long the toilet paper will last. If you like, you can also use the expert mode. Here information such as the duration of the quarantine, number of sheets and exact consumption can be refined.  

"In most cases the own need is massively overestimated, and the toilet paper will last for an astonishingly long time. We hope to use the calculator to solve a current problem in an amusing way. With a wink, we want to remind people that in most cases it is not necessary to hoard toilet paper," says Tim Lilling, project manager of the online portal blitzresults.com.

 

March 24, 2020

NFIB STUDY: COVID-19 IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESS
LITTLE ROCK (March 23, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center’s latest survey on the current impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on small business offers a stark contrast from the survey released 10 days ago. The magnitude of disruption now on the small business sector is profound.

Currently, 76% of small businesses are negatively impacted by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a dramatic escalation from just under one-quarter of small businesses reporting the same earlier this month. About 5% are positively impacted. These firms are likely experiencing stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods, and services. This will presumably ease in the coming weeks as consumers feel more secure about their personal supply levels.

State-specific data is unavailable, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, "Our members are determined to get through this and address the needs of their customers as safely as they can."

Of those businesses negatively impacted, 23% are experiencing supply chain disruptions, 54% slower sales, and 9% sick employees. The 9% of owners citing sick employees likely responded out of heightened concern and precautions with sick employees showing some signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, but not necessarily because they have employees who have tested positive for the virus.

Almost all small business owners are taking some sort of action adjusting to their changing economic condition or to protect themselves from potential disruption. Just 6% of owners have not taken any action in response to the outbreak, a marked departure from more than half (52%) not taking action two weeks ago.

The level of concern among small business owners about the coronavirus impacting their business has elevated significantly over the past two weeks. About 68% of small business owners are “very” concerned about its potential impact on their business compared to 16% in the earlier survey. 

Another 23% are somewhat concerned and 9% are slightly concerned. Just 1% are not at all concerned.

While many small businesses (47%) have not talked with their bank about financing needs, 30% are planning to do so soon. Another 13% have talked with their personal bank already, 9% with the SBA about their loan programs, and 1% with an online lender.

The vast majority of small businesses are now impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and owners are taking the threat to their business seriously. Many owners have already sought out financial help and more are planning to do so in the near future.

The outbreak will leave few if any owners unscathed. We know the economic impact will be immense, and now, the question is how long will it last and how quickly can the small business sector recover once on the other side. Small business owners are anxious to seek clarity to both questions.

Methodology

This survey was conducted with a random sample of NFIB’s membership database of about 300,000 small business owners. The survey was conducted by email on March 20, 2020. NFIB collected 700 usable responses, all small employers with 1-360 employees.

ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS URGES THE PUBLIC TO REPORT SUSPECTED COVID-19 FRAUD
Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, today urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address disaster@leo.gov.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Coronavirus fraud schemes.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fowlkes stated, “We intend to vigorously investigate and prosecute those criminals who would seek to take advantage of the uncertainty created by this pandemic to advance their criminal activity.”

Some examples of these schemes include:
Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.      

In a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the Coronavirus, direct the prosecution of Coronavirus-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness activities.  
 

The NCDF can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes.  The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.

To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

OUACHITA COUNTY RETIRED TEACHES ASSOCIATION MEETING CANCELLED
Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, it has been decided to cancel the April 7 Ouachita County Retired Teachers Association meeting.

March 23, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CDC AND OTHER HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE NOT GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR PERFORMING TESTS
LITTLE ROCK - While Arkansans are staying home in an attempt to prevent infection and spread of the COVID-19 virus, con artists are out and about going door-to-door targeting frightened senior citizens. Posing as employees of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these scammers knock on your door and offer to scan you for the COVID-19 virus at a cost of $50. These con artists, who are not licensed medical professionals, swab your nasal cavity and pretend to perform a medical test while you watch. To obtain your “test results,” the scammers ask for your banking information, including credit and debit card numbers, and social security number.

“It is unbelievable that con artists use the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to target Arkansans, especially senior citizens,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The CDC and other health officials are not going door-to-door and performing tests. Arkansans should consult their trusted health care provider or the Arkansas Department of Health regarding COVID-19 testing.”

The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the CDC is not going door-to-door for testing. Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating that they are there to test them for the COVID-19 virus should immediately call local law enforcement and file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. 

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE IS IN OPERATION
Although the Ouachita County Courthouse is closed to citizens coming into the building, they are still in operation. Security is at the handicap doorway taking documents and each office is processing paperwork while folks wait outside. Officials are encouraging conducting business by phone or on line when possible. When you call the main line at 837-2210, listen to all the options and you will be able to reach the office you need.

INCOME TAX FILING DEADLINE MOVED TO JULY 15TH
The income tax filing date has been pushed back from April 15, to July 15, the federal government announced at President Trump’s direction on Friday. 
All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties. President Trump said that if people are expecting refunds, they should go ahead and file now so that they can get their refunds from the IRS more quickly.

The administration used authority under Trump’s national emergency declaration. The delay is available to people who owe $1 million or less and corporations that owe $10 million or less. It is expected that many states will follow the lead of the federal government and delay their tax filing deadlines as well, but that will be a state by state decision.

The payment delay is expected to provide $300 billion in temporary support to the economy by giving households and businesses the ability to use money they would have paid to the IRS as financial support to meet other needs during the economic emergency created by the efforts to contain the coronavirus.

ARKANSAS DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT URGES FAMILIES STATEWIDE TO SIGN UP FOR SMART911 TO ENABLE CORONAVIRUS AWARENESS FOR 9-1-1 AND EMERGENCY RESPONDERS
“Take Control, Let Us Know” campaign empowers individuals to share critical medical information for more informed emergency response
North Little Rock – As Arkansas responds to the spread of the coronavirus, public health and safety officials ask all Arkansans to sign up for the Smart911 national safety profile registry, a free service that allows individuals and families to provide critical medical information to 9-1-1 and first responders. Arkansas is launching the “Take Control, Let Us Know” campaign to empower the community to take action, and provide valuable and accurate health data that increases the awareness of 9-1-1, first responders, and Emergency Management to an individual’s risk level for coronavirus.

Members of our community are looking for ways to improve the safety of their families, friends and neighbors as the coronavirus spreads. By signing up for Smart911, individuals can help first responders get the key information they need about every person who may need assistance, not only during this outbreak, but during any emergency.

Individuals can create a Smart911 Safety Profile for their household at www.smart911.com or on the Smart911 App  that provides critical medical information for those who may be at higher risk of developing a serious COVID-19 illness. As identified by the CDC, the vulnerable population includes older adults, and those with a history of chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, respiratory conditions, and compromised immune systems. When an individual calls 9-1-1, their Smart911 Safety Profile is automatically displayed, allowing our public safety agencies to send emergency response teams to the right location with enhanced medical data.

Individuals can additionally self-identify if they are under quarantine, and whether it is self-imposed or directed by a health professional. The Smart911 App allows quarantined individuals to receive check-in messages on their health status. Smart911 also allows individuals to sign up for alerts from emergency management officials to receive reliable information about the changing coronavirus situation. Individuals who sign up will also receive tailored alerts based on their specific needs and geographic location. With enhanced coronavirus awareness, individuals and first responders have vital information to take proper precautions.

“As the coronavirus continues to be a major public health concern, we are doing everything we can to prepare, respond, and mitigate risk to those in our community who need assistance,” said A.J. Gary, Director of the Division of Emergency Management. “The information provided in a Smart911 Safety Profile enables us to know who is at the greatest risk in our community. We can provide individuals with critical updates based on their location and health history. Ultimately, Smart911 gives our state the chance to be proactive, and lets us know who requires our services. We urge all Arkansans to take action, sign up for Smart911, and help us address the coronavirus outbreak.”

To sign up or update your Safety profile, visit www.smart911.com or download the Smart911 app in the Apple Store or Google Play.

WHAT IS POVERTY'S IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITY
The Poverty Simulation scheduled on Tuesday, March 31st has been cancelled


TERRY “TACO” HOWARD MEMORIAL TRAIL AND ATV RIDE 
The Terry “Taco” Howard Memorial Trail And ATV Ride  has been cancelled

 

ARKANSAS HIGHWAY COMMISSION APPROVES BID FOR IMPROVEMENTS IN OUACHITA COUNTY

OUACHITA COUNTY (3-20) - The Arkansas State Highway Commission has approved a bid for improvements to roadways in Ouachita County, according to Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) officials.

The purpose of this project is to reseal 4.4 miles of County Roads 43 and 88 near Harmony Grove.

Smackover Paving Company of Smackover was awarded the contract at $164,280.80.

Construction is scheduled to begin in two to four weeks, weather permitting. Completion is expected in late 2020.

Travel information can be found at IDriveArkansas.com or ArDOT.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter @myARDOT.
 

STATE POLICE CID INVESTIGATING HOMICIDE AT WALDRON MOTEL
MARCH 21, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating a homicide in Waldron (Scott County).  Agents were requested to conduct the investigation by local authorities.

The homicide victim has not been positively identified.  A woman’s body was found about 9:30 AM today in a rented room at the Southern Nights Motel, 1622 Rice Street in Waldron.
 
During the investigation special agents have found sufficient evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for Jared Tyler Briley, 25, of Waldron.

He is believed to have fled the area in a 2013 model year, Dodge Durango, silver in color, and displaying Arkansas license plate number 332-XTM.

Anyone who may have information about Briley’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Arkansas State Police or the Waldron Police Department.

March 20, 2020

TEXT FROM CITY OF CAMDEN MAYOR JULIAN LOTT PRESS CONFERENCE MARH 19, 2020
In respect to:
President Donald J. Trump
Governor Asa Hutchinson
The Honorable Judge Robbie McAdoo

Thank you to the Camden COVID-19 Task Force:  
Amy Perrin, the Assistant Mayor
Scott Adkins
Camden Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Franklin, Director of Camden Public Works
Also,
Chief Boyd Woody, Camden Police Department
Interim Chief Ronald Nash, Camden Fire Department

And, thank you,
Mrs. Peggy Abbott, Ouachita County Medical Center Attorney Michael Frey, Camden City Attorney

Good Afternoon,
As the COVID-19 emergency continues, I wanted to address all citizens and residents of our great City to ensure the most current and accurate information is available to each of you. There is a lot of information which may be misleading or inaccurate in regards to the COVID-19 emergency. Not everything you read on Facebook and the internet is true. Because of this, I will be conducting a press conference every other day at 3 P.M. starting today as a means to keep all Camden residents updated and to pass along important details specific to our city. I will continue these press conferences until they are no longer needed.

I want to take this time to address some of the more prevalent falsehoods about COVID-19. It is NOT a hoax. This virus is very real and does pose a threat. It is NOT "just like the flu". COVID-19 is more contagious and more deadly than the flu. Furthermore, COVID-19 does not discriminate. The idea that young people do not have to worry since they are less likely to get seriously ill is misleading. Young people can get quite ill and they can also pass the disease to older and more vulnerable family members and neighbors. Please do not be a "bridge” of infection".

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC COVID-19 activity. The United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase. The duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response." We have been fortunate not to have a confirmed case in Ouachita County and all of our current efforts have been focused on safeguarding our residents to prolong the amount of time our city is without a confirmed case. The "Virtual City Hall" format appears to be operating smoothly and we encourage residents who need to conduct business with one of our city departments to please utilize this format which limits in-person contact. Information for contacting each city department can be found on ExploreCamden.com.  All our departments are fully staffed and waiting to provide you with the best customer service possible.

Like me, many of you may not be familiar with what COVID-19 is or where it came from. According to the CDC, "COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS­ CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS­ CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.

Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID- 19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed." More information is available on the CDC website and I encourage everyone to conduct their own research to better understand this disease and to find ways you can prevent exposure and spread.

As this week comes to an end, we approach a week which would normally be Spring Break for our students. I understand a majority of you and your families you and your families may have had plans to travel. I want to provide you with some updates from the CDC regarding travel within the U.S. "CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for tr􀀠vel within the United States. However, cases of coronavirus disease {COVID-19) have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase chances of getting COVID-19, if there are other travelers with coronavirus infection. There are several things you should consider when deciding whether it is safe for you to travel.

Things to consider before travel:
Is COVID-19 spreading in the area where you're going?
If COVID-19 is spreading at your destination, but not where you live, you may be more likely to get infected if you travel there than if you stay home. If you have questions about your destination, you should check your destination's local health department website for more information.

Will you or your travel companion(s) be in close contact with others during your trip?
Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like coronavirus may increase in crowded settings, particularly closed-in settings with little air circulation. This may include settings such as conferences, public events (like concerts and sporting events), religious gatherings, public spaces (like movie theatres and shopping malls), and public transportation (like buses, metro, trains).

 Are you or your travel companion(s) more likely to get severe illness if you get COVID-19?
People at higher risk for severe disease are older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes). CDC recommends that travelers at higher risk for COVID-19 complications avoid all cruise travel and nonessential air travel.

Do you have a plan for taking time off from work or school, in case you are told to stay home for 14 days for self-monitoring or if you get sick with COVID-19?
If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19 during travel, you may be asked to stay home to self-monitor and avoid contact with others for up to 14 days after travel. If you become sick with COVID-19, you may be unable to go to work or school until you're considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid until you're considered noninfectious. You will be asked to avoid period of infectiousness.

Do you live with someone who is older or has a serious, chronic medical condition?
If you get sick with COVID-19 upon your return from travel, your household contacts may be at risk of infection. Household contacts who are older adults or persons of any age with severe chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness.

Is COVID-19 spreading where I live when I return from travel?
Consider the risk of passing COVID-19 to others during travel, particularly if you will be in close contact with people who are older adults or have severe chronic health condition. These people are at higher risk of getting very sick. If your symptoms are mild or you don't have a fever, you may not realize you are infectious.

Depending on your unique circumstances, you may choose to delay or cancel your plans. If you do decide to travel, be sure to take steps to help prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases during travel. For the most up-to-date COVID-19 travel information, visit CDC COVID-19 Travel page."
Please take into consideration your civic responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when you are deciding whether or not you should take your trip. As I stated earlier, we currently do not have any confirmed cases in Camden. Please do not be the person who takes a trip to an infected area and brings COVID-19 back to Camden.

More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days so I would encourage you to help make sure we prolong the absence of this disease from Camden as long as possible. This can be done by following the guidelines set forth by the President in his "15 Days to Slow the Spread” recommendations. We are all responsible to ensure we are making every effort possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Your city government, in coordination with County Judge Robbie McAdoo and Mrs. Peggie Abbott of the Ouachita County Medical Center, will continue to implement measures in accordance with our county-wide Medical Countermeasures Plan and recommendations from federal and state officials. To that end, I am announcing the cancellations of all board and commission meetings associated with the City of Camden. These cancellations will remain in effect until further notice. All permits for assembly issued by the City of Camden are hereby revoked if the planned event were to take place between today, Thursday, March 19, 2020 and Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Please contact City Hall at 870-836-6436 if you have any questions regarding these cancellations.

As Judge McAdoo stated in his press conference, your county and city government have a plan in action to deal with the COVID-19 emergency. Judge McAdoo's emergency proclamation is another step in this plan to ensure every resource is available. The measures we are currently taking are only precautionary in an effort to ensure we are staying ahead of this pandemic. Our goal is to ensure minimal impact on our community and to ensure the health and safety of all our residents. Thank you.
 

SAU CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, MARCH 20, 2020: SAU IMPLEMENTS REMOTE WORK POLICY FOR EMPLOYEES
MAGNOLIA -- Because of the continued public health concern, effective March 30, Southern Arkansas University employees will work remotely or from home with the exception of those who will be reporting to campus on rotating schedules to meet critical staffing needs. On-campus student services will cont inue to be provided. Housing is still open, dining services will continue, University Police will continue patrolling campus, health services will still be available, and select computer labs will still remain accessible to our students. Due to the request from the Governor, the Mulerider Activity Center is closed until further notice.

Directors and department chairs across campus are working with the Risk Management Task Force to ensure that personnel have the resources needed to work remotely during this public health crisis.

SAU implores students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to heed requests and take every action plausible to reduce the spread of COVID-19; avoid travel and gatherings as directed by public” Health officials.
 

ALL ARKANSAS PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH APRIL 17 
Alternative Methods of Instruction Extended During This Time

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced today that all Arkansas public schools will remain closed for onsite instruction through April 17 due to the increasing spread of COVID-19 across the state. The decision to close schools will be re-evaluated in a few weeks based on public health conditions at that time.

With this latest announcement, the Arkansas Department of Education is expanding the use of Alternative Methods of Instruction days during this additional three-week period, which will begin after Spring Break next week. Under the authority granted by Governor Hutchinson’s amended emergency proclamation, the department is waiving the 10-day limit on AMI days, with the department automatically approving the additional 15 days for each district.

“I trust that educators and parents will understand this is not perfect, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “While the suspension of onsite instruction is necessary to protect our students, the extension of AMI is a responsible way to continue education delivery. I have been encouraged and inspired this week by the creativity we have seen from teachers in posting engaging lessons and activities for their students across a variety of platforms. I appreciate the efforts of our educators, and I look for this dedication and creativity to continue as we work through this difficult time."

Districts that have the capacity to plan for and deliver additional instruction allowed through their AMI plans may continue to do so. For districts with limited capacity, ADE is working in partnership with Arkansas PBS to develop AMI lessons and resources for students in grades K-8. ADE also is working with Virtual Arkansas and the Arkansas Public School Resource Center to develop options for students in grades 9-12.

Details about these efforts will be sent to education leaders in the coming days, but districts should plan for the continuity of learning using a blended approach with digital, virtual, or additional delivery of educational packets to students. Special considerations are needed for special populations.

Communities are encouraged to engage with school districts to create safe learning zones where students can access the Internet and technology support or pick up educational packets while adhering to Arkansas Department of Health guidelines.

To view Governor Hutchinson’s press conference, go to https://bit.ly/2Uk9LeG. To learn more about Arkansas’ efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, visit https://bit.ly/2Qx1qTE.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON EXPEDITES UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY COVID-19
WEST MEMPHIS - Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to expedite unemployment benefits to assist Arkansans whose employment status may be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, he announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

Under current Arkansas law (Ark. Code Ann. §11-10-507(4)), individuals who claim unemployment insurance must wait one week, which is not counted as a week of unemployment. The Governor has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to waive the waiting period. This directive will allow the department to pay claims more quickly.

Governor Hutchinson has also directed the Department of Commerce to waive current work-search requirements for 30 days, allowing the unemployed to receive benefits without seeking other employment. This exception applies only to those employed by businesses that are temporarily closed with plans to reopen.

In a third action, the Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to allow the unemployed to apply for benefits online or by telephone rather than in person in a further effort to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.

"These important changes will allow Arkansans impacted by COVID-19 to file unemployment insurance claims, register for work, and seek job-placement assistance in a timely manner while also protecting ADWS employees and mitigating the spread of the virus," Governor Hutchinson said.


Visit  www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov to complete your application online.

The coronavirus pandemic is already costing many people their jobs. The first proof of that came in Thursday morning, when a government report showed weekly jobless claims in the United States spiked to their highest level in two­and-a-half years.
 

The US Labor Department reported that 281,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits in the week ending March 14 - a sudden 70,000 jump from the week before, and 60,000 claims more than economists had expected. It marked the highest level in initial claims since the week ending September 2, 2017, when claims spiked in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
 

Last week's sudden increase is "clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus," the Department of Labor said in release.
 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the US job market was on strong footing and initial unemployment insurance claims had been hovering between roughly 210,000 and 230,000 a week.

The sudden jump marked a 33% increase, the biggest increase in percentage terms since 1992, and "bigger than anything we saw during the Great Recession," noted Heidi Shierholz, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute and former chief economist for the US Department of Labor.

Meanwhile, 1. 7 million Americans filed for continued claims (their second week of unemployment benefits or more) in the week ending March 7. That number was barely changed from the week before, reflecting the strong US labor market before the pandemic accelerated.

This number is also expected to jump in the near term. The number of jobless claims will get more and more attention in the months to come as it is published on a weekly basis, tracking the real economy much more closely than monthly or quarterly government data, which is published with a longer lag. Layoffs are expected to worsen significantly as the coronavirus crisis is forcing businesses to readjust.

ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION ACCEPTING PROPOSALS FOR MINI-GRANTS TO NONPROFITS ASSISTING IN COVID-19 RELIEF
Little Rock, Ark. (March 20, 2020) – Arkansas Community Foundation is accepting proposals for $1,000 mini-grants for organizations responding to the immediate needs of vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants will help organizations maintain their operations and respond to increased demand from clients during this first phase of pandemic relief. Nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status, churches, hospitals, schools or government entities based anywhere in Arkansas are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to organizations that:

·       Provide human services and emergency assistance (for example, food, shelter, transportation, living expenses, rent/utility assistance, etc.

·       Primarily serve vulnerable populations, including children who are out of school in families without childcare, people who have lost a source of income due to the pandemic, people who are at high risk medically, people who are homeless or incarcerated, individuals who lack paid sick leave or health insurance.  

·       Disseminate factual safety and response information to vulnerable communities such as non-English speaking residents, rural residents, senior citizens, etc. 

Organizations may use funding to support client’s needs that cover costs associated with decreased staffing or remote-working due to quarantine/social distancing; provide mental health programming for clients or staff or coordinate/facilitate in-kind goods; and donations to sites and organizations that provide human services and serve vulnerable populations. This is not an exhaustive list, and other needs will be considered.  

Businesses and individuals are not eligible to apply; however, we will consider grants to nonprofit organizations that provide direct financial assistance to individuals. 

Visit www.arcf.org/COVID19 to apply online. Mini-grant applications will be accepted and grants will be awarded on a rolling basis until available grant funds are expended. All grants will be awarded in the form of a $1,000 award for general operating support. Organizations may receive only one mini-grant at this time.  

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 $250 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 28 affiliates are fully tax deductible.
 

BODY OF ADULT MALE LOCATED IN SOUTHWEST LITTLE ROCK - STATE POLICE CID ASKED TO INVESTIGATE
MARCH 19, 2020
Human remains believed to be the body of a man last seen on February 16, 2020 were discovered about 8 AM today in a wooded area in southwest Little Rock.  As of late this afternoon the body had not been positively identified.

The body is suspected to be an individual who, following a police traffic stop near 29th Street and Asher Avenue, fled from a Little Rock Police Officer who has stated he lost sight of the man during the foot pursuit.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division has been requested by Little Rock Police commanders to conduct an investigation of the death.  The state medical examiner will determine the identity of the body as well as the manner and cause of death.

Over the past month multiple ground and air searches for the suspect who fled from police have occurred involving both Little Rock Police Officers and Arkansas State Troopers.  Little Rock Police Detectives have also actively investigated other possible leads in an attempt to locate the suspect who fled from the police officer.

The search area has extended from Asher Avenue southwest of where the traffic stop occurred into the wooded area and thick underbrush around Fourche Creek.

 

March 19, 2020

ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION WAIVER FISHING LICENSE AND TROUT PERMIT
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has waived all fishing license and trout permit requirements for residents and nonresidents starting this weekend at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21 through 11:59 p.m Sunday, March 29. The special waiver is in response to the extended spring break by many schools and voluntary measures suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus currently affecting the world.


RUTLEDGE RELEASES PSA WARNING ARKANSANS ABOUT PRICE GOUGING
Says, ‘Businesses and individuals are not allowed to charge 10 percent more than they were before’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the illegal price-gouging tactics in response to Governor Hutchinson’s Emergency Declaration on March 11.

 “The Governor has declared a state of emergency and our price gouging laws have gone into effect,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Businesses and individuals are not allowed to charge 10 percent more than they were before.”

Any business or individual attempting to price gouge on goods or services can face criminal charges and could face penalties up to $10,000 per item. Arkansans can file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office if they see price-gouging activity.

The public service announcement can be viewed now on Rutledge’s YouTube page and launched on various networks today, March 19.

Arkansans who have questions can email the office at oag@ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: THOUSANDS OF FAKE COVID-19 WEBSITES CREATED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ARKANSANS
Says, ‘must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information’
LITTLE ROCK - While taking extra precautions to prevent infection and the spread of the COVID-19 virus, don’t forget to be safe online. Con artists have been creating thousands of websites daily, knowing that Americans are turning to the internet for news and information about this pandemic; making it a ripe place to infect your device, steal your information and spread malware.

Arkansans must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information from reliable sources,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Cyber criminals are spending time creating fake websites, emails and ads that look like they are from legitimate sources to take your money.”

Attorney General Rutledge has provided the following tips to protect Arkansans from con artists:

Get information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health. 

Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, social security number or banking information.
Check the URL link for a "lock" icon before you proceed. 
Look for generic email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam” and delete emails that insist you act now.

The Attorney General’s Office has created a page that links to state and federal government resource pages for COVID-19 at ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19. Contact the office with any questions or concerns at (800) 482-8982.
 

SBA UPDATE TO ARKANSAS COVID-19 RESOURCES
Dear Arkansans,

I wanted to give you an update on SBA’s response and available assistance to the Coronavirus here in Arkansas. My staff and I are working to help direct assistance to small businesses across the state as SBA moves through the disaster declaration process as quickly as possible.

Businesses in the following Arkansas counties can begin applying under the declaration made for the state of Louisiana: 

Ashley, Chicot, Columbia, Lafayette, Miller, Union 

 Only Arkansas businesses in these counties can apply at this time. 

SBA has been coordinating with Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and is processing Arkansas' Disaster Request for the state of Arkansas. Since the state's request has been submitted the Economic Injury Worksheets are no longer required to be collected by ADEM. If you do have a worksheet completed you can email it to Arkansas_DO@sba.gov 

Once the state declaration is finalized at disasterloan.sba/Declarations all businesses that have significant economic injury to https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ to begin the registration and application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 

The best thing Arkansas business can do RIGHT NOW is to prepare the essential documents that will help SBA quickly analyze a complete application.

Here's key information you need to know:

Who can apply?

II order to be eligible, you must be a small business (500 employees or less).

Arkansas small businesses affected by the disaster - common eligible businesses include: retailers, restaurants, recreational facilities, tourism-based businesses, manufacturers, owners of rental property, hotels, wholesalers, and many more.
Private nonprofits
Small agriculture cooperatives are eligible, but agricultural enterprises are not
Small aquaculture businesses
How to Apply?
While paper applications are accepted, filing electronically is easier, faster and more accurate Apply here .

How can the loan be used?
The loans are for working capital which includes fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can't be paid due to the disaster's impact. It does not cover lost sales.

How much can I apply for?
You will not be asked how much you would like to borrow. The SBA uses the information you provide to determine the loan amount. Small businesses can receive a secured loan up to $2 million, and an unsecured loan up to $25,000.

Gather Your Materials
Business information
Contact information and social security numbers for all applicants
Employer Identification Number (EIN) for business applicants
Insurance informationFinancial information (e.g. income, account balances and monthly expenses) - Know the total amounts and payments due for debts that will be paid over the next 10 months or longer (i.e. mortgages, student loans, credit cards, etc.)

Other key information:
Use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to apply.
The 'Help Button' provides useful information for each page.
Use the 'Save Button' frequently.
Be patient and keep trying if you experience slow load times.

What's next? What should you expect?
You will receive email confirmation that your application has been submitted
You will receive an email letting you know that your application is under review.

BE PREPARED: You will be contacted by someone from the SBA
Have your monthly expenses and financial projections ready (the ASBTDC can help with this!)

To help support our small business community SBA has created a small business resource page dedicated to COVID-19 at SBA.gov/Coronavirus. Here you will find CDC requirements for small businesses how to access SBA loan products outside of EIDL and much, much more.

Additionally, SBA’s Arkansas network of resource partners stand ready to assist small businesses across the state. These partners are seeing clients virtually to assist in minimizing impact exposure to COVID-19 and protect our small business communities.
 

Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center
SCORE - Counselors and Mentors for America's Small Businesses
Arkansas Women's Business Center
Startup Junkie Consulting
AR Conductor
Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center - Contracting Assistance

Please check out the statewide event calendar at https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ar/little-rock for upcoming webinars and virtual events.

And finally, for a list of all the SBA partners and organizations that your small business may need such as Chamber of Commerce, SBA Lenders and State Office check out our statewide  Resource Guide.

My team and I stand ready and dedicated to helping support the small businesses of Arkansas. Please feel free to contact us at 501-324-7379 or at the contact number below. 

Sincerely,
Edward Haddock
SBA District Director

For additional information on disaster assistance, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS AND HEALTH ADVANTAGE BOOST REMOTELY DELIVERED CARE DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK – INCLUDING MENTAL HEALTH
Little Rock, Ark. (March 19, 2020) – The current COVID-19 outbreak and the use of social distancing in responding to it have produced an immediate need for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Health Advantage to give fully insured members expanded health insurance benefits to promote greater access to remotely delivered services – including greatly expanded insurance benefits to help them deal with emotional/behavioral issues the outbreak may create or compound.

Accordingly, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage are encouraging fully insured members and healthcare providers to use audio-visual and telephone technology for certain services related to physical and/or behavioral health, in lieu of an in-person visit, where appropriate in the provider’s professional judgment. During this time, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage also are waiving costs their fully insured members normally would have to pay for such services, when received from an in-network provider. These temporary changes will be in effect through at least May 15, 2020, and could be extended after that, if circumstances warrant.

“We are encouraging people to use technology, as advised and assisted by their health care provider, to get the care they need and also use the medically smart practice of social distancing,” said Mark T. Jansen, M.D., vice president and chief medical officer for Arkansas Blue Cross. “A provider may be able to help a member in their home, through a video chat or just a simple phone call. During this current public health emergency, we have temporarily waived all out-of-pocket costs for these services. It’s an option that may be easier and safer for members and their providers. Out-of-pocket costs for in-person coronavirus testing have been waived, as well, so members can get the care they need and do their part to help curb the spread of coronavirus at the same time.”

And while social distancing is a weapon in the battle against coronavirus, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage recognize that it can also affect the peace of mind of members.

“Concern for our health and that of our loved ones. Closings of schools and businesses. Cancellations of church activities, sporting events and gatherings. Added economic worries. These things are all products of the coronavirus outbreak, and they each can take a toll on our emotional well-being and mental state,” said Curtis Barnett, Arkansas Blue Cross president and chief executive officer. “Mental health is vitally important, and we want our members’ insurance benefits to make it easier, in this critical period, for them to gain access to professional help if they need it.”

Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage fully insured members have access to an in-network, statewide panel of almost 2,300 behavioral health professionals already credentialed and ready to serve their emotional/mental health needs.

Please note: Any changes or enhancements to the benefits available to self-funded members served by BlueAdvantage Administrators of Arkansas or by Health Advantage (such as state and public school employees) are up to the employers or plan sponsors who fund those self-funded programs.

In addition, the specific conditions under which Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage will implement and pay these temporary, enhanced benefits during the coronavirus crisis are spelled out in more detail on their respective websites and the last page of this press release.

Specifics of the expansion of services, through at least May 15, 2020, include:

·      Telephone-based doctor’s visits – Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage will provide payment for any in-network physician (M.D. or D.O) to visit by telephone with patients who are seeking advice or counsel on either physical or mental health needs. In addition to creating this entirely new, temporary benefit for our fully insured members, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage will also waive all copays, coinsurance and deductibles for these new telephone-based benefits.

•       Telephone-based behavioral/mental health visits – We are also extending this same new, temporary insurance benefit for telephonic counseling by in-network behavioral health professionals. Specifically, Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage will pay for telephone-based counseling to our fully insured members by any in-network psychiatrist, psychologist, advance practice nurse practitioner, licensed clinical social worker or licensed professional counselor. As with telephone-delivered physician services, copays, coinsurance and deductibles will be temporarily waived.

•       Temporary waiver of copays, coinsurance and deductibles for telemedicine (seeing a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant via an interactive audio-visual communication system): The new, temporary insurance benefits outlined above are in addition to the normal telemedicine benefits that Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage fully insured members already have and which they can continue to utilize. However, we are also waiving copays, coinsurance and deductibles for all telemedicine services to fully insured members.

 

ARKANSAS DELEGATION JOINS EFFORT TO PROTECT AMERICA’S DOMESTIC FOOD SUPPLY DURING PANDEMIC
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton—along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman—pressed the Trump administration to maintain access to vetted, temporary workers to help ensure America’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to continue producing our domestic food supply as our nation combats the novel coronavirus.

In a bipartisan, bicameral letter signed by more than 100 members of the House and Senate, members called on the administration to remove a number of specific hurdles in order to ensure the timely processing of H-2A visa requests, which is our nation’s temporary agriculture worker program. 

“We understand the importance of maintaining public health safety during this time and appreciate the Administration’s actions to minimize the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are substantial national security concerns that will arise should our farmers not have the labor they need,” the members wrote.

“Food security is national security,” the members continued. “We believe suspending visa services that our farmers rely on will be detrimental to families across our nation trying to put food on the table. We also believe that protocols should be in place as H-2A applications are processed to help protect public health in the United States should COVID-19 cases increase in Mexico or other participating countries.”

Read the letter below and click here for a copy of the letter including the full list of Senators and Representatives who joined the letter led by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC).

Dear Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Wolf, and Secretary Scalia,

We write to you today regarding the recent announcement from the U.S. Consulate in Mexico and other consulates that it will suspend routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services effective March 18, 2020. We greatly appreciate the subsequent announcement that H-2A visa applications of returning H-2A workers will still be processed and your respective agency’s continued efforts to address and accommodate this evolving issue. Nonetheless, we remain concerned that our farmers will not have the labor they need to keep food on the shelves at grocery stores across the nation.

We understand the importance of maintaining public health safety during this time and appreciate the Administration’s actions to minimize the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  However, there are substantial national security concerns that will arise should our farmers not have the labor they need.

 Food security is national security. We believe suspending visa services that our farmers rely on will be detrimental to families across our nation trying to put food on the table. We also believe that protocols should be in place as H-2A applications are processed to help protect public health in the United States should COVID-19 cases increase in Mexico or other participating countries. With this in mind and during these truly challenging times, we respectfully ask you to: 

  • Use all existing available authorities to provide maximum flexibility to consulate staff in the processing of H-2A visa applicants, while implementing protocols to protect public health.
  • Identify any current legal or logistical hurdles that may prevent your agencies from implementing additional flexibilities, such as developing a separate screening process or remote interviews, in processing H-2A visa applicants.
  • Provide an estimation of any costs associated with implementing any of the aforementioned actions.
  • Provide data on the number of H-2A petition beneficiaries nationwide and by state that are eligible for an interview waiver and will not be affected by these processing changes. 

Thank you again for your leadership as our nation continues to combat COVID-19. We look forward to working with you on ensuring food security for America.

Sincerely, 
 

AN OPEN LETTER FROM CAMDEN POLICE CHIEF BOYD M. WOODY
March 18, 2020
In response to additional guidance received by federal, state, and local public health officials, the Camden Police Department Is adapting to challenges caused by the COVID-19 coronavlrus. Please know we have not changed or reduced our deployment strategies at this time and will continue to respond to all law enforcement related activities in our City. Our situation is both fluid and evolving, and the Camden Police Department is working to maintain field staffing levels that ensure high-quality response times to emergency calls for service within our City.

Our staff has been briefed on COVID-19 issues and will take all due precautions necessary when dealing with the public to keep everyone involved as safe as possible.

It is our goal to continue to provide the highest level of safety and service while preserving the health of both our personnel and our community. Based on logical precautions, we have modified some procedures to limit exposure of the public and our employees. For example, we may accept and document certain non-emergency crime reports over the telephone rather than in person. Additionally, while our police department lobby will remain open, we encourage residents to call 870-836-5755 to determine if we can serve your needs without requiring a visit.

If you request a call for service to report criminal activity or to file a report, please call our Police Dispatch Center at 870-836-5755. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, fever, or a respiratory illness, please notify us when you make the call. This will allow our first responders to take any needed safety precautions prior to their arrival.

We apologize for any inconvenience these adjustments may cause you under the circumstances. Please know that the men and women of the Camden Police Department are committed to the safety and well-being of our citizens and dedicated to maintaining the superior service everyone has come to expect from our personnel. In closing, we ask that you help us protect our police officers and support personnel, so they, in turn, can continue to work hard to protect you!

Boyd M. Woody
Chief of Police

 

ADEM WARNS AGAINST THE LATEST COVID19 SCAM
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) is warning citizens that there are persons who are impersonating employees of the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) going door to door and offering COVID19 testing in exchange for money and personal information.  ADEM has confirmed that the CDC is not going door to door for testing. 

Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating they are there to test them for a Coronavirus or COVID19 should file a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General's office by calling (501) 682-2007 or (800) 482-8982 or downloading a Consumer Complaint Form at https://arkansasag.gov/forms/file-a-consumer-complaint/
#COVID19 #COVID19Ark

GREATER ST. PAUL CANCELS SERVICES
Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church has cancelled all services until further notice because of the Corvid-19 virus pandemic.

CULLENDALE ASSEMBLY OF GOD IS ON THE RADIO
Join Cullendale Assembly of God for the live worship service Sunday morning at 10:30 on KAMD - 97.1 FM

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION CANCELS MEETING
The Airport Commission WILL NOT meet on Friday, March 20, 2020. 

EVENING WITH THE STARS POSTPONED
An Evening With the Stars has been postponed.

 

ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION CREATES COVID-19 RELIEF FUND TO ASSIST IN PANDEMIC RELIEF EFFORTS IN ARKANSAS
 Little Rock, Ark. (March 18, 2020) – Arkansas Community Foundation announces the creation of the COVID-19 Relief Fund. The fund will be used to direct resources to Arkansas nonprofits that are working to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations and those disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and its economic fallout.

Donations can be made online at www.arcf.org/covid19, by mailing a check to Arkansas Community Foundation, 5 Allied Drive, Suite 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202 or by contacting the Community Foundation directly at 888-220-2723.

The Community Foundation will work locally though its network of 28 affiliate offices around the state serving all 75 counties. The fund will support community needs identified by our nonprofit partners in human services, food, health, housing and education. Grants will be made to nonprofit agencies that meet both immediate and long-term needs related to the impact of the virus in Arkansas.

“This is why we exist—to help communities. This fund is an efficient way to get quick relief funds to local nonprofits serving the people most affected by the pandemic. During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever that we come together to respond to the needs of our state.” said Heather Larkin, President and CEO of Arkansas Community Foundation.

As the situation continues to evolve, prioritization of needs will likely change. Some potential needs have been identified for the more vulnerable populations:

  •        Healthcare nonprofits that may need additional funding to provide safety equipment for their employees and volunteers
  •        Organizations providing emergency childcare
  •        Food pantries and groups providing mobile meal delivery for children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations
  •        School systems attempting to meet the needs of their students remotely
  •        Human service agencies providing assistance with rent, utilities and other basic expenses for individuals who have lost a source of income

Foundation leadership will be closely monitoring how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our communities and may deploy additional resources to best meet the evolving needs. Nonprofits can find more information by contacting the Foundation at 888-220-2723.

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 $250 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 28 affiliates are fully tax deductible.


WORLD SERVICES FOR THE BLIND CHAMPIONS $3 MILLION CAPITAL CAMPAIGN
Campaign will fund improvements to Little Rock campus
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 18, 2020) – World Services for the Blind (WSB) is in the midst of a $3 million capital campaign to fund campus renovations. Funds raised will cover the costs of improvements to the existing 68,114 square-feet facilities.

The complex, located at 2811 Fair Park Boulevard, includes six two-story buildings. The campaign will fund the replacement of heating and cooling systems, windows, weatherproof buildings and pay for the installation of distance-learning technology and new lighting.

In January, The Mabee Foundation awarded a $600,000 challenge grant toward WSB's capital campaign for campus improvements.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Mabee Foundation and the opportunities they have provided us to continue our Capital Campaign, but now we need the community to help us meet this challenge,” says CEO and President of World Services for the Blind, Sharon Giovinazzo.

World Services for the Blind, founded in Little Rock, Ark. in 1947, is one of the longest existing nonprofits in the state. Their mission is to lead adults with visual disabilities to long-term, financial independence by offering life skills and career training programs. WSB is the most comprehensive rehabilitation center for people who are blind or visually impaired.

"World Services for the Blind is committed to ensuring adults with visual impairment do not limit their potential to achieving an independent lifestyle because of their disability," said Sharon Giovinazzo, WSB president and CEO. "More than 70% of adults who are blind or visually impaired are unemployed. It is our goal to empower individuals in this community with life skills, career training and to lower that staggering unemployment rate."

Follow WSB on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To make a donation or learn more about the campaign, visit our website and download the campaign packet. You can also submit a pledge form or make a direct donation here.

About World Services for the Blind
The mission of World Services for the Blind is to empower people to achieve sustainable independence. The only center of its kind, World Services for the Blind offers comprehensive life skills and career training programs in one location to the blind and visually impaired.



BOOZMAN SUPPORTS SECOND CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE PACKAGE
Legislation Aims to Provide Relief for Workers, Families
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted in support of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, emergency funding legislation to provide aid to families affected by the coronavirus outbreak. He released the following statement:

“We are facing an unprecedented public health challenge. We must deliver necessary resources to combat the coronavirus and support hardworking Americans and families who are facing financial challenges due to this outbreak. Preventing the spread of this disease remains a priority and we know there is more that needs to be done. In the coming days the Senate will be taking further action to craft and pass a comprehensive bill to provide additional assistance directly to the American people and stabilize the economy,” Boozman said.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was approved by the House of Representatives last week. It now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.


COTTON STATEMENT ON PHASE II CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE BILL
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the vote on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
“The China virus is a great national challenge that threatens every American. But I have every confidence in our fellow citizens to rise to this challenge, as we have time and again across the ages.

Today, I voted for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act because it includes urgently needed measures such as free testing for the virus, so we can track outbreaks more quickly and ensure that no American is turned away because they’re unable to afford a test. This bill also enhances unemployment-insurance funding for Americans who have already lost and, sadly, who will soon lose their jobs during this crisis, as well as legal protections for the manufacturers of respirator masks, so they can surge desperately needed supplies to our brave doctors and nurses.

Unfortunately, this bill also imposes burdensome new paid-leave mandates on small and medium-sized business owners who are already struggling to meet payroll and avoid layoffs. I offered an amendment to eliminate these mandates while giving even more temporary relief to workers, but it regrettably failed. 

As Abraham Lincoln said as a young congressman, ‘the true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good.’ While this bill doesn’t go far enough or fast enough to protect workers and employers who are already struggling to pay the bills, on the whole it still helps our nation respond to this grave emergency. 

I urge small and medium-sized businessowners who may be affected by this legislation to contact my office so we can work with the Treasury Department to expedite tax credits and other funds to your business to quickly cover the costs of this bill’s mandates. Meanwhile, I’m actively working on bigger, bolder legislation that will protect every American from the threat that the China virus poses to our nation.”
 

COTTON INTRODUCES PHASE III LEGISLATION TO SURGE CASH TO AMERICAN FAMILIES, BUSINESSES
Washington, D.C. – Senator Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced a series of bills today to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The four bills each leverage existing government systems to surge cash to low- and middle-income Americans and struggling businesses. Summaries of the bills and their full text may be found below.

After introducing the bills, Senator Cotton released the following statement.
“Low and middle-income Americans need help now—not in weeks or months. By using existing government programs to surge cash to struggling families and businesses, we can get them that assistance now. My bills will help our nation weather this storm so that we can emerge stronger than ever on the other side.”

Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Act
Authorizes the Treasury Department to immediately cut a tax-rebate check of $1,000 for every adult tax filer making less than $100,000 per year and $500 for each claimed dependent. Married couples filing jointly that make less than $200,000 per year would be eligible for a $2,000 tax-rebate check.

Eligible filers would receive full rebate checks regardless of tax liability.
This would be a one-time payment. Treasury would use 2018 tax information to assess eligibility.
Bill text may be found here.

Coronavirus TANF Expansion Act 
Provides Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to states that temporarily broaden eligibility standards so that their programs apply to any family with children under 18 whose income has been reduced due to coronavirus and that earned less than 400% FPL last year.

This new class of eligibility would receive a one-time payment of at least $500 and no more than $1,000 per dependent; states would have flexibility within that guidance.Temporarily waives work requirements for eligibility in the interest of public health.
Bill text may be found here.

Coronavirus Unemployment Insurance Expansion Act
Provides block grants to states that expand eligibility to cover: 1) cases where an individual's employer temporarily ceases operations due to coronavirus, 2) cases where an individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work and is not receiving pay due to the coronavirus emergency, and 3) cases where an individual must stop receiving pay in order to care for family members or dependents due to the emergency.

Reimburses states for 100% of the costs of the expansion.
Temporarily suspends requirements to seek work in the interest of public health.
Expansion would last until December 31, 2020 or the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first.

Bill text may be found here.

Coronavirus Credit Expansion Act
Increases the cap on small-business disaster loans from $2 million to $20 million dollars, and funds appropriately.
Grants low-interest loans to businesses immediately, with penalties for fraudulent claims being 3x the amount of the loan.

Bill text may be found here.
 

COTTON, GALLAGHER INTRODUCE BILL TO END U.S. DEPENDENCE ON CHINESE-MANUFACTURED PHARMACEUTICALS
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) will tomorrow introduce the Protecting our Pharmaceutical Supply Chain from China Act, which would end U.S. dependence on China for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The bill’s key restrictions would go into effect in 2022 and have no impact on the current coronavirus pandemic. No FDA resources will be diverted to begin implementation. Specifically, the bill will:

  1. Track active pharmaceutical ingredients through an FDA registry.
  2. Prohibit pharmaceutical purchases from China or products with active pharmaceutical ingredients created in China*.
  3. Create transparency in the supply chain by instituting a country of origin label of all imported drugs.
  4. Provide economic incentives for manufacturing drugs and medical equipment in the United States.

“The Chinese Communist Party has threatened to cut off America’s access to vital drugs in the midst of a pandemic caused by its own failures. It’s time to pull America’s supply chains for life-saving medicine out of China and make the CCP pay for contributing to this global emergency,” said Cotton.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s outrageous threats to withhold lifesaving drugs from the U.S. endangers public health and should open our eyes to our dangerous over-reliance on China in our medical supply chain,” said Gallagher. “This is a national security imperative that to many Americans, is a matter of life and death. It’s past time for us to develop an aggressive plan to move critical pharmaceutical supply chains away from China.”

Click here for a one-pager on the bill.

* This requirement will be phased in over two years. The FDA may issue waivers if the active pharmaceutical ingredients are only available in China, however, no waivers may be issued after 2024.

 

March 18, 2020

CALHOUN COUNTY INFORMATION
The Calhoun County Courthouse is closed to the public but are conducting business as usual via telephone.  The Administration Building is closed to the public but is operating via telephone as well.  The County Extension Office is operating via phone.  This closure is continuing until March 27, 2020 when a decision will determine any extended periods or re-openings

CHURCH SERVICES CANCELLED ACROSS THE CITY
Churches across the nation are cancelling services amidst the Corona Virus Pandemic. Here is what we know regarding local churches. If you have information regarding any other churches, please email the information to camdenradio1@hotmail.com

Grace Baptist Church – All services and activities are cancelled for the next two weeks. You can join a Live Prayer Devotional Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm via Facebook. Sunday Service will also be on Facebook beginning at 10:45 Sunday mornings.  Find Grace Baptist Church Camden. https://www.facebook.com/groups/117208241625635/

Cullendale First Baptist Church - All CFBC activities are cancelled through the end of the month.  A message will be streamed on Facebook Live on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm and on Sunday at 5:30 pm.  Sunday Worship service will stream live at 10:15 on Sunday mornings. The church has a Broadcast on KCXY-95.3FM at 9:00 am on Sunday. Student and children’s ministries will provide on-line resources for families to use during these days.  The sanctuary will be open for individual prayer during regular business hours Monday through Friday.  We ask you to enter at the office entrance, check-in with the person at the desk, and go directly to the sanctuary to pray as long as you like.  If there are others in the room praying please maintain a safe distance between yourselves.  https://www.facebook.com/Cullendale-First-Baptist-Church-117476868271955/

Fairview United Methodist Church – Services cancelled. Sunday Service will be on Facebook beginning at 10:00 am on Sundays. You can hear a broadcast on KCXY – 95.3FM at 11:00 am on Sundays. The Church Office remains open regular hours. The Food Pantry remains open as it is a drive-through service. https://www.facebook.com/CamdenfairviewUMC/

First Methodist Church of Camden – A FUMC activities, classes, pre-school and worship services are suspended. Both the Food Pantry and Sue’s Table will continue but will be drive-through. FUMC has a broadcast on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am on KAMD-97.1FM.

Maul Road Church of Christ – Services are cancelled. Schedule of events are as follows
Sunday - 7 a.m. - Power for Today on KCXY – 95.3FM
Sunday - 7:30 a.m. - In Search of the Lord's Way - KASN television, channel 38 in Little Rock
Sunday - 9:30 a.m. - Facebook LIVE morning worship
Sunday - 6 p.m. - Facebook LIVE evening worship
Wednesday - 6:30 p.m. - Facebook LIVE Bible class
www.facebook.com/maulroadchurch
Maul Road's pantry is open Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in a drive-thru format

 

DRIVER’S LICENSE TESTING SITES CLOSED
The following driver’s license testing sites will be closed until after March 27, 2020, Camden, Eldorado, Fordyce, and Hampton.  However: written exams (including regular license, motorcycle, CDL) will be administered Monday through Friday at the Arkansas State Police Troop F Headquarters located at 1237 North Myrtle Street in Warren.  All skills (road) test are suspended until after March 27.    


