Yes Radio Works

January 31, 2023

CLOSINGS AND DELAYS
Camden-Fairview, Harmony Grove, Hampton, and Bearden School Districts, as well as Victory Christian School are all pivoting to AMI Days for Wednesday February 1st. There will be no on campus school activities. Students are to work out of their AMI packets until such a time as the schools can resume normal operation.

Camden City Hall and Camden Water Utilities will be closing at 2PM today (Tuesday) so our employees can get home safely. Plans are to open at 12 (Noon) on Wednesday, but City Hall will watch weather conditions and adjust accordingly.

Medical personnel and dialysis patients may call the Sheriff’s Office at 231-5300 for a ride should the need arise. If you have an emergency dial 911.

There will be no Bingo at VFW Post 4554 tonight (January 31, 2023)
 

JAMES WOODS AT WOODS PLACE IN CAMDEN NOMINATED FOR ARKANSAS FOOD HALL OF FAME PROPRIETOR OF THE YEAR
James Woods at Woods Place in Camden is one of six Arkansas restaurant owners named as finalists for Arkansas Heritage's 2023 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Proprietor of the Year. The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism announced the finalists Monday for the 7th annual Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. Arkansas Heritage launched the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame program in 2016 to recognize Arkansas's legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events across the state.

The Mayhaw Festival in El Dorado and the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-off were named as finalists in the Food-Themed Events category. Betty's Old Fashion of El Dorado was nominated for the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame restaurant category. And the 4-Dice Restaurant in Dallas County was nominated for the Gone But Not Forgotten category.

More than 1,800 submissions were received from all 75 counties this year. The nomination period ran through the month of October, 2022. Winners will be selected by the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee and then announced at a hybrid ceremony at Central Arkansas Library System's Ron Robinson Theater on March 6th. 

The public is invited to attend the reception and induction ceremony virtually or in-person. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.ArkFoodHOF.com. All nominees and finalists are also listed on the website as well. 
 

CONSUMER ALERT: SUMMIT UTILITIES CUSTOMERS CONCERNED ABOUT BILLING ERROR
LITTLE ROCK – In response to the concerns of Summit Utilities’ customers, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“My office has received approximately 650 calls and emails since last week about Summit Utilities’ high energy bills. I reached out to Summit CEO Kurt Adams and expressed my concerns about the situation. I learned that some customers were overcharged due to an error in Summit’s billing system. We have also learned from Summit that approximately 167,000 customers in Arkansas and Oklahoma have been affected by the data processing issue. Summit’s leadership has assured me that they are making this right by their customers, and that no Arkansans will end up stuck with bills that are inconsistent with their energy usage. Any overcharges will be paid back to the affected customers. I will continue to monitor the situation, and I will make sure that Summit Utilities corrects this problem and issues any refunds necessary to impacted Arkansans.”

In their update to Attorney General Griffin, Summit Utilities noted:

Only bills dated between January 17-24, 2023, with the word “estimate” in the “What Have I Used” section were impacted.

If “estimate” does not appear on their bill, the customer has not been impacted by this issue.

The estimated bills have been canceled, and corrected bills are being issued to all impacted customers.

Summit will not be charging any late fees to impacted customers during this time.

Due dates for impacted customers have been extended.

Late payments due to the new bill being issued will not impact the “good standing” status of a customer’s payment history.

Summit Utilities encourages impacted customers to take the following actions:

If a customer is enrolled in an Average Monthly Billing (AMB) plan, a payment arrangement, or AutoPay no action is required.

If a customer account is on AutoPay, the correct amount to be credited or owed will be drafted from their account on the next billing cycle.

If a customer account incurred overdraft fees or fines due to this issue, the customer service team will help remedy the added charges.

If a customer already paid the estimated amount due, an adjustment will be made to their next month’s bill.

Summit’s Customer Service Call Center is available to help if customers need assistance, and their hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. They can be reached at (800) 992-7552. 


MAJESTIC PARK TO HOST MIKE DUGAN COLLEGIATE BASEBALL INVITATIONAL
JAN. 31, 2023
by TROY MITCHELL
HOT SPRINGS, ARK. - Historic Majestic Park in Hot Springs, Ark.  will host the Second Annual Mike Dugan Collegiate Baseball Invitational February 3-6.

This year’s event consists of 10 NCAA Division II collegiate teams including five teams that advanced to the 2022 NCAA Baseball Championships.

The tournament is named for the late Mike Dugan who was one the state’s foremost sports historians and a leader in efforts to establish the Historic Baseball Trail in Hot Springs, which now draws visitors from across the country.

Dugan was instrumental in efforts to transform the former site of the Hot Springs Boys and Girls Club into Majestic Park.

Teams participating from the Natural State include Southern Arkansas, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist and Arkansas-Fort Smith. Great American Conference members East Central and Southeastern Oklahoma, along with four teams from the MIAA including Northeastern State, Northwest Missouri, Rogers State, and Washburn make up the 10-team field.

Ticket prices at Majestic Park are $8 per day for adults 18 and older, $5 for those ages 12-17 and free for those ages 11 and under.

Southern Arkansas, ranked No. 2 nationally, will take on Rogers State on Friday at 10 a.m. to begin the tournament (See Full Schedule Below).

Southern Arkansas advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championships in Cary, N.C. last season.

A veteran team, the Muleriders return six position starters including All-American shortstop Riley Orr who led the team with a .372 average. Third baseman Brandon Nicoll also returns after hitting .333 with 14 home runs and 84 runs batted in. All-American and Pitcher of the Year Jeremy Adorno is back for his sophomore season after recording a 15-0 record including a no-hitter in last year’s Dugan Invitational.

Henderson State, ranked No. 27, advanced to the NCAA Central Sub-Region finals before being upended by SAU. The Reddies posted their first 40-win season in school history and return seven starters from that team.

Greyson Stevens returns after hitting .351 with 10 home runs and 53 RBI a year ago, earning Second-Team All-GAC honors.

Cade Tucker posted a .364 average in 2022 while also having a 4-3 record on the mound including 66 strikeouts in 69 innings of work.

Left handed pitcher Ryan Galvan returns for his junior season after recording a 6-1 record with a 3.91 ERA.

Ouachita Baptist received votes in the preseason Top 40 poll and was the third team from the Great American Conference to advance to the NCAA postseason.

The Tigers finished with a 33-24 record a year ago and are led by All-GAC third baseman G. Allen and GAC Freshman of the Year Wyatt Core. Allen hit for a .310 average with 13 home runs and 56 RBI, while Core hit .320 with 48 RBI and 15 stolen bases.

UAFS is new to the tournament field and are members of the Lone Star Conference.
Infielder Noah Davis headlines the returnees for the Lions after accumulating a .344 average. Pitchers Brayden Johnson (3-4, 43 strikeouts) and Jakob Petross (2-4, 32 strikeouts) will be part of the starting weekend rotation for the Lions.

Northeastern State and Washburn advanced the NCAA Central Regional in 2022 and are strong contenders to return to the postseason.

The Riverhawks return outfielder Blake Freeman who is one of the top returning players in the MIAA. The senior earned Third Team All-American from the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and All-MIAA First Team honors in 2022 after batting .400 with 92 hits and stealing 27 bags. 

First baseman C.D. White hit .364 last season with 10 home runs and 47 RBI. The senior was a Third Team All-MIAA selection and was also selected to the Dugan Invitational All-Tournament team in 2022.
 
Washburn compiled a 33-22 record a year ago with the help of pitchers Casey Steward and Charlie Kiefer.  Steward was 5-2 on the year with 84 punch outs in 74 innings of work, while Kiefer was 3-1, fanning 32 batters in 39 innings.

Northwest Missouri and Rogers State return to the Spa City. The Bearcats bring back four position starters and three starting pitchers with second baseman Jake Ernhardt being the top returnee after a season where he hit .358.

Pitcher Max Spitzmiller returns for his senior season after earning First Team All-MIAA honors in 2022. Spitzmiller led the MIAA in innings pitched (93.0) and WHIP (1.02). The 2023 preseason NCBWA All-Central Region Team selection limited the opponents to a .220 batting.
Following a 26-25 record last season, Rogers State has a veteran club with 23 returnees including nearly all starting position players.

Infielder Jesse Holguin looks to lead the Hillcats after hitting .357 with a .546 slugging percentage, while Joel Escalante is back to handle the catching duties. Escalante hit .326 and had a .504 slugging percentage in 2022.

Southeastern Oklahoma tied for fourth in the GAC in 2022 while finishing with 32-20 overall record. The Storm returns seven starters including Cameron French who led the team with a .388 average to go along with 45 runs batted in. Also returning is power-hitter Reid Rice who belted 18 home runs, collected 53 RBI and compiled a .333 average.

East Central hopes to improve on last year’s five-win season under first year coach Sunny Golloway. Golloway has been a very successful in rebuilding programs and has 743-387-1 all-time coaching record. Golloway will rely on returning shortstop Mason Glowacki (.335 avg., 10 2B, 20 RBI) and first baseman Christian Whitaker (.315 avg., 6  HR, 33 RBI) to lead the Tigers.

Majestic Park has become one of the premier baseball/softball complexes in the region and hosted more than 30 tournaments during the inaugural season last year. The facility has hosted the GAC Baseball Championship, Class 5A State baseball and softball championships, National Park Community College games, and numerous youth baseball and softball state and regional tournaments.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Friday, Feb. 3
10 a.m. Southern Arkansas vs. Rogers State
1 p.m.    Ouachita Baptist vs. Washburn
4 p.m.    UA-Fort Smith vs. East Central
7 p.m.    Southeastern Okla. vs. Northeastern State
2 p.m.   Northwest Missouri vs. Henderson State
              (Game at HSU - Clyde Berry Field)

Saturday, Feb. 4
10 a.m.  Northeastern State vs. East Central
1 p.m.    Northwest Missouri vs. Southern Arkansas
4 p.m.    Washburn vs. Southeastern Oklahoma
1 p.m.    UA-Fort Smith vs. Ouachita Baptist
               (Game at OBU - Rab Rogers Field)
2 p.m.    Rogers State vs. Henderson State
               (Game at HSU - Clyde Berry Field)
              
Sunday, Feb. 5
10 a.m.  Southeastern Okla. vs. Northwest Missouri
1 p.m.    East Central vs. Northwest Missouri
4 p.m.    Northeastern State vs. Southern Arkansas
Noon     Washburn vs. Henderson State
               (Game at HSU - Clyde Berry Field)
1 p.m.    Rogers State vs. Ouachita Baptist
               (Game at OBU - Rab Rogers Field)

Monday, Feb. 6
12:30 p.m.    Southern Arkansas vs. Washburn 

 

SAAC TO HOST CORKS AND CANVAS WITH ARTIST JESSICA KEARNS 
The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to its upcoming Corks and Canvas on February 16 from 6:00-9:00pm. This month’s fun and casual class will be led by artist Jessica Kearns, a new instructor at SAAC and longtime art educator. If you’re looking for a fun night out with friends, sign up your girl squad for this Corks and Canvas!

Jessica will be teaching two projects this class. The first project, entitled “Lighting Up My Future” is a painted water bottle lantern. “This recycled bottle is painted with bright paint personally selected to represent my mood, dreams for the future and excitement to light up my future aspirations,” she said. “The solar light signifies my beacon of hope and when lit at night it illuminates my way even when I dream. Creating this piece called, ‘Lighting Up My Future’ gives me hope that positive change will come and, in turn, will enlighten others how some in this world don’t have access to safe lighting. One light on will inspire others to light theirs!” The cost of this class will be donated by Jessica to fight light poverty in Kenya. 

Her second project for the night is a beautiful painted wine glass. Jessica said about her choice to paint a wine glass in this class, “’Bee Warm in the Sun’ was inspired by my favorite flower - the sunflower! Sunflowers always made me feel happy and warm. I love how this flower species will follow the sun's movements during the day. When I think of sipping my favorite drink in the sun, I feel inspired to create art and I am happy. This wine glass was created with glass enamel paint. Come and paint your flower inspired wine glass with a bee or lady bug!”

Jessica is an artist, works at Murphy USA in Asset Development and was an art teacher who taught kindergarten through sixth grade Art Education for 21 years in New York. In addition, she developed and runs Chong Watermark, a company which creates personalized paintings and her own mixed media paintings for community members. 

Cost of this class is $40.00 and supplies and snacks are included. Bring your beverage of choice. 

For more information about or to register for this month’s Corks and Canvas, 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, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE PARENTAL LEAVE AND COMPENSATION FOR MISCARRIAGES AND STILLBIRTHS
Washington, DC — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Sens. Boozman (R-Arkansas), Budd (R-North Carolina), Braun (R-Indiana), Cramer (R-North Dakota), Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Scott (R-Florida), Vance (R-Ohio), and Wicker (R-Mississippi) today introduced the Helping with Equal Access to Leave and Investing in Needs for Grieving for Mothers and Fathers Act, or HEALING Mothers and Fathers Act, to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include the spontaneous loss of an unborn child as a qualifying medical condition for FMLA leave. The bill would also establish a tax credit for a woman that suffers the loss of a child in the womb.

“This bill will make sure families receive the resources they need to help recover from the unexpected loss of a child. No amount of money can replace such a loss, but the legislation will make sure parents have time to begin the recovery process,” said Cotton.

The HEALING Mothers and Fathers Act mirrors a similar bill in Arkansas introduced by State Representative Les Eaves called Paisley’s Law, named in honor of his late granddaughter, Paisley.

The HEALING Mothers and Fathers Act would:
Amend the FMLA to include spontaneous loss of an unborn child as a qualified medical condition for FMLA leave and civil service employee leave.

Women and their spouses would be entitled to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for loss of an unborn child.

Spontaneous loss of an unborn child is defined in the bill as ‘the loss of a child in the womb that is unplanned and not resulting from a purposeful act.’

All requirements related to certification, notice, flexibility and leave substitution are consistent with current standards for claiming FMLA leave.

Establish refundable tax credit for any mother, or couple, who suffers a stillbirth.

Stillbirth is defined as “the delivery of a child where there was a spontaneous death, not induced by any purposeful act, before the complete delivery from the child’s mother.”

A family would be eligible for the tax credit if a stillbirth certificate, under applicable state law, has been issued for the child.

These funds could not be used for any abortion procedure

Prohibit Title X funds from going to abortion providers.

CHANGES MADE FOR CAMDEN CITY PARK BUILDING RENTALS/RESERVATIONS AND TRASH BAG SALES
Effective 1/30/2023 all Camden City Park Building  Rentals/Reservations and the selling of  trash bags will now take place at the Technology Building (former OPED) 625 Adams Ave.   The only place to purchase bags will be at 625 South Adams at the Technology Building and The Transfer Station located at 2463 Country Club Rd. For any questions please call 870-837-5570 or 870-837-5573.

 

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO HOLD WORKSHOP
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet for a workshop on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.


ENTERGY ARKANSAS PREPPING FOR SEVERE WINTER WEATHER OPERATIONS
Customers should prepare by winterizing, preparing emergency kits, charging phones
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Entergy Arkansas is staging crews, equipment and supplies in areas of the state likely to be the hardest hit in the coming days based on a forecast for sleet, freezing rain, and ice accumulations. In the event of power outages, the local workforce consisting of scouts, vegetation crews, linemen and more is prepared to begin restoration as quickly as they can safely do so. Additional resources from other mutual assistance energy companies have also been requested.

Extra weight on power lines caused by ice can cause them to fall or stretch, possibly causing power interruptions. While Entergy Arkansas manages growth of trees and bushes near electrical equipment, one half-inch of ice can increase the weight of a tree limb as much as 30 times, causing even smaller limbs to bend or snap, falling onto power lines and causing an outage.

Additionally, wet and icy roads can make travel hazardous for crews. In the event of power outages, crews will begin assessing damages, then repairing equipment and restoring power as quickly as it is safe to do so.

Customers should prepare now
It’s important to be prepared at your home or business for freezing weather and possible power outages with a basic emergency supply kit, along with a family emergency plan. Act now to winterize your home or business with some simple steps like insulating water pipes, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and ensuring fire extinguishers are ready for use.

Entergy Arkansas storm prep happens year-round
Arkansas was plunged into sub-freezing temperatures the last two winters at about this same time, causing scattered power outages. Entergy continually reviews its data and processes and indentifies ways to be more prepared for prolonged freezes.

Each of the company’s power plants has a customized plan to support fleetwide winter preparedness efforts, including:
Insulating critical equipment using improved methods and materials to protect them from lower temperatures.
Insulating all piping, with the potential for standing water during normal operation, to prevent freezing.
Designing and building permanent windbreaks or enclosures to protect pumps and other critical equipment.
Exploring the use of wireless instrument line monitoring systems to monitor temperatures of critical equipment.
Other efforts to prepare and maintain critical systems and infrastructure across the grid in advance of colder temperatures also included:
Inspecting and testing equipment that can be impacted by extreme cold such as gas-filled circuit breakers.
Ensuring the readiness of assets that provide electric service to critical gas infrastructure and other points of delivery that are vital to support generation reliability and resiliency.
Inspecting and maintaining substations and transmission lines that are critical to Bulk Electric System reliability.

Stay informed in several ways
An important part of weathering a severe storm includes staying informed before, during and after an event. To stay current on our preparations and restoration efforts:
Download the Entergy app here. Customers can use the app to report outages or check on the status of power at their home or business.
Sign up for text messages about storm and restoration efforts by texting REG to 36778.
Follow Entergy Arkansas on social media, as it plays an important role in keeping customers informed. Search for @EntergyArk on Facebook and Twitter.
The Entergy Storm Center website has storm safety, preparation and restoration information that is updated throughout the day.

Safety after the storm
Restoration in extremely cold conditions may take a little longer, as energizing homes requires a different and methodical process. Rather than simply energizing an entire power line all at once, we must bring customers back online one section at a time to avoid damage to our system thereby worsening the situation.

In the event power is lost at your home, customers are advised to turn off breakers to major appliances to prevent a spike in demand when power is restored. Turn them back on one at a time when your home is ready to receive power.

Also, keep refrigerator doors closed but open cabinets that house water pipes. In doing so, food is less likely to spoil, and pipes are less likely to freeze and burst.

If you choose to use a generator, be sure to follow all manufacturer’s guidelines for safe usage.

Stay away from downed lines
Remember, one-half inch of ice can add 500 pounds of weight on power lines, as well as tree limbs which could then fall onto power lines and people. It’s safest to avoid the area near ice-laden power lines and tree limbs; however, if you see downed or low-hanging lines, stay away, and call 1-800-9OUTAGE to report them.

 

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS OFFER 2023 LEGISLATIVE GUIDE
Little Rock, Ark. — Jan. 30, 2023 — The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas recently launched the 2023 digital version of its popular Arkansas Legislative Directory. The digital directory is free and offered to iPhone and Android users.

“The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Legislative Guide provides an easy-to-use tool to allow Arkansans to contact their state and federal elected officials,” said Buddy Hasten, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “It is important that electric cooperative members stay in contact with their elected officials, and our app simplifies the process.”

The digital application provides names and detailed profiles of state and federal officials, interactive contact links with telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, detailed district maps and other pertinent information.

“Arkansas’ electric cooperatives are advocates for our members,” said Bill Gossage, vice president of governmental affairs with the cooperatives. “As always, by working with our members, we ensure that policies and laws are fair and in the best interest of Arkansans.”

The directory may be downloaded at: https://aecc.com/government-affairs/legislative-guide/.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and AECC, a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 600,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.


HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
HOT SPRINGS – A Hot Springs man was sentenced on January 27, to 97 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, John Raymond Duran, age 58, was identified by law enforcement to be distributing methamphetamine in Hot Springs, Arkansas area.

Between the months of December 2020 and March 2021, investigators were able to conduct multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Duran.

On April 12, 2021, a search was conducted at Duran’s residence, resulting in investigators locating and seizing approximately 1539 grams of a mixture or substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine.

The methamphetamine seized and purchased was subsequently submitted to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) laboratory for additional testing.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Hot Springs Police Department, and the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trent Daniels prosecuted the case.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN FILES LAWSUIT TO STOP BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S UNLAWFUL ESG REGULATION
Griffin: ‘Retirement fund managers should be focused on growing your retirement by investing in companies that are doing well, not whether a company is pursuing a progressive agenda’
LITTLE ROCK – Following his filing of a multistate lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

“I recently joined with other attorneys general to block a Biden administration regulation that would allow retirement savings managers to make investment decisions based on progressive social activism. That regulation is unlawful because Congress has not authorized it, and we’re asking the court to immediately block it. Retirement fund managers should be focused on growing your retirement by investing in companies that are doing well, not whether a company is pursuing a progressive agenda."

About the Biden Administration’s Regulation
The Biden administration’s rule changes existing policy from the Department of Labor that requires retirement plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to evaluate investments based on financial factors, rather than social policy. Instead of focusing on investor return, as ERISA requires, the rule gives financial advisers license to consider ESG factors including climate change, board composition, and diversity. A coalition of state attorneys general is suing to protect retirement plans from these progressive policies.


BOOZMAN APPLAUDS SECTION 32 PURCHASE OF CATFISH
Announces $42 million commitment at Catfish Farmers of Arkansas’ Annual Convention
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval of Section 32 purchase of up to $42 million of catfish products for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs, including charitable institutions.

Boozman, who led a bicameral coalition in support of the request, announced the details of the purchase while speaking at the Catfish Farmers of Arkansas’s annual convention in Hot Springs.

“This is great news. It means more catfish will be purchased to alleviate the constraints on producers’ stocks and food insecure Americans will have additional nutritious, U.S. grown food on their plates. It’s a win-win,” Boozman said.

In November 2022, Boozman led a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the purchases to help America’s catfish producers reduce the risk of financial insecurity they are facing as a result of sharply-climbing inventories and rapid increases in feed costs.

“Catfish producers and processors are predominantly located in rural America. Due to historically high inflation across the economy these communities continue to feel the burden of increased prices. Purchasing catfish will help to strengthen rural America and provide a nutritious, U.S.-grown product to families, children, and our communities,” the members wrote.

The following Senate and House members joined Boozman to send the letter: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS) and Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS).

January 25, 2023

COUNTRY RADIO BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION NAMES FOREMAN, ARKANSAS NATIVE AND COUNTRY MUSIC STAR TRACY LAWRENCE 2023 COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR HUMANITARIAN AWARD
The Country Radio Broadcasters Association has named Foreman, Arkansas native and country music star Tracy Lawrence as the recipient of the 2023 Country Radio Seminar Humanitarian Award. In a statement, the C.R.S. Awards Committee said that we commend Tracy for his deep and personal commitment to his causes. Tracy's contributions go far beyond simply lending his name or influence. He has devoted his personal time, talents, and resources over a significant period of years. The results of his initiatives have improved lives in his community. 

Lawrence was selected for his strong level of personal commitment in his efforts toward addressing multiple aspects of homelessness, including his "Mission: Possible" platform that has raised more than $2 million. Lawrence also returned to his hometown of Foreman annually in the late 1990's and early 2000's for a benefit concert that raised thousands of dollars for local charitable projects. During the benefit concert run, he brought numerous other country stars with him to perform in Foreman such as Kenny Chesney, Tracy Byrd, and more. 

The C.R.B. Artist Humanitarian Award was created in 1990, and honors a country artist whose philanthropic efforts have significantly improved the effectiveness and impact of the causes they support. The award will be presented to Tracy at this year's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee next month. 
 

THE OUACHITA COUNTY COMMUNITY CONCERTS PRESENTS JASON COLEMAN!
Jason made his Grand Ole Opry debut at age 17, and two years later played for the Medallion Ceremony recognizing Floyd’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In the years since, Jason has spent his career in the studio and on stage, producing his own collection of piano albums and touring coast to coast in concerts that bring his grandfather’s signature piano style to new audiences. And Jason’s online piano concert series, The Jason Coleman Show, has generated millions of views since its inception during the early days of the pandemic and has garnered a growing and loyal ‘online family’ of fans and followers.

Nashville pianist, Jason Floyd Coleman, is bringing his mesmerizing piano magic to the Event Center at Fairview Park on Sunday, February 5, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 for 1 or $35 for 2. Children and students are admitted to all OCCCA performances at no charge if accompanied by an OCCCA ticket holder.

The Event Center at Fairview Park is located at 1140 Mt Holly Road Camden, AR. For Questions call Becky Lindsey @ 870-807-6915.
 


NEW TOBACCO REPORT SHOWS OPPORTUNITY FOR ARKANSAS, NEED TO CONTINUE TOBACCO CESSATION SERVICES
American Lung Association report reveals best and worst states for tobacco control policies, outlines steps to reduce burden of tobacco in Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, AR – (January 25, 2023) – Arkansas is listed as one of the states with the worst policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use, according to the American Lung Association’s 21st annual “State of Tobacco Control” report, released today. The report finds that Arkansas had minimal progress on passing policies to reduce and prevent tobacco use, including e-cigarettes.

The “State of Tobacco Control” report evaluates state and federal policies on actions taken to eliminate tobacco use and recommends proven-effective tobacco control laws and policies to save lives. This is critical, as tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America and takes the lives of 5,790 Arkansas residents each year.

“Arkansas lags behind when it comes to tobacco control policies, and as a result, we have higher than average adult smoking rates at 21.1% and 26.3% of high school students use a tobacco product,” said Laura Turner, Senior Manager, Advocacy at the American Lung Association in Arkansas. “This gives us an important opportunity to improve the health of our state through proven policies and initiatives such as the “Be Well Arkansas” program.

Arkansas’s Grades
The “State of Tobacco Control” report grades states and the District of Columbia in five areas that have been proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use and save lives. In the 2023 report, Arkansas received the following grades:

Funding for State Tobacco Prevention Programs – Grade F
Strength of Smokefree Workplace Laws – Grade C
Level of State Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
Coverage and Access to Services to Quit Tobacco – Grade D
Ending the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products – Grade F

“This year’s report noted the need for Arkansas policymakers to focus on passing a comprehensive smokefree law," shares Turner. “The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Passing a comprehensive smokefree law that eliminates smoking in all public places and workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos, would protect workers across the state from deadly secondhand smoke. E-cigarettes must also be included in comprehensive smokefree laws, given the harmful emissions that come from them.”

Additionally, an investment in prevention is especially important given the ongoing youth vaping epidemic. Despite receiving $281.3 million from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes, Arkansas only funds tobacco control efforts at 28.7% of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Lung Association believes the funds should be used to support the health of our communities, and to prevent tobacco use and help people quit, and not switch to e-cigarettes. These programs are also critical for helping to end tobacco-related health disparities.

There are many resources dedicated to helping Arkansans quit tobacco use and prevent youth from initiating use. “Be Well Arkansas” is a program that links Arkansans to local resources they can use to improve their health and well-being. Arkansans who call the national Quitline are routed to “Be Well Arkansas” for resources to quit smoking, along with other disease management support.

Another important area for Arkansas policymakers to focus on is covering and providing services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - approved quit smoking treatments for state residents. Nearly seven out of 10 smokers want to quit, but nicotine is highly addictive. Quitting is difficult and despite the high number of smokers that want to quit, only about 7% of them currently do. Arkansas lawmakers can help residents quit tobacco by covering all quit smoking treatments in its Medicaid program and for state employees. This should include access to all seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and all three forms of counseling without barriers, such as copays and prior authorization. It’s also essential to increase the reach of the Arkansas Quitline or phone counseling service to help tobacco users quit. 

Federal Grades Overview
The report also grades the federal government on their efforts to eliminate tobacco use. This year, there were new steps taken by the government to prevent and reduce tobacco use, including proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, Congress passing a law requiring the FDA to regulate tobacco products made with synthetic nicotine, and increased federal enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act. As a result of these steps forward, the federal government’s grade for “Federal Regulation of Tobacco Products” improved from a “D” grade last year, to a “C” grade in the 2023 report.

 The 2023 “State of Tobacco Control” report grades the federal government in five areas:
Federal Government Regulation of Tobacco Products – Grade C
Federal Coverage of Quit Smoking Treatments – Grade D
Level of Federal Tobacco Taxes – Grade F
Federal Mass Media Campaigns to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use – Grade A
Federal Minimum Age of Sale for Tobacco Products to 21 – Incomplete

FDA is overdue in publishing the final Tobacco 21 regulations as required by statute, which is why it earns an “incomplete.” 

To learn more about this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” grades and take action, visit Lung.org/sotc.


FOLLOWING EXTENDED ABSENCE OF FAYETTEVILLE VA MEDICAL CENTER DIRECTOR, BOOZMAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PREVENT DELAYS IN FILLING POSITION
Joins Push to Bolster VA Workforce
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is taking action to ensure Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers have the senior they need to provide the oversight and accountability veterans deserve.

Boozman recently introduced the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Absence and Notification Timeline (VACANT) Act, legislation that would limit the detailing of medical center directors to different positions within the VA. The bill requires the VA Secretary to ensure a plan is in place to fill vacant medical center director positions within 180 days of detailing.

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center had been without a permanent director since May 2021 until the VA announced the hire of a new director last week.

“It’s clear there is a lack of urgency to fill VA medical center director positions. We have a responsibility to ensure adequate leadership at medical centers is in place to provide vital oversight and meet the needs of veterans. The VACANT Act is critical to delivering the services and care our veterans have earned,” Boozman said.

The VACANT Act is included as a provision in the VA Careers (Clinician Appreciation, Recruitment, Education, Expansion, and Retention Support) Act, legislation Boozman and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced to bolster workforce recruitment and retention at the VA.

“As I visit with VA personnel across Arkansas, they frequently describe the persistent challenges with filling critical roles to provide care to veterans. Our legislation expands the VA workforce in communities nationwide and creates a sustainable pipeline, strengthening its ability to attract expert physicians. Ensuring the VA is properly staffed is key to fulfilling our promise to the men and women who served in uniform,” Boozman said.

“As Chairman, I often hear from veterans in Montana and across the country about the lack of providers in rural communities,” said Tester. “We need VA to hire providers faster and be able to retain high-quality talent in rural areas. That’s why I’m proud to be joining my friend Senator Boozman on this bipartisan effort to ensure VA can recruit the best and brightest clinicians to help deliver veterans—including those in rural areas—their earned health care and benefits.”  

Among its many provisions the CAREERS Act will:

·       Modernize the VA’s antiquated pay system for physicians and other high-level clinicians, which will particularly benefit rural and other hard-to-hire markets;

·       Pay for licensure exam costs for future clinicians participating in the VA scholarship programs;

·       Expand eligibility for more health care staff to be reimbursed for ongoing professional education costs; and

·       Increase and fine-tune the VA’s workforce data reporting requirements to help the VA and Congress be better informed on how to improve the hiring and onboarding process for future employees enterprise-wide.

These legislative efforts expand on Boozman’s commitment to creating policies for better recruitment and retention of key VA personnel amid a tightening labor market. Last Congress, the senator championed the PACT Act, legislation signed into law that delivers toxic-exposed veterans their earned care and benefits, that included several provisions to bolster VA’s workforce, especially in rural areas.

Last year, Boozman questioned VA officials about the persistent staffing shortage and retention challenges. He also called on the department to prioritize veterans care and prevent its resources from being deployed to respond to the southern border crisis.

January 24, 2023

FIRST ARKANSAS GROWN CONFERENCE AND EXPO TO BE HELD JANUARY 25-28
WHAT: The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Arkansas Grown program will partner with several Arkansas agricultural associations and organizations to host the first Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo. Partner organizations include the Arkansas State Horticulture Society, Arkansas Association of Grape Growers, Arkansas Farmers Market Association, Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, and Arkansas Agritourism Association. The highly anticipated conference has received an overwhelming response and reached capacity as a sold out event.

VISUALS: The conference and expo will consist of workshops, speakers, off-site farm tours, networking opportunities, and a vendor trade show. Evening events at the Sunset Lodge at Rusty Tractor Vineyard and the University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute will showcase Arkansas Grown food and include an Arkansas Grown wine tasting.

WHEN: January 25-28, 2023

WHERE: Embassy Suites
11301 Financial Centre Pkwy, Little Rock, AR 72211

 

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS RULES IN FAVOR OF ARKANSAS TAXPAYERS
Griffin: 'President Biden can't stop Arkansas from cutting taxes ... I will continue to push back against federal overreach'
 LITTLE ROCK – Following an opinion issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit regarding American Rescue Plan monies received by Arkansas, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"President Biden can't stop Arkansas from cutting taxes for hard working Arkansans. This afternoon's Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision makes that crystal clear. Along with West Virginia and Alabama, my office is proud to have co-led a multistate lawsuit to block a provision of the American Rescue Plan that barred States receiving federal COVID relief money from cutting taxes. I want to say a special thanks to my Solicitor General Nick Bronni and his team who worked so hard on this case. As Arkansas's Attorney General, I will continue to push back against federal overreach."
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL GRIFFIN JOINS MULTISTATE LAWSUIT AGAINST BIDEN ADMINISTRATION'S IMMIGRATION 'PAROLE' POLICY
Griffin: 'I will continue to fight to secure America's borders, even if President Biden's administration won't'
LITTLE ROCK – Following today's filing of a multistate lawsuit against the Biden administration's immigration "parole" policy, Attorney General Tim Griffin issued the following statement:

"President Biden's refusal to enforce our immigration laws burdens Arkansas taxpayers and threatens our security. That's why I'm proud to join other attorneys general today in challenging the Biden administration's latest unlawful program, which would allow hundreds of thousands of aliens to bypass the typical visa process. I will continue to fight to secure America's borders, even if President Biden's administration won't."

About the Biden administration's 'parole' policy: 
In extraordinary circumstances and on a case-by-case basis, U.S. immigration laws allow the Department of Homeland Security to grant "parole" to aliens to enter the United States. But the Biden administration has expanded this case-by-case authority beyond all recognition. On January 5, 2023, the Biden administration effectively created a new visa program by announcing that it will permit up to 360,000 aliens annually from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to be "paroled" into the United States outside of regular immigration channels. A coalition of states has sued the Biden administration to halt this unlawful expansion of executive authority.

 

UPDATED EEOC RESOURCE EXPLAINS ADA REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING DISABILITIES IN THE WORKPLACE
Includes Information on Discrimination Against Job Applicants
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released an updated resource document, “Hearing Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” explaining how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job applicants and employees who are deaf or hard of hearing or have other hearing conditions.

The document outlines how certain pre- and post-job offer disability-related questions can violate the ADA, describes easy-to-access technologies that can make providing a reasonable accommodation for a hearing disability free or low-cost, addresses employer concerns about safety, and shares realistic scenarios of potential discrimination. In addition to adding information about discrimination against job applicants, the updated document provides new or updated examples that reflect available technologies.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to create fair workplaces for all employees and job applicants who need reasonable accommodations,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The practical questions and answers and realistic scenarios in this updated document will help educate employers on those responsibilities and employees about their rights.”

Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have other hearing conditions can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions about their hearing. The document clarifies that discrimination may occur when employers act on unfounded assumptions that workers with hearing conditions will cause safety hazards, increase employment costs, or have difficulty communicating. The document also discusses harassment and retaliation

Recent EEOC news releases about individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have other hearing conditions and sought reasonable accommodations as applicants or employees are available with this preloaded search of EEOC's newsroom. More information about disability discrimination is available on EEOC’s disability discrimination landing page. 

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

 

TWO FORMER ARKANSAS SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES CHARGED WITH FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS OFFENSES FOR USING EXCESSIVE FORCE
FORT SMITH – The Justice Department announced today that a federal Grand Jury returned an Indictment charging former Crawford County, Arkansas, Sheriff’s Deputies Levi White, age 32, and Zackary King, age 27, with federal civil rights offenses for using excessive force on a 27-year-old man during the arrest of that man at a gas station in Mulberry, Arkansas, on August 21, 2022.

Specifically, Count One of the Indictment alleges that, while the arrestee was lying on the ground, White struck him multiple times. Count Two of the Indictment alleges that King struck the arrestee multiple times, also while the arrestee was lying on the ground. The Indictment further alleges that the arrestee suffered bodily injury as a result of White and King’s actions.

If convicted, White and King face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the excessive-force charge; both defendants also face up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

United States Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson of the FBI Little Rock Field Office made the announcement.

The FBI Little Rock Field Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dustin Roberts and Devon Still for the Western District of Arkansas and Trial Attorneys Anna Gotfryd and Michael J. Songer of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

January 20, 2023

CAMDEN AREA CHAMBER BANQUET ENJOY MARVIN COSTON AND RAZORBACK ATHLETES
The Camden Area Chamber of Commerce held the 98th Annual Banquet and Meeting last night, January 19th. The Banquet was held at the Camden Fairview Gymnasium. Wood’s Place catered the event with their usual delectable choice of catfish, pork loin and all the fixings. Greg Nettle, Chamber President and Pastor of the Bethel AME Church opened the evening welcoming everyone in attendance.

Rodney Frazier from the Camden Fairview School District and Pastor of First Baptist Church of Harrell gave the Invocation.

James Lee Silliman, Executive Director of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development presented the 2022 Industry of the Year Award to Lockheed Martin. Mike Smith with Edward Jones presented the 2022 Small Business Award to Camden Drug. Michael Shelton with Generations Bank presented the 2022 Community Service Award to Travis Daniels.

New this year was the President’s Award. Greg Nettles, President of the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce presented the award to Charles Moore for his vision and his work to make the Plant a Seed Foundation a reality in Camden. The Planting a Seed Program began to serve children with meals and after school and summer programs. It has grown and now provides services to Senior Citizens as well.

Congratulations to all who won awards. It is people and businesses like these that make Camden the great place it is to live.

Greg Nettles then introduced the speaker, Marvin Caston, who informed the banquet attendees about ONEArkansas NIL . Mr. Caston is a former Razorback football player and Senior Director of Development at the Razorback Foundation. He spearheads the efforts of ONEArkansas NIL. NIL is the program where athletes are compensated for their name, image and likeness. ONEArkansas NIL, an Arkansas focused collective, launched in August 2022 assists Razorback student-athletes “connect, educate, and facilitate their charitable efforts while serving fellow Arkansans and others.”

Razorbacks athletes who also attended the Banquet were KJ Jefferson, Rocket Sanders, Bumper Pool from the Razorback Football team and Brady Slavens, Peyton Stovall and Hudson Polk from the Razorback Baseball team. The athletes welcomed everyone and signed autographs and took pictures with fans.

Thanks to the Pryce Robertson Autism Foundation for bringing Marvin and the Athletes to Camden for this event.

It was an evening that will not soon be forgotten by those who were there and those who missed it, well you missed a once in a lifetime experience.

 

SCHOLARSHIP FUND CREATED IN HONOR OF LT. JASON ADAMS
Arkansas Fire Training Academy to Offer Emergency Medical Responder Scholarship
CAMDEN, AR (01/20/2023) The Southern Arkansas University Tech Foundation and the Arkansas Fire Training Academy are pleased to announce, on January 22, 2023, the official creation of a scholarship fund in honor of Lt. Jason Adams for successful completers of the Academy's on-campus Emergency Medical Responder Training course. The scholarship is specifically for volunteer firefighters.

Lt. Jason Adams was an East Pulaski County volunteer firefighter who was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a medical call on January 22, 2016. Lt. Adams was 29 years old. He survived cancer two times in his short life, and because of positive interactions with emergency responders, he chose a career providing services to others in the fire service.

Lt Adams was a dedicated firefighter, both volunteer, and career, who spent countless hours creating training content for his volunteer department. As a training officer for East Pulaski County Fire Department and an Arkansas Fire Training Academy Adjunct Instructor, Lt Adams believed wholeheartedly in the benefit of participating in training and would teach any firefighter willing to listen and learn. Through the creation of this scholarship, facilitated by donations from the community and organizations throughout the country in the wake of his death, Lt. Jason Adams will continue to encourage and facilitate training for volunteer firefighters throughout Arkansas.

More information about Lt. Adams is located on the website for fire heroes - https://www.firehero.org/fallen-firefighter/jason-adams.

Scholarships will be awarded directly to a successful completer from each of AFTA's on-campus Emergency Medical Responder Training classes. The scholarships are intended to help the participant cover travel, meals, and other expenses incurred while participating in the training course. The Southern Arkansas University Tech Foundation will manage the scholarship fund, and donations can be made at the following link. Donate Here

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/Scholarship-Fund-Created-in-Honor-of-Lt-Jason-Adams/32330

Lt. Jason Adams lost his life in the line of duty on January 22, 2016, at 29 years of age. A scholarship in his honor will award EMR students a scholarship through the Arkansas Fire Training Academy. : http://app.readmedia.com/news/attachment/179311/Lt._Jason_Adams.jpg

 

2023 ARKANSAS WORKFORCE REPORT RELEASED TODAY INDICATES ACTION NEEDED TO SECURE THE STATE’S FUTURE WORKFORCE
Little Rock, Ark. – Arkansas hospitals are facing a critical staffing shortage that is only exacerbating the profound financial volatility they are facing.

A new report issued by Global Data, commissioned by the Arkansas Hospital Association (AHA), reveals that the shortage of health care workers in many specialties is anticipated to continue or worsen over time, as increasing needs continue to exceed the supply of professionals. The current shortfall of 9,000 registered nurses in Arkansas will not be resolved by 2035 without intervention, and the licensed practical nurse (LPN) workforce would need to grow by an additional 55 LPN full-time employees per year above anticipated status quo growth to maintain current Arkansas use patterns. By 2035, there will be a shortfall of approximately 240 to 580 respiratory therapists to meet the projected demand. Other specialties showing shortfalls include physician assistants, phlebotomists, clinical laboratory technicians, and emergency medical technicians.

In response to this analysis, the AHA is taking the initiative now to advocate for several key strategies to stabilize and grow Arkansas’s health care workforce, including expanding the workforce pipeline for the occupations facing the greatest shortages, building heartier workforce retention programs, developing new models of care, expanding training programs into communities with the greatest need, improving data collection, and advocating for policy changes that will support a more robust pipeline.

“Hospitals in Arkansas faced workforce challenges even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the situation is now alarming,” says Bo Ryall, President & CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association. “These projected shortfalls pose a significant threat to the health and wellness of our communities and, frankly, to the stability of our state. We must not take our excellent health care workforce for granted.

“The plain facts presented by this report offer us a starting point to begin to address the need – more urgent by the month – to build up our pipeline of health care professionals,” Ryall continued. “This problem will not be solved quickly or by hospitals alone, but we owe to the coming generations to take aggressive action to meet this challenge.”

January 13, 2023

The City of Camden Offices will be closed on Monday, January 16, 2023 in observance of the Martin Luther King Holiday.
 

ONE DEAD IN NORTH LITTLE ROCK CRASH AFTER FLEEING FROM POLICE
January 13, 2023 
The Arkansas State Police is investigating the crash of a suspect who fled from Arkansas State Troopers and the North Little Rock Police Department yesterday evening (Thursday, January 12th). Around 8:22pm last night, officers with the North Little Rock Police Department attempted to make a traffic stop on a stolen silver Kia Sportage in the area of 2700 McArthur Drive. 

 As the suspect approached Interstate 40, Arkansas State Police Troopers were asked to assist North Little Rock PD and took control of the pursuit around the 146 mile marker (White Oak Crossing). 

Upon approaching the 142 exit (Morgan/Maumelle) on Interstate 40, the suspect attempted to take the exit at a high rate of speed and lost control of the vehicle, at which time the vehicle crashed into a tree and caught on fire. The unidentified driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead on scene by the Pulaski County Coroner.  

The body of the driver has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where identification, as well as a manner and cause of death will be
 

BRANDON J. LOHSE SELECTED AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Little Rock, Ark. — Jan. 12, 2023 — Brandon J. Lohse was recently selected as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas.

Prior to joining the electric cooperatives, Lohse worked more than 26 years in the energy and financial services sectors. Most recently he served as the director of investor relations for ONE Gas of Tulsa, Okla.

“Brandon’s experience, enthusiasm and unique skill set will significantly contribute to Arkansas’ electric cooperatives achieving even greater success for our members,” said Buddy Hasten, president/CEO of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “We welcome Brandon to our dedicated team of more than 4,000 employees that work to increase the quality of life for those that they serve.”

Lohse earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with honors from Seattle Pacific University, a Master’s in Business Administration from Washington University’s Olin School of Business and is a Certified Treasury Professional.

“I’m thrilled to join the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas at this exciting time,” Lohse said. “Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation is one of the most financially sound generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.’s (AECI) growth is phenomenal. The strong growth of the cooperatives’ ERMCO, Diamond State Networks and Today’s Power, Inc. organizations continue to fuel the overall success of Arkansas’ electric cooperatives and further contributes to customer affordability.”

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 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.
 

SWAR REGIONAL ARCHIVES A GREAT PLACE TO BEGIN DISCOVERING YOUR GENEALOGICAL HISTORY
By Patrick Massey
WASHINGTON – History may not have been everyone’s favorite subject in high school, but there’s one way to get more personally involved in the topic these days: the history of your family.

Americans have shown a growing interest in genealogy in recent years. As demonstrated through booming services like MyHeritage, 23andMe and Ancestry.com, Americans want to know more about themselves by researching their family history.

For the aspiring genealogist in our corner of the state, there is perhaps no resource as important as the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA). Melissa Nesbitt is the archival manager of the agency, based in Washington. Specifically, that is Washington, Ark., the Confederate-era capital of Arkansas now home to Historic Washington State Park.

When it comes to researching family history, Nesbitt encourages Arkansans to include the regional archives as part of their journey.

“That’s exactly our mission, to preserve history through the collection of materials and artifacts that tell not just the story of our area, but its people as well,” explained Nesbitt. “You might be able to find out a lot about your own family by using the resources we offer.”

Founded in 1978, SARA offers a variety of research resources within its 12-county region (Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Sevier and Union ). Those resources include primary documents such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, newspapers and broadsides. Books and other print resources also help create a general Arkansas history reference library.

Among SARA’s collections is the Robert B. Waltz Photograph Collection. This collection boasts more than 2,500 images of people and places around Southwest Arkansas dating back to the 19th century. Research services and staff are also available to help guide patrons on their hunt for genealogical information.

Nesbitt stresses the importance of genealogy not just as a way to learn about history, but to discover your own personal connection to Arkansas’ past.

“Genealogy is so important because it shows the history of how one generation connects to the next by looking at specific people, places and times and how those events led to what we see around us today,” she explains. “It can also help us understand our own family history or other families’ histories and how it all connected to create who we are now.”

Nesbitt adds that there are a number of tips to keep in mind for the beginner genealogical researcher.

“Start with yourself and your immediate family and then move on to older generations,” she says. “Connect with an archivist, like those here at SARA, who can help you research specific times and locations. And use the vast amount of online resources available to help expand what you consider as records, such as voter registrations, property information, etc.”

Finally, Nesbitt encourages Arkansas genealogists to record all the information they collect for future use.

For more information on beginning your journey into genealogy here in Southwest Arkansas, visit www.archives.arkansas.gov or contact SARA directly by calling (870) 983-2633. Arkansans are also welcome to visit the archives in person by making an appointment. The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives are located at 201 AR-195 in Washington.


SAAC MAKES CALL FOR ENTRY FOR EXHIBIT OF STUDENT ARTWORK IN FEBRUARY
Calling all youth artists! South Arkansas Arts Center's Visual Arts Committee wants to show off student artwork! This is all area-students' opportunity to enter into the 2023 Student Art Show and Competition at SAAC. The entry deadline for this student show is January 25, and it is open to grades K-12. Cash prizes will be awarded.

Students may enter 2-D, 3-D and multi-media original artwork at $5.00 per entry. All art must be delivered to the SAAC office and can be delivered "as is." There are no framing or matting requirements for this competition. Sale of student art is encouraged during the exhibition. Sponsored by R. Eric Hatley, MD, this fun and lively exhibit will be on display February 1-March 10.

Cash prizes will be awarded. Work will be divided into four divisions for judging: K-2 Grade, 3-5 Grade, 6-9 Grade, and 10-12 Grade. Selected from all entries received, the $100 Grand Prize will go to the Best of Show, and additional cash prizes will be awarded in each division for First Place ($50), Second Place ($25), and Third Place ($15). The awards reception for this student show will be held in the Merkle and Price Galleries at SAAC on Saturday, February 25 at 2:00pm with a judge announcing the winners.

Entry forms and additional information about this show are available on the SAAC website at www.saac-arts.org. For more information, call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


THREE COMMANDER PROMOTIONS APPROVED BY ASP COMMISSION
January 12, 2023
Two state police commanders received recommendations for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel today during a meeting of the Arkansas State Police Commission.  The recommendations were presented by Colonel Mike Hagar, State Police Director, and approved by the commissioners.

Major Jason Aaron, 48, of Faulkner County, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and will assume the position of Deputy Director of Field Operations for the department.

Lieutenant Colonel Aaron is a 25-year veteran of the department and had previously been assigned as the commander of the Highway Patrol Division.   

Captain Mike Kennedy, 48, of Saline County, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and will assume the position of Deputy Director of Administrative Operations for the department.

Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy is a 29-year veteran of the department and had previously been assigned as the commander of the Executive Protection Unit in Little Rock.

Also approved today was the promotion of Captain Ron Casey, 56, of Grant County, who was promoted to the rank of Major.

Major Casey is a 30-year veteran of the department and has most recently been assigned as commander of Highway Patrol, Troop K. Major Casey will immediately assume command of the Highway Patrol Division.

AG-ELECT GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES INCOMING SENIOR ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Grif
fin: Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck 'will significantly strengthen our newly created Special Litigation Section'

LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General-Elect Tim Griffin released the following statement announcing Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck as Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Litigation Division, Special Litigation Section:

“Jordan’s broad litigation experience, keen legal acumen and infectious energy will significantly strengthen our newly created Special Litigation Section and existing civil litigation capabilities. She represents the highest standards of professionalism and ethics and will be a leader on day one. I couldn’t be more excited to have her on our team.”

Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck is a Fayetteville native and a former attorney at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP where her practice focused on representing health care professionals and facilities in litigation matters. Jordan is a Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) National Trial College and has been recognized as a "Rising Star" in Mid-South Super Lawyers and as "One to Watch" in The Best Lawyers in America. 
 

COTTON, COMER DENOUNCE D.C. COUNCIL BILL LETTING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS
Washington, DC—Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today announced that he will soon introduce a joint resolution formally disapproving of the District of Columbia Council approving legislation that would let illegal immigrants vote in D.C. local elections. Rep. James Comer (KY-01) introduced the joint resolution in the House.  

“Allowing illegal immigrants to vote is an insult to every voter in America. Every single Democrat should be on the record about whether they support this insane policy," said Sen. Cotton.

If passed by the House and Senate, and signed by the President, the joint resolution would prevent the D.C. council’s proposed legislation from going into effect.
 

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION NAMES OLIVA AS DESE COMMISSIONER 
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce that the State Board of Education has selected Jacob Oliva as commissioner of ADE’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The board went into executive session during its regularly scheduled meeting today to consider Oliva for the position. Upon returning, the board voted unanimously to employ him as commissioner.

“Mr. Oliva’s experience as a teacher, administrator, and department leader is quite impressive,” State Board Chair Ouida Newton said. “His dedication to student learning is evident in his leadership and efforts to implement successful programs and initiatives that support learning. I am confident that the students and educators of Arkansas will benefit from his expertise, and we look forward to working with him.”

“I firmly believe that every student can learn and should have access to an educational environment that promotes learning, growth, and success,” Oliva said. “I am honored to receive the board’s approval today, and I look forward to working alongside the board and the division team to implement best educational practices that will ensure all students across the Natural State receive the high-quality education and supports they need to thrive."

In addition to serving as DESE commissioner, Oliva also was recently named secretary for the Arkansas Department of Education. Prior to being named commissioner and secretary, Oliva served in numerous roles at the Florida Department of Education, most recently as interim commissioner. He joined the Florida department as executive vice-chancellor of the Public Schools Division in 2017 and became chancellor in 2019, where his division supported more than 2.8 million students in approximately 3,600 Florida public schools.

In 2021, he was promoted to senior chancellor, and his responsibilities expanded to include early learning, school choice programs, school safety, and school accountability. Additionally, he encouraged statewide leadership and communication between the Florida Department of Education and the state’s school districts.

Oliva is a graduate of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Flagler College in Florida. He began his educational career more than two decades ago as an elementary teacher for students with special needs. He later served as a principal at both the elementary and high school levels and as an assistant superintendent and superintendent of Flagler County Schools.

January 10, 2023

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 6:30 P.M. at Garrison Auditorium

The agenda is as follows:
Call to order
Student Hearings
Approval of minutes of previous meetings

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
None

NEW BUSINESS
Presentation and recommendation regarding the purchase of Literacy Intervention material.
Presentation of the school board member training report.
Presentation and recommendation regarding proposed budget expenditures for the 2024-2025 school year. Facility Rentals
Superintendent’s report to the Board
Financial report
Personnel
Hiring
Resignation

 

LAKE VILLAGE HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY BY ASP SPECIAL AGENTS
The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is leading the investigation into a homicide that occurred yesterday at the request of Lake Village Police Department authorities.  Jayani L. Jordan, 18, was the victim of an apparent homicide yesterday evening (Sunday, January 8th) while walking in the front yard of a residence located at 604 Elm Street, in the city of Lake Village.

   Lake Village Police Officer’s responded to the recidence around 4:15pm yesterday afternoon, after a witness reported a shooting incident in the area.  Jordan was found in the yard, shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene. Jordan’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined. 

   As of this afternoon, no suspects have been identified and the investigation is continuing.  Agents will submit a criminal case file to the Chicot County prosecuting attorney upon completion of their investigation.

 

BECHTELHEIMER TO EXPLORE THE WORK OF WINSLOW HOMER AT SAAC
The paintings of Winslow Homer, whom many regard as the foremost American painter of the 19th century, will be the focus of artist and educator Gay Bechtelheimer’s January art lecture at the South Arkansas Arts Center. Bechtelheimer will delve into Homer’s art, life, and influence in her unique and entertaining lecture series on Thursday, January 19, at 6:30 p.m.  

Homer began his career first as a commercial illustrator, and then as an artist-correspondent for “Harper’s Weekly” during the Civil War. As a mature artist, he worked prolifically in both oils and watercolor, chronicling the relationship of humans and nature through scenes of idyllic home life, the sea, and wilderness.  

“With his resolute independence and spirit of originality, Homer is considered one of the most important painters of the nineteenth century,” said Bechtelheimer. “His work figured importantly in developing an American artistic sensibility that was a source of influence for those of his own time and into the 20th century, particularly among artists who did not pursue European inspired trends and sought a distinctly American vision for their work.”

Pre-lecture champagne and hors d’oeuvres will be served in the Lobby Gallery, followed by Bechtelheimer’s lecture in the theatre. Afterwards, guests are invited to join Bechtelheimer in the Price Gallery for a special presentation.

The event is free of charge and is presented with open seating. Reservations are encouraged; call 870-862-5474 or visit saac-arts.org.  
 

AG-ELECT GRIFFIN ANNOUNCES INCOMING SENIOR ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Griffin: Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck 'will significantly strengthen our newly created Special Litigation Section'
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General-Elect Tim Griffin released the following statement announcing Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck as Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Litigation Division, Special Litigation Section:

“Jordan’s broad litigation experience, keen legal acumen and infectious energy will significantly strengthen our newly created Special Litigation Section and existing civil litigation capabilities. She represents the highest standards of professionalism and ethics and will be a leader on day one. I couldn’t be more excited to have her on our team.”

Jordan Broyles Hallenbeck is a Fayetteville native and a former attorney at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP where her practice focused on representing health care professionals and facilities in litigation matters. Jordan is a Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) National Trial College and has been recognized as a "Rising Star" in Mid-South Super Lawyers and as "One to Watch" in The Best Lawyers in America. 

January 09, 2023

OUACHITA COUNTY MLK DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed on January 16, 2023 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule, they will not observe the holiday.
 

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CONFIRMS TORNADO IN NORPHLET
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado touched down near Norphlet in Union County on Monday, Januay 2nd. Local officials suspected a tornado had hit west of Norphlet after a resident in the area reported seeing "circular rotation of a cloud that came down", Union County Emergency Management Director Bruce Goff said last week.

Surveyors from the weather service made it to the site, where they found evidence of an EF-1 tornado. According to the weather service, the tornado's path was a quarter mile long, and it had a maximum width of 350 yards.
 

TREASURER DENNIS MILLIGAN RELEASES FINAL INVESTMENT REPORT OF TENURE
State Treasury earned nearly $100 million in first six months of FY23
Little Rock, Ark. – The State Treasury earned nearly $100 million in the first six months of fiscal year 2023, Treasurer Dennis Milligan announced today in his final investment report of his tenure. Milligan  takes office on Tuesday as Auditor of State.

“We earned $99.7 million from July 1 through December 31, 2022, and are on pace to exceed the highest fiscal year recorded in State Treasury history,” Milligan said. “The highest investment receipts recorded, dating back to 2005 which is as far back as Treasury records go, was $116.9 million in fiscal 2019.”

The total earned under Milligan’s administration to date is $603.7 million. He credits increasing interest rates and a highly-focused investment team for the record high receipts. “My investment team watches the fixed income market consistently and is able to make calculated decisions with regard to bond quality and duration,” Milligan said. “Their expertise and my active management style has earned the state the highest investment receipts it’s ever seen. I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish during my tenure as Treasurer and grateful to have served Arkansans in this role.”


ONE DEAD IN FAULKNER COUNTY AFTER PURSUIT AND OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
January 8th, 2023
The Arkansas State Police is conducting an internal review and investigation into the death of a Faulkner County man who fled from Arkansas State Troopers early this morning. Scotty Helton, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Faulkner County Deputies attempted to make a traffic stop on Helton’s vehicle for reckless and erratic driving around 1:00am this morning, at which point Helton fled. Faulkner County Deputies and Conway Police Officers pursued the suspect into the city limits of Conway and on Faulkner County backroads. Reportedly, law enforcement officers were fired upon by Helton multiple times within the pursuit. State Troopers joined the pursuit and successfully deployed spike strips on State Highway 89. With deflated tires, Helton reached the intersection of State Highway 89 and Interstate 40 where he struck a concrete curb and the vehicle came to rest.

During the course of the encounter, Helton brandished a gun leading three State Troopers and one Mayflower Police Officer to fire their service weapons. Troopers attempted to render medical aid but Helton succumbed to his injuries on scene.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are conducting an investigation into the use of deadly force by the officers involved.  The investigative case file will be submitted to a prosecuting attorney of jurisdiction who will decide whether the use of deadly force by the Arkansas State Police and the Mayflower Police Department was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Consistent with Arkansas State Police policy, three state troopers have been placed on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.  The Mayflower Police Department will determine whether to release the identity of their officer involved and their administrative status.

January 06, 2023

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The agenda is as follows:
A. Call To Order
B.  Invocation – Jerry Ables, Pastor – Victory Church, 1283 U.S. 278 Business, Camden, AR
C. Pledge Of Allegiance
D. Roll Call
E. Approval Of Minutes
       1. Minutes of Regular Meeting, December 13, 2022
F. Acceptance Of Financial Report        
      1. Financial Report for December 2022
G. Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
 I. Old Business
      1.   Resolution No. 71-22, a resolution providing for and adopting for the City of Camden, Arkansas, an  annual Operating Budget for the twelve months beginning January 1, 2023, and ending December 31, 2023; appropriating money for every item of expenditure therein provided; Declaring an emergency; and for otherpurposes.
 J.   New Business
      1. Resolution No. 01-23, a resolution recognizing Meetings and Procedures as set forth in the Code of Ordinances of the City of Camden, and adopting other procedural rules.”
     2. Resolution No. 02-23, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of oils and lubricants for the year 2023.
3. Resolution No. 03-23, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of tires and tubes for the year 2023.
4. Resolution No. 04-23, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of batteries for the year 2023.
5. Resolution No. 05-23, a resolution awarding the bid for towing regular-sized city vehicles for the year 2023.
6. Resolution No. 06-23, a resolution awarding the bid for towing large-sized city vehicles for the year 2023.
7.  Resolution No. 07-23, a resolution confirming the appointment of Richard Mosley to the Camden Housing Authority.
8. Resolution No. 08-23, a resolution appointing Ebony Gulley and Ed Winters to the Advertising and  Promotion Commission.
9. Resolution No. 09-23, a resolution confirming the appointment of Mark Smith to the Board of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development.
10. Resolution No. 10-23, a resolution confirming the appointment of Gerald Castleberry to the Board of the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development.
K. Other Business
L. Adjournment

 

IMPACT CAMDEN PRESENTS THE DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ANNUAL PARADE - “LEGACY IN MOTION”
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Parade will be held on Saturday, January 14th at 2PM. The theme of this year’s parade is “Legacy in Motion”. Lineup will be at 12:45pm. The parade will start at 625 S Adams St. in Camden and will end at 310 Adams St.

Retail & Food Vendors after the parade at 312 Adams in Camden.
For More Information contact Impact Camden at 901-628-3959


45TH ANNUAL MARCH FOR LIFE JAN. 22 TO CELEBRATE THE END OF ROE V. WADE
LITTLE ROCK – Abortion survivor and pro-life advocate Gianna Jessen is the featured speaker for the 45th Annual March for Life set for 2 p.m. Sunday, January 22, in Little Rock at the State Capitol. The annual march is sponsored by Arkansas Right to Life.

“On what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision we march for life!” said Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life. “We march to remember the lives lost and to rededicate ourselves in the ongoing work to protect innocent human life in our state and nation.”

The march marks the 50th anniversary of the January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, as well as the June 24, 2022, Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the abortion issue to the state legislatures. In Arkansas, the ruling ended abortion immediately due to Act 180 of 2019.

Jessen’s live birth was the product of a failed abortion in 1975. Two months premature and weighing just two and a half pounds, she spent her first couple of months in a hospital. Eventually, she entered the foster care system and was adopted.

The march attracts thousands of Arkansans from across the state including churches and families to participate in a peaceful, prayerful, and powerful remembrance of the millions of unborn children who have lost their lives to legal abortion. The march will not be canceled due to weather conditions. 

“We expect a good turnout of the Arkansas Constitutional officers, members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation, and Arkansas General Assembly who are invited to attend,” said Mimms.

“As we celebrate the fact that Arkansas is a pro-life state and unborn babies are safe from abortion today, we recognize that the demand for abortion is not over and our work to protect and defend all life is more important than ever to reverse the culture of death in our society,” said Mimms. “We still face tremendous opposition as we work to protect the lives of the unborn.”

Staging of marchers will be along Capitol Avenue beginning at State Street. At 2 p.m. the march will proceed down Capitol Avenue – then join together on the steps at the front of the State Capitol for a short program.

Andy Mayberry, president of Arkansas Right to Life, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Other participants include Paul Roberts, pastor of East Union Missionary Baptist Church, Hensley; Daniel Allen of North Little Rock will perform, and the Knights of Columbus will present the Honor Guard.

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


ACHI BOARD CALLS ON LEGISLATURE, INCOMING ADMINISTRATION TO ELIMINATE ASSET LIMIT FOR FOOD STAMPS
LITTLE ROCK ― The board of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement is urging the Arkansas General Assembly and the incoming Sarah Huckabee Sanders administration to eliminate the asset limit for food stamps.

“The Governor’s Food Desert Working Group, on which I was honored to serve at the request of outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson, included in its recent report several recommendations for addressing Arkansas’ food access crisis,” ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson said Thursday. “One of those recommendations is to raise or remove the asset limit for participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The ACHI Health Policy Board recently voted to issue a call to action to the General Assembly and the incoming administration to eliminate the asset limit.”

About 11 percent — more than 1 in 10 — of Arkansas residents participated in SNAP in 2021. The working group found that programs like SNAP are often the only way that Arkansans living with food insecurity can obtain food.

SNAP is a federal program, but states are allowed to modify the eligibility requirements. Arkansas’ income limit for SNAP eligibility is at the lowest level allowed by the federal government. In addition to the income limit, Arkansas has retained an asset limit of $2,750 per household, or $4,250 for households where at least one person is elderly or disabled. Thirty-six states, including neighboring Oklahoma and Louisiana, have chosen to eliminate the asset limit.

“The SNAP asset limit serves to keep families in poverty by creating a disincentive to save money,” Thompson said. “It also serves as a cliff, exposing vulnerable people to a sudden halt in benefits if they exceed it, and it contributes to churn, which occurs when beneficiaries cycle in and out of eligibility, resulting in higher administrative costs and less predictability for the state.”  

The working group’s report is available at arhungeralliance.org.

ACHI is a nonpartisan, independent health policy center that serves as a catalyst for improving the health of all Arkansans through evidence-based research, public issue advocacy, and collaborative program development. See more at achi.net.


USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT’S DEGRAY LAKE AND HYDROPOWER PLANT TO COMMEMORATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY WITH OPEN HOUSE 
Vicksburg, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District’s DeGray Lake and hydropower plant will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an open house on Jan. 18 from 9-11:30 a.m. at DeGray Lake Visitor Center in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. 

The event is free and open to the public. Members of the media must RSVP to Mary Miller Morgan at mary.m.morgan@usace.army.mil no later than 4 p.m. on Jan. 13. The visitor center is located at 543 Skyline Drive Arkadelphia, Arkansas, 71923. Parking will be available onsite along with overflow parking at the spillway boat ramp.  

Dedicated on May 20, 1972 after seven years of construction, DeGray Dam can produce 78 megawatts of energy, or the equivalent of 53,000 tons of coal. The 31,900-acre multi-purpose project includes the 13,800-acre lake, which encompasses 15 recreation areas and 488 campsites. Recreation at DeGray Lake provides an economic benefit of $42.8 million in visitor spending and sustains 298 jobs within 30 miles of the project. DeGray Lake’s water supply provides an economic benefit of $30.3 million. 

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, that holds nine major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.  

January 05, 2023

CAMDEN AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S ANNUAL BANQUET
The Camden Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet will be held Thursday, January 19th at 6 pm in the Camden Fairview High School Gymnasium.  Former Razorback fullback Marvin Caston will be the guest speaker and will bring with him 3-5 significant current Razorback athletes from various sports to sign autographs and have pictures taken after the event.  Mr. Caston is the Executive Director of ONEArkansas NIL, a nonprofit aimed at assisting Arkansas student-athletes in following their passion of supporting various nonprofits throughout the Natural State via Name, Image and Likeness activations.  The Pryce Robertson Autism Awareness Foundation is responsible for securing Mr. Caston and the athletes to be present at the banquet.

Sponsor tables for the event are $1,000 for a reserved table of eight or $500 for a table of four.  Sponsors for the event will be able to have a private reception prior to the event with Mr. Caston and the athletes.  Deadline for sponsoring a table is Friday, January 13th.  Individual tickets can be purchased for $30. 

Prior to joining ONEArkansas, Caston was a Senior Director of Development for the Razorback Foundation for 13 years where he assisted and oversaw fundraising efforts to benefit Razorback Athletics, including helping manage the A Club and Razorback Clubs across the state.

As a four-year football letterman (1996-1999) for the Razorbacks, Caston was a punishing fullback on teams that went 9-3 in 1998 and 8-4 in 1999. The 1998 team played Michigan in the Florida Citrus Bowl and ended the year ranked No. 16. The 1999 squad beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl and finished the season ranked No. 17.

A native of Winnsboro, LA, Caston earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 1999 and was member of the Southeastern Conference Honor Roll his senior year. He worked as a graduate assistant in the business office in 2001 and the compliance office in 2002 while earning his Master’s Degree in Education. From 2002-2004 Cason worked in compliance at the University of South Florida and later returned to his alma mater in 2005 to become the Director of Compliance.

Caston currenlty serves or has served on the Board of Directors for several local organizations including Arkansas Alumni Association, Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club, The University of Arkansas Alumni Black Alumni Society, Arkansas Lettermen A Club and Fayetteville Public Education Foundation. He is married to the former Tommi J. Williams, a Sophomore English teacher at Fayetteville High School and together they have two sons, Thomas Marvin and William Clayton.

To purchase tickets or for more information contact the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce at 836-6426 or info@camdenareachamberofcommerce.org.


SAU ROCKETS THEME NIGHTS
Join the SAU Tech Rocket Basketball Men’s & Women’s Theme Nights
January 10, 2023, SEMO Prep
Rocket Fieldhouse
7:00 PM
Welcome Back Student Night

January 21, 2023, National Park College
Rocket Fieldhouse
2:00 PM
 (White Out Wear White!)

January 28, 2023, Cossatot College
Rocket Fieldhouse
2:00 PM
Community and Greek Night-Bring non-food donation items for students

February 4, 2023, North Arkansas College
Rocket Fieldhouse
2:00 PM
Homecoming Crowning & Alumni Reception

February 9, 2023, Mid-South College
Rocket Fieldhouse
5:00 PM
Faculty/Staff Night-Hospitality

February 16, 2023, South Arkansas College
Rocket Fieldhouse
5:00 PM
High School/Sophomore Night-HS Students Free with ID

Learn more at sautrockets.com

 

2022-2023 FARM TO SCHOOL GRANT APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for applications to the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program through January 25, 2023.

The Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is available to help schools start or expand gardens on school grounds. The Department will award $500 grants to 50 schools to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening equipment. More information about the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program can be found at https://agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-programs/farm-to-school/school-gardens/arkansas-school-garden-grant-program/ or by contacting Erica Benoit at erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

The Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program is available to help schools lead cafeteria taste tests of locally grown specialty crops. The Department will award $250 grants to 20 schools to purchase kitchen equipment and utensils, serving materials, and specialty crop seeds and plants.

“School gardens and taste tests have proven to be valuable tools in teaching children about agriculture, nutrition, and a variety of skills,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “The lessons learned through these programs can have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities.”

More information about the Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program can be found at https://agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-programs/farm-to-school/local-procurement/arkansas-taste-test-grant-program/ or by contacting Lindsey Cartwright at lindsey.cartwright@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

The grant programs are available to public and private K-12 schools, early care facilities, and alternative learning environments. All eligible schools are encouraged to apply, whether they already have existing farm to school activities or they are just getting started with school gardens and local procurement. Technical assistance is available to all grantees.

The application for both programs can be found at https://bit.ly/3TlLT7d. Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both grant opportunities within the same application.

Both grant programs were developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to increase the production and consumption of specialty crops in schools. Specialty crops as defined by the USDA are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, floriculture, and nursery crops.

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://agriculture.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.

 

THE KAPPA CHI CHAPTER PLANS FOR 2023 TALENT HUNT COMPETITION.
KAPPA CHI is The KAPPA CHI Chapter, is in the planning stages for our 2023 Talent Hunt Competition. KAPPA CHI is a Graduate Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., located in Magnolia, Arkansas (The Mighty Ninth District). Our Talent Hunt Committee is seeking talented students to participate.  Kappa Chi is contacting schools in Ouachita, Columbia, and Union counties. The competition is slated for February 25, 2023 at 3 P.M. This year’s competition will be a virtual affair. All participant must have their projects, and signed forms submitted by that same date. First place winner-$500.00, Second Place - $300.00 and Third Place winner-$200.00.

The Talent Hunt program of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. is one of several national programs designed to identify and support the youth of our nation and the world. The original idea was created in 1945. The Talent Hunt Program of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity has touched thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to make outstanding contributions to their communities and our world. Many have earned scholarships, awards, and recognition through exposure from this program. It is our quest as Omega men of the KAPPA CHI GRADUATE CHAPTER, to continue to grow in our unyielding commitment to support our youth.

The winner of Kappa Chi’s Talent Hunt will have a chance to compete at the next District level. The Talent Hunt Committee will forward all the documents, instructions and any other materials that will help the contestants at the District Competition.  You will find more information on our website, Kappachi.net.

We are looking forward to work with your Talented and Gifted Students.  If there are any questions, please contact The Talent Hunt Committee.

.FOR MORE INFORMATION, Terry Calahan-Chairman-Talent Hunt Committee, 1-870-818-5148 or Rufus Woods, IV-Co Chairman-Talent Hunt Committee, 501-240-0626
 

ARKANSAS CARDIOLOGIST AGREES TO PAY $900,000 TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS
Physician Settlement Follows $14.6 Million Settlement with Hospital and Cardiology Practice after being Acquired by Brentwood-Based Lifepoint Health
NASHVILLE – An Arkansas cardiologist has agreed to settle allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims for payment to the Medicare Program for the medically unnecessary placement of cardiac stents, announced Henry C. Leventis, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Jeffrey G. Tauth, M.D., 60, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a cardiologist who treated patients at Hot Springs National Park Hospital Holdings, LLC d/b/a National Park Medical Center (NPMC) and National Park Cardiology Services, LLC d/b/a Hot Springs Cardiology Associates.  The United States alleges that from September 2013 through August 2019, Tauth submitted or caused the submission of claims for payment to the Medicare Program for cardiac stents that Tauth inserted into Medicare patients that were not medically necessary.  As part of the settlement, Tauth has agreed to pay $900,000 and will enter into an Integrity Agreement with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

“Health care fraud is a top priority of this office,” said U.S. Attorney Leventis. “We will aggressively pursue all those who are involved in fraud against government programs.  Whether it be a corporate entity or an individual provider, those who seek to exploit patients and federal health care programs for financial gain can expect to be the focus of our civil and criminal enforcement efforts.As Lifepoint has done here, we encourage those who may become aware of false claims to be proactive in ceasing and disclosing the conduct, particularly when there are allegations of unnecessary medical procedures.”

T he settlement follows a November 2019 voluntary disclosure to this Office pursuant to the protocols of the HHS Office of Inspector General, by Brentwood, Tennessee-based Lifepoint Health (Lifepoint), which acquired NPMC and Hot Springs Cardiology Associates in November 2018. 

As a result of the voluntary disclosure, the United States entered into a settlement with NPMC and Hot Springs Cardiology in October 2020 for alleged violations of the False Claims Act, wherein the entities agreed to pay $14,669,586, including over $9,000,000 in restitution. 

"Submitting claims for medically unnecessary procedures undermines the integrity of federal health care programs and wastes valuable taxpayer dollars," said Tamala E. Miles, Special Agent in Charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. "HHS-OIG will continue to work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to protect the integrity of federal healthcare programs and to ensure the appropriate use of U.S. taxpayer dollars."

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Office of Inspector General.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kara F. Sweet represented the United States. 

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Hampton students will return to Onsite Instruction tomorrow, Thursday, January 5, 2023! 

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN HAVE BUDGET WORSHOP-PART 1
The Camden Board of Alderman had a special called workshop Tuesday, January 4th for the purpose of finalizing the budget for 2023. This was the first meeting for Mayor Charlotte Young as well as for new Aldermen Ebony, Gerald Castleberry and Ed Winters.

 In December of 2022 the budget that was presented to the Council was going to leave some departments bankrupt by the end of 2023. They did not pass that budget so each and every department had to be gone over and adjustments made. Mayor Charlotte Young and the Council worked on the budget until 11:00 pm but with careful number crunching and concessions by Department heads, they left with a budget that everyone an live with for 2023. All the changes will be made and the budget will be put up for a vote in the regular January Council meeting that will be held on January 10, 2023.

Mayor Young began by asking about questions or concerns. Solid Waste was a topic of discussion. At one time, Solid Waste made some money which was put into the general fund to help with streets or payroll or whatever. Alderman Lindsey stated the after looking at it this year, the city has been losing money the last several years The City has not raised our garbage fees since 2003 and obviously the expenses have gone up quite a bit. The Council went on to discuss Commercial Dumpsters and the fees paid for that service. This is something they will look at in the coming year.

The Council heard wish list from Solid Waste after quite a long discussion they were satisfied with the changes they had made. They then moved on to District Court’s request.  It moved pretty quickly and the budget for District Court was set. The only increase was for Probation as they have a lot of expense that has been coming from the current District Court budget.

The public Administration budget was then discussed. There was little change. The same with the City Attorney,
Municipal Building and Code Enforcement.

Camden Police Department was next in line. Alderman Castleberry Police Chief Bo Woody a question regarding overtime in the department. Chief Woody requested less overtime for 2023 than in the prior 2 years. Chief Woody stated that the Department is in the best position that it’s been in for probably the last six years. He is currently only 2 to 3 officers short compared to the past years when the department was 7 or 8 officers short. Chief Woody then asked to make a couple of comments.  He started by stating that for the the last four years under the previous administration he has been told consistently every not to add any money to the Police Department budget and not to buy anything so for four years nothing has been done but decrease the budget. Chief Woody said  “I'm here in front of you guys today and I'm asking for this to be over because other departments have been reaping the benefits of the last administration and we have been suffering.” He went on to state the Mayor’s car comes out of his budget so every time a Mayor gets a vehicle it is one vehicle that the department isn’t given.  The Department is budgeted to get 2 new police vehicles each year so the fleet can be constantly rotated with the older vehicles being retired.  Mayor Lott’s car came from the Camden police department's budget. It was a 2020 Ford Expedition police car that now is “not worth a dime”. Chief said when he got it back it needs thousands of dollars’ worth of work. Chief got an equivalent car the same day the former Mayor got his car and the Chief’s car has 30,000 compared to 106,000 miles on the former Mayors car. Chief Woody said it was not road worthy to give to Mayor Young. There are parts sitting  at Public Works for months not installed. It needs a laundry list of equipment totaling $4000. It cost $200 to clean it up to be driven as it was nasty. It is several thousand miles past due for an oil change. Public works said that the former Mayor never would bring the vehicle and leave it so they could do the work on it. The Chief requested that the City get away for the system as he gets two cars a year and every 3rd or 4th year he only gets one.  The budget will be changed so that while the mayor will get a car when necessary, the Police Department will get the two new units for the Department each year. Because of no increases in the budget for 4 years, there is equipment needed. Things like Dash Cams for the Police fleet. The Officers do have body cams but there are no dash cams at present. Police Chief Woody stated that he wasn’t there to ask for money, that he would make the budget work just as he has for the past 4 years.

This meeting lasted for four and a half hours. Radio Works will continue with the story on the City Budget tomorrow with information regarding the Fire Department, Public Works, Streets and more.

 

UAMS MAMMOVAN TO OFFER MAMMOGRAMS IN MAGNOLIA JAN. 10
 LITTLE ROCK – The MammoVan, a mobile mammography unit operated by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, will be at the UAMS Family Medical Clinic, 1617 N. Washington St., in Magnolia on Jan. 10 to offer mammograms.

make an appointment, call (800) 259-8794.

The MammoVan regularly travels throughout Arkansas providing digital screening mammograms and breast care education.

Outfitted with the most advanced digital mammography equipment, the three-room mobile unit is staffed by a certified mammography technologist and a technical assistant.

Patients receive their test results within one to two weeks. Results also are sent to each patient’s primary care physician. If the mammogram shows a potential abnormality, the patient is referred for follow-up care.

The unit is handicap accessible, with a wheelchair lift entering directly into the mammography suite, and can accommodate women in a standing or seated position.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,240 students, 913 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

 

REMINDER: FIRST ARKANSAS GROWN CONFERENCE AND EXPO SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 2023
Registration Deadline is January 11, 2023
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Grown program, administered through the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, will partner with several Arkansas agricultural associations and organizations to host the first Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo on January 25-28, 2023, in Little Rock.

The conference and expo will consist of workshops, speakers, off-site farm tours, networking opportunities, and a vendor trade show. Evening events at the Sunset Lodge at Rusty Tractor Vineyard and the University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute will showcase Arkansas Grown food and include an Arkansas Grown wine tasting.

The Arkansas Grown Conference and Expo is open to all parties interested in the Arkansas agriculture industry and will focus on farmers and producers who produce for the local food system.

Partner organizations include the Arkansas State Horticulture Society, Arkansas Association of Grape Growers, Arkansas Farmers Market Association, Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention, Arkansas Blackberry Growers Association, and Arkansas Agritourism Association.

The four-day event will be held at the Embassy Suites in West Little Rock. The deadline to register and make hotel room reservations is January 11, 2023. For more conference details and to register, go to arkansasgrown.org/arkansas-grown-conference-expo/.

The sponsor and vendor booth registration deadline has been extended to January 11, 2023. For more information, visit arkansasgrown.org/arkansas-grown-conference-expo/ or contact Beth Moore at beth.moore@arkansas.agriculture.gov

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://agriculture.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.

 

WESTERMAN REMAINS COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING KEVIN MCCARTHY FOR SPEAKER
WASHINGTON - Today, the House of Representatives took a series of votes to elect the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The House recessed until January 4th without choosing a Speaker. Representative Westerman issued the following statement in response:

“While I am frustrated that the House could not agree on a choice for Speaker today, we are working through this process in good faith. This is not the first time the House Speaker’s race has gone through multiple ballots, and I’m sure it won’t be the last either. Choosing who is third in line to the Presidency is critical, and the process we go through to make that choice should be serious and deliberate.

As the House continues our process tomorrow, I hope my colleagues will see that supporting Kevin McCarthy gives the American people the greatest opportunity for success in the next two years. He is committed to moving us forward under a conservative vision that prioritizes American security, energy independence, and economic growth. Arkansas’s Fourth District families have placed their trust in me, and I want to get to work for them now.”

January 3, 2023

HAMPTON SCHOOLS TO CONTINUE AMI INSTRUCTION ON WEDNESDAY
Due to water damage and ongoing repairs, Hampton School District will take another AMI day Wednesday, January 4, 2023 for all grades PK-12.

All staff will work onsite.

AMI Days count as instructional days and teachers will have assignments available for students. Please make sure students check their email for assignments. Teachers will be available through email or you are welcome to call the offices. The Elementary Office can be reached at 798-6130 and the High School Office can be reached at 798-6104.

If an additional AMI Day is needed, a notification will be posted as soon as possible.

BOOZMAN BEGINS THIRD U.S. SENATE TERM
Lawmaker, Joined by Family, Takes Oath of Office and Reaffirms Commitment to Serving Arkansans
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) began his third term representing Arkansas in the United States Senate after being sworn in during the chamber’s first meeting of the 118th Congress on Tuesday.

“Serving the people of Arkansas has been the honor of my life, and I’m deeply grateful they’ve entrusted me to represent them once again in the U.S. Senate. I will never take it for granted and will work tirelessly on their behalf to advance our Natural State values. I look forward to the opportunity to serve as their voice in Washington for another term and pray for wisdom to fulfill my duty to them and our country,” Boozman said.

Boozman is the dean of the Arkansas Congressional delegation and the first Republican senator to represent the Natural State in the U.S. Senate for a third term. His wife, Cathy, three daughters and four grandchildren joined the senator for the historic occasion. Boozman took the oath of office on a New Testament Bible carried by his father during WWII.

In the 118th Congress, Boozman is expected to continue serving as the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in addition to serving on the Appropriations, Environment and Public Works, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.

December 30, 2022

CADC ANNOUNCES WINTER LIHEAP UTILITY ASSISTANCE
Benton – Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) announced today that the 2023 Winter LIHEAP Utility Assistance program will begin the week of January 9, 2023 and continue as long as funds are available.  Applications will be accepted in 19 counties in the CADC service area: Calhoun, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Layfette, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Saline, Sevier and Union. Additional information can be found on the CADC website by visiting www.cadc.com/utility-assistance

For Community Action Agency information for other Arkansas counties, go to 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.


GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON COMMUTES SENTENCE FOR 83-YEAR-OLD CAMDEN MAN
Governor Asa Hutchinson has commuted the murder sentence of Samuel Billingsley. The governor made the announcement Tuesday afternoon along with 42 pardons and another commutation.

Samuel Billingsley is currently being held in the Arkansas Department of Corrections for the 1965 shooting of W.H. Ardin, a Camden liquor store owner. Billingsley was convicted at the age of 26 for first degree murder and burglary. His sentence was a life term plus five years.

He reportedly killed the liquor store owner over a $14.80 discrepancy in a paycheck that was cashed for him in Ouachita County. Billingsley was arrested by Ouachita County Sheriff Faver Linbarrier and Camden Police Chief G.B. Cole. He was traveling with his wife on Highway 7 when arrested."

Billingsley has been recommended for commutation by the Arkansas Parole Board several times. The latest recommendation came in early 2022. He will become parole eligible when his sentence is commuted.


2022 SCHOOL, DISTRICT, AND STATE REPORT CARDS RELEASED 
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released today the 2022 Report Cards for schools, districts, and the state. The reports reflect available school performance data for the 2021-2022 school year.

Report card data are pulled from school district certified cycle and graduation data submitted to DESE. These reports, which are required by state and federal laws, are released as data are available and serve to communicate a school’s progress to the public. Colored indicators in the report cards reflect the current data status for each module. All modules will be completed and uploaded to the My School Info website by April 15, 2023. 

The report cards serve as a communication tool to encourage dialogue and inform decisions within each school community. School-level improvement plans and district support plans may be updated as schools and districts review their data. All stakeholders are encouraged to participate in these discussions. 

After exploring the report cards, stakeholders are encouraged to complete the following survey to provide feedback to DESE, as well as suggestions for improvement: https://bit.ly/3FDxiPg (English) and https://bit.ly/3uY57FU (Spanish).

The reports are available at the Report Card tab on the My School Info website: (https://bit.ly/3V5WpjA), Additional information about the report cards is available at https://bit.ly/3hrfDm5. To learn more about the different reports published by DESE, visit https://bit.ly/3YrHGlQ.


THIS NEW YEAR, LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY ONLINE
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
Social Security programs touch the lives of more than 70 million people. We work hard to ensure critical benefits and other services are accessible to you.  Consider the start of the new year as an opportunity for you to engage with Social Security online. This begins with creating your free and secure personal my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

Once you create an account, you can:
Apply for retirement, spouses, or disability benefits.
Apply for Medicare.
Check your application status.
Request a replacement Social Security number card.

If you do not receive Social Security benefits, you can use your personal my Social Security account to:
Get personalized retirement benefit estimates.
Get your Social Security Statement.
Get estimates for spouse’s benefits.
Get instant proof that you do not receive benefits.

If you receive benefits, you can use your personal my Social Security account to:
Change your address (Social Security benefits only).
Set up or change your direct deposit information (Social Security benefits only).
Instantly get proof of benefits.
Print your SSA-1099.

Your personal my Social Security account has a secure Message Center. You can choose to receive the annual cost-of-living adjustments and the income-related monthly adjustment amount online. Unless you opt-out of receiving notices by mail that are available online, you will receive both mailed and online notices.

Your personal my Social Security account offers easy access to features that save you time when you do business with us online. Check out our other resources available at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices for your convenience.

 

TOBACCO-FREE ‘23: THREE REASONS WHY THIS IS THE YEAR FOR ARKANSAS RESIDENTS TO QUIT TOBACCO FOR GOOD
The American Lung Association encourages people who use tobacco to make a resolution to quit in 2023, provides tips and resources
LITTLE ROCK – (December 28, 2022) – While tobacco use has been declining for decades, 20.5% of Arkansas residents still smoke and tobacco is the leading cause of death and disease in the state. Through the new “Tobacco-Free ‘23” campaign, the American Lung Association in Arkansas is sharing key reasons why 2023 is the year to quit tobacco, as well as sharing tips and resources. 

“Each year, quitting smoking is listed as one of the top New Year’s resolutions. While quitting smoking is extremely difficult, it is possible. In fact, it typically takes a person 8-10 attempts to quit smoking for good, which is why we call it a journey,” said Laura Turner, senior manager of advocacy for Arkansas for the American Lung Association. “It is important to have support during this process, including family, friends and your doctor, to help keep you on the right path.”

 

Here are three important reasons why 2023 is the year to start your journey to become tobacco-free:

Your Health: Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Arkansas, killing 5,790 people each year. Currently, 16 million Americans live with a tobacco-related disease. While it’s best to quit as early as possible, quitting tobacco use at any age will enhance the length and quality of your life.

FDA is Preparing to End Sales of Menthol Cigarettes: Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the process of finalizing rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the U.S. If you use one of these tobacco products, this is an optimal time to begin your quit journey.  In fact, after Canada stopped selling menthol cigarettes in 2017, the country saw an increase in quit attempts and cessation among people who smoked menthols.

Be An Inspiration! Last year, the American Lung Association relaunched the “Super Stoppers Club” with award-winning journalist Bob Levey to celebrate people who have quit smoking for good and inspire those who are trying to quit. Read inspiring quit stories and submit your own at Lung.org/Super-Stoppers.

*Bonus: If your New Year’s resolution is to save money, quitting smoking can save you between $2,230-$4,360 annually

Here are some of the tips and resources the American Lung Association recommends to successfully quit tobacco:

Lung Helpline: Not sure where to start? Call the Lung Association’s free Lung Helpline and Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-LUNGUSA, which is staffed with licensed registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment specialists.

Talk to your healthcare provider: Talking to a healthcare provider about your plan to quit smoking is an important step. With your doctor’s help, you can include cessation medication into your tobacco treatment plan, which can double your chances of quitting successfully. There are seven FDA-approved medications that are proven to help you quit.

Get help from a proven resource: The American Lung Association offers resources to help adults and teens to quit all tobacco products, including:

Freedom From Smoking® helps individuals create their own unique quit plan, as well as tips and techniques to stay successful in the long run. Freedom From Smoking can be accessed online, at a group class and through a self-guided workbook. Those looking to quit smoking are encouraged to use the method that works best for their learning style, schedule and unique quit tobacco use plan.

Not-On-Tobacco® (N-O-T) is a teen smoking/chewing/vaping cessation program for teens who want to quit. The 10-session program provides the tools, information, and support for teens to end their addiction to tobacco. Teens can participate in NOT in-person, virtually or online at NOTforMe.org.

Quit. Don’t Switch. E-cigarettes are tobacco products, and the FDA has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. Switching to e-cigarettes does not mean quitting. Quitting means ending your addiction to nicotine.

For more information about quitting tobacco for “Tobacco-Free ’23,” visit the American Lung Association website at Lung.org or call the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

 

BOOZMAN-BACKED IMPROVEMENTS TO VETERANS BENEFITS HEADED TO PRESIDENT’S DESK TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW
WASHINGTON– The Senate advanced a trio of bills strengthening veterans benefits championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“We made a promise to the men and women who wore our nation’s uniform. I’m proud to advocate for veterans and fulfill our promise to them. I urge the president to quickly sign these bills into law,” Boozman said.

Boozman and Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) led measures to ensure veteran survivors of military sexual trauma (MST) have access to trained peer support specialists within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and to make it easier for veterans with service-related conditions to receive the clothing allowance benefit they earned.

The VA Peer Support Enhancement for MST Survivors Act requires the VA to modernize how it cares for survivors of MST by assigning a trained peer support specialist to every individual who files a claim relating to MST to help them through the process.

The VA Clothing Allowance Improvement Act will reduce the annual claim filing burden for veterans whose use of prosthetics, orthopedic devices or medications causes irregular wear or damage to their clothing and authorize automatic renewal of the benefit. This legislation was included in a larger veterans package included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023.

Boozman also joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to successfully expedite disbursement of veterans’ life insurance benefits. The Senate approved the Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022 which will ensure veterans’ surviving family members or beneficiaries will receive the VA benefits their loved ones earned through their service to our country in a timely fashion.

These bills are among several veterans-related measures headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

As a result of Boozman’s leadership, a number of additional significant improvements were made to veterans benefits during the 117th Congress including:

The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, landmark legislation expanding VA health care to toxic-exposed veterans of all eras.

The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act, legislation requiring the VA to conduct mammograms for all women veterans who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures.

Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act which will require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute. The legislation would also require the VA to upgrade all in-house breast imaging to 3D mammography, which is considered the gold standard of imaging technology.

Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021, a measure providing the VA Office of Inspector General with the authority to subpoena testimony from former VA employees who have left federal service, former contractor personnel who performed work for the department, or other potentially relevant individuals during its inspections, reviews and investigations.

The Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act to provide no-cost vaccination services at the VA to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the VA (CHAMPVA) recipients.

December 22, 2022

ENTERGY ARKANSAS PREPPED FOR FREEZING TEMPS, HIGH WINDS, PRECIPITATION THROUGH HOLIDAYS COMPANY ENCOURAGES CUSTOMERS TO PLAN FOR POSSIBLE POWER OUTAGES
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Entergy Arkansas is prepared for the likelihood that winter weather will affect parts of the company's service territory. Thursday through Saturday (Dec. 22-24) with temperatures below freezing, strong winds and precipitation. Forecasts call for sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph and precipitation, particularly in the northern part of the state. Alone or combined, this could damage equipment and bring down tree limbs onto power lines, causing outages.