PUBLIC LIBRARY OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY TO CLOSE
March 18, 2020
Due to recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Arkansas Health Department, and the Office of the Governor, the Public Library of Camden and Ouachita County will be closing to the public at 5:00 p.m. today until further notice. Any meetings scheduled for our meeting room will also be canceled.

The Library will automatically extend the due dates for any books that may come due during our closure. No books due during this time will be considered overdue or accrue fines while the Library is closed. If anyone wishes to return the books that they have checked out now, they may return them via the book drop. All books will be disinfected upon return.
Library Director, Lisa Pickett, encourages the use of eBooks during this time. Any library patron with a current library card in good standing from the Public Library of Camden and Ouachita County may check out eBooks by using the Libby by Overdrive app. You will need your library card number to log in and your password wifi be the phone number the library has in our system.

The library Staff thanks you for your understanding in this difficult time.

CONCERT FEATURING ALINA KIRYAYEVA IN CAMDEN, AR HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
The upcoming concert featuring Alina Kiryayeva has been postponed due to the concerns surrounding the Coronavirus
Camden, AR – (March 18, 2020) – Recent developments concerning the rapidly-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) and concern for the health and wellbeing of the Camden community have led Camden Alive Onstage to make the decision to postpone the upcoming April 2 concert featuring Alina Kiryayeva. Currently, the concert has not been rescheduled, but Camden Alive Onstage will evaluate all available options after the threat has passed.

Camden Alive Onstage and Live On Stage will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new information becomes available. In the meantime, if you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms (notably fever, cough, and respiratory issues), please avoid contact with other people and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Please follow the precautions and preventative measures as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which include but are not limited to:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public
place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Put distance between yourself and other people.
Stay at home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Dispose of all used tissues.
If you are sick, wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g. in a vehicle or in the waiting room of a healthcare provider’s office)
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a daily basis.
 

EFFECTIVE MARCH 17, 2020, SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICES WILL ONLY OFFER PHONE SERVICE
** Online Services Remain Available **
All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  However, we are still able to provide critical services.

Our secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov.  Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone.  We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service. 

If you need help from Social Security:     

First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices.  We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.

If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office.  Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.

If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead.  If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing.  Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone.  Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment. 

If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).  Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative.  A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.
 

COMMENTS FROM CITY OF CAMDEN, AR MAYOR JULIAN LOTT
March 16, 2020
We continue to actively monitor the COVID-19 situation, which is rapidly evolving. The City is committed to the continued health and optimal safety of our residents as well as our employees and public board members, and we intend to do our part to help slow the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the guidelines provided by President Trump for the "15 Days to Slow the Spread" and recommendations from Governor Hutchinson, I have decided to move toward a "virtual City Hall" format for conducting all City business. In today's
world, most of the transactions for our residents and businesses can be done online or arranged via phone, email, or drive thru window. To that end, I have decided to close all City buildings to the general public effective at 8 A.M., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. This closure to the general public will remain in effect until further notice is given. Residents questions can and will be answered via phone or email. And as a last resort, you may still stop by to talk with the appropriate City official to complete your transaction as long as you contact City Hall by phone to arrange an appointment. These visits to City Hall will be approved on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the individual Department Heads with whom the inquiry was made. Our city employees will be working on-site and to some extent remotely as situations warrant.

The City Clerk's office will not issue any new business licenses, however, business license renewals should be mailed in with proper payment included by the previously established

deadline. The deadline for business license renewal is established by an ordinance and cannot be easily changed. Therefore, the deadline remains in effect with late fees and other penalties still intact. Because of this, please be sure your business license renewals are mailed in plenty of time to make the deadline.

The Treasures' Office will be completely closed to the public. All business should be conducted via telephone or email. City employees will still be paid for work completed and City bills will still be paid.

The Code Enforcement/Building Inspector's Office will remain open; however, all business should be conducted by telephone or email. The Code Enforcement Office will continue to conduct inspections to ensure citizens have needed electric and gas utilities. Nuisance ordinances will still be enforced and projects already under construction will receive the needed inspections to continue with their progress, unimpeded. Building permit applications can be downloaded from ExploreCamden.com and submitted via email. All other services provided by the Code Enforcement Office which may be required by any citizen can be requested via email.

Public Works facilities will be completely closed to the general public. Only City employees actively engaged in work will be permitted to enter these facilities. The business incubator has been closed and we appreciate the businesses located there who voluntarily suspended operations to help ensure public safety during this uncertain time. Additionally, all City parks are closed effective 8 A.M., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. These parks will remain closed until further notice. Trash services will continue with no change or interruption. The City Landfill will remain open and other necessary sanitation services provided by Public Works will continue to operate.

The Water Department will continue to accept payments online and by the drive thru window. The flushing of water lines will continue as scheduled so please keep that in mind when preparing to wash your clothes.

All emergency services will continue to operate with no interruption. Chief Nash of the Camden Fire Department has already begun implementing a plan of action and for that we are very thankful. Chief Woody remains dedicated to public safety and his officers will continue to patrol our streets and be available to every citizen as needed.

I know a number of small businesses here in Camden are concerned with the impact COVID-19 and the recommendations from our federal and state elected officials might have on their business. A number of our restaurants have taken voluntary measures in an effort to follow the recommended social guidelines provided to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I thank you for this proactive approach and want to assure all businesses in Camden we will be working to find what resources are available. I have spoken with Mr. James Lee Silliman and

Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development has agreed to assist with identifying any federal and state resources which may already be available or may be available in the future to help our local businesses affected by COVID-19 countermeasures. We will ensure these resources are gather and disseminated as soon as they come available. I thank Mr. Silliman for agreeing to assist with such an important endeavor.

Camden's COVID-19 Task Force continues to work on ensuring we have the most up to date information available. As things progress, we will keep the City informed and make adjustments as needed. I want to thank Judge McAdoo for his leadership and assistance as the county and city adjust to this everchanging situation. Judge McAdoo has also asked that each and every citizen remember to complete their census forms which should have already been received in the mail.

I want to encourage every resident of Camden to also be a good neighbor. While we are being asked to limit our in-person contact with one another, there is nothing preventing you from ensure the wellbeing of your neighbor though telephone calls, text messages, emails, or social media. And if you find someone in need, please do not hesitate to contact City Hall to make us aware.

Finally, I must remind everyone that these actions are only being taken as precautionary measures and as a means to ensure we do our best to abide by the guidelines given to us to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to update everyone as new information is available. Thank you.

CITY OF CAMDEN PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCE CLOSE OF PARKS AND AMPHITHEATRE
Due to the Covid 19 Virus the Public Works Director along with the support of the Mayor of Camden, City Inspector and Assistant Mayor have decided to close all City Parks, Amphitheater and City Park Buildings effective immediately March 17, 2020. Signage is up to let people know that the parks are closed. There is also extra Police Patrol of all parks. Thank you for cooperating and being patient with the City as our leaders continue to put your safety first.

 

OUACHITA COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT SUSPENDS ONSITE VISITATION AND ONSITE MONEY KIOSK IS CLOSED
On recommendation of the A.A.C., A.S.A., and the Governor... All onsite visitation has been canceled and the onsite money kiosk has been closed.

However, you can video chat with your loved one or add money to their accounts by visiting https://www.citytelecoin.com/

<span style=">https://www.citytelecoin.com/

The Sheriff’s Department know you understand that this is for you and your family, other inmates families, our inmates and staffs' health. However, you can video chat with your loved one and add money to their account by visiting citytelecoin.com.

 

FREE SPAGHETTI SUPPER TONIGHT!!
For anyone who is interested, no age requirement at all, there will be FREE Spaghetti Dinners handed out this evening beginning at 5:00 in the parking lot of First Baptist Church (church across from the Post Office). You do not need to get out of your car to get them.

COME AS YOU ARE & STAY IN YOUR CAR!

Plates will be delivered to your car. Come on by and enjoy a great Spaghetti Dinner compliments of Camden Fairview High School and First Baptist Church.

Please spread the word. It is tough on us all right now and everyone can use a good meal that doesn’t cost a penny! Please come by this evening at 5:00 and know that we are here for you and will help out when times are tough.

Come get your grub on!!!!!

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB WILL MEET THIS WEEK
The Camden Kiwanis Club has decided to have their regularly scheduled Kiwanis Meeting this Thursday, March 19th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Rhonda McDonald – RN who will be Discussing the Awareness of Viruses and How to Prevent Them. You are asked that you act in the best judgment as requested by the CDC and the State Health Department.

 

CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY DISTRICT COURT INFORMATION
The District Court Of Camden And Ouachita County
109A Goodgame
Camden, Arkansas 71701
Phone 870-836-0331 Fax 870-837-5530
Phillip Foster-Judge
Victoria Huggins-Clerk

This office IS Closed to the Public Until April 3, 2020 or further notice due to coronavirus recommendations. This comes from the direction of Judge PhIllip Foster. Employees will be working via phone and email.
You can call the District Court at 870-836-0331 or email victoriahugginsdistrictcourt@gmail.com.
You can reach Probation at 870-836-8544 or e-mail debbiedeputyclerk@gmail.com.

The District Court of Camden and Ouachita County has cancelled and rescheduled court for the following dates.
Wednesday City Arraignment March 18, 2020. These Cases Will Be Continued Until May 20, 2020
Thursday County Arraignment March 19, 202.0 These Cases Will Be Continued Until May 21, 2020
Wednesday Review March 25, 2020. These Cases Will Be Continued Until June 24, 2020
Wednesday April 01, 2020. These Cases Will Be Continued Until May 6, 2020
Friday April 03, 2020. These Cases Will Be Continued Until May 8, 2020

All Court Sessions Begin At 9:00 am

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON EXPEDITES UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY COVID-19
WEST MEMPHIS
– Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to expedite unemployment benefits to assist Arkansans whose employment status may be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, he announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

Under current Arkansas law (Ark. Code Ann. §11-10-507(4)), individuals who claim unemployment insurance must wait one week, which is not counted as a week of unemployment. The Governor has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to waive the waiting period. This directive will allow the department to pay claims more quickly.

Governor Hutchinson has also directed the Department of Commerce to waive current work-search requirements for 30 days, allowing the unemployed to receive benefits without seeking other employment. This exception applies only to those employed by businesses that are temporarily closed with plans to reopen.

In a third action, the Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to allow the unemployed to apply for benefits online or by telephone rather than in person in a further effort to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

“These important changes will allow Arkansans impacted by COVID-19 to file unemployment insurance claims, register for work, and seek job-placement assistance in a timely manner while also protecting ADWS employees and mitigating the spread of the virus,” Governor Hutchinson said.

Click HERE to find an Arkansas Workforce Center Location near you, or visit www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov to complete your application online. 
 

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN PROGRAM INFORMATION
The Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has been made available to eligible businesses and private non-profits that were impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private non-profit organizations in designated counties of the state (county by county). SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the State to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance.

These working capital loans of up to $2 million can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

In order to receive an economic injury declaration, Arkansas must show that small businesses within individual counties have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster, and are in need of financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms. The method to determine impacts of the disaster is through the collection of Economic Injury Disaster Loan worksheets. These worksheets provide an estimated economic impact of each business affected.

Attached is the worksheet for you to share with the businesses and private non-profits in your respective counties or throughout the state. The Estimated Adverse Economic Impact Section of the Economic Injury worksheet needs to be fully completed, with all questions answered regarding business revenues, whether there was any business interruption insurance, as well as the comments section. The comments section should indicate that the economic impacts are a direct result of COVID-19. The established incident start date is January 31, 2020. The completion of this worksheet is not an application for an SBA loan, however, the completion and submittal of the worksheet to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management will assist the state in receiving a declaration from SBA. Please forward the attached worksheet to impacted businesses and private non-profits, and have them return the completed forms to the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management at businesscovid19@adem.arkansas.gov. The timely submission of the worksheets will assist in a timely SBA declaration of each county.

Once a declaration is made for designated areas within the state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities as well as updated on the SBA and ADEM websites.

Please send any questions and completed worksheets you may have tobusinesscovid19@adem.arkansas.gov

AEDC SHARES COVID-19 RESOURCES
COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYERS
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is committed to helping businesses and employees combat the effects of COVID-19. On this page, we have compiled a list of programs and resources, and we will continue to update this list as additional resources become available.

For health and education updates, visit the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management website. 

RESOURCES FOR BUSINESSES
FEDERAL
Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
SBA Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources
Contact the SBA Arkansas District Office (located in Little Rock) at 501-324-7379.

Contact the SBA Northwest Arkansas District Office (located in Fayetteville) at 501-324-7379.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Combating the Coronavirus
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
U.S. Department of Labor - Coronavirus Resources

STATE
Community Development Block Grant:
Email: CDBG.info@Arkansas.gov
Phone: 501-682-1121 or toll-free: 1-800-ARKANSAS
State Chamber Coronavirus Resource Page
Department of Health Guidance for Employers

RESOURCES FOR EMPLOYEES
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
If you become separated from employment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may file an unemployment insurance claim through the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (DWS).

To file your claim online, visit the DWS EZARC page: dws.arkansas.gov/unemployment/ezarc/

For more information, visit the DWS website: dws.arkansas.gov/unemployment

Notice to Individuals Inquiring About the Availability of Unemployment Insurance Benefits as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic

For additional questions related to the Unemployment Insurance program, please contact your local office representative, or you may contact ADWS Info:

Phone: 1-855-225-4440

Email at ADWS.Info@arkansas.gov.
This article outlines the steps Governor Hutchinson is taking to make unemployment benefits more accessible during the coronavirus pandemic: Arkansas eases unemployment benefit hurdles over coronavirus

SHARED WORK PROGRAM
The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program provides an alternative for employers faced with a reduction in their workforce. For more information, visit the DWS website: dws.arkansas.gov/employers/shared-work-program.

ARKANSAS WORKFORCE CENTER LOCATIONS
Click here to download the list of Workforce Center locations

 

DRIVER LICENSE TESTING OPERATIONS
MARCH 17, 2020
The Arkansas State Police will implement a temporary and limited adjustment in Class D (conventional motor vehicle) driver license testing effective Wednesday, March 18th.

There is no change in any testing procedures at this time for commercial driver license applicants.

As a result of decisions this week by local government officials across the state to temporarily close or limit public access to city and county owned buildings where the state police uses space to administer driver license knowledge tests, the state police will continue to offer the testing services, but the knowledge testing will be limited to Arkansas State Police Troop Headquarters.  Driver license knowledge testing in the River Valley region of the state will be administered at 765 Hob Knob Road in Russellville.  The change in schedule begins at 8 AM tomorrow.  A directory of Arkansas State Police Headquarters with addresses and telephone numbers can be found at https://asp.arkansas.gov/divisions/highway-patrol/

As a result of an anticipated increase in the number of knowledge testing applicants inside troop headquarters, testing agents will limit the total number of applicants to five at any given time.

The temporary change in driver license testing operations will continue through March 27th, at which time state police commanders will re-assess the changes.

Additionally, no skills testing will occur for Class D license applicants.

Being conscientious of the growing concerns among Arkansans to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, the state police testing agents will be using sterilizing wipes to clean the computer keyboards at the testing sites after every test is completed.

ARKANSAS BANKS PROACTIVELY ADDRESSING COVID-19 IMPACTS IN ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK, AR. – March 16, 2020–The Arkansas Bankers Association (ABA) is working closely with its member banks across the state in proactively addressing the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.    
 
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, Arkansas banks are taking aggressive steps to safeguard the health and safety of their customers, staff and communities while ensuring the delivery of important financial services such as money and credit availability.  With over $100 billion in deposits and strong capital levels, Arkansas banks remain financially solid and stand ready to provide important financial services to our fellow Arkansans. While Arkansas banks will look to deliver a larger number of products and services through their enhanced mobile and digital channels, even if at a limited capacity, banks are open.  
 
Federal and state regulation requires financial institutions to have continuity plans and testing processes in place which address pandemic response scenarios.  While each individual bank’s plan may differ slightly, a growing number of Arkansas banks are implementing the following changes to minimize person-to-person contact and to encourage responsible social distancing:

• Banks are highly encouraging customers to utilize drive-thru, digital and ATM/ITM channels for transactional services. 

• Numerous Arkansas banks will be closing or limiting lobby access to walk-in traffic beginning on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This precaution is to ensure that small communities do not lose an entire bank branch if bank staff are exposed via lobby traffic, and to assist slowing the virus down to help medical health workers.  

• Many banks are asking customers who desire personal or specific banker services to set up office appointments in advance of their visit. Please call ahead an inquire before going to the bank. 

• Banks are enhancing cleaning and sanitary practices to help mitigate the potential spread of the virus.  

• Banks are implementing travel restrictions for their staff members.  

• Many non-essential, non-customer-facing bank employees are being asked to work from home until further notice. 

• Customers facing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19 should contact their bank to discuss their individual situation. 

• The United States maintains a world-class payments system.  As such, customers are encouraged to take advantage of their debit and credit cards when making purchases. 

• Customers are encouraged to check the financial institution’s website for updates as the situation evolves.
 
In reviewing the changes being implemented by ABA member banks, ABA Board Chairman Rob Robinson, IV (Community President/Senior Credit Officer of Simmons Bank) commented, “Arkansas’ banks are committed to providing continued and safe customer service to their customers while also ensuring that their employees are working in safe environments.  I applaud the thought and attention to detail our member banks are taking during this difficult time. Our banks have always placed the interests of their customers and communities as their mission focus, that does not change in today’s challenging environment.”  

 “The banks in Arkansas are some of the strongest in the nation,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “They are leaders in innovation and sound banking practices and the public should feel confident that our banking system will carry us through the current challenges.”

 

March 17, 2020

PRESS RELEASE
CITY OF CAMDEN, ARKANSAS
MAYOR’S OFFICE

Mayor Julian Lott has announced the creation of Camden’s COVID-19 Task Force assigned to continuously monitor all news and updates regarding COVID-19 as well as making recommendations to the Mayor to best respond to this fluid and ever-changing situation. The Task Force will remain in contact with county, state, and federal agencies to ensure the most upto- date information is available and shared with Camden residents. The three person task force is composed of Assistant Mayor Amy Wright-Perrin, Public Works Director Kevin Franklin, and Code Enforcement Officer Scott Adkins.


PRESS RELEASE
CITY OF CAMDEN, ARKANSAS
MAYOR’S OFFICE

All municipal offices remain open and fully staffed to assist Camden residents as needed, however, it is requested all citizens of Camden continue to take advantage of on-line resources and other means to transact City business without in-person contact. The Mayor has made the decision to close all parks and recreation facilities until further notice. No reservations for park facilities will be taken and existing reservations will be cancelled. Please call Brandi at 870-836- 6436 with any questions. If paying your water bill online is not feasible, the drive thru window at City Hall is open to receive payments. All trash bag sales will take place at the City landfill, 2436 Country Club Rd. These trash bag purchases can be made without exiting your car. There will be NO trash bag sales at City Hall. All emergency services will continue as normal. Interim Chief Nash has closed all fire stations to nonessential personnel. Only those firefighters actively on shift will be permitted to enter these facilities. This is a necessary precaution to ensure the health of our first responders. The COVID-19 situation is fluid and ever-changing and the Mayor’s Office will continue to monitor all information available to ensure the safety of all citizens. It is important to stress these are only precautionary measures. The Mayor appreciates the efforts of local businesses such as Catherine’s Bistro and Woods Place who have taken additional voluntary measures to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. A focused effort by every citizen will continue to help prevent the spread of this virus.

PRESS RELEASE
CITY OF CAMDEN, ARKANSAS
CODE ENFORCEMENT/BUILDING INSPECTOR’S OFFICE

The Planning Commission Workshop scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020 has been cancelled. No future meeting date has been established at this time.

 

OUACHITA COUNTY RECREATIONAL CENTER DELAYS BASEBALL/SOFTBALL SEASON. Due to the Arkansas Dept of Health's recommendation, OCRC has decided to delay the start of baseball/softball season three weeks.  Jamboree is now set for April 25th, with practices resuming April 6th based on "all clear" word from the State.  We will be evaluating the situation further in the next couple of weeks.  

OPED BOARD OF DIRECTORS BOARD MEETING CANCELLED"
OPED board of directors board meeting schedule for  Wednesday, March 18, 2020 has been cancelled

The next Board Meeting will be held on April 22nd in the OPED training room located at 570 Ben Lane SE in Camden at 10:00 a.m.
Please make plans to attend.


CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their meet in regular session on Friday, March 20, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden.


 

SAU ISSUES UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS, MARCH 16, 2020
MAGNOLIA --
Recently in response to COVID-19, federal guidelines mandated institutions of higher education to provide payroll benefits to student workers currently receiving federal work-study financial aid and allowing suspension of student work. This change in federally-supported student aid provides students who depend on financial aid the same flexibility to return home as students not dependent on financial aid. SAU took this a step further today, extending student payroll benefits to ALL current student workers regardless of the funding source. SAU will pay all student workers, including those on regular work programs and graduate assistants, for the time they are scheduled to work for the remainder of the semester without requiring students to fulfill work duties. We want our students to have the choice to return home to study while taking online classes or remain on campus, without facing financial burdens of lost revenue.

On-campus tours for future Muleriders have been suspended until further notice. Students planning to visit campus were notified of this change today. The University is enhancing its interactive recruitment tools to provide the personal touch in an online setting. Questions regarding application status or the application process should continue being directed to the Office of Admissions.

Additionally, the newly opened golf driving range is closed until further notice, Panda Express is closed, and changes have been made to dining options to encourage social distancing.

Other actions were taken today to assist students remaining on campus during Spring Break. Fees typically charged for Spring Break residents are waived, and food service options are extended at no additional cost to students.

As events have developed over the past 24 hours, travel policies were further refined in an email to faculty, staff, and students. To view the complete document regarding these guidelines, visit the coronavirus landing page at www.saumag.edu/coronavirus. Please continue to direct questions to taskforce@saumag.edu.

We remain vigilant to fulfill our mission as an institution of higher education, protect our students, faculty, and staff, and make decisions for the welfare of our campus and community. We sincerely appreciate the understanding of our parents and students during this national crisis.
 

RUTLEDGE URGES ARKANSANS TO PARTICIPATE IN FREE PRICE GOUGING WEBCAST
Says, ‘state of emergency triggering our price gouging laws’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced an additional free webcast training hosted by the office on Thursday, March 19. The webcasts will be an opportunity for Arkansans to learn from consumer protection experts about the recent price gouging concerns sweeping the state, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

“The Governor has declared a state of emergency triggering our price gouging laws,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This free webcast will allow Arkansans to stay informed from the safety of their own homes.”

Rutledge will be hosting the following webcasts for free to any interested viewers:

Consumer Protection: Price Gouging - Thursday, March 19 at 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Missing Persons Webcast – Wednesday, April 8, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Freedom of Information Act Webcast – Thursday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Interested Arkansans can sign up for the free webcasts at ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

QUAPAW CHAIRMAN: SARACEN ANNEX IN PINE BLUFF TO CLOSE THROUGH END OF MARCH
“After discussions with Governor Hutchinson, we will follow his public health guidance and order to temporarily suspend operation of the Saracen Annex venue in Pine Bluff, Ark., effective noon today and extending through the end of March. We will continue our dialogue with both state and federal health officials regarding best practices as identified by the CDC; we share everyone’s concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The Quapaw Nation and the Saracen Development Authority are committed to doing all we can to prevent spread of the virus, and to assist affected employees as well as partnering with the local community to weather this storm together.

“Construction of the Saracen Casino Resort will continue, as will retail operations at the Saracen Q-Store, utilizing CDC recommendations for the safety of our team members and the public alike.”

COSL OFFICE ANNOUNCES POSTPONEMENT OF AUCTIONS
(March 16, 2020) LITTLE ROCK – Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land announced today that the first half of the 2020 tax auction season has been cancelled due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

“Due to increasing concerns about public health, and in an abundance of caution, we have cancelled all travel until further notice,” Land said. “This includes the 2020 auction season, at least through June 30.”

More information about the auction schedule will be available later.

The COSL office continues to monitor the developing health situation. “We commend the Governor and Arkansas health officials for their transparency and commitment to providing information, recommendations and resources,” Land said.

“We will make further decisions as information develops,” he said. “We join the rest of the nation and the world in hoping that COVID-19 will be conquered soon. Until that happens, though, we are exercising caution.”

Both the State Capitol and the 1020 West 4th Street offices are closed to the public until further notice. Property owners can continue to redeem delinquent real estate taxes online at www.cosl.org, and can contact us at 501-324-9422 for assistance.

 

WHAT CONGRESS SHOULD DO THIS WEEK
March 16, 2020
By Senator Tom Cotton

This week, the Senate takes on the critical question of how to protect Americans and support the economy during the China coronavirus emergency. Our work must focus on efforts to help working Americans who hold hourly jobs, can’t telework, and can’t count on a paycheck. We must also help businesses that those workers rely on for jobs.

Over the weekend, the House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It turns out that the administration and Speaker Pelosi were still ironing out significant differences even today. But from what we have seen already of the bill’s substance, I have serious concerns that it doesn’t go far enough to protect American families from the serious disruptions that are already occurring due to the China coronavirus.

We must do better than this, and we must be prepared to spend whatever it takes to shelter Americans from the coming storm — and very likely to spend more than the House bill proposes. But what we spend must work.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE HOUSE BILL
The House plan includes a number of valuable provisions, including free virus testing for all Americans and school lunches for children whose schools are closed. I believe these provisions could be passed by the Senate unanimously. And there must be strong liability protections for mask manufacturers working to fill the gaps created by the critical shortage of medical masks.

Unfortunately, the bill’s central effort to help Americans is designed to achieve policy goals that have been overwhelmed by events. The bill is wrapped around the axle of paid sick leave — for a limited number of American workers, no less — in an effort to maintain wage continuity. But workers who need help the most won’t benefit from the House bill’s provision for paid sick leave — in particular, those who are laid off, had their hours reduced, work in the gig economy, or who find that their employers have gone out of business.

This provision must be replaced with more ambitious and more efficient measures if we truly want to serve workers who must stay at home during this crisis. The bill expands the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide paid leave to those who must miss work to adhere to a quarantine, take care of at-risk family members, or care for children who are out of school. The bill attempts to offset the cost of this provision through tax credits and efforts to advance funds to employers. Businesses would be able to use tax payments they’ve made to the IRS to pay sick leave wages. The U.S. Treasury Department also would provide cash advances to businesses that don’t have enough tax payments to draw on.

These policies are well intentioned but needlessly complicated, at a time when simplicity and speed are paramount. They also wouldn’t help companies that are put out of business by the coming crisis — tax credits don’t help businesses with no profits, let alone bankrupt companies or their newly unemployed workers. Moreover, the administrative efforts required to claim these tax credits would be substantial and complicated.

Another serious flaw in the House bill’s sick-leave plan is that it wouldn’t cover many American workers. Employer-provided sick leave is useless to workers who have already been laid off or had their hours reduced. Additionally, the bill exempts large companies with 500 or more employees from providing any paid sick leave, which means an enormous number of workers won’t be subject to this program, while small businesses will face a federal mandate that their larger competitors do not.

This key plank of the House bill is thinking too small. Its policy objectives of “wage-replacement” and “wage-continuity” for a small portion of American workers are rapidly being overcome by global events. The Senate should think bigger.

A BETTER APPROACH
I propose a better plan: cash to workers and loans to businesses. Keep it simple, make it fast. We should:

1) send cash directly to low- and middle-income Americans to help them weather the coming storm, in the form of tax rebates;

2) adjust the criteria for programs like Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and surge funding to the states, so checks can make it to needy families quickly;

3) and offer low-interest loans to businesses that need them, so that those same Americans still have jobs to return to once the crisis has subsided.

Workers and businesses deserve this more immediate and direct solution from the federal government.

First, provide checks directly to workers. Let’s cut out employers as the middle men and get relief to people not in weeks but in days. In 2001 and 2008, the government sent tax-rebate checks to nearly every household in America. We should send relief directly to American families most likely to be in need — those in the bottom and middle tax brackets — to pay for rent, groceries, childcare, and other necessary expenses, as well as to spend at local businesses that are hurting during this crisis.

Giving relief directly to Americans is a better solution than complicated sick-leave policies or payroll tax cuts, and will be more certain to go to the kinds of hourly- or gig-workers who need it most. Legislation that provided tax rebates to households most likely to be in need within days would be much more effective and immediate than complicated policies requiring significant time for implementation. Moreover, the House’s proposed sick leave policies require employment or even active work outside the home when many jobs are in jeopardy, and when staying at home is often the wisest course of action to prevent the virus from spreading.

Second, use established programs and agencies to surge support to needy Americans as we approach the worst of the economic crisis. Regulations for Unemployment Insurance and TANF should be adjusted to take into account the realities of the epidemic — for example, work requirements for TANF, and the requirement to seek work in order to receive UI, can be temporarily suspended — and money should be sent to the states to be rapidly distributed to those most in need. Those who have been furloughed or who need to stay home to look after children could qualify temporarily for UI. These programs exist to get checks quickly to needy Americans. Let’s use them.

Third, we should offer low-interest loans to businesses to get through the coming months, when our efforts to mitigate the virus will necessarily slow down the economy. Providing guaranteed, low-cost liquidity to businesses will allow them meet payroll, pay off debts, and minimize layoffs, minimizing the virus’s damage to our economy.

The cost of my plan would be very substantial, but the expense would be worth it. These measures would send a strong message to the American people that we have our priorities straight by helping working families, NOT giving handouts to special interests, or imposing new burdens at a time of national crisis.

I’ll work with any Republican or Democrat to get these measures into law. What’s essential is that we unify behind a plan that will help American families, stabilize the economy, and mitigate the spread of the China coronavirus. Let’s pass something that works for all Americans — and that actually will work as intended.

 

COTTON RELEASES CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE PLAN TO GIVE CASH DIRECTLY TO AMERICAN FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
Washington, D.C.
— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the framework for his coronavirus response plan that would surge cash to Americans, and make low-interest loans to businesses so they’re able to pay their bills. The plan has three parts:

Part One: Surge Cash to Low- and Middle-Income Americans Using Tax-Rebate Checks
Americans who lose shifts or business during the virus emergency will need our help to make ends meet. We ought to rush checks to working- and middle-class Americans and have it in their mailbox in a matter of days, not weeks. The federal government has done this before to shore up the economy, in 2001 and 2008.

  • Authorize the Treasury Department to immediately cut a tax-rebate check of $1,000 for every adult tax filer making less than $100,000 per year and $500 for each claimed dependent. Married couples filing jointly that make less than $200,000 per year would be eligible for a $2,000 tax-rebate check.
  • Eligible filers would receive full rebate checks regardless of tax liability.

Part Two: Surge Cash Using Expanded Eligibility for Federal Assistance Programs
Americans who are sick, quarantined, laid off, furloughed, or otherwise unable to work through no fault of their own will require additional help to make ends meet. Existing federal assistance programs are designed to get resources to people in need, quickly, and Congress should expand eligibility and suspend certain requirements for federal assistance programs. These changes should be temporary and expire at the end of the crisis. These TANF and Unemployment Insurance measures complement the tax-rebate component to deliver progressively more financial assistance to Americans whose livelihoods are most harmed by the virus emergency.

  • Temporarily expand eligibility and adjust requirements for public-assistance programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Unemployment Insurance (UI).
  • TANF:
    • Provide block grants to states that temporarily broaden eligibility standards so that their programs apply to any family with children under 18 whose income has been reduced due to coronavirus and that earned less than 400% FPL last year.
    • This new class of eligibility would receive a one-time payment of at least $500 and no more than $1,000 per dependent; states to have flexibility within that guidance.
    • Temporarily waive work requirements for eligibility in the interest of public health.
  • UI: 
    • Provide block grants to states that expand eligibility to cover: 1) cases where an individual’s employer temporarily ceases operations due to coronavirus, 2) cases where an individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work and is not receiving pay due to the coronavirus emergency, and 3) cases where an individual must stop receiving pay in order to care for family members or dependents due to the emergency.
    • Temporarily suspend requirements to seek work in the interest of public health.

Part Three: Surge Cash to Struggling Businesses Using Low-Interest Loans
 In addition to protecting American workers, Congress must support struggling American businesses, so that there are jobs waiting for workers when the crisis passes. Congress has already authorized low-interest emergency loans of up to $2 million for small businesses suffering from the virus crisis. We ought to increase the caps for these loans, as well as authorize low-interest loans to any business that needs them. Providing liquidity to businesses during the coronavirus crisis is the surest tool we have to prevent a prolonged economic downturn.

  • Increase the cap on small-business disaster loans from $2 million to $20 million dollars, and fund appropriately.
  • Grant low-interest loans to businesses immediately, with increased penalties for fraud
 

March 16, 2020

HARMONY GROVE SCHOOL DISTRICT "SACK LUNCH" PROGRAM
Harmony Grove School District "sack lunch" program will be available for HG students 

March 17TH through 20th from 11until noon at 3 locations:

1) HG Elementary and High School Principals’ Office,
2) East Camden Park at the Pavilion, and
3) Sparkman School.

Students will pick up lunches and go. 

DISTRICT COURT OF CAMDEN AND OUACHITA COUNTY POSTPONED AND RESCHEDULED
The District Court of Camden and Ouachita County under the direction of Judge Phillip Foster, will be cancelling the next 3 upcoming court sessions. Court will be cancelled for the following dates:

Wednesday March 18, 2020 - rescheduled until May 20,2020
Thursday March 19, 2020 - rescheduled until May 21,2020
Wednesday March 25, 2020 - review - rescheduled until June 24, 2020

Any questions, call district court at 870-836-0331.

BRUCELLOSIS VACCINATION CLINIC
A Brucellosis Vaccination Clinic sponsored by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is being planned for the Tuesday, April 14th.  If you have heifers between 4 and 12 months of age and decide to take advantage of this service, please call the Extension Office at 231-1160 by Thursday April 9th. 

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

ARKANSAS BANKING INDUSTRY RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
LITTLE ROCK, AR —
Arkansas banks are committed to continuing excellent customer service and support and urge customers with special circumstances to work with your local banker to best meet your needs. Banks routinely and systematically prepare for emergencies so that customers’ funds remain protected, accessible, and will remain the safest place for your money.

ARKANSAS REP PERFORMANCE CANCELLATIONS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.— In conjunction with the city's decision to limit public gatherings of more than 200 people, it is with deep regret that we announce the cancellation of all upcoming events between now and mid-April. These cancellations include all performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Winter Classes, Spring Break Camp, Stories on the Spectrum, and Spring Classes.

At this time, future events that are set to begin after May 1st, including Saints & Sinners, are still scheduled to occur as planned.

Our Box Office staff will be reaching out to our subscribers and CURIOUS INCIDENT ticket holders over the next week to issue vouchers and answer any questions you may have. We are anticipating a higher call volume for the next few days and we thank you in advance for your patience as we assist all of our patrons.

If you need immediate support or have questions, please feel free to contact us at (501) 378-0405 or at subscriptions@therep.org. As always, thank you so much for your understanding, patience, and continued support of The Rep.
 

GOV. HUTCHINSON, ADE ANNOUNCE TEAMS ADVANCING TO ALL-STATE CODING COMPETITION 
LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education announced today the 17 teams advancing to the Fourth Annual All-State Coding Competition in May.

Sixteen teams are winners of All-Region Coding Competitions that took place Feb. 28 around the state. Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, the school that produced the first-place team at the 2019 state competition, will receive an automatic invitation to send a team to the 2020 state competition.

"Congratulations to the 17 teams that qualified for the Annual Governor’s All-State Coding Competition,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “This competition is an excellent showcase for our students' creativity, and I look forward to seeing the bright and talented students on this year’s teams demonstrate impressive levels of innovation and skill in coding."

The ADE Office of Computer Science used a rubric to score each team that participated in the regional events. The following teams have been selected to advance to the state competition.

  • ASMSA in Hot Springs – Karsen Beck, Dunagan Evans, and Trinity Robinson
  • Bentonville High School in Bentonville – Katherine Pearce, Mekhi Scullawl, and Caleb Jones
  • Bentonville West High School in Bentonville – Karina Batra and Ryder Johnson
  • Cabot High School in Cabot – Ethan Peck, Tyler Lacroix, and Addison Zheng
  • Central Junior High School in Springdale – Jackson Daniel, Audrey Shellhammer, and Connor Simmons
  • Clinton High School in Clinton – Titus Johnson, Alex Prosser, and Reynaldo Saavedra
  • Conway High School in Conway – Ethan Moss, Brian Russell, and Kevin Lewis
  • Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale – Lucas Kellar, James Cassady, and Benjamin Easterling
  • Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville – Gabriel Giarratana, Katherine Pummill, and Minsoo Song
  • Greenbrier High School in Greenbrier – Geoffrey Shoemaker, Hayden Herman, and Christian Watts
  • Greenwood High School in Greenwood – Shea Brown, Jackson Stewart, and William Hutchinson
  • Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville – Owen Bell, Julian Sanker, and Daniel Whitmire
  • Har-Ber High School in Springdale – Samuel Lonneman, Jesse Ford, and Melvin Vizueth
  • Horatio High School in Horatio – Jacob Brecheisen, Duncan Connor, and Hannah Norman
  • Jonesboro High School in Jonesboro – Matthew Sherman, Kyle Clayton, and Eric Seglem
  • Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock – Hetvi Shah, Alex Borengasser, and Anne Li
  • Rogers New Technology High School in Rogers – Volodymyr Miata, David Daniel, and Joshua Thomson

Each member of the first-place team at the state competition will receive a $2,000 award that will be deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan. Each member of the second-place team will receive a $1,000 award deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan, with each member of the third-place team receiving a $500 award deposited into a 529 College Savings Plan. In addition, the schools that register/sponsor the first, second, and third-place teams will receive $10,000, $6,000, and $4,000 (respectively) to support their computer science programs. The prizes and competition expenses are paid for with a Verizon grant to ARCodeKids. 

ADE extends congratulations to the advancing team members, sponsors, and schools. In addition, all 16 hosting locations are to be commended for the work of their staff in making the regional events successful and fun for students.

Teams advancing to the state competition will receive an official invitation with more details by April 17, 2020.

March 13, 2020

MAYOR OF CAMDEN REQUESTS CITIZENS USE ON-LINE RESOURCES
Mayor Julian Lott, following advice from local and state experts, requests all citizens of Camden take advantage of on-line resources and other means which do not require personal contact to transact city business as a precautionary measure to combat the potential spread of COVID-19.

It is important to stress these are only precautionary measures. All municipal facilitiesremain open and fully staffed to assist citizens as needed. However, it is requested no oneexperiencing flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or coughing and sneezing enter any Municipal  Buildings. The water department reminds all customers to look on the back of their water bill for a link to pay online. If paying online is not feasible, paying your water bill at the drive-thru window of the municipal building is preferred. You may also visit www.explorecamden.com for other useful links and phone numbers. Again, these are only precautionary measures. The City of Camden continues to coordinate with Judge McAdoo as well as other local and state officials to ensure public safety.
 

OUACHITA COUNTY SAFETY MESSAGE REGARDING VISITS TO THE FACILITY
At the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department and Detention Center, the safety and well-being of our community, inmates and staff is our top priority, thus the leading factor in every decision we make.  During this time of the year, respiratory illness of all kinds are a threat, but we continue to work diligently to stay on top of guidance from the CDC and various health agencies on preventative practices/actions to keep us all safe.  In the meantime, we are taking all of the necessary precautions to protect the community, our inmates & staff.

But, we need everyone’s help --We ask that if you have a fever or any kind of flu related symptoms, traveled outside of the state in the last 14 days, or the country in the last 30-days; PLEASE DELAY YOUR VISIT TO THIS FACILITY, but feel free to call us, if needed.

Additionally, for your protection and ours, please continue to use these basic everyday actions to stop the spread of germs: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Disinfect frequently touched & used objects
Consider verbal salutations, instead of hugs or handshakes.
Avoid touching eyes nose and mouth
Cover your sneeze or cough
Limit contact with people when sick
Be mindful of contact with immune system compromised persons and their family.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW ELEMENTARY POSTPONES PARENTS NIGHT
Due to the growing concern of the COVID-19 virus. We will postpone the K-5 parent night that was scheduled for Tuesday, March 17th.

In the event that it is needed, we will be sending home 7 more days for you to include in the AMI packet that was sent home earlier this year. It will be sent on Friday, March 20th, along with the third 9 weeks report card.

HAMPTON SCHOOL DISTRICT REMAINS OPEN – POSTPONES PROM
Hampton School District will remain open at this time according to the Arkansas Department of Education. (School will be in session next week as of this moment.) However, the Hampton High School Jr./Sr. Prom has been rescheduled with a tentative date of Friday, April 17, 2020. Any additional information will be provided as it is made available.  

SAU TECH RESPONDS TO COVID-19
Camden, Arkansas- Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) is proactively extending spring break for students starting Monday, March 16, 2020 through March 27, 2020. The extended break will NOT include students in the College’s Aviation Maintenance Program or Cosmetology Program.  Unless the situation with the Coronavirus changes, students will return to classes on March 30, 2020. SAU Tech's campus operations will continue as scheduled with faculty and staff working their regular schedules. 

Students-SAU Tech students who live in housing will have the option to remain in campus housing during the extended break or return home. However, if students return home, they will be required to have a health assessment to check for illness upon returning to the campus. Students who have compromised immune systems, asthma, or other diseases that could be complicated by contracting the virus are encouraged to take precautions and speak with their families about whether or not they remain on the campus.

SAU Tech Career Academy (High School Students)- The Career Academy will be closed from March 16 through March 27 and will reopen on March 30. If you are a parent of a public school student who attends the SAU Tech Career Academy, please contact your school administrators for more information.

Staff & Faculty-SAU Tech staff and faculty will continue regular work hours for the next two weeks. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of illness or anyone with a compromised immune system, asthma, or other diseases that could be complicated by contracting the virus are encouraged to make arrangements to work at home.

Workforce Classes- Workforce classes will continue during the two-week time period unless industry partners decide otherwise.

SAU Tech Adult Education Centers- SAU Tech’s Adult Education Centers (Camden, Hampton, Fordyce, and Magnolia) will continue normal operation for the week of March 16-March 20. The Center will close for spring break for the week of March 23-March 27 and resume normal operations on March 30.

Arkansas Fire Training Academy & Arkansas Environmental Training Academy- The Academies will work within their individual mandates and will be releasing information to their students directly regarding any schedule changes.

SAU Tech will continue to review the situation in the next two weeks and make an update no later than Friday, March 27, that will be released to the public via the College's website, social media channels, local press, and email.

The College has a webpage specifically for updates and information at www.sautech.edu/cv. It is important to note that at this time, SAU Tech does not have any cases of the Coronavirus. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available. The SAU Tech executive team, staff, and faculty are working together to take steps for the protection of our campus family.
 

THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD CANCELS DINNER
The Golden Triangle Economic Development Board has voted to cancel the upcoming GTEDC Dinner on Tuesday, March 17th due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus.

 The GTEDC will meet to reschedule a date for the dinner for some time in the future. We will let you all know as soon as possible once the Board has re-scheduled the Dinner.

If you would like a refund for your tickets, contact James Lee Silliman at OPED at 870-836-2210 and he will be happy to have that issued and mailed to you or if you would rather save your ticket or table reservation for the dinner that will be rescheduled, that information is on record and you will be notified with the details once a rescheduled date has been determined.

 

OUACHITA COUNTY RELAY FOR LIFE DUCK RACE CANCELLED
The Ouachita County Relay for Life Duck Race scheduled for Saturday March 28th has been cancelled.

 

COVID-19 IMPACT: OUACHITA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER  LIMITING POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO VIRUS

Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden is has put a plan in plasce to limit staff and patient exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Until further notice, all patients that go to the hospital with respiratory illness will be provided with masks in order to minimize the spread of infections.

Patients will be asked about and travel or contact with someone who has traveled. If the staff finds reason for concern about a patient’s potential exposure to coronavirus, CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Peggy Abbott, CEO, said the patients are asked to only bring one family member with the to decrease the risk of the virus being spread. The hospital will limit entry to the building. Outside meetings are cancelled until further notice.
 

AAA SUSPENDS ALL SPRING SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
Due to growing concerns over COVID-19 virus, the AAA will suspend all spring interscholastic competition starting Sunday, March 15, 2020 until Monday, March 30 2020. On Monday, March 30th the AAA will reassess the COVID-19 situation, and announce further plans.

 

SAU MOVES TO ONLINE COURSE DELIVERY MARCH 30
MAGNOLIA -- The Southern Arkansas University System continues to take proactive measures intended to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, there are no confirmed cases among the Southern Arkansas University System.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Southern Arkansas University Magnolia campus has cancelled all face-to-face classes scheduled for the week of March 16-20 prior to spring break March 23-27. Please note that students currently enrolled in online courses will complete course work as required March 16-20.

This change allows faculty, department chairs, deans, and the Department of Online Learning the opportunity to shift course delivery fully online beginning March 30 through the remainder of the semester.

It is important to understand that this is NOT a closure. University operations will continue at this time including housing, dining and other student services. However, if students wish to return to their home for the duration of the semester, they may do so. Students are encouraged to consult with family in making this decision.

Please know that this change provides the opportunity to serve our students while remaining vigilant to protect the health of not only our students, but our campus family and community. We appreciate your flexibility and cooperation during this challenging time in our country.

As this is a very fluid situation, please continue to monitor the University website for updates at saumag.edu/coronavirus. Please direct all questions via email to taskforce@saumag.edu.

COMMISSIONER OF STATE LANDS OFFICES CLOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE(March 12, 2020) LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land announced today that the 1020 West 4th Street, 5th Floor office location will close to the general public beginning March 13, 2020. This announcement follows the closing of the Arkansas State Capitol building to the public, and the Commissioner’s office therein, due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic news.

The Commissioner of State Lands Office will continue business operations but will not be accepting walk-in visitors to either office until further notice. Customers are encouraged to visit our website, www.cosl.org, to pay their delinquent taxes or request information on purchasing or paying taxes.


UPCOMING SMALL BUSINESS SEMINARS
 

 

 

Let's Talk Soft Skills
D
ate: 3/18/2020
Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CDT)

Registration Deadline: 3/18/2020 8:00 AM (CDT)
Fee: No Fee
Point of Contact: SAU ASBTDC (870) 235-5033
Location: 211 W Main St, Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Magnolia AR 71753-3518
Training Topics: Human Resources
Description:

Solve the soft skill dilemma - Learn how to evaluate the soft skill level of current and prospective employees. This program will provide tips on training employees to unlock their soft skill potential.
For more information or to pre-register, contact Kristen Cribb
Phone: (870) 235-5033
Email: kristencribb@saumag.edu
https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370736

CO-SPONSOR: Farmers Bank and Trust
COST: FREE!


After Hours Consulting

Date/Time: 

Session #1

3/19/2020

5:00 PM

- 5:30 PM (CDT)

 

Session #2

 

5:30 PM

- 6:00 PM (CDT)

 

Session #3

 

6:00 PM

- 6:30 PM (CDT)

 

Session #4

 

6:30 PM

- 7:00 PM (CDT)

 

Session #5

 

7:00 PM

- 7:30 PM (CDT)

 

Session #6

 

7:30 PM

- 8:00 PM (CDT)

 

Registration Deadline: 3/19/2020 8:00 AM (CDT)
Fee: No Fee
Location: 101 Business Park Drive, Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, Magnolia AR 71753-2322
Description:

Want to start your own business? Pre-Register to schedule a 30-minute one-to-one confidential consulting session with a professional small business consultant! Two sessions will be available every thirty minutes so please register before your preferred time fills up!

For more information or to pre-register, contact Kristen Cribb
Phone: (870) 235-5033
Email: kristencribb@saumag.edu
https://asbtdc.ecenterdirect.com/events/70370736

CO-SPONSOR: Farmers Bank and Trust
COST: FREE!


ALINA KIRYAYEVA TO PERFORM IN CAMDEN, AR ON APRIL 2, 2020
Live On Stage, Inc. and the Ouachita County Community Concert Association announce Ukrainian Piano Sensation as part of their 2019 - 2020 Concert Season
CAMDEN, Ark. – (March 12, 2020) – Alina Kiryayeva is hitting the road again for her second Live On Stage national tour, but this time she is bringing a whole new show. Kiryayeva will be performing breathtaking renditions of both classical favorites and contemporary pop hits at Camden Fairview High School, 1750 Cash Road, Camden, Arkansas on Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.  Children and students are admitted to all OCCCA performances at no charge if accompanied by an OCCCA ticket holder.  For more information please call 870-807-6915 or 870-818-2131, or visit www.camdenaliveonstage.com.

…Ms. Kiryayeva has the instrument at her command…”Mid-Hudson Times

Ukrainian pianist, Alina Kiryayeva, is back for her second national tour with Live On Stage. Kiryayeva, who has performed in more than a dozen countries on the stages of some of the worlds most prestigious concert venues, is best known for her innovative approach to presentation of classical music and superb command of her instrument. Kiryayeva’s show, “Modern Piano,” features stunning arrangements of classical favorites by Brahms, Bach, Mozart, and more, as well as unique renditions of contemporary pop hits by artists like Simon & Garfunkel, Aqua, The Rolling Stones, and more! Her extensive musical knowledge, unparalleled skill, charming stage presence and unique repertoire all combine to create a one-of-a-kind concert experience that will entertain audiences of all demographics! Click Here To View A Video Of Alina Kiryayeva.

The Ouachita County Community Concert Association has been presenting world-class entertainment to the Camden community since 1947! An enthusiastic group of volunteers work tirelessly to provide family entertainment and educational outreach performances to educate and entertain adults and students alike.