While crews have readied equipment and are prepared to restore power as quickly and safely as possible through the cold holiday weekend, Entergy Arkansas urges customers to plan for outages during freezing temperatures forecast Thursday through Saturday. It’s important to be prepared at your home or business for freezing weather and possible power outages with a basic emergency supply kit, along with a family emergency plan. Act now to winterize your home or business with some simple steps like insulating water pipes, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and ensuring fire extinguishers are ready for use.

Should a power outage occur when the winter weather arrives, crews will assess damage to electric equipment and facilities to determine what corrective actions and repairs are needed. The company will restore power to customers as safely and quickly as possible.

Subfreezing temperatures and dangerous wind chills, however, will affect restoration times as the safety of our crews is of the utmost importance. Customers are encouraged to enroll for outage alerts via the Entergy app or text message. Those who have signed up for outage alert messages will receive initial estimated restoration times longer than usual because of the extreme weather conditions, but those times will be revised throughout the process as damage assessments are completed.

Entergy uses a methodical and calculated process in bringing customers back online after an outage, regardless of whether the initial cause of the outage was specifically weather-related. Cold weather restoration is handled differently. More information on the process can be found in the Entergy Storm Center.

You can also find more instructions on how to prepare your family’s emergency preparedness kit on the Entergy Storm Center, and keep in mind:

Customers who choose to use a generator should follow all manufacturer’s instructions. This includes hooking appliances directly to the generator, not their home. Connecting a generator to the home could damage a home’s equipment or Entergy equipment if not done by a professional.

Stay away from downed lines and debris, as it can obscure a power line that could still be energized and dangerous. Downed lines can be reported using the Entergy app, the www.entergy-arkansas.com website, or by calling 1-800-9OUTAGE.

Before you call to report an outage, check all circuit breakers or fuses to determine if your service outage might be the result of a household problem.

Visually inspect the area outside your home near the meter. If the meter or any of the piping and wires on the wall of your home or office is gone or look damaged, call an electrician for advice.

If problems are apparent, Entergy will re-connect your service or assist in determining whether you have a household problem.

Visit the Entergy Storm Center for more pre- and post-storm safety tips.

Staying informed before, during and after extreme weather strikes is just as important as making personal power outage plans. Here’s how you can stay up to date on our preparations and restoration efforts:

Download the Entergy app. Customers can use the app to report outages or check on the status of power at their home or business.

Check Entergy’s View Outage map. Maps show where outages are located and give information about restoration progress.

Follow Entergy on Facebook and Twitter. Social media also plays an important role in keeping you informed, and we place a high priority on updating our social media channels throughout an event.

Text us: If you are signed up to receive our notifications, you can text OUT to 36778 to report an outage or STAT for the status of your power outage. To sign up for text messaging, go to myEntergy.com or by texting REG to 36778. Have your account number and ZIP code handy. The registration pattern is as follows including spaces: REG (account number) (ZIP code).

Visit the Entergy Storm Center website. The site has storm safety, preparation and restoration information that is updated throughout the day.

Download the Operation: Storm Ready Guide. This guide will help you plan and prepare for weather emergencies. Information is also available in Spanish.

Following the storm, check Entergy’s View Outage map for the latest information about restoration progress.

 

ARKANSAS STATE PARKS INTRODUCES CLUB 52 PROGRAM
Visitors get reward items for stamped passports
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Arkansas State Parks is introducing Club 52, a rewards program that encourages people to visit all 52 state parks. Club 52 is an extension of the Arkansas State Parks Passport Program, which helps guests document trips to state parks by receiving a stamp (or stamp rubbing) in an Arkansas State Parks Passport. Club 52 members get their passports stamped when they visit a state park and earn rewards for visits of five parks, 25 parks and 52 parks.
 
Club 52 is free and open to anyone who wants to “Get Out to Get In,” as the program’s slogan states.
 
“Club 52 is a fun way to explore Arkansas state parks and make your own adventure,” said Shea Lewis, director of Arkansas State Parks. “Whether you have been to a park before or this is your first visit, Club 52 gives you another way to mark your journey.”
 
A free passport can be picked up at an Arkansas State Park visitor center. Passports can be stamped at a visitor center, or a rubbing of the stamp can be made in parks where there is not a visitor center. To redeem rewards, Club 52 members can take their passport to an Arkansas state park visitor center during normal business hours (call before) and have staff check their passport stamps.
 
With five park stamps, guests receive a Club 52 sticker. With 25 park stamps, the reward is a set of Club 52 playing cards. Those who collect 52 park stamps receive a Club 52 T-shirt. Stickers and playing cards can be redeemed immediately. T-shirts will be ordered and mailed to the member. Stamps must all be in one Arkansas State Parks passport and cannot be combined in different passports.
 
“There is something for everyone to experience at our state parks,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “Club 52 gives an extra incentive to discover something special at each park while making memories to last a lifetime.”
 
Arkansas State Parks encourages Club 52 members to share the excitement of their journey by uploading photos and videos at ArkansasStateParks.com/passport and on social media using the hashtag #ARStateParks.


ENTERGY ARKANSAS, LITTLE ROCK FIREFIGHTERS DISTRIBUTE COATS IN LRSD
800 students served through ‘Operation Warm'
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Entergy Arkansas and the Little Rock International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 34 partnered again this year to donate “Operation Warm” coats to hundreds of students in the Little Rock School District Wednesday, just as a cold front starts making its way into the company’s service territory and the students’ winter break begins.

Operation Warm is a national nonprofit that manufactures high-quality coats and shoes for children in need. The coats are designed and manufactured by the nonprofit to be long-wearing, water repellent and machine washable, with a warm fleece lining, deep pockets to keep little hands warm even without gloves, and detachable hoods. They come in sizes 2T to adult. Since 1998, the organization has provided 5 million coats to kids in need across the United States.

The IAFF Union 34 began working with the national nonprofit several years ago after seeing a group of young children shivering at a school bus stop near their firehouse.      

“Helping people during times of trouble is our job, but it’s also part of who we are,” said IAFF Union 34 Vice President Matthew Stallings. “We work year-round to support this program, and the last few weeks have been a concerted effort with Entergy and the Little Rock School District to determine the needs of the students and organize the coats for distribution. It’s worth any effort, though, to see those smiling faces as we do what we can to help children in our community weather the cold.”

With the support of a $10,000 grant from Entergy Arkansas and payroll-deduction contributions from members of IAFF Local 34, firefighters purchased 800 new coats for children at Rockefeller and Romine Early Childhood Centers and Gibbs Magnet Elementary.

“The gift of a coat is more than just providing a garment – it also warms our hearts to know that we have caring partners like the Union 34 firefighters and Entergy who see a need and work to address that need year after year,” Supt. Dr. Jermall Wright said. “Since 2015, hundreds of students at schools across the Little Rock School District have benefited from their generosity, and we can’t thank them enough for their continued commitment to and investment in our community.”

Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux said, “While Entergy Arkansas supports Operation Warm with funding and volunteers, the Little Rock Fire Fighters Union 314 members make individual donations and spearhead the effort by contacting the schools to determine the number of coats needed, the sizes and gender of the students, ordering the coats and organizing them for delivery.

“Our charitable foundation works with partners year-round and across the state to better our communities through grants and volunteerism, and this event is one of our favorites each year,” she continued. “’We Power Life’ is more than a tagline about providing electricity – we make it a part of our company’s culture to support the communities we serve, which is also where we live, work, raise our families and more. Helping meet the needs of children and showing how much we care about their well-being helps them grow as adults into strong, healthy, community leaders. It’s truly an honor and a joy to be part of this effort.”

Schools with students who received coats years prior were Washington and Bale (2021), Wakefield and Meadowcliff (2020), Chicot (2019), Stephens (2018), Booker Arts Magnet (2017), Baseline (2016), Geyer Springs Gifted and Talented (2015).
 

USDA NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE ACCEPTING 2023 APPLICATIONS FOR TWO REGIONAL CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM PROJECTS IN ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK, Dec. 20, 2022 – Farmers and landowners in two USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)  Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCCP) project areas in Arkansas can apply to receive assistance to implement conservation activities. The projects will offer financial assistance to landowners in fiscal year 2023.

Farmers and landowners in Arkansas who submit applications to their local NRCS office by January 27, 2023, will be considered for this round of funding. Applications received after January 27 will be considered in later funding periods, subject to funding availability.

“RCPP is a unique program that leverages non-federal investments brought by conservation partners to accelerate conservation in selected project areas,” said Arkansas NRCS State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “This approach helps us maximize use of our collective resources to address locally identified concerns.”

The RCPP projects and associated counties with projects are:
Buffalo River Partnership Project (portions of Baxter, Boone, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy, Stone, and Van Buren counties): The project is designed to collaborate with interested farmers and landowners to increase agricultural sustainability by implementing voluntary conservation practices within the Buffalo River Watershed. Partners seek to collaborate with local farmers, landowners and community leaders in priority watersheds to identify resource concerns and conservation practices to improve farm sustainability and water quality, reduce sediment and nutrient loads to the Buffalo River by providing technical and financial assistance to implement practices that improves pasture and nutrient management, restore eroding streambanks to prevent loss of pastureland and reduce maintenance costs and sediment loads from erosion of unpaved roads, and assist interested landowners conserve key conservation lands to prevent future erosion and nutrient loads in the Buffalo River watershed. (Lead Partner: The Nature Conservancy)

The East Arkansas Delta RCPP project:  The project will implement innovative, effective and compelling solutions for the primary resource concerns related to land improvement/management/restoration of row crop and alternative crop producers and landowners in Lee, St. Francis, Monroe and Phillips counties. The objectives are to provide technical and financial assistance to all eligible producers and landowners, including socially disadvantaged producers and landowners in four select StrikeForce counties to improve their resource management and cropping systems and to help producers and landowners to identify the conservation activities to they need to solve their conservation problems and install appropriate innovative conservation practices to decrease water quality degradation; improve habitat for fish, wildlife, and invertebrates; and reduce excess/insufficient water/drought.

Individuals and other entities actively engaged in agricultural production are eligible to participate in RCPP. RCPP offers a continuous application sign-up. However, to be considered for funding, applications must be received by January 27 2023. Applicants can sign up for the 2023 program year by contacting their local USDA Field Service Center.

All applications will be evaluated for funding based on how well they align with project priorities using procedures to optimize environmental benefits. Applications ranking highest in a funding category will be funded according to priority and is subject to availability of program funds.

Online services are available to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the www.farmers.gov portal where producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at www.farmers.gov/sign-in. Online NRCS services are available to customers through the Conservation Client Gateway link which can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov. Customers can track payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance and electronically sign documents.

RCPP promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns. Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.

For more information, visit http://www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov/ or contact your local USDA/NRCS Field Service Center.
 

BOOZMAN, COTTON PAY TRIBUTE TO FALLEN ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
Detective Newell, Sgt. Scoby, Officer Parks Will Be Remembered for the Their Selfless Sacrifice
WASHINGTON–– Arkansas U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton paid tribute on the Senate floor to the service and sacrifice of Benton County Sheriff’s Detective Paul Newell, Stuttgart Police Sergeant Donald Scoby and Jonesboro Police Officer Vincent Parks.

“These individuals selflessly volunteer for this duty while accepting that the dangers of the job also put them in harm’s way. It takes a special person to take on that responsibility, and that fact must never be lost on us,” Boozman said.

“All of Arkansas mourns the loss of these brave men in uniform. Their courage and selflessness will not soon be forgotten. I pray that God will bring their families and loved ones the peace that comes from knowing their sacrifice was not in vain,” Cotton said

 

SENATE PASSES BOOZMAN BILL DESIGNATING BUTTERFIELD TRAIL AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL WASHINGTON—The Senate Tuesday night passed U.S. Senator John Boozman’s (R-AR) legislation to designate the Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail. The measure, which the senator has shepherded through Congress in stages since he was a member of the House of Representatives, is now one step closer to becoming law.

The route, operated from 1858-1861 by the Butterfield Overland Mail Company and also known as the Butterfield Stage, was used to transport U.S. mail and passengers between St. Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California, serving as the route of the longest stagecoach operation in history. It became known as the “ox-bow route” due to its curved path comprised of approximately 3,553 miles of trail routes in eight states: Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

“The Butterfield Trail helped facilitate America’s westward expansion and is a symbol of the pioneering spirit we still seek to embody. Designating it as a National Historic Trail will help future generations identify it with our nation’s growth and development,” Boozman said. “I’m pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan way to build the support necessary to approve it in the Senate. I encourage the House to follow suit and will continue championing this proposal until we get it across the finish line.”

Boozman amended the original legislation to specifically preclude any potential effect on energy development, production or transmission as a result of the trail designation and has worked with every senator that would see this trail pass through their state to ensure they support the effort.

In 2018, after conducting a study to evaluate the significance, feasibility, suitability and desirability of designating the routes associated with the Butterfield Overland Trail as a National Historic Trail, the National Park Service (NPS) announced they meet the requirements. The study was required by a provision of Public Law 111-11 authored by Boozman during his tenure as Congressman for the Third District of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The routes from St. Louis and Memphis merged in Fort Smith, and the Butterfield Overland Express stagecoaches traveled through much of Arkansas. Stagecoaches made stops between Memphis and Fort Smith in St. Francis, Prairie, Lonoke, Faulkner, Conway, Pope, Yell, Logan and Franklin counties. The northwestern route that came out of Missouri included stops in Benton, Washington and Crawford counties.

Four segments of the roads the Butterfield Overland Express traveled over in Arkansas have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Potts home, a well-preserved Arkansas way station for the Butterfield Express, is still standing in Pope County and is maintained as the Potts Inn Museum by the Pope County Historical Foundation.

December 20, 2022

Mayor Harry Brown of Stephens is reminding all citizens of Stephens to leave water dripping throughout the upcoming frigid temperatures. This is to include Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

ARKANSAS STATE PARKS TO CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR WITH FIRST DAY HIKES
Participants can earn a commemorative Arkansas State Parks centennial sticker
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) – Arkansas State Parks encourages Arkansans to start the new year on the right foot with First Day Hikes on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. Led by America’s State Parks, First Day Hikes encourage everyone to celebrate the new year with time spent outdoors, focusing on healthy habits and lifelong memories.
 
“Visiting a state park is a great way to get outside, enjoy nature and welcome the new year with family and friends,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
 
This nationwide annual tradition targets the first of January and the start of a new year to promote year-round recreation and healthy lifestyles that can be experienced locally in state parks.
 
“First Day Hikes have become a family tradition for many Arkansans,” said Shea Lewis, director of Arkansas State Parks. “Some families visit the same park every year while others pick a new park to visit each year. We applaud their efforts and challenge all Arkansans to join in and start a First Day Hikes tradition of their own.”
 
Visitors to Arkansas State Parks can participate in the initiative by taking a self-guided hike or going on a ranger-led hike on the first day of the year or “First Weekend” (Dec. 31- Jan.2). Participants can get a free sticker commemorating Arkansas State Parks’ centennial this year in one of two ways: going on a guided hike at a state park on Jan. 1 and receiving the sticker from the park or completing a self-guided hike at a state park and logging their miles at ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes.
 
“Whether visitors explore on their own or go on a guided hike, guests will have the opportunity to help us celebrate our centennial year,” said Kelly Farrell, chief of interpretation. “Our hope is that 2023 is a year of discovery and exploration and our guests’ curiosity fuels their connection to state parks and their lifelong memories.”
 
Visitors can find scheduled guided hikes, tips to recreate responsibly, what to bring and how to share your First Day Hike photos and/or videos at ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes. Participants can also use #ARStateParks and #FirstDayHikes to share on social media. Please note, a few park locations are closed on the Jan. 1 holiday but will reopen on Jan. 2.
 
Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 55,006 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities, and unique historic and cultural resources. Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism and provide leadership in resource conservation. Connect with ASP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and visit ArkansasStateParks.com and ArkansasStateParks.com/media to learn more.
 
Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism protects and promotes our state’s natural, cultural and historic assets, contributing to a thriving economy and high quality of life. It is made up of three divisions: Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Heritage and Arkansas Tourism. Stacy Hurst serves as the cabinet secretary for the department.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CAUTIONS HORSE OWNERS FOLLOWING RECALL OF ALFALFA PRODUCT 
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture cautions horse owners and handlers in Arkansas following a voluntary recall of alfalfa cubes from Manzanola Feeds due to a possible Clostridium botulinum health risk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice on December 17 advising horse owners not to feed Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622. This product has been recalled by Manzanola Feeds of Manzanola, Colorado, which distributes directly to feed stores and co-ops in the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin. Further distribution is possible, so it is important to check the date codes located on the front of the bag.

The FDA is aware of at least 98 horses in four states that showed neurologic symptoms. These cases of illness and death in horses are being investigated in cooperation with state departments of agriculture in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. The symptoms in the cases reported are consistent with botulism, and further testing is underway. At least 45 of these horses have died or were euthanized due to declining health.

Clostridium botulinum is an organism that can cause severe and potentially fatal toxicity in animals eating the contaminated food or encountering areas that have been exposed to the product. Horse owners and handlers should take precautions to protect human and animal health and immediately consult a veterinarian if your horse ate this product and shows signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing, or collapse.

To read the full FDA release visit fda.gov/animal-veterinary/outbreaks-and-advisories/fda-cautions-horse-owners-not-feed-recalled-lots-top-rockies-alfalfa-cubes-due-reports-illness-and.

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://agriculture.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.

 

PENTAGON CONTRACT TO BOOST CAMDEN ROCKET PRODUCTION
A new $431 million Pentagon contract will increase production of rocket launchers and missiles at Lockheed Martin's campus in Camden, the Arkansas Advocate reports.

•The contract is part of President Biden's most recent Ukraine security package

• It calls for full-rate production of four HI MARS launchers and 18 M777 howitzers headed for Ukraine

• It will also allow the government to replenish U.S. military stockpiles and support American allies and partners

Looking ahead: Military analyst Tom Karako expects the Pentagon to order "quite a bit more" rocket systems from Camden as the Ukraine conflict continues.

Karako: "The demand signal for what is being produced in Arkansas is skyrocketing. Camden and the production facility there have a special value to the U.S. and allies.

STATEMENT REGARDING FORECAST FRIGID TEMPERATURES FROM CAMDEN WATER UTILITIES
With the forecast calling for temperatures to be in the teens, Camden Water Utilities would like to remind all citizens in the city and county to let their faucets drip. Letting your faucets drip will prevent the water from standing still in your service lines which will allow it to freeze when temps are this low. It's always a good idea to know how and where to turn your water service off in case of an emergency and have the necessary tools available to do so. If your water service does freeze, go ahead and tum the water off until the weather has warmed up. Chances are, if your water lines have frozen you're going to have a busted water line when it thaws out, which can run your water bill up into the hundreds of dollars if neglected.

Customers need to also wrap outside faucets and if you have other structures or buildings with water service you need to consider those as well. Inspect those structures and buildings as soon as the temps get above freezing to be assured you don't have a busted line. If your home has a crawl space make sure the vents from the outside are closed or sealed off.

Dripping water is a small price to pay for insurance to prevent your water service lines from freezing.

Other things to consider is outside animals. Provide them with a warm place to get out of the wind and make sure their drinking water is not frozen for a long period of time.

Sincerely, David Richardson
Camden Water Utilities, General Manager

 

CHILD’S BODY DISCOVERED BURIED IN LEE COUNTY HOME; SECOND CHILD FOUND INJURED
DECEMBER 17, 2022
The body of a 6 year-old boy was discovered buried below a hallway floor inside a Lee County home last night (Friday, December 16th).  Special agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were called to the scene by Lee County sheriff’s deputies about 10:45 PM.  Agents are also investigating injuries, believed to be burns to the scalp, sustained by a 6 year-old girl who also lived in the same home located in the Moro community west of Marianna.

Ashely Roland, 28, the mother of the children, and Nathan Bridges, 33, have been arrested by the state police and are being held at the Lee County Jail.  Both are charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Based on initial findings, it’s believed the boy died from injuries sustained in the home, possibly three months ago.  The state medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of death.

The injured girl has been transported to a Memphis hospital and is reported to be in stable condition.

 

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR’S FOOD DESERT WORKING GROUP RELEASE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Little Rock, AR—The Governor’s Food Desert Working Group released its report and recommendations Friday morning, at Little Rock Union Station, to elected officials, community leaders, potential funders, and interested citizens.

Co-Chair and Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance CEO Kathy Webb detailed the problem, noting that 62 of the 75 counties in Arkansas have areas considered food deserts. Those are, according to the definition used by the group from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, “geographical areas where residents have few to no convenient options for securing affordable and healthy foods-especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Disproportionately found in high poverty areas, food deserts create extra everyday hurdles that can make it harder for kids, families, and communities to grow strong and healthy.” Webb thanked Governor Hutchinson, who in a written statement said, “the recommendations put forward today by this diverse working group on food insecurity offer a blueprint to all levels of government, business, community leaders, non-profits, foundations, and more.”

Dr. Joe Thompson, President and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) reviewed several recommendations related to government, including tax incentives for grocers, a revolving loan program, and easier use of benefits for online grocery ordering.

Rachel Spencer from the Walmart Foundation discussed how some models the group reviewed used foundation dollars, stacked with private investment, and government support, to create sustainable grocery stores or alternative models. One model Spencer discussed, the Grocery Online Ordering Delivery Service (GOODS) model in Drew, Mississippi, received money from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Altheimer Mayor Zola Hudson accompanied the Working Group to Drew to see how the model works, then returned a second time with additional community leaders. Mayor Hudson said getting a place for groceries, including fresh fruits and vegetables, in Altheimer, would “mean the world” to her town.

Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas CEO Christie Jordan shared several of the successful models the group studied, including a city-owned grocery store, a subscription self-service market, a grocery distribution hub, and a healthy corner market, that is launching in northeast Arkansas soon.

Kenya Eddings, Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission said that this is the beginning, not the end, and that the group will continue to examine models and ideas that can make a difference to Arkansans. The report, prepared by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, can be found at www.arhungeralliance.org.

 

COTTON STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF NDAA
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the annual National Defense Authorization Act:

“Our troops pledge their lives to the defense of the United States, and this bill gives them more support and funding to perform that important mission. It invests significantly more than President Biden called for, and it also excludes the worst aspects of the Democrats’ social engineering plans, like forcing women into the draft, gender-based fitness tests for ground-combat jobs, and ‘extremism’ training. I’m also pleased that this bill includes increased research and development for our nuclear defense, as well as for bolstering the munitions our military needs. While we must remain vigilant, America is now better prepared to ward off her enemies.”
 

BOOZMAN SUPPORTS BILL STRENGTHENING NATIONAL DEFENSE
Legislation Boosts Arkansas’s National Security Missions, Includes Multiple Boozman-Authored Measures
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), critical legislation that provides for national security priorities, protects and bolsters defense missions in Arkansas as well as ensures America’s servicemembers are supplied the tools, resources and training necessary to defend our homeland and interests.

“Congress has a constitutional duty to provide for our national defense and the NDAA is instrumental to that,” Boozman said. “At a time of global unrest and increasing competition with China, we must adequately prepare and equip our Armed Forces to maintain our military superiority. I’m pleased this bill does that in addition to expanding crucial support for servicemembers and their families while also protecting the posts and industries in Arkansas that make significant contributions to our national security.”

The bill rescinds the Department of Defense’s (DoD) COVID vaccine mandate, authorizes a 4.6 percent pay raise for U.S. military personnel and makes key investments in our ability to deter threats from Russia, China and beyond. In total, it authorizes $857 billion in spending on America’s defense – $45 billion higher than the amount requested by the Biden administration.

Boozman championed a number of provisions in the legislation, including:

Directing DoD to examine and brief Congress on attempts by the People’s Republic of China to acquire land located in close proximity to U.S. military installations and any ongoing efforts to counter such occurrences.

Investing in Arkansas-based defense facilities that train our warfighters and produce vital materials in addition to generating numerous jobs and economic benefits for local communities, while also ensuring defense industries with a Natural State presence can continue fulfilling U.S. combat readiness needs.

Supporting military families by helping servicemembers’ spouses access adequate programs and assistance to pursue or continue their employment, which improves overall quality of life.

Advocating for increased utilization of services and products made by blind and other disabled Americans, including wounded warriors, for DoD procurement purposes.
 

BOOZMAN PROVISIONS TO STRENGTHEN ARKANSAS WATER RESOURCES INCLUDED IN LEGISLATION HEADED TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, applauded passage of legislation to improve the country’s water resources, which included provisions he championed to strengthen Arkansas water and wastewater projects.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 invests in ports and inland waterways, authorizes flood control and improves U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) programs.  

“The Water Resources Development Act strengthens our state’s waterways and ensures we have safe and reliable sources of drinking water while promoting transportation, job creation and commerce. This bipartisan bill demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together. I’m proud to vote for this legislation and support investments in America’s water resources,” Boozman said.

Boozman-authored provisions that make critical investments in Arkansas water infrastructure include:

Providing the Corps authority to be more proactive in working with its local partners to address rainfall in the St. Francis watershed as a result of population growth in Jonesboro and Paragould.

Creating a pilot program to allow a locality or a private entity to apply for structural/nonstructural project funding assistance to help with conservation efforts.

Establishing an inland waterways dredging pilot program that would allow the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System to receive funding to dredge the river. This would allow interested parties to use funds to deepen the channel to 12 feet so barges and boats can carry larger loads on the Arkansas River.

Permitting the Corps to reinvest recreation fees to improve facilities where the funds were collected. The provision will create an incentive for the Corps to maintain good facilities and provide quality recreational opportunities on our public lands. More than $8 million was collected at Arkansas Corps recreation facilities in Fiscal Year 2021.

WRDA 2022 was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 and is headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

December 15, 2022

STUTTGART POLICE OFFICER SHOT AND KILLED OVERNIGHT; STATE TROOPER WOUNDED TODAY IN ATTEMPT TO ARREST STONE COUNTY MAN
DECEMBER 15, 2022
A Stuttgart police officer is dead and an Arkansas State Trooper has been wounded as law enforcement authorities attempted to arrest a Stone County man south of Stuttgart.

A vehicle pursuit by Stuttgart police officers that began about 11 PM Wednesday ended south of the city near Rieger Road when the suspect, identified as Jacob Cole Barnes, 31, of Mountain View abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot.

During the foot pursuit, Barnes is believed to have fired on two Stuttgart police officers, resulting in the death of Sergeant Donald Scoby, 45, who was in foot pursuit of the suspect.  Sergeant Scoby was a four year veteran of the Stuttgart Police Department.

Barnes then entered a residence at 593 Rieger Road occupied by a woman who barricaded herself inside the home and subsequently extricated safely by the Arkansas State Police SWAT team shortly before 7 AM today.

Moments later, Barnes shot a state police SWAT team member who sustained a non-life threatening wound and is being treated at a Little Rock hospital.

Barnes was fatally wounded during an exchange of gunfire with SWAT team members.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is leading the investigation into the shooting incident that resulted in the death of Stuttgart Officer Scoby.
 

STOP BEFORE DRIVING IMPAIRED; HOLIDAY LAW ENFORCEMENT PUSH TO PROTECT MOTORISTS
“DRIVE SOBER OR GET PULLED OVER”
DECEMBER 14, 2022The festivities of Christmas and New Year holidays is often mixed with good cheer leading to tragedies on Arkansas roadways.  This year the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety
the dangers of drunk driving.

Beginning this weekend (December 16th – January 1st), Arkansas State Troopers and law enforcement officers from local departments will be working together to get impaired drivers off the road.  The Arkansas Highway Safety Office asks everyone to remember, “Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over”.

According to NHTSA officials, 11,654 people were killed during 2020 in motor vehicle crashes that involved alcohol impaired drivers.  Averages from that year show one person was killed in a drunk driving crash every 45 minutes.  Between 2016 – 2020, on average, more than 10,000 people died each year because of drunk driving crashes.

To reduce the chances of future drunk driving crashes, Arkansas law enforcement officers are working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal but also a matter of life and death.

 “It’s so important that drivers act responsibly, and refrain from driving if they’ve consumed a beverage containing alcohol,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “The holidays are a special time of year for everyone and it’s our job in state and local law enforcement to keep the highways and local streets safe for everyone by arresting anyone who is driving while impaired.”

Federal law, as well as laws in most states around the country, make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher and the penalties for impaired driving can be severe.  If a driver is convicted of driving while intoxicated, the person could face jail time, lose their driver’s license and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, court fines, higher insurance premiums, and experience lost wages.

Designated drivers are a valuable tool for reducing impaired driving.  If you are a designated driver, be sure to stay hydrated with water and other non-alcoholic beverages and actively support other designated drivers.  Being a designated driver can be difficult, but it's important to remember that many people are counting on you, particularly other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets.  A designated driver should remain sober and drive safe while on the road.

“We need a commitment from drivers to stay off the roads if they’ve been drinking alcohol,” said Colonel Bryant.  “This will help ensure everyone can safely enjoy their holiday celebrations when traveling across the state.”

The stepped-up holiday enforcement period allows law enforcement to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and deadly.  The Arkansas State Police and its Highway Safety Office recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

•  It’s never okay to drink and drive.  Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.  Plan a safe way home before you leave.

•  If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi, ride-share service, or a designated driver to drive you home.

•  If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 9-1-1.

•  If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.

•  Always buckle up.  A properly secured seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver. 

For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org .
 

COTTON STATEMENT ON STUTTGART OFFICER KILLED IN LINE OF DUTY
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after Stuttgart police officer Sergeant Donald Scoby was shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday night:

“Sergeant Donald Scoby died serving the community he loved and swore to protect—there is no more noble end to life on this earth. May God grant Sergeant Scoby’s family peace as all of Arkansas mourns his loss. We will not forget his service and bravery.”

 

ICYMI: BOOZMAN RAISES ALARM OVER CHINESE SPYING NEAR MILITARY INSTALLATIONS IN FOX NEWS OP-ED
WASHINGTON–In a piece published today by Fox News digital, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) wrote about the risks to U.S. national security from Chinese Communist Party-linked purchases of land near defense installations on American soil and his provision in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require the federal government to take the next step in securing confidential information about our military operations and preparedness.

“Aside from concerns about taking farmland out of production completely or placing it under the financial direction of antagonistic nations, particularly at a time of rising costs and concerns about the stability of the global food supply, the U.S. must constantly be attentive to our adversaries’ aims to exploit every vulnerability and gain economic and military advantages. That would include expanding its espionage and intelligence gathering activity on American soil,” Boozman wrote.

Boozman’s op-ed is available below.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022
By Sen. John Boozman
Chinese President Xi Jinping has made clear his intention to lead the People’s Republic of China to new heights of global influence and dominance.

When he addressed the 20th Party Congress a few months ago, President Xi outlined his commitment to countering any perceived threats from the U.S., or the west more broadly, to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) authoritarian rule at home and its vision for an even greater international role.

It is time to take the CCP at its word and ensure we are prepared for competition between our countries to further escalate.

One obvious need is to safeguard our nation’s most sensitive secrets and assets from uninvited, malicious actors including those with direct or indirect ties to the People’s Republic of China.

In the last several years, the risk posed by CCP-aligned individuals and entities securing land in proximity to U.S. military bases and other government facilities has only increased.

In 2016, a Chinese businessman who formerly served in the People’s Liberation Army and is connected to numerous CCP officials procured thousands of acres of land in Texas’ Val Verde County, home to Laughlin Air Force Base. Earlier this year, public reports that a Chinese agriculture company is buying 300 acres of land about 15 miles from an air base in Grand Forks, North Dakota have also drawn heightened scrutiny.

The alarm bells should be ringing.

Aside from concerns about taking farmland out of production completely or placing it under the financial direction of antagonistic nations, particularly at a time of rising costs and concerns about the stability of the global food supply, the U.S. must constantly be attentive to our adversaries’ aims to exploit every vulnerability and gain economic and military advantages. That would include expanding its espionage and intelligence gathering activity on American soil.

Congress has begun to respond to this rising threat, and the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a provision that would require the federal government to take the next step in securing confidential information about our military operations and preparedness.

I authored language in the NDAA requiring the Department of Defense to examine this danger and advise Congress on efforts to counter it.

The House of Representatives recently passed this critical legislation and I expect the Senate to follow suit in the coming days. Once passed and signed into law, the NDAA will direct the Pentagon to present its findings to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees so legislators on both sides of the Capitol can take appropriate action to ensure the U.S. government is doing everything within its power to prevent our military installations from being susceptible to CCP spy craft.

The stakes are incredibly high and I am pleased my colleagues recognize the urgency in adopting a posture of hypervigilance in order to thwart any attempts to undermine our national security and give China the upper hand.

This is just the first step. The federal government can and must focus more attention on Chinese acquisition of land and resources, including farmland and agriculture production.

We have already witnessed the CCP’s efforts to extract intellectual property from our country and test our commitment to our allies abroad. We must show no hesitance to shield our national defense apparatus from those who, using any means necessary, would seek to supplant our position atop the international order.

December 14, 2022

CAMDEN BOARD ALDERMEN MEET FOR FINAL 2022 SESSION
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in their final regular session of 2022 on Tuesday, December 13thin the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

Mayor Julian Lott called his final meeting as Mayor of Camden to order at promptly 7:00 PM.

The Invocation was offered by Supt. Roy L. Wesley, Pastor of the New Hope Church of God in Christ, located at 2236 S. Adams Avenue in Camden. The Invocation was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

City Clerk, Donna Stewart, called the roll. Aldermen L.E Lindsey, Chris Aregood, Cecil McDonald, Terry Smith, Joe Askew and William McCoy were in attendance. Aldermen Marvin Moore, Joe Askew and James Bell were absent.
The minutes of regular meeting dated November 22, 2022 and the Financial Report for November 2022 were passed by unanimous vote.

During the Mayor’s report, Mayor Lott thanked the community for the opportunity to serve the City for the past 4 years.

Resolution No. 70-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a Contract of Obligation with the Division of Environment Quality; and for other purposes was passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 71-22, a resolution providing for and adopting for the City of Camden, Arkansas, an annual Operating Budget for the twelve months beginning January 1, 2023, and ending December 31, 2023; appropriating money for every item of expenditure therein provided; Declaring an emergency; and for other purposes. Motion was made and seconded. A discussion ensued. L.E. Lindsey questioned the Streets and Solid Waste numbers. He stated that some adjustments would have to be made for the City to balance the proposed budget. Alderman McCoy questioned the salary increases. He asked for job description of each employee getting raises. It was then decided that not only a job description was wanted but also a list of duties. Clerk Stewart stated there was more work to be done to compilate a list of duties. Alderman McCoy was concerned that some employees might be required to perform tasks that are not included in their duties. The Mayor stated that those written job descriptions were available but they had not sent out.

Something had to be passed before the first payroll of 2023 can be paid. The first payroll of 2023 is January 5th. City Attorney Frey stated a continuing resolution could be passed to cover payroll for January 5th. Resolution 71-22 failed.

Alderman Lindsey then suggested that City Attorney Frey write the continuing resolution to satisfy the requirements to make payroll January 5th. The budget will continue to be discussed and voted on at the regular January meeting.

Attorney Frey wrote continuing resolution 72-22. Motion was made to amend the agenda to include the resolution. That motion passed. A Motion was then made and seconded to approve the resolution. Resolution 72-22 will allow the city to make payroll and pay bills through January 31, 2023. The resolution passed by unanimous vote.

The meeting was adjourned

The next scheduled meeting will be held on January 10, 2023.

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS: LOWER TEMPS DON’T HAVE TO MEAN HIGHER BILLS
Decrease your electricity usage by implementing energy efficiency practices
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Winter weather is upon us, with cold temperatures impacting the region, but that doesn’t mean your usage and electric bill must increase.

Heating costs can account for more than 50% of a customer’s monthly energy usage, because it takes more energy to heat a home in extreme temperatures. Instead of cranking up the thermostat when the temperatures drop, take advantage of some free or low-cost steps to help save energy and money on your utility bill.

Prepare for Winter Weather

Keep heating costs low this season by taking these steps to improve energy efficiency:

Seal air leaks. Use caulk or weatherstripping around doors, windows and any location where there may be a path between the inside and outside.

Adjust the thermostat. Set the thermostat to 68 degrees during winter months, and dress in layers to stay warm. Each degree above 68 can increase your energy bill by 3% to 5%.

Conserve hot water. Set your hot water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees, or the medium setting. Wrap electric water heaters with water heater blankets, which can be found at home improvement stores.

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

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

Replace air filters. Dirty filters make your heating system work harder. Replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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

Entergy Arkansas customers are also encouraged to take advantage of Entergy Solutions programs, including a comprehensive residential energy audit and some on-the-spot upgrades, like LED lights and weather stripping. This is available to qualifying customers at no additional cost, and more information is available online at www.entergy-arkansas.com/energy_efficiency.

If you’ve made your home as energy efficient as possible and the bill still seems to be higher than it should be, contact our customer service representatives at 1-800-ENTERGY. Our representatives can investigate customer accounts, verify whether the billings are correct and provide additional information about a particular account.

Bill Payment Assistance

Entergy Arkansas has a number of bill-payment options for those needing help paying their energy bills, including payment extensions, deferred payment arrangements and level billing.

Power to Care – Through The Power to Care program, local nonprofit agencies can provide emergency bill payment assistance to seniors and disabled individuals in crisis. Find out more at www.entergy-arkansas.com/bill-help/.

LIHEAP – The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides money to help customers with energy bills and other energy-related expenses. LIHEAP is funded through the federal government and works with local community action agencies to help customers pay for and keep electric service in their homes. For information on how to apply for assistance, call 1-800-421-0762 or visit the Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association, Inc. website at www.acaaa.org/local-community-action-agencies/.

Customers who are behind on bill payments should contact Entergy Arkansas either online at www.entergy-arkansas.com or by phone at 1-800 ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to make payment arrangements and prevent disconnection. The Entergy app is also available for Android and iPhone operating systems at www.Entergy.com/app/ and can be used for your convenience to pay bills, monitor your usage and more.

There are a couple programs that can help going forward to better manage payment of your Entergy Arkansas bill, including:

Level Billing – Entergy Arkansas averages your bill over a rolling 12-month period so you have a consistent bill each month of the year. Pay about the same every month, with no surprises. Enroll at www.myentergy.com/s/levelbill.

Pick-A-Date – Choose what day of the month you get billed to line up with your budget and manage your cash flow at https://www.myentergy.com/s/pickdate.


STATE BROADBAND OFFICE URGES ARKANSANS TO VERIFY FEDERAL BROADBAND MAP
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (December 14, 2022) – The Arkansas State Broadband Office is urging all Arkansans to verify the newly published federal broadband map.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new national broadband map showing high-speed internet availability across the country. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will use this new map to guide the distribution of funding for building broadband infrastructure through the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. To make sure that Arkansas receives its maximum available funding, and that funding reaches areas of the state that need broadband the most, all Arkansas residents and businesses are being asked to visit the new map and verify the information is correct.

The three-step process is simple:
Visit broadbandmap.fcc.gov and type in your address.
Verify your address’ location. If it’s wrong, submit a location challenge.
Validate your available internet speeds. If it’s wrong, submit an availability challenge.

By taking these three steps, Arkansans can do their part to help get funding to the areas that most need broadband infrastructure. Residents and businesses are strongly encouraged to submit their challenges by Friday, January 13, 2023.

“This local mapping verification effort is important as the state moves into its next phase of broadband infrastructure buildout, beginning next year,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “Not only does this process impact the amount of funding Arkansas may receive, but it may also impact which areas of the state remain eligible for funding.”

While the new federal map is similar to previous broadband availability maps, there are several important differences. Previous maps used Census blocks, but this new map uses address-level data, which provides a more specific and accurate look at broadband availability. The new map also offers a way to verify the data through the challenge process.

“This is an opportunity for local communities to be empowered and have a voice in national and state broadband mapping efforts,” said Glen Howie, State Broadband Director. “Any Arkansan who is unsatisfied with the availability or quality of their internet service should challenge the new federal broadband map as soon as possible. The time to act is now.”

The NTIA will use the new federal map to determine state funding allocations for the BEAD program by June 30, 2023. All challenges must be submitted by January 13, 2023, to impact the distribute of BEAD funding.

After verifying or challenging the information listed on the new federal map, residents and businesses can help in this effort by spreading the word about this map and helping others to complete this process. The more who participate, the more input the FCC has to create an accurate and reliable map to direct funding.

For additional information and direction regarding the challenge process, residents and businesses are encouraged to visit broadband.arkansas.gov/verify.

December 13, 2022

RUTLEDGE RECOGNIZES OUACHITA COUNTY OFFICER OF THE YEAR
The Late Deputy Parker Cox honored as County Officer of the Year LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the 20th annual Officer of the Year awards and recognition luncheon at the Benton Event Center, where she honored the Late Ouachita County Sherriff’s Deputy Parker Cox as the Ouachita County Officer

“Deputy Cox was a tireless servant who worked to protect Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I could not be more grateful for Cox’s dedication as a public servant in Ouachita County.”

For the eighth consecutive year, Attorney General Rutledge has honored Officers of the Year from all 75 Arkansas counties, in addition to statewide and regional winners. A photo of the winning recipients with Attorney General Rutledge will be available from the press office soon and may be obtained by contacting Amanda Priest at Amanda.Priest@ArkansasAG.gov.
 

SAU TECH TO DELIVER NEW INSTRUCTIONAL MODALITY IN SPRING
EAST CAMDEN, AR (12/12/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech is pleased to announce its first official offering of streaming classes for spring 2023. The College is implementing streaming technology in all its instructional classrooms, where students can benefit from interactive learning, and the material lends itself to a streaming environment. SAU Tech received a grant from the US Department of Education- FIPSE for over $1 million to train faculty to teach online and implement streaming technologies as a course delivery method. In the fall of 2022, the College piloted several math courses and a psychology course, and this spring, the following courses will be streamed and taught in the classroom, with students being able to opt for one or the other.

Technical Writing
Principals of Microeconomics
Math for Healthcare Professionals
Basic Pharmacology
CIST Capstone
Image Making
Drawing
Graphic Design II
Typography
Marketing & Advertising

Students in streaming classes can interact live with instructors to ask questions and re-watch the course if they missed something during the live delivery. Dr. Valerie Wilson, SAU Tech Vice Chancellor for Academics and Planning, stated, "This is exciting for our faculty and students! The streaming technology will be beneficial in delivering computer-based training and mathematics courses. This delivery option will keep our students from missing out on personal instruction when they cannot attend class in person."

The ability to flex quickly to another form of teaching modality makes two-year colleges like SAU Tech the perfect option for providing new training programs and meeting the needs of the changing workforce. SAU Tech is represented in the state's AR Future Mobility Council, created by Governor Hutchinson. Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech's Chancellor, represents SAU Tech and what two-year colleges can bring to the table; the ability to create new training programs quickly. SAU Tech is an example, adding the streaming option for students and new allied health programs to meet workforce demands since COVID-19.

Dr. Morrison stated, "Providing an affordable option for skill-based programs that allow students to go directly to work earning livable wages is vital to our area and the country. Two-year colleges do this better than anyone. Whether it's automated robotics, specialized maintenance programs (aviation, mechanical, etc.), or allied health programs, we can get the student in and trained and place them in a job faster and cheaper than anyone. Bachelor's programs also meet necessary needs for positions like engineers and educators, and we offer the first two years of those degrees. The real need in our area is for the healthcare workers and people to do skilled technical work in aerospace defense manufacturing, and we will keep working to meet that need every day."
 

LOCKHEED MARTIN DONATES $240,000 TO WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA
Contribution will sponsor 16,000 veterans’ wreaths to be placed at 32 participating locations across the country on Dec. 17.
COLUMBIA FALLS, ME, and BETHESDA, MD – December 13, 2022 – Today, national nonprofit Wreaths Across America (WAA) is proud to announce that  Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has made a $240,000 donation to sponsor 16,000 veterans’ wreaths for placement at participating locations this National Wreaths Across America Day – Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.

“Lockheed Martin has proudly supported Wreaths Across America for five years and its mission to remember, honor, and teach,” said Tiffany King, Manager of Social Impact at Lockheed Martin. “About one in five Lockheed Martin employees has served in uniform, and as a military spouse, I know that this partnership is personal to many of our colleagues. We are grateful for this solemn opportunity to honor all those who have served.

Over 1,000 Lockheed Martin employees plan to participate in the distribution of the wreaths at 32 locations across the U.S. These locations include the following:

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, VA

Bay Pines National Cemetery

Saint Petersburg, FL

Beaufort National Cemetery

Beaufort, SC

Bell Chapel Cemetery

Camden, AR

Beverly National Cemetery

Moorestown, NJ

Branford Cemetery 

Stratford, CT

Camp Nelson National Cemetery

Lexington, KY

Crownsville Veterans Cemetery

Hanover, MD

Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

Fort Worth, TX

Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery

Bothell, WA

Florida National Cemetery

Bushnell, FL

Fort Logan National Cemetery

Denver, CO

Garden of Memories Memorial Park

Lufkin, TX

Goleta Cemetery District

Goleta, CA

Greenwood Cemetery

Orlando, FL

Lancaster Cemetery

Palmdale, CA

Los Gatos Memorial Park

Sunnyvale, CA

Marietta National Cemetery

Marietta, GA

Memorial Park Cemetery

Camden, AR

New Brocton City Cemetery

Troy, AL

Pikes Peak National Cemetery

Colorado Springs, CO

Pine Ridge Cemetery

Chelmsford, MA

Saint Stanislaus Cathedral PNCC Cemetery

Scranton, PA

South Florida National Cemetery

Jupiter, FL

Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery

Stennis, MS

Titusville Brevard Co Veterans Cemetery

Space Coast, FL

Valhalla Memory Garden

Huntsville, AL

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge, PA

Wood National Cemetery

Milwaukee, WI

Woodlawn Cemetery

Syracuse, NY

Woodlawn Cemetery

Owego, NY

Woodlawn Memorial Park

Greenville, SC

 

"The generous contribution from Lockheed Martin helps us to ensure that we will be able to remember service members laid to rest in communities across the country,” said Karen Worcester, Executive Director, WAA. “And through the simple act of placing these wreaths, we teach about our nation’s history and what it means to serve. Lockheed Martin understands the impact this has on the next generation, and we are so grateful for their support.”

 

AWARD RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED FOR GRANT PROGRAM
The Arkansas Department of Transportation has announced award recipients for the Transportation-Related Research Workforce Development Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2023.

Act 705 of 2017 established the distribution of highway revenue interest income from the State Highway and Transportation Department Fund to create the Future Transportation Research Fund and the Transportation-Related Grant Program (TRRGP).  Act 884 of 2021 added workforce development to the grant program, modifying the fund and program to the Future Transportation Research and Workforce Development Fund and Transportation-Related and Workforce Development Grant Program (TRRWDGP), respectively. 

The purpose of the TRRWDGP is 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 and support industry training, apprenticeship, and educational programs to foster skills required for transportation related personnel development.

Eligible recipients of funds are limited to publicly funded institutions of higher education. ARDOT awarded three TRRWDGP projects for a total of $615,100 for Fiscal Year 2023.

Applicant

Project Description

Amount Awarded

University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Determinants of Arkansas Transit Ridership and Transportation Expenditures

 $117,410

Arkansas State University

Sustainable Use of Rice Husk and Scrap Tires as Construction Materials of Transportation Infrastructures through Research, Education, and Workforce, and Economic Development of Arkansas

 $197,690

University of Arkansas Community College - Morrilton

Entry-Level Heavy Equipment Operator Training for Highway Construction

 $300,000

 

Total Awarded

 $615,100

December 12, 2022

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The agenda is as follows
A.  Call To Order
B.  Invocation – Supt. Roy L. Wesley, Pastor – New Hope Church of God In Christ, 2236 S. Adams Ave.  Camden, AR
C.  Pledge Of Allegiance
D.  Roll Call
E.  Approval Of Minutes
     1. Minutes of Regular Meeting, November 22, 2022    
 F.    Acceptance Of Financial Report
     1. Financial Report for November 2022
G.  Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
I. Old Business
 J. New Business
     1. Resolution No. 70-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a Contract of Obligation with the     Division of Environment Quality; and for other purposes.
     2. Resolution No. 71-22, a resolution providing for and adopting for the City of Camden, Arkansas, an  annual Operating Budget for the twelve months beginning January 1, 2023, and ending December 31, 2023; appropriating money for every item of expenditure therein provided; Declaring an emergency; and for other purposes.
K. Other Business
L. Adjournment

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COLLECTS OVER 500,000 POUNDS OF UNWANTED PESTICIDES
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program collected 509,133 pounds of unwanted pesticides in 16 counties during 2022 collection events. Since 2005, the Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program has overseen the collection of 5,860,843 pounds of unwanted pesticides in counties across Arkansas.

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is proud to work with our partners in administering the Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “Events like these, held annually throughout the state, help ensure safe and proper disposal of unwanted pesticides and prevent them from potentially polluting our environment.”

The totals for each event were:
Sevier/Little River County: 581 pounds
Howard/Pike County: 488 pounds
Polk/Montgomery County: 3,798 pounds
Arkansas County: 142,000 pounds
Saline/Grant County: 79,132 pounds
Hempstead/Nevada County: 7,623 pounds
Hot Spring/Garland County: 39,643 pounds
Miller/Lafayette County: 14,504 pounds
Lawrence County: 220,364 pounds

Participation in collection events is free and anonymous to farmers and other non-industrial landowners. The program is funded through pesticide registration fees. Pesticide collection events have taken place in every county in the state.

Commonly collected items include old or outdated pesticides such as calcium arsenate, sodium cyanide, lindane, chlordane, and 2,4,5-T. Registered pesticides, like glyphosate products and 2,4-D, that are unusable because they have been exposed to the elements or have been held over from previous growing seasons also can be collected.

The Abandoned Pesticide Advisory Board selects county sites for collection events and moves locations by region within the state seasonally. Priority watersheds are a large consideration factor for the Advisory Board in choosing counties/regions for site collection.

The Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program is conducted in cooperation with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Farm Bureau, and the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment. Representatives from these agencies make up the Abandoned Pesticide Advisory Board. This board selects county sites for collection events. Priority watersheds are a large consideration for the Advisory Board in choosing counties/regions for site collection.

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://agriculture.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.

 

BOOZMAN RECOGNIZED FOR SUPPORT OF JOB CORPS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) was recognized with the 2022 Congressional Leadership Award by the National Job Corps Association for his advocacy of expanding education and career opportunities though the Job Corps program.

“The National Job Corps Association is pleased to present Senator John Boozman with its 2022 Congressional Leadership Award. Senator Boozman has been a tireless champion of the Cass Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) and Little Rock Job Corps Center and their students, staff, and communities. From leading the fight in 2019 to prevent the closure of the Cass Job Corps CCC, and all Forest Service Job Corps CCCs, to helping the Little Rock Job Corps campus establish a dynamic partnership with University of Arkansas, Pulaski-Technical College, Senator Boozman and his team have consistently worked to expand opportunities for young people across Arkansas. We are incredibly grateful for Senator Boozman’s leadership and dedication to Job Corps,” said Byron Garrett, President and CEO of National Job Corps Association.

“I’m honored by this recognition and proud to support Job Corps because this program helps young people develop valuable skills and supplies the job training they need to be successful in the workforce. This is an investment in students and the future of Arkansas. I look forward to working with my colleagues and our partners to further champion and strengthen Job Corps,” Boozman said.

Job Corps is a training and education program that provides hands-on workforce development experience while helping young people complete their high school education. Operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Arkansas is home to two Job Corps locations – the Little Rock Job Corps Center and the Cass Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center.

Last week, Boozman met with Little Rock Job Corps Center student Deshuntay Chatman who was visiting the nation’s capital to meet with elected leaders about the importance of the program.

December 07, 2022

SAVE THE DATE!! BUSINESS AFTER HOURS TO BE HELD DECEMBER 13TH
Don’t miss Business After Hours Tuesday, December 13th for a night out of shopping and socializing at OPED 570 Ben Lane, Camden, AR!

Hosted by the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce, Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development and SAU Small Business and Technology Development Center, this will be a business after hours you won't want to miss!

Small business clients will have samples, information, gift cards and other items to shop while you mingle. There will also be door prizes and finger foods as well, come out and show your support to these small businesses. 

Bills and Dimes, CVR Industries, A Cup of Joe, Dixon Designs, Elite Fitness, The XOXO Company, The Perfect Cup, Artesana Soaps, Hollis Evans Florist, Kaboom Nutrition, Jacobs Well Coffeehouse, Native Dog Brewery, Need to Know Testing and Timberland Dental.
 

MORE THAN $270 MILLION IN AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDS APPROVED FOR STATE WATER PROJECTS  
TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS

The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) approved $270 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding distribution at its meeting on Friday, (Dec. 2). A total of 157 projects will receive funding across 58 counties.

A full list of the awarded projects can be found at this link.

"In January, I laid out my "W.I.N.S. in 2022" initiative. One of those initiatives was infrastructure. We know that there is a large water and wastewater infrastructure need throughout the state and I am delighted to see the announcement today regarding funding distributions through the American Rescue Plan Act to help address this statewide need," said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson established the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Steering Committee to vet the best use of ARPA funding provided to the state. In June 2021, a working group for water and other infrastructure projects was formed to make a recommendation to the ARPA steering committee.

The Working Group conducted an extensive assessment of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater needs across the state. Based on more than 1,400 responses, an overall water infrastructure need of $5.2 billion was identified. On Aug. 31, 2021, the working group submitted a final report to the ARPA Steering Committee. A timeline, eligibility requirements, and scoring criteria were also developed and included in the report.

During the summer, the American Rescue Plan Steering Committee approved $270 million to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture for water, wastewater, and stormwater projects and $10 million for irrigation projects.

Applications were accepted until Nov. 4. A total of 882 applications were received and included at least one application from each county within the state.

The projects were scored by representatives of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Division, Arkansas Department of Health, and Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment's Division of Environmental Quality. A total of 157 projects across 58 counties were recommended for funding. A total of 412 unique entities submitted applications and 119 different entities received funding for water and/or wastewater. Fourteen entities received funding for at least one drinking water and one wastewater application.

Awards and recommendations locally are listed below.

Drinking Water Applications Recommended For Award
Arkadelphia - Gum Springs Water System Improvements – Award $454,230.00
Bearden - Water Distribution Improvements – Award $1,225,444.00
Bearden - Water Treatment Plant 111 – Rehabilitation – Award $826,652.00
Magnolia - Cast Iron Water Main Replacement Phase I – Award $698,331.75
Magnolia - Cast Iron Water Main Replacement Phase Ii – Award $2,053,266.00
Parkers Chapel Public Water Authority - Water System Improvements: Well l/5, Chlorination Facility and
                    Water Line Ext. – Award $1,124,052.00
Rison - Water System Improvements 1 – Award $1,500,000.00
Rison - Water System Improvements 2 – Award $1,672,445.00
Strong - Water System Improvements - Well and Chlorination Building – Award $749,207.00


SAAC HOSTS ARTISTS RECEPTION FOR MEMBERSHIP SHOWCASE AND FALL ARTS ACADEMY 
The South Arkansas Arts Center opens its doors on Saturday, December 10 at 5:30pm to host a reception for both the Membership Showcase and the Arts Academy Fall Showcase. This year's Membership Showcase is in the Merkle Gallery and the Arts Academy Fall Student Showcase is in the Price and Lobby Galleries. Both exhibits will run through December 15.

SAAC Executive Director Laura Allen invites everyone to attend the reception saying, "The Membership Showcase reception is such a great way to see all your SAAC friends during the holiday season. It's almost like our holiday party for all our members! It's a great way to see what all the local artists and creatives have been working on this year, catch up with friends, and enjoy a little cheer. This year it will be even more fun, because we'll also be celebrating our student artists with the Fall Semester Student Showcase on display."

Every year the Membership Showcase brings the talent of SAAC's members to the forefront and allows them to display and sell their work in a non-competitive environment. The members of SAAC have once again filled the gallery with a myriad of work, boasting 51 pieces from 31 artists. Additionally, SAAC's Fall Arts Academy students have been working diligently all semester on various art projects. The exhibit includes artwork by 78 youth artists who are the students of Katie Harwell, Nicole McAdams, Mike Means, Michaela Gross, and Maria Botti Villegas.

The Membership Showcase is a unique opportunity for SAAC artists to choose two pieces of their own work to display in the exhibition. It can be anything, and this year's submissions include everything from portraits to abstracts, from needlework to watercolor, and everything in between. "It's so inspiring to see how many different kinds of work our local creatives have to offer," said Allen. 

Local member artists participating in the Membership Showcase are James Antoon III, Melinda Antoon Cormier, Betsy Baumgarten, Sandy Bennett, Dana Burke, Beth Callaway, Kelly Campbell, Ayla Caraway, Joan Coffey, Avrill Dodson, Mary Lou Doyle, John Ginger, Darden Gladney, Michaela Gross, Katie Harwell, Rhonda Hicks, Beth Hubbert, Glenn Mason, Mike Means, Margy Merkle Niel, Maria Oliver, Lee Scroggins, Kevin Seymore, Bobbi Shepherd, Marla Tomlinson, River Tomlinson, Ann Trimble, Devin Verdesca, Paul Waschka, Ann Wilson, and Ramona Wood.

SAAC will be hosting both the art reception and a production of Disney's "Frozen, Jr" on Saturday December 10. The galleries open at 5:30 pm for the artist's reception until 7:00 pm, when the curtain goes up on the SAAC Drama Club production of Disney's "Frozen, Jr." For more information about the exhibition or reception, please contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit www.saac-arts.org.
 

DAN HERRINGTON NAMED CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER FOR ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OF ARKANSAS
Little Rock, Ark. — Dec. 7, 2022 — Dan Herrington of Little Rock has been named Chief Administrative Officer for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. He joins the cooperatives after a 27-year career with a leading Arkansas law firm.

“Dan’s skills and experience will enable the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to continue as a leading employer in Arkansas,” said Vernon “Buddy” Hasten, president/CEO for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “His extensive knowledge of labor and employment regulations are as impressive as his dedication to serving others. He will assist our long-time efforts to improve the quality of life for our employees as well as the members and communities we serve.”

A native of Palestine, Herrington completed his bachelor’s degree in business management at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and his law degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, where he graduated with high honors.

Prior to joining the cooperatives, Herrington was a partner with Friday, Eldredge & Clark. His practice focused on all aspects of labor and employment law. He has also served as an adjunct professor at Bowen School of Law. He is a member of many professional, alumni and altruistic associations.

“I am honored to join the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas as the Chief Administrative Officer,” Herrington said. “As a native Arkansan I am familiar with the great legacy of the cooperatives and the ongoing efforts to ensure that the 1.2 million members are provided affordable, reliable electricity in a responsible manner. Our employees are at the heart of fulfilling our mission.”

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 600,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.

December 06, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed Thursday 22nd, Friday 23rd and Monday 26th of December for the Christmas Holiday.

The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed for New Year Day, Monday the 2nd of January.

The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule.

 

THE SAU TECH BLACK HISTORY CELEBRATION COMMITTEE RECGONIZES JOYCE ROBINSON FLOWERS AS THE BETTY J. LEWIS UNSUNG HERO FOR DECEMBER 2022.
The SAU Tech Black History Celebration committee is recognizing Joyce Robinson Flowers as the Betty J. Lewis Unsung Hero for December 2022.

Joyce Robinson Flowers was born and reared in Chidester, Arkansas. After graduating from Pleasant Hill High School as Valedictorian, she matriculated and received a BA degree in English/Language Arts from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College, now known as the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. After receiving her Bachelor’s, she received her Master of Arts degree in English/Reading from Ouachita Baptist University.

After finishing her formal studies, she obtained a position with the Chidester School District, which consolidated with Camden Fairview School District. While working for the district as an AP Literature, Language Composition, and Composition I and II teacher, she served as Senior Class sponsor, Beta Club sponsor and representative for the district and high school leadership team, National Honor Society sponsor, and was an active member of her local PTO during the time that her children were in school and afterward. For six years, she served as a Literacy Specialist for the district, a dyslexic therapist, and chair of the literacy department for the high school.

As Camden Fairview’s Literacy Specialist, she received a grant from the Ouachita Valley Community Foundation to purchase journals, backpacks, and books. She also received several awards and recognitions while working for the district: Teacher of the Month, Teacher of the Year, PTO Parent of the Year, and was a representative for southern Arkansas to serve on the ESSA Steering Committee with the Arkansas Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to which she continues to serve on in retirement. She retired after dedicating over fifty years of service to the district.

Joyce is very active and continues to serve her community in various ways. She is a Golden (50 years of membership) and Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is an active member of the Camden chapter, Sigma Beta Omega. She has served as President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the chapter. She is also an active member of New Haven Baptist Church, where Rev. Jeffery Fields is the pastor. She serves as a youth Sunday School Teacher, Women’s Missionary Society member, Principal of Vacation Bible School, and Church Clerk. She also is a member of the Ouachita County Retired Teachers’ Association.

Joyce Robinson Flowers is the second child of the late Willard (Lump) and Etta Rigsby Robinson. Her siblings include Gladys Robinson Stuart, Willard Robinson, Jr. (deceased), Hershel Robinson (deceased), Linda Robinson Wyrick, and Gwendolyn Robinson. She is the widow of Rodell Flowers, Jr., who was married for over forty years. She has two children, Eric D. Flowers, E.D., and Amber L. Flowers.

 

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES REDESIGNED WEBSITE AT SSA.GOV
Reimagined Website Prioritizes Customer Experience
Starting today, visitors to SSA.gov will experience a fresh homepage and a new design to help them find what they need more easily.

“SSA.gov is visited by over 180 million people per year and it is one of our most important tools for providing efficient and equitable access to service,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. “Whether providing service in person or online, our goal is to help people understand what they may qualify for and seamlessly transition them to an application process.” Improved self-service capability allows people to skip calling or visiting an office, which helps Social Security staff focus on those visitors who need in-person assistance.

Part of ongoing efforts to improve how the public can do business with the agency, the redesign is intended to provide a clear path to the tasks customers need to accomplish. Many of the most visited sections of SSA.gov are now live with a more user-friendly and task-based approach. New pages and improvements based on public feedback will continue to be unveiled in the coming months.

Visitors to SSA.gov can use interactive tools to:
Check eligibility for benefits
The new benefit eligibility screener is a convenient and simple way for people to learn if they might be eligible for benefits.

Save time on Social Security Number (SSN) and card online services
If a person loses their SSN card, they may not need a replacement. In most cases, simply knowing their SSN is enough. If a person does need a replacement card, they may be able to request it online by visiting www.ssa.gov/ssnumber. Individuals can also start an application for an updated card or request an SSN for the first time. People may never need to visit an office and, if they do need to visit an office to complete the application, they will save a lot of time by starting online.

Start an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
People can start the application process online and request an appointment to apply for SSI benefits by answering a few questions at www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/.

Apply for Social Security benefits and other online services
For most benefits, people can apply online or start an application online. In many cases, there are no forms to sign. The agency will review the application and reach out with questions or for more information. Visit www.ssa.gov/onlineservices to apply for retirement, disability, or Medicare.

Many Social Security services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. Using a my Social Security  account, a personalized online service, people can start or change direct deposit, or request a replacement SSA-1099. For individuals already receiving Social Security benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter if they need proof of their benefits.

People not yet receiving benefits can use their online account to get a personalized Social Security Statement, which provides their earnings information as well as estimates of their future benefits. The portal also includes a retirement calculator and links to information about other online services. The agency encourages people without a my Social Security to create on today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
 

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AG LEADER TESTIFIES BEFORE BOOZMAN AND SENATE COMMITTEE ABOUT AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN NEXT FARM BILL
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) welcomed University of Arkansas System Vice President for Agriculture Dr. Deacue Fields before the committee to hear his perspective on the significance of farm research programs as members craft the 2023 Farm Bill.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is examining research initiatives, commodity programs, safety nets, risk management, conservation programs, rural development and all policies encompassed in the farm bill as it begins the process of reauthorizing the five-year legislation.

“The farm bill is the most important and consistent opportunity to invest in agricultural research and extension. From programs that build capacity at our nation’s land-grant institutions to world renowned competitive grant programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative— this important title of the farm bill provides a broad array of authority and investment in agricultural research,” Boozman said in his opening statement.

“Land-grant research discoveries have resulted in the U.S. having the safest, most efficient food system in the world. It is critical that agricultural research funding increase to remain a global leader and produce the technological advances necessary to meet the challenges of feeding the growing global population. Supporting agricultural research and infrastructure development is not a donation, but an investment in the future national and international food security,” Fields told committee members.

The senator asked Dr. Fields about research infrastructure and the challenges that exist at land-grant universities.

In June, Arkansas agricultural producers, industry stakeholders and rural community supporters testified before Boozman and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) at a field hearing at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

December 05, 2022

LARRY YOUNG LIGHT THE NIGHT PROJECT
This project originated in Texas to bring the light of Christmas to a family or families that have faced a tragedy or hardship during the year. 

After the unexpected death of Larry Young, his widow Charlotte Young moved ahead to start the project in his memory.  The Young’s have always loved decorating their own home as well as helping to find ways to have areas around Camden decorated. 

This year’s first family to be a recipient of the Larry Young Light the Night Project is the family of Parker Cox.  Parker Cox was a deputy with the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office who lost his life in a vehicle accident during Mr.  Young’s funeral service.  Deputy Cox left behind his wife and 4 children. 

In future year’s nominations will be taken or families who have experienced a tragedy or hardship during that current year.  For more information on the project call 870-807-1468.
 

LOCKHEED AWARDED CONTRACT
Lockheed Martin Corp., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $430,930,711 fixed-price incentive contract for full-rate production of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and support services to satisfy an urgent need to support the Army and various Foreign Military Sales partners. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Brownsboro, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; Boca Raton, Clearwater and Palm Bay, Florida; Whippany, New Jersey; Archbald and York, Pennsylvania; and Dallas and Grand Prairie, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2025. Fiscal 2023 missile procurement, Army funds in the amount of $209,348,720 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S.

FORREST CITY POLICE OFFICER CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT
DECEMBER 1, 2022
Forrest City Police Officer Justin Davis was arrested by Arkansas State Police Special Agents today.  Davis, 22, of Marianna, is charged with two counts of sexual assault (4th degree, felony).

The state police Criminal Investigation Division was requested earlier this week by local authorities to investigate allegations that Davis had been involved in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old St. Francis County female.

Davis is being held at the Cross County Detention Center.  Bond has been set at $75,000.

For more on these and other stories visit www.yesradioworks.com/news

December 01, 2022

EQUIPMENT GRANTS AWARDED TO STATE & LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
DECEMBER 1, 2022
Arkansas funded grants totaling more than $7 million dollars were awarded today to 113 local and state law enforcement agencies and correctional or detention facilities.  Approximately 90 percent of the total funds will be received by local police and sheriff's departments to purchase new equipment. 

The grants were authorized last year through legislation adopted by Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas General Assembly.  Act 786 sanctioned the Public Safety Equipment Grant Program to the administered by the Arkansas Department of Public Safety and provides for grants to be used for purchasing, “non-lethal equipment that aids in improving trust and relationships between law enforcement agencies, detention centers and corrections agencies within their communities that they serve.”

"One of the key recommendations of our Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas was the creation of state funding for increased training and improving the safety equipment used by local law enforcement officers,” stated Governor Hutchinson.  “The grants directed to local law enforcement agencies will help to further the trust between these agencies and the communities they serve, and I want to commend the Department of Public Safety and the General Assembly for bringing this program to fruition,” said the governor.

The grant applications submitted earlier this year were reviewed and graded for distribution by a committee selected from a cross-section of state and local law enforcement officers, correction and detention officers and professional laypersons.

Local Recipients of Public Safety Equipment Grants are:
Arkadelphia Police Dept - $90,247.96
Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy - $89,979.02
Calhoun County Sheriff - $11,232.32
Camden Police Dept - $41,979.70
City of Hope - $13,375.00
El Dorado Police Dept - $100,000.00
Fordyce Police Dept -     $26,230.00
Nevada County Sheriff's Dept - $63,032.88
Prescott Police Dept - $54,465.10
Union County Sheriff's Office - $100,000.00


THE ARKANSAS STATE CAPITOL LIGHTING CEREMONY & FIREWORKS SHOW
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) -- Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston welcomes you to enjoy the tradition of the Arkansas State Capitol Christmas Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, December 3rd at 5:30 p.m.  

Rex Nelson, senior editor for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and author of three books, will emcee the 84th anniversary of this event. There will be a performance by Miss Great Little Rock's Outstanding Teen Bella Crowe and violinist Sophe Sligh, the Catholic High Jr. ROTC, Santa Claus, and more.

Following the ceremony and fireworks show, the public is invited inside the Capitol to view the Christmas decorations, visit Santa in his workshop, and shop in the Capitol Gift Shop. The 2022 Capitol Christmas Ornament will be available for purchase.

The Arkansas State Capitol Christmas Lighting Ceremony is a family-friendly event that is open to the public.

The Secretary of State will provide a shuttle service between parking lots near the Capitol from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.


BEWLEY TO JOIN AG-ELECT GRIFFIN'S STAFF AS CHIEF OF INVESTIGATIONS
Griffin: Bewley 'brings professionalism and a wealth of law enforcement experience'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor and Attorney General-Elect Tim Griffin today released the following statement naming former Little Rock Police Department Interim Chief Wayne Bewley as the incoming Chief of Investigations for the Attorney General Office's Special Investigations Division:

"Chief Bewley is a man of character and integrity who is highly regarded around the city, state, and nation. He brings professionalism and a wealth of law enforcement experience--over 34 years as a police officer, investigator, manager, and leader. I am honored and excited that he is joining my team."

Bewley is a native of Little Rock and graduate of Parkview High School. He joined the Little Rock Police Department in 1986 as a cadet and became an officer in 1988. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1994 and supervised the Patrol and Training Divisions until promotion to Lieutenant in 1998. He was then promoted to Captain in 2001 where he commanded four divisions until his promotion to Assistant Chief in 2012 where he lead the Investigative Bureau.

Griffin will be sworn in as Arkansas's 57th Attorney General on January 10, 2022.


SAAC ANNOUNCES OPEN CALL FOR PENGUIN PROJECT PRODUCTION OF “FROZEN, KIDS” 
The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the return of The Penguin Project to the stage for another special theatrical production for actors of differing needs and their mentors. On the heels of SAAC Teen Drama Club's production of "Disney Frozen, Jr," The Penguin Project will be performing "Disney Frozen, Kids" on February 10-11, under the direction of Lynn Gunter with Assistant Director Kathy Nielson. Music Director will be Cassie Hickman and Mentor Coordinator will be Karen Hicks. "In the spirit of Anna, 'It's audition time! It's audition time!' After two long years, we are so excited to have the Penguin Project back," exclaimed musical director Cassie Hickman.

Open call auditions for artists grades 3-12 will be from 4 to 6pm on Tuesday, December 13. Artists will register in the lobby and audition in the ballet room. No advance preparation is necessary to audition. Additionally, there will be a mentor information meeting in the art gallery for students in grades 5-12 at 5 pm, also on December 13. No acting experience is necessary for those students interested in serving as mentors. The six-week rehearsal schedule will begin on Tuesday, January 3, with rehearsals continuing every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-6pm.

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

"The Penguin Project is a performance that comes from the heart," said Hickman. "The joy of excitement and confidence that exudes from our special-needs artists as they take the stage and as they get to be the stars is a sight I will never get over. The bonds of camaraderie and support between the artists and their mentors isn't just for the artists. It is also life-changing for the mentors. It has even changed me as a music director. What makes this a work of the heart is seeing how far the artists come and seeing their reactions as they get all the accolades from the audience and parents cheering them on. I'm so excited to see where the journey will take us this year in addition to seeing what new artists and mentors will join us and be forever changed by this experience."

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

For more information about The Penguin Project, sponsored by Entergy, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474, visit the SAAC web site at saac-arts.org, or visit the SAAC at 110 E. 5th Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

November 20, 2022

STATEMENTS FROM CANDIDATES FOR THE CAMDEN MAYORAL RUNOFF ELECTION
JULIAN LOTT RESPONDS TO CHARLOTTE YOUNG’S STATEMENT (WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30)

To the City of Camden:
On Monday, November 28, 2022, Charlotte Young released a statement to the Camden News and the public stating she would " ... not be able to attend Mayor Lott's campaign event tonight ... " amongst other falsehoods. Transparency is one of my primary pillars and I will hold steadfast to that principle. I am including a copy of an e-mail from over 2 weeks ago and Facebook message screenshots wherein we were both invited at the same time to the debate on November 10. Ms. Young's characterization that I personally hosted the debate is an absolute lie. Instead of responding directly to the event hosts about her availability, she used her platform and the Camden News to engage in yet another act of political theater. They have attacked me, my family, and now they are attacking you.

Broad Minds LLC and the Ouachita County branch of the NAACP were the hosts of the September 22, 2022 Candidate Forum which was well attended by over 20 candidates including myself and Ms. Young, local media outlets, and the faith community. These 2 organizations were also the hosts of last night's debate. Ms. Young's attack of the two women's character who run these organizations, after attending their prior event with no complaints, is baseless. The event was posted to my Facebook page to give MY followers a way to save the event, so they would get a reminder and have all relevant information. Due to election laws, ALL content from a campaign which may be advertised to the public must contain a "paid for" disclaimer. Any person familiar with politics, especially media outlets, should know this. That disclaimer had absolutely nothing to do with me personally hosting the event. The host had its own official flyer posted on its social media. I welcome all opportunities to address the public and will never use a citizen as an excuse not to explain my platform. Let's come together starting today and early vote for a #BetterCamden and continue the progressive work of this administration.
Mayor Julian Lott

Below is the statement from Charlotte Young regarding the debate that was scheduled for Monday night.
A STATEMENT FROM CHARLOTTE REGARDING TONIGHT'S "DEBATE" (MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29)
"I will not be able to attend Mayor Lott's campaign event tonight as I will be out serving the people of Camden. I can think of no greater use of the People's time than being among the men, women, and children that make Camden so great. Our people don't need more politics, they need leadership to get Camden back on track.

I did not agree to the event tonight because it is not an event hosted by neutral unaffiliated parties. It's hosted by supporters of Julian Lott. While it's certainly their right to support him, let's not call it a debate, certainly not a fair debate - it's a Lott campaign rally.

If Mayor Lott wishes to fairly debate the issues concerning so many of our citizens, then let's allow neutral parties such as the Camden News, RadioWorks, or other local media to host and organize an actual debate.

I've worked extremely hard to run a positive campaign to bring unity in our community and creating a better Camden for all. Let's stay focused on the issues that matter most to the people of Camden - Safety, Cleanliness, & Economic Strength."

Charlotte for Camden

 

THE CALL NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Celebrating 15 Years of Service in Arkansas
Little Rock, AR— (December 1, 2022) - This week, The CALL, a statewide non-profit organization that mobilizes local churches to serve children and youth placed in foster care, named Christen Butler as the new Executive Director.

Christen has served with The CALL as Financial Director for 5+ years in the Statewide Office. Her responsibilities included overall financial management, staffing, infrastructure, and financial reporting. After attending the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for her bachelor's degree in accounting, Christen worked for 12 years in executive leadership at a nationwide pharmaceutical company as the Financial and Human Resources Director.  

Ministry work has been a lifelong commitment of her family. Christen serves with the worship team and mentors youth at her local church. In addition, Christen's family has served as a Resource Family Support System for many years. Together, their entire family builds bonds and relationships with the foster parents, children, and youth while they are in care and once reunified.  Christen is married with two daughters and is a resident of Central Arkansas.

"I am incredibly humbled and honored to step into the role of Executive Director,” said Butler. “My passion is to see The CALL continue to excel as we serve our incredible families, partners, and community. Arkansas has proven to be a generous, mission-minded state leading the nation in foster care work. Together with our partners and the Christian community, we can meet our vision of “No Waiting Children” in foster care."

The CALL is also celebrating this month, recognizing 15 years of service in Arkansas. As the organization reaches this important milestone, The CALL acknowledges the work and contributions of partners at the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Children & Family Services (DCFS), foster and adoptive families, and volunteers across the state.

About The CALL:  The CALL began in Pulaski County in 2007 and became a statewide organization in 2010. The CALL has currently expanded operations into 62 counties in Arkansas. Since 2007, The CALL has opened more than 2,948 foster and adoptive homes. These homes have cared for more than 28,672 children and youth in foster care. The CALL currently operates 24 support centers across the state. In addition, families serving through The CALL have become forever families to more than 2,188 children and youth placed in their homes through adoption.

 For More Information:
To learn more about The CALL, visit TheCALLinArkansas.org or Facebook.com/TheCALLinAR.


ARKANSAS NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION TO CONSIDER AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) will hold a meeting on Friday, December 2, 2022, to
approve American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help address statewide water needs. 

Last year, Governor Hutchinson created a Water and Other Infrastructure Working Group to assist the Arkansas ARPA Steering Committee in identifying water infrastructure projects. The working group conducted a needs survey that identified more than $5 billion in water, wastewater, and stormwater needs across the state. 

On September 16, 2022, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved $270 million in ARPA funding to address water, wastewater, and stormwater needs across the state.

The application period for funding was September 16 – November 4, 2022.  More than 880 applications were submitted and scored by a review committee. 

The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and will be live-streamed on Arkansas Citizens Access Network (ARCAN) at myarkansaspbs.org/arcan/home.

Additional information on the grant program can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/american-rescue-plan-funding-water-and-wastewater-grant-program/. A list of awarded projects will be available after the commission meeting.

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 agriculture.arkansas.gov/.


ST. LOUIS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 9 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR FIREARMS POSSESSION
HOT SPRINGS – A St. Louis, Missouri man was sentenced today to 110 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, on October 10, 2020, an Arkansas State Police Trooper was patrolling westbound Interstate 30 in Hot Spring County, Arkansas, which is in the Western District of Arkansas.  As he did so, he saw a blue 2007 Toyota Tacoma with Missouri tags, also traveling on I-30.  Neither the driver nor the passenger of the Tacoma, he noticed, were wearing seat belts.

When the truck stopped, the Trooper approached it and found Nicklas William Harris, age 50, of St. Louis, Missouri, in the driver’s seat.  The sole passenger was an adult female.  Missouri vehicle registration information showed that the Tacoma was registered to Harris, but he was unable to provide the Trooper with a driver’s license. 

While speaking with the occupants of the Tacoma, the Trooper noted a strong odor that training and experience had taught him is associated with marijuana.  Through the window of the Tacoma, the Trooper also saw a clear plastic container in the vehicle’s console area, containing a substance that appeared to him to be marijuana.  He also noted an unspent firearm cartridge in the console area. The Trooper asked Harris to step out of the vehicle, and he complied.  After retrieving a syringe from Harris’s pocket while patting him down, the Trooper asked Harris about the bullet in the Tacoma’s console. Harris replied that his friend had had a firearm in the truck recently. Harris also described himself as a convicted felon recently released from prison.

Having probable cause to search the Tacoma, the Trooper asked the female passenger to get out.  She complied.  During his search of the truck, the Trooper retrieved the clear plastic container he’d seen earlier, finding it to contain suspected marijuana and a marijuana grinder.  He also located a black and green fabric case with the word “Hurricane” written on it.  Within that fabric case were two plastic baggies and a hard plastic container, each containing what the Trooper believed were residual amounts of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance under federal law.  The fabric case also held several syringes of a type commonly used to inject methamphetamine and other drugs, as well as a digital scale.  Next to the driver’s seat, the Trooper also located a leather pistol holster with the word “Hurricane” written on it.  Lastly, near the gear shift lever in the Tacoma’s center console area, the Trooper found a loaded semi-automatic pistol.

After finding the pistol, the Trooper advised Harris of his Miranda rights, and asked him about the gun. Harris told the Trooper the methamphetamine in the fabric case belonged to him, but the pistol wasn’t his.  However, while the Trooper was attempting to clear a chambered round from the pistol, for safety, Harris spontaneously told the Trooper that the gun jams. The Trooper arrested Harris and seized all the evidence discovered in the Tacoma. 

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.  The Arkansas State Police investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES URGE PRESIDENT BIDEN TO BLOCK CHINESE DATA-SHARING PLATFORM
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Congresswoman Michelle Steel (CA-48) today sent a letter to President Biden warning of the danger that a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled maritime data-sharing platform, LOGINK, poses to U.S. military and commercial interests. The letter detailed how the CCP could use the sensitive data LOGINK collects to increase its insight and influence over international maritime trade, port infrastructure, and possibly even U.S. military activities. The letter also asks the president to describe efforts his administration has taken thus far to counter LOGINK.

In part, the members wrote:
“The CCP could exploit their control over LOGINK to identify early trends in the movement of U.S. military supplies and equipment through commercial ports while denying other countries the same data on Chinese military assets. The CCP could gain valuable intelligence regarding U.S. supply chains and use this knowledge to imperil our supply of critical resources. The CCP can also capitalize on LOGINK data to confer commercial advantages to Chinese firms and skew the marketplace away from U.S. firms.”


BOOZMAN, BRAUN INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT FAMILY FARMERS & RANCHERS FROM BURDENSOME SEC CLIMATE RULES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and committee member Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) have introduced legislation to protect family farmers and ranchers from burdensome greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting rules proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In March 2021, the SEC announced a climate disclosure proposal that would require all public companies to disclose GHG emissions from operations a company owns or controls; from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heat or cooling that is consumed by company operations; and, if material, indirect GHG emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of a registrant’s value chain.

The value chain reporting component of this proposal would place a reporting burden on the farmers and ranchers that provide raw products to the value-chain, and would inundate small, family-owned farms with costly compliance requirements.

The Protect Farmers from the SEC Act, introduced by Boozman and Braun, will exempt family farmers and ranchers from these reporting requirements, ensuring they are not required to track and disclose granular on-farm data regarding individual operations and day-to-day activities in order to stay compliant with the companies that purchase their products.

“The authors of this rule clearly lack an understanding of how agriculture works. The publicly traded corporations overseen by the SEC won’t be the ones tasked with complying with these onerous ‘value chain’ rules. That responsibility would fall on America’s family farmers and ranchers who would be forced to deal with unprecedented amount of unnecessary paperwork. This is the last thing they need to deal with as they struggle in the face of record high input costs, supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, drought and other natural disasters,” Boozman said. 

“Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve been a leading voice for the climate benefit of farming, but this SEC regulation was drafted to meet out-of-touch climate metrics, not to meet reality. I’ve heard from countless Hoosier farmers who are worried about what this regulation means for their farms and their livelihoods. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Sen. Boozman to put a stop to the Biden administration’s federal overreach on Hoosier farms and ranches,” Braun said.                                                                 

The Protect Farmers from the SEC Act is backed by a number of leading agriculture organizations including the American Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice, National Cotton Council, American Sugar Alliance, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, United Egg Producers and Agriculture Retailers Association.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK).

November 28, 2022

AG ALERT: FAKE CHARITY SCAMS CAN BRING THE CHILL
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge warns Arkansans of the opportunity for false charity scams to pop up during the holiday season, especially during the popular Giving Tuesday. While the holiday season can bring out the best in Arkansans, there are many bad actors trying to take advantage and scam others out of money. These scams can target those with a heart for veterans, children in need, or even those serving in their local food pantry. 

“As we approach the giving season, remember that there are con artists using fake scams to steal hard-earned money from Arkansans," said Attorney General Rutledge. "Know the signs and how best to protect yourself from these bad actors. If you suspect a scam, call my office and let us do the fighting for you."

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help consumers give to only legitimate charities:

Do not fall prey to high-pressure sales tactics as they are often the first sign of an unscrupulous and fraudulent charity.

Before getting out a checkbook or credit card in response to a phone solicitation, make attempts to determine the validity of the organization by conducting research.

Get the organization's name, address, website, and phone number. Make sure the nonprofit organization is registered with the Arkansas Secretary of State.

If in doubt about the organization’s credibility, discontinue the communications until you can verify whether it is a reputable cha’ from your donation.

Watch out for similar but different organization names as some con artists will use names similar to those of existing, reputable nonprofits in order to trick consumers.

Do not give out financial or personal information over the phone or through email to an unknown entity. This information could fall into the wrong hands, or the scammers could use it to steal your money or identity.

Never send cash. Make check or credit card payments for increased security and tax purposes.

If donating via text message, verify the organization’s number prior to sending information.

For more information about other common scams and consumer-related issues, please call the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

SCOTT COUNTY HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY BY ASP/CID; SUSPECT IN CUSTODY
NOVEMBER 28, 2022
Eldder Santiago Bautista, 33, was the victim of an apparent homicide last night (Sunday, November 27th) while visiting a residence south of Waldron.

Scott County sheriff’s deputies and state police responded to a home at 293 Ross Creek Road where a witness reported a shooting incident about 8:45 PM.  Bautista was found dead on the front porch of the residence.  Bautista had been shot and his body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where a manner and cause of death will be determined. 

Luis Gabriel Olivares, 33, who is believed to have been staying at the Ross Creek Road address, was later seen Sunday night carrying a rifle near a wooded area near the home and was arrested by a state trooper who initially responded to the shooting incident.

Olivares is being held for questioning by state police special agents at the Scott County Jail.

No formal charges have been filed in the case as of Monday afternoon

November 21, 2022

PRESS RELEASE
NOVEMBER 21, 2022
10:00 A.M.
"MAYOR LOTT DENIES ALL ALLEGATIONS OF MARITAL IMPROPRIETY, STATES ITS DIRTY POLITICS DESIGNED TO HOLD CAMDEN BACK FROM PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP."

To the City of Camden:
On November 15,a  disgruntled former employee of the City of Camden, Amy Perrin, released a 2 year old, edited audio recording meant to harm my family and reputation through the Camden News. Plainly put, the small, edited clip of audio is taken completely out of context and designed to appear that I was talking about my own personal exploits when in reality it was a conversation using myself as an example to explain troubled behavior. She and any other employee who spent any significant amount of time around me knows as a pastor first, I take every opportunity to espouse my thoughts on why being morally and ethically above board allows us to better serve the residents of Camden. Ms. Perrin, release the full, unedited conversation so the public can hear for themselves what was being discussed in context. My team is also exploring my legal options to demand the release of the complete, unedited audio. This was a blatant attempt to shift the focus away from the success outcomes of my first term in office.

Ms. Perrin's statement to the Camden News that I gave her a recorder to "record [me] and hold [me] accountable" is an absolute lie. Ms. Perrin, along with other city employees, were given recorders to record meetings wherein official business was being conducted for the purpose of making sure accurate minutes were written and supplementing their duties as the secretary of said meetings.

reelect@mayorlott.com
1 (870) 938 4916
Camden, AR 71701

 

PUBLIC NOTICE SPSC FLUSHING LINES
Shumaker Public Service Corporation will begin flushing water lines on December 1 through January 1 .

Flushing will begin in Highland Industrial Park on December 1 and will move into the East Camden residential area that same day.

This process will take approximately 20 workdays to complete. We ask that you take precautions while doing laundry due to sediments stirred up in the lines. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.


PICTURES WITH SANTA
Bring your child to Santa's Workshop for a magical memory he or she will cherish forever! Pictues with Santa will be taken on the following dates at Garden Oaks Shopping Center.

November 26th
December 3rd
December 10th
December 17th

Time: 12 pm- 5 pm

All proceeds will benefit the Women's Crisis Center of South Arkansas

 

ARTISTS CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR SAAC'S ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP SHOWCASE
The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center is hosting its annual SAAC Membership Showcase and invites all area artists to submit their work for the exhibit. The Membership Showcase will be held December 1st through December 15th in the SAAC Galleries with an artists' reception on Saturday, December 10th from 5:30pm-7:00pm. New Artists and renewing SAAC members are welcome to enter. Artwork needs to be delivered to SAAC by 5:00pm on Tuesday, November 29th.

Area artists are invited to select two favorite works, created at any point in their lifetime, and deliver them to SAAC for the Membership Show. The only rule is that work shown in a previous Membership Show may not be submitted again. For existing SAAC members, submissions are free. For new artists and renewing members, one artwork entry is $10 and two entries are $20 with the entry fee being applied to your SAAC membership. Participants are encouraged to sell their work, but it is not a requirement. 

As in past years - anything goes! All 2-D and 3-D fine arts media will be accepted, including photography, computer generated art, jewelry, video, fiber art, and multi-media. 2-D works must be completely ready for gallery display - framed in a clean, neat and professional manner with a secure wire hanger. 3-D works and multi-media presentations must be display ready.

"Don't hide your talent under a bushel. Enter your art in the SAAC Membership Show," said visual arts committee member Melinda Dodson, encouraging all local artist to participate.

Rhonda Hicks, also a member of the SAAC visual arts committee, said, "I look forward to the Membership Show every year to see what our community is working on. Hopefully everyone will come." Committee member Joey Antoon expanded on that by saying, "The Membership Art Show is always diversified and a unique collection of work. A bargain can always be found from emerging artists."

Entry forms and additional information about this show are available on the SAAC website at www.saac- arts.org. For more information, call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in special session on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. followed by a budget workshop. The meetings will be held in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The agenda is as follows
A. Call To Order
B. Invocation – Rev. Gwen Edwards, Pastor – Set Free Christian Ministries, 221 Monroe Ave. Ne, Camden, Ar
C. Pledge Of Allegiance
D. Roll Call
E. Approval Of Minutes
    1.   Minutes Of Regular Meeting, October 11, 2022
    2.   Minutes Of Special Called Meeting October 25, 2022
F.  Acceptance Of Financial Report
    1.  Financial Report For October 2022
G. Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
I. Old Business
J. New Business
    1. Resolution No. 64-22, A Resolution Approving The Appointment Of Mike Cash To The Water And Sewer Commission.
    2. Resolution No. 65-22, A Resolution Amending The Operating Budget For 2022; And For Other Purposes.
    3. Resolution No. 66-22, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Phil Mcbride To The Airport Commission; And For Other Purposes.
     4. Resolution No. 67-22, A Resolution Awarding The Bid For The Purchase Of A Generator For The Camden Police Department.
K. Other Business
L. Adjournment

 

CITY OF CAMDEN THANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS
The City Of Camden Offices will be closed On Thursday, November 24th And Friday, November 25th  to observe the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Sanitation Department will be off on Thursday, November 24, 2022 and return to work on Friday, November 25, 2022’

Sanitation trash pick-up schedule is as follows:
Trash pick-up routes for Wednesday and Thursday will be picked up on Wednesday.

 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR APPROVES ARKANSAS TEACHER RESIDENCY APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Labor recently approved the Arkansas Teacher Residency Apprenticeship Program, making it one of only eight in the country to receive the national designation. 

Arkansas’ program, which is designed to increase the teacher pipeline, is one pathway through the Arkansas Teacher Residency Model. Through the apprenticeship program, which will launch next fall, participants will serve as apprentices at schools while earning a wage. Upon completion, the apprentice will have a four-year degree, a teaching license, and a nationally-recognized apprenticeship certification. 

U.S. Department of Labor program approval allows the state to use $2.2 million in federal apprenticeship dollars to cover tuition costs up to $12,000 per participant in Levels 3 and 4 (juniors and seniors) and to pay $2,500 per semester for master or lead designated teachers who will serve as journeymen and mentor the apprentices. ADE’s program will fund up to 100 apprentices in Levels 1 and 2 (freshmen and sophomores) and an additional 100 in Levels 3 and 4.

“We are excited to be among the few states that are offering an apprenticeship pathway to becoming a teacher,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “This program serves as another great opportunity to recruit and retain exceptional teachers. Master or lead teachers can share their expertise with apprentices, and apprentices who complete the program will hold a teaching license in addition to a nationally-recognized apprenticeship certification. The program is a win-win for everyone.”

Partners joining ADE to implement the program include education service cooperatives, school districts, and educator preparation programs. ADE will serve as the sponsor for the program by reviewing and approving applications from potential participants and districts and will allocate funds to education service cooperatives. Education service cooperatives will work with the master or lead designated teachers to record apprentices’ progress toward completing the program and will subgrant the funds to journeymen and educator preparation programs.

Educator preparation programs will work with school districts to align programs to the needs of districts, as well as provide a pipeline of qualified students for the program. They also will provide related technical instruction to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship program.