Live On Stage, Inc. provides excellent, affordable, entertainment attractions and support services to an American community of concert presenters.  View a video about Live On Stage.  


GOVERNOR NAMES WOODS TO SAU BOARD OF TRUSTEES; BEARDEN ELECTED NEW BOARD CHAIR 
President Berry: Academics, athletics, student life see great things happening
MAGNOLIA – Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed a new member to the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees. Erica (Jackson) Woods of Little Rock was sworn in as a trustee on Wednesday, March 4; Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, informed the Board at its meeting on Friday, March 6. Woods graduated from the nursing program at SAU in 1993 and is a Registered Nurse at CHI St. Vincent with the Arkansas Specialty Orthopedics Surgery Center. A decorated U.S. Army veteran, Woods will join the Board at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Trustees welcomed Lawrence Bearden as the new Board chair. He has served on the Board of Trustees since his appointment in 2015. Monty Harrington was elected as vice chair and Therral Story as secretary.

Agenda items included two SAU program changes presented by Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Gaye Manning, vice president for Finance and Administration at SAU Tech, also presented Tech’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Trustees approved the addition of a certificate in web design for SAU that will give students an extra skill set upon graduation. The credential will add value to any SAU graduate as it will provide an understanding of web site creation and design. Trustees also approved modifying the existing Masters of Education in Curriculum Instruction with licensure in instructional facilitation and lead teacher.

In his remarks to the Board, President Berry said that SAU’s Rankin College of Business has been officially notified of its five-year accreditation extension by AACSB International. AACSB accreditation is the gold standard in business education, demonstrating the Rankin College meets the highest standards. “We continue to receive accolades as the most affordable, accredited university in the nation,” Berry said.

He also updated trustees on the new Endowed Professorship in Education. Dr. Neelie Dobbins, associate professor of education, is the first endowed professor in SAU’s College of Education. “She is a great teacher and well-deserving of this Endowment,” Berry said.

Progress has been made on the site for the new College of Education building adjacent to the Wharton Nursing Building. The new facility will group all Education programs together under one roof for the first time.

The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition, “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America,” will make its first national tour stop at SAU Beyond the Campus on the Magnolia Square. It will be displayed in the room behind the main bookstore April 18-May 30.

SAU’s Engineering Department has received a grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to study the potential use of wood ash as a binder in asphalt production. “This would be a revolutionary new method for the paving of highways,” Berry explained.

The College of Science and Engineering has received $25,000 from NASA through the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium to host a high-powered rocket workshop on campus July 20-24.

Great things are happening in student life, with students enjoying the new golf driving range, the disc golf course, and the Mule Rides bicycle sharing program, among other activities. “As the sun comes out, so do the students,” Berry said. “There is so much activity, and we offer so many opportunities for our students.”

He noted the success of the SAU Fishing Team this year as well as that of the growing eSports program. The Theatre Department’s recent Wiley and the Hairy Man featured life-sized puppets built for SAU’s production by the Arkansas Center for the Arts in Little Rock. “It was a wonderful play,” Berry said.

Mulerider athletics are having a productive year. Berry expressed pride for the men’s and women’s basketball teams playing in the 2020 Great American Conference Basketball Championship Tournament in Bartlesville, Okla. Mulerider tennis, baseball and softball teams are succeeding in national polls, and with cross country and track under way, there is a lot happening in SAU sports.

Berry updated the Board on the many improvements to athletic facilities on campus, including the new Player Development Center to be dedicated soon and new covered bullpens for softball. Mulerider athletes were also recognized among this year’s GAC All-Decade teams, which honors athletes in all sports sponsored by the league. Berry expressed congratulations to those athletes.

Speaking for the Board, Bearden congratulated President Berry on being named Columbia County Citizen of the Year by the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce.

In his remarks, Dr. Jason Morrison, chancellor of SAU Tech, informed trustees that core enrollment at Tech is up more than 12 percent for spring 2020. “We are proud of what is happening with freshman and sophomore students,” Morrison said. “We have fought hard to be up in enrollment.”

He said SAU Tech recently was designated as a Military Friendly School and that ground has been broken on a new dormitory for the Arkansas Fire Training Academy. A new preschool will also be launched on the campus with the support of the South Central Cooperative. Morrison also explained that SAU Tech is now home to a new softball field and that the new Rockets program is experiencing success and drawing visitors.

SAU Tech’s five-year strategic plan was unanimously approved, with Manning explaining the student-and administration-oriented goals covered by the plan. It identifies greater student access and increased enrollment, student success through educational planning and support services, workforce development, sustainability and effectiveness, and leadership and professional development as some of Tech’s priorities under the plan.

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON APPOINTS MARIE HOLDER TO STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION
LITTLE ROCK
 – Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Marie Holder of Little Rock as the newest commissioner of the Arkansas State Highway Commission, he announced in a news conference today. Ms. Holder will replace the late Tom Schueck, former chairman of the Commission. Ms. Holder will serve the remainder of Mr. Schueck’s appointment, which will expire January 14, 2021. Her reappointment will begin January 15, 2021 and will expire on January 14, 2031.

“Throughout her career, Marie has demonstrated that she is a sharp businesswoman with a diversity of skills and talents,” Governor Hutchinson said. “She has a passion for her community, public service, and leadership. I have known Marie for many years, and I have seen firsthand how much she values the development of Arkansas’s economy and the improvement of Arkansas’s infrastructure. Each of these things has thoroughly equipped her to be the next state highway commissioner, and I am confident that she will be an excellent fit in this critical role.”

Ms. Holder is president of Holder Consulting, a position that she has held since 2015. In comments at the press conference, she thanked Governor Hutchinson for his “trust and confidence."

“I am honored to serve the people of Arkansas and Governor Asa Hutchinson,” Ms. Holder said. “As the mother of two children — one of whom is a newly licensed sixteen-year-old — I will put safety first in every decision I make. As a businesswoman, I will work to promote our transportation system’s fiscal responsibility and transparency. It is a great honor to fulfill the term of Tom Schueck. Chairman Schueck was an excellent advocate for the people of Arkansas and the second district. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Commissioners Farmer, Gibson, Moore, and Taldo, the General Assembly and the Governor. Thank you for your trust and confidence.”

Ms. Holder has served as a board member and consumer representative on the Arkansas State Medical Board and a fellow of the Federation of State Medical Boards since 2016. Prior to her time with Holder Consulting, she worked as the executive director and communications director of the Republican Party of Arkansas and as the deputy press secretary for former U.S. Senator Trent Lott.

Ms. Holder graduated from the University of Mississippi. She currently serves as an elder and has formerly served as a deacon at the Second Presbyterian Church. She is the chairwoman of the board at Second Presbyterian Preschool and a volunteer with Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary and Girl Scouts of America. She resides in Little Rock with her husband, Ryan, and her children, Alexandra and Katherine. 

BOOZMAN, COTTON APPLAUD NOMINATION OF GREGORY TABOR TO SERVE AS U.S. MARSHAL
WASHINGTON-
U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced that Gregory Tabor has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas.

“Greg is an excellent selection to serve as U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas. The skills he honed during his 35-plus years in law enforcement will be an enormous asset to the U.S. Marshals Service. His leadership at the Fayetteville Police Department over the course of his tenure as chief earned Greg well-deserved accolades. Senator Cotton and I will work with our colleagues to get Greg’s nomination swiftly confirmed by the Senate so he can continue the U.S. Marshals’ long and storied history in our state,” Boozman said.

“Greg Tabor will serve the people of Arkansas the same way that he served the citizens of Fayetteville—with honor and distinction. I support his nomination by the president, and I look forward to his confirmation in the Senate,” Cotton said.

Tabor is currently the Chief of Police at the Northwest Arkansas National Airport. He previously 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.

COTTON, GALLAGHER, AND COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO FREEZE HUAWEI FROM U.S. FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin), along with a bipartisan group of colleagues, have introduced the Neutralizing Emerging Threats from Wireless OEMs Receiving direction from Kleptocracies and Surveillance states (NETWORKS) Act. The bill would add foreign companies producing 5G technology, like Huawei, to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List should they engage in economic or industrial espionage or sanctions violations. Placing a company on the SDN List effectively freezes them from accessing the U.S. financial system and is one of the most effective tools the Treasury Department has to combat national security threats. The SDN List has previously been used against malign actors such as terrorist groups, Russian oligarchs, Iranian banks, and drug traffickers. The House bill was co-led by Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania), and the Senate bill was co-led by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland).

 “It’s time to sanction Huawei. For years, this arm of the Chinese Communist Party has stolen American intellectual property and violated U.S. sanctions with impunity. This legislation would cut Huawei off from the U.S. financial system, relegating it to pariah status alongside Russian oligarchs, Iranian terrorists, and Mexican drug cartels,” said Cotton.

“It’s clear that in order to protect global 5G networks, we need a full court press against malevolent actors like Huawei,” said Gallagher. “It’s time to go on the offensive by cutting Huawei out of the U.S. banking system. We’re nearing a decisive point for global 5G networks and we need to leverage every tool in our arsenal to protect a diverse telecommunications supply chain and stop the Chinese Communist Party’s bid to monopolize global networks. I’m proud the NETWORKS Act takes bold bipartisan action to do just that.”

“American cutting edge technology has been systematically stolen by Chinese state actors for decades. As we develop 5G, it’s clear that this frontier is no different,” said Gallego. “Companies like Huawei who willfully compromise our information security and laws should be excluded from the global marketplace. I’m determined to work with my Congressional colleagues to protect U.S. networks and interests as we move into the 5G era,” said Gallego.  

“Just as a Russian or Iranian regime-controlled company that steals intellectual property or enables sanctions evasion would be placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, so should Huawei, a company controlled by the Chinese Communist Party that is facing charges for those exact activities. Security must be our first priority—especially when it comes to next-generation telecommunications. Companies like Huawei should not be given free rein to infiltrate and monopolize 5G networks. They must be barred from the financial system so that the U.S., our allies, and others are not enabling their nefarious campaign,” said Cheney.

“China has proven itself a great threat to our digital infrastructure,” said Houlahan. “That’s why we need to take deliberate action to protect ourselves and restrict companies like Huawei from accessing our banking system. My background is in supply chain management for major, international businesses, which is why I’m confident that our bipartisan, bicameral NETWORKS Act takes the necessary first steps to shore up our 5G infrastructure and to protect our digital network from malevolent actors.”

“China-based companies like Huawei cooperate heavily with the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government in political and economic espionage. Allowing China to dominate global 5G networks threatens America’s national security. It is time for the Trump administration to take swift and forceful action to block Huawei from accessing the U.S. financial system,” said Schumer.

“We know Huawei is supported and controlled by the communist regime in Beijing, which continues to violate human rights and steal our data, technology, and intellectual property. Huawei is being used as a tool for Communist China to commit espionage on foreign nations, their own citizens and anyone they see as a threat. The United States must do everything in our power to signal that Huawei is a threat to our national security, and I’m proud to sponsor the NETWORKS Act as we continue to hold Huawei accountable,” said Scott.

“Foreign companies that spy on the U.S. and violate our laws should face severe consequences. Huawei is a repeat offender. This bill will sanction Huawei and any other bad actors to better protect our national security interests,” said Van Hollen

The NETWORKS Act would:

  • Require the president to place 5G companies engaging in sanctions violations or economic or industrial espionage on the U.S. Treasury Department’s SDN List, cutting Huawei out of the US financial system
  • Level the playing field for U.S. companies by limiting the ability of any company, American or foreign, to transact with Huawei
  • Exempt transactions involving existing 3G or 4G networks in order to minimize disruption to global networks
  • Protect American technological leadership by allowing participation in international standards-setting bodies

March 12, 2020

HAMPTON SCHOOL DISTRICT RELEASES STATEMENT REGARDING COVID-19
March 12, 2020

Dear Parent,

We are closely monitoring the Novel (new) Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) internationally, and are working in coordination with the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Division of Elementary and Secondary Education

(DESE) to monitor the situation in Arkansas. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hampton School District at this time.

ADH is currently monitoring travelers who have returned within the last 14 days from countries with sustained community transmission. As of February 28, the affected countries are China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan.

The Hampton School District is working with ADH and DESE to identify students and staff that may have traveled from the affected countries, and will collaborate with ADH in the event any such students or staff are identified.

Travelers from affected countries are advised to stay at home and monitor for symptoms until 14 days have passed from their departure from that country, while limiting interaction with others. Once 14 days have passed without any symptoms of illness, the Centers for Disease Control recommends these travelers can be allowed to return to school and public activities.

At this time, Hampton School District is not at risk. However, we continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, and other viruses including the flu and common cold, which include:
Routinely cleaning and disinfecting the school
Encouraging staff and students to wash their hands frequently with soap and water
Ensuring that bathrooms are adequately furnished with soap
The schools will be completely sanitized over spring break
All field trips, including EAST, FFA, and non-conference athletic games have been canceled (all district/qualifying events will take place; all will be re-evaluated after Spring Break)
Isolating anyone with symptoms and sending home for self-quarantine for 14 days

You can also help prevent the spread of viruses by encouraging your student to:
Stay home when they are sick

Frequently wash their hands with soap and water
Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
Cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing

Student wellness is a top priority at Hampton School District, and we truly appreciate your help to keep our students healthy.

Sincerely
Jimmy Cunningham
Superintendent

OUACHITA COUNTY RECREATIONAL CENTER CANCELLATION
Following the suggestion of the Arkansas Dept of Health the Kick-Off Party tomorrow night, Friday, March 13th is Cancelled. 

OUACHITA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER NEWS RELEASE
March 12, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In light of growing public health concerns, Ouachita County Medical Center (OCMC) is actively instituting health and safety measures to prevent and respond to the potential for Coronavirus exposure in our community.

Local and state efforts to ensure public safety are being developed with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Updates from the CDC and state officials are being monitored daily.

Until further notice all patients presenting to OCMC with signs of respiratory illness are being provided with masks to minimize the spread of all respiratory infections. Staff will be inquiring about travel history or exposure to someone that has traveled.  If staff become concerned about a patient’s potential exposure to coronavirus, the CDC guidelines for preventing spread of the illness will be followed.  

We are asking that patients presenting to OCMC only bring one family member with them in order to reduce exposure to others.  OCMC will be limiting access to the building and all outside meetings will be cancelled until further notice.

We cannot stress enough the importance of practicing these simple habits:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes
  • Avoid large crowds

If you are concerned about symptoms please do not immediately go to the ER or ExpressCare.  Contact your PCP and follow their advice.  If you are unable to reach your PCP please contact the ER at 870-836-1219 or ExpressCare at 870-836-5013 before arrival, as there is currently no treatment for the Coronavirus.  Hospital care is for the critically ill only.

If you have any further questions please contact our call-in line at 870-836-1440.

Thank you
Peggy L. Abbott
CEO/President

THIS WEEKEND'S CAMDEN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL CANCELLED DUE TO RECOMMENDATION FROM STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT
The Camden Daffodil Festival and community leaders continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials. Based on their advice, we have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Daffodil Festival.

The Arkansas Department of Health said, "Under no circumstances can we support an event that brings Iarge groups of people together, and it is our recommendation that you cancel." We support state and local officials as they continue to monitor and address this situation.

While we understand how disappointing this is for everyone, this decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing. The decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of our community, visitors, vendors, and volunteers.

Sincerely
Emily Jordan-Robertson -Festival Chairperson
Robert McAdoo – Ouachita County Judge
Julian Lott – Camden Mayor

STATEMENT FROM CAMDEN FAIRVIEW PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Camden Fairview Public Schools
Office Of The Superintendent
525 Clifton
Camden, Arkansas 71701

At Camden Fairview School District, we take the safety and well-being of our students and staff very seriously. With the report of the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in the state of Arkansas, we understand our parents’ concerns and want to provide as much information as possible. Please understand that our state health organization is the lead and authority regarding decisions related to COVID-19.

School officials have not been given information regarding any any students and/or staff being exposed to the irus. Camden Fairview School district monitors and follows recommendations from the Arkansas Health department and the Arkansas Department of Education to ensure we are protecting our students and staff.  

exposed 10 the virus. Camden Fairview School District monitors and follows recommendations from the Arkansas Health Department and the Arkansas Department of Education to ensure we are protecting our students and staff.

Parents are asking about travel over Spring Break. We are Waiting on guidance from the Arkansas Health Department and the Arkansas Department of Education. We sill provide updates as we receive information.

As with any contagious disease, the best approach is prevention.

Recommendations include:
❖            avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;

❖            cover coughs and sneezes: cough into elbow:

❖            clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces;

❖            stayy home when they are sick; and

❖            wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

In situations like these, rumors may cause unnecessary reactions and panic. Therefore, we encourage you to get information from credible sources. The Arkansas Department of Health publishes daily updates online.

Thank you
The release was signed by Fred Lilly, District Superintendent and the District Nurses and Athletic Trainer

SEC CANCELS SEC EVENTS
Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the suspension of regular season competition for teams in all sports on SEC campuses, as well SEC championship events, until March 30.”

As of now, there will be no Arkansas baseball games or broadcasts until March 30th. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and update you as necessary.

STATEMENT REGARDING THE SAU SYSTEM’S PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AMIDST PUBLIC HEALTH SAFETY
MAGNOLIA --
The Southern Arkansas University System Risk Management Task Force continues to actively monitor the public health concerns surrounding COVID-19, or the novel Coronavirus. The safety and well-being of our campus communities remain our highest priority. Decisions are based on the fluid information provided by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health officials. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the campus of SAU or SAU Tech.

SAU has existing protocols and procedures in place to manage infectious disease on each campus. We will continue to follow these procedures, and the System is prepared to act quickly in the event of exposure to any major virus by students, faculty or staff.

The Risk Management Task Force includes a collaborative representation of the institutional body including administration, faculty, staff, and health professionals. This group is meeting regularly to identify and implement additional proactive and reactive prevention methods.

The University strongly discourages all travel, both foreign and domestic. Students, faculty and staff who choose to travel areas of the United States that are “hot spots” (heavy concentrations) of viral outbreak or areas in CDC Alert Levels 2, 3, or 4 must immediately report to University Health Services (UHS) upon return to campus. UHS will follow Arkansas Department of Health recommendations on a case-by-case basis, including a potential mandatory 14-day self-quarantine following travel to these areas.  

The SAU System currently has a curriculum continuity plan.  The Provost is working with faculty, department chairs, deans, and the Department of Online Learning to enhance this plan and increase support systems to allow a rapid change to complete online course delivery should the need arise.
Additional information regarding recently implemented policies and procedures and updates regarding the University’s proactive response to the current public health concern can be found by visiting www.saumag.edu. All questions should be emailed to taskforce@saumag.edu.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GUIDELINES FOR STAYING SAFE FROM THE CARONAVIRUS



Keeping the workplace safe
Encourage your employees to…

Practice good hygiene
Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting
Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email
Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes
Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly
Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning Be careful with meetings and travel
Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible
When not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces
Consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings
Assess the risks of business travel Handle food carefully
Limit food sharing
Strengthen health screening for cafeteria staff and their close contacts

Keeping the school safe
Encourage your faculty, staff, and students to…

Practice good hygiene
Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting
Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals
Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes
Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly
Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
Handle food carefully
Limit food sharing
Strengthen health screening for cafeteria staff and their close contacts
Ensure cafeteria staff and their close contacts practice strict hygiene
Stay home if…
They are feeling sick  
They have a sick family member in their home Consider rearranging large activities and gatherings
Consider adjusting or postponing gatherings that mix between classes and grades
Adjust after-school arrangements to avoid mixing between classes and grades
When possible, hold classes outdoors or in open, well-ventilated spaces What every American and community can

Keeping the home safe
Encourage your family members to…

All households
Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals
Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their face and cover coughs and sneezes
Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and handrails regularly
Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
Households with sick family members
Give sick members their own room if possible, and keep the door closed
Have only one family member care for them
Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying conditions

Keeping commercial establishments safe
Encourage your employees and customers to…
Practice good hygiene
Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting
Clean hands at the door, and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email
Promote tap and pay to limit handling of cash
Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly
Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
Avoid crowding
Use booking and scheduling to stagger customer flow
Use online transactions where possible
Consider limiting attendance at larger gatherings

For transportation businesses, taxis, and ride shares
Keep windows open when possible
Increase ventilation
Regularly disinfect surfaces

 

SENATOR COTTON CLOSES WASHINGTON, D.C. OFFICE
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) has temporarily closed his Washington, D.C. office to protect the health of his staff and to prevent the spread of the Wuhan virus. D.C. staff will continue to work from home. Senator Cotton released the statement below concerning the closure:

“The Wuhan coronavirus is a grave challenge to our great nation. My first priority is always the safety of our people. Since I first heard reports of an unknown virus spreading in central China in early January, I have endeavored to protect you and your family from this menace. From the beginning, I have heeded the counsel of Benjamin Franklin: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I urge every American to do the same—as individuals, in their families, and at their workplaces and schools. Together, through prudent and responsible actions, we can arrest the spread of this virus and protect the health of our nation.

Effectively immediately, therefore, I have closed my Washington, D.C. office. An aide in another Senate office has tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus; other congressional employees are likely to test positive in the days ahead. The most sensible course of action for the public and the congressional workforce under the circumstances is for my staff to telecommute. A weeklong congressional recess begins tomorrow, so the disruption to our in-office operations will be minimal. My D.C. office will remain closed through that recess. But my staff will be available to assist you promptly by email and phone, as always. I will remain at work for legislative business while the Senate is in session, and I will continue to work around the clock to protect you and our nation. 

My offices in Arkansas will remain open. Our state currently has one confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus; that case is travel-related. I will assess the situation in Arkansas as it develops.

We are a great people. We rise to every challenge, we vanquish every foe, and we come through adversity even better than before. I have every confidence America will once again marshal the resolve, toughness, and genius of our people to overcome the serious threat to our health and well-being posed by the Wuhan coronavirus. We will emerge stronger from this challenge, we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world, and we will prosper in the new day.”
 

BOOZMAN CONTINUES TO ADVOCATE FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO VA SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAMS
WASHINGTON-
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Committee, continues to advocate for improved coordination of suicide prevention efforts to save the lives of veterans.

“We are going to insist that the money we spend to target veterans mental health care is supporting programs that are doing a good job,” Boozman said at a joint Senate and House VA Committee hearing. “We need to double down on programs that are effective and get rid of the ones that aren’t.”

Over the past month, leaders of veteran service organizations (VSOs) have pressed Congress to do more to address the veteran suicide crisis. VSOs including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the American Legion have made this one of their top legislative priorities.

American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford testified on Wednesday that an online mental health survey by the Legion last year showed that 30 percent of respondents knew a veteran who died by suicide and 67 percent indicated they would be willing to get formal suicide prevention training to help reduce the rate.

Boozman has been a relentless advocate for preventing veteran suicides. He authored the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act, critical bipartisan legislation to enhance outreach to veterans in the community through grants, improve coordination of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides.

The IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Days later, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the bill “key” to unlocking the veteran suicide crisis at a committee hearing.

The legislation was included as a provision in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019, a comprehensive bill that expands veterans’ access to mental health services that recently passed the Senate VA Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

 

U.S. FLAG AND AR FLAG HALF-STAFF NOTIFICATION: HOT SPRINGS POLICE OFFICER BRENT WILLIAM SCRIMSHIRE

Governor Hutchinson Orders Flags Lowered
To Half-Staff in Memory of Slain Police Officer
LITTLE ROCK
– Governor Asa Hutchinson ordered the Arkansas and U.S. flags lowered to half-staff on Wednesday in memory of Hot Springs Police Officer Brent William Scrimshire who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.

“Officer Scrimshire was selfless and brave in serving Hot Springs,” Governor Hutchinson said Wednesday. “He put the safety of others ahead of his personal safety. Tuesday evening, Officer Scrimshire gave his life in service of others. I was saddened to learn of his death. I offer my condolences to his family and his fellow officers in the Hot Springs Police Department.

“I have ordered the Arkansas and U.S. flags to fly at half-staff in memory of the service of Officer Brent William Scrimshire and as an expression of our shared sorrow for his death.”

Officer Scrimshire was named a Regional Officer of the Year by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and as Hot Springs Officer of the Quarter in September.


March 11, 2020

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen MET in regular session last evening, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at promptly 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The minutes of the last meeting were approved. The Financial Report for last month was approved after a discussion as to why the Fire Department is already over budget for the year.

The Mayor gave the Annual State of the City address. The report included a report regarding Environmental, Safety, Health and security. In 2019  Air Quality Issues in the Municipal Building were adressed,  as well as Abatement of Asbestos Tiles & Replacement. The back staircase at City Hall was replaced because it was a hazard. Security cameras were installed and a Back Entrance Electronic Entry System (ADA Compliant) was installed. There was Roof Repairs due to water damage.

In 2019 the City was awarded several Grants and Gifts. The Trace won an Engineering Excellence Award! The Bike and Pedestrian Network saw additions.

Airport Runway & Terminal Improvements, Airport Fuel Farm Upgrade and Municipal Airport Gas were all awarded grants. Work continued on the Water and Sewage Lines. There is an agreement in process with Scenic Hill Solar

Public Meetings included the following topics, Routine Police Stops, Food Safety, Code Enforcement – Nuisance, Fire Safety, Partnered with ADS on Job Fairs for Dislocated Workers and Hosted the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus Political Outreach.


March 2019 was declared Amnesty Month. There was Collected $97,871.35 collected. This was a $36,000.00 Increase over a two-year average. 250 Warrants were served which reflected 6 time the monthly average.

During Earth Day Week residents were able to take yard waste to the Camden Landfill for free. The City teamed with B&M Painting to host a Softball Tournament to help revitalization of Carnes Park and to raise funds for the Women’s Crisis Center.

Other things the city took part in during 2019 included a partnership with OPED to host a job fair, the Juneteenth Celebration, Camp Ouachita and the Community Development Institute.

The Council heard Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. The councilmen had a number of questions the big question being how much the entire project cost. Ordinance 13-20 only addressed putting in two new doors placed strategically in City Hall. It didn’t include the cost to secure the doors. No one could give them an answer as to how much the entire security project will cost the City. L.E Lindsey and Chris Aregood pushed the cost point as well and taking easy access to City Hall to the people. It was explained that sometimes people that, maybe, aren’t very happy with something or someone undesirable have complete access to the Offices in City Hall. The doors are only the first phase to secure City Hall. El Dorado Glass had the lowest bid the two doors installed is  $7444.00. After a lengthy discussion the motion passed with 3 noes – Aregood, Lindsey and Smith and 5 yeses – Galbert, Bell, Simmons, Moore, and Askew.

Resolution 10-20, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of one 2020 F150 Regular Cab Pickup for the Public Works Department. The resolution passed unanimously.

Next up Resolution No. 11-20, a resolution authorizing a budget re-appropriation and awarding the bid for the purchase of one (1) 2020 F350 Cab Chassis Pickup for the Public Works Department. The resolution passed unanimously.

 Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution supporting participation in the Main Street Arkansas Program, was read. The resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 13-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for online Code Services from Municode was then heard. The resolution passed unanimously.
 

Resolution No. 14-20 is a resolution authorizing a Maintenance Technician Position (Grade LS-3) to the Camden Police Department due to the loss of the 309 Program. Another $25000.00 to the budget. The city employs a woman who cleans the Police Station but the 309’s were doing all of the outside maintenance including yard work at no cost to the City. There was some discussion regarding adding yet another salary however the Council agreed this was a necessary expenditure. The resolution passed unanimously.

A motion was made to add OPED Funding to the agenda. Mr. Lindsey had the same contract that was approved last year. There were minor changes which he had underlined.  The Mayor had already heard talk regarding the funding and stated “I saw you coming.” He went on to introduce Resolution 15-20. The agenda was amended again. The Mayor talked about secret meetings. It was pointed out to him that the meetings he was speaking of are meetings he can attend but chooses not to. They are Executive Sessions which the Mayor is part of. They are not secret. The Mayor had already had City Attorney, Michael Frye, amend the contract to make some amendments. Mayor Lott wants to decrease OPED funding from $150,000.00 to $75,000.00 for the year.

He introduced Resolution 15-20 to reflect the change. Lindsey countered with Resolution 16-20. Both Resolutions had been emailed from the Mayor's Office to the Councilmen at 4:00 pm yesterday afternoon. OPED Executive Director James Lee Silliman and several other Board members were present at the meeting. They were under the impression that OPED funding would be on the agenda and they would have the opportunity to speak so they didn’t speak during Audience Participation. Aregood made a motion to amend the agenda yet again and re-open audience participation. The motion was seconded and passed.

Jim Golden spoke passionately regarding the City of Camden and the importance of the Industrial Park to Camden. The Mayor countered with he thinks OPED shouldn’t be giving incentives to the Defense Industries that are outside the County but focus on Camden. Mayor Lott wants to take the other $75,000.00 that generally funds OPED and hire an outside consultant to focus on Camden. There was discussion as to the economic impact the Defense jobs has on Camden. It was pointed out that a large majority of the employees who work in the area live and shop in Camden.

Askew finally stated that the funding issue should be tabled until the Council Members could have time to really digest the whole issue and the contracts and Resolutions set before them. The motion was made and seconded. The motion to table the issue passed with a 4 to 4 vote on the Council and the Mayor casting the vote to break the tie.

It was then time for open discussion on any other concerns that have been brought to the Councilmen attention. Lindsey express concern over the fact that a constituent had contacted him and said that Mayor Lott was driving a brand-new police vehicle. Aregood stated he had gotten phone calls regarding the same thing. The vehicle he was driving went to an Officer. The Council had approved two new Police Vehicles to be purchased in 2020. The issue was why the Mayor got one of the brand-new new vehicles instead of it going to an Officer. The meeting ended with the Mayor going on a rant about why the Council had an issue with him driving a city vehicle when it had never been an issue before. He implied it was because he was black. The meeting was adjourned before his allegations could be addressed.

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MONTHLY MARKET RETURNS
FRIDAY APRIL 3rd, 2020
CAMDEN, ARKANSAS – The First Friday Monthly Market will kick off it’s much anticipated 2020 season on April 3rd from 6PM till 9PM on Washington St. in Downtown Camden. The public is invited to come enjoy a relaxed evening with a large array of street vendors, live music, food, special children’s activities, book signings and more! Downtown shops stay open late for your shopping convenience while you enjoy the market.

The 2020 Season dates and themes will include:

April 3rd • “Grow Camden”
A look at special lawn & garden displays, healthy cooking demos, etc.

May 1st • “Cinco De Mayo"
A fun night to celebrate the Mexican heritage and enjoy great foods, music, etc.

June 5th • “Jugglin’ June"
The circus theme was so well received we are repeating it for 2020.

July 3rd • “Camden Cook Out”
Celebrating Independence Day with some Competitions and good food.

August 7th • “Take Flight Camden”
We will be gearing up for Back to School with an emphasis on Literacy and bringing awareness to Autism.

Sept. 4th • “Off to the Fair”
As we turn to fall we will bring our attention to the county fair with jellies, jams, kids fun & more.

Oct. 2nd • “Downtown Getdown”
Everything special about a fall festival!

Nov. 6th • “Flannel & Frost”
Get geared up for your holiday shopping as we bring together elements of both Thanksgiving and Christmas with the “feel good” family togetherness.

Recently, in January 2020, the First Friday team proudly brought home the Silver Award as Runner Up for Event of the Year, provided by the Arkansas Festivals and Events Association in just the 2nd season. During their 1st season the group won a Bronze for Best New Event of the Year from Arkansas Festivals and Events Association as well as 3rd runner up for the Bootstrap Award from Arkansas Parks and Tourism.

LT. GOVERNOR GRIFFIN MOURNS DEATH OF HOT SPRINGS POLICE OFFICER BRENT SCRIMSHIRE 
LITTLE ROCK – Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin issued the following statement on the death of Hot Springs Police Officer Brent Scrimshire who was killed in the line of duty:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Brent Scrimshire during this tragic and difficult time. He will be remembered for his courage and dedication to serve and protect the people of Hot Springs. My heart also goes out to the Hot Springs Police Department as they grieve the loss of one of their own. Today's news is a tragic reminder to Arkansans of the risks our law enforcement officers face each and every day as they strive to make our communities safer." 
 

HONORING THE PAST, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:  SAU DEDICATES HISTORIC FARMSTEAD AND LEARNING CENTER
Alexander, Warnock and Ozmer families see ancestral homes preserved thanks to community, statewide effort
MAGNOLIA – Dr. Trey Berry, president of Southern Arkansas University, opened the dedication of the Alexander-Warnock and Ozmer Historic Farmstead and Learning Center with warm thanks and a reminder that the completion of the four-year project “is about family, it’s about home, and preserving our heritage.”

Proclaiming Friday, March 6 as a “historic day” in the history of the University, Berry welcomed members of the Alexander, Warnock and Ozmer families, state officials, members of the SAU campus, alumni and friends to the ceremony on the Farmstead grounds. Noting that hundreds of people are to thank for their participation in and support of the project, Berry began by thanking Darrell Rogers of Magnolia, who donated the Ozmer House to SAU in 1986 for its preservation. “In some ways, this project has been going on for 34 years,” Berry said. He also thanked David and Diana Hall, direct descendants of the Ozmer family, who invested in their ancestral home by funding moving expenses to place the home in its current location.

Magnolia resident Molly Harsh Burns spoke on behalf of the Alexander and Warnock family. Mrs. Burns expressed shared appreciation to the family toward the University for their efforts to save and preserve their ancestral home. Burns regaled the large audience with stories about the homes, noting to laughter that “the two houses are kin by marriage.”

The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism cabinet secretary, Ms. Stacy Hurst, and the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) program manager, Ms. Debra Fithen attended the Farmstead dedication. Through grants, these agencies have provided significant resources to transform the SAU campus over the past nine years, including the Farmstead. Ms. Hurst spoke on behalf of the two agencies, acknowledging the importance of protecting historic resources in the state. “These historic structures are not only beautiful but instruct on life in rural Arkansas,” Hurst said. “This is our history brought to life and made accessible to us today.”

The Farmstead consists of the Alexander-Warnock House, c. 1853-55, and the Ozmer House, c. 1883, bathrooms disguised as a detached kitchen, and a barn for Molly Ann, the University’s mule. As part of the dedication, guests toured both newly-renovated historic homes and visited with Abbie Guinn, the SAU Mulerider mascot.

The event concluded with family members, University leaders, and state officials gathering at the corner of the Farmstead lawn to plant a ceremonial holly tree. President Berry closed by commending “a great community and statewide effort. Welcome home.”

COLOR ME HAPPY SK FUN RUN/WALK
The Color Me Happy 5K Fun Run will be Saturday, March 21st at 8:00 a.m. There will be an early registration event in East Camden on Thursday March 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the East Camden Shopping Cente. Register the Day of Race at 7:00 a.m. Registration is $20.00. T-Shirt packets are guaranteed to all participants registered by March 16th. Mail Entry to Team India, 500 Busbee Street, Camden, AR 71701. Extra shirts were ordered and will be handed out until they are gone for those who register later. For more information contact Jana Garcia at (870) 833-1791 or janalgarcia@yahoo.com Jana Garcia

 

MARCH 10, 2020

MADISON AND GRANT COUNTY TEAMS OVERALL WINNERS OF THE ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS AND ARKANSAS 4-H SEAPERCH CHALLENGE
Little Rock, Ark.
— March 10, 2020 — Teams from Grant and Madison counties placed first out of 42 teams from 16 Arkansas counties at the 2020 Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and Arkansas 4-H SeaPerch Challenge on Friday, March 6. The event was held at The Center at Bishop Park in Bryant with more than 162 students participating in the event.

The winner of the junior division was the Madisygarjack team from Grant County. Team members included Sydney Miller, Jackson Friedman, Garrett Key and Madison Andrews. The senior division was won by the RoboClovers of Madison County. The team consisted of Westin Ball, Jesley Ball and Toby Whiteley. Another Madison County team, The Trumpinators, placed second in the junior division. Team members were Colton Edwards, Trevor Edwards and Brayden Krizan.

The winners now advance to the International SeaPerch Challenge that will be held May 29 – 31 at the University of Maryland.

The SeaPerch is a remotely-operated submersible built from more than three dozen parts, including PVC pipe, pool noodles, three 12-volt motors and batteries. During the contest, teams navigated their SeaPerch through obstacle courses and completed other tasks, such as moving plastic rings from one part of the course and successfully placing them to another part. The goal is to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To learn more about the SeaPerch initiative, visit https://4h.uaex.edu/programs/science/engineering-technology/seaperch.aspx.

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.

CAMDEN PLANNING COMMISSION CANCELS MARCH MEETING
Due to a lack of business on the agenda, there will not be a Planning Commission or Board of Adjustments meeting for March 2020. The City of Camden’s Planning Commission will still conduct a workshop to discuss the City’s Manufactured Home Ordinance March 19, 2020 at 5:00 PM in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 206 Van Buren NE Camden, AR 71701.

 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will mee on Thursday, March 12th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Jeff Schwab – Scouting Executive for the Boys Scouts


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR OFFERS GUIDANCE FOR PREPARING WORKPLACES FOR CORONAVIRUS
WASHINGTON, DC
– The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” to help companies respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidance was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

The document provides practical guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, and contains information on safe work practices and appropriate personal protective equipment based on the risk level of exposure.

“Protecting the health and safety of America’s workforce is a key component of this Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating the coronavirus,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt. “This guidance outlines practical ways that employers and workers can address potential health risks from the coronavirus in their workplaces.”

This guidance is part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing efforts to educate the workers and employers about the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • In addition to the guidance, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage that provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers, and is actively reviewing and responding to any complaints regarding workplace protection from novel coronavirus, as well as conducting outreach activities.
  • The Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.   
  • The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has also published guidance for federal employees and outlines Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.

For further information about Coronavirus, please visit the HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON'S PUBLIC SCHEDULE: MARCH 8 - MARCH 14
LITTLE ROCK – The following is a list of public appearances by Governor Asa Hutchinson from Sunday, March 8, 2020, through Saturday, March 14, 2020:

 

Monday, March 9, 2020:

BENTON
Saline County Career & Technical Campus Groundbreaking
9:30 a.m.
Benton Events Center
17322 I-30
Benton, Arkansas

ARKADELPHIA
Pediatrics Plus Groundbreaking Ceremony
11:00 a.m.
702 Hickory Street
Arkadelphia, Arkansas

Tuesday, March 10, 2020:

CLARKSVILLE
Clarksville Airport Grant Check Presentation
9:30 a.m.
Clarksville Airport
1413 E Main Street
Clarksville, Arkansas

OZARK
Mercy Hospital – Ozark
Expansion Ceremony
11:00 a.m.
Mercy Hospital – Ozark
801 W. River Street
Ozark, Arkansas

OZARK
Dedication and Open House for the Franklin County Detention Center
2:00 p.m.
Franklin County Detention Center
248 Airport Road
Ozark, Arkansas 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020:

LITTLE ROCK
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
10:30 a.m.
State Capitol Rotunda
500 Woodlane Street
Little Rock, Arkansas 

Thursday, March 12, 2020:

NORTH LITTLE ROCK
Natural State Recovery Center Groundbreaking
11:00 a.m.
Former Oak Grove High School – Gymnasium
10025 Oakland Drive
North Little Rock, Arkansas

Schedule is subject to change. For further updates from Governor Hutchinson, follow on Facebook  or Twitter (@AsaHutchinson).

COTTON, BOOZMAN ASK SBA FOR MORE FEEDBACK ON RULE HARMING POULTRY PRODUCERS
Washington, D.C. — On Friday, Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) led nine of their colleagues in sending a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza expressing concern over a new rule that will make it more difficult for poultry growers to access SBA loans. Specifically, the Senators are concerned that while the SBA is accepting comments on the rule until April 10, 2020, the provisions targeting poultry farmers are slated to go into effect on March 11, 2020, before the SBA has time to fully evaluate the comments submitted. The Senators ask the SBA to extend the comment period for the interim rule in order to better understand its potential impact on the poultry community.

The letter is also signed by Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Doug Jones (D-Alabama), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), David Perdue (R-Georgia), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).

March 09, 2020

GUIDANCE FOR LIMITING THE TRANSMISSION OF COVID-19 FOR LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES 
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) adversely affects older adults and persons with underlying health conditions or compromised immune conditions. This population is at greater risk for severe illness from this virus.  

Due to the vulnerability of residents in long-term care facilities, it is of utmost importance to limit possible exposure to COVID-19. A long-term care facility is defined by section 20-10-101(10) of the Arkansas Code and includes nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, post-acute head injury retraining and residential care facilities, and any other facility that provides long-term medical or personal care. 

Effective immediately, the Arkansas Department of Health directs all long-term care facilities to screen all visitors and employees as described below.  The facility shall restrict entry for visitors meeting any one of the screening criteria.  Restrictive authority for visitors can be found at 42 CFR §483.10(f)(4), and at F-tag 563 of Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual.  The facility shall restrict work for any employee meeting any one of the screening criteria. 

Screening Criteria

Effective immediately, the Arkansas Department of Health directs all long-term care facilities to screen all visitors and employees as described below.  The facility shall restrict entry for visitors meeting any one of the screening criteria.  Restrictive authority for visitors can be found at 42 CFR §483.10(f)(4), and at F-tag 563 of Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual.  The facility shall restrict work for any employee meeting any one of the screening criteria. 

1. Facility staff must question all visitors regarding international travel within the last 14 days to countries with sustained transmission of COVID-19. For updated information on restricted countries visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

2. Facility staff must question visitors if they have had contact with someone known to be infected with or, under investigation for, COVID-19.
3. Facility staff must screen for signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as cough, sore throat, and fever by measuring their temperature. Temperature may not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for any visitor entering the facility.

For employees, temperature screening shall be done prior to every shift.  For assistance with screening, an optional questionnaire is attached and can also be accessed at 
www.healthy.arkansas.gov.

Per CMS guidance on survey activities, the Office of Long-term Care will continue to work immediate jeopardy complaints, complaints alleging infection control concerns, annual surveys, re-visits, initial certifications, surveys of facilities that have had immediate-jeopardy level infection control deficiencies in the last three years, and surveys of facilities that have a history of infection control deficiencies at lower levels.

For further guidance, please reference CMS Ref: QSO-20-14-NH Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in nursing homes.
 

GUIDANCE FOR INFECTION CONTROL AND PREVENTION OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) IN NURSING HOMES FROM THE CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES (CMS)
Memorandum Summary
• CMS is committed to taking critical steps to ensure America’s health care facilities and clinical laboratories are prepared to respond to the threat of the COVID-19.

• Guidance for Infection Control and Prevention of COVID-19 - CMS is providing additional guidance to nursing homes to help them improve their infection control and prevention practices to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

• Coordination with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local public health departments - We encourage all nursing homes to monitor the CDC website for information and resources and contact their local health department when needed (CDC Resources for Health Care Facilities:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/index.html).

Background
CMS is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of nursing homes by enforcing the standards required to help each resident attain or maintain their highest level of well-being. In light of the recent spread of COVID-19, we’re providing additional guidance to nursing homes to help control and prevent the spread of the virus.

Guidance
Facilities should monitor the CDC website for information and resources (links below).  They should contact their local health department if they have questions or suspect a resident of a nursing home has COVID-19.  Per CDC, prompt detection, triage and isolation of potentially infectious patients are essential to prevent unnecessary exposures among patients, healthcare personnel, and visitors at the facility. Therefore, facilities should continue to be vigilant in identifying any possible infected individuals. Facilities should consider frequent monitoring for potential symptoms of respiratory infection as needed throughout the day. Furthermore, we encourage facilities to take advantage of resources that have been made available by CDC and CMS to train and prepare staff to improve infection control and prevention practices.  Lastly, facilities should maintain a person-centered approach to care.  This includes communicating effectively with patients, patient representatives and/or their family, and understanding their individual needs and goals of care.

Facilities experiencing an increased number of respiratory illnesses (regardless of suspected etiology) among patients/residents or healthcare personnel should immediately contact their local or state health department for further guidance.

In addition to the overarching regulations and guidance, we’re providing the following information (Frequently Asked Questions) about some specific areas related to COVID-19:
Guidance for Limiting the Transmission of COVID-19 for Nursing Homes
How should facilities monitor or limit visitors? Facilities should screen visitors for the following:

1. International travel within the last 14 days to restricted countries. For updated information on restricted countries visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

2. Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a fever, cough, and sore throat.

3. Has had contact with someone with or under investigation for COVID-19.

If visitors meet the above criteria, facilities may restrict their entry to the facility.  Regulations and guidance related to restricting a resident’s right to visitors can be found at 42 CFR  §483.10(f)(4), and at F-tag 563 of Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual.  Specifically, a facility may need to restrict or limit visitation rights for reasonable clinical and safety reasons. This includes, “restrictions placed to prevent community-associated infection or communicable disease transmission to the resident. A resident’s risk factors for infection (e.g., immunocompromised condition) or current health state (e.g., end-of-life care) should be considered when restricting visitors. In general, visitors with signs and symptoms of a transmissible infection (e.g., a visitor is febrile and exhibiting signs and symptoms of an influenza-like illness) should defer visitation until he or she is no longer potentially infectious (e.g., 24 hours after resolution of fever without antipyretic medication).”


• Health care providers (HCP) who have signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection should not report to work.

• Any staff that develop signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection while on-the-job, should:

• Immediately stop work, put on a facemask, and self-isolate at home;

• Inform the facility’s infection preventionist, and include information on individuals, equipment, and locations the person came in contact with; and

• Contact and follow the local health department recommendations for next steps (e.g., testing, locations for treatment).

• Refer to the CDC guidance for exposures that might warrant restricting asymptomatic healthcare personnel from reporting to work (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html).

How should facilities monitor or restrict health care facility staff?
The same screening performed for visitors should be performed for facility staff (numbers 1, 2, and 3 above). 
Facilities should contact their local health department for questions, and frequently review the CDC website dedicated to COVID-19 for health care professionals (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html). 

When should nursing homes consider transferring a resident with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19 to a hospital?
Nursing homes with residents suspected of having COVID-19 infection should contact their local health department.  Residents infected with COVID-19 may vary in severity from lack of symptoms to mild or severe symptoms or fatality.  Initially, symptoms maybe mild and not require transfer to a hospital as long as the facility can follow the infection prevention and control practices recommended by CDC.  Facilities without an airborne infection isolation room (AIIR) are not required to transfer the patient assuming:  1) the patient does not require a higher level of care and 2) the facility can adhere to the rest of the infection prevention and control practices recommended for caring for a resident with COVID-19.  (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html)

The resident may develop more severe symptoms and require transfer to a hospital for a higher level of care.  Prior to transfer, emergency medical services and the receiving facility should be alerted to the resident’s diagnosis, and precautions to be taken including placing a facemask on the resident during transfer.  If the patient does not require hospitalization they can be discharged to home (in consultation with state or local public health authorities) if deemed medically and socially appropriate. Pending transfer or discharge, place a facemask on the patient and isolate him/her in a room with the door closed.

When should a nursing home accept a resident who was diagnosed with COVID-19 from a hospital? 
A nursing home can accept a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 and still under Transmission-based Precautions for COVID-19 as long as it can follow CDC guidance for transmission-based  precautions.  If a nursing home cannot, it must wait until these precautions are discontinued.  CDC has released Interim Guidance for Discontinuing Transmission-Based Precautions or In-Home Isolation for Persons with Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. Information on the duration of infectivity is limited, and the interim guidance has been developed with available information from similar coronaviruses.  CDC states that decisions to discontinue Transmission-based Precautions in hospitals will be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with clinicians, infection prevention and control specialists, and public health officials.  Discontinuation will be based on multiple factors (see current CDC guidance for further details).  

Note: Nursing homes should admit any individuals that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.  
Other considerations for facilities:
• Review CDC guidance for Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html

• Increase the availability and accessibility of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS), tissues, no touch receptacles for disposal, and facemasks at healthcare facility entrances, waiting rooms, patient check-ins, etc.

• Ensure ABHS is accessible in all resident-care areas including inside and outside resident rooms.
• Increase signage for vigilant infection prevention, such as hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

• Properly clean, disinfect and limit sharing of medical equipment between residents and areas of the facility.

• Provide additional work supplies to avoid sharing (e.g., pens, pads) and disinfect workplace areas (nurse’s stations, phones, internal radios, etc.).

What other resources are available for facilities to help improve infection control and prevention?

CMS urges providers to take advantage of several resources that are available:

CDC Resources:

• Infection preventionist training: https://www.cdc.gov/longtermcare/index.html

• CDC Resources for Health Care Facilities: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/index.html

• CDC Updates: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/whats-new-all.html

•  FAQ for COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/infection-prevention-control-faq.html

CMS Resources:
• Long term care facility – Infection control self-assessment worksheet:

https://qsep.cms.gov/data/252/A._NursingHome_InfectionControl_Worksheet11-8-19508.pdf

• Infection control toolkit for bedside licensed nurses and nurse aides (“Head to Toe Infection Prevention (H2T) Toolkit”): https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/LTC-CMP-Reinvestment

• Infection Control and Prevention regulations and guidance: 42 CFR 483.80, Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual. See F-tag 880: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/GuidanceforLawsAndRegulations/Downloads/Appendix-PP-State-Operations-Manual.pdf

Contact: Email DNH_TriageTeam@cms.hhs.gov

Effective Date:  Immediately.  This policy should be communicated with all survey and certification staff, their managers and the State/Regional Office training coordinators immediately. 

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet on Wednesday, March 11th at Catherine’s Bistro. This week students from SAU Tech will talk to about their campus experience at Tech.