Districts will select and hire apprentices to fill current needs within the district, as well as provide 10 to 20 hours of face-to-face assistance for students. The salary will be a progressive wage starting at $15 an hour and will include benefits and credit toward teacher retirement. Districts also will provide a master or lead designated teacher to mentor the apprentice.

ADE will host six trainings for districts, education service cooperatives, and educator preparation programs. To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/3EJjxiR. To learn more about the program, visit the Arkansas Teacher Residency Model webpage at https://bit.ly/3O8UmJy or https://bit.ly/3UQMAGI

 

THEATRE VETERANS TO LEAD SAAC’S LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS 
The South Arkansas Arts Center will welcome Delaine Gates and Darrin Riley as co-directors of their spring 2023 production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Longtime veterans of the stage, Gates and Riley have worked together dozens of times over the years, including at SAAC, at El Dorado High School, and at festivals and performances internationally. They will join forces again with “Little Shop of Horrors,” sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers and All About Flowers, and scheduled to take the stage March 3-5 and 9-11, 2023. 

Delaine Gates is a veteran director with more than 100 productions under her belt. The longtime director of the El Dorado High School theatre program and Thespian Troupe 42, she thinks of herself as a “process director” who loves guiding actors through their creative journey. She and Darrin Riley, an accomplished actor and director in his own right, have collaborated on 45 different productions. Their creative chemistry has been seen in projects as diverse as the South Arkansas Arts Center’s 2016 production of “Frankenstein,” the 2014 production of “Les Miserables” in conjunction with the South Arkansas Symphony, and the 2011 Thespian Troupe 42 production of “Hairspray”—all the way back to their very first collaboration in a 1992 production of “Waiting for Godot”.   

Gates and Riley love “Little Shop of Horrors” for its darkly comic energy and Motown-inspired musical numbers. The show, which was written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, is one of the longest-running off-Broadway musicals ever, and was adapted into a 1986 film starring Rick Moranis. With a bloodthirsty plant from space as its sci-fi centerpiece, the show is filled with beloved characters like downtrodden Seymour, his beloved Audrey, an evil dentist, and a three-girl doo-wop chorus.  

“’Little Shop’ is a thriller with comic elements, but it’s also an exploration into the psyche of each character as they react to outside influences beyond their control,” said Riley. “The audience goes into their world and experiences their lives as if it were real.” 

“In essence it’s a Greek tragedy with a sci-fi twist,” continued Gates. “We want to keep all those chills and thrills, but with a deeper exploration of the human condition.” 

The co-directors plan auditions for this charming, yet terrifying, tale on January 15 and 16, 2023. For audition information, call the South Arkansas Arts Center at 870-862-5474 or stop by 110 E. 5th Street in El Dorado. 

November 16, 2022

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING CANCELLED – QUORUM NOT PRESENT
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen were scheduled to meet in regular session last night, Tuesday, November 15,2022 in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

Aldermen L.E. Lindsey, Chris Aregood and James Bell showed up at the appointed time. Aldermen Cecil McDonald, William McCoy, Joe Askew, Marvin Moore and Terri Smith were no shows.

Due to the absences, there was not a Quorum and the business of the City could not be conducted. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date.


CHERRY STREET TO BE RENAMED LASKER BELL, SR. STREET
Lasker Bell Sr. was the founder of the Las Bell Show (Radio-Soul and Gospel) and the Las Bell Variety show (Television) reaching Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

He was the First Black Television Dance Show host in the Ark-La-Miss and the First Black Interviewer for Channel 10 news.

Mr. Bell Sr. believed young people needed a safe place to have fun without troubles, while experiencing being on television instead of just watching it. While audiences were watching Soul Train for the first time on Channel 26 in Chicago (August 1970), we were watching the Las Bell Variety Show for the first time on Channel 10 in El Dorado, Arkansas (July 1970).

We Salute, Honor and Remember Mr. Lasker Bell Sr.

Cherry Street will be re-named Lasker Bell Sr. Street on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 11:00 am at Cherry/Webster/Beale Street.

 

AG ALERT: NEW ARKANSAS LAW WINS NATIONAL AWARD FOR HELPING FIGHT FRAUD
LITTLE ROCK— During International Fraud Awareness Week, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is highlighting an award-winning, Arkansas law she and members of the General Assembly introduced to help protect Arkansas Seniors and people with disabilities from falling victim to financial exploitation. Rutledge helped craft the legislation alongside Rep. Carlton Wing, Senator Jonathan Dismang and representatives of the state’s banks and other financial services providers, in an effort to develop protocols between state agencies and the Attorney General’s Office to expedite potential action when an individual is facing financial exploitation.

“I am proud to have worked with the many stakeholders to achieve this goal,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The need for this law is highlighted by the fact that the bill received bipartisan support as well as national recognition.”

Act 1015 of 2021, known as the Safeguarding Against Financial Exploitation of Retirees (SAFER AR Act), passed both the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support . The Act is designed to protect older Arkansans and people with disabilities by allowing financial institutions to delay, refuse and report attempted financial transactions designed to exploit these individuals to Adult Protective Services (APS). The Act also requires APS to report the suspected fraud to the Attorney General’s Office within 48 hours.

Recently, Arkansas-based Simmons Bank, won an award from the American Bankers Association for its role in developing the SAFER AR Act to address this need to protect America’s seniors and people with disabilities.   

“The SAFER AR Act provides banks and other financial institutions an improved reporting mechanism to state and local authorities when they suspect financial abuse of the elderly and people with disabilities," said Steve Wade, EVP and assistant general legal counsel for Simmons Bank. “By encouraging financial institutions to act in circumstances of suspected fraud, this bill should help prevent financial loss to victims and give authorities an earlier start toward investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.”

For more information and tips on how to avoid common scams and other consumer-related issues, call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982, email consumer@ArkansasAG.gov, or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

November 15, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension office will be closed on November 23., 24 & 25 for Thanksgiving.

The Ouachita County Sanitation will be on schedule except for Thursday {Thanksgiving Day). Thursday.,s trash will be picked up on Friday November 25, 2022.
 

FORMER CAMDEN ASSISTANT MAYOR AMY WRIGHT-PERRIN ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT
Camden, AR  -- November 14, 2022 – Amy Wright-Perrin, former Assistant Mayor of Camden, formally announced today that she had filed a lawsuit against Camden Mayor Julian Lott and the City of Camden.  The lawsuit is based upon events leading to her termination in 2021.  The lawsuit is based on Lott’s sexual harassment of Wright-Perrin and his ultimate termination for refusing the sexual advances. 

The lawsuit alleges that Lott asked her to engage in sexual intercourse with him.  When she refused, she was placed in a position of fearing for her job and physical safety every day.  An unidentified employee, other than Wright-Perrin, came forward and exposed Lott’s inappropriate conduct.

The lawsuit seeks for violation of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, for wrongful termination, and for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Wright-Perrin said, “I waited until after the general election to announce the lawsuit because she wanted to avoid any claim that the lawsuit was politically motivated..”

 

CLICK IT OR TICKET: RAMPED-UP ENFORCEMENT OF SEAT BELT LAW SET FOR THANKSGIVING WEEK
NOVEMBER 14, 2022
Arkansas law enforcement officers plan to bolster their patrol assignments aimed at violators who are not buckled-up while traveling on local streets and state highways during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period.

State troopers, local police and sheriff’s deputies are following the lead of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) high visibility Click It or Ticket seat belt awareness campaign which is intended to reduce the number of fatalities that occur when motorist fail to buckle-up.  The concerted campaign by law enforcement begins next Monday (November 21st) and continues through Sunday night (November 27th).

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend of 2020 (6 PM Wednesday, November 25, to 5:59 AM, November 30), there were 333 passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic crashes across the nation.  More than half the victims (52%) were not wearing a seatbelt.  Additionally, nighttime has proven to be more deadly than daytime, with 67% of Thanksgiving weekend fatal crashes occurring at night. The deaths were needless tragedies for families across America that may have been prevented with the simple click of a seat belt.

“Properly using a seat belt in a moving vehicle isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Wherever you travel, short distances or long, you must wear a seat belt.  It’s your best defense if involved in a crash and may mean the difference between life and death.  This Thanksgiving, and every day of the year, remember, Click It or Ticket.”

For more information about highway safety during this Thanksgiving holiday, please visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.


ARKANSAS RANKS AMONG WORST STATES FOR NEW CASES OF LUNG CANCER, ACCORDING TO NEW REPORT
American Lung Association examines toll of lung cancer in Arkansas, underscores urgent need for more people to be screened
LITTLE ROCK – (November 15, 2022) –The 2022 “State of Lung Cancer” report reveals that Arkansas ranks 49th in the nation for new lung cancer cases. The American Lung Association’s 5th annual report, released today, highlights the toll of lung cancer in Arkansas and examines key indicators including new cases, survival, early diagnosis, surgical treatment, lack of treatment and screening rates.

Nationally, the “State of Lung Cancer” report shows continued progress for lung cancer survival. The lung cancer five-year survival rate is now 25% and increased 21% from 2014 to 2018. Here in Arkansas, the lung cancer survival rate is below the national average at 21.2%. The report also highlights that people of color who are diagnosed with lung cancer face worse outcomes compared to white Americans, including lower survival rate, less likely to be diagnosed early, less likely to receive surgical treatment and more likely to receive no treatment. In Arkansas, black Americans are least likely to receive surgical treatment.

“Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis saves lives. Unfortunately, here in Arkansas, not enough people are getting this lifesaving screening,” said Laura Turner, senior manager of advocacy for Arkansas at the American Lung Association. “We all can help reduce the burden of lung cancer in Arkansas. If you are eligible for lung cancer screening, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about it. If a loved one is eligible, please encourage them to get screened.”

Currently, 14.2 million Americans meet the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines for screening. Under these guidelines, a person is eligible for lung cancer screening if they are between 50-80 years of age, have a 20 pack-year year history (1 pack/day for 20 years, 2 packs a day for 10 years) are a current smoker, or have quit within the last 15 years. Find out if you are eligible for lung cancer screening at SavedByTheScan.org.

The report found that Arkansas ranked:
49th in the nation for rate of new lung cancer cases at 75.8 per 100,000. The national rate is 56.7 per 100,000.
40th in the nation for survival at 21.2%. The national rate of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 25%.
25th in the nation for early diagnosis at 25.8%. Nationally, only 25.8% of cases are diagnosed at an early stage when the survival rate is much higher.
38th in the nation for lung cancer screening at 4.3%. Lung cancer screening with annual low-dose CT scans for those at high risk can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20%. Nationally, only 5.8% of those at high risk were screened.
42nd in the nation for surgery at 16.3%. Lung cancer can often be treated with surgery if it is diagnosed at an early stage and has not spread. Nationally, 20.8% of cases underwent surgery.
16th in the nation for lack of treatment at 17.9%. Nationally, 20.6% of cases receive no treatment.
49th in the nation for current smokers at 20.5 %. Nationally, 14.3% of adults are current smokers. 

Another noteworthy rating identified for Arkansas is the radon action level. 20.1% of homes in Arkansas are above the recommended action level by the EPA for radon. And while this is average, more work should be done. The only way to know one’s radon level is to test, so the Lung Association recommends all homes, schools, and workplaces should be tested, and high levels, if confirmed, should be reduced. Most will get good news, but every now and then, high values will be found and should be fixed.

“State of Lung Cancer” highlights that Arkansas must do more to reduce the burden of lung cancer and encourages everyone to join the effort to end lung cancer. Learn more about the report, and email President Biden to thank him for his leadership on the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and urge him to work to increase lung cancer screening for individuals at high risk at Lung.org/solc.
 

COTTON DEMANDS ANSWERS ON FOREIGN TIKTOK EMPLOYEES IN THE US 
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding security concerns that TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance pose to American citizens’ personal data. The letter requested details on TikTok’s use of H-1B guest workers who may have ties to the Chinese Communist Party. 
In part, Senator Cotton wrote: 
“In 2022 alone DHS has approved over 570 new and continuing H-1B visas for foreign individuals to work at ByteDance and TikTok’s offices in California. Given the security concerns with TikTok and the company’s repeated statements about “US-based” teams and data centers, having hundreds of foreign nationals working in those offices presents another potential threat.”

Full text of the letter may be found and below.

November 14, 2022
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:

I write regarding TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and their use of H-1B guest worker visas for employees who might have ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). TikTok captures vast amounts of private information on users, including American citizens, and has long been suspected of providing the CCP with potential access to that information. This threatens the safety and security of American citizens, and also functions as an avenue for the Chinese government to track the locations of and develop blackmail on Federal employees and contractors.

In response to security and espionage concerns, TikTok claims that it stores “all TikTok US user data in the United States,” and that its “data centers are located entirely outside of China.” In a Senate hearing, TikTok’s vice president added that TikTok has a “US-based security team that handles access to user data.” However, recent public reports indicate that sensitive data on American users of TikTok has been accessed from within China, that Beijing-based employees of ByteDance have targeted specific American users for surveillance, and that at least 300 TikTok and ByteDance employees are also current or former employees of Chinese state media.

In 2022 alone, DHS has approved over 570 new and continuing H-1B visas for foreign individuals to work at ByteDance and TikTok’s offices in California. Given the security concerns with TikTok and the company’s repeated statements about “US-based” teams and data centers, having hundreds of foreign nationals working in those offices presents another potential threat. For each H-1B application sponsored by ByteDance or TikTok in 2022, please provide a list of the nationalities and job titles of each applicant employee no later than 5:00PM on Tuesday, November 15.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,
Tom Cotton
United States Senator


BOOZMAN, BLUMENTHAL LEAD BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO SAFEGUARD VETERANS FILING BENEFIT CLAIMS
WASHINGTON
–– U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), senior members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to hold unaccredited entities that target men and women who served in uniform accountable for their predatory practices. The Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding (GUARD) VA Benefits Act would reinstate criminal penalties for unaccredited claim representatives who charge unauthorized fees while helping file a disability claim.

Current law prohibits unaccredited individuals and businesses from charging a fee for assisting a veteran in the preparation, presentation or prosecution of a VA benefit claim. However, the VA and other federal agencies are limited in their ability to enforce the law because criminal penalties were eliminated from the statute nearly 20 years ago.

“Ensuring veterans have the resources to make informed decisions about filing VA claims is an important part of helping them access the benefits they’ve earned. They also deserve to have trusted and reliable advocates working on their behalf, which is why we must hold accountable those aiming to make a profit off their service. I’m proud to join Senator Blumenthal to strengthen education of the claims process and hold bad actors responsible for their predatory practices,” said Boozman.

“This measure ensures veterans can access their rightfully-earned benefits free of charge,” said Blumenthal. “Stronger safeguards are needed to protect those who served our country from wrongdoers hoping to cash in on the onerous claims process. Holding profiteers accountable through criminal penalties is an important step that will support our heroes. I’m proud to join Senator Boozman in this effort to prevent our veterans from being exploited.” 

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Braun (R-IN).

The bipartisan measure has the support of numerous veterans advocacy organizations. Here is what they are saying about the GUARD VA Benefits Act:

“The Military Officers Association of America wholeheartedly supports the GUARD VA Benefits Act,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO. “Veterans deserve better than having a target on their back by predatory claims sharks looking to profit off their service and conditions. MOAA thanks Senators Boozman and Blumenthal for their bipartisan leadership on this bill and their commitment to ensure veterans are protected from scammers with accredited and accountable representation.”

“For many of our nation’s disabled veterans, VA disability compensation can be the difference between making ends meet and more severe outcomes such as homelessness. That’s why it’s so vitally important that veterans are properly represented by accredited individuals and institutions when applying for VA benefits. DAV applauds Senator Boozman and Senator Blumenthal for introducing this legislation, which will help ensure disabled veterans receive VA-accredited representation while deterring predatory practices that seek to bilk our nation’s heroes of their earned benefits,” said DAV National Commander Joe Parsetich.

“The VFW strongly supports the GUARD VA Benefits Act which would put guardrails in place to protect veterans from entities seeking to take their hard-earned benefits. Reinstating penalties for people charging unauthorized fees relating to veteran claims is a necessary action to prevent claims sharks from preying upon veterans. The VFW thanks Senators Boozman and Blumenthal for their continued bipartisan support for service members, veterans, and their families,” said Pat Murray, VFW’s National Legislative Director.

Introduction of the GUARD VA Benefits Act builds on the senators’ commitment to protecting veterans filing VA claims. In September, Boozman and Blumenthal introduced the Veterans Claims Education Act of 2022. This legislation would improve educational resources for veterans filing an electronic benefits claim to steer them toward VA-accredited entities and limit the threat posed by for-profit entities that try to take advantage of the men and women who served in uniform by charging unnecessary and costly fees.

Companion legislation for both initiatives have been introduced in the House of Representatives.

NOVEMBER 11, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN AND MAYOR JULIAN LOTT SERVED COMPLAINT
The City of Camden and Mayor Julian Lott were formerly served with a complaint stemming from allegations of wrongful dismissal and sexual harassment.  Amy Perrin alleges she was dismissed wrongfully and that Mayor Julian Lott sexually harassed her on several occasions beginning in 2020. The Plaintiff was dismissed on October 01,2021. The original complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Ouachita County on September 29th. Text of the entire complaint can be found below.

November 11, 2022

CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will meet in regular session on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The agenda is as follows:
A. Call To Order
B. Invocation – Rev. Gwen Edwards, Pastor - Set Free Christian Ministries, 221 Monroe Avenue, NE Camden AR 
C. Pledge Of Allegiance
D. Roll Call
E. Approval Of Minutes
     1.  Minutes Of Regular Meeting, October 11, 2022
     2. Minutes Of Special Called Meeting October 25, 2022
F. Acceptance Of Financial Report
     1. Financial Report For October 2022
G. Audience Participation
H. Mayor’s Report    
I.  Old Business
J. New Business
      1. Resolution No. 64-22, A Resolution Approving The Appointment Of Mike Cash To The Water And Sewer Commission.
     2. Resolution No. 65-22, A Resolution Amending The Operating Budget For 2022; And For Other Purposes.
     3. Resolution No. 66-22, A Resolution Confirming The Appointment Of Phil Mcbride To The Airport Commission; And For Other Purposes.
K.  Other Business
L.  Adjournment


CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at 6:30 P.M. at Garrison Auditorium

The agenda is as follows:
Call to order
Student Hearings
Approval of minutes of previous meetings
Unfinished Business
     None
New Business
     Presentation and recommendation regarding the purchase of 100 iPads and three iPad carts.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding pay rates for additional duties for licensed staff for summer school programs, after school programs, student supervision and professional development.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding hiring WD&D Architect to develop plans for the Camden Fairview Middle School auditorium and a band structure at Camden Fairview High School stadium.
     Presentation on HVAC repairs at FES and Ivory.
Facility Rentals
Superintendent’s report to the Board
Financial report
Personnel
Hiring
Resignation

 

ARKANSAS FIREFIGHTERS LEAVE TO WORK WILDFIRES IN KENTUCKY
FORREST CITY, AR – A crew of 8 wildland firefighters with the Arkansas Department
Forestry Division left Forrest City today to work wildfires in Kentucky. Many areas in Kentucky have been experiencing elevated wildfire danger with 34 fires reported in a single day earlier this week.

Because of the recent wildfire activity, Forestry Division employees have been mobilized as part of the Southeastern Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact. The Southeastern Compact enables participating state forestry agencies to send wildland firefighting resources and personnel across state lines to suppress wildfires.

“Kentucky is experiencing drought and their emergency response resources are running thin,” said Wes McKinney, Fire Management Officer for the Forestry Division. “They’re seeing multiple fires over multiple days and are in need of support.”

The crew is being led by Wesley Morgan, a Forestry Division Ranger from Stone County. Other members of the crew include:
Paul Franks – County Ranger, Union County
Dusty Walton – County Ranger, Clark County
Andrew Still – Ranger II, Dallas County
Tyler King – County Forester, Union County
Don Rainbolt – Ranger II, Searcy County
Cody Mallory – Ranger II, Faulkner County
Curtis Ragland – Ranger II, Faulker County

“We are proud of our staff who volunteered to do hard, labor-intensive work to help safeguard the people of Kentucky,” said Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox. “They are honored to use their training and expertise to provide assistance.”

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 agriculture.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.

 

SIX SCHOOL DISTRICT, COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS RECEIVE R.I.S.E. COMMUNITY AWARDS FOR 2021-2022
LITTLE ROCK — There is no doubt that when schools and communities partner together, great things can happen that support student success. The Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to recognize six partnerships that demonstrate the benefit of school/community collaboration while building a strong culture of reading for students, their families, and the community.

During today’s State Board of Education meeting, ADE recognized Batesville, Greenbrier, and Magnolia as gold level R.I.S.E. Communities for 2021-2022 for their commitment to promoting literacy beyond school buildings and into surrounding communities. In addition to these three partnerships, Hope, McGehee, and Friendship Aspire in Pine Bluff were recognized as bronze winners.

“The partnerships between schools and community organizations in these six cities have resulted in improved access to books for students, enhanced awareness of the importance of reading on grade level, and a community culture that embraces reading,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “I am extremely proud of these partnerships, which serve as role models for other communities. When we partner together toward a common goal, students are always the winners.”

Building a culture of reading is one of the foundational goals of the Reading Initiative for Student Excellence, or R.I.S.E. Arkansas, program. To encourage reading beyond just the classroom, ADE developed the R.I.S.E. Communities program to recognize districts, community members, and organizations that partner together to promote a culture of reading for residents of all ages.

To be eligible for the recognition, districts and communities submitted a letter of commitment, developed an action plan, and provided a portfolio that showed evidence of implementation throughout the year. While some community events were new, others were annual events that refocused their attention on the importance of literacy. During this time, the department provided guidance, resources, and support for engaging the community in planned reading activities. Applications were then scored using a rubric.

The common element across all communities was the desire and effort to increase the number of books for children. In Batesville, partners hosted a “Tale-gate” party and collected more than 8,000 books that were then donated to children in the community. Partners also worked with local restaurants to provide activity placemats that highlight the five components of reading.

Greenbrier’s Christmas parade received a new theme, “RISE up in Lights,” that focused on literacy. The community partnership also challenged residents to complete Science of Reading activities via a geocaching scavenger hunt about the history of Greenbrier. 

Magnolia implemented free little libraries in public spaces throughout the community for families to access books for children and also promoted literacy for secondary students through a financial literacy event.

To learn more about how to become a R.I.S.E. Community, visit https://bit.ly/3SKf6YH.


THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE EXPANDS FOOD ANIMAL DISEASE SURVEILLANCE CAPABILITY 
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) has added the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Tollett Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (Tollett lab) in Fayetteville as a branch lab through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) to enhance the State’s official surveillance programs for diseases that threaten poultry. The Tollett lab’s designation as a branch lab of the Department of Agriculture was approved by NAHLN on November 9, 2022.

The VDL in Little Rock is one of 60 laboratories in the United States that have a cooperative agreement with NAHLN under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The cooperative agreement authorizes the VDL to participate in official surveillance testing programs associated with animal disease outbreaks such as highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Participation in NAHLN is a vital component of national preparedness in the agriculture sector.

“Poultry is the largest agricultural commodity in Arkansas accounting for approximately 50 percent of our state’s total agricultural cash receipts. Because a large portion of our poultry production occurs in northwest Arkansas, adding the Fayetteville lab to the Department’s NAHLN certification for HPAI testing will greatly enhance our state’s animal disease response capabilities,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. 

Although the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture (Division) has operated the Tollett lab in Fayetteville for 14 years, the lab was not previously designated through NAHLN to participate in official surveillance testing programs. The two Arkansas veterinary laboratories will maintain independent administrative and financial status but will share a formal quality management system administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s VDL in Little Rock.

“NAHLN certification of the Tollett Lab will improve the Division of Agriculture’s ability to serve the poultry industry in Arkansas and throughout the region,” said Jean-François Meullenet, director of the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. “We appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with the VDL.”

Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the experiment station, said, “We are grateful for the support and assistance from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s VDL over the last several months. Without their support, this would not have been possible.”

“Bringing the Tollett lab under the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Lab’s NAHLN certification for HPAI testing is forward thinking and an excellent example of what can be accomplished when state entities and industry work together,” said Marvin Childers, President of The Poultry Federation. 

After months of constant surveillance testing of poultry flocks and migratory waterfowl for HPAI, the VDL participated in the federal and state incident command structure when HPAI was confirmed in Arkansas on October 8, 2022. The VDL conducted more than 1,000 tests during the incident.  All HPAI quarantine zones established during the recent incident have been released.

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 agriculture.arkansas.gov/.

 

BOOZMAN ASSEMBLES 2022-2023 CONGRESSIONAL YOUTH CABINET, WELCOMES PARTICIPANTS FROM ACROSS ARKANSAS
Annual Initiative Aims to Foster Civic Engagement
LITTLE ROCK––U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) launched the sixth year of his Congressional Youth Cabinet on Thursday, meeting with 52 Arkansas high school students selected from public, private and charter schools across the state.

“It is exciting to again convene young leaders who are interested in getting involved and making a difference in their schools and communities,” Boozman said. “We had a record number of applicants this year and I am pleased so many students want to learn about public service and how to help shape the future of Arkansas and our country.”

The Congressional Youth Cabinet is a non-partisan program that gives students insight and experience in the legislative process. The high school juniors will attend meetings throughout the year and work in teams to research national issues they select. In April, the groups will present their policy recommendations to the senator.

Students submitted applications to participate and were chosen with an emphasis on community involvement and leadership. The following students were selected for the 2022-2023 school year:

 

1st Congressional District
Mercuriah Vance – Osceola
Eli Ezekiel – Wilson
Blair Booker – Osceola
Breann Fultz-Foster – Osceola
Coalton Powell – Diamond City
Garrett Gardner – DeWitt
MacKenzie Ballinger – Ward
Kadan Newson – Osceola

2nd Congressional District
Yahya Younus – Little Rock
Haley Tancinco – Searcy
Wade Moore – Searcy
Annie Mae DiFlorio – El Paso
Belle Irby – Conway
Vivian Tomlinson – Searcy
Ayushi Patel – Little Rock
Claire Cornwell – Benton
Diego Dominguez – Searcy

3rd Congressional District
Bianca Arana – Decatur
Elisa-Tram Vu – Rogers
Ayden Jowers – Gravette
Eric Suarez – Springdale
Chrisalin Moore – Lavaca
Aya Alzufari – Fort Smith
Stella Garton – Fayetteville
Zachary Gardner – Fayetteville
Madison Schluterman – Bentonville
Chandra Suda – Bentonville
Alisha Kahloon – Siloam Springs
Duc Pham – Fayetteville
Harrison Henry – Fayetteville
Garrett Lindley – Farmington
Peter Belin – Bentonville
Hemali Gauri – Fayetteville
Naomi DiFlorio – El Paso
Chance Stewart – Benton
Matthew Lamb – Little Rock
Benjamin Ino – Bald Knob
Savannah Straessle – Little Rock

4th Congressional District
Anna Sutton – Amity
Chelsee Jeronimo – Hot Springs
Psalm Wistrand – Mena
Fallon Johnson – Pine Bluff
Bannon Price –
Alexandra Logan – Sheridan
Taylor Ashdown Nelson – White Hall
Bethany Phillips – Pine Bluff
Emilee Young – Arkadelphia
Ajaiah Harris – White Hall
Hudson Vacca – Mena
Jocelyn Hernandez – Hatfield
Anaiya Ford – Arkadelphia
Mychia Leatherwood – Arkadelphia

 

 

 

November 09, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY ELECTION RESULTS - RUNOFF TO BE HELD DECEMBER 06, 2022
Election Day was yesterday. The Ouachita County results are below. There will be a runoff election for the Mayor of Camden between Mayor Julian Lott and Charlotte Young and for Ouachita County Assessor between Stephanie Olds and Tonya McKenzie.

The runoff election will be held on December 06, 2022. Early voting will begin on November 29, 2022 and continue through December 05, 2022. Early voting will be at the Ouachita County Courthouse during regular hours – 8 AM to 4:30 PM M, Monday through Friday. On December 06, 2022 all polling places will be open.

COUNTY CLERK
Nancy "Cookie" Collins (D) 2,599
Sherri Hunter 4,240

ASSESSOR
Tonya McKenzie (D) 2,434
Stephanie Olds (R) 3,318
Margaret Pace 1,218

 

TREASURER
Melinda "Missy" Chambers (R) 4,161
Amy Varner Hughes 2,611

CORONER
Sylvester Smith Jr. (R) 2,894
Todd McAteer (R) 4,118


Bearden
MAYOR
Ginger Bailey 120
Rayford Wright 103

City Council, Ward 2, Position 1
Melvia Buckley 130
Ronnie D. Quarles 88

Camden
Mayor
Julian Lott 1,088
Charlotte Young 1,314
Cecil C. McDonald 436

CITY COUNCIL, WARD 1, POSITION 1
James Bell 417
Edward Winters 430

CITY COUNCIL, WARD 4, POSITION 1
Gerald Castleberry 587
Anthony "Andy" Simpson 309

Bearden School District
Bearden School Board, Zone 4
Doris Parham 95
Kemberly Johnson 91

Harmony Grove School District
School Board, Zone 7
Ty Turner 153
Jeremy Anderson 91

AP Tax repeal
For 1,093
Against 1,707

There are a total of 11,202 registered voters in Ouachita County. A total of 7,087 ballots were cast for a total voter turnout of 63.27%. 2,724 ballots were cast on election day. 186 absentee ballots were cast and there were 4,177 early votes cast.
 

2022 STATE, FEDERAL ACCOUNTABILITY REPORTS FOR SCHOOLS RELEASED
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released today the 2022 state and federal accountability reports for Arkansas public schools. The reports include information about student achievement and growth, graduation rates, and other indicators that measure student learning.

The state and federal reports, available on the My School Info website (https://myschoolinfo.arkansas.gov), mirror each other in many ways, with the state report including a letter grade for each school. This year marks the first time in three years that schools have received letter grades. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, statewide assessments were not administered in 2020, and accountability reports were not released. Assessments were given in 2021, and accountability reports, including ESSA School Index Scores, were released; however, the Arkansas Legislature granted a pause on issuing letter grades for 2020 and 2021 because of pandemic disruptions on student learning. 

While the number of schools receiving A and B letter grades decreased in 2022 compared to 2019, nearly 60 percent of schools’ ESSA School Index Scores (explained in more detail below) increased when compared to 2021 scores.

“As expected, this year’s reports do not reflect a complete recovery from the pandemic’s effects on student learning; however, the results do suggest a rebound from the previous year,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “Since the height of the pandemic, districts and the state have used federal ESSER funds to implement programs designed to accelerate learning. The impact of these programs is promising; however, it is essential that the state and local school communities stay focused and continue best practices that will accelerate learning.”

Additional 2022 Report Highlights

The bullets below reflect additional highlights from this year’s reports.

On average, schools’ 2022 ESSA School Index scores are relatively stable for elementary and middle schools and increased at the high school level when compared to 2021 scores.

A total of 59.9 percent of schools’ ESSA School Index scores improved from 2021, compared to 11.79 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Average Weighted Achievement scores increased for all grade spans in 2022 compared to 2021, demonstrating the early rebound noted in 2022 assessment results released in August 2022.

Average Value-Added Growth scores were relatively stable in 2022 compared to 2021 and 2019.

Average Graduation Rates for 2021 increased from 2020.

Gains in Weighted Achievement were offset to some degree by lower School Quality and Student Success scores. This reflects a lagging impact of pandemic disruptions on student learning.

The number of schools receiving A and B letter grades decreased, while the number receiving C, D, and F grades increased. 

Background

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 required states to develop their own accountability systems to determine how well students are learning. Arkansas stakeholders, which included teachers, students, administrators, parents, legislators, and the community, developed Arkansas’ system, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in January 2018.

In 2013, the Arkansas Legislature passed legislation that requires the state to implement an A-F grading scale for schools. At the request of Arkansas stakeholders, ADE aligned the state’s accountability system, including the School Rating System, with the approved Arkansas Every Student Succeeds Act federal accountability plan.

The reports released today include numerous measures of student learning for multiple years. Trend data provide schools a sense of how students perform academically over time and whether schools are improving access and opportunity for success. Districts should review each measure closely and use the data to make informed decisions about student learning. Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their child’s school to discuss the results.

ESSA School Index Scores Explained
ESSA School Index Scores are comprised of four main weighted indicators: Weighted Achievement, Value-Added Growth, School Quality and Student Success, and Graduation Rate (where applicable).

Weighted Achievement scores reflect student academic attainment in English Language Arts and Mathematics across four levels: In Need of Support, Close, Ready, and Exceeds. The levels are weighted in the calculations. As a result, over time, schools can increase their Weighted Achievement scores by moving more students from lower to higher achievement levels.

Students are expected to learn and grow academically each year based on their own test score history. Value-Added Growth scores separate the effects of non-school related factors (for example, poverty) on the student’s change in achievement so that the student’s growth expectation is more precise. This indicator includes English learner progress toward English language proficiency.

The SQSS indicator combines measures of engagement, access, readiness, completion, and success criteria. Each measure focuses on the extent to which students are meeting important educational milestones (such as reading proficiently), important readiness criteria (based on ACT scores), and important postsecondary success indicators (attainment of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or concurrent credits).

In high school calculations, the school’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate are calculated into the ESSA School Index scores. Students will be assigned to an adjusted cohort group the year the student is first enrolled as a ninth-grade student. Graduation Rates are lagging indicators, meaning the data are delayed by one year. 

School Highlights
To learn more about schools that showed improvements, visit https://bit.ly/3WCoYHc.

School Ratings
For state accountability purposes, each school receives an A-F letter grade based on the school’s ESSA School Index score. When comparing 2022 scores to 2019 scores — a three-year gap — it is not surprising that more schools at all grade spans are clustered in the lower letter grades. It is important to keep in mind that the 2022 grades are reflective of many factors that include learning loss and other potentially lagging impacts of the pandemic.

For more information about the reports, go to https://bit.ly/3TASyKU. To learn more about how to access school reports, go to https://bit.ly/3Tk2lo0.

 

PROTECT AR RIGHTS CELEBRATES MAJOR WIN FOR BALLOT INITIATIVES IN ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK — Protect AR Rights today thanks voters for helping defeat Issue 2. We celebrate the defeat of Issue 2 in last night's midterm election as a major win for our freedom to make decisions through ballot initiatives in Arkansas.

The triumph is the result of months of planning, coalition building, and harnessing the power of Arkansans statewide, who generously gave thousands of hours of their time to protect a right that Arkansans have enjoyed for more than 100 years.

In total, grassroots volunteers with Protect AR Rights sent 200,000 text messages, made 150,000 phone calls, knocked30,000 doors and reached 500,000 Arkansans across social media to warn voters on the dangers of Issue 2.

The Protect AR Rights coalition began strategizing against Issue 2 to protect majority rule against the legislative-referred constitutional amendment that sought to eliminate the democratic principle of one person, one vote in Arkansas, allowing just 41 percent of voters to block important issues.

"We put an amazing campaign together — and it took all of us," said Bill Kopsky, executive director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. "Today, because of volunteers and the campaign they ran, our core talking point remains true: Arkansanshave the right and ability to make decisions on the issues that affect their lives, even when politicians won't. Arkansas remains where the people rule."

As Protect AR Rights celebrates last night’s win, our work is far from over. We will continue the fight to build power in Arkansas and protect citizen-initiated ballot measures from the politicians and wealthy special interests who seek to strip power from the people by rewriting the rules to get their way.

About Protect AR Rights
Protect AR Rights is a nonpartisan coalition of Arkansans working to ensure that our constitutional right to use ballot initiatives was protected by defeating Issue 2 in November. For more information, visit: www.protectARrights.org


GRIFFIN RELEASES STATEMENT ON ELECTION VICTORY
Says, 'I am honored and humbled that the voters...have placed their trust in me...I am excited to get to work...'
LITTLE ROCK – Lt. Governor Tim Griffin released the following statement after election results indicated he will be elected Arkansas's next Attorney General.

"I am honored and humbled that the voters of Arkansas have placed their trust in me to be their next Attorney General. I am excited to get to work for the people of Arkansas by pushing back against federal overreach, supporting our brave men and women in law enforcement, and working to make our communities safer by fixing our prison overcrowding and parole problems. I want to thank the Lord for providing this opportunity to serve. Lastly, I want to say a special thank you to everyone who supported me in this race and especially to my wife Elizabeth and our children for their unwavering support and for allowing me to continue serving the people of Arkansas."

About Lt. Governor Tim Griffin
He was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas on November 4, 214 and was re-elected for his second four-year term on November 6, 2018. From 2011-2015, Griffin served as the 24th representative of Arkansas's Second Congressional District. For the 113th Congress, he was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means while also serving as a Deputy Whip for the Majority. In the 112th Congress, he served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on the Judiciary.

November 08, 2022

Tune in to KBEU-FM, 92.7 beginning at 7 PM for all your local election returns. Doc Bryce and Helen Aregood will be live to report all the local numbers as they come in!!!

WEST MEMPHIS MAN DIES AFTER SHOOTING INCIDENT ON I-40
NOVEMBER 8, 2022
Yasmon Lewis, 21, of West Memphis, died at a Memphis hospital last night after being shot by a passing motorist on Interstate 40 (westbound) near Mound City Road (280 mile marker).  The shooting incident was reported to Arkansas State Police shortly before 10:30 last night (November 7th).

Lewis is believed to have been driving from Memphis to his home in West Memphis when the shooting occurred.

The Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the homicide.

State troopers blocked the westbound lanes of I-40 late into the night while CID special agents collected evidence believed to be related to the shooting.  The state medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of death.  As of Tuesday morning, no suspect who fired into Lewis’ vehicle has been identified.


AWARD RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED FOR ARDOT’S TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM AND RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM
LITTLE ROCK | Nov. 4, 2022
The Arkansas Department of Transportation has announced award recipients for its Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and Recreational Trails Program (RTP) for 2022.

The TAP was reauthorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and provides funding for programs and projects defined as “transportation alternatives” for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation. TAP is a reimbursement-type grant program that provides for an 80% federal share and a 20% local match from eligible applicants.

Under the TAP program, eligible projects include construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities that include sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian and bicycle signals, lighting, and other safety related infrastructure. Conversion of abandoned railroad corridors for pedestrian and bicycle trails is also eligible.

The RTP is funded through a portion of TAP funds set aside specifically for recreational trails. These funds are eligible for maintenance and restoration of existing trails, development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages, and construction of new trails.

For 2022, 56 TAP projects were awarded for approximately $15 million and 12 RTP projects were awarded for approximately $2 million.

To be notified of future funding cycles for these programs, please subscribe to ARDOT’s Local Public Agency Information at http://www.ardot.gov/LPA.

The following local project received funding from these grants
City of Camden The Trace Extension $ 450,000
Columbia City of Magnolia Vine St. Sidewalk $ 356,000
Southern Arkansas University Campus Sidewalk $59,000

 

VETERANS AND ACTIVE-DUTY MILITARY MEMBERS: SOCIAL SECURITY HAS YOUR BACK!
Veterans Day is on Friday, November 11, 2022.  Every year on this day, we honor all veterans who served our country and risked their lives to protect us. 

Our Wounded Warriors webpage is an important resource for military members who return home with injuries.  If you know a wounded veteran, please let them know about our Wounded Warriors webpage at www.ssa.gov/woundedwarriors

The page shares information about our Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for veterans, including:

How SSDI benefits are different from benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs and require a separate application. 

How we expedite the processing of Social Security disability claims for service members.  If they develop a disability while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, they can file a disability claim regardless of where the disability occurs.

Answers to questions asked about Social Security. 

If active-duty military service members are unable to work due to a disabling condition and continue to receive pay while in a hospital or on medical leave, they should consider applying for SSDI.  Active-duty status and receipt of military pay doesn’t necessarily prevent payment of SSDI benefits. 

Our webpages are easy to share on social media and by email with your friends and family.  Please consider passing this information along to someone who may need it.

OUACHITA COUNTY VOTE CENTERS - NOVEMBER 8, 2022
2022 General Election, Non-Partisan, Green, Libertarian and Annual School Elections
Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Calvary Baptist Church
319 Highway 278 East
East Camden, Arkansas 71701

Chidester City Hall
118 Willow
Chidester, AR 71726

Stephens Library 31
5 W. Chert Street
Stephens, AR 71764

Bearden Lion's Club
430 North 3rd Street
Bearden, AR 71720

Elliott Baptist Church
4189 Highway 376 South
Camden, AR 71701

First United Methodist Church
223 Jefferson SW
Camden, AR 71701

The Word Family Church
295 North Street
Camden, AR 71701

 

CADC TO DISTRIBUTE USDA COMMODITIES NOVEMBER 16 & 17, 2022 IN OUACHITA AND CALHOUN COUNTIES
The Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute USDA Commodities in Ouachita and Calhoun Counties Wednesday, November 16, and Thursday, November 17, 2022, Distribution will begin at 9 am.

Food Items May Include:
UHT Milk, Peaches, Pears, Raisins, Green Peas, Tomato Soup, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, Egg Noodles, Farina, Canned Salmon, Canned Chicken

Commodities will be distributed at the following locations:
Ouachita County: CARNES PARK, 955 Adams SE, Camden
CADC Office, 210 South Lee Street, Hampton, AR (870) 798-2457

ID must be present in order to receive commodities.

All customers receiving commodities must present identification. Photo ID Preferred

Must Meet Income Guidelines
 

MAIN STREET EL DORADO ANNOUNCES BEST CHRISTMAS EVER HOLIDAY LINEUP
EL DORADO, AR (November 4, 2022) - Main Street El Dorado invites the community to celebrate the Best Christmas Ever as preparations begin for the holiday season.  According to Executive Director Beth Brumley, Christmas is our bright and shining star. Were working with other groups to make El Dorado the destination for the Best Christmas Ever!”  Downtown has long been the place for visitors to admire the Christmas lights and Main Street is adding to the holiday cheer with a calendar full of festive activities and exciting shopping events. There are over 30 independently owned and operated retail outlets in the downtown district.  Hours of operation vary, with some shops and eateries open on Sunday. 

Downtown holiday event schedule:
Holiday Lighting Ceremony - The season opens with the annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony on November 17 at 5:30 p.m. on the east side of the Union County Courthouse.  This is the official kick-off of the holiday season as a large gathering of residents, public officials, and entertainers come together to watch the ceremony.  The night will be filled with live entertainment from local dance groups, singers, and other performers.  This years ceremony will be emceed by Main Streets Beth Brumley, KTVEs Cindy Langston and United Ways Alexis Alexander. Santa will serve as the honorary switch-thrower, and he will be available for pictures after he illuminates the downtown district with holiday lights.  Photos with Santa are free and can be taken with cell phones or personal cameras.  The Salvation Army of El Dorado will hand out free cookies and hot chocolate to the crowd and launch its Red Kettle campaign.    

Window Decorating Contest - The community is invited to help decide the winner in a downtown window-decorating contest that begins on the night of the lighting ceremony.  Displays must showcase the Best Christmas Ever theme and will be judged on visual impact, creativity, and overall use of the theme. Prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third-place winners.  The community may cast a vote by donating new non-perishable items to the businesses they wish to vote for.  The window with the most donations will win first prize and there will be prizes for second and third place. Voting ends on December 2.

Downtown Holiday Open House - On November 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., downtown merchants open their stores, restaurants, and venues to the public with a Christmas Open House.  This festive celebration is one of the busiest events of the holiday season with special savings, sales, and seasonal treats. Santa will make a guest appearance this year.  Free train rides will be available in front of PJs and Cinderella horse and carriage rides will be available on Washington Street for $5 per person.

Black Friday - Black Friday promotions will begin on Thanksgiving evening as a select group of downtown merchants open late on November 24.  The pajama-party-themed event has had a great turnout over the past several years and shoppers have enjoyed tremendous savings while getting a jump-start on holiday shopping.  Participating businesses will be open from 8 p.m. until midnight. 

Small Business Saturday - Retailers will unite again on November 27 for Small Business Saturday®, a national campaign sponsored by American Express that encourages shoppers to make a big impact by shopping at small businesses. Brumley notes, Our downtown square is the heart of our community and small businesses are the backbone.  Without these independent retailers, restaurants, and business owners, our downtown would be a collection of empty buildings.  This is a great way for residents and visitors to show support for our small businesses.” Retail stores will offer a free holiday gift tote while supplies last. Operating hours vary from store to store, with most opening by 10 a.m.

Christmas Parade - The Best Christmas Ever continues on December 1 as the El Dorado Christmas Parade returns.  Arkansaslargest holiday parade is scheduled to begin around 7 p.m. on the north end of North West Avenue.  Many have made a tradition of watching the cavalcade of entries from the picturesque setting of the downtown square.

Santa on the Square - Santa Claus is coming downtown!  Bring the kids and their wish lists downtown on Saturday, December 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Santa will be taking free pictures in front of the courthouse on Jefferson Street and there will be free train rides in front of PJs Coffee.  Santas friends at Southern Realty Group will be handing out cookie kits for all the good little girls and boys to decorate at home and Barton Library will host Story Time throughout the event on the southeast corner of the Courthouse. 

The holiday promotions are sponsored by Murphy USA, Standard Lithium, Lawrence Electric, and the El Dorado Advertising & Promotion Committee. 

Several downtown businesses will host additional activities and promotions throughout the holiday season, including the return of MAD on Ice in the Murphy Arts District.  Both children and adults have enjoyed the excitement of skating on a real ice rink over the last 3 years and the fun continues, starting November 19.  The rink will remain open through January 2nd.  Tickets are $14 per person with a $3 skate rental fee.  For hours of operation, visit www.eldomad.com/MADonIce

Main Street El Dorado also has gift cards available, which make great Christmas presents.  Gift cards are available in $25 increments, and they are good at all participating retail stores and restaurants in the downtown area.

Christmas events will take place around the courthouse square at 101 N. Washington Ave in El Dorado.

For more details or to purchase gift cards, call the Main Street office at (870) 862-4747 or visit their website at www.mainstreeteldorado.org.  Follow @mainstreetledorado on social media for event updates. 


ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM GRANTS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the annual Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program to help schools start or expand farm to school activities. Applications will be accepted through December 15, 2022.