SPRING CHORAL CONCERT SET FOR MARCH 17 AT CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH IN MAGNOLIA
 MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Department of Performing Arts and Mass Communication presents A Spring Choral Concert performed by the SAU Heritage and Chamber Singers.

The performance will take place at Central Baptist Church of Magnolia on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The concert, under the direction of Dr. Justin Nelson and accompanist Michael Womack, features music that is for, by, and about women. As part of this year’s Her Voice initiative that celebrates women in the performing arts, this performance showcases music from the past as well as music written more recently.

A highlight will be the Arkansas premiere of American composer Renee S. Waters’ “Mother Goose Suite.” This set of four nursery rhymes contains challenging music, exciting rhythms, exotic harmonies and a great deal of humor.

2020 SOUTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS RURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
“Equipping rural Arkansas with the tools and resources to drive business opportunities, partnerships, and expansion."
Providing rural residents with the skills and tools needed to create and expand small businesses and engage in job creation activities are the goals of an upcoming regional business conference to be held in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Funded by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS), Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (USDA, RD), the 2020 South Central Arkansas Rural Business Development Conference, with a theme of “Equipping rural Arkansas with the tools and resources to drive business opportunities, partnerships, and expansion,” will bring together approximately 20 private, state, federal and nonprofit organizations with a singular mission of equipping small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to start and expand their businesses.

Hosted by the AHDC, Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (APTAC), Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the conference will be held Friday, March 20, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, which is located at One Convention Center Plaza, Pine Bluff, AR 71601. Topics will include but are not limited to, building effective business relationships, securing the right kind of capital, how to sell goods and services to the government, and how to use the many services of the ASBTDC to develop and/or expand your business.

Join us at 8:30 am for a “Breakfast with the Lenders Roundtable,” where participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders. Lenders invited to participate include Arkansas Capital Corporation, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Communities Unlimited, FORGE, along with Relyance Bank, Simmons Bank, and USDA, Rural Development. The panel discussion will be moderated by Herb Lawrence, Lender Relations Specialist, Arkansas District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration.

Current business owners and those just getting started, youth entrepreneurs, business and technical school students, apprentices, veterans, faith-based leaders and community and economic development professionals, are invited to attend. You will engage with other business owners, receive help with research and business planning, learn how to increase your networking results and learn to do more business with government and private industry. Dr. Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff, will deliver the luncheon address.

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

AN INVESTMENT OF TIME IS THE COST TO ATTEND BUT REGISTRATION IS ENCOURAGED.

You may register by calling Arkansas Human Development Corporation toll free at (800) 482-7641or (501) 374-1103, ext. 10 or online at https://bit.ly/2tuT7Qh .

 

COTTON, BOOZMAN ASK SBA FOR MORE FEEDBACK ON RULE HARMING POULTRY PRODUCERS
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) today led nine of their colleagues in sending a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza expressing concern over a new rule that will make it more difficult for poultry growers to access SBA loans. Specifically, the Senators are concerned that while the SBA is accepting comments on the rule until April 10, 2020, the provisions targeting poultry farmers are slated to go into effect on March 11, 2020, before the SBA has time to fully evaluate the comments submitted. The Senators ask the SBA to extend the comment period for the interim rule in order to better understand its potential impact on the poultry community.

The letter is also signed by Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Doug Jones (D-Alabama), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), David Perdue (R-Georgia), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).

The text of the letter can be found below or by clicking here.

Background: 

 On February 10, 2020, the SBA released an Interim Final Rule (IFR) establishing a review process whereby SBA would review farmer contracts and make an “affiliation” determination – whether that farmer was “affiliated” with a chicken processing company, thus ineligible for SBA assistance through loan guarantees – based on a set of criteria newly announced in the Interim Final Rule. This would substantially affect the operations of many small, family farms across the country. Importantly, the comment period for the IFR closes on April 10, 2020, but the effective date of the poultry-related provisions goes live on March 11, 2020. This letter requests that SBA extend the effective date to October 1, when the remainder of the rule’s provisions goes final.

March 06, 2020

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The agenda includes the Biannual Water & Sewer Report given by David Richardson, Camden Water Utilities Manager/ The Council will here Ordinance No. 13-20, an ordinance authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for security walls and doors for City Hall; waiving the requirements of competitive bidding; declaring an emergency; and for other purposes, Resolution No. 11-20, a resolution authorizing a budget re-appropriation and awarding the bid for the purchase of one (1) 2020 F350 Cab Chassis Pickup for the Public Works Department, Resolution No. 12-20, a resolution supporting participation in the Main Street Arkansas Program, Resolution No. 13-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract for online Code Services from Municode and Resolution No. 14-20, a resolution authorizing a Maintenance Technician Position (Grade LS-3) to the Camden Police Department due to the loss of the 309 Program.

REGISTRATION FOR SPRING WALK ACROSS ARKANSAS OPENS MARCH 2
Walk Across Arkansas is back for its spring event March 16- May 10. The eight week exercise program is organized each spring and fall by the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, with the goal of helping Arkansans improve their health. Participation is free, and registration opens March 2 online at www.uaex.edu/walk.

To participate, find a few friends to form a team of three to eight people and register at www.uaex.edu/walk. Then from March 16 to May 10, record the amount of time you spend walking or getting any other form of exercise.

Minutes can be logged online, or you can contact your local extension agent for paper forms. For more information about Walk Across Arkansas, contact Tonya McKenzie, county Extension agent at 870-231-1160 or email tmckenzie@uaex.edu.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.


REGIONAL MOCK TRIAL COMPETITIONS BEGIN SATURDAY
The Arkansas Bar Association’s Mock Trial regional competitions will be held on Saturday, March 7, in Conway, Fayetteville and Jonesboro. The first round begins at 9:00 a.m. and the second round begins at 1:00 p.m. Each round should last around two hours.

More than 200 students from 15 high schools around the state will compete for the title of Mock Trial State Champions and the chance to compete at the national Mock Trial competition in Evansville, Indiana this May. The state championship will be held in Little Rock on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Approximately 100 local attorneys and judges volunteer to help with the coordination and judging of the competition.

Below is a list of the schools with teams in each regional competition and the location of the event:
Conway (Faulkner County Circuit Courthouse (Justice Building), 510 S. German Lane, Conway):

  • Bryant High School
  • Conway High School
  • El Dorado High School (two teams)
  • LISA Academy
  • Mount St. Mary / Catholic High School (two teams)
  • North Little Rock

Fayetteville (University of Arkansas School of Law, 1045 W. Maple St.):

  • Bentonville High School (two teams)
  • Berryville High School
  • Eureka Springs High School
  • Russellville High School
  • Springdale High School (two teams)

Jonesboro (Craighead County Circuit Courthouse located at 511 Union Street):

  • Batesville High School
  • Har Ber High School (two teams)
  • Little Rock Central High School (two teams)
  • Tuckerman High School

The public is invited to attend the mock trials and watch the students make their arguments. Parents and teachers who are interested in bringing the Mock Trial program to their school are encouraged to contact the Arkansas Bar Association. The Association can provide curriculum plans for in-school classes as well as material for establishing a Mock Trial team as an extra-curricular activity. Only six students and a teacher-sponsor are needed for a team.

About Arkansas Bar Association
The Arkansas Bar Association is a voluntary, statewide organization with 5,000 members. Among its purposes are the advancement of the administration of justice and the fostering among its members of high ideals of integrity, learning and public service.

 

MURPHY USA EL DORADO SHOOTOUT POSTPONED UNTIL 2021 DUE TO CONTRUCTION
EL DORADO, AR, March 4, 2020 – The sixth annual Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout is postponed until 2021 to accommodate the construction of a new clubhouse at Mystic Creek Golf Club. Clubhouse construction is officially underway and estimated to complete in December 2020.

Named “Arkansas’s #2 Best Course You Can Play,” by Golfweek magazine in 2019, Mystic Creek is rapidly gaining a reputation for being a top golfing destination in the region. To accommodate this growth, Mystic Creek is developing a new clubhouse to continue elevating the full golfing experience. The new, state-of-the-art clubhouse, rendered above, will include numerous features including locker rooms, a pro shop and small pub 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 also the El Dorado Shootout,” said Senior Vice President and General Counsel, John Moore. Before the El Dorado Shootout returns, Mystic Creek will host the Sun Belt Men’s Golf Championship in April 2020 and 2021 and the Southland Women’s Golf Championship in April 2021.

The El Dorado Shootout is a premier ladies professional golf tournament as part of the Syemtra 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.

“It was not an easy decision to postpone the 2020 tournament, as our employees and community love this event and we believe the Symetra players do as well,” continued Moore. “Due to our goal of hosting a first-class tournament, we believe this is the best decision. We are grateful for the strong support of our sponsors, our local community, and the LPGA and Symetra Tour. We look forward to  bringing this high-profile professional tournament back to El Dorado in 2021.”

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

RUTLEDGE FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST ANTHEM ALARM
Says, ‘These door-to-door dealers used deception to secure sales’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against Anthem Alarm, LLC, a defunct Utah-based residential alarm sales company, and its former owners for deceptive door-to-door sales tactics in Arkansas and use of unenforceable contracts.

“Anthem made its money selling safety when it was all a scam,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These door-to-door dealers used deception to secure sales and faulty contracts to make it nearly impossible to cancel services. I will continue to hold bad actors accountable who take advantage of Arkansans.”

Anthem sold alarm systems and monitoring services for thousands of dollars in Arkansas. Often, Anthem’s door-to-door sales agents told consumers that their current residential alarm company either was going out of business, had lost its license or had been sold to Anthem. It claimed to be providing these services through its own company when, in fact, it often immediately assigned the contract to an out-of-state company under another name. As a result, Anthem’s contracts did not include the total sale price, down payment, or notice of cancellation as required by law. Consumers were unable to cancel their contracts, were billed for services they did not receive and/or were billed for services after they canceled their contracts.

These allegations, along with multiple others listed in the complaint, are violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) and the Automatic Renewal of Professional Home Security Contracts Prohibition.

The Attorney General’s Office is seeking an injunction, restitution for consumers, civil penalties and other relief against Anthem and its former owners, Bradley Leeflang and Chase Evans. They face up to a $10,000 fine for each violation and are subject to an additional $10,000 penalty per violation for targeting elderly consumers.

For more tips to help avoid falling victim to bad actors, 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.
 

TOP 10 CONSUMER COMPLAINTS
Says, ‘We take every consumer complaint seriously and will work diligently to protect Arkansans.’
LITTLE ROCK– In addition to National Consumer Protection Week, March 1-7, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the top 10 most common consumer complaints the Attorney General’s Office received in 2019. “I want to do the fighting for you, but my office has to know what’s going on,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We take every consumer complaint seriously and will work diligently to protect Arkansans.”

National Consumer Protection Week is a partnership with attorneys general from across the country, along with many national organizations including the Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and AARP, to encourage consumers to understand their rights and make educated consumer decisions.

The 10 most common complaint categories from 2019 were:
Automobiles sales, service financing and repair
Consumer Goods & Services
Home Construction, Maintenance & Repair
Satellite, Cable & Internet Service Providers
Health Care
Landlord/Tenant
Credit Repairs & Other Financial Services
Wireless & Landline Telephone Services
Utilities
Travel & Timeshares

Automobile-related complaints were the top issue the Attorney General’s Office received from consumers in 2018 and 2019. Last year, automobile complaints brought in 1,185 complaints. These types of complaints often involve consumers reporting financing errors and high-pressure tactics to buy add-on services at the time of purchase, such as gap insurance, extended warranties and sales misrepresentations.

The Attorney General’s Office resolved 5,679 formal complaints in 2019, up by more than 200 since last year. To file a complaint online, visit ArkansasAG.gov.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF EMERGENCY CORONAVIRUS FUNDING
WASHINGTON—
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after Senate passage of a bipartisan, bicameral supplemental funding package that provides $7.7 billion in emergency discretionary funding to meet the growing challenge presented by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Americans are understandably on edge as more cases of the coronavirus appear in the U.S. and the death toll continues to rise around the globe. My colleagues and I understand this anxiety, and have come together to step up efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, treat those infected and support research to find a vaccine.

The emergency funding legislation passed by Congress will confront this challenge head on by providing a surge in funding at every level—local, state and federal—to allow for a government-wide approach. It allocates $7.767 billion—more than triple the administration’s original request—to address the coronavirus crisis.

Nearly 85 percent of this funding will be spent on domestic programs, ensuring that the focus remains on protecting Americans here at home, while still providing ample funding to fight the spread of the coronavirus abroad. Arkansas’s public health agencies are set to receive at least $6.2 million in funding as a result of this bill.

Our top priority must be keeping Americans safe. A potential massive outbreak is truly a national emergency. We are in a position to combat it, but federal, state and local agencies must be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Congress must be willing to provide the resources it takes to keep our country safe. I am committed to working with my colleagues to make sure that happens.”

Specifically, the emergency funding package appropriates:

  • $2.2 billion for the CDC, including no less than $950 million to help state and local governments prevent and combat the spread of the coronavirus.
  • $836 million for the NIH to train health care workers on the front lines and to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines related to the virus.
  • $61 million to support the Food and Drug Administration’s role in approving such products.
  • $3.1 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. This money will used to supplement the Strategic National Stockpile; develop and purchase diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines; provide resources for community health centers; and help hospitals and health systems adapt and respond.
  • Another $300 million for the purchase of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to ensure that all Americans will have access to the medications they need to combat COVID-19.
  • $1.25 billion to the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to continue working with our international partners to stop the global spread of COVID-19.
     

COTTON SUPPORTS EMERGENCY FUNDING TO COMBAT CORONAVIRUS  
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement after the Senate passed emergency funding to help combat the coronavirus:

“Today the Senate voted to provide additional support to federal, state, and local governments in their fight against the coronavirus. This bill contains funding to expand testing across the country, develop therapeutic drugs, and speed development of a vaccine. This emergency funding—combined the January travel restrictions for which I advocated—should give the administration the initial tools they need to protect Arkansans and our nation from this virus.”
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON INCREASING SEASONAL WORKER CAP
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to allow 35,000 additional seasonal workers into the United States through the H-2B visa program:

"Raising the limit of H-2B visas means prioritizing cheap foreign labor over-paying better wages for American workers to do the same jobs. Congress needs to seriously reform the H-2B visa program, so it supports wage growth and employment for Americans instead of encouraging a race to the bottom by importing too much low-cost labor."

Background:
Earlier this year, Senator Cotton sent a letter asking DHS not to increase the H-2B visa cap without first reforming the program to cut down on waste, fraud, abuse, and human trafficking.

March 05, 2020

THE 6TH ANNUAL “KIDZ RUNNIN’ THE SHOW” CORVETTE CAR SHOW RETURNS
March 27-28 in Camden
Camden, AR - The 6th Annual “Kidz Runnin’ The Show” Corvette Car Show will be held March 27 - 28.

The light show is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on March 27 at the Comfort Inn, followed by the Corvette Car Show that will take place from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on March 28 at 1270 Cash Rd. (Camden Fairview High School parking lot)

The show is hosted by the E.B. Williams Youth Center, and admissions into the car show is free.

Local DJ will be on hand to keep the attendees entertained, and refreshments, contests, trophies, door prizes, dash plaques and goodie bags will be given to participants.

Participation is open to all Corvette owners near and far, and to clubs and groups. The show will include all classes of Corvettes from C-1 to C-8, stock and custom with, first, second, and third place trophies offered for each class along with a host of specialty awards as well.

The car show is intended to help children build leadership skills, enhance critical thinking and instill confidence as they will be “running the show” according the event’s organizer Eric Gunter.

All proceeds benefit the EBWYC’s “Gift of Progression” program. The program provides at least four $500 book scholarships to high school seniors, and book bags with school supplies for area kids, according to event organizer Eric Gunter.

The cost to pre-register for the car show is $45. To register day of the show is $50. The cost to register for the Friday Night Light Show is $10. For more information, contact Eric Gunter at 870-818-2628, or reach him through his email ebwyc@yahoo.com. To register for this event, go to Facebook at www.facebook.com/EBWYC.

 

SUPPORT GROUPS FOR SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA
The Women’s Crises Center of South Arkansas offers support groups for survivors of trauma. The support groups are for survivors who deal with trauma from abuse.

The Camden Support Group meets at the Women’s Crises Center Office located at 1112 W. Washington on Fridays at 10.00 am. Those in and around Hampton can meet at the Workforce Building located at 315 Hunt Street in Hampton on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday at 12:00 pm each month. In Fordyce there is a Support Group that meets at CADC located at 217 E. Walnut Street on the 4th Thursday of each month at 11:00 am. The Rison Group meets at the DHS Office located at 502 Main Street in rison at the 4th Thursday of each moth at 12:30 pm.

For more information about the support groups call 870-836-0375.

OUACHITA COUNTY RELAY FOR LIFE DUCK RACE
Band a duck in the Ouachita County Relay for Life Duck Race on Saturday March 28th. $5.00 a duck or $25.00 for a family of 6 Ducks. Winner receives $500.00. The Flaming Pig will sell barbeque plates for $10.00. There will be a Cornhole Tournament, a cakewalk and more.
Various entertainment begins at 10:00 am and lasts until the winning duck crosses -the line. Bring you Lawn Chair and spend the day. Tickets are available from every team member, the Shopper’s Guide, -H&R Block, the Accessor’s Office at the Ouachita County Courthouse, the Camden Daffodil Festival booth or on the day of the Duck Race. For more information phone 807-807-0020.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: CORONAVIRUS MISINFORMATION SPREADING FASTER THAN ILLNESS
LITTLE ROCK – Recent ads on social media are fueling fear surrounding the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Awareness of this virus, and any other contagious illness such as the flu, is imperative to helping slow down and stop the spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Basic hygiene, such as hand washing and staying home when sick, is more effective at preventing the virus than using facemasks. Some alarming ads on social media are giving false information on prevention and illegitimate cures.

“It is important to remain vigilant when avoiding any contagious illness, but some misinformation surrounding Coronavirus is causing undue panic and fraudsters are taking advantage of that fear,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. “Like any scam, don’t buy into this hysteria and get your facts from the experts.”

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has activated an incident command center that has the authority to conduct testing and issue quarantine orders as necessary. The ADH updates information regarding tests performed and any positive cases in Arkansas on its website healthy.arkansas.gov.

Under President Trump, the U.S. Government is using its full resources to protect the health and safety of all Americans. Proactive measures have been taken such as travel restrictions, early containment strategies and the creation of the Coronavirus Task Force.  

Recently, the U.S. Surgeon General encouraged people to stop buying masks because they do not prevent the general public from catching the virus. However, the absence of masks could keep healthcare workers, who are in contact with numerous viral infections, from getting the protection they need.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the Coronavirus, visit the CDC’s website at CDC.gov/COVID19.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON PRESENTS BALANCED BUDGET THAT REFLECTS SAVINGS, EMPHASIZES PUBLIC SAFETY AND EDUCATION
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson presented his balanced budget for the next biennium to the Joint Budget Committee of the General Assembly on Wednesday.

In his remarks, Governor Hutchinson emphasized the importance of creating state savings. The state has already achieved savings during the Governor’s administration through the historic Long Term Reserve Fund. The balance in the Long Term Reserve Fund has increased by almost 50 percent in the past four years and now stands at more than $150 million.

The Governor also underscored his goal to significantly increase the Long Term Reserve Fund balance within the next three years.

A key aspect of the Governor’s budget for the next biennium includes his commitment to request no increase in funding for the implementation of state government transformation. The Governor’s initiative to streamline state government has resulted in savings, efficiencies, and improved management within state government. The budget reflects $10 million in savings from the first year of transformation. This $10 million is just a portion of the overall savings created from the first year of transformation.

The Governor’s budget reflects an increase in state spending by 1.5%, the lowest rate of growth in general revenue spending since the Great Recession. Under the Governor’s leadership, the rate of growth in state spending has steadily declined, from 3.1% in FY18 to 1.5% in FY21.

The Governor also emphasized his commitment to public safety by recommending the state increase the amount of reimbursement it pays to counties that house state inmates from $30 per day to $32 per day. His budget also includes $2.5 million to support Crisis Stabilization Units, $1 million to establish a new state trooper school, and $2.6 million to add 175 beds in the Texarkana and West Memphis community correction facilities.

In addition to savings and public safety, the Governor’s budget underscored specific education reforms including an increase in funding for K-12 education, $3 million in one-time funding for Succeed Scholarships, and continued funding for the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model.

Governor Hutchinson issued this statement during his presentation:
“Our budget should plan for a future that is unpredictable and in which we compete for jobs, capital, and talent. There is good news in our current position. We not only have a balanced budget, but a consistent surplus where our revenues exceed our spending. We are building a savings account that is our first in history and the balance in savings is growing each month.

“Wage rates are up; taxes are down; and we are at the lowest level of SNAP benefits compared to any time in the last 15 years. There are almost 50,000 fewer Medicaid recipients now than there were three years ago. Since 2015, we have enacted $250 million in annual income tax cuts. Over 10 years, this will be $2.5 billion in income tax relief.

“My proposed budget is in line with the biennium recommendation of the General Assembly, but it does reflect the savings from transformation. The budget also accommodates the specific needs of jail overcrowding, public safety, and education. Very importantly, the budget provides a surplus with a substantial amount in restricted reserve.”

 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES INTENT TO GRANT EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced his intent to grant 14 pardons, two firearm restoration rights only, and two commutations. An additional 61 clemency requests were denied and five 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:

Natalie Bruce (Lake Village): Theft of Property Under $500 (Misdemeanor). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (2001 – Columbia County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Gary Crafton (Morrilton): Theft of Property (Misdemeanor)(C 95-387) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony)(CR 2001-10). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1995 and 2001 – Conway 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.

John A. Foster (Spicewood, TX): Burglary (Felony) and Theft of Property (Felony) (CR 80-47). This notice is issued based on the date of convictions (1980 – Washington 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.

Danny D. Goodman, Jr. (Gulf Breeze, FL): Possession of a Controlled Substance (C Felony)(CR 97-87). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1997 – Lonoke County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Alicia M. Green-Farris (Amarillo, TX): Shoplifting (Theft of Property)(Misdemeanor)(PBCR 00-6540). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2000 – Jefferson 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.

Debra K. Harris (Newport): Theft by Deception (B Felony)(CR 90-40). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1991 – Jackson 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.

Buddy L. Key (Gurdon): Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Manufacture and Deliver (Felony)(CR 85-112). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1986 – Clark County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no subsequent felony convictions. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Cynthia G. Meyer (Rison): Theft of Property (A Misdemeanor)(PC 03-1-1744), Shoplifting (Misdemeanor)(Case No. RO3-0239), Conspiracy to Manufacture a Controlled Substance (A Felony), Possession of a Controlled Substance-Crystal Methamphetamine (C Felony), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony) (CR 2004-22-5), Possession of a Controlled Substance (C Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (C Felony)(CR 2003-1096-1). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (2003 – Pulaski County, 2004 and 2006 – Jefferson, 2005 – Cleveland), 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.

Betty D. Montgomery (Ravenden Springs): Theft Of Property (C Felony) (CR 2001-69). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2001 – Randolph County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Clovis K. Satterfield (Alma): Theft of a Controlled Substance, 4 counts (C Felony)(CR 2007-496). This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2007 – Crawford County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Alan Shaw (North Little Rock): Burglary (Felony)(CR 81-1356), Burglary (Felony) and Theft of Property (Felony)(CR 82-1090), Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (Marijuana) (Class C Felony) (CR 84-3329), and Burglary (Class B Felony) (CR 84-2812). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1982 and 1985 – 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.

Timothy G. Tunstill (Gladstone, MO): Burglary (Felony) and Grand Larceny (Felony)(Case No. 39), Burglary (Revocation)(Felony) and Grand Larceny (Revocation)(Felony)(Case No. 39), and Burglary (Felony)(Case No. 58) and Grand Larceny (Felony)(Case No. 59). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1970 and 1971 – Sharp County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Prosecuting Attorney has raised objections to the application.

Clifton J. White (Marion): Battery 2nd Degree (D Felony)(CR 94-953) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Felony)(CR 01-112). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1994 – Crittenden County, 2002 – Cross 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.

Grady Young (Hot Springs): Burglary and Theft of Property 5 Counts (Felony)(CR 89-672), Theft of Entrusted Personal Property (C Felony)(CR 94-261), and Theft of Entrusted Personal Property (Revocation)(C Felony)(CR 94-261-2). This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (1990, 1995, and 1998 – Miller County), the fact that all terms of the applicant’s sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Prosecuting Attorney has raised objections to the application.

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

Gary B. Baney (Jonesboro): Theft of Property (C Felony)(CR 2002-97).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2002 – Poinsett 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 Craighead County has signed the Recommendation of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer as required by law. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Donald M. Dowell (Horatio): Commercial Burglary, 2 counts (C Felony) (CR 2003-7).
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2003 – Sevier 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 Sevier 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:

Willie Mae Harris (ADC #702884): Murder-1st Degree (Y Felony) (1985-13) (Jury Trial).
The governor has given notice of his intent to commute the sentence of Willie Mae Harris, who was convicted in Lafayette County in 1985 for the above offenses, from Life in the Department of Correction to making her immediately parole eligible. There are no law enforcement objections to the application.

Robert R. Johnson, Jr, (ADC #142181): Delivery Of A Controlled Substance (Meth) (Y Felony), Delivery Of A Controlled Substance (Marijuana) (C Felony), Delivery Of A Controlled Substance (Meth), 2 Counts (Y Felony), Maintaining a Drug Premises (D Felony), and Possession Of A Controlled Substance With Intent (Marijuana) (D Felony) (2008-02).

The governor has given notice of his intent to commute the sentence of Robert R. Johnson, Jr, who was convicted in Union County in 2008 for the above offenses, from a total of $25,000 in fines and 1,032 months (86 years) to serve in the Arkansas Department of Correction to making him immediately parole eligible. The Prosecuting Attorney has raised objections to applicant's request.

COTTON, CRUZ, HAWLEY, RUBIO BILL TO REQUIRE CFIUS TO REEXAMINE UK STATUS AFTER 5G DECISION
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced the Protecting America from Foreign Investors Compromised by the CCP Act, a bill that would require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the United Kingdom’s place on the foreign investment “whitelist” if the country allows China’s Huawei to build portions of its 5G infrastructure. Parliament plans to debate Huawei’s inclusion in the U.K.’s network today.

In general, the bill would amend the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act’s “whitelist” requirements to include consideration of a nation’s 5G infrastructure. It also requires the administration to report on how the United States government is coordinating with economic partners to develop alternatives to Chinese-owned 5G vendors. Bill text may be found here.

“The United States values its special relationship with the U.K., but allowing Huawei into Britain’s 5G infrastructure will have consequences across several sectors. Ultimately, protecting U.S. trade secrets from the Chinese Communist Party is our top priority,“ said Cotton.

“The U.K.’s recent misguided decision to allow Chinese telecommunications equipment into their 5G infrastructure puts the security and economic interests of the U.S. and our allies at risk. The U.S. must now reevaluate how we engage with our important ally, the U.K. Safe alternatives to Huawei are available from trusted vendors that are not state-directed or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rubio.

“Huawei is a global espionage operation masquerading as a telecom company. As a critical member of the Five Eyes alliance, Britain is putting the national security of the U.S. and our allies in jeopardy by allowing Huawei to build its 5G infrastructure. There is no way to protect a 5G network from compromise once a company like Huawei is inside. This legislation will help protect the U.S. against the dangers posed by deals such as the one our British allies are pursuing,” said Cruz.

“We have a duty to protect our most strategically significant technologies, not offer them up on a platter to our adversaries. The UK should rethink its decision to work with Huawei, a company that commits IP theft and espionage on behalf of Beijing. Huawei’s presence in the UK’s 5G infrastructure threatens the security of both our countries,” said Hawley.

BOOZMAN CONTINUES TO FIGHT FOR RURAL AMERICA
Urges Support for Aviation Programs and Infrastructure Prevalent in Arkansas
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, pushed for full funding of transportation programs important to rural Arkansas.

During a subcommittee hearing that featured testimony from Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Boozman urged support for the contract tower and the Essential Air Service (EAS) programs.

“The contract tower program has been a great public-private partnership and has been so successful,” Boozman told the secretary.

The contract tower program provides high quality, cost-effective, and critical air traffic control services to more than 250 smaller airports throughout the country, including five in Arkansas: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Texarkana. This assistance enhances safety, improves air traffic control services and delivers significant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cost savings.

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program connects small communities and keeps rural economies moving forward. Four Arkansas airports participate in the program: Harrison, Hot Springs, El Dorado and Jonesboro.

The administration’s budget proposal would reduce discretionary spending for the program. Boozman is working to prevent those cuts. He has consistently voted in support of the program and fought for funding.

“We understand how important it is,” Secretary Chao said. “During my tenure I’ve consistently fought for Essential Air Service.”

Boozman and members of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee were reviewing the Fiscal Year 2021 funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

March 04, 2020

2020 PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS – OUACHITA COUNTY AND STATEWIDE NUMBERS
The 2020 Primary Election was held yesterday. The following are results from Ouachita County and the State of Arkansas.

The total number of ballots cast in Ouachita County was 3,611. Of those 2,156 we Democratic ballots, 1,298 were Republican ballots, 15 were nonpartisan ballots and there were 2 blank ballots.

In the Camden Fairview School Board Zone 5 race Nick Tuberville took 237 for 55.9% and Gordon Rogeers took 187 for 44.1%.

In the School Millage for Camden Fairview there were 55.9% for and 34.07% votes against.

The School Millage for Smackover/Norphlet School District passed with 53.57% for and 46.43% against.

In the race for State Senate on the Democratic Ballot, Keidra Burrell took 56.92% and Garry Smith took 43.08% of the vote. Statewide Keidra Burrell took 66.36% and Garry Smith took 33.64% of the vote.

In the race for Court of Appeals Judge Mark Klappenback took 73.04% and James McMenis 26.96% of the votes cast. Statewide, Judge Mark Klappenback took 67.37% and James McMenis 32.63% of the votes cast.

In the race for State District Court Judge District 39 David Graham took 53.11% and Ebony Gulley took 46.89%. Statewide David Graham took 65.26% and Ebony Gulley 34.74%.

In the race for State Supreme Court Justice. Barbara Webb took 53.14% and Morgan “Chip” Welch 46.86%.

Statewide Barbara Webb took 53.59% and Morgan “Chip” Welch 46.41%.

Of the Democratic ballots cast for President Joe Biden took 57.27%, Michael Bloomberg took 16.38%, Bernie Sanders took 13.88% and Elizabeth Warren took 3.15%. The rest of the Democratic numbers were split between 14 other candidates. Statewide Joe Biden took 40.56%, Michael Bloomberg took 16.7%, Bernie Sanders took 22.36% and Elizabeth Warren took 10.0% of the vote. All other ballots cast statewide were divided among the other 14 candidates on the ballot.

Of the Republican Ballots cast for President, Donald Trump took 99.23%, Bill Weld took .46% and Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente took .31%. Statewide results showed Donald Trump with 97.11%, Bill Weld with 2.13% and Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente with 0.76%.
 

MAYOR APPOINTS NEW CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
Mayor Julian Lott has appointed Scott Adkins to replace Travis Daniel as the new Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector effective Friday, February 28, 2020 at 5:01 P.M. Mr. Adkins had been serving as Camden’s Deputy Code Enforcement Officer demonstrating proficiency and effectiveness in his assigned duties. He retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2017 and served as Code Enforcement Officer for the Town of Durham, New Hampshire before relocating to Camden. Mr. Adkins has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Criminal Justice and Social Science from Liberty University as well as a number of civilian and military qualifications. We anticipate Mr. Adkins will continue to serve the City of Camden and its residence in a proficient and effective manner.



SAU TECH ROCKETS CLOSE BASKETBALL SEASON
Steven’s to transfer and play for Oral Roberts
Camden, Arkansas-The close of the SAU Tech Rocket men’s basketball season ended with a loss to North Arkansas College but revealed another layer of talent that one player has displayed throughout his two years as a Rocket.

Starter, Sheldon Stevens, from Kansas City, Missouri, and graduate of Grandview High School, brings another layer of skill to the court every time he plays. He is one of the original players the first-year the SAU Tech Rockets took the court in 2018 and has grown as a player and person during his time at SAU Tech. Stevens stated that “Playing at SAU Tech under Coach Levinson helped me prepare for the next level in many ways. He has taught me how to be a leader, on and off the court, how to act like a professional athlete, and to never take the little things in life for granted.”

Coached by Martin Levinson, Stevens has left an impression with his coach as well. “Sheldon came to SAU Tech and believed in us as a college and as a coaching staff from day one. When he arrived on campus, we had not yet started our first season of play, and he set the tone with his work ethic. Sheldon has a special ability to score the basketball in a lot of ways. To be a two-time NJCAA Region 2 Division II MVP shows his consistency as a player and we all look forward to watching him continue his success at Oral Roberts University next year!”

Stevens’s smile and playful demeanor have endured him to the staff and faculty at the College, including SAU Tech Chancellor, Dr. Jason Morrison, and his wife, Stephanie. “Sheldon is a tremendous shooter, and he plays with such aggression on the court. Knowing the adversities he has overcome to get where he is today is genuinely humbling for us. Stephanie and I believe this young man has a bright future on and off the court, and we are so blessed to have the chance to have him as part of the Rocket Family.”

The NJCAA chose Stevens as the Region 2 Division II MVP and for the All-Region First-Team. This is the second time for Stevens to earn both designations while playing for the SAU Tech Rockets. Stevens will transfer in May to Oral Roberts University where he will play for the Golden Eagles.

BARBARA WEBB ELECTED ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT
“I am honored by the responsibility the voters have entrusted in me”
BENTON – Former Judge Barbara Womack Webb has been elected Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.  Webb issued the following statement tonight from her watch party in Downtown Little Rock:

“I am honored by the responsibility the voters have entrusted in me. My nearly four decades of experience in Arkansas law– from private practice, to prosecuting attorney, to now Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court– have prepared me for this moment. I am thankful for the countless volunteers who have invigorated this campaign across the State of Arkansas. From Chicot to Benton, Miller to Craighead, and every place in-between, the people of Arkansas have given us all a great reminder of their hospitality and desire for a fair Supreme Court. I look forward to being that fair and independent voice that all Arkansans can trust.”

About Barbara Womack Webb:
Barbara Womack Webb is the Chief Law Judge at the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission and previously served for 12 years as a law judge, in both Democrat and Republican administrations. She recently served as Circuit Judge for the 22nd Judicial Circuit and formerly served as the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Saline, Hot Spring, and Grant Counties. Webb has also served as a special associate justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Webb has also served with the Arkansas Ethics Commission, Arkansas State Crime Lab Board, Arkansas Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and the U.S. Department of Justice Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Little Rock and has been a licensed attorney since 1982.

ARKANSAS BAR ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES ARKANSAS LEGAL HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS DUE MARCH 16
The Arkansas Bar Association is seeking nominations for its first ever Arkansas Legal Hall of Fame. Launching in 2020, the Legal Hall of Fame will honor Arkansas’ greatest lawyers, most revered institutions, most treasured traditions and other legends of the Bar. The 2020 class will be inducted at a ceremony on Thursday, September 24, in Little Rock. The Legal Hall of Fame is presented by Arkansas Business.

“The Legal Hall of Fame will help us recognize the men and women who have made an extraordinary contribution to the law, society, the administration of justice and legal education.  We invite all Arkansans, not just the legal community, to nominate individuals and groups who have helped shape justice and positively impacted our profession and state,” said Arkansas Bar Association President Brian Rosenthal. “We want to share and preserve the significant contributions those in the legal community have made to enhance the lives of Arkansas citizens.”

The general public is encouraged to submit nominations. The eligibility requirements and nomination forms can be found at www.arkbar.com/events/hof. This nomination form, along with the required attachments, is due on or before March 16, 2020, and should be sent to hof@arkbar.com.  Please call 501-801-5663 to request a form.

About Arkansas Bar Association
The Arkansas Bar Association, established in 1898, is a voluntary, statewide organization with more than 5,000 members. Among its purposes are the advancement of the administration of justice and the fostering among its member of high ideals of integrity, learning and public service.



RESOLUTION HONORING DR. LI WENLIANG PASSES SENATE
Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who first identified the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in China late last year and sought to warn the government about the potentially devastating impact of the disease. Dr. Li succumbed to the coronavirus on February 7, 2020. The resolution also calls for transparency and cooperation from the government of the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China.

The resolution is sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), and John Barrasso (R-Wyoming). Text of the resolution may be found here.

"Dr. Li tried to warn his country and the world about the deadly coronavirus, but he was silenced by the Chinese Communist Party. Today, the U.S. Senate celebrated his heroic actions and marked forever his contribution to the fight against the virus which took his life. We should honor his legacy by pushing the CCP to be fully transparent about this disease and their efforts to stop it," said Cotton.

“There is still time for authorities the world over to learn from Dr. Li’s plea for greater openness and transparency when facing outbreaks of infectious disease. Reports that citizen journalists are still being silenced demonstrate that the Chinese government has not heeded his advice. That does not diminish in any way the work of Chinese doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and all those who continue to provide care during this critical time. We should reject efforts by any government that places political expediency over an open and scientific approach to tackling this global health crisis,” said Markey.

“Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn the world about the novel coronavirus, but the Chinese Communist Party stood in the way. Now the COVID-19 outbreak has taken Dr. Li’s life and was declared a global health emergency. We must ensure that this communicable and deadly virus is contained, and that means that the Chinese Communist Party must not be allowed to hide details of the coronavirus from its people and the world,” said Gardner.

“As the U.S. prepares for the COVID-19 outbreak, we take a moment to remember and recognize Dr. Li Wenliang, the first doctor to warn China and the world about the severity of this virus. Though his words of wisdom were quickly censured by the Chinese government, we stand together today to honor his legacy of courage and commitment to a cause he deeply believed in and that ultimately he paid with his own life,” said Menendez.

March 03, 2020

   

WHAT IS POVERTY'S IMPACT ON OUR COMMUNITY?
Participate in a Poverty Simulation by living a month in poverty. The simulation is a unique, interactive experience that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress.

Poverty Simulation is intended to move our community leaders to think about the harsh realities of poverty and to discuss how our community can address the problem. It will help people identify areas of change that can directly impact the effects of poverty on individuals, families and communities.

Tuesday March 31, 2020 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at The Event Center at Fairview Park located at 2708 Mt. Holly Rd in Camden. There is a $15 Fee to take part in the simulation. Childcare will not be available. There is limited seating.

For more information, call 231-1111. Sponsored by The Hub and South Central Service Co-operative

CAMDEN WATER UTILITIES ANNUAL CITY-WIDE FLUSH
Camden Water utilities will be conducting their Annual City-Wide Flush starting the week of March 30 to April 3, 2020, Caution should be used before washing any clothes during this time frame.

 

THEY COOK'EM! YOU EAT'EM! DAFFODIL FESTIVAL STEAK COOK-OFF
Visit Downtown Camden Saturday, March 14, for the Camden Daffodil Festival Steak Cook-off. Sink your teeth into tender cut ribeye steak and fixins as steak teams from the region go head to head to see who can burn their beef the best! Steaks are limited and tickets are going fast so get yours today!

Tickets are $22.00
Dine-in/Carry-out
Live entertainment all day long!

 

Great food and loads of fun. The cook-off will be held in the parking lot on Washington Street and Harrison Street and a DJ will be providing music throughout.

A drive-though area is close to Jefferson Street and Harrison Street intersection will be provided for those wanting "takeout". Large cash prizes will be awarded to the best cookers in several different categories. The serving lines will be open from 5:00p.m. - 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 14th of the Daffodil Festival.

 

GOLDEN TRIANGLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL 19TH ANNUAL DINNER
The Golden Triangle Economic Development Council will be having the 19th Annual Dinner on Tuesday, March 17th in the Grand Hall on he SAU Tech Campus located at 6415 Spellman Road in East Camden. The Keynote Speak will be Scott Bennett, Director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Dinner tickets are $25 per person. They may be purchased online at www.saumag.edu/golden, through the local Chamber of Commerce and Development office in El Dorado or Magnolia, Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) office in Camden, or through the GTEDC Office in Blanchard Hall.



TERRY “TACO” HOWARD MEMORIAL TRAIL AND ATV RIDE 2020
Sponsored by Holly Springs Baptist and Methodist Churches
The
Terry “Taco” Howard Memorial Trail And ATV Ride 2020 will be Friday April 3rd and Saturday April 4th.

New this year!  Friday, April 3rd@ 10:00 AM. 4-hour minimum ride for Horses and Wagons. Bring your lunch and drinks. For more information call Larry Pierce at 870-807-4550.

There are some rules for Friday and Saturday events. Negative Coggins are required. No alcohol or drugs allowed. All kicking stock must have something red on their tail. Stay in tight groups for easy flagging. The line-up will be in the following order – Wagons, Buggies, Carts and Horses. Absolutely no horses between wagons, buggies or carts.

Friday night April 3rd there will be a soup or chili meal from 5:00 to 8:00 PM om the Fellowship Hall. Cost is donations.

Saturday, April 4th, the ride will take place from 9:00 AM until 2:00 PM. Horses will leave at 9:00 AM. ATV’s will leave at 10:00 AM. There will be a Show and Shine Car Display form 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. “Measure of Grace” will be in concert form 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM on Saturday.

There will be a dine-in or carry-out BBQ Meal with all the trimmings beginning at 11:00 AM in the Holly Springs Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Choose from Pulled Pork, Chicken or Brisket. Adult plates will br $12.00. Children 12 and under will be $5/00. There will be a live Auction after all riders have eaten.

All proceeds go the the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. More than $18000.00 was raised last year. Find Terry “Taco” Howard Memorial Trail & ATV Ride on Facebook. For more information call Hank Mahan at 870-687-1962 or text or call Peggy Mahan at 870-687-1138.
 

BROAD-BASED SUPPORT FOR RUTLEDGE'S SCOTUS CASE SHOWS NEED TO REGULATE PBMS
Says, ‘large bi-partisan support from the public and private sectors shows the overwhelming need to regulate abusive PBM reimbursement practices’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has been encouraged by the broad-based support received for her case, to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court in April. A brief of support was filed by 45 states and the District of Columbia as well as a brief from the US Solicitor General. The multistate brief, led by California, is one of the largest multistate amicus briefs in recent years. An additional 10 briefs from national organizations, such as AARP and the American Medical Association, were filed supporting Arkansas’s defense of its law regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

“Having such large bi-partisan support from the public and private sectors shows the overwhelming need to regulate abusive PBM reimbursement practices,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Abusive PBM reimbursement practices are harming Arkansas patients and community pharmacies nationwide, all the while lining the pockets of PBMs with billions of dollars.” Leslie Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association will be argued in the U.S. Supreme Court April 27.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES URGE POMPEO TO OPPOSE CHINA’S NOMINEE TO WIPO
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), and Todd Young (R-Indiana) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the secretary to vigorously oppose China’s leadership in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) given China’s persistent violations of intellectual property protections, including through trade secret theft, corporate espionage, and forced transfer of technology.  

Cotton, Schumer, Van Hollen, and Young write that China’s intent to lead the World Intellectual Property Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, poses a significant threat to both U.S. economic security and the integrity of international IP rights and standards.  

Text of the letter may be found below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to express our concern about China’s intent to lead the World Intellectual Property Organization at the United Nations and the threat this poses to both U.S. economic security and the integrity of international IP rights and standards. For instance, Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies, which presents clear risks to U.S. national security, was the top corporate filer of international patent applications to this organization in 2018.

In November 2019, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) nominated a candidate to head this global organization, which was created to “promote the protection of intellectual property among states.” Given China’s persistent violations of IP protections, including through trade secret theft, corporate espionage, and forced transfer of technology, the United States and its allies must stand firmly against such a move.

As you know, the CCP is strategically investing in and developing critical and emerging technologies as part of Made in China 2025 and other Chinese Communist Party-led industrial policies. These initiatives include a patchwork of practices and tactics which coerce American companies to transfer their technology and IP to domestic Chinese corporations, with the aim of undermining U.S. innovation and economic leadership.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly expressed concerns about the shortcomings in China’s intellectual property regime. Notably, the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s Special Section 301 report declares China a “precarious and uncertain environment” for U.S. owners of all types of intellectual property. China also remains on USTR’s Priority Watch List for failing to make fundamental changes to strengthen IP protection and enforcement and for engaging in harmful conduct, including unauthorized intrusions and theft from networks of U.S. companies to obtain unauthorized access to IP.

President Trump has rightly accused China of “theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on a grand scale” in an address to the UN General Assembly last September. We cannot let a regime, which continues to blatantly undermine the rules-based system by failing to ensure open markets or respect for intellectual property rights, ascend as the leader of global intellectual property policy. 

Therefore, we urge you and President Trump to vigorously oppose China’s leadership in the World Intellectual Property Organization and take the necessary diplomatic steps to ensure our allies and partners do the same before the upcoming Director General election. 

Sincerely,

March 02, 2020

EARLY VOTING COUNT UPDATE/ID INFORMATION
Today is the final day to Vote early in the 2020 Primary Election.  According to County Clerk Britt Williford, as of Friday evening, there have been a total of 1227 early votes cast in Ouachita County. Early voting in Ouachita County is being held at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm today, Monday, March 2nd, between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Super Tuesday is tomorrow, March 3rd.  

You must present a photo ID in order to vote. There is a rumor circulating throughout the county that has residents under the impression that you must have the enhanced ID to vote. Clerk Williford said “There is no truth to that.” He is unaware as to where the rumor originated. His Office has received numerous phone calls regarding the ID requirements. Your normal State ID or Driver’s license is all that is needed. The Enhanced ID is NOT required.

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s will meet on Wednesday, March 5th at Catherine’s Bistro. This week’s speaker will be Kathy Boyette with the Ouachita County Historical Society. She will talk about the things they are involved with for the Camden Daffodil Festival as well as the upcoming Battle of Poison Springs Event that is scheduled for April.

 

SMALL BUSINESS EVENTS THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS
 Are you starting a new business or looking to grow an existing one? We have a variety of classes/seminars we're offering the next few months that'll be sure to help you out.

You don't want to miss out on these events that are FREE, hands-on, & give you the opportunity to network with other successful business professionals. Just click the link below each event to register!

Marketing Academy #1: Positioning Your Business for Growth
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
OPED Building, 570 Ben Lane, Camden, AR
Free to attend thanks to Team Camden!

The Land of Opportunity
Wednesday, March 4, 2020 9:15 AM - 3:30 PM
Arkansas Municipal League, 301 W. 2nd St., North Little Rock
Free to attend!

Let's Talk Soft Skills
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce,
211 W Main St., Magnolia, A
Free to attend thanks to Farmers Bank and Trust!

ARKANSAS TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT GROUP (AR TIGG) COALITION
The annual spring Freedom Of Information Act Symposium, sponsored by the Arkansas Transparency in Government Group (AR TIGG), has been scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2020, in the Silver City Room of the Riverfront Wyndham Hotel located at #2 Riverfront Place in North Little Rock.  Beginning at 9:00 a.m., the Symposium will focus upon key issues related to the State’s Freedom of Information Act, a far-reaching statute which was adopted by the Arkansas Legislature in 1967 under the leadership of former Arkansas Governor, Winthrop Rockefeller.  Designed as a law for the people and better known as “the people’s law”, the vital FOIA legislation seeks to make more transparent the operation of many of the aspects of all local and State governmental entities throughout Arkansas.

The Arkansas Transparency In Government Group (AR TIGG) is currently comprised of five local, self-directing Transparency In Government Group chapters located in Bella Vista, Conway, Fort Smith, Harrison and Hot Springs.  Each of the five respective chapters has dedicated its membership activities to the better understanding of the purposes of the FOIA statute and to the encouragement of citizen interest and positive utilization of that valuable piece of legislation. 

According to Arkansas Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, she has an immense appreciation for former Government Rockefeller’s foresight and leadership, for fifty years ago, endorsing the original idea leading to the adoption of the Arkansas Freedom of Information legislation.  Providing clarity to this essential piece of legislative work continues to be the goal of the Attorney General in order that governmental officials, journalists and all Arkansas citizens become fully informed about this important statute.  Attorney General Rutledge further believes that the intent of this vital ACT is for the State’s FOIA undertakings to remain a model for open government which promotes transparency for citizens as they seek to rightly have access to public information. 

Serving as guest speakers during this first annual Symposium of the Arkansas Transparency In Government Group (AR TIGG) will be several key individuals whose interests and expertise correlate closely with the intent and purpose of the FOIA legislation.

Representing the office of the Arkansas Attorney General during the morning session of the Symposium will be Beth Walker, director of the Opinions Section of the AG’s office.  Ms. Walker is known statewide as an effective presenter of practical FOIA information and she has served as a keynote speaker throughout the State during many FOIA focused workshops and study sessions sponsored by the AG’s office as well as other active, local groups interested in government transparency.  Ms. Walker’s presentations are always “spot on”, to the point and are delivered in a manner as to emphasize that the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act has been truly designed for Arkansas citizens desiring an open and transparent government--both local and statewide. 

Dr. Robert Steinbuch, a well-known professor of law at the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, and a co-author of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act treatise--a publication acknowledged by many as the “bible” concerning Arkansas FOIA issues--will host a one-hour afternoon session entitled “FOIA Today”.  Dr. Steinbuch’s presentation has been sanctioned by the Arkansas Continuing Legal Education Board and will enable attorneys who attend the informative session to be eligible to receive one hour of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit.

Dr. Steinbuch’s remarks will focus on recent research concerning the general purposes of FOIAs and other transparency principles, and his discussion will provide a springboard for a thorough review of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.  His presentation will also touch upon a submission of citizen FOIA requests and will include a synopsis of case studies of several litigations concerning the redaction of personal information from certain governmental records.  Dr. Steinbuch will also speak about the responsibility of the “custodian of records”, the charging of fees for the reproduction of specific documents and the retention of governmental records.  He will conclude his remarks with a question and answer session. 

Throughout the Symposium, attendees will have several opportunities to hear presentations from members of the Arkansas FOIA Coalition, a volunteer group comprised of journalists and other citizens interested in all legislative issues affecting governmental openness and transparency.  Symposium attendees will be able to hear comments from members of the State’s FOIA Task Force.  As stated in ACT 923 of 2017, the Task Force consists of nine individuals representing government, academia and the media.  The Task Force is charged with the responsibility of reporting its recommendations to the State legislature concerning any proposed legislation which affects any aspect of the Arkansas Freedom of Information statute.  According to State Representative Laurie Rushing from Hot Springs, she sponsored the enactment of ACT 923 in order to protect the Arkansas FOIA and its mandates.

Providing their expertise during the Symposium will also be State Representative Dan Sullivan, District 53, from Jonesboro; Daniel Shue, Prosecuting Attorney from the 12th Judicial District in Fort Smith; State Representative Vivian Flowers, District 17, from Pine Bluff; Senate President Pro Tempore, Jim Hendren, representing District 2 from Gravette and Senator Kim Hammer, District 33 from Benton.

Coinciding with the date of the Symposium is the fact that Monday, March 16, is also being celebrated across America as Freedom of Information Day.  Various groups across the Nation will be, on that day, recognizing both federal and state transparency and open records laws as they impact upon, and apply to, the lives of all American citizens.  Organizers of the Symposium in North Little Rock emphasize that individuals throughout the State of Arkansas are invited to attend this free Symposium--on a first come, first served basis--and to hear a wide variety of discussions related to a more open government in local, county, and State entities.  Lunch will be available “Dutch Treat” at either one of the two, full-service Hotel Restaurants--the Riverfront Steakhouse and the adjoining and award winning Benihana Restaurant.  The Symposium will adjourn at approximately 4 p.m.

RUTLEDGE OFFERS FIRST STATEWIDE ELDER ABUSE CONFERENCE
Says, ‘conference will provide caregivers and law enforcement with the tools to respond to incidences of suspected maltreatment.’

LITTLE ROCK– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the launch of the first statewide Elder Abuse Conference. Early bird registration is now available for the free training happening Thursday, April 30 at Arkansas State University’s First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro.

“Protecting our seniors from financial and physical abuse is a top priority,” said Attorney General Rutledge. This conference will provide additional education to our law enforcement officers, caregivers, and family members on identifying suspected maltreatment and how to respond.”

According to the National Council on Aging, one in 10 Americans 60 years and older, have experienced some kind of abuse. As many as five million elderly Americans are estimated to be abused each year.

The public is invited including law enforcement, medical professionals and providers, attorneys and home caregivers to learn how to better protect older and developmentally disabled adults. The statewide conference will cover a broad range of interconnected issues including: caregiver fatigue, financial exploitation, agency roles in protecting elders and endangered adults and communicating with victims who have cognitive impairments.

You can sign up today for the free, all-day training. Lunch is included. An agenda, including speakers, will be provided in the coming weeks. Applications for Continuing Education are in progress. Visit ArkansasAG.gov to register.

COTTON STATEMENT ON LIMITNG CHINESE STATE MEDIA TO U.S.
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that the State Department has announced a personnel cap on four Chinese media companies in retaliation for restrictions on American news outlets in China, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the statement below:

“The Chinese Communist Party kicked out real journalists because their publication reported the facts. Today, the administration took justified, retaliatory action by restricting the number of Chinese propagandists in the U.S. This is a good start, but propaganda outlets like China Daily are political tools of the CCP and they should be investigated for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).”

Background: On February 7th, Senator Cotton sent a letter urging the Department of Justice to investigate China Daily for potential FARA violations. The letter highlights the political activities of China Daily and the Chinese Communist Party’s financial support of the publication.

BOOZMAN JOINS WITH MENENDEZ TO INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO HELP COMMUNITIES SAVE LIVES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Prevent Blood Loss with Emergency Equipment Devices (BLEEDing) Act that would expand access to life-saving bleeding control kits in schools, malls, houses of worship, libraries and other gathering places in communities across the country.

“This is a simple, common sense effort to help empower Americans to administer life-saving aid in the immediate aftermath of an emergency,” Boozman said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans die every year as the result of traumatic blood loss. We have the knowledge and tools to reduce that number and save lives. By providing the access and training to use these life-saving kits, our bill will help make that possible.”

“Think about the lives that can be saved in the wake of a terrible car crash, a bad accident on the job or at the skating rink, or God forbid, a mall or school shooting, if regular people had the know-how and quick access to the tools they need to stop severe bleeding before help arrives,” Menendez said. “With our commonsense bill, we can save lives by expanding access to bleeding control tool kits in our schools, churches, malls, concert venues and other gathering places – and empowering thousands of Americans with the training to use them.” 

A person with severe injuries can bleed to death in as little as five minutes without intervention. According to a 2018 review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, every year, more than 60,000 people in the United States die of hemorrhagic shock.

However, many of those deaths could be prevented with immediate action to stop blood loss. The Prevent BLEEDing Act would make it easier for states to apply for funding for bleeding control kits and training through the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP).

Boozman is the lead Republican sponsor of the bill, which was authored by Menendez. Several leading organizations—including the American College of Surgeons, American College of Emergency Physicians, Society of Trauma Nurses, Trauma Center Association of America, National Association of Emergency Technicians, American Trauma Society and Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma—have offered support for the bill.

“This legislation is crucial to support state efforts to bring Stop the Bleed training and equipment directly to all US citizens. Just like with CPR, a civilian familiar with basic bleeding control techniques is equipped to save a life when minutes matter. This legislation helps educate and empower individuals to take life-saving action during a bleeding emergency and will help drive the goal of eliminating preventable death from bleeding,” Eileen Bulger, MD, FACS, Chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma said.

“In a medical emergency, seconds can save lives. Actions taken by bystanders with little to no medical training can mean the difference between life and death, and knowing how to stop the bleed is as important as knowing CPR or how to help a choking victim. By enhancing access to first response training and materials, this legislation will empower those in our community to be the help until help arrives,” William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, President of the American College of Emergency Physicians said.

“The Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) is excited to endorse the Prevent BLEEDing Act of 2020. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will help to address the need for access to bleeding control equipment in public spaces. The STN has been working with state legislatures across the country to enact these policies for schools and public buildings and one of the most common concerns we’ve heard has been finding funding for these tools in cash strapped state budgets. If enacted, this grant program will go a long way in helping to assuage those concerns and increase access. Equipping civilian ‘immediate responders’ with the tools and training to stop traumatic bleeding will help to improve outcomes in cases of accidents and mass casualty events and reduce preventable deaths from bleeding,” Sarah Mattocks, MSN, RN, President Society of the Trauma Nurses said.

“TCAA strongly supports the Prevent BLEEDing Act. The organization’s advocacy efforts on behalf of its membership, which is comprised of trauma centers, includes support for legislation aimed at Stop the Bleed efforts at the state and federal level,” Jennifer Ward, President of the Trauma Center Association of America (TCAA) said.

“NAEMT supports this important legislation to provide funds to states and communities to help purchase bleeding control supplies including tourniquets, gauze, wound-packing materials, and hemostatic dressings, and provide training on the use of these supplies. This legislation will help improve the survivability of patients with life-threatening injuries by providing critical materials and training to help turn ordinary bystanders into first responders. We applaud and thank Senator Menendez, Senator Boozman, Representatives Hastings, Wenstrup and Lee for introducing this critical bill,” Matt Zavadsky, President of the National Association of Emergency Technicians said.

“The ATS is a 51-year-old organization with over 2300 members focused on preventing injuries, improving care and empowering survivors. All efforts to improve access to bleeding control kits and relevant training programs align with the mission of the ATS,” Dr. Anna Newcomb, PhD, MSW, LCSW, President of the American Trauma Society said.

“Just like with CPR training, a civilian familiar with basic bleeding control techniques is better equipped to save a life. The effort to make this training and bleeding control kits available to the public through a Department of Homeland Security grant program will help to drive the goal of reducing or eliminating preventable death from bleeding,” A. Britton Christmas, MD, FACS, President of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma said.

Specifically, S. 3346, the Prevent BLEEDing Act of 2020:

  • Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to allow states to apply for funding for anti-blood loss purposes through the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), including the purchase of supplies (tourniquets, gauze, wound-packing materials, hemostatic dressings, gloves, markers, or other appropriate materials) for use in medical emergencies and to provide training on the proper use of such supplies.
  • Allows states and localities to apply for funding to distribute materials to public and privately-owned spaces, such as schools, libraries, shopping malls and performance venues where anti-blood loss supplies are not used in the ordinary course of business.
  • Requires all locations receiving funding for bleeding control kits to place materials in locations where the equipment is immediately available for public use when needed—as is the case with publicly displayed automated external defibrillators.
  • Authorizes a one-time appropriation of $10 million to be distributed by formula at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

February 28, 2020

EARLY VOTING COUNT UPDATE/ID INFORMATION
Early voting continues through March 2nd.  According to County Clerk Britt Williford, as of Thursday evening, there have been a total of 906 early votes cast in Ouachita County. Early voting in Ouachita County is being held at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm today,  Friday, February 28th. You may vote Saturday, February 29th between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The last day to early vote will be Monday March 2nd between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Primary election day will be Tuesday March 3rd.  

You must present a photo ID in order to vote. The rumor mill is alive and well in Ouachita County. There is a rumor circulating throughout the county that has residents under the impression that you must have the enhanced ID to vote. Clerk Williford said “There is no truth to that.” He is unaware as to where the rumor originated. His Office has received numerous phone calls regarding the ID requirements. Your normal State ID or Driver’s license is all that is needed. The Enhanced ID is NOT required.

JIM GOLDEN DONATES TO THE SAU TECH SOFTBALL PROGRAM
Jim Golden did precisely what you would expect him to do, something he has always done for the Camden community. He saw a need and then met the need. After attending the SAU Tech Rocket Softball season opener with his wife, and seeing over 400 people in attendance, he made it his business to ensure that that future crowds had a place to sit by buying bleachers for the College.

Dr. Jason Morrison and coaches, Philip and Amy Diehl, accompanied the entire Rocket Softball team to Jim Golden Ford and Lincoln to thank Mr. Golden in person for his generosity. Jim Golden serves his community and family with dedication and generosity. Jim Golden is the owner of Jim Golden Ford and Lincoln in Camden, Arkansas.


D. BRENT MILLER TO DIRECT "MAMMA MIA!" AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to announce the selection of D. Brent Miller as the director for this summer's upcoming production of the well-known musical "Mamma Mia!". The public is invited to come meet and visit with Miller about the production at a reception March 14, at 6:00pm. "Mama Mia!", set to open in July, is anticipated to be one of the most popular musicals SAAC has performed in years.

This is not Miller's first time to sit in the director's chair at SAAC. He served as musical director for last summer's
production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". He loves El Dorado and the people at SAAC and is always happy to come back. "I'm so glad to have the opportunity to work with the ‘home guard' at SAAC again," said Miller. "It's always such a pleasure."

Miller is originally from Warren, Arkansas, and holds a BA in music, with emphases in musical theater, voice, and piano from the University of Arkansas, Monticello, and made his professional debut with the Louisiana Lyric Opera in 2008. He made his first appearance in the Little Rock theater scene with Argenta Community Theater in 2014 as Motel the tailor "Fiddler on the Roof". He has also played Charlie Dalrymple in "Brigadoon", Jacob in "La Cage Aux Folle", Dickon in "Secret Garden", Luther Jones in Michael Rice's original musical drama "During Wind and Rain", and Jacob Marley in "A Christmas Carol". Recently, he served as music director for "Sweet Charity"," A Christmas Carol", and "Follies". Brent has conducted pit orchestras in Houston and surrounding areas for various theaters. Some of those credits include "Les Miserables", "Camelot", "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", "Anything Goes", and "Sweeney Todd". He has also been guest conductor for the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, and worked with the HGO Chorus. Some of his other previously performed stage roles include John in "Miss Saigon", Tobias Ragg in "Sweeney Todd", Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors", Matt in "The Fantasticks", Papageno in "The Magic Flute", Scarecrow in "Wizard of Oz", and Phil in "White Christmas".

SAAC will host a "Director's Q and A" on Saturday, March 14, from 6:00-7:30pm. This will be an informal time where people interested in auditioning can ask Miller and his production staff questions about "Mamma Mia" auditions. Auditions will be held on Friday, March 27 at 6:00pm and Saturday, March 28 at 2:00pm. If you are unable to attend auditions, the director will accept video auditions. Please contact the production staff at rehearsal@saac-arts.org if you have questions about video auditions.

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

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: BE WARY OF TAX REFUND ANTICIPATION LOANS
LITTLE ROCK – As April 15 approaches, advertisements for tax refund anticipation loans (RALs) are ramping up. RALs are high-interest loans that must be repaid by the actual tax return proceeds, essentially borrowing your own money. Car dealerships and other businesses selling high priced items often offer to use RALs as down payments. While offers of immediate cash are often attractive, the products could ultimately reduce the total amount of your refund and may even cost you extra money.

“Reading the fine print is critical to not fall victim to a scam or be deceived by a promotion for a refund anticipation loan,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “If you estimate your tax refund incorrectly when using the RAL as a down money for a large purchase, you are still responsible to pay the difference that your tax refund does not cover.”

These loans are regulated by the Arkansas Refund Anticipation Loan Act of 2009.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released the following options for Arkansans to consider before agreeing to have your taxes prepared as part of a RAL.
Consider the free or low-cost options such as the online Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File program or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
Remember that electronically filed returns can be deposited in bank accounts in as few as eight days. The IRS can also provide refunds by check or prepaid debit card. Always get a written list of fees before entering into an agreement or having any tax preparation services performed.
Many tax preparers like to offer these loans because it attracts new business, but if the tax refund isn’t enough to cover the loan, it can create a headache for consumers.
Insist on getting any RAL in writing before buying any products or services.

RALs may seem attractive because tax preparations fees can also be covered. But many Arkansans can get free tax preparation services and can therefore save money and keep their entire refund. The IRS provides a Free File program online that is a federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for approximately 70 percent of taxpayers who earn less than $62,000 in annual adjusted gross income. Eligible consumers can go to IRS.gov and choose from multiple private companies that will file federal returns at no charge.

Some Arkansans may also be eligible to receive free help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Meanwhile, seniors can contact AARP to learn more about the tax preparation services they provide.

For more information about refund anticipation loans and checks, tax preparation and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.
 

COTTON, LOEFFLER, BLACKBURN TARGET DECEPTIVE FENTANYL TRAFFICKERS
Washington, D.C. — Thursday, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced the Zero Tolerance for Deceptive Fentanyl Trafficking Act. The bill would increase penalties for fentanyl traffickers who intentionally misrepresent the drug to unknowing customers. Bill text may be found here. Additional information may be found here.

“Drug dealers who peddle fentanyl know just how deadly it is, but the worst of them lace other drugs with it and then sell their poison to unknowing customers. By tricking their victims into buying much more potent drugs than expected, these dealers often kill their customers. We shouldn’t have any tolerance for such a fatal act of deception,” said Cotton.

“What fentanyl has done to Tennesseans, families and communities is just devastating, and those criminals responsible for distributing these drugs must face serious penalties. Addressing the opioid crisis requires a multifaceted approach from officials at the local, state and national levels. I am pleased to partner with Senators Cotton and Loeffler to combat the tragic reality of opioid addiction and to hold drug traffickers accountable for their dangerous conduct,” said Blackburn.

“One of the most lethal opioids is fentanyl, with thousands of overdose deaths being attributed to this highly-potent drug every year. Criminals who lace fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the United States must be held accountable for their deceptive, illegal and often deadly schemes. It’s time that our legal penalties properly reflect the seriousness and the fatal consequences of pushing these dangerous substances,” said Loeffler.

Background:
Under this legislation, dealers who intentionally misrepresent their product as a non-fentanyl substance would face a 20-year sentence, or a life sentence for those with prior felony convictions.

If the dealers intentionally included fentanyl to cause death—often because they want to increase the reputation of their product’s potency—then the offense becomes death penalty eligible.

The bill would also make permanent the Drug Enforcement Administration’s current but temporary scheduling of synthetic fentanyl drugs as controlled substances.

 

February 27, 2020

LONG TIME CODE ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, TRAVIS DANIEL, RESIGNS
Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector Travis Daniel has submitted a letter of resignation which was accepted by Mayor Julian Lott and will be effective Friday, February 28, 2020 at 5 P.M. Mr. Daniel is electing to leave public service in order to pursue personal endeavors which will undoubtedly continue to benefit the City of Camden.

Mr. Daniel has faithfully served our community for many years, first as a firefighter and then as the Code Enforcement Officer/Building Inspector. He has been a very active and effective voice in helping to encourage growth in a positive direction, beautify the City, and improve Camden for all its citizens. Mr. Daniel helped write and oversee grants to improve sidewalks and roadways in the downtown area, a project which is ongoing with future improvements to come. He also spearheaded efforts which lead to the creation of the Camden Trace Trail Project which was recognized by American Council of Engineering Companies with a 2018-2019 Engineering Excellence Honor Award.

Mr. Daniel has been a valuable asset as a public servant and will certainly continue his positive contributions as a private citizen. Travis Daniel’s faithful service is absolutely appreciated by this administration and the citizens of Camden.

EARLY VOTING COUNT UPDATE
Early Voting Continues In Ouachita County
Early voting continues through March 2nd.  According to County Clerk Britt Williford, as of yesterday, there have been a total of 666e arly votes cast in Ouachita County. More voters are turning out each day to cast their vote, however it is still a very quick, easy process. Our Clerk’s Office is doing an excellent job in keeping people moving through the process. Early voting in Ouachita County is being held at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm through tomorrow, Friday, February 28th. You may vote Saturday, February 29th between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The last day to early vote will be Monday March 2nd between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Primary election day will be Tuesday March 3rd.  You must present a photo ID in order to vote.

DR. MORRISON RECOGNIZED BY CAMDEN ROTARY
Dr. George Betts with Camden Rotary presented Dr. Jason Morrison with a certificate recognizing him as a Paul Harris Fellow. Dr. Morrison received the recognition for his donation of $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation.

The Rotary Foundation is well-know for fighting against polio, waterborne illnesses, and creating safe environment for children. More about Rotary and the Rotary Foundation can be found at www.rotary.org.
 

TEAM CAMDEN AND ASBTCD PRESENT MARKETING ACADEMY
#1: Positioning Your Business for Growth
As a small business owner wearing many hats, it's very tempting to jump right into achieving the "how" without first knowing the "what" in marketing. Success with marketing begins by identifying the biggest growth opportunities for your business. During this interactive workshop, we will lay the foundation for marketing your business successfully in today's ever-changing marketplace.

The Seminar will be held on March 3rd from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at the OPED Building located at 570 Ben Lane, Camden, Arkansas.

Kristen Cribb, ASBTDC Business Consultant will be the speaker. Team Camden and OPED  are co-sponsors of the seminar. Thanks to a special sponsorship from Team Camden, this class is FREE! For more information or to pre-register, contact Kristen Crib at (870) 235-5033 or email kristencribb@saumag.edu.

CAMDEN CODE ENFORCEMENT/BUILDING INSPECTOR’S OFFICE ANNOUNCE WORKSHOP REGARDING MANUFACTURED HOMES
The City of Camden’s Planning Commission is having a workshop to discuss the City’s Manufactured Home Ordinance. The workshop has been scheduled for March 19, 2020 at 5:00 PM in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 206 Van Buren, AR 71701. 
For more information contact:
Scott Adkins
Code Enforcement
City of Camden
206 Van Buren NE
Camden, AR 71701
(870)837-5576 office
(870)833-0723 cell
codeenforcecamden@cablelynx.com
or
Jeanette Sewell
Code Enforcement
City of Camden
206 Van Buren NE
Camden, AR 71701
(870)837-5508 office
(870)833-0723 cell
codeenforce.camden@cablelynx.com

 

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet today, February 27th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Eric Gunter who will talk about the upcoming “KIDZ RUNNIN’ the SHOW” Corvette Car Show.

 

FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NON-PROFIT IS SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY DIVERTING CHARITY FUNDS TO UNNAMED STATE SENATOR AND CONVICTED LOBBYIST
El Dorado, Arkansas – A former executive director of South Arkansas Youth Services (SAYS), an Arkansas-based nonprofit, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiring to unlawfully divert over $380,000 from the charity to an Arkansas state senator and the lobbying firm of a convicted lobbyist.

Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement. 

Chief U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey sentenced Jerry Walsh, 72, of Magnolia, Arkansas, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misapply the nonprofit’s funds without authority from the board of directors.  Judge Hickey also ordered Walsh to pay $515,631.56 in restitution.

As part of his plea, Walsh admitted that beginning in 2013, while serving as executive director for SAYS, he agreed to divert SAYS funds to convicted lobbyist Milton “Rusty” Cranford and an unnamed Arkansas state senator in exchange for the state senator’s influence in protecting the non-profit’s state contracts with the Arkansas Department Health Services (DHS) and DHS’ Division of Youth Services (DYS).  As part of that agreement, Walsh was to provide a monthly “legal retainer” to the Arkansas state senator without the expectation that the senator ever provide any legal work.  Instead, the purpose of the payments was to obtain the senator’s assistance in preserving the contracts by influencing DHS and DYS officials.  According to the plea, Cranford negotiated the amount paid to the senator, which amounted to over $120,000.

Additionally, as part of the conspiracy, Walsh admitted to paying Cranford’s lobbying firms above-market prices and employed a relative of Cranford who had a “no-show” job with SAYS.  In total, Walsh illegally diverted approximately $262,000 in charity funds to Cranford’s lobbying firm and relative.

The FBI investigated this case along with the assistance of the Magnolia Police Department and the 13th Judicial District of Arkansas Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Wulff of the Western District of Arkansas and Senior Litigation Counsel Marco A. Palmieri of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Phillips with the 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  This is a combined investigation with the Public Integrity Section the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western District of Arkansas, and the Western District of Missouri.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of the agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES MARCH MOBILE OFFICE SCHEDULE
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced mobile office locations for March.

Attorney General Rutledge created this initiative during her first year in office to increase office accessibility for all Arkansans, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Office hours were held in all 75 counties each year during her first term, assisting 3,300 Arkansans. In 2019, Attorney General Mobile Offices served over 2,200 Arkansans.

Rutledge believes face-to-face conversations are the best way to truly hear from Arkansans. The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist Arkansans with consumer related issues by filing consumer complaints against scam artists as well as answering questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents.

Rutledge continues her partnerships with local law enforcement across Arkansas. Law enforcement officials will be on hand to collect unused and expired prescription medications to ensure they are secured and properly disposed. Arkansans are encouraged to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office. During Rutledge’s five years in office, over 800 pounds of medications were collected at mobile offices.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.

The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:

Calhoun County
Tuesday, March 3
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Calhoun County Nutrition Center
1120 Prestress Drive
Hampton, AR 71744

Cross County
Thursday, March 5
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Wynne Senior Life Center
715 East Canal Street
Wynne, AR 72396

Howard County
Tuesday, March 10
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Nashville Senior Adult Center
206 East Howard Street
Nashville, AR 71852

Van Buren County
Thursday, March 12
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Clinton Senior Center
311 Yellowjacket Lane
Clinton, AR 72031

Searcy County
Wednesday, March 18
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Searcy County Senior Activity & Wellness Center
509 Zach Road
Marshall, AR 72650

Cleveland County
Thursday, March 19
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Rison Senior Citizens Center
730 North Pecan Street
Rison, AR 71665

Jefferson County
Tuesday, March 24
10:30 a.m. to noon
White Hall Community Center
9801 Dollarway Road
White Hall, AR 71602

Dallas County
Thursday, March 26
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Fordyce Senior Citizen Center
608 Moro Street
Fordyce, AR 71742

 

DR. BERNICE KING ANNOUNCED AS SPEAKER FOLLOWING THE 2020 MLK OUR BELOVED COMMUNITY HERITAGE FESTIVAL IN HARRISON, ARKANSAS
Little Rock-The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education will host the 2020 MLK Commemorative Vigil and Beloved Community Heritage Festival on Thursday, April 9, 2020 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at the Durand Center at Crockett Tower located at 303 North Main Street in Harrison, Arkansas. The event is free and open to the public, however, pre-registration is strongly recommended at amlkc.eventbrite.com. There will be presentations on the "Six Principles of non-violence." There will be free meals for the community and a prize to the individual who brings the oldest obituary. The heritage festival will also include cultural presentations and educational workshops.

Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the late Civil Rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will make a rare appearance during the evening session which begins at 6:00 PM.  A vigil and community festival honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will precede the keynote presentation.   The community festival will feature presentations from youth from Harrison and Northwest Arkansas. Following the Community Festival, Dr. King will speak about the “Six Principles of Nonviolence.”

“The Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission has received a lot of interest in this event. I am proud to once again work with the Mayor, the City of Harrison, and the Harrison Task Force on Race Relations to host this monumental event in Northwest Arkansas, says DuShun Scarbrough.  This is the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission’s third event in Harrison.  We started in 2012 with the city’s first African American history program.  We were invited back in the Spring of 2014 by popular demand.  We hosted a two-day event which included a youth conference. City, state, and local elected officials, dignitaries joined hundreds of youth from across the state to participate in the MLK Peace March. We hosted the annual MLK Commemorative Vigil, and symbolically “buried” racism.  The two-day event featured a tribute to The Beatles and their impact on music and contribution to the Civil Rights movement by refusing to play concerts in segregated concert venues,” says Scarbrough.  “Youth groups, schools and civic organizations from across the state have already confirmed to attend and participate as this will be a once in a lifetime moment to hear the daughter of the late Civil Rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  To think, we’ll be one generation away from Dr. King, a great man who changed history through his commitment to promote peace, racial healing, and nonviolence. Working closely with Dr. Bernice King, I believe she feels it is important to come to Harrison and assist in the Commission’s “work” to promote racial healing and understanding.”

 
 
 

February 26, 2020

CAMDEN FIRE DEPARTMENT REPORT FRAUDULENT BUSINESS INSPECTIONS
In the past several weeks, the Camden Fire Department has received reports of an unknown, unauthorized individual who has visited various local businesses to perform fire inspections. These inspections have sometimes ended with the individual in question attempting to collect a fee or fine. While the Camden Fire Department performs commercial fire safety inspections at all businesses annually, it does not charge any fee for this service. The Camden Fire Department will also not attempt to collect any fine in person.

There are certain fire protection-related features, such as fire extinguishers and fire sprinkler systems, that are required to be serviced by the Arkansas Fire Prevention Code. However, these services are provided by certified, third-party companies under arrangement with the business owner — the Camden Fire Department only verifies that these services have been completed. Information about these fraudulent inspections has been turned over to the Camden Police Department for investigation. Should any business or individual have any question about the legitimacy of a commercial inspection, please feel free to contact Camden Fire Department’s Central Station at (870)836-2413.

 

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES BIPARTISAN, MULTISTATE INVESTIGATION OF JUUL
Says, ‘Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry’
LITTLE ROCK– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced joining a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs. The 39-state multistate coalition is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content and statements about risks, safety and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.

“Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry, enticing our youth to use a virtually unknown product” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Millions have been put at risk and it’s time to fight back against JUUL for making profits through deceptive practices.”

While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among young people, vaping is skyrocketing. From 2017 to 2018, Arkansas saw a 78 percent increase in high school students vaping and a 48 percent increase in middle school students vaping.

Rutledge has been at the forefront of the fight against the vaping crisis. In 2019, she hosted two Youth Vaping Summits in Little Rock and Bentonville, bringing medical experts together to help present facts and address the public on the real dangers associated with e-cigarette use.

Rutledge also issued an Enforcement Advisory to 100 online e-cigarette retailers, warning them that it is illegal to sell or ship any nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, to consumers in Arkansas. The advisory warned of potential legal action if businesses are found selling to minors over the internet.

In October 2019, Rutledge filed suit against three online e-cigarette retailers for violating Arkansas laws. By selling and shipping nicotine products and devices to Arkansas children without age verification, the companies are in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

To learn more about the dangers of youth vaping, visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

AUDUBON ARKANSAS TO BECOME FIRST 100% RENEWABLE POWER NONPROFIT IN ARKANSAS
Little Rock Audubon Center will launch a Solar Learning Lab to provide community education on clean energy
Little Rock - Audubon Arkansas is partnering with  Scenic Hill Solar to install a new solar facility and ‘Solar Learning Lab’ at the Little Rock Audubon Center (LRAC) that will meet 100% of the center’s electricity demand and provide community education opportunities on solar power technology.

Last year, the National Audubon Society released the report and companion website: Survival By Degrees, which found that if global temperatures are permitted to rise unchecked, two-thirds of North America’s birds are vulnerable to extinction. However, immediate action to slow that increase could protect the vast majority of vulnerable species. Transitioning to renewable power like solar energy helps make that possible.

 

“In order to protect the birds that we love and the places that they need to survive, it’s important that we do everything we can as an organization to reduce our own carbon emissions,” said LRAC Manager, Uta Meyer. “Not only will going 100% solar give us an opportunity to educate the community on the benefits of renewable energy for both people and wildlife, it will help ensure that we’re part of the solution in everything we do.”
 

“Scenic Hill Solar is delighted to work with Audubon Arkansas on this solar power and educational project,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar.  “The solar power plant will be built, owned, and operated by Scenic Hill Solar and provide electricity to Audubon Arkansas.  As the first nonprofit organization in Arkansas to utilize 100 percent solar electricity, Audubon Arkansas is simultaneously building on its rich history of environmental stewardship and conserving scarce budget resources.  We are proud to partner with such an exemplary organization.”
 

The 35 kilowatt solar project will be built at the Little Rock Audubon Center in the Granite Mountain community. Over the next 30 years, the solar power plant will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of removing 2.7 million passenger car miles from the highway.  Construction of the power plant is expected to start following utility approvals and to be completed this year.
 

The LRAC sits on 450 acres in Granite Mountain and serves as an environmental education field trip destination for K-12 students and hosts a daily out-of-school time program. The LRAC also engages the public in conservation priorities by showcasing Audubon’s work on bird-friendly communities and grassland restoration while providing visitors with engaging options for conservation action.
 

The Solar Learning Lab will include the ground mounted solar facility tied to LRAC’s electric meter, an indoor interactive educational exhibit on solar technology, and two tracks of educational curriculum – geared towards K-12 students and nonprofit leaders.
 

In 2019, Audubon Arkansas led a coalition to enact the Arkansas Solar Access Act, allowing nonprofits to use third-party solar service agreements to monetize federal clean energy tax incentives, and thus providing the opportunity for nonprofits to procure economic solar power. The project is supported by a 3M Ecogrant, the National Audubon Society’s Maggie Walker Incentive Fund, and individual donors.

About Audubon Arkansas: Audubon was established in 2000 as a state office of the National Audubon Society. The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon and unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservatio naction. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at ar.audubon.org.
 

About Scenic Hill Solar:  Scenic Hill Solar provides commercial, industrial, government, and utility clients clean electricity, reduced energy prices and long-term electricity price certainty by developing client specific solar energy plans. Scenic Hill Solar provides clients either lower priced electricity under contract or turnkey delivery of solar power plants, depending on our clients' specific needs. Scenic Hill Solar Headquarters are in Little Rock, AR. Visit the company online at www.ScenicHillSolar.com. Scenic Hill Solar's CEO is former Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter: www.ScenicHillSolar.com/billhalter.
 

                                                                 ARKANSAS’ SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK IS SUNDAY, MARCH 1ST  - SATURDAY MARCH 7TH
The severe storm season of 2019 brought with it 33 tornadoes, more than three dozen reports of thunderstorm wind gusts of 75 mph or greater, an instance of hail slightly larger than grapefruits, 
and hundreds of reports of flash flooding. Combined, hazardous weather resulted in 5 fatalities in 2019. 


With the 2020 spring severe weather season fast approaching, the National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Arkansas Division of Emergency 

Management, has designated the week of March 1st through the 7th as Severe Weather Awareness Week. This safety campaign is designed to help Arkansans prepare for the spring storm season. 

For Severe Weather Awareness Week 2020, the following topics will be covered, and safety tips and statistics from 2019 will be offered along the way:  
Sunday: Introduction to Severe Weather Awareness Week in Arkansas.
Monday: Flooding - The difference between floods and flash floods, along with some examples.
Tuesday:  Lightning - Where and when lightning tends to strike, and how often. 
Wednesday: Tornadoes - The frequency of weak versus monster tornadoes, how many tornadoes are spawned each year, and a word about tornado sirens.
Thursday: Severe Thunderstorms - In addition to tornadoes, the size of hail and the strength of thunderstorm gusts to be considered severe.
Friday: Watches & Warnings - Understanding the meaning of watches and warnings, how long they are in effect, and where they originate. 
Saturday: Social Media Communication - How platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are used to spread the word about upcoming high impact events, and to collect severe weather reports from the public.

The time to prepare is now!
 

PROTECT ARKANSAS COMMUNITIES
Little Rock, AR - Protect Arkansas Communities has launched a ballot question committee to challenge Arcade Arkansas and its efforts to amend the Arkansas Constitution to allow 15,000 coin-operated amusement machines throughout communities across the state. Arcade Arkansas’ mission is to "support a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State of Arkansas to authorize coin-operated amusement machines within
the state of Arkansas to support the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery." This group has spent over
$360,000 in professional signature gatherers, selling something that it is not.

Concerns have been voiced against this proposed amendment. Nicole Hart, (chair) Veteran advocate, stated “Time and time again people use veterans as a selling point when in reality, there is nothing in their language guaranteeing this will help veterans. Former Sheriff Doc Holliday spoke out and said “I can see how these machines are going to be spread throughout the state. They have no hours or regulations, they are always open, 365, 24/7.

Research in other states clearly shows that there is an uptick in criminal activities around those locations that have these video gambling machines.” Pastor Terra Long
implores, (Co-chair) “This just allows communities to be invaded by gambling machines. With no control over where they are placed. These could be near schools and you know kids will try to play these things.”

The Committee to Protect AR Communities intends to educate Arkansas on what Arcade Arkansas is really about. Helena-West Helena Mayor, Kevin Smith stated “They want to drive these machines into our cities by the truckload, not knowing who owns them or operates them. Then it becomes a burden on the city to take care of the problems, out of our police budget. Like it or not, it’s in your city.”

Protect Arkansas Communities encourages all voters to know the facts, get the truth! This is out-of-state group is
hiding behind the claims of helping our veterans and the scholarship lottery. The Committee to Protect AR Communities is a coalition of like-minded organizations, former law enforcement officials, elected leaders, business organizations,  associations, veteran advocates, religious
leaders, that will raise awareness and educate Arkansans to oppose Arcade Arkansas’ drive to
put 15,000 coin-operated amusement machines all across Arkansas.

ASHLEY COUNTY RESIDENTS MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
NORTH LITTLE ROCK— Homeowners and renters in Ashley County affected by the severe storms and tornadoes January 10 – 11, 2020 may be eligible for disaster assistance through the State of Arkansas Individual Assistance program. 

Individuals whose primary residence was destroyed or made uninhabitable will be able to apply for assistance beginning Tuesday, February 25 and continuing until Friday, March 6, 2020.  In order to be eligible for state disaster assistance funds applicants must first apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration. 

Assistance may include home repairs, cleaning, household debris removal, personal property repair and primary transportation repair.  Business, second homes, vacation homes, sheds and outbuildings are NOT eligible for disaster assistance funds.

Affected residents can apply by contacting the call center hotline weekdays 8:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. at 1-888-683-ADEM (2336).  Residents can also apply in person at the Disaster Recovery Center located inside the Ashley County Courthouse Annex at 205 E. Jefferson St. in Hamburg.  The recovery center will be open weekdays beginning Tuesday, February 25 through Thursday, March 5 from 8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.  Applicants will need to provide the address of the damaged home, insurance information, social security number and detailed damage information.  Residents will also be asked to provide a phone number and email address.

 
 

February 25, 2020

BRING IN THE SPRING AT THE 27TH ANNUAL CAMDEN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL MARCH 13TH AND 14TH
Friday-Saturday, 2020 in Beautiful Downtown Camden Arkansas Camden Arkansas
Join Camden as we Celebrate Spring at one of South Arkansas' largest and most beautiful events, the 27th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival, March 13th & 14th in Beautiful Downtown Camden.

Join thousands from all around the region at this unforgettable weekend for the entire family at the 2020 Daffodil Festival! Tour the amazing Daffodil Gardens, with millions of blossoms! Enjoy the rich History of South Arkansas with guided tours through Camden's famous museums, antebellum homes, and historical sites complete with costumed re-enactments, or shop ‘till your heart's content along the sidewalks of downtown Camden displaying a myriad of food, collectables, and crafts.

Stay for the entire weekend complete with the annual 5k run, Arts and Crafts show & sale, and Live Music acts and stage events. Bring the entire family for the downtown booths, children’s activities and Antique Car Show. Shop for one-of-a kind gifts along the sidewalk vendors with food, crafts, and other festival favorites and enjoy some of the best food in South Arkansas at our famous Steak Cook-off!

Start by visiting the beautiful Garden Tours open where you will find amazing Daffodil Gardens. Be taken back in time with guided costumed tours through the historic Oakland Cemetery. Also tour the Historic Homes. After touring the sites, join us downtown for a variety of events the whole family is sure to love where you will find a day full of activities Friday and Saturday. Don’t miss the region’s favorite Championship Steak Cook-off on Saturday with the World’s Finest char-grilled Black Angus Rib Eyes complete with music and live entertainment throughout the festival. If you enjoy food, fun, beauty and history then this is the place for you. It’s all at the 27th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival, March 13th & 14th, 9am-6pm Friday & 9am-5pm on Saturday in Beautiful Downtown Camden. (205 W. Washington, Camden AR. 71701)

• For more information or questions please contact the Daffodil Festival at: Chairman@camdendaffodilfestival.com or call 870-836-9243.
• For more information, tour and steak cook-off ticket locations, prices, and PRESS, visit us at www.camdendaffodilfestival.com
• The festival is free and open to the public with tickets available for purchase to specific events and tours.
• Visit our Downtown booth to purchase tour tickets and Steak Cook-Off tickets at the festival

SAU TECH ADULT EDUCATION EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
SAU Tech Adult Education Centers offer a wide variety of educational programs to help residents of Ouachita, Calhoun Columbia and Dallas Counties to enter employment or post-secondary education. Classes are offered at various times including day, evening and distance learning. All services are free of charge For more information call 870-837-4001.

 

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS AND ARKANSAS 4-H TO HOST SEAPERCH CHALLENGE
Submersible remote-operated robots simulate real-world tasks
Little Rock, Ark. — Feb. 25, 2020 — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and Arkansas 4-H will host the 2020 Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge, an underwater robotics competition on Friday, March 6 at The Center at Bishop Park in Bryant. More than 162 students will represent 42 teams from 16 counties at the event.

The SeaPerch is a remotely-operated submersible built from more than three dozen parts, including PVC pipe, pool noodles, three 12-volt motors and batteries. During the contest, teams must navigate their SeaPerch through obstacle courses and complete other tasks, such as moving plastic rings from one part of the course and successfully placing them to another part. The goal is to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).



During this year’s competition, competitors will use their SeaPerch robots to simulate a waterway cleanup. The winner of the Arkansas SeaPerch Challenge will advance to the International SeaPerch Challenge that will be held May 29 – 31 at the University of Maryland.

"Arkansas' electric cooperatives are dedicated to providing educational opportunities for the youth in all areas of our great state," said Rob Roedel, director of corporate communications for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. "Our partnership with Arkansas 4-H has grown and will continue to expand the Arkansas SeaPerch program. The electric cooperatives are committed to supporting STEM-based learning opportunities for future leaders.”

Participating teams are from Arkansas, Carroll, Craighead, Crittenden, Garland, Grant, Howard, Lawrence,

 Madison, Miller, Montgomery, Newton, Perry, Pulaski, Randolph and Saline counties.

To learn more about the SeaPerch initiative, visit seaperch.org/about.

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.

 

RUTLEDGE FILES PBM BRIEF WITH U.S. SUPREME COURT
Rutledge says, ‘the stranglehold PBMs have on drug prices is driving many local pharmacies out of business’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a brief Monday with the United States Supreme Court in Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) case. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in that case on April 27, 2020. In this case, Rutledge seeks to protect rural Arkansas’s small businesses and save community pharmacies from abusive PBM payment practices.

“For many Arkansans, we interact most frequently with our local pharmacists, but the stranglehold PBMs have on drug prices is driving many local pharmacies out of business,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It’s time we hold PBMs accountable for skyrocketing prescription drug prices and directly hurting Arkansan’s pocketbooks.”

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug, causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2018 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling

Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.

VICKSBURG DISTRICT ANNOUNCES UPDATES TO ONLINE INUNDATION MAPPING VIEWER
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District announced Feb. 24 that its online viewer for inundation mapping has been updated to include new forecast information and additional areas in the district's jurisdiction.

The viewer now includes inundation data for areas along the main stem of the Mississippi River within the district's jurisdiction, which spans approximately from north of Arkansas City, Arkansas, to south of Vidalia, Louisiana. The viewer also contains updated data for the Pearl River from Hinds County, Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico; the Yazoo Backwater Area in Mississippi's south Delta; and the Red River Backwater Area in east-central Louisiana.

The viewer, which is accessible through a web browser, allows users to view forecasted inundation layers for areas affected by high water across the district's 68,000-square-mile jurisdiction in parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. District engineers and technical experts will continue to update the viewer as needed to reflect the most up-to-date forecasting from the National Weather Service.

The inundation data provided in the viewer allows the district's local, state and federal partners to make informed decisions on emergency planning and response actions to take in their respective jurisdictions. The viewer is also open for the public to use and accessible on both computers and mobile devices.

The data presented in each map is compiled using the best information available and is believed to be accurate; however, its preparation requires many assumptions. Actual conditions during a flood event may vary from those assumed, and thus the accuracy of each map cannot be guaranteed. The limits of flooding depicted on each map should only be used as a guideline for emergency planning and response actions. Actual areas inundated will depend on specific flooding conditions and may differ from the areas shown on the map.

The viewer was created by engineers and technical experts on the district's hydraulics and hydrology teams and at the USACE Mapping, Modeling and Consequences Center, a national center of expertise based at the district headquarters building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The viewer launched Feb. 12.

The viewer is available at the following link: https://nam03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2Fxd5sb&amp;data=02%7C01%7C%7Cee9dd1f262884fc76f2a08d7ba0c459c%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637182434227645096&amp;sdata=r7ullJViWsTnXThi%2FFktCoG8ixFlvMJXhDpJcevv060%3D&amp;reserved=0.

For more information about the viewer, please contact the district's public affairs office via telephone at 601-631-5000 or via email at vicksburgdistrict@usace.army.mil.

The Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The 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.
 

BOOZMAN HONORS LITERARY ICON CHARLES PORTIS
WASHINGTON-
U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) spoke on the Senate floor to honor the life of Arkansan Charles Portis, author of “True Grit,” who passed away last week. 

“I want to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of Charles Portis and his legacy as an acclaimed writer and story-teller. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family as they remember and reflect on his life. I hope they find comfort in the fact that Mr. Portis has left a profound, lasting mark on Arkansas, as well as within our nation’s cultural and literary traditions,” Boozman said in his speech.

Below is Boozman’s speech as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I want to pay tribute to an Arkansas veteran who was one of the state’s most famous sons, literary icon Charles Portis. Mr. Portis, the author best known for his 1968 Western novel “True Grit,” passed away on February 17, 2020.

Born in December 1933 in El Dorado, Arkansas, Portis spent his childhood in southern Arkansas. He enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving as an infantryman and reaching the rank of sergeant during the Korean War before his discharge in 1955. Following his military service he attended the University of Arkansas and wrote for the student newspaper, the Arkansas Traveler. He graduated from the university in 1958 with a degree in journalism.

After graduating, Portis began his career as a reporter, working first for the Arkansas Gazette and then at the New York Herald Tribune. Though he voluntarily ended his journalism career in 1964, he used the skills and tools he’d acquired as a reporter when he returned home to Arkansas and began writing fiction.

His most celebrated work is the Western classic “True Grit.” This book chronicles the efforts of a Yell County teenager, Mattie Ross, along with U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to avenge the death of Mattie’s father at the hands of a drifter.

The novel incorporates distinct references familiar to many Arkansans and depicts life on the frontier in the what was then the “wild west.” It was later adapted into films in 1969 and 2010.

While it’s his most well-known work, Mr. Portis also wrote four other novels and several shorter works of fiction and nonfiction.

During his career, Portis was honored with the Oxford American’s first Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature award and was presented with the Porter Prize’s 30th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement Award. “True Grit” has been praised as “one of the great American novels.”

I want to take this opportunity to say how proud we are of Charles Portis and his legacy as an acclaimed writer and story-teller. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family as they remember and reflect on his life. I hope they find comfort in the fact that Mr. Portis has left a profound, lasting mark on Arkansas, as well as within our nation’s cultural and literary traditions.

Charles Portis had a remarkable career that will be remembered for a long time to come. Today, I wish to honor him and his loved ones and help celebrate his life. On behalf of all Arkansans, we celebrate Charles Portis and his notable contributions to our state.

 
 

February 24, 2020

EARLY VOTING CONTINUES IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early voting continues through March 2nd.  According to County Clerk Britt Williford, to date there have been 666 early votes cast in Ouachita County. Last Tuesday 72 votes were cast, Wednesday there were 44 voters and Thursday, 50 voters showed up to cast their ballots. There was a bigger turn-out on Friday with 90 votes cast and 33 voters opted to early vote on this past Saturday. Early voting in Ouachita County is being held at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday until February 28th. You may vote Saturday, February 29th between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The last day to early vote will be Monday March 2nd between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Primary election day will be Tuesday March 3rd.  You must present a photo ID in order to vote.

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet on Wednesday, February 26th at Catherine’s Bistro. Author Alexis Pacheco will be talking about her book "The Coach's Widow". The Coach’s Widow outlines a perfect marriage. A young husband with a budding career. A single phone call that stunned a newlywed wife and a small Arkansas community. At twenty-seven Alexis McMahan’s life had finally molded itself into perfection until the call that ended it all and forced her to start over. Pacheco will also have some books on hand for anyone wishing to purchase and have her sign them. 

DEA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF OPERATION CRYSTAL SHIELD
Efforts will focus on main U.S. methamphetamine trafficking transportation hubs
NEW ORLEANS – Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon today announced
the DEA will direct enforcement resources to methamphetamine “transportation hubs” — areas where methamphetamine is often trafficked in bulk and then distributed across the country. While continuing to focus on stopping drugs being smuggled across the border, DEA’s Operation Crystal Shield will ramp up enforcement to block their further distribution into America’s neighborhoods.

DEA has identified eight major methamphetamine transportation hubs where these efforts will be concentrated: Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Phoenix, and St. Louis. Together, these DEA Field Divisions accounted for more than 75 percent of methamphetamine seized in the U.S. in 2019.

Operation Crystal Shield builds on existing DEA initiatives that target major drug trafficking networks, including the Mexican cartels that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of methamphetamine trafficked into and within the United States.  DEA domestic seizures of methamphetamine increased 127 percent from 49,507 pounds to 112,146 pounds from FY 2017 to FY 2019. During the same time frame, the number of DEA arrests related to methamphetamine rose nearly twenty percent.  

“For decades, methamphetamine has been a leading cause of violence and addiction – a drug threat that has never gone away,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “With a 22 percent increase in methamphetamine-related overdose deaths, now is the time to act, and DEA is leading the way with a surge of interdiction efforts and resources, targeting regional transportation hubs throughout the United States. By reducing the supply of meth, we reduce the violence, addiction, and death it spreads.”

DEA New Orleans Field Division Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said, “Methamphetamine destroys lives and is one of the primary drivers of violence across the nation, including here in our four-state region.  Operation Crystal Shield will build on DEA’s ongoing efforts to hold meth dealers accountable.  We will continue to seize their profits, shut down their distribution networks, and put dealers where they belong – behind bars.  By continuing to target local distribution networks in this transportation hub, DEA and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners are working to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life for the citizens in our area and beyond.” 

Acting United States Attorney Clay Fowlkes stated, “Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that presents a significant threat to the safety of our communities in the Western District of Arkansas.  We are prepared to support this operation in any way possible to help fight the distribution of this dangerous drug and protect the safety of our communities. “  

The DEA New Orleans Field Division, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas, is seeing a significant increase in the amount of methamphetamine seized, up 58 percent in the last year. As a transportation hub, we are committed to using all our enforcement resources to attack this problem. Specifically, we are enhancing our interdiction efforts, which target transportation hub facilities utilized by the drug trafficking networks.  Further, we have assigned additional personnel, to include more Task Force Officers, to focus on interdiction investigations. 

Virtually all methamphetamine in the United States comes through major ports of entry along the Southwest Border and is transported by tractor trailers and personal vehicles along the nation’s highways to major transfer centers around the country. It is often found in poly-drug loads, alongside cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.   

RUTLEDGE INTRODUCES SPRING LAW CLERKS TO ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
Says, ‘The law clerk program allows aspiring lawyers to put their academia into action’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed a new class of law clerks for the spring session to the Attorney General’s Office. These law students work in various departments assisting with legal research, drafting memos and legal documents and accompanying lawyers at trials, client meetings and hearings.