The Arkansas School Garden Grant Program is available to help schools start or expand gardens on school grounds. The Department will award $500 grants to 50 schools to purchase soil, specialty crop seeds and plants, and gardening equipment.

The Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program is available to help schools lead cafeteria taste tests of locally grown specialty crops. The Department will award $250 grants to 20 schools to purchase kitchen equipment and utensils, serving materials, and specialty crop seeds and plants.

“School gardens and taste tests have proven to be valuable tools in teaching children about agriculture, nutrition, and a variety of skills,” said Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “The lessons learned through these programs can have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities.”

The grant programs are available to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments. All eligible schools are encouraged to apply, whether they already have existing farm to school activities or they are just getting started with school gardens and local procurement. Technical assistance is available to all grantees.

The application for both programs can be found at https://bit.ly/3TlLT7d.  Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both grant opportunities within the same application.

Both grant programs were developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to increase the production and consumption of specialty crops in schools. Specialty crops as defined by the USDA are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, floriculture, and nursery crops.

More information about the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and Arkansas Taste Test Grant Program can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture/farm-to-school/ or by contacting Erica Benoit at erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

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 www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

 

ARKANSAS APPROVED FOR FEMA HIGH HAZARD POTENTIAL DAM GRANT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce that its Natural Resources Division has been approved for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Rehabilitation of High Hazard Potential Dam (HHPD) Grant in the amount of $226,803. Arkansas is one of 19 total states to receive the grant this fiscal year.

FEMA’s Rehabilitation of HHPD grant program provides technical, planning, design, and construction assistance for eligible rehabilitation activities that reduce dam risk and increase community preparedness. Eligible projects include repair, removal, or structural/nonstructural rehabilitation of eligible high hazard potential dams.

“The Natural Resources Division is excited to receive such a competitive grant award,” said Director of Natural Resources Chris Colclasure. “This funding will better allow cities and communities to institute plans and strategies for dam rehabilitation while focusing on the safety of Arkansans.”

The Natural Resources Division plans to work with targeted communities to implement project scoping for high hazard dams. The period of performance for the grant is September 15, 2022, to September 14, 2025.

Additional information on the Rehabilitation of HHPD Grant program can be found at www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/risk-management/dam-safety/rehabilitation-high-hazard-potential-dams

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 www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

NOVEMBER 7, 2022

FROM THE MARY BETHUNE #11 ORDER OF THE EASTERN STAR

"To Manager, staff and announcer JJ and Doc B,

Mary Bethune #11 Order of the Eastern Star would like to thank you for giving the air time 

to promote and present our breast cancer parade and it was absolutely beautiful, and we

thank all the participants and the public for coming out.

See you next year, hopefully a little better. 

Minerva Daniels

Worthy Matron" 

 

November 04, 2022

CORRECTION To Christmas in Camden Events
BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN
The City of Camden Arkansas presents Believe in the Magic of Christmas in Camden
Christmas events November-December 2022
 
Camden, AR - The City of Camden is proud to announce its 2022 Christmas Season “Believe in the Magic of Christmas in Camden” Whether it’s strolling through Christmas displays, browsing throughout the city’s holiday decor or participating in the many events, Camden has something for everyone this Holiday season.

Besides the shopping and great restaurants, there is SO MUCH to see and do in Camden this Christmas with our biggest celebration yet! Enjoy the many Christmas displays and Photo ops around town, drop your letters at Santa’s special mailbox, take a ride through downtown on the Christmas Train, view the amazing entries in the Gingerbread House Competition and much much more!

It all kicks off on Friday, November 4th, at Camden’s famous First Friday Market event, HOLIDAY edition themed “Feeling Frosty”.  Take in the Living Window Displays throughout Downtown and enjoy the amazing shopping complete with specialty food trucks featuring delicious favorites like Crepes, Turkey Legs and more. Bring your lawn chairs for the free Arkansas Brass Concert along the street’s Downtown. This famous quintet is comprised of members from the Arkansas Symphony and South Arkansas Symphony.  Streets will be closed with tables and chairs set up for outdoor dining and entertainment as you take in the wonderful sounds of Christmas.  The concert is free concert thanks to grants provided by the Ouachita Valley Community Foundation and the Arts on Tour grant.

On Friday Night, November the 11th come out for an evening of shopping during the Moonlight Shopping Madness event where every purchase you make at participating businesses will enter you in a drawing for the grand prize. The “Muppet Christmas Carol” movie will also be showing in the Downtown park. With all the excitement of the evening don’t forget to stop by Southern Realty Group and get your picture with Santa. And just when you thought the night couldn’t get any better, head over to The XOXO Co. Open House and meet Miss Arkansas, Ebony Mitchell between 5pm - 9pm.

On Saturday, November 12th gather your friends for a unique Terrarium-making Party at Native Dog Brewing (125 Madison Ave SE) complete with hometown beer from 11am to 2pm.

On Sunday November 13th , 1:00pm until 4:00pm experience the Traditional  Christmas Open House at this fun afternoon of shopping at Camden’s wonderful boutiques and shops located throughout other areas of town, each with great specials for your holiday shopping list.   .

On November 18th, it’s Pink Friday!, the new Black Friday for small businesses and boutiques so be sure to check out what the shops in Camden have to offer.

Can’t find the perfect decoration for your door? Don’t miss this this fun event to paint you own unique Christmas Door Hanger on November 18th at Kaboom in Downtown Camden from 6pm-8pm. Grab a healthy drink & snack and paint the evening away while sharing stories your friends. Be sure to bring your kids back on December 10th, for a Kids Paint & Sip from 6pm-8pm.

Moving into the Thanksgiving weekend, join us for a very special Black Friday starting Thanksgiving Night at 8:00pm and will continue until Midnight. The Special Black Friday shopping then continues all day Friday, Nov. 25th at participating businesses around town. 

Saturday, November 26th, is GREAT shopping in Camden for Small Business Saturday which is a national special event and recognition for small businesses.

The first week in December finds a great line up of events. Start off your Thursday evening joining in on December 1st with Christmas Caroling for those that are in Hospice Care. Everyone is invited to meet at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 117 Harrison Ave NW at 5pm to go caroling. This great evening is sponsored by OCMC Hospice. If you don’t have a bucket big enough to carry a tune, stop by the Camden Country Club for “Hollyday House” Christmas Market Fundraiser. There’ll be food and vendors so come out and find the perfect gifts that you can only find here for your loved ones.

Don’t miss the annual fun and festivities at the Lighting of the Ouachita County Courthouse at 5:30pm on Friday, December 2nd.  New decorations and traditional favorites on the courthouse will delight one and all.  Enjoy live music, let the kids visit with Santa and take photos with the great holiday décor.  From there stroll over to the Farmer’s Bank parking lot at 7pm for regional favorite Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt.  This is a free event for children 10 years of age and younger.  The kids will have a great time hunting the over 700 candy canes hidden throughout the downtown area.  There will be special colored candy canes hidden to win great grand prizes.  This event is sponsored by the Camden Police Department. Enjoy a ride throughout downtown Camden on the Christmas Train, FREE for the night.  The train is big enough for adults & children to ride and fun for the entire family.  The ride will take you throughout downtown Camden for the full effect of the special new downtown decorations, the Courthouse decorations as well as the Nelle Jane Dawson Park complete with the spectacular 18’ LED musical Christmas Tree.

Tinsel & Tails + Paint Your Pet, a special fundraiser benefitting H & P Animal Alliance, will be held at Native Dog Brewery (125 Madison Ave SE) on Saturday, December 3rd.  Bring your 4-legged friends for your special Christmas photos and shop through unique pet items on display, followed by the Paint Your Pet Party.

On Wednesday, December 7th • 4pm - 6pm enter your own or check out the Gingerbread Houses being dropped off at 114 Adams Ave, Downtown for judging. The Gingerbread House Competition is sponsored by Betsy Thomson State Farm Insurance.  Entry Form is Due by November 16th.  Fill out the online form at www.explorecamden.com or in person at Betsy Thomson State Farm (710 California Ave.). Cost is $10.00 & will include your gingerbread kit. Gingerbread kits must be picked up on November 18th, 10am-5pm at Betsy Thomson State Farm.

Entry Categories:
Professional Division
Family Division
College Division
High School Division
Childrens Division (Age 12 and under)

Gingerbread Houses will be on display starting December 8th in the windows of 114 & 116 Adams Ave. Prizes will be picked up Dec. 9th, 4-6p.

Find your special spot downtown for the 34th Annual Christmas Parade beginning at 6pm on December 8th.  This year’s parade is looking to be the biggest & best, so don’t miss it!

Friday, December 9th, 6-8pm, Santa, S’mores & Bedtime Snores will be held at A Cup of Joe (112 S Adams Ave) in Downtown Camden. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet Santa and enjoy gooey, tasty s’mores. Kids be sure to wear your pajamas for this fun evening.

Stroll Through the Trees is an Open House at the Events Center at Fairview Park (2740 Mt Holly Rd SW) on December 10th, 11am-3:30pm. Come see this wonderful, renovated gym decorated in all the holiday splendor complete with live music and refreshments.

Starting December 11th, All Roads Lead to Santa is a fun way to get out and visit local businesses and boutiques in Camden. Customers will pick up a Passport” and have local businesses Stamp” it to be placed in a drawing for the prizes to be given away Dec. 17th by Santa at  Home Grown at Heart” (1258 Country Club Rd. suite A).

December 20th is your last chance to let Santa know what you want for Christmas at Farmer’s Bank (Downtown) from 10am-2pm to make sure you are on his Nice List.

On Thursday, December 22nd starting at 5pm-8pm, We have a special event for all the last minute shoppers as local businesses have snacks out for customers on The Trail of Snacks for your late-night shopping.

Throughout the Entire Holiday Season (Nov.-Dec.):

Santas Mailbox will be located in Nelle Jane Dawson Park (Washington & Adams).

Beautiful Community displays at Nelle Jane Dawson Park @ Washington and Adams and at the corner of Washington & California (Dr. Ladds Lot).

New additions to the Courthouse Christmas display.

Santas Workshop in Garden Oaks Shopping Center is back!! Open every Saturday from Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas, 12 (Noon) until 5pm. Let the kids come visit with Santa for a magical experience. Photo packages are available for purchase with all funds benefiting the Womens Crisis Center of South AR.

For more info on these events and registration forms, visit ExploreCamden.com

For more information, contact:
Charlotte Young
Camden Christmas Events:
870-807-1468
christmas@explorecamden.com
ExploreCamden.com / www.facebook.com/ExploreCamden

 

NEW START DATES FOR MEDICARE PART B COVERAGE COMING IN 2023
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
Changes are coming next year for when Medicare Part B coverage starts.

What is not changing:

If you are eligible at age 65, your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP):
gins three months before your 65th birthday.
Includes the month of your 65th birthday.
Ends three months after your 65th birthday.

If you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B or if you sign up during the first three months of your IEP, your coverage will start the month you’re first eligible. If you sign up the month you turn 65, your coverage will start the first day of the following month. This won’t change with the new rule.

 

What is changing:
Starting January 1, 2023
, your Medicare Part B coverage starts the first day of the month after you sign up if you sign up during the last three months of your IEP.

Before this change, if you signed up during the last three months of your IEP, your Medicare Part B coverage started two to three months after you enrolled.

If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B during your IEP, you have another chance each year during the General Enrollment Period (GEP). The GEP lasts from January 1 through March 31. Starting January 1, 2023, your coverage starts the first day of the month after you sign up.

You can learn more about these updates on our Medicare webpage at www.ssa.gov/medicare and our Medicare publication at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf.

Please pass this information along to someone who may need it.

November 03, 2022

BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN
Christmas events November-December 2022
Camden, AR - The City of Camden is proud to announce its 2022 Christmas Season “Believe in the Magic of Christmas in Camden” Whether it’s strolling through Christmas displays, browsing throughout the city’s holiday decor or participating in the many events, Camden has something for everyone this Holiday season.

Besides the shopping and great restaurants, there is SO MUCH to see and do in Camden this Christmas with our biggest celebration yet! Enjoy the many Christmas displays and Photo ops around town, drop your letters at Santa’s special mailbox, take a ride through downtown on the Christmas Train, view the amazing entries in the Gingerbread House Competition and much much more!

It all kicks off on Friday, November 4th, at Camden’s famous First Friday Market event, HOLIDAY edition themed “Feeling Frosty”.  Take in the Living Window Displays throughout Downtown and enjoy the amazing shopping complete with specialty food trucks featuring delicious favorites like Crepes, Turkey Legs and more. Bring your lawn chairs for the free Arkansas Brass Concert along the street’s Downtown. This famous quintet is comprised of members from the Arkansas Symphony and South Arkansas Symphony.  Streets will be closed with tables and chairs set up for outdoor dining and entertainment as you take in the wonderful sounds of Christmas.  The concert is free concert thanks to grants provided by the Ouachita Valley Community Foundation and the Arts on Tour grant.

On Friday Night, November the 11th come out for a evening of shopping during the Moonlight Shopping Madness event where every purchase you make at participating businesses will enter you in a drawing for the grand prize. The “Muppet Christmas Carol” movie will also be showing in the Downtown park. With all the excitement of the evening don’t forget to stop by Southern Realty Group and get your picture with Santa. And just when you thought the night couldn’t get any better, head over to The XOXO Co. Open House and meet Miss Arkansas, Ebony Mitchell between 5pm - 9pm.

On Saturday, November 12th gather your friends for a unique Terrarium-making Party at Native Dog Brewing (125 Madison Ave SE) complete with hometown beer from 11am to 2pm

On Sunday November 13th it’s a fun twist on the normal Christmas Open House at this fun evening of shopping in downtown with great specials for your holiday shopping list.  There will be pop-ups including face painting, flavored popcorn, live music and Disney Princesses in the downtown park for photo ops and fun for the kids.

On November 18th, it’s Pink Friday!, the new Black Friday for small businesses and boutiques so be sure to check out what the shops in Camden have to offer.

Can’t find the perfect decoration for your door? Don’t miss this this fun event to paint you own unique Christmas Door Hanger on November 18th at Kaboom in Downtown Camden from 6pm-8pm. Grab a healthy drink & snack and paint the evening away while sharing stories your friends. Be sure to bring your kids back on December 10th, for a Kids Paint & Sip from 6pm-8pm.

Moving into the Thanksgiving weekend, join us for a very special Black Friday starting Thanksgiving Night at 8:00pm and will continue until Midnight. The Special Black Friday shopping then continues all day Friday, Nov. 25th at participating businesses around town. 

Saturday, November 26th, is GREAT shopping in Camden for Small Business Saturday which is a national special event and recognition for small businesses.

December 2nd – 5th The Ouachita County Fair Board will host the Elves on the Run Christmas Light Walkthrough at the Ouachita County Recreation Center, 2708 Mt. Holly Rd.  This event will be inside Shaddock Fieldhouse at the complex.   Enjoy this family event as you walk through the Christmas lights with different stations to stop and enjoy including ones with hot chocolate, Santa and more!

The first week in December finds a great line up of events. Start off your Thursday evening joining in on December 1st with Christmas Caroling for those that are in Hospice Care. Everyone is invited to meet at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 117 Harrison Ave NW at 5pm to go caroling. This great evening is sponsored by OCMC Hospice. If you don’t have a bucket big enough to carry a tune, stop by the Camden Country Club for “Hollyday House” Christmas Market Fundraiser. There’ll be food and vendors so out and find the perfect gifts ones that you can only find here for your loved ones.

Don’t miss the annual fun and festivities at the Lighting of the Ouachita County Courthouse at 5:30pm on Friday, December 2nd.  New decorations and traditional favorites on the courthouse will delight one and all.  Enjoy refreshments, let the kids visit with Santa and take photos with the lite holiday décor.  From there stroll over to the Farmer’s Bank parking lot at 7pm for regional favorite Flashlight Candy Cane Hunt.  This is a free event for children 10 years of age and younger.  The kids will have a great time hunting the over 700 candy canes hidden throughout the downtown area.  There will be special colored candy canes hidden to win a great grand prizes.  This event is sponsored by the Camden Police Department. Enjoy a ride throughout downtown Camden on the Christmas Train, FREE for the night.  The train is big enough for adults & children to ride and fun for the entire family.  The ride will take you throughout downtown Camden for the full effect of the special new downtown decorations, the Courthouse decorations as well as the Nelle Jane Dawson Park complete with the spectacular 18’ LED musical Christmas Tree.
 

Camden Downtown Christmas Train Holiday Schedule:
Price per ride:  $8.00/Adults $5.00/Children
Hours of operation:
Dec. 2nd • 5pm – 8pm ALL RIDES FREE
Dec. 4th • 1pm – 3pm
Dec. 9th • After the Christmas Parade – 9pm
Dec. 10th • 5pm – 8pm
Dec. 11th • 5pm – 8pm


Dec. 2 – Loading at: Ouachita County Courthouse
Dec. 4, 10, & 11 – Loading at: Farmer’s Bank Parking Lot

Tinsel & Tails + Paint Your Pet, a special fundraiser benefitting H & P Animal Alliance, will be held at Native Dog Brewery (125 Madison Ave SE) on Saturday, December 3rd.  Bring your 4-legged friends for your special Christmas photos and shop through unique pet items on display, followed by the RSVP Paint Your Pet, brought to you by The Canvas Art Studio from El Dorado. Info and Tickets for the Paint Your Pet event are available here: www.eventbrite.com/e/barks-brushes-and-brews-tickets-210447814077.  Deadline to register is December 1st.  After the paint party stay for live music with Brooklyn Fogle.

On Wednesday, December 7th • 4pm - 6pm enter your own or check out the Gingerbread Houses being dropped off at 114 Adams Ave, Downtown for judging. The Gingerbread House Competition is sponsored by Betsy Thomson State Farm Insurance & Family Eye Care and ProLand Title. Entry Form is Due by November 16th.  Fill out the online form at www.explorecamden.com or in person at Betsy Thomson State Farm (710 California Ave.). Cost is $10.00 & will include your gingerbread kit. Gingerbread kits must be picked up on November 18th, 10am-5pm at Betsy Thomson State Farm.

Entry Categories:
Professional Division
Family Division
College Division
High School Division
Childrens Division (Age 12 and under)

Gingerbread Houses will be on display starting December 8th in the windows of 114 & 116 Adams Ave. Prizes will be picked up Dec. 9th, 4-6pm

Find your special spot downtown for the 34th Annual Christmas Parade beging at 6pm on December 8th. Vendor’s will be on hand with hot chocolate, cotton candy and more!

Friday, December 9th, 6-8pm, Santa, S’mores & Bedtime Snores will be held at A Cup of Joe (112 S Adams Ave) in Downtown Camden. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet Santa and enjoy gooey, tasty s’mores.

Stroll Through the Trees is an Open House at the Events Center at Fairview Park (2740 Mt Holly Rd SW) on December 10th, 11am-3:30pm. There will be refreshments and entertainment.

Starting December 11th, All Roads Lead to Santa is a fun way to get out and visit local businesses and boutiques in Camden. Customers will pick up a Passport” and have local businesses Stamp” it to be placed in a drawing for the prizes to be given away Dec. 17th by Santa at  Home Grown at Heart” (1258 Country Club Rd. suite A).

December 20th is your last chance to let Santa know what you want for Christmas at Farmer’s Bank (Downtown) from 10am-2pm to make sure you are on his Nice List.

On Thursday, December 22nd starting at 5pm-8pm, Local businesses will have snacks out for customers on The Trail of Snacks for your late-night shopping.

Throughout the Entire Holiday Season (Nov.-Dec.):

Santas Mailbox will be located in Nelle Jane Dawson Park (Washington & Adams).

Beautiful Community displays at Nelle Jane Dawson Park @ Washington and Adams and at the corner of Washington & California (Dr. Ladds Lot).

New additions to the Courthouse Christmas display.

Santas Workshop in Garden Oaks Shopping Center is back!! Open every Saturday from Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas, 12 (Noon) until 5pm. Let the kids come visit with Santa for a magical experience. Photo packages are available for purchase with all funds benefiting the Womens Crisis Center of South AR.

For more info on these events and registration forms, visit ExploreCamden.com

For more information, contact:
Charlotte Young
Camden Christmas Events:
870-807-1468
christmas@explorecamden.com
ExploreCamden.com / www.facebook.com/ExploreCamden

 

ARKANSAS GROUP STRESSES "NO" VOTE ON RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA
Arkansas voters are heading to the polls to decide a number of issues and perhaps none is receiving more attention than Issue 4: recreational marijuana.

After passing medical marijuana back in 2016, Arkansans now have the option of legalizing it for recreational purposes as part of a growing trend across the nation towards legal recreational use. Supporters say the benefits of legalizing marijuana include economic factors, such as job creation and additional tax revenue for the state. They also cite the regulatory effect of legalization - in effect, shifting marijuana from a black market industry to a regulated one.

Opponents, however, point to a number of apparent flaws with this reasoning. The Family Council Action Committee, a Little Rock-based conservative public policy organization, has come out strongly against Issue 4 in the November General Election.

That was Jerry Cox, the group's executive director. Cox said the Family Council Action Committee has come out against Issue 4 for numerous reasons, including how favorable it is to the industry.

Issue 4, Cox stresses, gives too much authority to the recreational marijuana industry in setting standards, tax obligations and its claim to use revenue to boost police salaries. The bill, he said, doesn't provide enough industry or regulatory control over recreational marijuana.

The group's skepticism focuses on more than economic factors. The Family Council Action Committee has also expressed concern over the societal effects of recreational marijuana. Cox said a particular concern is the effect legalized marijuana would have on the growing opioid epidemic in Arkansas.

Cox also pointed out to the ongoing worker shortage in Arkansas and across the nation, and how legalized marijuana could forestall this significant economic issue.

Cox invites voters, both undecided and those who've already made up their minds either way about Issue 4, to seek more information through the organization, whose website is www.familycouncilactioncommittee.com. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center has also released a voter guide detailing each statewide ballot issue as well as the arguments for and against each one. 

Arkansas is not the only state that will decide on recreational marijuana this year. North Dakota, South Dakota, Maryland and Missouri are also featuring similar issues on their ballots. Polling on the issue in all five states shows results are likely to be close.

 

USDA APHIS EXPANDS IMPORTED FIRE ANT QUARANTINE AREAS
LITTLE ROCK, AR –  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a Federal Order for the expansion of quarantine areas for the existing imported fire ant quarantine areas in Arkansas.

Effective immediately, APHIS is adding the following seven counties to the quarantine areas for imported fire ants: Cross, Franklin, Johnson, Lee, Monroe, St. Francis, and Woodruff. A map indicating the existing and updated quarantine areas can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/regulatory-section/quarantines/.

Imported fire ants are commonly transported by nursery stock, grass sod, hay, and straw. Anyone transporting a regulated article from the quarantine areas to outside of the quarantine areas must have a certificate or compliance agreement from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to ensure that no fire ants are moved along with these items. The quarantine applies to the following: 

  • Nurseries in the quarantine areas shipping plants with soil outside the quarantine area. 
  • Landscapers and nurseries picking up plants in the quarantine area and bringing them outside of the quarantine area.
  • Landscapers and nurseries within the quarantine area that are moving plants from the quarantine area for landscaping jobs outside of the quarantine area. 
  • Grass sod owners in the quarantine area shipping sod outside the quarantine area.
  • Landscapers bringing sod from the quarantine area to outside the quarantine area.
  • Bailed hay and straw which is shipped from the quarantine area to outside the quarantine area.

APHIS is taking these actions based upon verification from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture that imported fire ants are present and established in the areas listed. This Federal Order is issued pursuant to the regulatory authority provided by the Plant Protection Act of June 20, 2000, as amended, Section 412 (a), 7 U.S.C. 7712 (a). The Act authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to prohibit or restrict the movement in interstate commerce of any plant, plant part, or article if the Secretary determines the prohibition or restriction is necessary to prevent the dissemination of a plant pest within the United States.

For more information about imported fire ants, visit agriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/regulatory-section/imported-fire-ant-program/

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 www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

 

ARKANSAS RESEARCHER AWARDED AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION INNOVATION AWARD
LITTLE ROCK – (November 2, 2022) – Lung health research is more important than ever. Never have we faced so many challenges to our lung health, including COVID-19, vaping and smoke from increased wildfires. Today, the American Lung Association in Arkansas announced that Roy Morello, Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was awarded the Innovation Award.

Dr. Morello’s project aims to focus on clarifying the role of type I collagen mutations on respiratory function in osteogenesis imperfecta (OI – brittle bone disease). This is a disease that causes severe bone fragility as well as potential respiratory distress at birth and decreased respiratory function in adulthood. “I was ecstatic and grateful to learn that I received the Innovation Award from the American Lung Association this past summer,” said Dr. Morello. “I was vacationing in Italy with my family and this news made the vacation even more special. With this award we plan to study the underlying causes of the impaired respiratory function in OI, including at the tissue, cellular and molecular level using models that closely mimic OI disease. Ultimately, our goal is to identify new therapeutic targets and approaches to improve the overall health of patients with OI”.

“Here in Arkansas, we face lung health challenges every day like higher smoking/vaping rates and high lung cancer and COPD rates. In addition, more than 408,000 people in our state are living with chronic lung disease,” said Laura Turner, senior manager of advocacy for Arkansas for the American Lung Association. “We are excited for Morello to join the American Lung Association Research Team to help improve lung health here in Arkansas and across the nation.”

In the 2022-2023 grants cycle, the Lung Association is funding $13.2 million for more than 130 lung health research grants. For this round of funding, the organization placed a greater focus on strategic partnerships with key organizations like American Thoracic Society and CHEST, and grants that focus on equity like the Harold Amos Scholar.

Research projects funded by the Lung Association are carefully selected through rigorous scientific review and awardees represent the investigation of a wide range of complex issues. Awards were given in eight different categories: ALA/AAAAI Allergic Respiratory Diseases Award, ALA/ATS/CHEST Foundation Respiratory Health Equity Research Award, Catalyst Award, COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award, Dalsemer Award, Innovation Award, Lung Cancer Discovery Award, and Public Policy Research Award.

The Lung Association’s Nationwide Research Program includes the Awards and Grants Program, and also our Airways Clinical Research Network, the nation's largest not-for-profit network of clinical research centers dedicated to asthma and COPD treatment research.

For more information about the new grant awardees and the entire American Lung Association Research Team, visit Lung.org/research-team

About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

November 01, 2022

SUSPECT KILLED IN GUNFIRE EXCHANGE WITH STATE POLICE
NOVEMBER 1, 2022
Eugene Elliot Reed, 69, was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire with Arkansas State Troopers early today.  No state troopers were injured during the prolonged armed stand-off at Reed’s home located at 4690 Hollyridge Cove in Sherwood.

The stand-off around the home began at 9:42 AM Monday (October 31st) when Sherwood police officers attempted to serve Reed with a warrant for his arrest.  He was charged with criminal impersonation of a law enforcement officer (2nd degree).  Reed threatened to shoot the officers who then backed away from the home and called for additional law enforcement personnel.

Throughout the day police negotiators made telephone contact with Reed and his wife who were inside the home and repeatedly asked both to surrender to police outside the residence.  At the request of Sherwood police authorities, FBI SWAT and negotiation team members took charge of the stand-off.  Meanwhile, local police began to evacuate nearby residents.

At approximately 8:30 PM, an Arkansas State Police SWAT and Crisis Response Negotiation Team was requested to continue with the negotiations and establish a secure perimeter around the home.

Through the course of the evening surveillance of the home confirmed multiple firearms were pre-positioned inside the home at several second-floor windows.  Telephone negotiations with Reed continued, while separate telephone contact with Reed’s wife confirmed that she had isolated herself away from Reed and was hiding in a secured room located inside the home on the third floor.

Shortly after midnight Reed aimed what was believed to be a laser gunsight at state police SWAT team members who countered with gunfire directed at Reed.  Reed subsequently returned gunfire directed toward state troopers.

Sporadic exchanges of gunfire continued and at approximately 3:00 AM Reed was shot and killed by state troopers as he made his way toward a .50 caliber rifle mounted near the front door of the home.

Reed’s wife was safely extricated from the home unharmed and is being questioned by special agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.  At this time, she is not being held in connection with any criminal investigation.
Consistent with Arkansas State Police policy and procedures, 7 state troopers who directed gunfire at Reed have been placed on paid administrative leave.

 A use of deadly force by law enforcement officers investigation is being conducted by the state police Criminal Investigation Division.  The findings will be submitted to the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney to determine if the use of deadly force by the troopers was consistent with Arkansas laws.

The identity of the troopers will be disclosed upon completion of the investigation. 

 

FADIL ISMAJLI EXHIBIT OPENING AT SAAC
The South Arkansas Arts Center welcomes local artist and restaurateur Fadil Ismajli and his exhibition "The Beauty in Nature" to the Lobby Gallery November 1 - November 30. There will be an artist's reception from 2pm-3pm on Saturday, November 5th.

Ismajli was born in former Yugoslavia in 1957. Due to tension in the country and a desire for a better life, he came to the United States in 1988. It was then that he discovered his love for painting. Fadil painted on and off throughout the years, typically rural landscape scenes that reminded him of home.

Locals will recognize Ismajli as the owner and operator of El Dorado's restaurant "La Piazza." When he's not cranking out pasta and pizza, Ismajli spends a few hours a day painting and honing his artistic skills. He has never had any formal artistic training, but he is ready and eager to share his work with the community. This will be his first art exhibition ever.

Also, continuing through November 30th in the Merkle and Price Galleries is watercolorist and oil impressionist Bob Snider's exhibition "Horses, Ducks and Other Paintings that Men Like."

For more information about Fadil Ismajli's or Bob Snider's exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. Gallery viewing hours are 9:00-5:00 Monday through Friday. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.
 

TEXARKANA PHYSICIAN FOUND GUILTY OF PRESCRIBING A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE WITHOUT A LEGITIMATE MEDICAL PURPOSE
TEXARKANA, AR – A federal jury convicted a Texarkana Doctor yesterday on two counts of Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance Without an Effective Prescription and two counts of Distribution of a Schedule V Controlled Substance Without an Effective Prescription.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Little Rock District Office (LRDO), Tactical Diversion and Diversion Groups initiated an investigation into Dr. Lonnie Joseph Parker, age 58, of Texarkana, Arkansas in 2018 after receiving complaints from local law enforcement about a suspected pill mill and possible overdose death of a patient.  Investigators analyzed prescription drug monitoring data attributed to Dr. Parker, and the investigation revealed Dr. Parker was an over-prescriber of controlled substances, to include opioids, benzodiazepines, and promethazine with codeine cough syrup in the Texarkana area.  In the two-year period analyzed, Dr. Parker prescribed approximately 1.2 million dosage units of opioid pain medications, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, to approximately 1,508 patients (approximately 847 dosage units per patient). Dr. Parker also prescribed approximately 16 gallons of Promethazine with Codeine cough syrup to approximately 29 patients during the same time frame. The prescriptions included narcotics written in combination with sedatives, creating a high risk of addiction and overdose to patients.

Parker is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He also faces a period of supervised release and monetary penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes made the announcement.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Little Rock District Office (LRDO), Tactical Diversion and Diversion Group, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Texarkana Police Department, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS).

Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner and Assistant United Sates Attorney Graham Jones prosecuted the case for the United States.

STATE TREASURY SEES RECORD QUARTERLY INVESTMENT EARNINGS OF $40 MILLION
Report shows state’s investment portfolio able to withstand extreme market swings
Little Rock, Ark. – The state earned more than $40 million from its investment receipts during the first quarter of fiscal 2023, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan reported to the State Board of Finance on Monday.

“If we keep going at this rate, the State Treasury could be looking at the highest investment receipts earned since 2002, which is as far back as our records go,” Milligan told the board. “With this quarter’s figures, I’ve earned the State roughly $540 million dollars since I was elected in 2015.”

Earnings for the first quarter, which ran from July 1 through September 30, totaled $40.6 million. A significant reason for the total earnings was a hike in federal interest rates, which the state’s short-term investments are heavily dependent upon, Milligan said. The short-term portfolio earned $12.7 million while the long-term portfolio earned $27.8 million during the quarter. Short-term earnings were up from $615,000 during the same quarter one year ago, and long-term earnings increased from $12.5 million for the same period one year ago.

The board also heard from one of the Treasury’s investment brokers, Raymond James, who gave a report on the condition of the state’s portfolio.

“From our review of where the portfolio is today, regardless of the interest rate environment… the state portfolio is in a very, very well-positioned place, very balanced,”

said Chad Puryear, a chartered financial analyst and managing director for Raymond James. “In the years to come, the income will be much more stabilized.”

Milligan explained his investment team’s strategy: “We have developed a strategic approach to our investment portfolio that has included purchasing diverse securities across a diverse duration timeline,” he said. “We have created a solid foundation for the treasury that future treasurers can rely on for years to come. Simply put, we are putting the state’s money to work smarter.

“By diversifying the portfolio – not just in the type of securities we invest in, but also in lengths of duration – we are now able to better protect the State’s money from market volatility,” Milligan continued. “This is the legacy that I have worked hard to fulfill since my first day in office.

“Thank you for the trust you have placed in me and the honor of allowing me to serve as your State Treasurer these last eight years.”

October 28, 2022

CITY COUNCIL BUDGET WORKSHOP
The City Council will meet for a workshop on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at 6:30 pm in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building located at 206 Van Buren NE.

The agenda is as follows:
District Court
Public Works Department
Technology Center
Finance
Public Administration

 

USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT RESPONDS TO HISTORICALLY LOW WATER CONDITIONS ON LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER
VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District is responding to historically low water conditions on the Lower Mississippi River by dredging the channel, conducting surveys, and monitoring river stages.

During a temporary closure to navigation near Rosedale, Mississippi, from Oct. 27 at 4:00 p.m. to Oct. 29, the USACE Vicksburg District Dredge Jadwin will work to clear the channel. Depending on the dredge progress during the initial closure, additional closures may be needed in order to complete the work.

The Vicksburg District is in close communication with the U.S. Coast Guard and industry partners.
We are coordinating with the USACE Memphis District so that channel closures due to dredging coincide. Updates to any changes or channel opening will be forthcoming.

This is the lowest that the river has been at the Vicksburg gage since 2012, where it reached -1.0 ft. This will be the 6th time since 2000 that Vicksburg has reached stages below 1.5 ft.

The USACE Vicksburg District measures water levels on the Lower Mississippi River by a vast satellite telemetry gaging system that transmits 15- minute data back to a satellite and subsequently to data acquisition servers at several federal agencies. The Vicksburg District has approximately 200 satellite gages across a 68,000 square mile area of responsibility of which a team of six hydrologic technicians oversees the maintenance of this complex system of gages.

On the Vicksburg Gage, “0” is equal to elevation 46.23 feet above sea level. A Vicksburg Gage of “10” equates to a water surface elevation of 56.23 feet. Currently, we have approximately 13 feet of water or above in the Vicksburg District's area of responsibility on the Mississippi River channel. Using the Mississippi River gage at Vicksburg as a reference, a stage of 1.3 ft is approximately 9 ft below the average stage for October.

The Mississippi River is the backbone to our nations ‘economy with 681 million tons of cargo moving on the River system annually and $12.5 billion in transportation cost savings. The USACE Vicksburg District is committed to maintaining and protecting the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

The USACE Vicksburg District is engineering solutions to the nation’s toughest challenges. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, that holds nine major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline Mississippi River levees. The Vicksburg District is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.

 

PAVING BUSINESS OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FILING FALSE TAX RETURN
Underreported Income by over $1 Million
TEXARKANA, AR – An Arkansas man pleaded guilty on October 25, 2022, to filing a false tax return with the IRS on which he did not report all of the income he earned from his business.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Clarence A. Joles, Sr., age 51, of Texarkana, owned Rock Hard Paving, an asphalt paving business, which he operated as a sole proprietorship. Joles admitted that he deposited Rock Hard Paving’s gross receipts into approximately nine different bank accounts, then intentionally withheld from his tax preparer records from some of those accounts. As a result, the tax preparer did not have access to Rock Hard Paving’s true income, and Joles caused a false 2015 personal tax return to be filed with the IRS. In total, Joles did not report more than $1 million in Rock Hard Paving receipts.

Joles is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date and faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison for filing a false tax return. He also faces a period of supervised release, monetary penalties, and restitution. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation is investigating the case.

Assistant Chief Greg Tortella and Trial Attorney Isaiah Boyd, III of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website @ www.pacer.gov
 

BOOZMAN PROMOTES PARTICIPATION IN ARKANSAS TAKE BACK
Encourages Disposal of Old and Unused Prescription Meds
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) encourages Arkansans to participate in Arkansas Take Back on Saturday, October 29 to safely dispose of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs from their homes.

“Removing old and unused prescription drugs from our homes is an easy way we can all play a role in preventing these medications from getting into the wrong hands. Arkansas Take Back is an important program that has made our communities safer. I’m proud to support this initiative to combat the opioid epidemic and ultimately save lives, and I encourage Arkansans to join this effort,” Boozman said.

Help break the cycle of addiction by dropping off old and unused prescriptions at a collection site in your community. 

October 27, 2022

INVESTIGATION OF OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING AT PINE BLUFF CONTINUING
OCTOBER 27, 2022
The Arkansas State Police is continuing today with an investigation into an officer involved shooting incident that occurred shortly after 4 PM yesterday (*October 26th) outside a Pine Bluff business located at 2809 Camden Road.

Pine Bluff Police Department authorities requested state police special agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division lead the probe into the use of deadly force.

While the investigation has not been completed and remains in an active status, initial witness statements and evidence indicates Dustin Denton, 30, of Pine Bluff exited Immuno Tek Plasma Center brandishing a gun, then opened fire on police officers who had arrived at the business after being alerted to his location.  Officers returned fire, wounding Denton who was transported to a local hospital for treatment and later transferred to a Little Rock hospital where he is recuperating.

No police officers were injured.

Denton was wanted on numerous criminal charges, among them, possession of a weapon by certain persons, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and parole violation.  He was additionally being sought for questioning by local police investigating a homicide 

State police special agents will prepare an investigative file to be submitted to the Jefferson County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force by police was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Questions related to the identity of any police officers involved in the incident and their administrative status should be directed to the Pine Bluff Police Department.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: OCTOBER 29 IS PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE BACK DAY
LITTLE ROCK— Last year, there was a record number of Arkansans who died of drug overdoses that contributed to the nearly 100,000 people who died nationwide of drug overdose. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 62 percent of teens abuse prescription drugs because they are easy to obtain from their parent’s medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs are considered a gateway drug, with nearly half of heroin users reporting to have abused prescription drugs before beginning to use heroin. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of the State Drug Director, along with numerous law enforcement agencies across the state, to coordinate local drop-off events as part of the 23rd National Take Back Day, Saturday, October 29, 2022. The coalition is encouraging all Arkansans to participate and to inform them of the medications that will be accepted at the drug take-back events. Law enforcement officers will be available at collection sites across the state to collect and destroy pills in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Since the program began, more than 221 tons of medication has been collected in Arkansas.

“It is dangerous to keep unused prescription medication as it can fall into the wrong hands ultimately hurting a loved one or a member of the community,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I encourage Arkansans to clean out their medicine cabinets and participate in Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day so that we can continue to fight the dangerous drug epidemic that plagues our nation.”

Attorney General Rutledge issued the following list of medications that will be accepted at these events across the State on Saturday.

Opioids, such as OxyContin
Stimulants, such as Adderall
Depressants, such as Ativan
Other prescription medications

Over-the-counter medicines
Vitamins
Pet medicines
Medicated ointments and lotions
Inhalers
Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)
Medicine samples

Medications may be returned in the original pill bottles or any other container for increased privacy.

Properly destroying these medications protects the environment. Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting waters, which could contaminate food and water supplies. Many medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems. Turning over these medications at the Take Back Day events also reduces the risk of accidental poisonings by children, seniors or pets, as well as reduces the risk of drug abuse. 

The Prescription Drug Take Back event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. To find event sites and year-round drop-off locations near you, go to ARTakeBack.org.

For consumer-related questions, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: RUTLEDGE WARNS OF FENTANYL PILLS MISTAKEN FOR CANDY
LITTLE ROCK– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning the public about the increased prevalence of illegal fentanyl pills designed to look like well-known candy. As Halloween approaches, parents should be aware of these extremely dangerous drugs and be able to identify signs of a potential overdose.  

“Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous substance that drug cartels often smuggle into the United States with the intention of marketing the colorful pills to children and young adults,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “With the increased prevalence of this dangerous drug, parents should be vigilant this Halloween season in order to protect their children and loved ones.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, known to be 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has seized brightly colored, “rainbow fentanyl” that looks like candy in 26 states. According to the DEA, drug cartels are smuggling the fentanyl across the southern border to target young children, including those in elementary and middle school. 

Very small amounts of fentanyl are extremely deadly. Even a small dose can be lethal enough to kill multiple individuals. Everyone should take strong precautions to ensure that children do not come into contact with products that may contain fentanyl. Parents should speak with their young children, and even teenagers, to educate them and provide age-appropriate guidance on the dangers of this look-a-like drug.

Signs of fentanyl overdose include, but are not limited to:

Small, constricted pupils
Falling asleep or losing consciousness
Difficulties breathing
Choking or gurgling sounds
Limp body
Cold or clammy skin
Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails)

If you suspect your child has ingested fentanyl, call 911 immediately. Consider administering naloxone, if available. Arkansas Poison Control Hotline may be reached at (800) 222-1222. Consumers who encounter suspected fentanyl products should not touch the item and contact law enforcement immediately.

October 02, 2022

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE REMINDS ARKANSANS OF WILDFIRE RISK, BURN BANS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – As dry conditions continue throughout the state, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is reminding Arkansans that wildfire danger is elevated across the state and, currently, 62 counties remain under a burn ban.

“Conditions are dry with low humidity statewide,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “We are seeing an increase in the number of wildfires and their intensity, and that’s a trend that will continue until we see significant rainfall. With this in mind, we are asking citizens of the state to be mindful of this risk and avoid burning.”

The Forestry Division maintains a county-by-county Wildfire Danger map with four risk levels: low, moderate, high, and extreme. Risk levels are determined by drought status and long-term weather forecasts and are defined by how easily fires can start and how hard they are to contain. The Wildfire Danger map can be found at bit.ly/ARWildFireRisk. The risk level definitions are:

Low: Fuels do not ignite easily. Weather conditions will lead to slow, easy to control fires.

Moderate: Fire can start from accidental causes. May not become serious, but caution should be taken.

High: Fires ignite easily and spread quickly. Unattended brush fires and campfires are likely to escape. Fires may become serious if not attacked early.

Extreme: Fires start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely. Every fire started has the potential to become large. Expect extreme, erratic behavior.
Currently, the southernmost 16 counties have been given the “extreme” designation, while the rest of the state remains under “high” risk levels. Additionally, 62 counties are under burn bans. Burn bans primarily prohibit activities that involve an open flame. This includes fireworks, campfires, trash burning, open flame grilling, and prescribed or controlled burns.

Robert Murphy, Director of Emergency Services for the Forestry Division, emphasizes the importance of heeding these burn bans.

“In these conditions, it’s very important for Arkansans to avoid burning and remain cautious,” he said. “We’re seeing several large fires that start as small, controlled backyard fires.”

Murphey also recommends caution when driving or operating machinery. “It’s important to remain cautious when driving through or working in dry grass,” Murphy said. “Trucks, ATVs, hay balers, and other vehicles can easily start fires by causing sparks over dry grass.”

The Forestry Division is asking those who see fires to report them by calling 1-800-468-8834 and to avoid flying drones in the area. When drones are present, those fighting the fires are unable to perform detection flights or fly single engine airtankers (SEATs) to drop water.


Find a county burn ban map at bit.ly/ARBurnBan. To learn more about burn bans in your county, find your local official’s contact information at arcounties.org/counties/.

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 www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

 

ROTARY CLUB OF CAMDEN TO HOST BUSINESS AFTER HOURS AND AUCTION
The Rotary Club of Camden, Arkansas, has for many years been awarding scholarships to graduating seniors at our area schools who plan on attending college.

There have been many types of fund raisers over the years to raise money.

This year Jim Golden Ford Lincoln is having an auction of donated items from area businesses and individuals.

The event will include a live remote by Y95 where you can place your bids on items as well as Rotary Club of Camden, Arkansas Facebook page.

Rotary Club of Camden, Arkansas, will also host a Business After Hours with snacks, drinks, door prizes and fellowship for area business people and individuals who would like to attend.

The event will be held at Jim Golden Ford Lincoln on Thursday, November 3rd from 5:30 pm until 8:00 pm. All donations of items are tax deductible. 100% of proceeds will go to the scholarship fund.

Please plan to attend or place your bids by calling (870) 836-2100 or on the Rotary Club of Camden Facebook page.

Items will be on display that night.


THE 175TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MCCOLLUM-CHIDESTER HOUSE MUSEUM
The Ouachita County Historical Society is hosting a fundraiser to benefit the McCollum-Chidester House on November, 5th at the Event Center at Fairview Park.

Marking the 175th Anniversary of the McCollum-Chidester House Museum, the evening will feature a Scottish themed dinner prepared by Postmaster’s Grill, live music, a video about the history of the museum, bagpipes, and more. Costume re-enactors will be portraying members of the McCollum and Chidester families. Native Dog will also have a special “Scottish Stout” available at the event.

Don’t miss this wonderful evening Saturday, November 5th starting at 6pm. Tickets for the event are $75. To purchase tickets, call 870-836-9243 or come by the Museum office at 926 W. Washington St. A portion of the ticket price will be tax deductible.

 

HOW CAN WE BEST PROMOTE BRAIN HEALTH AND MEDICARE WELLNESS VISITS?
You have a chance to help decide how brain health and Medicare wellness visits will be promoted throughout the state of Arkansas!

You will earn a $25 VISA gift card for sharing your ideas.

Must be 18 or older to participate.
When: Saturday, October 29 at 11AM
Where:  Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
515 Madison Avenue, Camden, AR 71701

Light refreshments will be served. Participation is limited to the first 12 people who sign up. To reserve a spot call/text Rev. Greg Nettles at (870) 818-2800 or Christy Standerfer at (501) 772-6173.