“The law clerk program allows aspiring lawyers to put their academia into action while having exposure to some of the best lawyers and public servants in the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Law clerks play a valuable role for the office as well as gain a better understanding of the fulfilling work of public service.”

Sierra Glover, a second-year student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. She graduated from Harding University with a degree in Criminal Justice in 2018. Glover is from Marmaduke and graduated from Marmaduke High School in 2014.

Bryce Moore, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration. Moore is from Sherwood and graduated from Catholic High School for Boys in 2013.

Jackson Taylor, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. He graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. Taylor is from Little Rock and graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 2014.

Caitlin Leggett, a second-year student the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2017 with degrees in Political Science and Journalism. Leggett is from Blytheville and graduated from Gosnell High School in 2013.

Pierce Caviness, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with degrees in History and Anthropology in 2017. Caviness is from Hazen and graduated from Hazen High School in 2012.

Nathan Reiter, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2018 with a degree in Business Administration. Reiter is from Hooks, Texas, and graduated from Hooks High School in 2015.

Amanda Partridge, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. She graduated from Harding University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Partridge is from Little Rock and graduated from Central Arkansas Christian High School in 2008.

Will McGrath, a second-year at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Department. He graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Business Administration in 2017. McGrath is from The Woodlands, Texas and graduated from The Woodlands Christian Academy in 2013.

Sarah Fendley, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Department. She graduated from Lyon College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Art in 2009 and from Henderson State University with a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2013. Fendley is from Hot Springs and graduated from Lake Hamilton High School in 2005.

For more information about the Attorney General Office’s law clerk program or internship program visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

COTTON, JOHNSON ERNST DEMAND ANSWERS FROM DHS ABOUT HOW FORMER AL-QAEDA LEADER BECAME U.S. RESIDENT AND CITIZEN
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday demanding answers to how a former al-Qaeda leader was allowed to emigrate to the United States as a refugee and become a citizen. Ali Yousef Ahmed Al-Nouri was recently arrested in Arizona after the Iraqi government sought to have him extradited based on charges of premeditated murder committed in 2006 in Al-Fallujah, Iraq. News reports have stated that Al-Nouri became an American citizen two years ago.

“If these reports are accurate, we are concerned that our vetting processes did not identify a former leader of al-Qaeda either when he entered the country as a refugee or when sought and obtained U.S. citizenship,” the senators wrote.

Full text of the letter is below.

February 20, 2020

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf
Acting Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
246 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf:

          On Friday, January 31, 2020, the Department of Justice announced the arrest in Arizona of Ali Yousef Ahmed Al-Nouri, an alleged former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Government of Iraq requested Al-Nouri’s arrest and extradition based on charges of premeditated murder committed in 2006 in Al-Fallujah, Iraq.  According to press reports, Al-Nouri entered the United States in 2008 as a refugee and became a U.S. citizen two years ago.

            If these reports are accurate, we are concerned that our vetting processes did not identify a former leader of al-Qaeda either when he entered the country as a refugee or when sought and obtained U.S. citizenship.

            The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays a critical role in screening visa applications and vetting all immigrants seeking to enter the U.S.  To better understand Al-Nouri’s presence in the U.S. and his pending extradition, please provide the following records and information:

  1. The visa category pursuant to which Al-Nouri was admitted to the U.S., the port of entry where Al-Nouri was admitted, and the date of admission.
  2. Did any DHS Visa Security Unit personnel review his application?  If so, please identify the location of the DHS personnel that conducted the review, whether the review included social media vetting, and whether DHS was aware of Al-Nouri’s affiliation with Al-Qaeda. 
  3. A description of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ vetting and adjudication of Al-Nouri’s residency and/or naturalization petition to the U.S.
  4. The information that the Government of Iraq provided to the U.S. Government in connection with the Iraqi government’s extradition request.

Please produce this material as soon as possible, but by no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020.  To the maximum extent possible, please provide unclassified responses to these questions. Any classified information provided in response to this letter should be provided under separate cover through the Office of Senate Security.  In addition, we request that appropriate DHS staff arrange a briefing with our staff on this matter.  Please arrange this briefing by March 13, 2020.      

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is authorized by Rule XXV of the Standing Rules of the Senate to investigate “the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies and departments of the Government.”  Additionally, Senate Resolution 70 (116th Congress) authorizes the Committee to examine “the efficiency and economy of operations of all branches the Government.”

If you have any questions about this request, please contact Brian Kennedy of Chairman Johnson’s staff at (202) 224-4751.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

Sincerely,

 

February 21, 2020

EARLY VOTING CONTINUES IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Early voting continues through March 2nd.  According to County Clerk Britt Williford, on Tuesday 72 votes were cast, Wednesday there were 44 voters and Thursday, 50 voters showed up to cast their ballots. Early voting in Ouachita County is being held at the Ouachita County Courthouse. You may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday until February 28th. You may vote Saturday, February 22nd and February 29th between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The last day to early vote will be Monday March 2nd between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Primary election day will be Tuesday March 3rd.  You must present a photo ID in order to vote.

TERRY “TACO” HOWARD MEMORIAL TRAIL AND ATV  RIDE
Sponsored by Holly Springs Baptist and Methodist Churches
NEW THIS YEAR!!!!!! FRIDAY APRIL 3rd at 10:00 AM
4 Hour Minimum .... Ride for Horses and Wagons
Bring Your Lunch and Drinks.
Friday Night, April 3rd -Soup or Chili Meal from 5:00 until 8:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall for Donations
For more information, call Larry Pierce at 870-807-4550

Negative Coggins required!
No Alcohol or Drugs allowed.
All Kicking Stock must have something red on their tail.
Please stay in tight groups for easy flagging.
Line Up Order: Wagons, Buggies, Carts and Horses.
Absolutely No Horses Between Wagons, Buggies or Carts.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Horses leave at 9:00 AM - ATV'S leave at 10:00 AM
Show and Shine Car Display from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturday
"Measure of Grace" in Concert from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Saturday
Dine In Or Carry Out BBQ Meal - Pulled Pork, Chicken Or Brisket With All the Trimmings Beginning at 11:00 AM in the Holly Springs Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
Adults - $12.00 Children 12 and under $5.00
Live Auction Will Begin After All Riders Have Eaten. All Proceeds Go to Arkansas Children's Hospital!

 

SAU WILL OPEN ALEXANDER-WARNOCK AND OZMER HISTORIC FARMSTEAD WITH DEDICATION ON MARCH 6
MAGNOLIA – The community is invited to the dedication of the Alexander-Warnock and Ozmer Historic Farmstead and Learning Center on Friday, March 6, 2020, at noon on the Southern Arkansas University campus. The farmstead, consisting of two historic homes, honors SAU’s agricultural foundation while also commemorating two families with deep Columbia County roots.

In addition to support from the families, the university received three grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council totaling over one million dollars to restore the Ozmer and Alexander homes and to add other farmstead elements.

The Ozmer house was built in 1883 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ozmer family migrated to Columbia County in 1860 from Georgia by way of Alabama. In 1873, Henry Ozmer married Virginia Faulk and moved into a log house on land the family cultivated until he constructed the dogtrot on the site of the family farm. Henry and Virginia lived in the house until his death in 1941. According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Ozmers were “among the founders of Greers Chapel Church.” The house was donated to SAU by alumnus W. Derrell Rogers in 1986.

The Alexander-Warnock house was constructed in the 1850s by Sam Alexander. He and his wife, Mary Brumfield Alexander, his mother, Annie Alexander, and children came to Arkansas from South Carolina by way of Mississippi. They settled on about 400 acres near a natural spring. Sam first built a small log cabin for the family while the larger dogtrot was constructed over several years. Once finished, the dogtrot was impressively large for one built in that period. It included six rooms, an attic, a detached kitchen (25 yards from the house) and the historic breezeway. In 2017 the family donated the house to SAU and it was relocated to campus from its original home place ten and one-half miles east of Magnolia.

The farmstead highlights history of each family while also providing additional classroom and meeting space. Along with the homes, the historic campus features restrooms disguised as a detached kitchen, a barn for Molly Ann, the university’s mule, a white picket fence, and ADA sidewalks. During the dedication, the public is invited to tour the facility to see how SAU has preserved history while also providing a new space for the campus and community to enjoy for the future.

CAMDEN A&P COMMITTEE TO MEET
The Camden Advertising and Promotion Committee will meet in regular session on  Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 3:00 P.M. In the Council Chambers of  the Municipal Building. The agenda includes the Approval of January Minutes and Financial Report

In old Business Charlotte Young and Jeremy Ables will present proposals for the upcoming Bass Tournament and First Friday event for the second reading. There is no new business on the agenda.
 

U.S. SUPREME COURT REVEALS RUTLEDGE'S PBM ARGUMENT DATE
Rutledge says, ‘one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the U. S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager case on April 27 in Washington, D.C. The case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), will focus on the State’s ability to protect Arkansas small businesses in rural areas and save community pharmacies from abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) payment practices.

“We are now one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices by holding PBMs accountable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Nationwide, rural pharmacies are faced with unfair business practices by PBMs that harm consumers and our communities. It’s time states like Arkansas had the power to protect themselves and ensure Arkansans are able to receive necessary medications.”

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to blocked enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2017 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling

Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.

On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court granted Rutledge’s petition. The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.

February 20, 2020

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR MARCH 14 MAKING MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM BIG SPLASH EVENT
MMB, Leadership Magnolia team to benefit Boys and Girls Club of Magnolia
MAGNOLIA – Volunteers are needed for the upcoming March 14th Making Magnolia Blossom Big Splash event, which will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Magnolia. 

For this event, MMB is partnering with the 2020 Leadership Magnolia class 

which has selected the Boys and Girls Club as its annual project. Volunteers will make updates and improvements to the Club according to the goals set by Leadership Magnolia. Equipment will be provided though volunteers are welcome to bring their own tools, work gloves, etc. Donations of bottled water will also be accepted.

Interested volunteers and groups are asked to pre-register as soon as possible. Check-in/registration will be at the Boys and Girls Club between 8:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. on March 14 with shuttle service at the Reynolds Center parking lot (SAU) between 8:30 and 9. The event begins at 9 a.m. and concludes at 11:30 a.m. For more information or to register by phone, call Deana Taylor at 870-235-4922. 

MMB has joined forces with other local nonprofits in the past to enhance, beautify and improve areas of the community and make a difference in the lives of many. This is the first time MMB has teamed with Leadership Magnolia, which raises money and puts manpower into a select beautification or improvement project each year.

The Boys and Girls Club of Magnolia is located at 1600 Hollensworth St. 
 

BOOZMAN, COTTON & HILL ANNOUNCE $5.9 MILLION FAA GRANT FOR LITTLE ROCK AIRPORT
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressman French Hill announced the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport will receive a $5.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for taxiway reconstruction.

“The Little Rock airport is a key component of our state’s transportation infrastructure. This investment will allow the airport to make necessary improvements so it can continue to meet the needs of Arkansas travelers and businesses,” Boozman said. “I’m proud to support federal investment that develops and expands vital infrastructure, creates jobs and supports citizens in the Natural State.”

“Little Rock’s airport is an important driver of economic growth and a gateway to Arkansas. This important investment will enhance safety for travelers and ensure the airport's utility for years to come,” Cotton said.

“This investment in Little Rock’s airport will be instrumental in supporting central Arkansas’s economy,” said Hill. “Updating the airport’s infrastructure promotes safe and efficient travel for the nearly two million passengers flying in and out of Arkansas’s largest airport each year.”

“We appreciate the continued support of the Arkansas Congressional Delegation and the FAA to make airfield safety enhancements,” said Bryan K. Malinowski, executive director, Clinton National Airport. “This latest taxiway reconstruction, which should start next month, will replace asphalt with concrete surfaces, add shoulders and new lighting.”
 

WORK PLAN INCREASES VICKSBURG DISTRICT FUNDING FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District has announced that its Work Plan for the 2020 fiscal year includes $102 million in funding for its civil works program, the largest amount of funding since the 2013 fiscal year.

The Work Plan will fund projects, programs and activities that received funding in the three previous fiscal years and will prioritize ongoing work that can reach significant milestones or produce significant outputs during the 2020 fiscal year.

The distribution of funds for the district's Work Plan is as follows:

$3.15 million for environmental infrastructure for key project locations in Clinton, Oxford and Sardis, Mississippi
$43.75 million for mitigation work and riverfront development on the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway
$4.2 million for operation and maintenance of existing projects, including hydropower facilities at Blakely Mountain Dam, Lake Ouachita and DeGray Lake and dredging efforts on navigable waterways, including the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway
$54 million for Mississippi River & Tributaries project activities, including the study, design, construction, operation and maintenance of water resources projects in the historic flood plain of the Mississippi River, and:
$2.25 million for the collection and study of basic data for flood damage reduction
$34.8 million for mainline construction of Mississippi River channel improvement dikes and levees and Yazoo River Basin projects, including those in the Upper Yazoo Basin, Big Sunflower and the Yazoo Backwater
$16.9 million for operations and maintenance, including Mississippi River levee slide repairs, gantry crane rehabilitation for the Tensas River Basin, Tensas and Boeuf rivers, and Lake Chicot; hydraulic gate cylinder repairs at the Tensas Cocodrie Pumping Plant; and slide repairs, operation and maintenance at the district's four flood control reservoirs in the Yazoo River Basin, Arkabutla, Enid, Grenada and Sardis lakes

The district's Work Plan funds, combined with those from the President's Budget, provide the district with a total of $207 million in regular funding for the 2020 fiscal year. This funding allows the district to continue critical work in missions such as reducing flood risk, improving navigation and sustaining the environment.

The Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The 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.
 

SENATOR COTTON CRITICIZES CHINA’S EXPULSION OF REPORTERS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Cotton released the following statement after reports that China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters in reaction to the paper’s publication of a column by Walter Russell Mead.

“The Chinese Communist Party is complaining about newspaper headlines while the Chinese people suffer and die from coronavirus. Walter Russell Mead speaks more truth in one column than the CCP does in a year. Its dishonesty caused this outbreak to spiral out of control. Now the Party has chosen dishonesty yet again by kicking out foreign journalists over a fake provocation.“

February 19, 2020

COMMUNITY WIDE MENTORING PROGRAM CREATED AT CFHS
Meeting - CFHS Library, Thursday, February 20th At 4:00 pm
Camden Fairview High School is creating a Community wide Mentoring Program focused on helping and supporting our youth in trying to navigate todays issues they face on a continuous basis.  Principal Gary Steelman is reaching out to any Business or Community Leader who may be interested in assisting in this huge endeavor.  There will be an informational meeting Thursday , February 20th at 4:00 pm in the CFHS Library to discuss this program.  The time requirement for those who choose to accept this challenge will be very minimal.  Participants will meet on Thursdays from 12:00 to 12:30 at the school.  You can meet each Thursday of the month or just one.  Totally up to you!  The comments heard all of the time are,  "How can I help you" or "How can I be of service to our students."  Here is your chance. Please come out and support your school and its precious resource...THE STUDENTS!!

OUACHITA COUNTY RECREATIONAL CENTER SCHEDULES CLEAN-UP DAYS
The Ouachita County Recreational Center has scheduled clean-up days for Saturday March 7th and Saturday, March 28th beginning at 9:00 am each morning. Gather your friends and family, church and youth groups, clubs and colleagues and help build a sense of OCRC pride as the facility is cleaned up for the season.

Volunteers are needed with projects such as painting, cleanup, repairs mowing and planting to get the fields and facility ready for Opening Day.

For more information or to sign-up to help call the OCRC Office at 870-231-2611 or email camdenarkansasyouth@gmail.com. Follow Friends of the Ouachita Co. Rec. Center on Facebook for updates on these Dtes and to follow other volunteer options as they come available. 

OUACHITA COUNTY MEDICAL CENTER PROJECT SEARCH
Ouachita County Medical Center Project SEARCH is now accepting internship applications for the 2020-2021 program year. Project SEARCH is a 9 month internship program that assist young adults with disabilities with finding employment.

Program qualifications include:
Being 18 to 35 years of age and having a diagnosed disability
Having a high school diploma, GED or certificate of completion.
A desire to work.
Resident of Arkansas,

If you are interested, you can apply at www.projectsearcharkansas.com or contact Samantha Garrard at 501-917-7912 for more information. Applications are due February 28th.

STATE DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION AWARDS SAU ENGINEERING GRANT FOR NEW HOT MIX ASPHALT PRODUCTION
MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Engineering program has been awarded a $291,000 research grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) to study improved methods for manufacturing the asphalt used on the state’s roads and highways.

SAU faculty members will analyze the effects of using a wood ash-based polymer as an alternative filler for producing hot mix asphalt. Dr. Md Islam, Assistant Professor of Engineering, an expert in civil and construction engineering, will lead the research in collaboration with Dr. Abdel Bachri, Professor of Physics, and Dr. Lionel Hewavitharana, Associate Professor of Engineering.

Ash-based fillers, such as coal ash or wood ash, have excellent physical and chemical properties that can potentially lead to stronger asphalt paving mixtures, with better resistance to corrosion and heat, while also offering low permeability. The SAU research team will employ a “Superpave” mix design that improves pavement performance while taking into consideration variations in traffic and climate. Four SAU students will have the opportunity to be involved in the project.

“We are very fortunate to have been selected,” said Dr. Bachri, who also serves as Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. “The ARDOT award provides funding for new equipment, which will strengthen our capacity in civil engineering, a high demand field.” The College is currently renovating space within the Norvell-Cook Engineering Building to establish a geotechnical civil engineering lab.

ARDOT launched the Transportation Research Grant Program “to support the study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions to provide resilient and sustainable logistics, processes, materials, and methods to ensure cost-effectiveness and the furtherance of education and economic development concerning all forms of transportation.”

SAU’s Department of Engineering and Physics recently received news that its BSE program in Engineering has been officially accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, attesting to the high quality of its faculty and programs.

Securing this competitive grant from ARDOT further signals not only excellence in instruction, but also educational and research opportunities that prepare graduates to lead the way in innovation and emerging technologies. The Engineering program enjoys strong industry support and has quickly built an excellent reputation among employers.

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF 100-YEAR-OLD WWII POW
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of WWII veteran Eustace O. Roberts Jr. “June,” in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Roberts was born in Magazine, Arkansas in 1919. As a seventh grader, he quit school so he could work to help his parents support the family. His well-established work ethic undoubtedly helped him endure more than three years as a prisoner of war at the hands of the Japanese.

During the winter of 1941, when he was taking a pause from his job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he followed a girl to Fort Smith. Instead of gaining a new love interest, he got a new job. “I saw a picture of Uncle Sam,” Roberts said. “I went to the old Goldman Hotel and said can I join the Army?”

He joined the Army on May 8, 1941 in Little Rock and headed to San Francisco days later where he boarded a ship to begin the long journey to his assignment in the 60th Coast Artillery on Corregidor, the largest island in Manila Bay. “I was seasick before I got out from under the Golden Gate Bridge,” Roberts said.

He was trained as an automotive mechanic. “Everything was mostly WWI stuff. Old petrol trucks and old equipment,” Roberts said.

The mission of the 60th was to defend the bay. Roberts and his fellow soldiers valiantly did so at all costs.

“We were playing poker in the parts room and a bomb hit in the back of our building,” Roberts said. He recalled his friend saying it was a test fire, but he knew it was much more severe. “It set off a lot of ammunition. We got all of our trucks out of there.” It earned his friend the nickname “Test Fire Nichols,” and for safeguarding the trucks, Roberts was awarded the Silver Star.

Roberts remembers the battering of Corregidor by the Japanese military following the fall of the Philippines. For nearly a month, Roberts and Allied soldiers were hammered by bombs and artillery. “You get out of your hole or tunnel and go out to relieve yourself and there’s shrapnel be whizzing around everywhere,” he said.

On May 6, the Commander of Allied forces in the Philippines surrendered Corregidor and Roberts and his fellow comrades were taken to a POW camp.

For more than three years, Roberts was known by his POW number, four digits that are still easy for the 100-year-old to remember in both English and Japanese. You had to know it or “they’d beat the hell out of you,” he said.

Roberts was one of 1,619 POWs loaded onto a ship to be transported to a camp in Japan in late 1944. “A lot of them were smothered to death within the first two hours because it was packed too full,” he said. “There were bodies two deep.”

At one point during his captivity he was too weak to work in the coal mines as he was expected to do, so he was reassigned to farm detail. He survived harsh conditions, performing tiring forced work and receiving little food. “I got to be good ole friends with the boys on butchering detail because they’d bring in a bunch of meat all cooked up and get them to give me a little cup,” Roberts said.

After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese soldiers abandoned the POW camp. Roberts and fellow POWs, including others from Arkansas, found their way to safety.

“I always thought I was going to make it back home. I always had that in mind,” Roberts said.

In addition to the Silver Star, Roberts also earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and other military awards for his selfless sacrifice.

After returning home from the war, Roberts married Glenda Marie Jones. They had four children and were married for 70 years.

“June Roberts lived through unimaginable circumstances as a prisoner of war for more than three years. The accounts of his time as a POW are an important part of his life and our nation’s history. I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his memories and share with future generations about the horrific events he lived through as a reminder that freedom is not free,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Roberts’ 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. 

SAAC COMPETITIVE PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION
The South Arkansas Arts Center invites the public to enjoy "The Viewfinder", SAAC's bi-annual competitive photography exhibition, which is showing in the Price and Merkle Galleries now through February 26, 2020. SAAC will host an artists' awards reception on Saturday, February 21, from 5:00-6:30 pm. in the Price and Merkle Galleries, where a total of $600 in cash prizes will be awarded.

Also, at the artist reception will be Dr. Moises Menendez with his inspiring charcoal and graphite works, "Famous People" Series II, in the Lobby Gallery. This exhibit contains a collection of original portrait drawings of luminaries and notable persons throughout history that have inspired and challenged the artist during his life. Series II will hang until February 28, with the artist's reception on February 21, 5:00-6:30pm.

"The Viewfinder" offers us the unique experience of actually seeing the world through someone else's eyes. Each photograph represents a moment in time in each photographer's life, whether it is a beautiful vista, a tender memory, or an unusual landscape.

Photographers of all ages submitted their original images, captured with any camera and printed on varied media, for inclusion in the competition. Photographers could use basic corrective editing in the dark room or digitally, but no graphic manipulations or touch-ups were allowed. The photos had to have been taken within the last three years and not under supervision or in a classroom environment. Boasting over 63 photographs and 5 3D pieces by more than 40 photographers, 6 whom have never shown their work before, this year's entries include landscapes, animals, still life compositions, faces and nature, as well as many other subjects from local and regional photographers.

Steven E. Ochs from South Arkansas University in Magnolia will again judge this year's "Viewfinder". Ochs is a Professor of Art at Southern Arkansas University with 37 years of experience in education. He serves as the Chair of the Department of Art and Design and is the owner of Public Art Walks, which specialize in public art projects utilizing decorative concrete.

Viewing hours for the Price and Merkle Galleries are Monday- Friday, 9:00-5:00. For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 
 

February 18, 2020

EARLY VOTING BEGINS
Early voting for the 2020 Primary Election begins today. Early voting in Ouachita County will be at the Ouachita County Courthouse. Beginning today you may vote between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday until February 28th. You may vote Saturday, February 22nd and February 29th between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The last day to early vote will be Monday March 2nd between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Primariy election day will be Tuesday March 3rd.  You must present a photo ID in order to vote.

 

9TH ANNUAL CAMDEN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL SHOW & SHINE COLLECTOR/SPECIAL INTEREST VEHICLES & MOTORCYCLES
The 9th annual Camden Daffodil Festival Show and Shine Collector/Sprcial interest Vheicles and Motorcycles ahs bee rescheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2020. Register is from 9am until 11:00 a.m.  at the corner of Haynes & Washington Streets Trophies will be awarded at 2:30 p.m. Show entry is $15.00 per owner, additional vehicles $5.00 each.  Vehicles entered will be eligible for “Best of Show. There will be 1st and 2nd place awards for Best Pre-80 Model, Post 80 Model Cars,”  “Best Truck, Best Motorcycle, Corvette & Work in Progress” The show is sponsored by the Camden Daffodil Festival. For Additional Information contact John Coons at 870-833-0508 or k.coons@att.net or Chris Cross at 870-807-4174.

SAU TECH FOUNDATION ROCKET NIGHT 2020 FEATURING COACH HOUSTON NUTT
SAU Tech Student Center Spend the evening with Houston Nutt, the Rocket Athletes, and the donors who support the work of SAU Tech! Join by sponsoring tables for your family, friends, or employees. You can go online and purchase tables or tickets at www.sautech.edu/community-education.

The event will be on April 18, 2020 at 6:30 PM. General Admission is $25 and 8-Person Reserved Tables are $200

Rocket Night will be held at the SAU Tech Student Center on the SAU Tech Campus in East Camden

Weston & Jana Woods Tech Diner will be catering. Call 870-574-4533 or get more information by email at kcoker@sautech.edu. Click here for Table Sponsorship / Individual Ticket Form  for mail-in ticket purchases

Tickets are also available for purchase at Jim Golden Ford, Dean's Heating & Air, and Generation's Bank by Brookshires in Camden and Generation's Bank in Hampton.
 

JAYCEES TURN 100; REUNION PLANNED
Former and current Arkansas Jaycee members are planning a reunion March 27th and 28th, 2020. The reunion will be held at the North Little Rock Wyndham Riverfront Hotel.

The United States Junior Chamber "Jaycees" were organized in 1920 in St. Louis Mo. by a group of young men led by Henry Giessenbier, Andrew Mungenast and John H. Armburster. The first national meeting was on January 21, 1920 in St. Louis. Forty-one (41) cities from across the country were present.

The official name of the national organization and every individual state and local organization would be "The Junior Chamber of Commerce." The purpose of the junior chamber or Jaycees was to attract young men ages 21 to 35 from all walks of life and provide leadership training though community development so they could gain experience to be the leaders of tomorrow.
 
The Arkansas Junior Chamber "Jaycees" were organized in 1936 by Carnall Garner, William M. Shephard (later president of AP&L), Walter Hussman Sr. (father of publisher of the Arkansas Democrat - Gazette) David Purdue, William G. Johnson and Wilmer Smith.

The original Jaycees chapters in Arkansas were Fort Smith, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Stuttgart, West Memphis, Jonesboro, Camden, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Hot Springs.

Alongside the men the wives of Jaycee members had their own organization called the Jaycettes. They assisted the Jaycees and had many successful projects on their own.

In the 1970's the Arkansas Jaycees had over 14,000 members and over 700,000 nationwide. For more information about the reunion please contact Ben Traylor 501-993-1049 or e-mail bentraylor@g.mail.com (be sure to reference Jaycee reunion).

CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will meet in regular session Friday, February 20, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, in Camden.

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday February 19th at Catherine’s Bistro. This week’s speaker will be Julia Nipper with Kindred Hospice.  She will be speaking about the services they offer.

SAAC ANNOUNCES CAST FOR "JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH JR"
The South Arkansas Arts Center's Youth Community Theatre is pleased to announce the cast for their spring 2020 production of "James and the Giant Peach JR". The cast is composed of students in grades 2 through 8, who auditioned in January and have tackled twice-weekly rehearsals.

Congratulations to these talented and hard-working kids. Playing Ladahlord, Gracie Robertson; James, Parker Thomas; Ladybug,
Emily Henderson; Grasshopper, Ellis Lyles; Spider, Haven Gathright; Earthworm, Gideon Moncrief; Centipede, Bryce Martin; Spiker, Mary Claire Parker and Sponge, Tiffanie Duke.

One of the most fun things about being part of the ensemble cast is the opportunity to play many roles in one production. Featured cast members who will play various roles such as sharks, pick pockets, reporters, and seagulls, to name a few, include Kalla Fudge, Luke Lain, Alyssa Purifoy, Maya Blanton, Gracie James, McKenzie Rainwater, David Valero, Bram Johnson, and Lilly Fife. Also, Annalise Seabolt, Daley Bun, Emma McGee, Braelyn Allen, Henlea Stevens, Jeremiah Artis, Lily Langston, Kaden Johnson, Audrey Henderson and Abbie McGee.

The ensemble cast who will be involved in playing multiple characters, as well as singing throughout the show includes Skylar Drummonds, Madelyn Johnson, Natalie Martin, Cadence Melear, Cami Melear, Torrin Douglas, Ayden Rainwater, Julia Kendrick, Isai Hurtado, Emma Purifoy, Audrey Robertson, Evelyn Kelley, Josie Mann and Ava Lee.

"This year's cast for "James and the Giant Peach JR" is a wonderful mixture of new and returning faces to the SAAC stage," said Cassie Hickman, music director for the production. "Each one brings their own special uniqueness to the project. It has been such a joy working with both those new to SAAC and the seasoned veterans that I've watched grow up over the years. This year, many have gone from smaller parts to main roles, including singing roles for the first time. Watching them take past limitations head on and transform them into a confident strength is priceless. They have a confidence now that will help them, not just on stage, but in all areas of their lives."

Based on one of Roald Dahl's most poignantly quirky stories, Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach JR" is a brand new take on this "masterpeach" of a tale. Featuring a wickedly tuneful score and a witty and charming book, this adventurous musical about courage and self-discovery is destined to be a classic.

When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion that grows a tremendous peach, rolls into the ocean and launches a journey of enormous proportions. James befriends a collection of singing bugs that ride the giant piece of fruit across the ocean, facing hunger, sharks and plenty of disagreements along the way!

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

 
 

February 17, 2020

GLADYS LINDSEY/ALPHONSO T. DENHAM EXTENSION HOMEMAKERS SCHOLARSHIP
The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council will once again present the Gladys Lindsey/Alphonso T. Denham Extension Homemakers Scholarship this spring. Scholarship guidelines and applications may be picked up high school counselors office or at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service located at 2760 Mt. Holly Road.  For more information call 231-1160. Application deadline is April 13, 2020. The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

 

AETN WILL BECOME ARKANSAS PBS FEBRUARY 28TH
Refresh of iconic brand promises more Arkansas than ever
CONWAY, Ark. (AETN) — Building on a rich 50-year history as AETN, the statewide public media network is changing its name with a renewed commitment to put Arkansas and Arkansas stories first. Executive Director and CEO Courtney Pledger announced today that beginning Feb. 28, AETN will become Arkansas PBS.

“We hope our new name encompasses everything you’ve come to love about your statewide public media station while allowing audiences to more easily identify and connect with us on all the platforms where our content can be found,” Pledger said. “We will continue to be a daily and essential source of education, community connection and entertainment for Arkansans of all ages.

“We look forward to illuminating the people, places and stories Arkansans are eager to experience through fresh, local content from The Natural State and the PBS programs you’ve trusted for decades.”

The Arkansas network has been a PBS member station since the service was created in 1970 and audiences are familiar with seeing the PBS logo alongside AETN’s. Now they can expect to see a refreshed look that aligns with PBS’s update to its national brand, which was announced in the fall, with the goal of providing a consistent viewer experience. Arkansas PBS will feature a redesigned logo, a bold color palette and a modern, custom typeface designed to better speak to Arkansans across platforms, from televisions to mobile devices.

“For more than 50 years AETN has been a place for every Arkansan,” Arkansas Educational Telecommunications Commission Chair Skip Holland said. “We hope you will come with us as we continue to grow, evolve and respond to your interest about the great state of Arkansas and the world.”

The new name will be adopted across all of the network’s channels – AR PBS Create, AR PBS KIDS and AR PBS WORLD – and digital platforms like Arkansas PBS Passport and Arkansas PBS LearningMedia.

Pledger also assures viewers that while AETN will be changing its name to Arkansas PBS, they will still find their favorite programs wherever they have become accustomed to watching them.

“Our commitment remains to Arkansans in Arkansas,” Pledger said. “That will never change.”

In conjunction with the name change, the AETN Foundation will become Arkansas PBS Foundation.

Arkansas PBS is Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, which enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at myarkansaspbs.org. Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON CREATES WORKING GROUP 
To Continue Reform of Occupational Licensing
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has created a working group to continue the study of the state’s occupational licensing rules and regulations that began with a working group he created in February 2018.

The Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group will continue the work of the Red Tape Reduction Working Group to recommend ways to streamline the state’s licensing and certification process without compromising public safety. The group also will consider reciprocal licensing agreements to allow Arkansas to recognize licenses and certificates of tradesmen who move to Arkansas from other states. The group will recommend additional reforms to be considered during the 2021 regular legislative session.

The new working group includes three members each from the Senate and House, and seven members appointed by Governor Hutchinson.

“During the 2019 Regular Session, the legislature passed 45 bills that affect licensure,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I want to capitalize on that momentum and find more ways to improve the licensing process, especially for members of the military, and low-income or dislocated workers.”

The Occupational Licensure Reform Sustainability Group will work with the Occupational Licensure Advisory Group, a group of representatives from state licensing boards and outside stakeholders that include the Arkansas Veterans Coalition and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the working group are:
Senator John Cooper (co-chair)
Senator Ricky Hill
Senator Keith Ingram
Representative Bruce Cozart (co-chair)
Representative Michelle Gray
Representative Roger Lynch
Karen Whatley, the governor’s Director of Legislative and Agency Affairs
Dr. Charisse Childers, Director of Arkansas Division of Workforce Service
Darryl Bassett, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Licensing
Steven Porch, Chief Legal Counsel, Arkansas Department of Commerce
Connie Melton, Director of the Center for Health Protection, Arkansas Department of Health
Brad Nye, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Gary Isom, Consumer Representative 

The task force will present its recommendations to the Governor in the fall of 2020.  The group will disband at the close of the regular session of the General Assembly in 2021.
 

SAU THEATRE TO PRESENT ‘WILEY AND THE HAIRY MAN’ FEB. 19-23 AT HARTON THEATRE
MAGNOLIA – The Southern Arkansas University Theatre Department is set to perform the children’s theatre production of “Wiley and the Hairy Man” at Harton Theatre from Feb. 19-23, 2020.

The nightly shows, Wednesday-Saturday, will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the Saturday-Sunday matinees on Feb. 22-23 begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday is $1 preview night, and Friday is Family Night – everyone can see the show for the $5 student price.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at www.showtix4u.com, or by calling (870) 235-4255. General admission tickets are $17; $12 for SAU faculty, staff, and senior citizens; and $5 for students.

The drama, directed by Brittney Bara, Director of Theatre, is a spine-tingling tale of a boy and his worst fears. Set in the mysterious Tombigbee Swamp, the story centers around Wiley, the young fatherless boy; his conjure-woman mother; his faithful dog, and the Hairy Man who haunts Wiley’s dreams. Featuring life-sized puppets specially built for SAU’s production by the Arkansas Center for the Arts in Little Rock, a chorus creates the atmosphere of the swamp. In an exciting battle of wits, Wiley learns to rely on his own resources to conquer both the Hairy Man and his own fears.

The show is for all ages. For more information call 870-235-4263 or email theatre@saumag.edu.

The cast includes John Orndorff as Wiley; Eboni Edwards as Mammy; Kayleigh McCoy as Dog; and Caleb Russette, Ta’Ru Harris, Atache Hill, Mykala Clark, Jazz VanAsshe, Amber Gantt and Audra Tibbit as chorus members.

Lizzie McKee serves as assistant director and Wally Eastland is production manager. Scenic designer is Joey Kaar and sound designer is Ben Culp.
 

COTTON, RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE FDIC ACT TO COMBAT BANKS’ POLITICAL ATTACKS ON FEDERAL CONTRACTORS
Washington, D.C.— Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) along with Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) yesterday introduced the Financial Defense of Industrial Contractors (FDIC) Act, which would combat political discrimination by some of the largest banks operating in the United States against federal contractors, including those which operate facilities on behalf of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE). A one pager of the bill is available here.

“The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency employs contractors to help enforce the immigration laws that keep Americans safe,” Cotton said. “By denying critical financial services to ICE contractors, big banks have hobbled ICE’s efforts to protect Americans. These banks shouldn’t receive public funding if they’re putting the public at risk.”

“Some of our nation’s largest banks have decided to cater to the radical left’s ‘woke’ agenda by abusing their systemic influence in our economy to deprive law-abiding federal contractors of banking services critical to their business,” Rubio said. “Banks have a right to deny funds to certain businesses, but they shouldn’t enjoy taxpayer-provided guarantees if they are undermining the public policy of the United States.”

“Some large banks are weaponizing their essential position in the economy to discriminate against companies who assist our immigration law enforcement operations,” Cramer said. “If they would like the right to deny service to certain companies, the federal government should have the right to withdraw its taxpayer-funded guarantees.”

“It is unacceptable that some of our nation’s biggest banks have decided to deny our immigration enforcement agencies access to their services,” Blackburn said. “ICE carries out its work at the direction of the United States Congress. For these big banks executives to think their political interests are worth sacrificing the nation’s safety is disgraceful.” 

“It’s deeply concerning to see our country’s largest banks caving to the radical Left’s social agenda,” Cruz said.“Banks should be making decisions that are based on research and facts, not political pressure. I support our ICE agents and the contractors who work for them. They are risking their lives every day to keep this country safe. They deserve better.”

Specifically, the FDIC Act would amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to remove Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance from banks with assets over $50 billion that refuse to provide banking services to firms with an active federal contract which are otherwise creditworthy and law-abiding. If a bank violates this standard, the FDIC Board of Directors would begin the FDIC insurance termination process pursuant to the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, including a notice of intent, FDIC board hearing, and a transition phase of up to two years.

Background:
Six major banks operating in the United States — Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays, and SunTrust — have announced they will no longer provide depository services to contractors which operate facilities on behalf of ICE. These businesses are being denied banking services despite being law-abiding, creditworthy entities which are fulfilling services contracted by the federal government under statutory authority enacted by Congress.

These banks receive significant public support from American taxpayers. They receive explicit guarantees for their depositors’ savings, and implicit guarantees from the Federal Reserve. Due to their size, they also control significant portions of the credit market directly through their lending and indirectly by setting trends and norms for other banks to follow. They control over $7 trillion in assets combined.

By denying funds to legitimate federal contractors, these banks are using their systemic importance and taxpayer-provided guarantees to counteract the public policy of the United States. Banks have a right to deny funds to whichever businesses they choose, but they should not be able to deny funds to creditworthy, law-abiding businesses because they are carrying out federal policy and continue to receive taxpayer money.

February 14, 2020

AARP TAX-AIDE
The AARP tax-aide is now available. Call 836-6162 to make an appointment in the Camden area. Appointments are available Monday and Thursday between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. AARP Tax-Aide works hard to make sure you get every tax credit and deduction you’ve earned. The program is open to taxpayers of all ages. AARP membership is not required. Volunteers are trained and IRS-certified every year. To find sites near you, visit aarpfoundation.org/taxaide or call toll-free at 1-888-227-7669.

 

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will meet in regular session on Tuesday, February 18th at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held at Garrison Auditorium. The agenda includes a presentation by Stephens, Inc. regarding a resolution authorizing the issuance and delivery of bonds and prescribing therto, a presentation and recommendation regarding a transfer request to Harmony Grove School District, and a presentation and recommendation regarding the 2020-2021 school calendar. The Superintendent will give a report to the board and there will be a personnel session.

 

CHILDREN’S BUREAU APPROVES ARKANSAS’S FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION PLAN
Arkansas third state in the nation to gain federal approval
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas has become the third state to win federal approval of its Family First Prevention Plan, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced today. The plan, which is called Family First Fits Us, outlines how the state Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will implement the new federal Family First Prevention Services Act.

The Children’s Bureau, an office of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approved the plan.

Governor Hutchinson praised the work of DCFS Director Mischa Martin and her staff. “Four years ago, the Paul Vincent report identified a number of areas in the Arkansas foster-care system that needed improvement,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This plan highlights the enormous progress DCFS has made in the care of our foster children and in reuniting families.”

The federal approval affirms the progress that DCFS has made, DHS Secretary Cindy Gillespie said. “This is a big step in the right direction for children and families in Arkansas. This plan is grounded in a commitment to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to strengthen families,” Secretary Gillespie said. “The plan represents a profound re-thinking of the way child welfare agencies serve children and families.”

The Family First Prevention Plan will help DCFS support communities and families, help prevent child abuse and neglect, and keep children from entering into foster care by raising awareness about and access to community-based services such as counseling and parenting support, and connections to financial, educational, and employment support.

The federal Family First Prevention Services Act, signed into law in February 2018, authorized reforms aimed at helping to keep children safely with their families and out of foster care.

“For several years, DHS, our partners, and stakeholders have worked closely together to build a system that is focused on one value – every child deserves a safe, stable family every day,” Director Martin said. “The prevention plan will allow us to expand those efforts and offer more effective services to strengthen families and keep kids safely in their communities.”
 

BARRON’S IN EDUCATION PROGRAM TO BENEFIT COLLEGE OF BUSINESS STUDENTS AT SAU
Don McDonald, SAU alumnus, gifts students, faculty with a win
MAGNOLIA – The Rankin College of Business is excited to announce a beneficial new collaboration with the Barron’s in Education Program from Dow Jones. Dr. Robin Sronce, dean of the College, said a license providing 24/7 access to Barron’s content will enhance the business curriculum for faculty and students.

The subscription to Barron’s was made possible by a gift from The Don McDonald Group at Merrill. “Barron’s will provide additional insights into financial topics,” said Sronce. “The opportunity for our finance students to tour the Dow Jones Headquarters during our spring trip to New York is another exciting benefit of Barron’s in Education.”

She expressed her sincere thanks to Don McDonald and The Don McDonald Group for investing in the Rankin College. McDonald is a financial advisor based in Fort Smith, Arkansas. His team is comprised of talented and experienced investment professionals with strong client relationships based on trust and personalized service.

“It’s my privilege to help SAU students take the next step in preparing for a career,” said McDonald, a 1989 alumnus of SAU. The subscription to Barron’s will allow faculty to integrate current information with curriculum taught in classes. “Having access to this information through Barron’s is a win for both the students and faculty. We felt this would be a great opportunity for SAU,” he said.

"We are so pleased to bring the Barron's in Education Program to the Rankin College of Business with support from the Don McDonald Group,” said Joe Lanza, Director of Financial Education at Barron’s Group. “All SAU business students, faculty and staff will have access to Barron's digital content along with experiential learning elements designed to help promote financial proficiency for the next generation of business leaders.”

With a circulation of over 615,000 readers in print and digital, Barron's has an audience that includes financial executives, government officials, and entrepreneurs. The Barron’s in Education program aims to improve financial literacy and proficiency in universities across the nation, providing multiple benefits to students pursuing a career in business and faculty looking to make greater strides in their fields. Benefits include distribution of Barron’s “Weekly Review” for business faculty, guest speakers and webinars for student engagement, and opportunities to connect with corporate recruitment teams.

About Barron’s In Education
The Barron’s in Education program partners with academia and engages students to join business leaders, top market professionals, C-level executives, business school faculty and highly successful investors across the Barron’s community. For more information, go to: http://go.dowjones.com/barronsineducation 

The Rankin College of Business is accredited by AACSB International and offers a variety of majors and minors for the Bachelor of Business Administration degree as well as the Master of Business Administration degree. A complete list of degrees and majors can be found here: https://web.saumag.edu/business/degrees.

 

COTTON, VAN HOLLEN PRAISE HUAWEI CHARGES, URGE FURTHER ACTION
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that the U.S. Department of Justice brought charges of racketeering and stealing trade secrets against the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released the following statement:

“The Huawei indictment exposes its plot to undermine America’s economy and security on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party. We commend the Justice Department for bringing these charges, but more should be done to stop Huawei’s relentless campaign to infect 5G networks worldwide. Congress ought to pass our bill to bring the hammer down on Huawei and any other Chinese company that violates our sanctions or export-control laws.”

Background:
In January of 2019, Senators Cotton and Van Hollen, along with Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), introduced the bipartisan Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act to direct the president to impose denial orders banning the export of U.S. parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that are in violation of U.S. export control or sanctions laws. Measures included in the Telecommunications Denial Order Enforcement Act include:

Establishing that it is U.S. policy to enforce denial orders banning the export of U.S. parts and components to Chinese telecommunications companies that have violated U.S. export control laws or sanctions.

Directing the President to impose the same strict penalties originally faced by ZTE on any Chinese telecommunications firm found to be in violation of U.S. export control laws or sanctions.

Ensuring that penalties for violating U.S. export control laws or sanctions are not withdrawn until a pattern of compliance and cooperation over the course of a year proves that policies surrounding systematic lawbreaking by Chinese telecommunications firms have been changed.

Prohibiting any executive agency official from modifying any penalty imposed on Chinese telecommunications companies, their agents, or affiliates until the President certifies that the company has not violated U.S. laws for one year and is cooperating fully with U.S. investigations.

Highlighting the Congressional role in overseeing Executive Branch export control and sanctions determinations regarding Chinese telecommunications companies.

February 13, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: 2020 CENSUS SCAMS
LITTLE ROCK – Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau has the important job of counting every living person in our country. Beginning in mid-March, an invitation to participate will either be mailed or hand delivered to each home. If no response is received by May either by mail, online or over the phone, census takers will begin visiting homes and can return up to six times until the questionnaire is completed.

“This is one time every person will be contacted by a government entity,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It’s important for Arkansans to know which questions will and will not be asked by the Census Bureau and not fall prey to scammers pretending to be the Census Bureau.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the questionnaire asks:
How many people are in the home?
What is their sex, age, race and ethnicity?
What is their relationship to one another?
What is the best phone number to reach you?
Do you own or rent the home?

For a full list of questions, go to 2020census.gov. According to the U.S Census Bureau, every answer is confidential and answers will only be used for statistical purposes.

The following information will NEVER be asked by the Census Bureau:
Social Security number.
Money or donations.
Bank or credit card account information.
Anything on behalf of or about a political party.

If you are asked these questions by a person claiming to be the with Census Bureau, it is a scam and you should not cooperate with them. Instead, hang up and report the call to the Census Bureau by calling 800-923-8282.

Some households will receive follow-up phone calls from the Census Bureau to ensure quality control. To help distinguish between legitimate Census Bureau calls and scammers, check out “Are You in a Survey? Help for Survey Participants” on the Census Bureau’s website.

If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative or call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@arkansasag.gov. For more scam alerts, visit ArkansasAG.gov or Facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

 

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATING MARION COUNTY HOMICIDE
FEBRUARY 12, 2020
 A 40 year old woman was found dead last night (Tuesday, February 11, 2020) inside a Flippin residence (Marion County) along with two other individuals who had sustained non-life threatening injuries.  Outside the same residence, local police shot and wounded a man who is believed to be a suspect in the homicide.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division have been requested by local authorities to conduct investigations of the homicide and officer involved shooting.

Flippin police officers responded at approximately 8:40 PM to a call for help needed at 401 8th Street, Building 1, Apartment 4.  The officers encountered a suspect outside the location.  Richard Wayne Hudson Jr., 42, of Glenpool, Oklahoma was shot by local police.  He was transported to an area hospital where he continues to be treated.

Inside the residence local officers found the body of Kathryn Parker.  The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory will determine the manner and cause of death.  Two other individuals at the residence were treated for injuries they had sustained.

The state police investigation is continuing, and information will be provided to the prosecuting attorney to determine what criminal charges may be filed against the suspect upon his release from hospital care.

2020 EASTERN ARKANSAS RURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
“Equipping rural Arkansas with the tools and resources to drive business opportunities, partnerships, and expansion."
Providing rural residents with the skills and tools needed to create and expand small businesses and engage in job creation activities are the goals of an upcoming regional business conference to be held in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. Funded by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS), Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (USDA, RD), the 2020 Eastern Arkansas Rural Business Development Conference, with a theme of “Equipping rural Arkansas with the tools and resources to drive business opportunities, partnerships, and expansion,” will bring together approximately 20 private, state, federal and nonprofit organizations with a singular mission of equipping small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to start and expand their businesses.

Hosted by the AHDC, Arkansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (APTAC), University of Arkansas Little Rock-Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the conference will be held Friday, February 28, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the UAMS Delta Area Health Education Center, which is located at 1393 Highway 242 South, Helena, AR 72342. Topics will include but are not limited to, building effective business relationships, securing the right kind of capital, how to sell goods and services to the government, and how to use the many services of the ASBTDC to develop and/or expand your business.

Join us at 8:30 am for a “Breakfast with the Lenders Roundtable,” where participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders. Lenders invited to participate include Arkansas Capital Corporation, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Communities Unlimited, Farmers and Merchants Bank, First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas, FORGE, along with USDA, Rural Development, Partners Bank, and Southern Bancorp. The panel discussion will be moderated by Herb Lawrence, Lender Relations Specialist, Arkansas District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration.

Current business owners and those just getting started, youth entrepreneurs, business and technical school students, apprentices, veterans, faith-based leaders and community and economic development professionals, are invited to attend. You will engage with other business owners, receive help with research and business planning, learn how to increase your networking results and learn to do more business with government and private industry. Dr. Sharita Speed-Crittle, Business and Financial Services Consultant at DrS Consulting Group LLC, will deliver the luncheon address. She will use her vast experience to discuss entrepreneurship and economic development for Phillips County.Don’t miss the opportunity to help your community create needed JOBS by learning valuable tools to help your small business GROW! And, INNOVATE!

AN INVESTMENT OF TIME IS THE COST TO ATTEND BUT REGISTRATION IS ENCOURAGED.
You may register by calling Arkansas Human Development Corporation toll free at (800) 482-7641 or (501) 374-1103, ext. 10 or online at https://bit.ly/2tuT7Qh .

'TOPPING-OUT' CEREMONY MARKS MILESTONE IN CONSTRUCTION
Pine Bluff, AR (February 12, 2020) – On Wednesday, the Saracen Casino Resort’s $350 million Pine Bluff development hit a significant milestone with a ceremonial topping-out of the resort’s 80,000-sq ft. gaming floor. The celebration brought together tribal, community and project leaders, including Mayor Shirley Washington and County Judge Gerald Robinson, to the 110-acre development.

“This is a significant milestone,” stated John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Nation and Saracen Casino Resort. “We are here to honor each member of the construction team and express gratitude for their excellent work, their dedication to excellence and their push to beat construction deadlines. A special thanks to Nabholz and Suffolk Construction; through their leadership we have placed 700 tons of steel without incident. That’s incredible.”

The resort’s gaming floor will include more than 2,000 slot machines and 31 table games. Upon completion, the resort will boast a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants and lounges, a spa and conference center. The casino is scheduled to open in June, and the hotel and entertainment venue will open in December. The Saracen Casino Annex, which boasts 300 slot machines, and the Saracen Q-Store celebrated their grand opening last October.  

The Saracen Casino Resort is the Quapaw Nation’s first community development in Arkansas and is expected to create 1,100 permanent jobs while also expectantly serving as a catalyst for development throughout southeast Arkansas.

“This homecoming is causing a ripple effect across the region,” Berrey said. “Since its opening last fall, the Annex has drawn visitors from all over Arkansas. This is just the beginning. When we open the casino this summer, you’ll see a draw from all across the south. As a result of this draw, you’ll see businesses open and expand. These are all things vital for a vibrant community. We’re proud to be a part of the renewal you’re seeing take place here.”

About Quapaw Nation
The Quapaw Nation and the Downstream Development Authority operate two gaming facilities in Oklahoma, Quapaw Casino in Miami and Downstream Casino in Quapaw.  The $350 million Saracen Casino Resort will include an 80,000-square foot gaming floor, 2,000+ slot machines and 31 gaming tables; a 300-room hotel with conference and banquet centers, an entertainment venue, and several restaurants, in addition to a safety/fire and EMS facility, daycare, and child learning center.

VICKSBURG DISTRICT ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF ONLINE INUNDATION MAPPING VIEWER
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District announced that an online viewer for inundation mapping will launch February 12th.
The viewer, which will be accessible through a web browser, will allow users to view forecasted inundation layers for areas affected by high water across the district's 68,000-square-mile jurisdiction in parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. District engineers and technical experts will update the viewer as needed to reflect the most up-to-date forecasting from the National Weather Service.

The inundation data provided in the viewer will allow the district's local, state and federal partners to make informed decisions on emergency planning and response actions to take in their respective jurisdictions. The viewer will also be open for the public to use and will be accessible on both computers and mobile devices.

The data presented in each map is compiled using the best information available and is believed to be accurate; however, its preparation requires many assumptions. Actual conditions during a flood event may vary from those assumed, and thus the accuracy of each map cannot be guaranteed. The limits of flooding depicted on each map should only be used as a guideline for emergency planning and response actions. Actual areas inundated will depend on specific flooding conditions and may differ from the areas shown on the map.

Inundation data for the Pearl River in Rankin and Hinds counties and the Yazoo Backwater Area in Mississippi will be available when the viewer launches.

"We are proud to launch our inundation mapping viewer and provide critical inundation data to our partners, stakeholders and the public in an innovative and engaging way," said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. "I am grateful for the outstanding effort of the engineers and technical experts at our Mapping, Modeling and Consequences Center and our hydraulics and hydrology teams who developed and delivered this viewer as well as the data that powers it."

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

"The center has successfully used the technology and tools behind the viewer during previous flood events across USACE," said Vicksburg District Chief of Hydraulics Cory Winders. "We are eager to use this innovative product in our own region."

The viewer is available at the following link: https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgo.usa.gov%2Fxd5sb&amp;data=02%7C01%7C%7C477800dc24ff43582f9d08d7b00e0da0%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637171447502558041&amp;sdata=j7%2Bk%2FHvUAHTXHsdhG27XI2R6G6Py7saOmjEppzpXOhE%3D&amp;reserved=0.

For more information about the viewer, please contact the district's public affairs office via telephone at 601-631-5000 or via email at vicksburgdistrict@usace.army.mil.

The Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation's toughest challenges. The 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, BLACKBURN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BICAMERAL BILL TO STOP GREENLIGHTING DRIVER LICENSES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
 Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today joined Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) in introducing legislation that delivers tough financial consequences to states that flout federal immigration enforcement and harm public safety and national security. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) are cosponsoring the legislation, and Congressman Ken Buck (Colorado-04) is leading twenty-one House members in introducing companion legislation.

The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act blocks certain federal funds to sanctuary states, including states that defy federal immigration enforcement or that allow illegal aliens to get driver licenses without proof of lawful presence.

“We shouldn’t legitimize those who break our immigration laws by giving them driver licenses. Unfortunately, states like California give illegal immigrants driver licenses and help them hide from federal law,” said Senator Cotton. “Our bill will make sure that federal grants will only go to states who uphold our rule of law.”

“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” said Senator Blackburn. “While Tennessee and many other states prohibit driver licenses for illegal aliens, a growing number of states are moving in the opposite direction and unleashing dangerous open borders policies. Immigrants must follow the proper federal process and obtain citizenship or lawful status before obtaining a state driver license. In America, no one is above the law.”

BACKGROUND
 The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act halts certain Department of Justice grant funding to states that defy federal immigration law. Non-complying states will no longer have access to millions of dollars in funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The JAG program provides substantial support on a yearly basis to states for local law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives. In FY 2019, states that issued driver licenses to illegal immigrants received nearly $53 million from this program. This law will require states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens or states that fail to share immigration enforcement information with the DHS to return unallocated funds to the JAG program within 30 days. Further, these states will be ineligible to receive future JAG funds until they comply with the driver license and federal information sharing provisions.

The REAL ID Act was passed in the wake of 9/11, after the terrorist hijackers easily obtained state driver licenses allowing them to board planes to launch their deadly attacks. Now, less than 20 years later, over a dozen states are already working to reverse efforts to ensure identification security. Some state laws, like California’s law and New York’s Green Light Law, go further than providing driver licenses to illegal aliens. Many of these sanctuary states also forbid local authorities from transferring information about potentially dangerous criminal aliens to DHS. Just last month, in New York City, a 92-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered by an illegal alien who was released from custody, despite being subject to a federal detainer—due to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lax sanctuary city policy.

 

COTTON CONDEMNS U.N. BDS BLACKLIST
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) released the following statement after the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a BDS blacklist designed to punish certain companies that do business with Israel:

“The UN Human Rights Council persecutes Israel while it protects the world’s worst tyrants. It ought to investigate the crimes of its own members instead of obsessing over the Jewish State. U.S. federal and state governments should fully enforce existing anti-boycott laws to punish entities that comply with this blacklist.”

 
 

February 12, 2020

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING FEBRUARY 11, 2020
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session last night, February 11, 2020. The meeting was held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. After the call to order the Invocation was given by Reverend Mary Jo Taylor, Pastor at the pleasant Ridge Assembly of God Church. The Invocation was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

The roll was called, and all Aldermen were in attendance. The Council approved the Minutes and Financial Report from the regular meet that was held on January 14, 2020.

The Council them entertained Audience Participation. The Mayor stated that no questions regarding the events that occurred at Fairview High School would be responded to by the Mayor or the Police Chief. This is an on-going investigation. That being said, the Mayor stated that he could not prohibit any comments.

The Mayor’s report included the Annual Fire Department Report presented by Interim Fire Chief Ron Nash. Police Chief Boyd Woody then presented the Police Department’s Annual Report. Prior to the Annual reports the Mayor gave a report on the Annual Audit. There were three small issues. The Council voted on responses to each issue in order to answer the auditor.

Fire Chief Ron Nash reported that the Fire Department is moving in a positive direction. Chief Nash’s summary covered 8 of the most relevant statistics of the Camden Fire Department. These statistics include Total Request for Service, Fire Responses, Property Loss expressed in whole numbers, Response Time, Public Education, Inspections, Personnel Training and Medical Response data. Also included in the report was budget information that is believed to be relevant to the members of the City Council and the Citizens of Camden in general.

Chief Nash expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to report to the council on the state of the Camden Fire Department. Nash said  “Last year brought about a lot of changes for the department. Regardless of the changes within the department, I would like to assure the citizens that we are moving in a positive direction and continue to serve the needs of the citizens of Camden.”

The Chief started by highlighting the changes and then went into each area of the department by providing statistical information deemed relevant. In 2019 the fire department responded to an incident involving a truck fire and explosion that resulted in the death of one (1) civilian and the injury of two (2) firefighters. A command vehicle and Engine 3 were also damaged in the same incident. The Department also experienced another firefighter injury from a fall from a ladder on a structure fire. These were the only fire related casualties for 2019. Last year the department continued to struggle with staffing issues. They started off the year short one (1) firefighter and ended the year with four (4) vacancies. New auto extrication equipment was purchased in 2019 followed up with department wide training. It has been placed in service and has greatly improved Firemen’s ability to perform on the scene of an accident. The council approved the purchase of a new rescue truck, the contract was signed for the purchase and the arrival of the new truck is expected the first part of 2021. The department inspected and serviced 607 fire hydrants last year. Job descriptions for each position within the fire department were evaluated and put into place. The council amended the ordinance that governed Outside Fire Contracts helping to clear up any areas of confusion in the department's response that existed. The department has implemented new programs in the area of Inspections and Division of Labor and both are expected to be beneficial to the department. The department continues to maintain an ISO 2 rating.

In 2019 the Camden Fire Department answered 1072 National Fire Incident Reporting System, (NFIRS) request for service. This represents an increase of 2.3% from the previous year of 2018. This number only represents the NFIRS eligible requests. The department answered an additional 1423 request for service that did not meet the criteria for NFIRS. The addition of this data raises our total requests for service to 2495 for the year 2019. This is down from 2869 total request for service in 2018. This represents a 13% decrease in call volume overall for the year of 2019.

In 2019 the Camden Fire Department responded to 83 fire calls. Of these 83 fire calls 24 were structure fires. The numbers of fire calls for 2019 were up 15% from 2018. Our goal is and always has been the reduction in fire losses. Our increase in fire calls for 2019 om comparison to 2018 does not reflect the overall downward trend for the last 6 years.

In 2019 the Fire Department experienced forty-six (46) requests for service that resulted in property loss.

This number is down from the 64 property loss calls experienced in 2018. The value of these losses was established using a variety of sources including ACTdatascout, the National Automobile Dealers Association {NADA) and Kelly Blue Book (KBB). These 46 responses represent a total value of $1,780,965.00 with an estimated loss of $795,100.00. This represents a property savings to the citizens of Camden of $985,865.00.

Average response time is determined by dividing the total response time by the total number of requests for service. Since 2013 it has been the desire of the Camden Fire Department to reduce response time to at or below 3 minutes. In 2019 the Camden Fire Department provided an average response time of 2.24 minutes. The average response time for 2019 was slightly lower than the average response time for 2018.

Public education and fire inspections have always been an important part of the Camden Fire Department’s service that is provided for the community. It allows Firefighters an opportunity to educate the public and hopefully reduce fire losses, injuries and even deaths. The data for fires and fire losses are indications that their efforts are being invested well. In 2019 the Department saw a considerable increase in public attendance as compared to previous years. In 2019 they experienced a 52 percent increase from 2018 in public education attendance. In 2019 fire education classes were provided to 2330 individuals. This is an increase of 801 individuals in 2019 compared to 2018.

Training is a large part of the Department’s daily activities. There are currently four (4) openings within the department and the Department operated short staffed all of 2019. There was a decrease in training hours in 2019 and this is partially due to being short staffed. All efforts are made to  prepare officers and firefighters for the next step in their careers and provide classes on such topics as Building Inspection, Company Officer and Chief Officer. Emergency Medical Technician training is provided as well. In 2019 the department logged 2736 certified training hours thru the Arkansas Fire Academy as well as other sources.

The Camden Fire Department continues to provide emergency medical services within the scope of their training. The department currently has seven (7) EMTs and seventeen (17) EMRs on the department. The department responded to fifty-five (55) medical assist calls. Between the years 2018 and 2019 there appears to be a 65% decrease in the department's medical responses. This decrease is largely the result of a coding change in the data system. The Department responded to an additional 48 "Invalid Assist" calls which are no longer include in medical response data. They are included in the total number of "Service Call' entries. Department personnel also provide medical assistants on all rescue and extrication calls and that data is also not reflected in these totals.

The Camden Fire Department is organized into a three shift or platoon system. Each shift is comprised of nine (9) firefighters that are divided between the three (3) stations based on emergency response requirements. Each shift reports for duty 7:00 am and works a twenty-four (24) hour day, ending at 7:00 am the following morning. During each day the shift will work to fulfill basic duties based on the day of the week. In addition to the daily duties each shift is required to perform public education, fire hydrant maintenance, commercial inspections and to maintain a constant state of readiness. In 2019 the fire department saw the retirement of Fire Chief Rob Medford, Assistant Chief Richard Van Assche and Assistant Chief Tim Sharp as well as the resignation of two (2) other fellow firefighters. Promotions were made exhausting the Civil Service Certification List to fill vacancies. Currently the department is short a full time Fire Chief, a Lieutenant and two (2) firefighters. A former firefighter is scheduled to return to work at the department this month.

Chief Boyd Woody then gave the Annual Report for the City of Camden Police Department. Crime stat’s are based on seven different categories of offenses: homicide, robbery, rape, burglary, assault, theft, and auto theft,, which are reported to the FBI on a monthly basis through its National Incident Basted Reporting System. Those categories are further divided into crimes against a person and crimes against property.

In 2019 there were 2 homicides.  There were ten robberies, up from six in 2018. Eight of the ten robbery cases were cleared. There were two rape cases in 2019. The number is the same as in 2018. Both cases were cleared.  There were twenty-eight assaults. This was a decrease of 46% from the 60 assaults reported in 2018.

There were twenty-seven commercial burglaries reported in 2019 which was a 1% decrease that were reported in 2018. There were forty-three residential burglaries reported in 2019 which was a 42% decrease that was reported in 2018.

Reported thefts have decreased by 25% in 2019 with 129 reported compared to 172 reported in 2018.

There were 9 auto thefts in 2019 reported compared to the 18 reported in 2018. Out of the 9 reported stolen, 8 were recovered.

In 2019, there were 242 cases of domestic violence in Camden which is 27% higher than in 2018 with 190. Out of the 242 reported there were 213 individuals arrested. 136 arrested faced misdemeanor charges and 51 were felonies. The Domestic Violence unit is also tasked with tracking and monitoring registered sex offenders. In 2019, there were 44 registered in Camden which is broken down to from the lowest level. There were 8 level 1 offenders, 20 level 2 offenders, 11 level 3 offenders and 3 level 4 offenders.

The mission of the Camden Animal Pound is to provide humane sheltering for stray, unwanted, abused and neglected dogs and to hopefully find a permanent home for those animals. The Animal Control Officer not only enforces state and local laws that pertain to dogs, but takes care of the animals in the pound by providing a clean and nurturing environment.

In 2019 The Police Department took various types of training including Active Shooter, Firearms Qualifications, Narcotics Officer Program, Peer to Peer Investigations, Social Media Marketing, Emergency Preparedness, Racial Profiling, crisis Intervention, crimes Against Women, Stop the Bleed, Diversity Workshop, Arkansas Mediocolegal Training, Drug Endangered Children Arkansas First Child, Impaired Driving and Telecommunications.

The Camden Police Department continued Public Relations Events in 2019. The Citizens Police Academy is offered twice a year. In 2019 the Police Department conducted an Easter Egg Hunt. Over 200 eggs hidden through out the city with candy and prizes. They also delivered Easter Baskets to both Pine Hills and Ouachita Nursing and Rehab. The Department took part in the Special Olympics Torch run and hosted 3 Lifeshare Blood Drives. 2019 saw the Department host the first Trick or Treat on the Trace which was a huge success.  The CPD had a booth at every First Friday event and used the CPD Train for kids. The Officers hosted Stuff a Cruiser at Atwoods and WalMart. Christmas Cops delivered toys to 56 children and delivered Christmas Baskets to Pine Hills, Long Meadow and Silver Oaks Nursing Homes. The Shop with a Cop program served 30 children. Each child received a gift card in the amount of $125.00.

Continuing to develop strong community partnerships remains a foundational principle for success in the work the Camden Police Department does. They will continue to embrace the Community Oriented Policing principles as part of the organizational philosophy. Ensuring fair and impartial policing is represented in the work of the CPD by treating people with dignity and respect and being worthy of the trust the community has placed in the Department.

There was no old business.

New business included Resolution No. 09-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational programs. Resolution was approved.

Ordinance No. 12-20, an ordinance rezoning property located at 328 North Street from C-2 (Neighborhood Shopping) to RM-2 (Multi-family District). Ordinance was approved.

DOG TRAINING SEMINAR BY ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST TRAINERS
Program to Benefit Non-profit Supporting Disabled Veterans
Little Rock, Ark. (Feb. 11, 2020) — Air Force Colonel Robert Milner (retired), one of America’s top trainers of special purpose working dogs, will be leading a two-day training seminar February 29 and March 1, 2020, at the Courtyard by Marriott in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Col. Milner’s two-day training seminar will focus on the latest discoveries in the evolving science behind dog training which allows the training to be more effective, less stressful, and achieve more consistent and reliable results regardless of the trainers’ previous experience.

To achieve the kind of results individuals want to achieve with their dog, Col. Milner will focus much of the program on training the trainers. Milner’s philosophy is “There are no bad dogs, just bad trainers.” The seminar’s goal is to help dog owners become great trainers by becoming aware of the affect their individual behavior has on reinforcing their dog’s training and conditioning. By equipping the owners with positive training and conditioning skills, both owners and their dogs will be able to communicate more effectively and work seamlessly as partners at work, play, and home.

Registration is $150 per attendee and benefits the non-profit Service Dogs of Distinction, which provides highly trained specialty dogs to meet the individual physical needs of disabled veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. Deadline for registration is February 22nd. Registration may be reserved and paid for through the donate button on www.servicedogsofdistinction.org or by calling Don Gardner at 501-730-3928.
 
About the company:
Service Dogs of Distinction began with dog trainers wanting to use their passion for service dogs to make a difference in the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD.
 
SDOD’s approach is to understand the need of the veteran, then find and train a dog that can best meet their needs. Following their high standards of evaluation, dogs are procured from shelters and from individuals who are looking to re-home young dogs with an adaptable demeanor and gentle breed-specific traits. Then, the veteran/dog teams work together until they are sufficiently trained and able to pass a public access test.

Service Dogs of Distinction operates solely as a 501(c)(3) non-profit and relies on donations and corporate sponsorships to provide dog acquisition, training, annual costs of pet ownership, and to give the service dogs to veterans in need at no cost to the veteran. To learn more, visit ServiceDogsOfDistinction.org or call 501-730-3928.

 

SAAC TO HOST CORKS AND CANVAS WITH PAM VERNON
Uncork your creativity at SAAC's Corks and Canvas art classes! This month's class, led by local artist Pam Vernon, will be held on February 20, 2020, from 6:00-9:00pm.

Come to this class ready to create a stylized painting of a church using texture, vivid colors and bold brush strokes. "My love for art began at an early age and continues to this day. I like the idea of taking something traditional in architecture and painting it in a way that is unexpected," said Pam. Her design will be painted on an 11x14 canvas using acrylic paints.

Corks and Canvas painting classes have something for everyone, from the newbie to the seasoned painter. Enjoy a time of relaxation with your friends re-creating the featured painting of the night. Paint, canvas, and brushes are provided, and an experienced, award-winning local artist leads you step-by-step through the process of unleashing your inner Van Gogh to complete a work of art in three hours.

SAAC executive director Laura Allen said, "Because it is really geared toward artists of all skill levels-even those who have never held a paintbrush before-Corks & Canvas truly is an accessible way to have some fun and learn a new skill at the same time. Making art together is a great icebreaker for friends new and old. "

The $40.00 fee covers all supplies and snacks. Those taking the class should bring their favorite libation and get ready to have a good time.

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

 

BOOZMAN LEADS CALL URGING INCREASED ACCESS TO UK MARKET FOR U.S.-GROWN RICE
WASHINGTON–
United States Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and a group of his colleagues are urging the Trump Administration to push for increased market access for U.S.-grown rice during negotiations with the United Kingdom (U.K.) for a new trade agreement.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the senators note that prior to 2007, the U.K. was one of the largest export destinations for American rice. However, for more than a decade, the European Union (EU) has severely limited market access for U.S.-grown rice. Now that the U.K. is no longer tied to the EU, negotiations for a new agreement provide a fresh opportunity for U.S. rice farmers to help meet the country’s needs.

“Given market demand and existing relationships with Britain’s importers, the U.S. rice industry stands ready to regain significant market share through these negotiations. Restoring this important export market would have a remarkably positive economic impact throughout rice country, which, like the rest of the agricultural economy, has been struggling in recent years,” the senators wrote in the letter.

Boozman authored the letter, which was signed by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

We want to first thank you for the work your team has done and continues to do to ensure U.S. farmers and ranchers can compete on a level playing field across the world. You have already helped deliver several of the President’s key trade goals, and he has established ambitious goals for your team in 2020. With the January 31, 2020, departure of the United Kingdom (U.K.) from the European Union (E.U.), one of those goals is to clinch a trade agreement with the newly-independent U.K. before the end of this year. As Senators representing rice-producing states and the associated farmers, millers, merchants and others involved in the supply chain, we encourage you to take advantage of the rice demand in the U.K. to achieve increased market access for U.S.-grown rice through your upcoming negotiations.

As a country without domestic rice production, the U.K. imports more than 600,000 metric tons of rice annually to meet their consumers’ growing demand. Due to the U.K.’s diverse population and diets, there is an opportunity to grow market access for all types and forms of high-quality U.S.-grown rice. The E.U., and by extension the U.K.’s, customs union assesses a steep tariff on U.S. rice outside of the roughly 38,000-ton quota and currently applies a 25 percent retaliatory tariff on all U.S. rice, making sales and market growth difficult.

Prior to 2007, the U.K. was one of the largest export destinations for American rice, with a 10-year annual average of 115,000 metric tons, until a market-closing biotech detection occurred. In most cases, a biotech detection event is overcome through sound science and time; however, the E.U. and their member states have continued to severely limit access for U.S.-grown rice more than 10 years later. The U.K. is not expected to maintain these protectionist barriers. Given market demand and existing relationships with Britain’s importers, the U.S. rice industry stands ready to regain significant market share through these negotiations. Restoring this important export market would have a remarkably positive economic impact throughout rice country, which, like the rest of the agricultural economy, has been struggling in recent years.

We appreciate what you have done on behalf of U.S. agriculture and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

COTTON, MENENDEZ, MARKEY, AND GARDNER INTRODUCE RESOLUTION HONORING DR. LI WENLIANG  
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) today introduced a resolution honoring the life of Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who first identified the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in China late last year and sought to warn the government about the potentially devastating impact of the disease. Dr. Li succumbed to the coronavirus on February 7, 2020. The resolution also calls for transparency and cooperation from the government of the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China.

“Dr. Li heroically tried to protect his country and the world from the deadly coronavirus, but was silenced by the Chinese Communist Party. Now they have his blood on their hands. But Dr. Li’s death doesn’t have to be in vain. We should honor his memory by pushing the CCP to be fully transparent about the coronavirus and their efforts to stop the spread of this deadly disease,” said Senator Cotton.

“Dr. Li’s action in seeking to bring attention to and treat the Coronavirus outbreak was nothing short of heroic.  He – and all the Chinese medical professionals seeking to address this pandemic—have my support, as do the Chinese people. The Chinese government and Communist Party must be open and transparent with their own people and with the international community as we seek to work together to address this virus and develop effective treatment.  Censorship, repression and partnership on international health issues are far from ‘perfect together’,” said Senator Menendez.

“The authorities silenced Dr. Li the medical professional, but Dr. Li the citizen made a call for greater openness and transparency that will reverberate long after his passing. I stand with those in China now demanding freedom of speech, and I thank the Chinese doctors, nurses, medical professions, and all who are providing assistance on the front lines during this critical time. The Chinese government must cease its censorship, allow Taiwan the safety and security benefits of membership in international organizations, and cooperate internationally to mitigate this health crisis,” said Senator Markey.

“Dr. Li Wenliang tried to warn the world about the Wuhan coronavirus, but the Chinese Communist Party stood in the way. Now the Wuhan coronavirus has taken Dr. Li’s life and killed more people than the SARS outbreak in 2003,” said Senator Gardner. “We must ensure that this communicable and deadly virus is contained, and that means that the Chinese Communist Party must not be allowed to hide details of the Wuhan coronavirus from its people and the world.” 

The full text of the resolution can be found below.

Commemorating the life of Dr. Li Wenliang and calling for transparency and cooperation from the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Communist Party of China.

Whereas Dr. Li Wenliang was a 34-year-old ophthalmologist working in Wuhan, China;
Whereas research indicates that the first patient infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019–nCoV) exhibited symptoms on December 1, 2019;
Whereas, in December 2019, Dr. Li notified his associates in the medical community in China about the outbreak of 2019–nCoV;
Whereas, after raising concerns about the spread of 2019–nCoV, Dr. Li was summoned by Chinese officials and forced to sign a statement retracting his warnings about the virus and confessing that he had spread illegal rumors;
Whereas Chinese government authorities played down dangers to the public for weeks as 2019–nCoV continued to spread, with more than 42,000 confirmed cases in China alone and at least 1,000 deaths reported as of February 11, 2020;
Whereas Dr. Li continued to work as an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital despite his knowledge of the outbreak, and appears to have been infected himself with 2019–nCoV after coming in contact with a patient he was treating for glaucoma;
Whereas, on the morning of February 7, 2020, in the hospital where he worked, Dr. Li Wenliang died after contracting 2019–nCoV;
Whereas, before he passed away, Dr. Li stated, “If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency.”;
Whereas the people of China expressed their grief and anger on social media after the death of Dr. Li, with the phrase “I want freedom of speech” emerging as a top trending topic on the Weibo platform;
Whereas the Government of the People’s Republic of China continues to limit free expression, and stepped up censorship after online criticism and investigative reports by Chinese journalists suggesting that officials underestimated and underplayed the threat of 2019–nCoV;
Whereas Freedom House has listed China as the “worst abuser of internet freedom” in the world for the fourth year in a row, and in the aftermath of the outbreak of 2019–nCoV, there are numerous and well-documented instances of the “Great Firewall” of China suppressing the free flow of critical and medically important information about the pandemic;
Whereas the Government of the People’s Republic of China has endangered the people of Taiwan and people around the world by using its influence to limit Taiwan’s access to the benefits of membership in the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, particularly during the current outbreak; and
Whereas the World Health Organization has declared 2019–nCoV a Public Health Emergency of International Concern:

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) honors the life and contributions of Dr. Li Wenliang, and extends heartfelt sympathy to his family and to the families of all who have passed during this outbreak;

(2) expresses its support for the people of China as they face this unprecedented public health challenge;

(3) expresses gratitude to Dr. Li and all Chinese medical personnel and citizens for their efforts to spread awareness of 2019–nCoV and treat individuals who have contracted the disease;

(4) calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China—

(A) to be open and transparent in investigating and responding to 2019–nCoV;

(B) to ensure that Chinese citizens and the international community have free and unfettered access, without censorship or social media controls, to information about 2019–nCoV;

(C) to cooperate fully with the United States Government, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in providing medical access, sharing information, and developing treatment to combat 2019–nCoV;

(D) to cooperate fully with other governments, especially those in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other regions whose health systems already face high burdens and are operating from a lower base of capability, as well as international health organizations in combating 2019–nCoV; and

(E) to cease efforts to exclude Taiwan from international organizations, including the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization;

(5) affirms the vital importance of Dr. Li’s belief that “[t]here should be more openness and transparency” in China;

(6) affirms that freedom of expression is a social good that enables experts to sound public health warnings and helps citizens ensure that their government addresses weaknesses in crisis response; and

(7) strongly supports the people of China in their demand for freedom of speech.

OUACHITA COUNTY PRESIDENTS DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Extension office will be closed on Monday, February 17, 2020 to observe Presidents Day. The Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule.

 
 
 

February 11, 2020

CADC ANNOUNCES OPENING OF CRISIS ASSISTANCE LIHEAP PROGRAM
Central Arkansas Development Council announced today Crisis Assistance applications for the 2020 Winter Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be accepted beginning February 24, 2020.

Both Regular and Crisis Assistance applications will continue to be accepted until funds are exhausted in the following counties: Arkansas, Calhoun, Clark, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Grant, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier, and Union Counties.

For additional information about dates, times and locations visit https://www.cadc.com/utility-assistance

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income households with home energy costs by administering the Regular Assistance and Crisis Intervention Programs. Each program provides financial assistance to eligible households with a one-time per program payment to the household's energy supplier or, under certain circumstances, to the applicant. The Crisis Intervention Program only provides assistance to eligible households facing energy-related emergencies.

For Community Action Agency information for other Arkansas counties, visit http://acaaa.org/local-community-action-agencies

CADC is a nonprofit Community Action Agency, an equal opportunity employer and a United Way Agency. The mission of CADC is to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty, to help vulnerable populations achieve their potential and to build strong communities in Arkansas through community action.
 

CADC TO DISTRIBUTE USDA COMMODITIES FEBRUARY 18th and 19th IN OUACHITA COUNTY
Camden –Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA Commodities in Ouachita County Tuesday, February 18, 2020 and Wednesday, February 19, 2020 in Camden. Distribution will begin at 9 am.

Food Items May Include: Applesauce, Dry Split Peas, Peanut Butter, Instant Milk, Raisins, Rice, Spaghetti Sauce, Beef Stew

In Ouachita County, commodities will be distributed at the following location: Ouachita County Carnes Park 955 Adams, S.E. Camden, AR 71701 (870) 836-3200. ID must be present in order to receive commodities. All customers receiving commodities must present identification.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov. (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATION CONTINUING IN FORREST CITY WALMART SHOOTING INCIDENT
FEBRUARY 10, 2020
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their work to collect evidence and question witnesses in connection with a shooting incident that occurred at the Walmart Store located at 205 Deaderick Road, Forrest City.  A gunman was killed and two local law enforcement officers were wounded inside the store during an exchange of gunfire.

The agents will document and collect all evidence related to the incident.  The case file will be presented to the St. Francis County Prosecuting Attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.

COTTON APPLAUDS NEW COUNTERINTELLIGENCE STRATEGY  
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the Trump administration’s new counterintelligence strategy:
“The updated counterintelligence strategy rightly broadens its focus to the pervasive economic threats we face. Our adversaries don’t differentiate between government and commercial targets, and we shouldn’t either. Those who steal intellectual property shouldn’t be allowed access to any free market.”

CAMDEN NOON LION’S CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet on Wednesday at Catherine’s Bistro. The speaker this week will be Dana Wetherbee with the Camden Police Department.  She will be talking about the upcoming Bicycle Safety Course, the Police Department’s return to Bicycle Patrol and other updates.

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLU TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, February 13th at 12:00 at Catherine’s Bistro. The program will be presented by Joy Lentz who will be discussing Operation Kids

 

FEBRUARY 10, 2020

 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS FIRST STEPS TO U.S.-KENYA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) in applauding the United States and Kenya for announcing on Thursday they will begin discussions on a free trade agreement. If finalized, this will be the first free trade agreement between the United States and a sub-Saharan African country.

“As Chinese influence rapidly grows in Africa, strengthening relationships with our allies remains critical,” Boozman said. “Kenya is a strong U.S. partner and key leader in the region. This announcement to pursue a free trade agreement with Kenya is an important step to opening up a new market to American products, strengthening our commitment to strategic partnerships, and advancing economic growth in east Africa. Through free and fair trade, the U.S. can support countries like Kenya to counter Chinese influence and hold China accountable for its predatory investments throughout the continent.” 

“For too long, the State Department’s focus in Africa has been aid, not trade,” Inhofe said. “Fortunately, President Trump understands that outdated mentality does nothing but limit the potential of the United States and our partner nations in Africa, while giving China opportunities to expand its influence. With the enactment of USMCA, President Trump has paved the way for it to be used as a model for future agreements, including ones with African nations. Today’s announcement with Kenya highlights its status as one of our strong trading and security partners, and I am excited about how this agreement – when finalized – will begin a new chapter of trade between the United States, Kenya, and the continent of Africa.” 

“I applaud today’s announcement that the United States and Kenya will pursue a free trade agreement,” Coons said. “Kenya is a vibrant nation of nearly 50 million people that has been counted among the world’s fastest growing economies. A trade pact with Kenya can serve as a model for how African economies can deepen their trade relationship with the United States beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act. I encourage the Office of the United States Trade Representative to prioritize Kenya’s economic growth, continue supporting regional economic integration in Africa, and to consult closely with Congress throughout this process.”

“International trade plays an important role in South Dakota’s economy,” Rounds said. “Today’s announcement that the United States and Kenya will work together on a bilateral trade agreement is good news for our producers who’d like to expand their markets around the world. There is untapped potential in East Africa—and especially in Kenya—for increased U.S. trade opportunities. We are not the only country that recognizes the value in this part of the world—China has been working to increase its influence throughout the continent of Africa for years. I’m glad to see the U.S. and Kenya work toward a free trade agreement.”  

“I’m hopeful that USTR’s negotiations with Kenya will set the foundation for closer economic ties between the United States and Kenya, as well as other African nations. Kenya is an economic hub for East Africa, and eliminating unfair trade barriers between our two countries will create opportunities for both Americans and Kenyans. It is my hope that this is just the beginning of a process that brings in other African nations and eventually leads to free and fair trade with the entire African Continental Free Trade Area,” Kaine said. 

“I have had the privilege of visiting Kenya and meeting with President Kenyatta several times with Senator Inhofe,” Enzi said. “It is positive to hear that discussions will begin with Kenya on a free trade agreement. I am hopeful this will open the door to more mutually beneficial agreements with other nations. Senator Inhofe has long been a champion for improving partnerships with Africa and I appreciate his leadership on this issue.” 

Congress approved language in the FY17 NDAA, authored by Inhofe, that encouraged free trade agreements between the United States and countries in Africa by directing US trade-based capacity building agencies to coordinate their on-the-ground efforts in African nations. Agencies included in the legislation were the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. This helped pave the way for the free trade agreement announcement.

FEBRUARY 7, 2020

 

BOOZMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN SENATE ALS CAUCUS
WASHINGTON-U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined bipartisan efforts to push for improved research, treatments and a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), as a  founding member of the Senate ALS Caucus. 

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in support of efforts and actions to find a cure for ALS,” Boozman said. “It is my hope that our work will lead to advancements that bring hope to patients and families who have been affected by this disease.”

The bipartisan Senate ALS Caucus will bring together Senators from both sides of the aisle who share a commitment to working collaboratively to advocate on behalf of ALS patients and their families. The mission of the Senate ALS Caucus is to: 

  • Raise awareness about the difficulties faced by ALS patients and their families;
  • Advance policies that improve the quality of life for ALS patients;
  • Expand the network of support for those suffering from ALS; and,
  • Advocate for investments in research that will enhance our understanding of the causes of ALS, identify effective treatments and eventually discover a cure.

ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that destroys the body’s ability to control muscle movement. There is no effective treatment for the disease, no known cause and currently no cure. 

The caucus was launched by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN).  

“I’m excited to join Senator Braun in announcing 12 new members of the Senate ALS Caucus. It’s clear that there is a strong bipartisan, bicameral commitment among members to do all we can to help find a cure for ALS,” said Coons. “Even in the face of such a debilitating disease, ALS patients and their families are inspiring us to take action. I look forward to working with my colleagues to rise to this challenge. We can and should do more to help.”

“I’m thrilled to join Senator Coons to announce 12 new bipartisan members of the first ever Senate ALS Caucus,” said Braun. “There are real solutions that Congress can enact right now to help those fighting ALS get access to meaningful treatments and I look forward to working with these new members to make those solutions reality for these patients and their families.”

In addition to Boozman, founding members include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Kennedy (R-LA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Martha McSally (R-AZ). 

February 6, 2020

 

BIG LAKE WMA, ST. FRANCIS SUNKEN LANDS WMA AND BIG LAKE NWR CLOSED FEBRUARY 10TH THROUGH 14TH
Big Lake Wildlife Management Area, St. Francis Sunken Lands Wildlife Management Area and Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge will be closed to daytime public access Feb. 10-14. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Missouri Department of Conservation, will be conducting aerial operations aimed at reducing feral hog populations on the areas. The flights will be dependent on the weather.

To provide safety for the public and comply with USDA regulations, access will not be allowed during ongoing operations. Varying weather and site specific conditions will not allow for specific dates of the closures. The closure dates allow some flexibility to take advantage of resources over large contiguous tracts of habitat. In the event that access to the WMAs or NWR is restricted, AGFC and partnering agency staff will be on-site to maintain road and access closures.

The aerial operations are the result of planning and coordination of multiple partners, condensed into several days of actual operations. The AGFC, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA APHIS would like to thank the public in advance for their patience and understanding while these activities are underway and apologize for any inconvenience related to the operation.

For additional information, please contact AGFC Wildlife Division Assistant Chief Luke Lewis at 501-223-6350. For information concerning the Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge, please contact Steven Rimer at 870-564-2429.

FEBRUARY 3, 2020

GOLDEN APPOINTED TO SAU BOARD OF TRUSTEES

MAGNOLIA – Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced the appointment of Gary L. Golden of De Queen to the Board of Trustees of Southern Arkansas University.

 

Golden replaces David Nelson on the board. His appointment expires Jan. 14, 2025. The appointment was made Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.

 

He is vice chair and chief executive officer of First State Bank of De Queen. Golden attended SAU from 1968 to 1970. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the SAU Foundation.

 

“We are truly excited to have Mr. Golden join our dedicated Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU. “His experience and wisdom will be invaluable. He has a true love for SAU and our students.”

 

“I accepted this position on the SAU Board of Trustees because the school means so much to my wife, Gaywyn, and me,” Golden shared. “We met and began our lives together while we were students at SAU. She had a career as an educator while I had a career as a rural Arkansas banker that continues today.”

 

He praised Orville Childs, who was the head of the Agriculture Department when Golden attended SAU. “Mr. Childs helped many of us from south Arkansas make our way through college, and that is why I choose to give back,” he said.

 

Berry is excited to have a representative from the De Queen area serving on the Board of Trustees. “I look forward to working with Mr. Golden for many years to come,” he said.

January 31, 2020

HOMEGROWN BY HEROES SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS DUE MARCH 16
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are partnering to provide two $1,500 Homegrown by Heroes academic scholarships to military veterans and active military personnel, their spouses, and children who are pursuing a degree in agriculture. Funding for the scholarships is generously provided by Farm Credit. Online applications are due March 16, 2020 and are available at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs

“We are proud to partner with Farm Credit to provide academic scholarships for the men and women, and their families, who have served our country in the military,” says Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. “Military service members and their families have many skills that make them great candidates for successful careers in agriculture. It is an honor to provide these scholarships as a way of thanking them for their service to our country.” 

“The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas appreciate the service Arkansas veterans and current military personnel give our country. We are pleased to help service members and their families pursue degrees and careers in the agricultural field by sponsoring these scholarships,” said Greg Cole, CEO and president of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services.

Selection of scholarship recipients will be based on academic achievement, community involvement, extracurricular activities, financial need, and family circumstances. Preference will be given to Arkansas Homegrown by Heroes members, spouses, and their children, but membership is not required. 
 

The scholarships are affiliated with Homegrown by Heroes, an Arkansas Department of Agriculture program that helps farmer veterans market their local agricultural products by labeling them as veteran-produced. Learn more about Homegrown by Heroes and find products grown or made by military veterans at https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Visit https://www.aad.arkansas.gov/. The Arkansas Department of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

With more than $3.7 billion in assets, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Midsouth, and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across Arkansas with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow. In Arkansas, Farm Credit associations are owned by the more than 11,000 customer-owners they serve. Through the cooperative structure, customer-owners have a voice and vote in the associations’ governance. Members also share in the cooperatives’ financial success through cooperative returns which total more than $243 million since 1997. 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ISSUES STATEMENT ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ‘HEALTHY ADULT OPPORTUNITY’ ANNOUNCEMENT
Medicaid Block Grants Create Stronger Federal-State Partnership
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today issued a statement about the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) announcement of the Healthy Adult Opportunity. This initiative modernizes Medicaid to create a stronger federal-state partnership and provides each state with the opportunity to design health-coverage programs to meet the unique needs of its adult beneficiaries. 

“The announcement today by the Trump administration giving states the opportunity to apply for a block grant is good news for everyone who believes the states should have more flexibility in managing one of the most expensive items in a state's budget and managing the delivery of health care services to the most vulnerable citizens. 

“The block-grant authority is something that we’ve asked for, and I applaud CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for leaning forward to recognize that the states can manage these types of health care programs in an effective way.

“At this point, we have the Arkansas Works waiver. But we will immediately begin to review the specific model and guidelines that the Trump administration issued today to see how this would fit into an Arkansas-type approach for providing health care to the expanded Medicaid population. It should be noted that the Arkansas General Assembly has already passed legislation that directs the state of Arkansas to pursue a block-grant waiver once it is authorized by the federal government. I look forward to working with legislators as well as the Trump administration on the next steps for Arkansas.”

GIVE BACK DURING THE LENTEN SEASON IN THE 11TH ANNUAL GET UP & GIVE COLLECTION DRIVE
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Jan. 30, 2020) – With the holidays behind us and the 40 days of Lent just ahead, Methodist Family Health has a way for Arkansans to honor the Lenten season by contributing to our state’s children and families who are abandoned, abused, neglected and managing psychiatric, emotional, behavioral and spiritual issues.

The 11th Annual Get Up & Give collection project asks Arkansans to contribute necessities to the children and families in our care. The project is during the entire 40 days of Lent – Wed., Feb. 26 through Thurs., Apr. 9 – and both children and adults can participate by donating personal hygiene items, clothes, shoes, school supplies, bedding, funds and other necessities to the Methodist Counseling Clinic in their community.

“Many of the children in our care are abandoned, abused and neglected,” said Kelli Reep, director of communications at Methodist Family Health. “Others are in the foster care system or have families with few monetary resources. By providing them things like new underwear, deodorant, their own school supplies – even books and toys – our community demonstrates to them that there are people who care about them and their well-being.”

Methodist Family Health asks that all items contributed through Get Up & Give are new. Monetary donations also can be contributed so specific items can be purchased to meet the needs of the Arkansas children and families in our care. Contributions can be delivered to the following locations, including:
Alma: 1209 Hwy 71N, Suite B, Alma, AR 72921; phone 479.632.1022
Batesville: 500 E. Main St., Suite 310, Batesville, AR 72501; phone 870.569.4890
Fayetteville: 74 W. Sunbridge Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72703; phone 479.582.5565
Heber Springs: 515 N. Main St., Heber Springs, AR 72543; phone 501.365.3022
Hot Springs: 100 Ridgeway, Suite 5, Hot Springs, AR 71901; phone 501.318.6066
Jonesboro: 2239 S. Caraway, Suite M, Jonesboro, AR 72401; phone 870.910.3757
Little Rock: 1600 Aldersgate Road, Suite 100B, Little Rock, AR 72205; phone 501.537.3991
Magnolia: 621 E. North St., Magnolia, AR 71753; phone 870.234.0739
The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, 601 Wellington Village Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211; phone 501.664.8632

For a shopping list, flyer or more information, visit https://www.methodistfamily.org/get-up-and-give.html or call 501-906-4201.

KIDS RUNNIN’ THE SHOW 6th ANNUAL CORVETTE CAR SHOW
The E.B. Williams presents the Kids Runnin’ the Show Corvette Car Show Saturday, March 28th. The Show will be held at the Camden Fairview High School located at 1750 Cash Road SW. There will be a Light Show Friday, March 27th at 8:00- PM at the Comfort Inn. The Show is open to all Corvettes, stock and custom. Registration is $50.00. There will be a 50/50 Drawing, Door Prizes and Trophies. Refreshments will be available for all participants. All proceeds will benefit the E.B. Williams “Gift of Progression” Program. For more information contact Eric Gunter at 870-818-2628.

BOOZMAN, COTTON POSE SECOND QUESTION DURING IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
While the Senate continues to consider articles of impeachment, U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) submitted an additional question during the question and answer portion of the trial.

The senators’ question read: 

In the House Manager’s opening statement, they argue that it is necessary to pursue impeachment because “the president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box. For we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.” How would acquitting the president prevent voters from making an informed decision in the 2020 presidential election?

Boozman and Cotton were joined by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), James Risch (R-ID), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and John Hoeven (R-ND) in asking this question.

On the first day of the question and answer period, the senators submitted a question asking whether the House of Representatives had sought testimony or litigated executive privilege issues during the month it held impeachment articles before sending those articles to the Senate.

January 30, 2020

SAU’S RANKIN COLLEGE OF BUSINESS EARNS COVETED AACSB INTERNATIONAL ACCREDITATION EXTENSION
MAGNOLIA – The David F. Rankin College of Business at Southern Arkansas University has had its esteemed AACSB accreditation extended for five years following an encouraging peer review.

A continuous improvement review team visited the SAU College of Business in the fall semester, and its recommendation for accreditation extension was ratified recently by the Board of Directors of AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The peer review team commended the Rankin College of Business for the many opportunities provided to students, highlighting specifically the low-cost travel opportunities including regional, national, and international student trips. The trips were described as “amazing and horizon-opening opportunities and certainly a best practice.”

The team also commended the Rankin College for its strategic plan and strategic planning efforts, describing the process as “an excellent example of planned ongoing strategic plan review, revision, and progression.” AACSB considers a robust strategic plan as core to a successful business school. It is one of the first documents reviewed by the peer review team to identify a school’s mission, goals, strategies, and allocation of resources.

“This re-accreditation recognizes the excellent work by our faculty and staff to provide an impactful education for our students,” said Dr. Robin Sronce, Dean of the Rankin College of Business and Peoples Bank Endowed Chair. “By engaging our students with the community and business professionals, connecting them to travel, internships, and other opportunities in our region and beyond, and preparing them to transition from classroom to career, we equip them to follow in the footsteps of our many successful graduates,” she said.

“Accreditation by AACSB International is the gold standard in business education and demonstrates the Rankin College of Business meets the highest standards of quality – comparable to any other top-notch program in the country,” said Dr. David Lanoue, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “I am so proud of Dean Sronce and the outstanding faculty and staff of the Rankin College for this latest achievement.”

AACSB is the premier business school accreditation credential in the world. The process of initial accreditation occurs only after meeting a rigorous set of standards, and the Rankin College of Business earned its initial accreditation in 2005. It is a distinction that has been achieved by fewer than 10 percent of business schools worldwide.

The Rankin College of Business offers programs in accounting, finance, information systems, general business, management, and supply chain management, among many others, and students can choose majors that suit their talents and ambitions. SAU’s nationally recognized PBL Chapter, the Business Student Advisory Council, the Business Student Investment Advisory Council, and Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society are some of the programs offering students the opportunity to build relationships and leadership skills.

For more information on the Rankin College of Business, please visit https://web.saumag.edu/business/.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: TAX SEASON IS PRIME TIME FOR IRS SCAMMERS
LITTLE ROCK – Tax season is like hunting season for con artists. Between the fear of making a mistake on your taxes, and the increased sophistication of scammers, opportunities are endless for bad actors looking to line their pockets during tax season. Each year, many scammers pose as agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by sending emails with fake tax bills and transcripts to Arkansans. The malicious emails often include an attachment that is not a document from the IRS, but instead infectious malware. The email may even threaten arrest if payment is not received immediately using a gift card, prepaid debt card or wire transfer.

“No matter how convincing an email from an IRS employee may seem, even using your name and home address, no government entity will ever ask for payment from an untraceable source,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is just another shameful attempt at playing with Arkansans’ emotions and stealing their hard-earned money.”

The increase in data breaches has given criminals more access to sensitive information than ever before, helping make their schemes more believable.

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following tips for anyone who receives an email from someone claiming to be from the IRS:
Do not reply to the email.
Do not click on any links.
Delete the original email.

Consumers who receive this scam via email should forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

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

 

COMMISSIONER OF STATE LANDS OFFICE INTRODUCES ONLINE TAX PAYMENTS
Property owners who have delinquent real estate taxes can now pay online, the Commissioner of State Lands Office announced.

“We’re working to accommodate property owners and modernize the office,” Commissioner Tommy Land said. “As part of that, we’ve begun accepting online payments for delinquent real estate taxes.”

It’s the latest step the COSL office has taken to simplify the process of redeeming tax-delinquent real estate.

“We spent much of 2019 significantly reducing red tape for owners trying to redeem real estate,” Land said. “A major part of that was reducing the paperwork required and expanding the payment options we could accept. We appreciate the Arkansas General Assembly for approving the legislation that cleared the path for this.”

In the past, only the property owner or the owner’s heir could redeem tax-delinquent real estate from the COSL office. Heirs seeking to redeem were required to submit documentation of their claim to the land.

Changes implemented mid-2019 allow anyone to redeem real estate back into the owner’s name. “What we’ve done simply streamlines the redemption process,” Land said. “It does not change the ownership; it just gets the property out of our office and back onto the county’s tax rolls.”

Accepting payments online expands that simplification process.