SAAC BOX OFFICE OPEN FOR “DEATHTRAP” 
The South Arkansas Arts Center box office is now open for its upcoming production of “Deathtrap,” sponsored by Southern Bancorp and Nexans AmerCable. The production will run November 4-6 and 10-12. Shows will begin at 7:30pm for all performances, with the exception of a 2:30pm matinee on Sunday, November 6. SAAC will be hosting a champagne reception at 7pm on opening night, Friday, September 4, with tickets available at $20 for all audience members. For all other performances, ticket cost is $5 for students, $10 for SAAC members and $15 for general public.  

Directed by long-time South Arkansas theatrical mastermind Gary Hall, “Deathtrap” offers a rare blending of two priceless theatrical ingredients: gasp-inducing thrills and spontaneous laughter. According to Hall, “Deathtrap is a cool, comic thriller. It's not farcical but, rather, a real thinking-man's kind of thriller.”   

Written by Ira Levin, the play is a comedy-thriller filled with plot twists and shocking revelations. Seemingly comfortably sheltered in his Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is played by local thespian Bill Meyer. Bruhl is struggling to overcome a “dry” when he receives a script, a thriller which he immediately recognizes as a potential Broadway hit, from a student in the class he has been teaching at a nearby university.  

Sidney devises a plan with the help of his wife Myra, played by actress Elva Melillo. He offers to collaborate with the young man, named Clifford Anderson, who is played by local actor Matthew Power. Soon after, with the help of lawyer Porter Milgrim the lawyer, played by Mike Means, and psychic Helga ten Dorp, played by Traci Stevenson, suspense steadily increases as the plot begins to twist and turn with thrills and laughter. The talented actors in “Deathtrap” are no strangers to the SAAC stage and will, once again, command the audience with a performance that will leave them enthralled to the end.  

For more information on or to make reservations for this “thrilling” show, 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.

October 24, 2022

ARKANSAS BALLOT ISSUES
Arkansas voters choose more than candidates on Election Day. They also have a voice in shaping state law by voting on proposals seeking to change to the state constitution.

On Nov. 8, 2022, Arkansans have four constitutional amendments to decide in the general election. The Cooperative Extension Service provides voters with neutral, research-based information on all of the statewide ballot proposals.

Ultimately our goal is to increase voter participation and help Arkansans be confident in their vote. 

Get Your 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide

Get more information about all four constitutional amendments on the Arkansas ballot.

Download the 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issue Voter Guide or pick up a printed copy from any of the 75 county extension offices statewide.

What will I find in Extension's ballot issue voter guide?
How the proposals will appear on the ballot
Answers to basic questions about each issue
Reasons why people may support or oppose the proposals 
A worksheet to record your voting plans

 

LITTLE ROCK VA REGIONAL OFFICE HOLDS NEXT VIRTUAL CLAIMS CLINIC FOR ARKANSAS VETERANS THIS THURSDAY
To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, Wednesday.

WHAT:   Monthly Virtual VA Claims Clinic for Arkansas VeteransWHO:     During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, Veterans may speak one-on-one with staff at the Little Rock VA Regional Office who are ready to assist with specific questions regarding their claims for VA benefits.
WHEN:   Thursday, October 27, 2022, 4 - 6 p.m. |
HOW:     To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, October 26, 2022.

BACKGROUND: 
“We continue to listen to our Veterans about their needs.  It is imperative we reach those in the rural areas of Arkansas and the places that preclude normal access times and locations. It is our duty and honor to assist with their VA benefits,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “Although we have returned to conducting in-person community outreach events, we will continue to offer these virtual claims clinics as an avenue for Veterans to reach us after normal business hours.” 

The main office of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is in Bldg. 111, 2200 Fort Roots Drive in North Little Rock. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Veteran Assist Phone Line, 501-370-3829, is staffed Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

VA Regional Offices provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans and their dependents. This includes disability compensation, survivor’s benefits, pension and fiduciary service, education and training, vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance, life insurance coverage, and home loan guaranties.

VA disability compensation (pay) offers a monthly tax-free payment to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. 

During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, staff members of the Little Rock VA Regional Office will be available to answer questions about existing VA benefits claims and how to file a new one.

“We have such a diverse population outside of the metropolitan areas of the state and we need to work even harder to reach those who are in our rural areas and those unable to reach us by other means,” said Quillin.  

Veterans and their family members may also take advantage of VA’s Visitor Reporting Engagement Application (VERA), a new, easy-to-use, online tool, to schedule in-person or virtual appointments with VA benefits counselors.  For more information about VA benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.
 

ARKANSAS LEGISLATORS ISSUE STATEMENT AGAINST MARIJUANA ISSUE 4
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Monday, October 24th, a coalition of 64 legislators from the Arkansas House of Representatives issued a statement opposing Issue 4, the amendment to legalize marijuana in Arkansas.

In the statement, lawmakers said, “As your elected representatives, we want voters to understand that Issue 4, the recreational marijuana amendment, represents the kind of political cronyism that frustrates Arkansans.

Issue 4 actually creates a marijuana monopoly for a small group of investors in our state constitution, and it ties the hands of your state legislators when it comes to regulating marijuana businesses.

Drug policy should not be made by marijuana industry insiders looking to profit off of Arkansans. Drug policy should be made by the voters and their elected representatives.

We encourage our constituents to VOTE NO on Issue 4.”

Safe and Secure Communities appreciates Arkansas' legislators for opposing Issue 4. Big marijuana is attempting to go around the Arkansas legislature and place a monopoly on our state's constitution. Issue 4 would potentially make Arkansas the least regulated state regarding marijuana while not allowing local control on how to tax or zone it. We appreciate the legislature informing their voters how dangerous Issue 4 is to Arkansas.

A list of the state legislators who signed Monday’s statement is below:
 

Sonia Eubanks Barker
Rick Beck
Mark H. Berry
Stan Berry
Justin Boyd
Ken Bragg
Harlan Breaux
Keith Brooks
Karilyn Brown
John Carr
Frances Cavenaugh
Craig Christiansen
Joe Cloud
Bruce Coleman
Cameron Cooper
Bruce Cozart
Carol Dalby
Gary Deffenbaugh
Jim Dotson
Les Eaves
Jon Eubanks
Brian Evans
Charlene Fite
Lanny Fite
Jack Fortner
Tony Furman
Jimmy Gazaway
Justin Gonzales
Michelle Gray
Delia Haak
Steve Hollowell
Lane Jean
Lee Johnson
Jack Ladyman
Mark Lowery
Robin Lundstrum
Roger Lynch
John Maddox
Julie Mayberry
Rick McClure
Austin McCollum
Mark McElroy
Richard McGrew
Ron McNair
Stephen Meeks
Josh Miller
Jon Milligan
John Payton
Aaron Pilkington
David Ray
Marcus Richmond
Johnny Rye
Matthew Shephard
Keith Slape
Stu Smith
Dwight Tosh
Nelda Speaks
DeAnn Vaught
Danny Watson
Carlton Wing
Richard Womack
Jim Wooten

TWENTY-THREE ARKANSAS PLAYGROUNDS SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN ANNUAL SHADE TREES ON PLAYGROUNDS PROGRAM
LITTLE ROCK, AR –The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is pleased to announce the expansion of the Shade Trees on Playgrounds program to celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary.  Twenty-three schools in 20 communities, more than double the number of schools in previous years,  have been selected across the state to participate in this year’s program. The selected schools for 2022 are as follows:

Park Avenue Elementary – Stuttgart
Drew Central Elementary – Monticello
Jimmy Brown Elementary – Star City
Star City Middle School – Star City
Star City High School – Star City
Oscar Hamilton Elementary – Foreman
Caddo Hills Elementary – Norman
Bobby Barrett Elementary – Mount Ida
East Side School Kindergarten Center – Magnolia
East End Elementary – East End
Arkansas Arts Academy Elementary – Rogers
Berryville Intermediate School – Berryville
Clarksville Intermediate School – Clarksville
Butterfield Elementary – Fayetteville
Heber Springs Middle School – Heber Springs
Sacred Heart School – Morrilton
Little Rock West High School of Innovation – Little Rock
McRae Elementary – Searcy
Southwest Middle School – Searcy
Oak Grove
Paragould M.D. Williams Intermediate – Pocahontas
Batesville Preschool – Batesville
Marshall Elementary School – Marshall 

The Shade Trees on Playgrounds program (STOP) was organized to lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight where children play, like school playgrounds. Winning schools receive up to five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines after participating in program training.

“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” says Urban & Community Forestry Program Coordinator, Kristine Kimbro. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students, but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of forests and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

Schools are invited to submit STOP applications annually. To qualify, participating schools must lack shade, participate in a virtual STOP workshop, agree to use Forestry Division curriculum to emphasize the importance of trees and forestry in Arkansas, hold a tree-planting ceremony with students, and agree to long-term maintenance of the planted shade trees. Forestry Division personnel assist with the transport and planting of the trees. Trees for each campus are chosen by local Forestry Division staff to fit the unique region and conditions of each playground and are purchased from local nurseries and suppliers.

Learn more about the STOP program and other Urban & Community Forestry services and programs at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry. With program questions, contact Kristine Kimbro at 479-228-7929 or kristine.kimbro@agriculture.arkansas.gov, or Harold Fisher at 501-580-4054 or harold.fisher@agriculture.arkansas.gov

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 agriculture.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.


2022 NAEP SCORES FOR READING, MATH RELEASED
LITTLE ROCK — The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, released today fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores from the January through March 2022 administration. Arkansas’ scores decreased from 2019; however, the drops mirror the declines seen by every state, and there was not a statistically significant difference when compared to the decreases in National Public scores.

A random sample of 3,500 Arkansas public school fourth graders and 3,600 eighth graders in 176 Arkansas public schools took the assessments in 2022, compared to 216,500 of the nation’s fourth graders and 215,700 eighth graders in 10,800 public schools. (National Public numbers also reflect the District of Columbia, Department of Defense Education Activity Schools, and Puerto Rico.)

Fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading assessments are administered every two years; however, due to the COVID pandemic, NAEP assessments that were scheduled for 2021 were delayed until 2022. The next administration will occur between January and March 2024.

“Arkansas’ scores, as well as those from other states, reflect the extensive impact of the pandemic on student learning,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “We will continue to assist schools in providing additional supports to students to offset learning gaps that occurred as a result of the pandemic.”  

October 20, 2022

EARLY VOTING BEGINS MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH
Voters are Reminded to Take ID to the Polls
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston would like to remind voters that early voting for the 2022 General Election, Nonpartisan Judicial Runoff Election, and School Elections begins on Monday, October 24th.  

Early voting will run from October 24th through November 7th. Polls will be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the final Monday before Election Day. Polls are closed on Sundays. 

To check your voter registration, find your polling location and operating hours, or to view a sample ballot, visit www.voterview.org.

A voter guide containing unbiased information regarding ballot issues, produced by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, can be accessed at www.uaex.uada.edu/business-communities/voter-education.

If you have moved to another county since you last voted, you have until Friday, November 4th to update your voter registration with your county clerk for this election.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th.  Polls that day will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Arkansas law requires that voters present a photo ID before voting.

Election results will be available at the Secretary of State's website after the polls close on Election Day at www.sos.arkansas.gov

 

AG ALERT: CON ARTISTS GUILTY OF JURY SCAM
LITTLE ROCK— Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans to be wary of con artists attempting to convince unsuspecting consumers that they have missed jury duty and are facing law enforcement action. The scammers often call consumers under the guise of representing a law enforcement agency or court official, claiming that the individual faces a fine or imprisonment for missing jury duty. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge encourages all Arkansans to verify the legitimacy of their jury summons by contacting their county’s circuit clerk directly.

“Intimidation and impersonation are common practices for con artists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These criminals are becoming more brazen by offering consumers a badge number and spoofing their phone number to make the call look like it is coming from the courthouse or local law enforcement agency. Scams may sound legitimate, but before providing any personal information to the person on the other end of the phone, consumers should confirm the accuracy of the information with their local court.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who are contacted by these scammers:

Contact your local circuit clerk to determine whether you truly are expected to report for jury duty.

Contact local law enforcement and provide the name and badge number you received to verify the officer’s information and confirm that you were contacted by that officer.

Court officials will not ask for your personal information such as social security number, address, credit card number or any other personal or financial information. Verifying any information over the phone could lead to other scams or identity theft.

Court officials will never ask individuals to pay fines with gift cards or bitcoin. If an individual asks you to transfer currency into bitcoin, it is probably a scam. Hang up the phone.

If you fall victim to one of these phone scams, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. For more tips to avoid being scammed and other consumer-related issues, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982.

The Attorney General’s office also makes presentations on scams to organizations and groups. To schedule a scam prevention presentation email speaker@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

WESTERMAN REACTS TO BIDEN'S RELEASE OF OIL FROM SPR
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. President Joe Biden announced he is releasing 15 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in an attempt to lower gas prices. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"I've spent this month hearing from Americans across the country about how they can't keep their businesses open, can't afford to drive to work, can't keep operating their farm equipment, and can't afford to heat their homes," said Westerman."People are begging President Biden to take swift, long-term action like reopening pipelines and issuing leases and permits for domestic energy production, yet the best he can offer is depleting our oil reserves and blaming American industries for the problems he created. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve used to be just that: strategic. Under Biden, it's turned into a Hail Mary attempt to score political points without a thought for national security or energy independence. That's why the Republican Commitment to America includes commonsense solutions that would tap American energy and allow our industries to thrive, not punish and regulate them into oblivion. Biden hasn't even offered a plan to maintain the status quo, much less allow more energy production to meet an ever-increasing demand. Clearly this administration would rather keep its head in the sand than give Americans the energy solutions we desperately need."

Despite energy costs hitting historic highs this year, the Biden administration has not held quarterly onshore lease sales, as required by the Mineral Leasing Act, or issued a five-year offshore leasing plan. Additionally, the administration has fallen behind in energy permitting, which would help boost domestic production and lower costs. In FY 2022, the Biden administration has approved an average of 233 energy permits per month, while the Department of Interior was approving nearly 400 permits monthly in FY 2020 under former President Donald Trump. In total, Biden has leased fewer acres of federal and offshore land for domestic oil and gas production at this point in his presidency than any other president since the end of World War II. This discrepancy exists despite the Biden administration claiming it is doing "everything in their power" to spur domestic production. 

On top of this, Biden has released a historic number of barrels of oil from the SPR in less than two years. Thanks to his actions, the SPR is now at its lowest level since 1984, this while U.S. petroleum consumption is more than 28 percent higher than it was then.

Republicans in Congress have introduced numerous bills to immediately resume oil production on federal lands and waters and restart work on projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline. However, congressional Democrats continue to block energy development and have yet to move any substantive energy legislation through regular order this Congress.

October 19, 2022

COOPERATIVE EXTENSION OFFICE TO CONDUCT PRIVATE APPLICATORS CERTIFICATION TRAININGThe University
of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service will be conducting training for Private Applicators needing certification or recertification of their license. The training will be held Thursday, November 17, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Office, 2760 Mt. Holly Road. For more infonnation, contact Keri Weatherford at 870-231-1160 or by email at kweatherford@uada.edu.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/af:finnative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your Ouachita County Extension Office as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
 

OUCHITA COUNTY COMMUNITY CONCERT ASSOCIATION PRESENTS TRIUMPHANT QUARTET
Sunday, October 23, 2022 – 3:00 PM
Venue: The Events Center at Fairview Park, 2740 Mt. Holly Road Camden, AR

Known for their rich vocal blend, steadfast work ethic, and deep faith, Tennessee’s Triumphant Quartet are a rarity among Southern gospel vocal groups in that their membership has remained unchanged since their very first concert in 2003. In the decade-and-a-half that followed, the group transformed themselves from Smoky Mountain favorites to an acclaimed national touring act with over 20 albums and numerous awards to their credit.

Formed in Sevierville, Tennessee in 2003, the group consists of lead singer Clayton Inman and his son, baritone Scott Inman, along with tenor David Sutton and bass Eric Bennett.

Flex pass plans are season ticket plans designed especially for those who travel or have busy and unpredictable schedules. Our flex plan gives each season subscriber four Flex Passes to be used for any performance during the concert season. They may be used one at a time in the traditional way to attend each of the offered concerts, all at one concert, or any combination of concerts that works for you. Your choice.

Since 1947, the Ouachita County community concert program has brought hundreds of performing artists to Camden – enriching our community. There is something about a live performance that stirs the soul and enlivens our senses. A big thank you to the community for supporting the arts.
 

NFIB ARKANSAS PAC ENDORSES 32 CANDIDATES FOR SEATS IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE
LITTLE ROCK (Oct. 17, 2022) – The NFIB Arkansas PAC today endorsed 32 candidates running for states in the state legislature. The political action committee is comprised solely of NFIB members from throughout the state.

“Small business is the backbone of Arkansas’s economy,” NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said. “These candidates have either a solid record of supporting small businesses in the Texas Legislature or have shown our members that they’re committed to protecting this environment that enables local businesses to grow and create jobs.

“On behalf of our small business members, I’m proud to announce these endorsements,” Smith said.

The NFIB Arkansas PAC’s endorsement is important to these campaigns. Small business owners and their employees vote in large numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members, and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB’s political support is based on the candidates’ positions and records on key small-business issues. 

Senate
District 2 Matt Stone
District 4 Jimmy Hickey
District 10 Ron Caldwell
District 13 Jane English
District 16 Kim Hammer
District 17 Mark Johnson
District 18 Jonathan Dismang
District 20 Dan Sullivan
District 21 Blake Johnson
District 26 Gary Stubblefield
District 27 Justin Boyd
District 28 Bryan King
District 34 Jim Dotson

House
District 6 Harlan Breaux
District 14 Grant Hodges
District 15 John Carr
District 18 Robin Lundstrum
District 22 Brian Hester
District 29 Rick McClure
District 32 Jack Ladyman
District 36 Steve Hollowell
District 41 Josh Miller
District 52 Marcus Richmond
District 62 Mark McElroy
District 67 Karilyn Brown
District 69 David Ray
District 70 Carlton Wing
District 81 RJ Hawk
District 84 Les Warren
District 87 DeAnn Vaught
District 91 Bruce Cozart
District 94 Jeff Wardlaw

About NFIBFor almost 80 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the voice of small
business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit www.NFIB.com

 

SAAC ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS DIRECTOR  
SAAC is currently accepting applications for director of the spring 2023 production of “Little Shop of Horrors”. Sponsored by Murphy-Pitard Jewelers and All About Flowers, the show will run March 3-11.  

The delightfully dark musical “Little Shop of Horrors” is the story of Seymour, an unlucky florist, and his man-eating, musically gifted, alien plant, Audrey II. The rock and roll musical was composed by Alan Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown. The show includes several tunes made well known by the 1986 feature film, including "Skid Row (Downtown)", "Somewhere That's Green", and "Suddenly, Seymour". 

Interested individuals should supply a letter of intent, resume, and a short production proposal. Qualified applicants need a working knowledge of community theatre and have experience working with all ranges of talent, including beginners. Application deadline is November 1, 2022. All applications should be sent to SAAC, 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas 71730, ATTN: Executive Director or emailed to Laura Allen at laura@saac-arts.org

For more information, contact the SAAC office at 870-862-5474. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

EL DORADO ARKANSAS GROUP SENTENCED TO 47 YEARS COMBINED IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
EL DORADO – The final member of a South Arkansas drug trafficking organization was sentenced yesterday to federal prison for the Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearings for the United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court documents, beginning in February of 2019, investigators with the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) initiated an investigation into a drug trafficking organization operating out of the El Dorado Division of the Western District of Arkansas. During the course of that investigation, Pharell Jackson and his drug trafficking organization were identified by investigators to be responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine from Magnolia, Arkansas, to locales in the Western District of Arkansas and the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Those members of the drug trafficking organization indicted federally have been sentenced as follows:

Pharell Bronse Jackson:  age 32, El Dorado, Arkansas - Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine – 168 months imprisonment and 3-year term of supervised release.

Michael Fitzgerald Williams Jr.:  age 31, North Little Rock, Arkansas - Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine - 120 months imprisonment and 3-year term of supervised release.

Gary Bernard Green II: age 33, Camden, Arkansas - Distribution of Methamphetamine -168 months imprisonment and 3-year term of supervised release.

Jacovas Deonta Mitchell: age 32, El Dorado, Arkansas – Knowing and Intentionally Distributing Methamphetamine other – 108 months imprisonment and 3-year term of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration Little Rock, and the FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Wulff, Graham Jones, and Steven Mohlhenrich prosecuted the case for the United States.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
 

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, October 21, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road in Camden, Arkansas.


ADE PARTNERS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT TO PROMOTE RED RIBBON WEEK
LITTLE ROCK — As drug use and overdoses continue to plague Arkansans of all ages, a multi-tiered approach that involves education and law enforcement is essential to address and mitigate the epidemic. 

To support these efforts, the Arkansas Department of Education is partnering again with the FBI Little Rock Office, Arkansas Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Arkansas Drug Director’s Office during Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 23-31) to educate students, teachers, parents, and communities about the long-lasting effects drug abuse has on everyone involved.

This year, the partners are encouraging school districts to host a same-day showing of either the Emmy-nominated documentary “7 Days: The Opioid Crisis in Arkansas” or “Chasing the Dragon” on Wednesday, October 26. ADE partnered with Arkansas PBS and other partners last year to develop “7 Days,” which highlights the opioid epidemic in Arkansas. “Chasing the Dragon,” which was developed by the FBI and DEA, sheds a spotlight on the opioid crisis across the country. To participate, districts are encouraged to register by October 23 at https://bit.ly/3COxF9K.

“The approach to addressing this critical issue involves education just as much as it does law enforcement,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “It is essential that we work together to educate students and their families about the devastating impact drug abuse has on everyone. It doesn’t just hurt the individual; families and communities often suffer the consequences of an addiction. We stand committed with our partners in the districts, as well as in law enforcement, to provide resources and educational tools that help curb this growing crisis. Together, we can help students make wise choices that lead to success in life."

“Arkansas communities have long felt the devastating impact of opioid abuse,” said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson. “Partnerships between educators, law enforcement, and community leaders — in combination with prevention programs like Red Ribbon Week — are invaluable in obliterating the scourge of opioids within Arkansas."

“Red Ribbon Week honors Kiki Camarena, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country fighting drug trafficking,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley said. “The news of his death touched the nation, and today, millions of young people wear red ribbons and sign pledges to remain drug-free. DEA will continue to target the Mexican cartels and drug traffickers poisoning our communities as part of a comprehensive strategy that includes effective enforcement, prevention, and treatment."

“The annual Red Ribbon Week campaign is an invaluable asset to communities throughout Arkansas,” Arkansas Drug Director Boyce Hamlet said. “For parents, teachers, coaches, and all who mentor youth, Red Ribbon Week is the perfect opportunity to educate our future leaders on the negative impact drugs and alcohol could cause in their lives. For the youth, Red Ribbon Week is engaging with numerous activities, and they are attracted to this campaign, which leads to them recalling the education presented to them long after the campaign ends and throughout their lives."

To learn more and to access additional Red Ribbon Week resources, go to https://bit.ly/3MmcEq3.

 

LIFE SAVING REMINDER: U DRIVE, YOU TEXT, YOU PAY
OCTOBER 14, 2022 Typing or reading cellular telephone messages while driving is risky business.  Anyone doing it could be stopped by police
andissued a violator citation.  Worse, someone could die in a vehicle crash because a driver was distracted and thought a text message was more important than a life.

Beginning next week (October 17 - 23), Arkansas law enforcement agencies will intensify their patrols aimed at drivers violating the Arkansas texting while driving law.  “U Drive, U Text, You Pay” is a coordinated campaign designed to stop distracted driving.  Law enforcement agencies across the state have pledged their support toward enforcing the law and educating violators.

Consistently since 2007, drivers among the millennial age group, have become the worst texting while driving offenders, using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers 16 to 24 years old have also been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving with greater frequency than older drivers.  During calendar year 2020, 6 percent of people killed in teen (15 - 19) driving crashes died while operating their vehicle and being distracted.

During the upcoming enforcement operation parents are encouraged to discuss with their teenage children the subject of developing safe driving habits, including the practice of never sending or reading text messages while driving.  National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 16 - 22 and parents should take the opportunity during the week to set a good example for their teenage children who are beginning to drive.  It’s a parent’s responsibility to help their children make smart choices and drive safely.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among U.S. teens (15 - 18 year old).  Two years ago, 153,566 people (7% of all roadway injuries during 2020) were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers.  More than 2,000 people died in the crashes and 748 of the deaths were teenage drivers.

“It’s incomprehensible why anyone would read or send a text message while driving,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “People, young and old alike know it’s dangerous and deadly, but they selfishly put others at risk.”

Texting while driving is against the law in 47 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  NHTSA officials will be reminding teenagers of the danger in using their phones while driving.  Using a phone to text, talk or participate in social media while driving is unacceptable, even while stopped in traffic.

“Beginning October 17th state troopers and law enforcement officers across Arkansas will increase their emphasis toward identifying drivers who text while driving and issuing citations for the violation,” Colonel Bryant stated.

Arkansas law enforcement officers and the Arkansas Highway Safety Office urge drivers to put down their phones when behind the wheel.  If you need to read or send a text message, pull over and stop at a safe location.  Drivers should consider these reminders:

•  If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.

•  Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.

•  Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.

•  Cell phone use is habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.  For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.

 

LITTLE ROCK VA REGIONAL OFFICE HOLDS NEXT VIRTUAL CLAIMS CLINIC FOR ARKANSAS VETERANS ON OCTOBER 27
To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, October 26.

WHAT:   Monthly Virtual VA Claims Clinic for Arkansas Veterans

WHO:     During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, Veterans may speak one-on-one with staff at the Little Rock VA Regional Office who are ready to assist with specific questions regarding their claims for VA benefits.

WHEN:   Thursday, October 27, 2022, 4 - 6 p.m.

HOW:     To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, October 26, 2022.

BACKGROUND: 
“We continue to listen to our Veterans about their needs.  It is imperative we reach those in the rural areas of Arkansas and the places that preclude normal access times and locations. It is our duty and honor to assist with their VA benefits,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “Although we have returned to conducting in-person community outreach events, we will continue to offer these virtual claims clinics as an avenue for Veterans to reach us after normal business hours.” 

The main office of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is in Bldg. 111, 2200 Fort Roots Drive in North Little Rock. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Veteran Assist Phone Line, 501-370-3829, is staffed Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

VA Regional Offices provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans and their dependents. This includes disability compensation, survivor’s benefits, pension and fiduciary service, education and training, vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance, life insurance coverage, and home loan guaranties.

VA disability compensation (pay) offers a monthly tax-free payment to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. 

During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, staff members of the Little Rock VA Regional Office will be available to answer questions about existing VA benefits claims and how to file a new one.

“We have such a diverse population outside of the metropolitan areas of the state and we need to work even harder to reathch ose who are in our rural areas and those unable to reach us by other means,” said Quillin.  

Veterans and their family members may also take advantage of VA’s Visitor Reporting Engagement Application (VERA), a new, easy-to-use, online tool, to schedule in-person or virtual appointments with VA benefits counselors.  For more information about VA benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.

 

NORTH LITTLE ROCK EDUCATOR NAMED 2023 ARKANSAS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
LITTLE ROCK — Capri Salaam, a social studies teacher at North Little Rock Middle School, received a surprise of a lifetime today when she was named the 2023 Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

Salaam, a multi-classroom lead teacher, was one of four state semi-finalists for the award and was chosen by the ATOY selection committee for her innovate teaching practices, her ability to connect with students from diverse backgrounds, and her efforts to stay engaged with her students after they leave her classroom.

“Ms. Salaam’s teaching skills, commitment to her students, and love for the profession are reflected in her creative and innovative efforts to meet her students where they are,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “From establishing an inviting culture for students by organizing cultural events throughout the year to ensuring students have access in high school to ACT preparation programs, financial aid workshops, and tutoring programs, Ms. Salaam’s dedication extends far beyond the time she engages with her students in the classroom. She is very deserving of this honor."

“I am extremely excited to recognize Ms. Salaam as the 2023 Arkansas Teacher of the Year,” said Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key, who presented the award at the ceremony. “Her ability to bring history to life through creative lessons, combined with her ongoing love of learning and professional growth, are reflected in her students’ success both in and out of the classroom. Ms. Salaam is the perfect person to receive this honor, and we look forward to working alongside her when she begins her tenure as Teacher of the Year."

Salaam began her career at the North Little Rock School District in 2015 and teaches social studies for grades seven and eight. She became a multi-classroom lead teacher in 2018 and teaches and provides support in instructional practices and classroom management for other teachers. Prior to joining the district, she was a teacher from 2013-2015 at Little Rock Preparatory Academy. In 2014, she was promoted to a third-grade lead teacher and collaborated with other third-grade teachers to identify best practices and innovative teaching strategies.

In addition to receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Salaam has a Master of Arts in Teaching in Middle School Education from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and a Master of Science in Special Education from Harding University in Searcy. She is working on a Learning Systems Technology Education Graduate Certificate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, with an anticipated completion date of 2023.

Salaam holds multiple teaching licenses, including Social Studies (4-8), English (4-8), and Special Education Resource ELA (7-12) licenses. She is a Google Certified Educator Level 1 and holds a Lead Professional Educator endorsement.

She is a member of multiple organizations, including the North Little Rock Parent Teacher Association, North Little Rock Classroom Teachers Association, and Arkansas Education Association. Salaam also is actively involved in her community. She is a member of the Junior League of North Little Rock and volunteers for Special Olympics, the Fellowship Baptist Church Special Needs Clothes Closet, and the North Little Rock Ole Main Clean-up.

When named a regional finalist, Salaam received a $1,000 prize and an additional $1,000 for being named a state semi-finalist. Today she received an additional $14,000 award sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation and is eligible to become the National Teacher of the Year.

Salaam’s one-year tenure as Arkansas Teacher of the Year will begin July 1, 2023. During that time, she will travel the state representing teachers and promoting her platform. Her focus will be on improving the mental health of students and ongoing social-emotional learning. Salaam also will serve as a non-voting member on the State Board of Education.

To learn more about the Arkansas Teacher of the Year program, visit https://bit.ly/3Dmhf5S


STATE POLICE CID OPEN INVESTIGATION OF DOWNTOWN STUTTGART HOMICIDE
OCTOBER 16, 2022
The body of a 27-year-old Stuttgart man was found in a downtown alleyway by local police officers shortly after 9 AM today.  Dalton Smith was pronounced dead at a resident behind 1108 South Grand Street.

Stuttgart authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation take charge of the case.  Special agents preliminarily believe Smith was the victim of a gunshot.

After collecting evidence found at the scene, agents have spent much of the day canvasing the area, talking to neighbors who may have heard or seen something earlier today or last night.
 

BENTON COUNTY OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INVESTIGATED BY ASP/CID
OCTOBER 16, 2022
The Arkansas State Police has been requested by Benton County Sheriff’s Department authorities to investigate an officer involved shooting which claimed the life of Nelson Amos, 71, of the Decatur community.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 22891 Falling Springs Road shortly before noon yesterday (October 15th) after a resident reported hearing gunfire on Amos’ property.

A sheriff’s deputy later encountered Amos on a local road driving a tractor and brandishing a handgun.  The sheriff’s deputy fired his rifle striking Amos.  An ambulance was called to the scene, meanwhile deputies began to administer lifesaving measures to Amos, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division are preparing an investigative file to be submitted to the Benton County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force by the sheriff’s deputy was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Questions related to the identity of deputies who responded to the area and their administrative status should be directed to the Benton County Sheriff.

Amos’ body is being transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for determination of the manner and cause of death.
 

LAST LUNAR ECLIPSE OF 2022 COMING UP NOVEMBER 08, 2022
In the early morning hours of November 8, 2022, North America will witness the last total lunar eclipse of the year. This amazing sky show will play out with Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland time zones seeing most of the event until moonset. The rest of North America will enjoy the late but spectacular show. This is a very safe event as the full Beaver moon (full moon for November) will pass through the earth’s shadow for a maximum of three hours and forty minutes.

Eclipses do not occur each month, due to the slight tilt of the moon’s orbit around earth. Some months the full or new moon is positioned above or below the earth’s shadow cast into space. There are a few times each year when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up to give us a solar or lunar eclipse. Each can be partially or totally covered. Throughout antiquity, the “Blood Moon” was an omen of the impending doom of war or even demons. Superstition ruled the skies in the early days.

The reddish or brownish-orange tinge of the lunar surface seen during totality is caused by the solar rays refracting through the earth’s atmosphere, much like we see spectacular red sunsets at night. The next lunar eclipse will only be a slight partial of 12% on October 28, 2023, visible from the Atlantic provinces. The next total eclipse which all of North America can witness will be on March 14, 2025.

Eclipse times are:
Central Time
Umbral eclipse begins: 3:09 a.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow.
Total lunar eclipse begins: 4:16 a.m. Moon turns dark orange or red.
Greatest eclipse: 4:59 a.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 5:41 a.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow.
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 6:49 a.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow.

October 13, 2022

ENTERGY ARKANSAS: STAY SAFE WITH ‘AROUND THE HOUSE’ MAINTENANCE TIPS
Beware of hidden dangers such as fallen power lines
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As the leaves turn and cooler weather approaches, experts agree now is the best time to perform improvements and check areas around your home that may need maintenance. Entergy Arkansas encourages customers to stay safe and consider following some safety tips when working inside and outside their home.

Starting with interior safety, it’s important to have a professional inspect and clean your furnace and fireplace to ensure both are within good standards. Fallen leaves, animal nests and other debris can cause the smoke from your fireplace to vent into your home rather than outside your home, which could cause a fire.

Your HVAC unit will work more efficiently when it’s well-maintained, so replace dirty air filters inside and remove debris from the unit outside.

As Daylight Saving Time comes to an end Nov. 6, now is a great time to check the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. All homes should contain a carbon monoxide detector to help identify the colorless and odorless gas that can cause serious illness or death. 

Getting in the seasonal spirit may mean lighting a few scented candles but remember to never leave a burning candle unattended. A small sputter or an errant flame can cause a fire in an instant.

If you are using a space heater to stay warm, be sure to only use it when you are at home to monitor its activity. Space heaters consume more energy than other heating systems and are a fire hazard, so keep them at least three feet away from rugs, furniture and anything flammable. 

When performing maintenance activities that require a ladder inside or out, be sure to wear proper footwear, position the ladder on a flat surface, and have someone nearby to spot you.

Keep in mind when cleaning up fallen leaves and broken limbs brought down by brisk autumn breezes to stay away from power lines, and always consult with a professional for trimming trees. If trimmings fall onto power lines, assume downed wires are energized and report them to 1-800-ENTERGY.

For more information about electrical safety, visit www.entergy.com/safety/residential/ and follow @EntergyArk for regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.


NFIB ARKANSAS PAC ENDORSES SANDERS FOR GOVERNOR
LITTLE ROCK (Oct. 13, 2022) -- The NFIB Arkansas PAC today endorsed Sarah Huckabee Sanders for governor. The political action committee is comprised solely of NFIB members from across the state.

“Our members support the candidates who support small business, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders is clearly on the side of small business,” NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said. “Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s love of Arkansas is matched only by her love of public service. Our members believe she will be a strong advocate for small businesses and do everything she can to maintain an environment that allows our small businesses to grow.”

“She supports efforts to end Arkansas’s income tax and address the state’s labor shortage by investing more in education and workforce development,” Smith said. “She’s also committed to reducing healthcare costs for small businesses and expanding broadband in rural parts of the state.

“Sarah Huckabee Sanders is clearly the only choice for Arkansas’ small businesses, which is why I’m proud to announce this endorsement,” Smith said.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the NFIB,” Sanders said. “As governor, I will begin to responsibly phase out the state income tax and foster an environment for Arkansas' businesses to grow so they can create thousands of new, high-paying, sustainable jobs for our workers. The NFIB knows that I have the bold plan to take Arkansas to the top.”

Today’s endorsement puts the considerable grassroots support of the state’s small businesses behind the Sanders campaign. Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for recruiting friends, family members, and acquaintances to vote. NFIB will encourage its Arkansas members to help turn out the powerful small business voting bloc on Election Day.

About NFIB
For almost 80 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit www.NFIB.com.

 

COTTON REQUESTS INFORMATION ON RELEASE OF PRIVATE MILITARY RECORDS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Daniel Hokanson requesting a full accounting of how Politico obtained the private personnel records of USAF Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer-Ruth Green. Included in Politico’s reporting were Green’s Officer Performance Reports and her own account of being sexually assaulted while serving in Iraq. 

In part, Senator Cotton wrote:
“Absent the written consent of the servicemember, military performance evaluations appear to be protected by the Privacy Act and not releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, based on the statutes themselves, various government FAQs, and the Air Force itself in response to a formal congressional inquiry from my office into whether Officer Performance Reports (OPRs) are releasable under FOIA: An ‘OPR could only be released if that member agreed, in writing, to release his/her document. Without written consent/release, Air Force has no authority to release these documents.’”

Full text of the letter may be found below.
October 12, 2022
The Honorable Frank Kendall, III
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

General Daniel R. Hokanson
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
111 South George Mason Drive
Arlington, VA 22204

Dear Secretary Kendall and General Hokanson:

On October 7, 2022, Politico published highly private information from the military records of Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer-Ruth Green, USAF, including both the contents of her Officer Performance Reports and her own detailed account of being sexually assaulted while serving in Iraq—an assault she had chosen to keep private until Politico decided to ignore her objections and publish the details anyway.

The Politico reporter claims in the article that “the documents…were obtained by a public records request and provided to [Politico.]” Separately, in a statement to Fox News Digital, a Politico spokesperson contends that “[t]he records in question are publicly available documents that can be obtained by a standard FOIA request.”

But absent the written consent of the servicemember, military performance evaluations appear to be protected by the Privacy Act and not releasable under the Freedom of Information Act, based on the statutes themselves, various government FAQs, and the Air Force itself in response to a formal congressional inquiry from my office into whether Officer Performance Reports (OPRs) are releasable under FOIA: An “OPR could only be released if that member agreed, in writing, to release his/her document. Without written consent/release, Air Force has no authority to release these documents.”

If that’s true, the release of Lt Col Green’s personnel records appears to be a grave violation of both Lt Col Green’s privacy and federal law.

Of additional concern is the appearance that the party responsible for releasing these Air Force documents may be exploiting private matters, including a sexual assault, for partisan purposes to interfere in the democratic process just weeks before an election.

I am therefore formally requesting a full accounting of how and on what basis these documents were released or leaked, and who is responsible.

I look forward to your prompt response.

October 12, 2022

ARKANSAS FARM TO SCHOOL MONTH CELEBRATION EVENT AND ARKANSAS GROWN SCHOOL GARDEN OF THE YEAR CONTEST RECIPIENT RECOGNITION TO BE HELD IN CONJUNCTION
WHAT: The Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative, facilitated by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program, will host an event today in celebration of Arkansas Farm to School Month. The Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative is a statewide farm to school effort between agencies, non-profits, schools, and farms.

The Department’s Farm to School Program manages the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest with funding provided by Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. 

VISUALS: Governor Hutchinson has provided a video proclaiming October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward will speak during the event. The winners of the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest will be announced and presented with banners. 

WHEN: October 12, 2022
             11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Pinnacle View Middle School
              5701 Ranch Drive, Little Rock, AR 72223

CONTACT: For more information contact: 
Ayden Massey
Public Information Officer
Arkansas Department of Agriculture
ayden.massey@agriculture.arkansas.gov
501-813-6012

 

LITTLE ROCK VA REGIONAL OFFICE HOLDS NEXT VIRTUAL CLAIMS CLINIC FOR ARKANSAS VETERANS ON OCTOBER 27
To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, October 26.

 WHAT:   Monthly Virtual VA Claims Clinic for Arkansas Veterans
WHO:     During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, Veterans may speak one-on-one with staff at the Little Rock VA Regional Office who are ready to assist with specific questions regarding their claims for VA benefits.
WHEN:   Thursday, October 27, 2022, 4 - 6 p.m.
HOW:     To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, October 26, 2022.

BACKGROUND: 
“We continue to listen to our Veterans about their needs.  It is imperative we reach those in the rural areas of Arkansas and the places that preclude normal access times and locations. It is our duty and honor to assist with their VA benefits,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “Although we have returned to conducting in-person community outreach events, we will continue to offer these virtual claims clinics as an avenue for Veterans to reach us after normal business hours.”   

The main office of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is in Bldg. 111, 2200 Fort Roots Drive in North Little Rock. It is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Veteran Assist Phone Line, 501-370-3829, is staffed Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

VA Regional Offices provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans and their dependents. This includes disability compensation, survivor’s benefits, pension and fiduciary service, education and training, vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance, life insurance coverage, and home loan guaranties.

VA disability compensation (pay) offers a monthly tax-free payment to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. 

During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, staff members of the Little Rock VA Regional Office will be available to answer questions about existing VA benefits claims and how to file a new one.

“We have such a diverse population outside of the metropolitan areas of the state and we need to work even harder to reach those who are in our rural areas and those unable to reach us by other means,” said Quillin.  

Veterans and their family members may also take advantage of VA’s Visitor Reporting Engagement Application (VERA), a new, easy-to-use, online tool, to schedule in-person or virtual appointments with VA benefits counselors.  For more information about VA benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.
 

SURVEY: INFLATION, LABOR SHORTAGES CONTINUE TO WEIGH ON SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM
LITTLE ROCK (Oct. 11, 2022) – NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.3 points in September to 92.1, making the ninth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Thirty percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business. Click here to read the full report.

“Inflation and worker shortages continue to be the hardest challenges facing small business owners,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said. “Even with these challenges, owners are still seeking opportunities to grow their business in the current period.”

NFIB Arkansas Director Sylvester Smith said, “Inflation and labor issues are affecting small businesses across the country. Small business owners here are doing their best to fill positions and avoid passing cost increases onto their customers.”

Key findings include:

Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased two points from September to a net negative 44%.

Forty-six percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, down three points from August and remaining historically high.

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased two points to a net 51% (seasonally adjusted).

The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher increased nine points from August to a net negative 10%.

The NFIB Uncertainty Index decreased by two points to 72.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net of 23% of planning to create new jobs in the next three months. Of those owners trying to hire, 89% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

Fifty-six percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, up four points. Of those making expenditures, 40% reported spending on new equipment, 22% acquired vehicles, and 16% improved or expanded facilities. Nine percent spent money for new fixtures and furniture and 6% acquired new buildings or land for expansion. Twenty-four percent plan capital outlays in the next few months, down one point.

A net negative 5% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, up three points from August. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes improved by nine points to a net negative 10%.

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases improved four points to a net negative 2%, Sixteen percent of owners reported increases in stocks and 17% reported reductions as solid sales reduced inventories at many firms.

Thirty-two percent of owners reported that supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on their business. Thirty-four percent report a moderate impact and 22% report a mild impact. Only 10% of owners report no impact from recent supply chain disruptions.

A net 1% of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in September, down two points from August. A net 0% of owners plan inventory investments in the coming months down four points from August.

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased two points from August to a net 51% (seasonally adjusted). Unadjusted, 9% of owners reported lower average selling prices and 59% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in retail (73% higher, 11% lower), construction (69% higher, 3% lower), transportation (68% higher, 5% lower), and wholesale (64% higher, 0% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 31% of owners plan price hikes.

A net 45% of owners reported raising compensation, down one point from August. A net 23% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down three points from August but historically still very high. Ten percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 22% said that labor quality was their top business problem.

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends was a net negative 31%, up two points from August. Among owners reporting lower profits, 42% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 21% blamed weaker sales, 12% cited labor costs, 8% cited lower prices, 6% cited the usual seasonal change, and 3% cited higher taxes or regulatory costs. For owners reporting higher profits, 44% credited sales volumes, 24% cited usual seasonal change, and 18% cited higher prices.

Two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-six percent reported all credit needs met and 62% said they were not interested in a loan. A net 5% reported their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts.

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the 4th quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are randomly drawn from NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. This survey was conducted in September 2022.

About NFIB
For almost 80 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit NFIB.com.

 

PHOTOGRAPHER LISA BURTON TARVER TO HOST CORKS AND CANVAS CLASS
Has the Shutterfly bug bitten you? Have you always wanted to take creative photos? The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to join local photographer Lisa Burton Tarver for a Corks and Canvas class on "Autumn Abundance in Photos" on October 20 at 6pm.

Tarver will teach the fundamentals of taking good photos of fall still life with your cell phone. The class will also show you how to simply print and matte your photos that you will take home with you that evening. She will provide everything needed, as well as instruction for taking the photos and the Canon printer to use in the workshop. Tarver, along with artist Jane Feinberg, will have a collection of pumpkins, flowers, gourds, and other autumn prop to compose your still life for the photographs, or you can bring your own.

"Bring your iPhone or Android to take the pictures. They have powerful cameras!” Lisa Burton Tarver has been taking photographs for 35 years and loves seeing things through the camera's lens. She is an active member of the Arkansas Arts Council Artist in Education roster and teaches photography in Arkansas schools. "I love inspiring creativity in my students and watching it come to life," said Tarver.

Join Tarver in making some iPhone magic to create a selection of floral art prints. Come create your own work of art!!

Cost for the mini workshop is $40 and includes snacks. Bring your favorite beverage and your iPhone or Android device. Class is limited to 10. Call 870-862-5474 for more information. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

October 10, 2022

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR JULIAN LOTT REGARDING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM
This is copied directly from the Mayor’s Facebook page. He posted it as a release, however, he did not send it to this radio station as a press release. The heading was “For Immediate Release”.

Camden, AR, October 7, 2022
On September 29, 2022, a former employee of the City of Camden who was fired, with cause, filed a civil lawsuit against me. The allegations contained therein are completely false. Although I want to vehemently deny these allegations with facts, I am limited in what I can say while the litigation is pending. I look forward to my day in court to fight these baseless allegations and prevail. I hope that day comes sooner, rather than later. The accuser has 120 days to serve me with the lawsuit. As of the publication of this press release, she has not served me. I am asking her to serve me immediately, so I can begin defending this matter in court and not in the court of public opinion. As the accuser stated in the summons, she has my address. Camden City Hall is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

I would be remiss, if I did not draw your attention to the timing of the filing of this lawsuit. The accuser waited to file this lawsuit until the 40th day leading up to Election Day. She worked for the city for over 2 years after the alleged sexual harassment began. Only after she was terminated did she begin to circulate the false accusations of sexual harassment.

40 in biblical numerics represents testing. This is by far the biggest test to endure as I continue on the campaign trail. To be accused of sexual harassment, but unable to publicly defend myself grieves me. This test attacks my character, commitment to God as a bishop, and integrity. The accuser is a mother, daughter, sister, and granddaughter. I have all of these. Beyond carrying myself to the highest standards in the workplace, I respect women to the utmost and would never do the horrible actions I am accused of. To my family, friends, neighbors, and residents of this great city of Camden, I ask you to delay judging me as guilty. Give me the opportunity to defend myself, so you can hear both sides.

Taken as a whole, this is political theatre and character assassination. An effort to side track a great campaign with enthusiasm from the community. I will not be deterred by the establishment behind this effort to undermine my campaign for re-election and stop the progressive work my administration has accomplished over the past 4 years. This effort proves even more why I need your support and donations to reach everyone with this message.

We've come too far to let them turn us around now. On October 24, I am asking for your support, prayers, and early vote as we continue to march towards a #bettercamden.


CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, October 11,  2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

A. CALL TO ORDER
B. INVOCATION – Rev. Isaac Staten, Pastor – Total Freedom Ministry, 885 Lincoln Drive, Camden, AR
C. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCED
D. ROLL CALL
E. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
     1. Minutes of Regular Meeting, September 13, 2022
     2.   Minutes of Special Called Meeting September 27, 2022
F.  ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
     1.  Financial Report for September 2022
G. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
H. MAYOR’S REPORT     
I. OLD BUSINESS
     1. Ordinance No. 12-22, an ordinance establishing procedures for changing the name of a street; and for other  purposes. (Second Reading)
J. NEW BUSINESS
       1. Ordinance No. 13-22, an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the year 2023; declaring an emergency;  and for other purposes.     
K.  OTHER BUSINESS           
L.  ADJOURNMENT

 

PLANTING A SEED FOUNDATION TO PARTICIPATE IN AT-RISK FEEDING PROGRAM
OPERATION KIDS has announced it is participating in the At-Risk Feeding Program.  Meals will be provided without CHARGE to all children 18 years and under at the following sites. A supper and snack will be provided at:
Old Boys & Girls Club In Carnes Park
949 South Adams
Camden AR, 71701
Monday Thru Thursday

 

ALL HALLOWS EVE CEMETERY WALK OCTOBER 21 & 22 IN CAMDEN, AR.
Camden AR – The 2022 All Hallows Eve Cemetery Walk will take place on Friday and Saturday October 21st & 22nd at the Historic Oakland Cemetery located on Maul Rd (across from Zion Hill Baptist Church) in Camden.

Tours will take place continuously during the night from 6:30PM to 8:30PM in the historic Oakland Cemetery which was established in 1833. Costumed re-enactors portray the characters of people buried in the cemetery during the 1800’s.  Oakland was one of the first cemeteries in Camden, and it contains the graves of many members of pioneer families in this area.  Many of the early monuments erected there were imported, and they are unique and irreplaceable. 

Admission for the walk is $10.00 Adults, $3.00 for Students, and FREE for children 4 and under. The ticket table will be located on the Zion Hill Baptist Church parking lot.

 

SHADE TREES ON PLAYGROUNDS PROGRAM ACCEPTING SCHOOL APPLICATIONS THROUGH OCTOBER 14
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division has extended the application deadline for the 20-year anniversary of the Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program through October 14, 2022. Arkansas Schools needing additional shade on playground can find the STOP program application and guidelines at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry/stop-program/.

Selected schools receive up to five native shade trees, mulch, watering supplies and planting guidelines, through grant funding provided by the U.S Forest Service. Officials with the Forestry Division will help plant the trees during a ceremony with students this fall.

Urban forestry staff began the STOP program 20 years ago to help lower adult skin cancer risk by reducing childhood exposure to direct sunlight on school playgrounds. Since then, approximately 150 Arkansas schools have received trees. The STOP program also provides teachers with curriculum resources about the environmental benefits of trees, how shade reduces skin cancer risks, and tips for keeping trees healthy.

“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” said Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator, Kristine Kimbro. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students, but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of community trees and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”

Trees native to Arkansas are chosen by Forestry Division staff to fit the unique region and conditions of each playground. Sycamores, oaks, tulip poplars, and black gum trees are common species for the program. To participate in the STOP program, a school must meet the following criteria:

Lack shade on a school playground

Participate in a virtual STOP workshop on October 27, 2022

Use provided curriculum resource materials to emphasize the importance of trees during the week(s) leading up to the tree-planting event

Involve students in tree-related projects that culminate with a school-wide tree-planting ceremony

Hold a tree-planting ceremony prior to December 16, 2022 (can be held with limited attendance and livestreamed or recorded for later playback to larger audience)

Be willing to maintain the trees after planting 

Applicants may be any public or private Arkansas school serving grades pre-K through 12, or a non-traditional educational facility such as a juvenile detention center, residential childcare institution, or long-term care facility that has a playground in need of more shaded areas.

Learn more about Urban & Community Forestry services and programs at www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry. With program questions, contact Kristine Kimbro at 479-228-7929 or kristine.kimbro@agriculture.arkansas.gov, or Harold Fisher at 501-580-4054 or harold.fisher@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

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 agriculture.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.

 

PHOTOGRAPHER LISA BURTON TARVER TO HOST CORKS AND CANVAS CLASS

Has the Shutterfly bug bitten you? Have you always wanted to take creative photos? The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to join local photographer Lisa Burton Tarver for a Corks and Canvas class on "Autumn Abundance in Photos" on October 20 at 6pm.

Tarver will teach the fundamentals of taking good photos of fall still life with your cell phone. The class will also show you how to simply print and matte your photos that you will take home with you that evening. She will provide everything needed, as well as instruction for taking the photos and the Canon printer to use in the workshop. Tarver, along with artist Jane Feinberg, will have a collection of pumpkins, flowers, gourds, and other autumn prop to compose your still life for the photographs, or you can bring your own.

"Bring your iPhone or Android to take the pictures. They have powerful cameras!” Lisa Burton Tarver has been taking photographs for 35 years and loves seeing things through the camera's lens. She is an active member of the Arkansas Arts Council Artist in Education roster and teaches photography in Arkansas schools. "I love inspiring creativity in my students and watching it come to life," said Tarver.

Join Tarver in making some iPhone magic to create a selection of floral art prints. Come create your own work of art!!

Cost for the mini workshop is $40 and includes snacks. Bring your favorite beverage and your iPhone or Android device. Class is limited to 10. Call 870-862-5474 for more information. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Register Online https://saac-arts.org/corks-and-canvas-oct-2022/ 

CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED TO OVER SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
HOT SPRINGS – A California man was sentenced today to 87 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, on or about March 16, 2021, Troopers with the Arkansas State Police (ASP) initiated a traffic stop on a passenger vehicle operated by Uriel Ramirez-Manzanares, age 40. After determining that Manzanares did not have a valid driver’s license, a vehicle inventory was conducted prior to the vehicle being towed.   The inventory resulted in Troopers locating and seizing a black bag that contained suspected narcotics and a blue bag that contained approximately $11,084.00 of United States currency. The ASP Troopers subsequently requested the assistance of agents from the 18th East Drug Task Force. During an interview with Manzanares, he admitted that he knew the vehicle contained narcotics and that he was aware of the presence of the United States Currency. Further, Manzanares stated that he was in-route to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to deliver the narcotics and money to an area drug dealer. Further, Manzanares also advised that he had delivered drugs to the Hot Springs area on at least two (2) previous occasions.

One package of suspected narcotics was determined to be 420.94 grams of pure methamphetamine by the Drug Enforcement Administration Laboratory.  The other packages of narcotics were submitted to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and determined to be approximately 214 grams of Fentanyl.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The Arkansas State Police, the 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office investigated the case investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case.

October 07, 2022

CLEAN-UP CAMDEN DAY PLANNED
Saturday, October 22 From 8:00 Am T0 12:00 Noon.
Please come out and help us clean up the trash along the main roads within the city of Camden.  The roads in this city activity will include Adams Ave., Cash Rd., Branyon Hunnicutt  Bypass, California Ave. SW, Dooley Womack Dr., Fairview Rd., Maul Rd., Mt Holly Rd. SW and Washington St.

Trash bags, safety vests and gloves will be available and will be distributed beginning at 7:00 AM the morning of the clean-up at Thrive Church located at 746 California Ave. SW along with individual street clean-up assignments and instructions.

If you are interested in helping with this city activity please email your name, number of participants and contact information to edwardwinters54@gmail.com
 

SMACKOVER MAN MURDERED-SUSPECT IN CUSTODY
A Smackover man is facing multiple felony charges following the shooting death of William D. Moore, 34

According to information provided by the sheriff's office, deputies responded shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Oct. 5, to a report of an accidental shooting in the 3000 block of Lisbon Road. James W. Greer gave his statement but evidence was found that was inconsistent with his accidental shooting statement. It was discovered that Moore had gone to Greer’s residence to confront Greer regarding stolen property

Greer, 39, has been charged with first-degree murder, felony theft and possession of a firearm by certain persons for his alleged role in Moore's death, according to the Union County sheriff's office.


STATE ASSOCIATION OF MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCHES OF ARKANSAS 121ST  ANNUAL MEETING
November 3-4, 2022
Sharon Missionary Baptist Church
402 Shenandoah Drive
Benton, AR 72015

Sharon Missionary Baptist Church in Benton will serve as host church for this year’s annual meeting. Along with area churches, they have been praying for and planning for a meeting that will encourage and inspire the messengers and visitors who attend. The host church invites all messengers and guests to attend special services Wednesday, November 2.  This special service will be held at Sharon Missionary Baptist Church, 402 Shenandoah Drive, Benton, Arkansas.

The host church, along with Pastor Michael Reese, invite messengers and visitors to come early and enjoy a time of fellowship and worship. The public is also invited, as there will be times of inspirational worship. Mark your calendars now for this great meeting.

You may visit our website for more information at www.armissionarybaptist.com

Please contact:
Jerry Grimes (publicity director) at jgrimes@armissionarybaptist.com or
Cederic Etheridge (assistant publicity director) at cederic.etheridge@gmail.com
if you have any questions about the meeting.


HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE BUSINESSMAN TO PAY $3.8 MILLION IN RESTITUTION AND SERVE TWO AND A HALF YEARS IN PRISON FOR NOT PAYING EMPLOYMENT TAXES AND FAILURE TO FILE A TAX RETURN
HOT SPRINGS —A Hot Springs Village business owner was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for willfully failing to pay over employment taxes and failing to file a tax return.  He also was ordered to pay a combined total of $1,942,736.51 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Services, in addition to the $1,928,380.90 in back taxes he had already paid to the IRS.  Chief U.S. District Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing, in which she denied the request of Donald Lee Owen, 62, to be placed on probation for the two federal offenses to which he had entered guilty pleas in August 2021.

 

According to court documents, Owen owned and operated National Golf Classics, Inc. also known as All American Classics, located in Hot Springs Village. The company produced sports memorabilia for use in charity auctions and conducted charity auctions. From 2010 through 2018, Owen’s company paid wages to employees and withheld employment taxes from those wages. These taxes included federal income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare, also known as the "trust fund" taxes. Owen hired an accounting firm to calculate the taxes due and to prepare the IRS Forms 941, Employers Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for reporting those taxes to the IRS. However, Owen did not actually file those forms with the IRS, as he was required to do, nor did he pay over the employment taxes due to the IRS.

From 2010 through 2018, Owen willfully failed to file Forms 941 with the IRS, and to pay the at least $818,158 in employment taxes to the IRS, despite having ample funds to do so.

Court documents also reveal that during the period when the employment taxes were due to be paid to the IRS, Owen chose to pay millions of dollars to his company’s creditors, $800 per month for a tract of real estate having nothing to do with the company and transferred $1,000 per month to a family member to pay his share on a cabin they were buying on the Buffalo River.

In addition, Owen failed to pay $430,000 of the employer portions of the employment taxes and Federal Unemployment Tax Act taxes. Owen also failed to pay $169,883 to the state of Arkansas that were withheld from his employees' wages. This negatively impacted multiple employees who did not receive credit with the Social Security Administration for wages earned and taxes withheld. At the same time, Owen used the additional funds to support a lavish lifestyle, including purchasing and improving a luxury home in Hot Springs Village, buying 32.6 acres in Newton County, a cabin on the Buffalo River, a 2017 GMC Yukon SUV for which he paid $64,206, and a 2016 39-foot Tiffin Allegro recreational vehicle with a list price of $188,099.

When audited by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration on two occasions—on September 19, 2013 and on July 19, 2018—Owen falsely told the auditors he did not have regular employees, but instead used family and friends to help him during busy season. However, when approached by employees who had not received credit with the Social Security Administration for wages earned and employment taxes withheld, Owen admitted he had not reported or paid over the employment taxes to the IRS.

Owen’s second charge related to his willful failure to file a personal federal income tax return for the year 2018. Owen acknowledged he knew he was required to file a tax return and that he willfully failed to do so. Additionally, Owen failed to file and pay $301,544 of his federal and $69,405 of his Arkansas state personal income taxes for the years 2008 through 2018. Finally, Owen also failed to file and his company’s federal corporate income taxes for the years 2014 through 2018.

In pleading guilty last year, Owen agreed to pay all of his back taxes to the IRS and state of Arkansas, along with all penalties and interest due.  As of the date of his sentencing, Owen had paid $1,928,380.90 to the IRS, leaving another $1,627,419.69 due and owing to the IRS, and $315,316.82 due to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration—both of which he was ordered to pay.  Owen’s total restitution obligation amounts to $3,871,117.41.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich prosecuted the case for the United States.
 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES CALL FOR ANSWERS ON POSSIBLE DOUBLE-DIPPING STUDENT LOAN “REFUNDS” FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Sens. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Steve Daines (R-South Dakota), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), today sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. The letter seeks answers about federal employees potentially receiving refunds for student loan payments that the federal government made on their behalf.

In part, the members wrote:

“Your current guidance raises the troubling possibility that over 12,000 federal employees who benefit from these taxpayers funded repayment programs could receive direct checks to ‘reimburse’ them for loan repayments already made by taxpayers. Your Department explicitly tells borrowers that payments can only be ‘refunded to you, even if someone else made a payment on your loan.’ This could allow federal employees to receive thousands of dollars in refunds for student loans payments that they never actually made themselves.” 

Full text of the letter may be found below. 

October 6, 2022

The Honorable Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education
of Education Building
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202 

Dear Secretary Cardona,

Your agency recently released a guidance document stating that federal student loan borrowers who made
repayments since March 13, 2020 will receive an automatic refund for their payments because both the requirement to make payments and the accrual of interest were paused since this time period. As you know, the federal government already offers generous repayment programs to its employees, which continued during the pandemic. Reports suggest roughly 2,000 Capitol Hill staffers and 10,400 executive branch employees benefit from these generous repayment plans.

 Your current guidance raises the troubling possibility that over 12,000 federal employees who benefit from these taxpayers funded repayment programs could receive direct checks to “reimburse” them for loan repayments already made by taxpayers. Your Department explicitly tells borrowers that payments can only be “refunded to you, even if someone else made a payment on your loan.” This could allow federal employees to receive thousands of dollars in refunds for student loans payments that they never actually made themselves. Please respond to the following questions no later than October 14, 2022:                     

Do you plan to give a “refund” to any federal employees who had repayments made on their behalf by the federal government since March 13th, 2020?

If a federal employee with a $20,000 federal student loan balance in March of 2020 stopped making payments at that time but continued to receive taxpayer benefits that paid their balance down to zero over the course of the pause on repayment, could that borrower apply to have $20,000 “refunded” to them?

October 06, 2022

ARKANSAS HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE FUND - TWO NEW OPTIONS
Little Rock, October 6, 2022 - The Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) now includes two new options to assist homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage payments due to COVID-19-related hardships.

Monthly Payment Assistance (follows Arkansas HAF Mortgage Reinstatement) assists homeowners with stabilizing their household finances to fully recover from the financial difficulties caused by COVID-19 and is dependent on eligibility.

Mortgage Default Resolution assists homeowners who experienced a permanent reduction in income by providing assistance to lower their principal balance to achieve an affordable payment.

“Through this program we have helped thousands of Arkansans who continue to struggle financially from the effects of COVID-19,” said Mark Conine, president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. “These two additional programs will allow us to help even more people avoid foreclosure and get back on solid financial ground.”

Homeowners who have received assistance from Arkansas HAF are not eligible for the new programs.

Since the Arkansas HAF Program was approved by the U.S. Treasury in January 2022, more than 1,508 Arkansas households have received help paying their mortgages that were past due because of COVID-19. So far, administrators of the program have disbursed more than $14 million to people in need.

Residents who qualify can still apply for funds. To be considered eligible for assistance, homeowners must have a total annual household income at or below 150 percent of the Area Median Income or 100 percent of the United States Median Income, whichever is greater.

The property must be located within the state of Arkansas and be occupied by the homeowner as their primary residence. Grants from Arkansas HAF are meant to prevent delinquent mortgages, defaults, foreclosures and loss of utilities.

Program participants must show they experienced financial hardship after January 21, 2020, as well as be past due on two or more consecutive mortgage or utility payments.

Hardships include job loss, income reduction or increased costs due to healthcare or the need to care for a family member. For more information and to apply, go to ArkansasHAF.com.
 

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 12 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
HOT SPRINGS – A Hot Springs man was sentenced yesterday to 151 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, in July of 2020, detectives with the 18th East Judicial Drug Task Force received information that Richard Allen Stapleton (aka Ricky), age 46, was trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine in Garland County.  Later that month, detectives were able to conduct multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Stapleton.

The methamphetamine was tested by the Drug Enforcement Administration laboratory and confirmed to be pure methamphetamine.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office investigated the case investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case.

October 05, 2022

DISTRICT COURT CANCELLED FRIDAY – ALL CASES CONTINUED
The Ouachita County District Court will be closed and Court is cancelled Friday October 07, 2022 so that Court employees may attend the memorial service for our beloved County Clerk, Mr. Britt Williford.All cases have been continued until November 04, 2022.

 

2022 RURAL FIRE SHOW CELEBRATES ARKANSAS FIREFIGHTERS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division hosted the 2022 Rural Fire Show this past weekend, with over 650 in attendance representing 135 fire departments. Photos from the event are available at flic.kr/s/aHBqjA9HC9.

The Rural Fire Show is a free event held in appreciation for Arkansas firefighters and their families to honor the service and protection they provide throughout the state. The event included training opportunities, equipment demonstrations, resources and information, networking opportunities, and a catered lunch, sponsored by the Arkansas Rural and Volunteer Firefighters Association.

Throughout the show 77 door prizes were given away. The grand door prize, an auto extrication combination tool valued at over $10,000, was won by Center Grove Fire Department in Grant County.

“The Forestry Division enjoys hosting the firefighters and their families annually just to say thank you,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “We have more than 850 rural fire departments that partner with us when we fight wildland fires, and we simply couldn’t do without them.”

“This year’s fire show was a huge success, thanks to our staff, our vendors, and our Arkansas firefighters,” said Kathryn Mahan-Hooten, Rural Fire Protection Administrator for the Forestry Division. “This is just one small way we can show Arkansas firefighters how thankful we are for the work they do.”

For more information about the Forestry Division’s Rural Fire Protection Program visit the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/rural-fire-protection-program/.

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 agriculture.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.
 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON AND ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCE STATE MEAT INSPECTION PROGRAM
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Today Governor Asa Hutchinson, state legislative members, agriculture industry leaders, and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture announced approval of the state meat inspection program, finalized in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The state meat inspection program will allow the Department to inspect meat products for shipment within Arkansas.

Arkansas joins 28 states participating in FSIS’s State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs. These programs allow state inspectors to ensure program enforcement and regulatory compliance in small establishments operating within the state. The MPI programs must develop, administer, and enforce requirements “at least equal to” those set forth in the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

“In 2020, the food supply chain was disrupted, and Arkansas’s meat production was severely limited. The creation of the Arkansas Meat and Poultry Processing grant and the State Meat Inspection Program will provide a much-needed boost to our processing capacity,” Governor Hutchinson said.

“The overwhelmingly approved bipartisan program is a great opportunity for not only producers, but also consumers. It’s a great day to be a beef farmer in the state of Arkansas,” said Representative Deann Vaught.

October 04, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY COURTHOUSE TO BE CLOSED FRIDAY
The Ouachita County Courthouse will be closed on Friday Oct 7, 2022 in honor of Ouachita County Clerk Charles Britt Williford. His memorial will be held at Proctor Funeral Home at 10:00 a.m.

 

NEW LOCKHEED MARTIN FACILITY TO SUPPORT INCREASED PAC-3 PRODUCTION
CAMDEN, Ark., Oct. 4, 2022 – Today Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) marked the opening of a new All-Up Round III (AUR III) facility at Camden Operations in Arkansas. The 85,000-square-foot expansion supports increased production capacity for the PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE), the world’s most advanced air defense missile.

“Lockheed Martin’s Camden Operations is a world-class facility with an exceptional team dedicated to supporting mission success for our customers. We are honored to build on this legacy through the expansion and remain committed to delivering innovative products and solutions for our country and our allied nations,” said Scott Greene, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

A ribbon cutting ceremony, attended by Department of Defense officials and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, celebrated the second expansion in Camden since a $142 million investment announcement in June 2019. The award-winning Camden facility contributes components and performs final assembly for several key Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Precision Fires products.

"Lockheed Martin is a critical member of the defense industry in Arkansas," Governor Hutchinson said. "Their dedication to Camden, our state and nation, and American allies makes Arkansas proud to be their partner. Congratulations to Lockheed Martin on their expansion, and I look forward to their continued success in the Natural State."

Lockheed Martin has steadily increased production numbers of PAC-3 MSE since achieving a full rate production decision in 2018, currently producing more than 300 PAC-3 MSEs each year and expecting to increase to 500 PAC-3 MSEs.

An evolution of the battle-proven PAC-3 CRI, the PAC-3 MSE boasts a dual-pulse solid rocket motor, providing increased performance in altitude and range to defend against incoming threats, including tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.

For additional information, visit www.lockheedmartin.com.

About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin Corporation is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

Please follow @LMNews on Twitter for the latest announcements and news across the corporation.

 

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING                                                                                                                                                                            
HOT Distribution SPRINGS – A Hot Springs man was sentenced today to 84 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, in July of 2019, detectives with the 18th East Judicial Drug Task Force received information that Lee Kelly Cargile, age 36, was trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine in Garland County.  Later that month, detectives were able to conduct multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine from Cargile.

The methamphetamine was tested by the Drug Enforcement Administration laboratory and confirmed to be pure methamphetamine.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The 18th East Judicial District Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations Little Rock, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the 18th East Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office investigated the case investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Achorn and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA) Trent Daniels prosecuted the case.
 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS ANNOUNCES 250-MW SOLAR FACILITY NEAR OSCEOLA
Company’s largest solar project helps meet U. S. Steel’s sustainability goals
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Public Service Commission has approved the Entergy Arkansas Driver Solar Project, a new 250-megawatt AC (or 312 MW DC) renewable energy facility developed by Lightsource bp, which will be located on approximately 2,100 acres near Osceola in Mississippi County. Driver Solar will be the utility’s largest solar facility, capable of generating enough energy to power more than 40,000 home.

“Driver Solar adds highly economic, renewable generation to our portfolio, further diversifying our energy mix in a way that meets our customers’ evolving expectations,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “It is a key contribution toward business expansion in Northeast Arkansas, and we are excited to be a part of it.”

She said, “We are listening to our customers as we develop and execute our generation strategy for the future. We are privileged to be able to work closely with U. S. Steel Corporation to develop sustainable solutions to help them meet their objective of producing steel using renewable electricity while simultaneously lowering rates over the long term for all 728,000-plus Entergy Arkansas customers.”

The Driver Solar site is located along Arkansas Highway 61 near Carson Lake Road and Arkansas Highway 198, just south of Osceola, and will be situated adjacent to both the U. S. Steel’s Big River Steel facility and the recently announced $3 billion expansion. Lightsource bp has completed development and permitting of the solar field and will build the facility under a build-transfer agreement with Entergy Arkansas. Driver Solar has an expected completion date in late 2024.

U. S. Steel Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer Richard Fruehauf said, “This project with Entergy Arkansas and Lightsource bp illustrates the importance of partnerships. Driver Solar not only helps us meet our robust sustainability goals, but it will also help us deliver sustainable steel solutions for our customers. The renewable energy generated will power the production of verdeXTM, our advanced sustainable steel product, which is composed of up to 90% recycled steel content, as well as other products produced at our Big River Works facility.”

Together with their joint venture partner be, Lightsource bp has been delivering competitively priced, safe and dependable, clean energy for businesses and communities in the United States and around the world since 2010. Lighsource bp was recently named world's largest solar developer by Mercom Capital Partners. 

In November 2021, Lightsource bp and bp announced a landmark procurement deal with U.S.-based First Solar Inc. for 5.4 gigawatts of First Solar modules. First Solar produces American-made solar modules at its fully vertically integrated manufacturing complex in Ohio. All 250 megawatts of the Driver Solar project will be generated using advanced, ultra-low carbon thin-film modules manufactured by First Solar. In addition to modules supplied by Tempe-based First Solar, the facility will be built with solar trackers manufactured by Albuquerque-based Array Technologies.

“The Driver Solar project is another demonstration of how solar can power our country’s industry with cost-competitive, clean, dependable electricity,” said Kevin Smith, Lightsource bp’s CEO of the Americas. “Arkansas’ largest solar project will help build American-made sustainable steel, as well as create hundreds of U.S. jobs for construction and across the supply chain.”

Landreaux said, “With their solar industry leadership and commitment to supporting domestic manufacturing, we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work with Lightsource bp.”

Driver Solar is expected to provide between 350 and 400 jobs during the construction phase, utilizing the local workforce and subcontractors.

Upon completion, Entergy Arkansas plans to employ outside services for site maintenance, such as land management and vegetation control, operations, office rent, team payroll and other items likely to have a local impact. Local businesses such as restaurants and stores may also benefit indirectly from the infusion of construction workers and activity during this time, company officials said.

In addition, the Arkansas property taxes associated with Entergy ' ownership of the project are conservatively estimated to be an approximate average of $1.2 million for Mississippi County annually over the life of the project, or roughly $36 million in 30 years. 

Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said, “Driver Solar enables U. S. Steel to grow its business in Arkansas, meet their sustainability goals, and further demonstrates how the State of Arkansas and Entergy Arkansas support companies that provide high-paying jobs grow in the state.”

Entergy Arkansas already operates one of the cleanest electric generation portfolios in the country. That generation is predominately emission-free due to significant amounts of nuclear, hydro, and solar generation in the portfolio. In addition to its solar-sourced power, Entergy Arkansas currently owns or operates two carbon-free nuclear generating units, which supply 60% of the company's generating needs. 

And its generation will be getting even cleaner over time. To meet customer demands and as described in the Integrated Resource Plan, Entergy Arkansas anticipates replacing a portion of our older natural-gas fired resources in coming years and all our coal-fired resources by 2030 with mainly renewable resources that will deliver needed emission-free electric generation to meet the load and energy requirements of our customers.

The Driver Solar project is another milestone in the modernization of the Entergy Arkansas power generation portfolio, helping meet customers’ needs for cleaner, more efficient, and diverse energy solutions. Beyond providing the benefits of emissions-free generation, the project will promote biological diversity and sustainability by hosting two Monarch butterfly habitat areas to exceed 70 acres.

Entergy Arkansas is adding other renewable generation facilities to serve its customers and communities with more clean energy in the coming years. Earlier this year, the company issued a request for proposals for 1,000 MW of wind and solar resources. In June 2022, Entergy Corporation discussed plans for up to 7 gigawatts of renewable resources by the end of 2025, and as much as 14 to 17 gigawatts of renewable resources by the end of 2031. Learn more about our renewable energy generation growth at entergy.com/renewable energy.
 

WESTERMAN INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION DESIGNATING OCTOBER AS NATIONAL DYSLEXIA AWARENESS MONTH
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressional Dyslexia Caucus Co- Chair Bruce Westerman (AR-4) introduced a bipartisan resolution with Reps. Steven Palazzo (MS-04), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Larry Bucshon (IN-08), Susan DelBene (WA-01), and Buddy Carter (GA-01) to designate October 2022 as National Dyslexia Awareness Month. The members released the following statements:

"As the husband of a  teacher of students with disabilities, I understand the importance of bringing awareness to dyslexia as a prevalent and treatable learning disability," said Westerman. "One in five Americans struggle with the learning disability, and all too often, those with dyslexia are written off as having a low IQ or being lazy. This could not be farther from the truth. By bringing awareness to this disability, children can be diagnosed earlier and given the proper accommodation to develop the critical reading skills necessary for a successful future."

“As a father of a child with dyslexia, I know just how imperative it is to detect and treat dyslexia as early as possible to provide children and families with the tools they need to succeed in school and throughout life. I am proud to cosponsor this resolution to designate October as National Dyslexia Awareness month to raise awareness for this learning disability,” said Dr. Bucshon.

“I am proud to join my colleagues today in introducing this resolution to dedicate October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month,” said Fitzpatrick. “My home of Pennsylvania has been a pioneer in addressing the literacy crisis and providing our communities with the necessary tools to detect and support early reading deficiencies and dyslexia. As we continue to raise awareness on this issue, I also look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan manner to find solutions that will ensure the next generation and beyond receive the resources they need to reach their full potential.”

Background
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, affecting 1-in-5 Americans, according to research from the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

While many parents and educators have recognized October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month for years, it is important for Congress to formally designate the month each year. This resolution represents the dedication of members of both parties in Congress to recognize and address the significant educational implications of dyslexia that affect one in five people in America.

 

WESTERMAN JOINS BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO SUPPORT RURAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES
WASHINGTON - Congressman  Bruce Westerman (AR-04) joined  fellow House member Andy Kim (NJ-03), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Al Lawson (FL-05), Marc Veasey (TX-33), and Mike Carey (OH-15) in introducing the bipartisan Supporting Our First Responders Act to assist rural emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in hiring and retaining qualified personnel, providing training reimbursements, financing facility upgrades, and more.

“Rural Emergency Medical Services providers are critical in countless communities across the country where local hospitals are not easily accessible to those in need of immediate help,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4). “Rural health care has been neglected for too long. It is essential to ensure that EMS providers are equipped to deliver timely, high-quality care to every area in the United States. I am proud to cosponsor this competitive grant program to ensure those with the most need are provided the means to better serve those in crisis.”

“EMS responders are there when we need them, often first on the scene, and willing to put their lives and their families’ well-being on the line to help keep our neighbors and loved ones safe during an emergency,” said Rep. Kim (NJ-03). “Despite the glamor portrayed on TV, the day-to-day reality of responding to calls without the equipment and staff they need is a reality rarely seen by people in our community. With our bill, we’re taking steps to support our first responders by making sure they have the resources, staffing, training, equipment, and most importantly the mental and physical healthcare support they need. I’m proud to introduce this bill in a bipartisan way and hope my colleagues in both parties can agree that we need to strengthen our support for the brave EMS workers on the front lines every single day.”

 “In rural Oklahoma, our EMS providers are often the difference between life and death, and ours are in a crisis,” said Rep. Mullin (OK-02). “Oklahomans cannot simply live without these safety net providers. And with no current federal funding stream for EMS, despite these heroes working day-in on the frontlines, our communities are abandoned. I am proud to support this bill to ensure those in Oklahoma continue to have access to high-quality health care."


"Rural EMS teams go above and beyond to ensure that folks can get emergency care no matter where they live, and too often, they don't have the resources necessary to do their jobs," said Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03). "The Supporting Our First Responders Act will invest in these heroes so they're able to continue serving our communities, and I'm grateful to join my colleagues in this effort."

“Ensuring our EMT’s have every resource necessary to serve all communities as safely and effectively as possible is a no-brainer and I’m happy to join my colleagues in bringing forth the Supporting Our First Responders Act,” said Rep. Carey (OH-15). “This legislation will provide our EMS agencies with the ability to improve the lives of EMT’s and the people they help every day.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), especially in rural areas, where access to health care services is minimal. These frontline workers risk their safety to provide a system of strong and coordinated emergency medical services,” said Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05). “The Supporting our First Responders Act is a bipartisan investment to ensure these organizations have access to adequate funding to hire and train the next generation of first responders and to purchase necessary supplies and equipment to provide health care services to all Americans.”

“Since the start of the pandemic, first responders like Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have been on the front lines fighting against the virus and saving lives. These essential front-line workers went above and beyond to ensure public safety. It is time we invest in them and bolster emergency medical services in America,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33). “The Supporting Our First Responders Act is a bipartisan piece of legislation that will provide federal support to first responders and help ensure they have access to the supplies and staff they need to better serve our communities.”  

Background
In 2021, EMS experienced a turnover rate of 20-30% for full and part-time EMTs and paramedics across the country, which means an organization is forced to replace most staff within four years. These staffing shortages, combined with skyrocketing costs to purchase equipment and fuel, are forcing EMS agencies to make difficult decisions including whether to reduce or even cease operations. As more agencies shut down, remaining agencies are required to cover larger areas, leaving families without immediate assistance in their greatest moment of need, when timing can mean life or death.

37 states do not classify EMS as an essential service. That means local governments are not required to provide these services at all. Unlike fire fighting and police, EMS units do not have wide access to federal and state funding.

The Supporting Our First Responders Act would:

Authorize $50 million per year for five years to establish a grant program under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which would allow public, private, and nonprofit EMS agencies that provide medical services to apply for grants to: 

Hire, recruit, and retain trained medical personnel

Support the well-being of EMS personnel

Provide reimbursement for required training

Modify existing facilities

Purchase new equipment, medication, and vehicles

Authorize $5 million in technical assistance to assist EMS agencies with navigating grant processes.

Require the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress a report detailing the challenges, disparities, and inadequacies in providing federal and private reimbursement for EMS and recommend action.

Require the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress a report detailing the challenges specific to rural EMS departments and to nonaffiliated EMS departments, then develop action plans to address those challenges through grants and other administrative action. 


The Supporting Our First Responders Act is endorsed by the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT) and the American Ambulance Association (AAA).

“Communities across the country are struggling to keep their ambulance services operating because of the crisis level workforce shortage,” said Bruce Evans, President of the National Association of EMTs (NAEMT). “Many services have had to close. We appreciate Congressman Kim and other Members of Congress working to address this crisis.”

“EMS organizations across the U.S. are struggling to hire paramedics and EMTs, and cover the increasing cost of equipment and supplies,” said Shawn Baird, President of the American Ambulance Association. “The Supporting Our First Responders Act by Congressmen Kim, Congressman Mullin, Congresswoman Axne, Congressman Veasey, Congressman Lawson, Congressman Westerman, and Congressman Carey recognizes the vital role that all ground ambulance service organizations play as medical first responders and would provide a critical down payment to grantees to help ensure their communities have access to vital EMS resources”

“Our country’s emergency medical services (EMS) system is facing a crisis that threatens the ability to provide crucial emergency healthcare services in many communities,” said Rob Meriweather, President of Bound Tree Medical. “Bound Tree Medical, a leading nationwide distributor of emergency medical products to EMS, supports the establishment of this federal grant program to give our nation’s EMS infrastructure the support it deserves to address this crisis.”
 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL PROVIDING FUNDING FOR CRITICAL MUNITIONS TO PROTECT AMERICA
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced a bill with Senators Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) to restore America’s diminished stockpiles of critical munitions. The legislation will authorize investments in necessary munitions production, ensuring America is prepared to fight a major war while also building a workforce that can produce the weapons we need.

Investing in our munitions industrial base and developing a skilled workforce would better prepare the Department of Defense to make sure our defense industry can protect American citizens in case of war. Bill text is here.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown that the United States’ stockpile of munitions is dangerously low. We must reinvest not only in the munitions critical for the defense of America, but also in a workforce that can build these weapons to ensure our military’s readiness,” said Sen. Cotton.

“For far too long, we've underinvested in munitions. This legislation would immediately reverse this trend and improve readiness by increasing our munitions production capacity. It also includes my language to provide Congress with better reporting on our industrial base so we can further refine future investments. It’s our responsibility to ensure our nation has the ability to produce the things we need to defend ourselves, project strength, and better support our allies and partners,” said Sen. Fischer.

Background:
Current U.S. munitions supplies are produced over decades, limiting how much the military would have immediate access to in the event of a crisis.

The current munitions and missile supply would evaporate before wartime surges of money and attention could fill the gap.

As the current Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown, America needs to direct adequate funding to munitions production and a skilled workforce to protect both ourselves and our allies.

The bill would:

Authorize $3.8 billion in appropriations to procure additional munitions and necessary materials for munitions.

Authorize $479 million in appropriations to expand the capacity of vital munitions and launcher production lines (JAGM, SM-6, LRASM, JASSM, SM-3, HIMARS cabs).

Authorize $244 million in appropriations to procure and expand production capacity for the Coyote counter-UAS (C-UAS) system.

Authorize the Secretary of Defense to enter multi-year procurement contracts of up to 5 years for munitions if those munitions are critical to warfighting and deterrence.

Requires a brief on DoD’s fulfillment of reporting requirements (under Section 222c, 10 U.S.C.) on the level of munitions needed for potential conflicts and planned inventories.

Requires a report by DoD on the industrial base constraints for munitions needed for potential conflicts and on past efforts and potential efforts to mitigate those constraints.

Authorize the Secretary of Defense to enter into Support or Procurement Partnership Agreements with Ukraine and allies and partners who have provided military aid to Ukraine.

October 03, 2022

ONE DEAD IN SHOOTING AT GOULD RESIDENCE, THREE OTHER WOUNDED
OCTOBER 3, 2022 
A Gould woman died yesterday (Sunday, October 2nd) during a domestic disturbance and shooting incident at her home where three others were wounded.  Local authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police to investigate the incident that occurred shortly after 8 AM at 103 Pope Street.

Willie Mae Sanders, 82, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Tasha Hensley, 38, who lived at the residence and Terrence Loudermilk, 48, who’s address is uncertain, were both wounded and transported to a Little Rock hospital.  Hensley was last reported to be in stable condition, while Loudermilk was in surgery late yesterday.

Tony R. Lewis, 55, also a resident at the scene of the shooting, was wounded and taken into custody by Gould police.  Lewis was treated and released by doctors at a Pine Bluff hospital and is now incarcerated at the Lincoln County Detention Center in Star City.  Lewis is charged with capital murder.

State police special agents have recovered numerous firearms from the residence and are continuing their investigation today.

Sanders’ body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the cause and manner of death will be determined.
 

LOCAL ARTIST KELLY CAMPBELL AND JULIA SLAUGHTER EXHIBIT OPENING AT SAAC 
The South Arkansas Arts Center welcomes local artists Kelly Campbell and Julia Slaughter and their exhibition "Stolen Moments" to the Lobby Gallery October 3-November 1. There will be an artist's reception on Thursday, October 6 from 5:30pm-7:00pm. 

Much of Campbell’s work has been inspired by travel. Lucky enough to have had a father who had a desire to “see the country,” Kelly lived a fairly well-traveled life. Born in Rankin, Texas, she also lived in Abbeville, Louisiana before her family moved to Norphlet, Arkansas when she was six. Slaughter, on the other hand, grew up in the northwest. There, she enjoyed year-round outdoor sports. From an early age, she loved art projects and drawing. In grade school she won an award for a watercolor painting of a mountain lion resting in a tree. The painting was stolen from the venue, and because of that soul-crushing incident, she vowed to paint only for the award of fun and pleasure. 

Campbell retired from education after 24 years of teaching at Union (before consolidation) and 2 years teaching at Strong/Huttig. Following that, she spent one year working as executive assistant at Robinson Real Estate and then spent 13 years at SAAC. Her work has been exhibited five times at SAAC - four times alone and once with her dear friend Julia Slaughter. Additionally, she has been accepted for the SAAC Juried Competition six times, most recently in 2022 when she received an honorable mention for her photograph “Po’boys for Lunch”. Her photos have also received second and third place awards in SAAC's "Viewfinder" competition. 

Slaughter followed her high school sweetheart Chuck to college where she enrolled as an art major and studied metalsmithing, pottery, and figure drawing. After graduation, realizing he'd probably never get the chance to meet, let alone "woo," either Stevie Nicks or Olivia Newton-John, Chuck and Julia married. Five children kept them busy for years, and when the parenting duties dwindled they decided to find a common activity. They picked up paintbrushes. Chuck started work on the exterior of the house, Julia on paper and canvas. Both considered themselves self-taught in this field. 

Both Campbell and Slaughter have recently experienced major, life-changing events which inspired the work in this exhibition. Campbell retired from SAAC in 2021, "Most of this work was completed in the six months immediately prior to and the six months immediately following my retirement in June, 2021. The excitement and uncertainty of this sea of change informed my choice of media and subject matter - both of which are a great departure from my previous work. Some of these pieces are connected to me by heartstrings - all are reflections of my state of mind." Slaughter lost her husband of forty-one years in 2021, "Children and grands called him Bear. Friends called him Chuck. To me, he was always Boyfriend. Relentless in his pride and encouragement of my art, he insisted I keep painting, especially during his brave four-year battle with cancer. So I did. Stolen moments found between infusions, transfusions, injections, cancer hotels and hospice apartments resulted in this group of paintings. For the love of Bear." 

For more information on the exhibition "Stolen Moments" at the South Arkansas Arts Center, 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. 

 

GALLAGHER, COTTON INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO IMPOSE CRIPPLING SANCTIONS ON YMTC
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) today introduced legislation that would impose crippling sanctions on Chinese memory chip manufacturer Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC). The bill would place YMTC on the Specially Designated Nationals List and would also direct the President to take similar actions against other advanced Chinese memory chip manufacturers of similar development. 

Recent reports suggest that Apple may choose YMTC as a memory chip supplier for the latest iPhone, which would expose iPhone users to a number of security risks, give legitimacy to YMTC despite its ties to the Chinese Communist Party, and expand US dependency on Chinese semiconductors. This legislation would wall off YMTC from the U.S. economy and prevent Apple from moving forward with selecting YMTC memory chips. 

"YMTC has well documented ties to the CCP, and their push to serve as Apple's flash memory provider is just the Party's latest attempt to increase our dependence on China and undermine our national security. In light of recent reports, is long past time for us to take decisive action against this threat," said Rep. Gallagher. "This bill will defend the security of our semiconductor supply chains and combat YMTC and other CCP-backed actors from using predatory pricing to crowd more secure options out of the critical flash memory market.

“The Chinese Communist Party wants to use YMTC to dominate the global microchip market so the world depends on them for this critical technology. The United States can’t take that risk for security reasons alone—much less the dangers of accompanying Chinese espionage, or YMTC’s human rights record, or their likely violation of U.S. sanctions. Our bill would sanction YMTC and all similar Chinese manufacturers tied to the Chinese state," said Sen. Cotton.

Specifically, this bill would: 

Direct the President to impose sanctions on YMTC to the full extent that International Emergency Economic Powers Act allows, thus adding them to the SDN list, and

Require the President to use sanctions on other advanced Chinese memory chip manufacturers. 


COTTON, COLLEAGUES WARN AMALGAMATED BANK FOR ABUSING FINANCIAL SYSTEM TO INFRINGE ON SECOND AMENDMENT
Washington, DC—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) led 24 colleagues in a letter to Amalgamated Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Priscilla Sims Brown criticizing the bank’s manipulation of an international rules organization to force U.S. financial services firms to categorize gun purchases—an attempt to target law-abiding Americans exercising their right to purchase firearms and to enact far-left political goals.

“Your bank is attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of Americans by going around the democratic process. You should expect Congressional oversight of your actions,” the Senators wrote.  

“It is clear from Amalgamated Bank’s website that it has fully embraced an anti-firearm agenda. Whether it is choosing to debank firearms manufacturers, forcing all commercial clients to adopt anti-gun control codes, or divesting customer assets from lawful businesses, these decisions demonstrate your attempt to force your political views on law-abiding Americans. If you want to change gun policy, you should run for office and make yourself accountable to voters. What’s worse, these actions weren’t enough for you, so you set your sights on forcing these radical and discriminatory policies on the entire financial system,” the Senators continued. 

“Let us be clear: weaponizing the financial system to enact far-left political goals is inexcusable… You should consider this notice to retain all communications involving your role in ISO’s categorization scheme, and you should anticipate testifying before Congress in the near future,” the Senators concluded. 

Additional signers include United States Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Thune (R-SD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Kennedy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

A copy of the letter can be found  below.

Dear Ms. Brown,

We write to you about your bank’s manipulation of an international rules organization to force U.S. financial services firms to categorize gun purchases. Your bank is attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of Americans by going around the democratic process. You should expect Congressional oversight of your actions.

As you are undoubtedly aware, earlier this month, the International Standards Organization (ISO) based in Switzerland created a merchant category code (MCC) specifically to target, surveil and discourage gun and ammunition sellers. Your actions were a major step toward targeting law-abiding Americans exercising their right to purchase firearms, a right that is protected by the Constitution.

It is clear from Amalgamated Bank’s website that it has fully embraced an anti-firearm agenda.  Whether it is choosing to debank firearms manufacturers, forcing all commercial clients to adopt anti-gun control codes, or divesting customer assets from lawful businesses, these decisions demonstrate your attempt to force your political views on law-abiding Americans. If you want to change gun policy, you should run for office and make yourself accountable to voters. What’s worse, these actions weren’t enough for you, so you set your sights on forcing these radical and discriminatory policies on the entire financial system. 

There was good reason that the ISO rejected your previous three applications for this policy, as such a move is purely political, not to mention the immense regulatory and compliance burden it will ultimately place on retailers.

Let us be clear: weaponizing the financial system to enact far-left political goals is inexcusable.  The fundamental rights of Americans should be legislated on and debated by the elected officials who are sent to Washington, D.C. on their constituents’ behalf, and not by progressive activist CEOs or un-elected bureaucrats in Geneva.

You should consider this notice to retain all communications involving your role in ISO’s categorization scheme, and you should anticipate testifying before Congress in the near future. 

Sincerely,