“Our office will still have some in-house work to do after receiving payment, so this is not instant redemption,” Land said. “But it will be faster and easier. Now taxpayers can redeem property at their convenience, without worrying about mail delivery or office hours.”

The COSL accepts online payments at its website, https://www.cosl.org.

GRIFFIN CELEBRATES NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK
Says, ‘Allowing parents to choose the best educational options to meet the individual learning needs of their children is a game-changer for our kids’
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement in support of school choice after attending the School Choice Rally in Little Rock:

"For far too long, students in Arkansas have been unable to obtain the education that is best for them simply because they live in the wrong ZIP code or because of their parents' income. Allowing parents to choose the best educational options to meet the individual learning needs of their children is a game-changer for our kids, and it will help move our state forward by preparing them to enter the workforce and meet the needs of business and industry.”

GRIFFIN APPLAUDS PRESIDENT ON KEEPING PROMISE AND DELIVERING TRADE AGREEMENT
Says, the USMCA  'promotes free and fair trade, allows for robust economic growth' and it is 'another example of a promise kept by this Administration'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin today issued the following statement after President Trump sign the historic United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promotes free and fair trade, allows for robust economic growth while also expanding market access for Arkansas agricultural products, and incentivizing American manufacturing. President Trump promised the American people he would modernize our trade relationships, and this is another example of a promise kept by this Administration. I applaud the President and our Federal Delegation for their continued commitment to improve trade, grow jobs, and keep our nation globally competitive.”

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meeting this Thursday, January 30th at 12:00 at  Catherine’s Bistro. Charlotte Young will present the program She will be talking about the First Friday Monthly Market.

 

BOOZMAN INITIATIVE TO BOOST VA SUICIDE PREVENTION EFFORTS CLEARS SENATE COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON– A legislative initiative led by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) is one step closer to becoming law. The measure to create a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks in order to reduce veteran suicides would potentially save lives.

The Senate VA Committee included language from the Senators’ IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act as a provision in a comprehensive bill that expands veterans’ access to mental health services. The legislation unanimously passed the committee and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

“This is a great step in the right direction to getting our veterans the resources, services and care they need. Coordinating and sharing information between the VA and veteran-serving organizations that have the common goal to save lives will have a positive impact,” Boozman said.

“Our nation’s veterans have faithfully served our country, and they deserve to know that, as they face the invisible wounds of war, we will do everything we can to make sure they receive the help they need. Currently, we are facing an alarming rate of suicide deaths among our veteran population and we’ve got to make tackling this issue a priority. With today’s markup of our bill, we are one step closer to making sure veterans get the services and resources they need,” Warner said.

This legislation enhances coordination and planning of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and would better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides.

The VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged despite the drastic increase in funding. Over the last ten years, Congress more than tripled the VA’s funding for suicide prevention efforts to $222 million.

Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. That’s why Boozman and Warner are empowering the VA to share information with veteran-serving non-profits and requiring it to develop a tool to monitor progress so that resources can be concentrated on successful programs.

The IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act was introduced in June 2019. Days later, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie called the bill “key” to unlocking the veteran suicide crisis at a committee hearing.

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS SIGNING OF USMCA
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined President Donald Trump at the White House signing ceremony of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). He released the following statement:

“With his signature, President Trump officially delivered on his campaign promise to modernize our trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. This historic deal brings our trade policies into the 21st century and enables hardworking Arkansas farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and workers to compete in the global economy. I congratulate the president on this accomplishment and look forward to working with him to open more markets to Natural State goods and services,” Boozman said.

Trade with our neighboring countries supports 12 million American jobs including 120,000 in Arkansas. Combined, Mexico and Canada account for one-third of Arkansas’s total exports.

January 29, 2020

 

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE FOR PRIMARY ELECTION IS FEBRUARY 3RD
Secretary Thurston Encourages All To Exercise Their Civil Rights 
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston is encouraging all Arkansans to exercise their civil rights by getting registered and voting in the Preferential Primary and Nonpartisan General Election being held on March 3rd.  The deadline to register to vote if you are not already registered is Monday, February 3rd.  Arkansans can obtain a voter registration application from their local county clerk's office, public assistance office, public library, revenue office, military recruiting center, or you can download one from the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.arkansas.gov.

ARKANSAS BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD GIVES $817,000 TO UPGRADE DIGITAL HEALTH NETWORK IN STATE’S RURAL HOSPITALS
Ouachita County Medical Center included in grants
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded $817,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership to help South Arkansas hospitals and clinics improve how they exchange patient information and ensure better continuity of care during patient transfers.

The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a nonprofit organization made up of 14 hospital members and 108 hospital-owned or affiliated clinics in the southern region of the state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) supports and works closely with the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.

While some of the partnership’s hospitals and their clinics participate 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), none of them have been able to fully participate in the exchange because of the high costs of full membership. Several member hospitals currently are only participating at the minimal level and three member hospitals are not sharing data at all.

The one-year grant will help them participate at the highest level. In addition, SHARE will provide ARHP hospitals and health care providers with real-time patient results that will help them identify clinical strengths and areas that might need improvement. SHARE’s daily reports will make available to ARHP health care providers a 24-hour snapshot of critical events (such as emergency room visits and inpatient discharges).

SHARE lets users transmit and exchange clinical 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, other providers can send clinical information instantly, so providers have it before the patients arrive.

SHARE’s vision is a healthier state population and a greatly improved health care system in which care givers 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 health care throughout Arkansas through the statewide use of health information technology and clinical data exchange.

“It is imperative our member hospitals be fully prepared for value-based care,” said Mellie Bridewell, the partnership’s CEO and a UAMS regional director of strategy, management and administration. “They must be able to share and have access to patient data as well as have the support of a system that can assist them with compiling and collecting the data to use in treating their patients. Without this assistance, our small rural hospitals will not be able to financially survive the changes ahead.”

New value-based care models for payment to health care providers are driving a shift to population health approaches that focus on prevention, improved chronic disease management and wellness activities and away from the traditional fee-for-service model.

The donation from Arkansas Blue Cross will pay for the costs of upgrading equipment and annual dues for its member hospitals and clinics to participate fully in the exchange. There is no funding mechanism to assist rural hospitals and clinics with the annual costs of participating in SHARE.

“Making sure doctors and hospitals in all areas of the state have the information they need to treat their patients is critical to overall quality. And we believe that all stakeholders have a role to play in making the health care delivery system more effective and sustainable for the people we serve,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross. “We also know that we produce better results when we work collaboratively. To that end, Arkansas Blue Cross is embracing current and emerging technologies as a key strategy to use information more effectively to create a healthier Arkansas. We are confident this grant will bring us a step closer to that goal.”

The partnership has been successful in obtaining grants and donations to support their member hospitals and clinics with quality improvement initiatives and care coordination. It also has plans for population health projects in 2020 and for assisting its members with digital health technology to expand these opportunities. 

About Arkansas Rural Health Partnership: The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) is an organization of 14 non-profit south Arkansas hospitals including Ashley County Medical Center, Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center, Chicot Memorial Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Delta Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System, Helena Regional Medical Center, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Magnolia Regional Medical Center, McGehee Hospital, Medical Center of South Arkansas and Ouachita County Medical Center. For more information on ARHP, please visit our website at arruralhealth.org.

About Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield: Founded in 1948, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is the largest health insurer in Arkansas. Arkansas Blue Cross and its affiliates have more than 2,900 employees. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is comprised of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans that collectively provide healthcare coverage for nearly 106 million members – one in three Americans.       

SHARE is primarily funded federally, but hospitals pay into the system to fund the state’s required matches. The following providers received these amounts:
Ashley County Medical Center – $46,226
Baptist Health Medical Center – Stuttgart – $48,026
Bradley County Medical Center – $43,826
Chicot Memorial Medical Center – $41,426
Dallas County Medical Center –$41,426
Delta Memorial Hospital – $54,626
Dewitt Hospital and Nursing Homes – $40,226
Drew Memorial Hospital – $102,026
Helena Regional Medical “Center – $56,426
Jefferson Regional Medial Center – $144,878
Magnolia Regional Medical Center – $46,226
McGehee Hospital – $39,626
Medical Center of South Arkansas – $57,026
Ouachita County Medical Center – $55,826           

SAAC TO HOST ARTIST'S RECEPTION TO HONOR DR. MOISES MENENDEZ
The South Arkansas Arts Center invites the public to an artist's reception honoring Dr. Moises Menendez and his exhibit entitled "Famous People". The reception will be held on Saturday, February 1 from 6:00-7:30pm. This inspiring charcoal and graphite portrait show will hang in the Lobby Gallery at SAAC through February 1, 2020.

This exhibit is a two-part show, running back to back in subsequent months. Series l will hang in the Lobby Gallery at SAAC beginning January 6-February 1. Series II will begin February 4 and hang until February 28, with another artist's reception on February 21. Each exhibit includes approximately twenty-two pieces - portraits and original drawings by Dr. Menendez.

A well-known local surgeon, Dr. Moises Menendez hails from Lima, Peru, where he began his interest in art at a young age. Having always been a lover of history, Dr. Menendez now focuses his talents on this group of "famous people": doctors, scientists, humanists, etc., that he considers to have contributed in outstanding ways to all of our lives timeless, and he hopes, will serve as inspiration for the next generation.

The exhibit is free and open to the public for viewing Monday through Friday from 9:00-5:00. For more information on this exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

COTTON CONDEMNS U.K. DECISION ALLOWING HUAWEI TO BUILD 5G NETWORK
Washington, D.C. — Following the United Kingdom’s announcement that it will allow Chinese-owned Huawei to build parts of its 5G internet network, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement:

“This decision is deeply disappointing for American supporters of the Special Relationship. I fear London has freed itself from Brussels only to cede sovereignty to Beijing. Allowing Huawei to build the U.K.’s 5G networks today is like allowing the KGB to build its telephone network during the Cold War. The Chinese Communist Party will now have a foothold to conduct pervasive espionage on British society and has increased economic and political leverage over the United Kingdom. The short-term savings aren’t worth the long-term costs. In light of this decision, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence should conduct a thorough review of U.S.-U.K. intelligence-sharing.”

COTTON CALLS FOR TARGETED CHINA TRAVEL BAN TO STOP CORONAVIRUS
Washington, D.C. — Earlier today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter calling for the administration to take several steps to protect U.S. citizens from the coronavirus, including a ban on all commercial flights between the United States and China.

In addition to the targeted travel ban, his letter recommends the following course of action to stop the spread of coronavirus:
Allow American citizens in China to evacuate under appropriate monitoring
Allow critical trade to continue safely
Allow medical personnel and scientists to travel to and from China
Marshal the full resources of the federal government to engineer a vaccine

Senator Cotton sent the letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. Full text of the letter may be found below.

Senator Cotton is following up on his letter to Secretary Alex Azar on January 22 urging the government to prepare contingency measures, including a travel ban, in anticipation of the spread of coronavirus.

Dear Messrs. Pompeo, Azar, and Wolf,

I write to urge you to implement a targeted travel ban on China to protect America from the Wuhan coronavirus.  Given the latest developments and the many unknowns about this virus, we ought to follow Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As of this morning, China has reported that the Wuhan coronavirus has infected more than 4,500 people and killed more than 100.  But the real number is likely far higher—perhaps in the hundreds of thousands—given the Chinese Communist Party’s long history of covering up and minimizing these crises.

China’s own actions demonstrate the severity of the threat.  Beijing has quarantined more than 50 million people—the combined population of our entire West Coast—and cancelled school indefinitely.  Just this morning, Hong Kong has slashed travel from mainland China.  These are not the actions of a government in control of the outbreak.

It may be too late for China to contain the virus inside its borders.  The mayor of Wuhan, for instance, acknowledged that more than five million people had already left the city despite the quarantine.  Further, Chinese researchers have provided strong evidence in The Lancet that this coronavirus did not originate in the Wuhan seafood market, contrary to the official Chinese line.  This evidence doesn’t just cast doubt on Chinese reporting, but also suggests the risk of infectious pathways outside the seafood market.

Thanks to the deadly combination of Chinese duplicity and incompetence, the virus has now spread to most provinces in China and neighboring nations.  At least five cases have been confirmed on American soil, with more than 100 other individuals under evaluation for infection.

Moreover, based on preliminary research, it appears that this coronavirus has a long incubation period and asymptomatic persons may be able to transmit the virus.  If so, then the administration’s laudable efforts to screen persons traveling from China could be for naught: no amount of screening will identify a contagious but asymptomatic person afflicted with the coronavirus.

Given these dangerous circumstances, a targeted travel ban is warranted to protect Americans until we know more about the virus and the outbreak is under control.  I propose steps along the following lines:

First, commercial flights from China to the U.S. should be halted immediately.  There’s no need for recreational, student or educational, or non-critical business travel under the circumstances until this crisis is under control.

Second, American citizens in China and their immediate family members should have the option to evacuate and return to U.S. territory under appropriate, elevated monitoring.

Third, the administration should develop strict criteria for allowing critical trade to continue, such as cargo flights and seaborne shipping, to minimize the impact to the U.S. economy.  The administration should ensure that individuals who do arrive in the U.S. under these criteria can be adequately screened and quarantined as needed.

Fourth, the administration should allow medical personnel and scientists to travel to and from China to address this crisis.

Regarding this last point, I ask that the administration urge President Xi to allow American and international scientists and medical experts from the World Health Organization into Wuhan immediately to help treat infected persons and research the origins of this coronavirus.  If the virus didn’t originate in the seafood market, it’s critical to determine where it did—especially, I must add, since Wuhan is also home to a biosafety-level-4 super-laboratory that engages in the study of coronavirus, among other deadly pathogens.

Finally, I also urge the administration to marshal the full resources of the federal government to engineer a vaccine to the virus.  America is blessed with world-leading researchers and laboratories on the cutting edge of medical science and epidemiology.  Working in tandem with them, I’m confident our federal research agencies can develop a vaccine in record time.  To the extent additional money or legal authorities are needed for a Manhattan Project-level effort to create a vaccine, I stand ready to assist in the Congress.

Thank you for the steps the administration has already taken to protect our citizens and for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Tom Cotton                                                                
United States Senator     

CC:
Donald J. Trump, President of the United States
Michael R. Pence, Vice President of the United States        

COTTON STATEMENT ON MIDDLE EAST PEACE PLAN 
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the administration released its Middle East peace plan, which charts a course for future relations between Israelis and Palestinians. 

“I applaud the president for putting forth a plan that secures a prosperous future for the Jewish State of Israel while working toward a lasting peace between Israelis, Palestinians, and the broader Arab world.”

January 28, 2020

 

TEAM CAMDEN AND OPED OFFER SEMINAR: RUNNING A GREAT BOOTH AT A FESTIVAL OR MARKET 
Stand out at festivals and markets and increase your sales with proven techniques that make you a magnet for customers. We will demonstrate low-cost techniques for creating an attractive and effective product display. We will also share customer service and selling techniques to help you connect with shoppers and turn them into customers.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
OPED Building
570 Ben Lane, Camden, AR 71701

Speakers will be First Friday: Monthly Market's Ashley Khrien and Cheri Fogle, Camden Barn Sale's Beth Osteen and Camden Daffodil Festival's Johnny Hobbie

Thanks to a special sponsorship from Team Camden, this class is FREE! For more information or to pre-register, contact Kristen Cribb. Phone: (870) 235-5033 or Email: kristencribb@saumag.edu.

RUBY SNIDER MINISTRY CENTER GRAND OPENING
The Ruby Snyder Ministry Center has moved to 133 Haynes Avenue in Camden. There will be a grand opening of the new facility on Wednesday, February 5th from 10:00 a.m. until noon to allow the public to see the new facility as well as become aware of the work and ministry that is happening there.  The center provides Christian counseling, as well as food and clothing.  It is open one day a week, Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Everyone is invited to come and see the new facility and become aware of the wonderful ministry there.

DAVE RAMSEY’S FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored seven bestselling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership, The Complete Guide to Money, Smart Money Smart Kids and The Legacy Journey. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 16 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and digitally through podcasts, online audio streaming and a 24-hour online streaming video channel.

Learn how to live debt free. Learn how to change your family tree by not only teaching your kids how to win with money, but by actually living and giving like no one else. The Financial Peace University includes nine video lessons featuring Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze, and Chris Hogan. This 9-week study will be conducted at Grace Baptist Church located at 1505 California Ave. in Camden.

The sessions will begin on February 9th and the hour and a half session will start at 5:30 pm.  Child-care is available upon request. The cost is $50 per family.

Some of the topics covered are:
Learn how to budget
How to pay off all debt
How to build an emergency fund
Invest for the future and build wealth
Buyer beware
The role of insurance
Retirement planning
Real estate and mortgages
Living and giving like no one else

Dave Ramsey says, “You work too hard to get to the end of your life and have nothing to show for it!”

Some of the results of going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course.

Average debt paid off in the first 90 days:              $5,300  
Average amount saved in the first 90 days:           $2,700

Call Grace Baptist Church at 870-836-5382 to register and give contact information.

Arkansas AG logoRUTLEDGE'S NORTHWEST ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING OPEN FOR ENROLLMENT
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the 2020 Northwest Arkansas Law Enfo rcement Training event will be held on Wednesday, March 11 at Northwest Arkansas Community College. Rutledge annually hosts these free regional trainings throughout the State, where all participants will receive Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Commission Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) credits. This year’s event will feature instructors from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy and Alcoholic Beverage Control who will discuss the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act.

“Meeting Arkansans where they are includes providing free and relevant educational resources to our law enforcement officials,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This training will highlight the many issues law enforcement officials face with the legalization of medicinal marijuana that they can take back to their agencies and better protect all Arkansans.”

Participant will hear presentations on the enforcement and impacts on law enforcement of Arkansas’s medical marijuana law from Alcohol Beverage Control Agent Chris Boyd and Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy Training Supervisor Clint Scrivner. Assistant Attorney General Jill Irwin will present on Monsters Behind the Machines, which will look into some of the cases that have been investigated by the Attorney General’s Office Special Investigations Division.

Kevin Metcalf with the Washington County prosecuting attorney’s office will discuss cyber response in missing persons cases. He has assisted in the recovery of numerous missing and exploited children and in the identification and apprehension of sexual predators in multiple states. He also founded the National Child Protection Task Force. He developed a system for working with cellphone-related data in criminal cases, which is offered by Amazon as a mobile device foundational course and a series of instructional books.

Registration is now open for the March 11 event, which begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. The Attorney General’s Office has applied for 5.25 hours of CLE credit and has been approved for 5.5 hours of CLEST credit. Lunch will be provided.

COTTON STATEMENT ON SCOTUS GRANTING 'PUBLIC CHARGE' EMERGENCY REQUEST
Washington, D.C. - Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) just released the following statement after the Supreme Court granted an emergency request to allow the Trump administration to begin enforcing its new ‘public charge' rule:

"The ‘public charge' rule is based on the commonsense principle that immigration ought to benefit, not burden, the United States. Allowing this reform to move forward is important for fixing our immigration system and showing activist judges that politically-motivated injunctions won't be tolerated."

 

SUBIACO ACADEMY JUNIOR SERVES AS SENATE PAGE
WASHINGTON – Subiaco Academy student Blake Zimmer will witness history, including only the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president, up close as a Senate Page.

Zimmer, a 16-year-old junior, began his service for the 2020 spring session on Monday after earning an appointment to the Senate Page Program from U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR).

“This is a historic time for Blake to participate in the Senate Page Program. He will have a front row seat as the Senate conducts a rare impeachment trial and debates consequential issues and legislation. I know it will be a great opportunity for Blake to experience how our representative democracy works. I look forward to having him as a member of the Senate team,” Boozman said.

“I am both humbled and honored to be appointed by Senator Boozman for this amazing and unique opportunity to serve as a Senate Page. I never dreamt I would be on the floor of the world’s greatest deliberative body before I graduated high school, much less be able to play a role in an important moment in history,” Zimmer said. “Knowing that pages are chosen from throughout the United States, I look forward to not just experiencing, but living in an environment with such a diverse group of students. To see the inner workings of the Senate with a front row seat is something few people get to experience, and to say I am excited to belong to the select group is an understatement.”

Zimmer is active in many clubs and school activities including the Senior High Robotics Team, where he serves as team captain; Subiaco Academy Court of Honor, where he serves as a Student Justice; Quiz Bowl and Future Business Leaders of America.

Zimmer is one of 30 Senate Pages who are responsible for preparing the Senate chamber for the day’s business by distributing documents to the senator’s desks, assisting in the cloakrooms and chambers; and, when Congress is in session, sitting near the dais waiting to help senators. In addition, he will attend classes and live in the Daniel Webster Page Residence near the Hart Senate Office Building.

Zimmer is the son of Robert and Keri Zimmer who currently live in Corning. Following graduation from high school he plans to study political science and attend law school.

 
 

January 27, 2020

CITY OF CAMDEN, ARKANSAS CODE ENFORCEMENT/BUILDING INSPECTOR’S OFFICE ANNOUNCE WORKSHOP
The City of Camden’s Planning Commission is having a workshop to discuss the Commission’s By-Laws. The workshop has been set for February 20, 2020 at 5:15 PM in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 206 Van Buren, AR 71701. For more information:
Travis Daniel - Code Enforcement
City of Camden
206 Van Buren NE - Camden, AR 71701
(870)837-5576 office (870)833-0723 cell
codeenforcecamden@cablelynx.com
or

Scott Adkins - Code Enforcement
City of Camden
206 Van Buren NE - Camden, AR 71701
(870)837-5508 office (870)833-0723 cell
codeenforce.camden@cablelynx.com

CAMDEN A&P COMMISSION TO MEET
The Camden Advertising and Promotion Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 
at 3:00 P.M. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The agenda includes the approval of November minutes and Financial Report. Kathy Boyette will request funds for the Poison Springs Reenactment and Kevin Franklin from Public Works Department will give the Commission an update.

CAMDEN NOON LIONS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Noon Lion’s Club will meet Wednesday, January 29th, at Catherine’s Bistro. The Speaker will be Captain Cameron Owens with the Ouachita County Detention Center. He will give an update regarding the facility.

 

HUMAN REMAINS AND EVIDENCE IN MISSING PERSON CASE FOUND DURING PRAIRIE COUNTY INVESTIGATION
JANUARY 25, 2020
Human remains that may be the body of a Cross County woman were recovered today from a crude grave site about nine miles north of Hazen.

The remains and other evidence were seized by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division and Federal Bureau of Investigation Evidence Recovery Team.  Forensics experts at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory will attempt to identify the remains and determine a manner and cause of death.

State Troopers of the Highway Patrol Division, CID Special Agents and FBI Special Agents have been at the site since yesterday.  Information tied to the disappearance of Christy Rooks, 42, of Wynne (Cross County) led law enforcement officers to farm property and a residence between Des Arc and Hazen where the investigation and evidence recovery has been underway over the past two days.

Rooks’ car, a Nissan Altima, was located by Highway Patrol troopers yesterday in Cabot.

Earl Parks, 47, of Hazen, who is being questioned by the state police in connection to Rooks’ disappearance, has been taken into custody and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The investigation is continuing.


ENTRY DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center in El Dorado reminds artists that there is still time to get your favorite photo framed and ready for its upcoming annual photography competition, "The Viewfinder". Entries for this competition must be delivered to SAAC by February 3, 2020. Limit 2 pieces per person with a non-refundable entry fee of $10 each for SAAC members and $15 for general public. New SAAC members are eligible for one free entry.

The exhibit will be on display in the Merkle and Price galleries February 5-26, 2020. A total of $600 in cash prizes will be awarded at the artist's reception on Friday, February 21, from 5:00-6:30 pm. 

W.L. Cook , managing member at William P. Cook and Associates and annual sponsor for this event, said, "We are always happy to be a part of SAAC's art community, whether theatre, art, or music, and are proud to live in a town that values all of these incredible opportunities. We look forward to sponsoring the photography competition."

"The Viewfinder" explores the interests and imagination of shutterbugs throughout our community and beyond. The easy accessibility of digital cameras has dramatically expanded the environment surrounding photography, opening the medium to practitioners from all walks of life and levels of experience.

Steven Ochs will serve as juror for this year's competition. He is a Professor of Art at Southern Arkansas University with 37 years of experience in education. He has been serving as the Chair of the Department of Art and Design and is the owner of Public Art Walks, which specializes in public art projects utilizing decorative concrete.

For information about the competition or how to enter, visit www.saac-arts.org. or call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZES MILITARY SERVICE OF RETIRED FORT SMITH VETERAN 
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the military career of Col. (retired) Jesse Lewis, a veteran of the Vietnam War, in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Lewis grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, the home of Naval Station Norfolk. He learned firsthand about military service from his father who served in the Navy and continued serving his country as a civilian at the naval base after concluding his time in uniform. After graduating from Old Dominion University, Lewis worked at a Norfolk YMCA. When he recognized he was about to be drafted, Lewis considered a career change.

“I had a fraternity brother who was in Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Fort Benning, Georgia and he had written me a letter and told me OCS was great. I should join the Army,” Lewis said.

He took the test and qualified for an OCS appointment.

“Of course my dad was quite proud. He’d tried to get me to go in the Navy since he’d been in the Navy, but I decided to go to the Army. After I was in Vietnam I wish I’d listened to him. He always said he’d had three hot meals and a warm place to sleep and here we were eating C-Rations in the rain,” Lewis laughed.

He attended basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After finishing OCS, Lewis was assigned as an executive officer to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

“I had a car so I drove from Norfolk, Virginia to San Diego and then flew to Oahu, Hawaii,” Lewis recalled. “About a month later my car arrived, so I was able to go around the island and visit all the touristy places.”

Lewis spent 18 months in Hawaii training soldiers for combat in Vietnam before he deployed there himself in 1967. In Vietnam, he served as a battalion liaison officer. During the day, he flew with the colonel to each of the units to gather information about the number of enemy wounded and killed, in addition to weapons captured. Lewis would travel by jeep or helicopter to brief division headquarters about the field operations.

Lewis miraculously remained unscathed in two instances where the helicopter he was riding in was shot down. When his aircraft was targeted the second time, he decided to rethink his plan to remain in the Army. “Officers were pulling two and three tours in Vietnam then. I felt I was fortunate at that point to not be wounded so I decided I was not going to stay in. The battalion commander was quite upset with me,” Lewis said.

After Lewis separated from the Army, he joined the Pennsylvania National Guard. When he relocated to Fort Smith to work for Dixie Products, he joined the U.S. Army Reserve. During his serving in the USAR, his assignments included commanding three different battalions and serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics for the 90th Army Reserve Command. In 1997, he retired from military service.

“Col. Lewis had a long and distinguished military career. He dedicated his life to serving his country. His memories of his time in uniform are an important part of our history as much as his own story. I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Lewis’ 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 CONDEMNS DOD DECISION ALLOWING SALES TO HUAWEI
Washington, D.C. — Following reports that the Department of Defense has blocked proposed regulations from the Department of Commerce that would largely prevent U.S. companies from selling to Chinese-owned Huawei Technologies, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement:

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that the Department of Defense blocked regulations to blacklist Huawei, an intelligence-gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s bad enough when capitalists are willing to sell the rope that will be used to hang us, but worse still when our military acts as their lobbyist. I intend to get to the bottom of this ill-considered decision.”

January 24, 2020

TPI TO BUILD SOLAR ARRAYS FOR BEARDEN SCHOOL DISTRICT, SOUTH CENTRAL SERVICE COOPERATIVE
by Talk Business &Politics Staff 
Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) of Little Rock will partner with South Central Service Cooperative and Bearden School District to install 100-kilowatt and 400-kilowatt solar systems.

South Central Service Cooperative is one of 15 education service cooperatives in Arkansas and is based in Camden, which is in southern Arkansas in Ouachita County. Bearden School District includes parts of Ouachita, Dallas and Calhoun counties. South Central Service Cooperative will be the first education service cooperative in the state to install a campus-based solar system, and the Bearden School District will be the first member school of the cooperative to install a solar array, according to a news release.

The cooperative will work with TPI to install a 100-kilowatt fixed-tilt array near its headquarters. “South Central Service Cooperative is dedicated to innovation and sustainability in reducing our carbon footprint,” said Karen Kay McMahen, director of the cooperative. “This solar initiative will not only benefit the services provided by the cooperative but sets an example for our community and the state of Arkansas of what can be achieved when collaborating with electric cooperatives.”

The array is expected to provide enough electricity to meet 99% of the cooperative’s energy usage in one year. It should generate 186,584 kilowatt-hours in the first year.

Bearden School District will install a 400-kilowatt array that’s expected to save the school district $25,000 annually. The array will generate 790,000 kilowatt-hours annually and provide about 90% of the school district’s energy. Entergy will provide the remaining 10%.

“As a public school district, we feel it is our duty and obligation to use all available resources to be fiscally responsible,” said Superintendent Denny Rozenberg. “The development of a clean, renewable energy system for our campus is an outstanding example of action to that goal.”

“Investing in local communities provides a direct benefit to South Central Service Cooperative and Bearden schools, and the community, as a resource for students to learn about renewable energy technology,” said TPI President Michael Henderson. “The desire by the South Central Service Cooperative and Bearden school boards and leadership to position themselves as leaders in progressive education is something for which the parents and students can be proud.”

The array for South Central Service Cooperative is expected to be completed in May, and the array for Bearden School District should be completed in the second quarter of this year, said Jennah Denney, marketing and public relations coordinator for TPI. Both projects are under 20-year service agreements that do not include price increases and do not require an upfront investment from the cooperative or school district.

TPI is a subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives.

UPCOMING SERVSAFE COURSE
There will be a ServSafe Course on March 9th and 10th at South Central Service Co-Op, 2235 California Ave SW, Camden, AR 71701. Class will be from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Registration will begin at 8:00 am and class will start at 8:30 am. The participation fee is $120.00; this is course, book, test, and 9 hours of instruction. Certificate exam will be given on March 10th following the class on March 9th. For those that need only to retake the exam, it is $40.00.

Registration deadline is February 19, 2020. You may pick up a registration form at the Camden County Extension Office or request one to be emailed to you.

ServSafe® has been the industry national standard for years, training more than one million managers and employees how to receive, store, prepare and serve food safely.

For more information, please call Tonya McKenzie, CEA-Family and Consumer Science, at the Ouachita County Extension Office at 870-231-1160 or email tmckenzie@uaex.edu.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

MASTER GARDENER TRAINING
Master Gardener Training is scheduled each Tuesday from February 11th through March 24th  for Ouachita Area Counties including Calhoun, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union. Training sessions will be from 12:00 until 6:00 PM each week at Southwest Planning & Development located at 101 Business Park Dr. in Magnolia. Cost is $80.00. Registration is due by February 6th. Contact Keri Weatherford, CEA-Staff Chair at the Ouachita County Extension Office. Call (870)231-1160 or contact your County Agent.

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

SAU SELECTS DR. NEELIE DOBBINS AS FIRST COE ALUMNI ENDOWED PROFESSOR
MAGNOLIA – Building on donations from alumni, faculty, and friends, Southern Arkansas University is excited to announce the creation of the College of Education Alumni Endowed Professorship. Dr. Trey Berry, President of SAU, announced that Dr. Neelie Dobbins, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, has been selected to hold the title of Alumni Endowed Professor.

“The effort to secure this endowed professorship was unlike any other in SAU history,” said Dr. Berry. “It was truly a grassroots effort involving the hard work of a committee of College of Education alumni and the gifts of dozens of people who made this possible.”

Berry consulted with Dr. Kim Bloss, Dean of the College, on Dobbins’ selection. “Dr. Dobbins’ dedication to the profession of teaching, her commitment to students, and her service to the College make her the perfect candidate for this honor,” said Dr. Bloss.

Dobbins has been teaching at SAU since 2010 and has an exemplary record of teaching, service, and research. She has chaired the Department of Teacher Education since 2015 and served as the Department’s Accreditation Coordinator since 2017. She is a dedicated teacher and advisor to more than 100 students. Her research record includes numerous journal publications and presentations at local, state, regional, and national conferences. Dr. Dobbins is passionate about teacher education and continues SAU’s legacy of preparing the best educators in the state. 

 “I am beyond honored and grateful for the opportunities I have been provided by SAU to learn and grow,” she said. “This is another way for the Teacher Education Department and me to develop as educators to ensure we have the best pedagogical practices and technology available.”

Dr. Berry expressed thanks to Steve and Deborah Nipper of Magnolia, who chaired the professorship committee. He also thanked Dr. Bloss and Josh Kee, Vice President for Advancement, along with the Advancement team, for their work.

ATTORNEY GENERAL RUTLEDGE'S OFFICE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR SUMMER 2020 INTERNS
Says, ‘offers invaluable hands-on experience in the State’s top legal office.’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced her office is now accepting applications for summer interns. The summer internship session will begin June 8, 2020.

“An internship with the Attorney General’s Office offers invaluable hands-on experience in the State’s top legal office,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I want to encourage careers in public service and help college students gain real-world involvement on issues that directly impact the people of Arkansas.”

Applicant packet information is available at ArkansasAG.gov under the Office tab.

The deadline to apply is March 31, 2020.

Some interns may be able to arrange for college credit for their internship depending upon the requirements of their college or university.

Any questions regarding the Attorney General’s Office internship program may be directed toward the Human Resources Department at internship@ArkansasAG.gov or (501) 682-2007.
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON NEW 'BIRTH TOURISM' RULE
Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on the State Department's new ‘birth tourism' rule:

"Thousands of foreigners circumvent our immigration process each year through fraudulent ‘birth tourism' visits and the State Department is right to crack down on this sham. This rule will prevent temporary visitor visas from being hijacked by those seeking to exploit the United States."

 

COTTON, SCOTT, AND RUBIO URGE AMERICAN HOSPITALS TO PROTECT U.S. RESEARCH FROM COMMUNIST CHINA’S INFLUENCE
Washington, D.C. — Wednesday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Rick Scott (R-Florida) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida), sent a letter to American Hospital Association President Richard Pollack requesting information on the steps they have taken to safeguard U.S. research and intellectual property from the influence of foreign adversaries, including Communist China. A copy of the letter may be found here. The full text may be found below.

January 22, 2020

Mr. Richard J. Pollack
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Hospital Association
800 10th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001-4956

Dear Mr. Richard Pollack:

We write to you today with grave concern about the threat American research and development programs face from Communist China. We know that Communist China is using talent recruitment plans to illicitly funnel knowledge and research back to mainland China. General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi is actively trying to steal and exploit the hard work of our institutions and take credit for their success. These criminal activities damage the integrity of your research and threaten our nation’s economic and national security.

Just recently, Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida announced that several members of their leadership team, including their President and CEO, resigned after connections were discovered with Communist China’s Thousand Talent Recruitment Plans. According to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, China’s Thousand Talent Recruitment Plans “incentivizes individuals engaged in research and development in the United States to transmit the knowledge and research they gain here to China in exchange for salaries, research funding, lab space, and other incentives.” We should all be very concerned about the threat of Communist China and its attempts to steal U.S. research and intellectual property, and every hospital, business, and university in our nation needs to be vigilant and proactive about this risk.

Congress is committed to global innovation while simultaneously protecting American intellectual property and national security. Recently, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on Securing the U.S. Research Enterprise from China’s Talent Recruitment Plans, and the committee has uncovered that there are is a clear lapse in the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) grant review process to determine influence from these foreign talent recruitment programs. As Senators, we are focused on addressing and resolving these vulnerabilities. To achieve that goal, we are seeking information from your members regarding the steps they are taking to safeguard their technology and intellectual property from foreign influence.

According to federal regulations, institutions are responsible for soliciting and reviewing disclosure of significant financial interests from each investigator who is planning to participate in, or is participating in, NIH-funded research. Anyone who plans on participating in federally-funded research is required to submit to the institution an updated disclosure of significant financial interests at least annually. We understand the importance of conducting collaborative research, but U.S. hospitals, businesses and universities must protect their taxpayer-funded research from Communist China. We cannot take this threat lightly, and we urge each one of your members to do a full, in-depth review of any relationship to China’s talent recruitment programs, and review the following questions regarding the specific steps your members are taking to safeguard your technology and intellectual property from foreign influence:

1. What are your members’ processes to ensure that their organizations are properly requiring that any individuals participating in federally-funded research are disclosing any possible conflicts of interest?
a. How often do your members require individuals participating in federally-funded research to update their disclosures, and who is responsible for reviewing them?
b. Do your members make that information easily available to the government agency providing the federal funding?

2. What are your members’ processes to properly and thoroughly vet any individuals that participate in your federally-funded research?
a. Do your members coordinate with federal law enforcement to help identify threats to their facilities?

3. Are your members aware of any researcher who has failed to disclose their participation in a foreign talent requirement program, such as China’s Thousand Talent Recruitment Plans?
a. Have your members identified any employees that have shared unauthorized information with a foreign entity?
b. If so, what steps have they taken to hold that employee accountable?

4. What steps/changes have your members taken since NIH sent out their 2018 notification letter[5] to grantees on foreign influences at U.S. research institutions?

We look forward to your responses and your prompt attention to this matter, and will continue to work to protect American institutions from the threat of foreign influence. 

Sincerely,


COTTON, CRUZ, GRAHAM, AND CHENEY APPLAUD TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOR INCREASING PRESSURE ON IRAN, CALL FOR RESCINDING REMAINING NUCLEAR WAIVERS
Washington, D.C. —  Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) today released the following statement applauding the Trump administration’s recent pressure on Iran and calling for the remaining civil nuclear waivers to be rescinded:  

“The catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal was designed to allow Iran to cheat. Certain activities were all but undetectable by inspectors and the deal entangled the international community in Iran’s economy and civil nuclear program, with the aim of making it diplomatically impossible to hold the Ayatollahs accountable for whatever violations were discovered. The United States issued waivers allowing those activities, including civil-nuclear waivers.

“We now know from the Nuclear Archive seized by Israel that the regime never gave up its plans to create nuclear weapons. Man-made uranium particles were recently found at an undisclosed Iranian site according to the United Nations, and in recent weeks, Iran announced it will no longer adhere to any of the limits in the deal. In the coming days, the Trump administration will again have to make a decision whether or not to extend civil-nuclear waivers. We applaud President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the Trump administration for the pressure they have imposed in response to past violations, and call on the administration to rescind the remaining waivers in light of Iranian officials’ definitive statements abandoning the deal. Enough is enough.”

 
 

January 23, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: PREVENT YOUR HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS FROM BEING HACKED
LITTLE ROCK – Home surveillance systems are designed to increase safety, but recent reports prove they may only be as secure as your passwords. Consumers often use the same passwords for multiple accounts, including these most popular and overused passwords you should never use. In recent years, credentials for more than 8 billion online accounts have been compromised, adding to the necessity of changing login information more frequently.

“Nothing is more important than your family’s safety,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Hackers attacking your home security system could easily have eyes on our families, so just like changing the battery in a smoke alarm, we need to make changing our sensitive passwords a priority.”

Once a device such as a router or camera in your home is compromised, hackers can often connect to other systems. Since the security breach is through your own home system and not the security camera company, every camera or device connected to the internet is at risk.

Attorney General Rutledge offers these recommendations to help better secure your home from hackers:
Create complex passwords for all accounts, including your cameras, WiFi and router
Add two-factor authentication if available
Upgrade to a cloud-based system
Update devices regularly
Choose a surveillance system from a reliable source with excellent customer service
If you receive a call, text or email with an unsolicited confirmation code request, consider changing your password immediately.
If your account is breached, contact your surveillance system provider and local law enforcement.

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 or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

COTTON URGES VERIFICATION OF CHINESE RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
Washington, D.C. — Earlier today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar noting that efforts to protect the American people from the coronavirus may include restrictions on travel from China to the United States. His letter also urged careful verification of any information from the Chinese government about the spread of the coronavirus.

Given the Chinese Communist Party’s history of lying and suppressing information about diseases, Cotton requested that HHS notify Congress if it believes any Chinese government information about the virus is false or misleading.

The full text may be found below.

January 22, 2020

The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Azar,

I write to you today about the continued spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, which has now arrived on American soil.

Once again, a deadly virus is emanating from the People’s Republic of China. The Wuhan coronavirus has infected hundreds of people in China, killing at least seventeen individuals so far. The disease has now spread to Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. At least one case has been confirmed in the United States. I’m confident that the United States Government is undertaking all possible measures to contain the spread of the disease, but I’m deeply concerned that waging an efficient and successful campaign against this virus depends on the trustworthiness and transparency of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an organization with a horrendous history in these matters.

As you know, in the past the CCP has lied, falsified statistics, and suppressed information about the outbreak of disease in order to protect its political standing and cover for its own incompetence. In 2002 and 2003, the SARS virus killed nearly 800 people and infected over 8,000 worldwide after the CCP denied there was even a health crisis. During the outbreak, CCP officials imposed a months-long blackout on media coverage of the disease. The CCP, with its totalitarian Marxist-Leninist ideology, reflexively covers up scandals that could threaten its power.

For these reasons, the CCP’s calls for transparency about the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus are deeply suspect. I urge the Department of Health and Human Services to carefully vet any information being passed from its contacts in Beijing. If you have reason to believe that U.S. officials are being provided with false or misleading information about the disease from Chinese government officials, I ask that you notify Congress immediately.

Moreover, given China’s dismal record on these matters, your Department and all relevant agencies of the U.S. Government must be proactive in planning for scenarios where this infection continues to spread. Measures such as screening all travelers from the People’s Republic of China and, if necessary, banning entry to those traveling from China must be contemplated and prepared in order to keep Americans safe.

It is imperative that the United States, China, and other relevant governments and international bodies cooperate to prevent this virus from becoming a pandemic. This cooperation must be conducted on the basis of facts, not the CCP’s political fiction. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

JANUARY 22, 2020

NINE INJURED IN HOXIE SCHOOL BUS CRASH
Seven children who were onboard a Hoxie (Lawrence County) School bus were injured about 3:45 yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, January 21) when a dump truck, traveling south along U.S. Highway 63, south of Hoxie, impacted the rear of the bus as it began to turn-off the main highway onto Lawrence County Road 703.  The crash caused the bus to veer off the roadway and overturn.  The adult drivers of both the bus and truck were also injured.

All of the occupants of the bus were transported to a Jonesboro hospital, with the exception of one child, who was airlifted to a Memphis hospital.  The bus was being driven by Jeremy Parmer, 43.  The truck was driven by Houston Franks, 31.  Franks was also transported to a Jonesboro hospital.

Although two of the minors on board the bus had to be extricated from the wreckage, none of the injuries initially assessed at the scene, were believed to be life threatening.

State Troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, and a reconstruction team from the Highway Patrol Division administrative command offices in Little Rock will lead the investigation into the crash.

MAN'S IDENTITY CONFIRMED AFTER LAW ENFORCEMENT STANDOFF AND DEATH
Anthony Langley Jr., 24, of Russellville, has been identified as the individual who died earlier today during an exchange of gunfire with state and local law enforcement officers in Pope County yesterday, January 21st.

The Arkansas State Police is investigating the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.  
Langley’s body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined.  

Upon completion of the investigation, special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division, will submit the findings to the prosecuting attorney to determine if the use of deadly force was consistent with Arkansas law.

TWEET TREATS AT LOGOLY STATE PARK 
At Arkansas’s first environmental education state park, Logoly’s natural resources provide a living laboratory for students and visitors. Most of Logoly’s 370 acres comprise a State Natural Area that includes unique plant species and mineral springs. This peaceful park surrounded by old growth forest is an easy day trip from Texarkana, El Dorado, Camden, Magnolia, and Hope. Park facilities include six group tent sites (no hookups), a bathhouse with hot showers, pavilion, picnic sites, playground, and multiple trails. Enjoy hands-on interactive exhibits in the new park visitor center. Park interpreters lead programs and field trips year-round.


Tweet Treats
Saturday January 25, 2020

Admission: Free

The South Arkansas Arts Center is thrilled to welcome Dr. Moises Menendez and his inspiring charcoal and graphite works, “Famous People”, to the Lobby Gallery. This exhibit, contained in a two-part series to be shown back-to-back in subsequent months at SAAC, is a collection of portraits of luminaries and notable persons throughout history that have inspired and challenged the artist during his life.

Series l of this two-part show will hang in the Lobby Gallery at SAAC through February 1, with an artist’s reception on Saturday, February 1 from 6:00-7:30pm. Series II will begin February 4 and hang until February 28, with another artist’s reception on February 21.  Each exhibit includes approximately twenty-two pieces – original portrait drawings by Dr. Menendez.

A well-known local surgeon, Dr. Moises Menendez hails from Lima, Peru, where he began dabbling in art at an early age. After much success in artistic endeavors as a child, they were eventually set aside when he began attending medical school. His interest in painting and drawing resurfaced many years later, and he has enjoyed learning new techniques and painting his family and grandchildren’s portraits.

As his motivation for this project, Menendez referenced a quote from the like-minded famous sports figure, Babe Ruth, who said, “I've heard people say that the trouble with the world is that we haven't enough great leaders. I think we haven't enough great followers. I have stood side by side with great thinkers - surgeons, engineers, economists; people who deserve a great following - and have heard the crowd cheer me instead."

Menendez’ goal is to complete at least 50 portraits of notable people and to show the new generation how much benefit they have obtained from the work and dedication of these people such as Pasteur, Curie, Bell, the Wright brothers, Salk, Morton, Edison, Faraday, Pavlov, Florey, and others.

“Most of my career I have been intrigued and amazed about history, especially with people who were discoverers or inventors,” said Dr. Menendez.  “History is important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand our present. In 2012, I decided to start a series of portraits of people who have contributed to society through their work. This exhibition of famous people is part of history, and those people should be honored and imitated. They were as human as the rest of us with similar desires, goals, defects, qualities, values and so on. Most of them fought for their beliefs and did not give up despite the negative circumstances.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public for viewing Monday through Friday from 9:00-5:00. For more information about this exhibition or the artist's receptions, please contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

January 21, 2020

HUCK’S MILITARY CARE PACKAGE PROJECT IN NEED OF FUNDS
Huck Plyler, son of Caleb and Briana Plyler of Spring Hill, AR. And grandson of Dottie Harris of Camden,  sends off military care packages to deployed military. Huck is 9 yrs. old and attends Spring Hill Elementary, Springhill, AR. In 2016, at the age of only 6, Huck started what is known as “Huck’s Military Care Package Project”. Huck started the project because of what the military does for our country, in Huck’s words “We do this because they help us, so we help them.”

Huck’s project is comprised of putting together care packages for members of the Military that are currently deployed. His care packages include items such as non-perishable snacks, lip balm, sunscreen, personal hygiene products socks, bibles and more. 

Huck was honored July 26, 2017, by Congressman Bruce Westerman, at the United States Capitol, for his project. “Congressman Westerman stated Huck’s generosity has stirred the hearts, souls and patriotic spirts of the people across my district and Arkansas.”

Huck speaks at local veterans, churches and community events both in Hope and Camden. His project has been a great success due to community support. Huck is thankful for all the help that he receives from local organizations, the farming community and local churches which have helped him with making this a successful project and to be able to continue sending packages out.

Items included in the care packages include:

Toiletries - Body wash, Band-Aids, tums, aspirin/Ibuprofen, floss, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, hand/face lotion, nail clippers, deodorant, razors, tissues, shampoo, face wash, baby wipes, eye drops, contact solution, hand/ liquid sanitizing wipes, insect repellent, lip balm, sunblock, hand towels, feminine care products and small packets of washing detergent.

Personal items - Bibles, devotionals, journals, notebooks, writing utensils, encouragement books, letters/notes, batteries, flashlights, small desk fans, mesh laundry bag, card games, puzzle books, book lights, books, magazines, cotton socks, T-shirts, coffee packets, protein powder, sport drink mixes and non-perishable snack items.

Huck will run out of funds to ship boxes in February. Huck’s Military Care Package Project is teaming up with a couple of organizations to pack a lot of military boxes and will be needing funds to ship them. The soldiers are always extremely thankful for every box they get. It costs $19.00 to ship one box.

If you would like to donate items to Huck’s project the drop off businesses are:  Hempstead County Farm Bureau at 1902 E 3rd St #3 Hope, AR and OPED at 570 Ben Lane in Camden, AR.  For monetary donations make checks to Huck Plyler -Huck’s Military Care Package Project –please send to Briana Plyler 1748 Hempstead 7, Hope, AR 71801 Attn: Huck’s Military Care Package Project.  (If you would like a donation receipt, please provide a stamped addressed envelope.) Huck’s Mom, Brianna said “Huck has currently sent out around 461 boxes to our military, if you have a family member deployed we would love to hear from you, feel free to call us with addresses and we will send a package to your loved one, or message us on Huck’s FB page “Huck’s Military Care Package Project” with address information. For more information please contact 870-723-0604-Briana or 870-703-1394-Caleb. Follow Huck on Facebook at “Huck's Military Care Package Project”

SAU TECH CELEBRATES HOMECOMING
SAU Tech’s Homecoming is January 30th.  Retirees and alumni will be recognized during the half time of the women’s and men’s games. The women’s game starts at 5:00. Alumni and retirees get into the games for free that night!


HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT YOUR TECHNOLOGY ISSUES
(StatePoint) If you’re like most people, you’ve spent more time than you’re willing to admit troubleshooting a technology issue with any one of the many devices in your connected home. Did you know that the average person owns at least 10 connected devices from Macs and PCs, smartphones, tablets and printers, to voice assistants, video doorbells and even home automation systems?

As homes get “smarter” with more connected devices, more complex problems arise, including issues with setup, troubleshooting and syncing devices. Calling the manufacturer or going to the store where you bought the device could help, if it’s still under warranty. Trying to diagnose and solve the problem yourself might work, if you have time, pat