Yes Radio Works

May 25, 2022

CAMDEN KIWANIS CLUB TO MEET
The Camden Kiwanis Club will meet this Thursday, May 26th at Catherine's Bistro at 12:00 PM. The program will be presented by by Judge by Charlotte Young. She will be discussing all things Camden.

 

HONORS AWARDED TO TOP ARKANSAS TROOPERS & STAFF; MORRIS SELECTED 2021 STATE TROOPER OF THE YEAR
MAY 25, 2022
Trooper Spencer Morris, 34, of Crittenden County, was awarded the Arkansas State Police Trooper of the Year Award for 2021 today during the department’s annual honors and awards ceremony.

Assigned to the state police Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City, Spencer, with four years of service to the department, was recognized for his courageous efforts after being wounded by gunfire while attempting to apprehend a South Carolina fugitive wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Additionally, during today’s ceremony, Trooper Morris was awarded the Arkansas State Police Medal of Valor, making him eligible under department policies and procedures to be considered among candidates for Trooper of the Year candidate.  The Medal of Valor is earned for extraordinary acts of valor and gallantry.

On December 16, 2021, while working his assigned interstate patrol duties, Morris answered a radio call from the United States Marshals Service requesting assistance in stopping the South Carolina fugitive who had been observed traveling through West Memphis along Interstate 55 headed toward Memphis.  Trooper Morris was the closest law enforcement officer in the area who would have been able to intercept the vehicle.

About 2:30 PM, Trooper Morris observed the suspect’s vehicle and began to position his patrol car for the traffic stop.  As he closed in on the car, multiple gun shots from the suspect vehicle were directed at Trooper Morris with one round striking him in the upper chest.  Trooper Morris’ body armor slowed the round, causing a minor wound.

Despite the injury and the imminent deadly threat to himself and other motorists traveling into Memphis, Trooper Morris began to return gunfire directed at the fleeing suspect.

As the pursuit approached the I-55 McLemore interchange, the suspect vehicle slowed and came to a stop, the wounded trooper radioed his location and requested assistance.  Trooper Morris moved his patrol car to the roadside and at a safe distance exited his vehicle to take-up a defensive position.

Within minutes, local police officers joined Trooper Morris, along with paramedics who extracted the wounded trooper from the scene, moving him to a nearby hospital where doctors determined the wound was non-life threatening.

With traffic diverted from the interstate interchange, a SWAT team moved toward the suspect vehicle to find the wanted fugitive and another occupant still in the car and deceased.

Later, the same day, Morris was released from hospital care and taken to his home where family members surrounded the trooper; all thankful to be reunited.

 Earlier this year Trooper Morris was named National Trooper of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Provincial Division.  Last month, similar national recognition was awarded to Morris by the American Association of State Troopers.

Trooper Morris was among a field of four candidates considered for the Arkansas State Trooper of the Year honor.  The other nominees were:

Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, Special Agent Billy McCradic for his role in April 2021 assisting Stuttgart police officers locate a missing Stuttgart woman.  

Criminal Investigation Division, Company B, Special Agent Larry McMahen for his investigation of a July 2020 Bradley County homicide which concluded with the arrest of a Drew County man as a suspect one year to the day of the murder occurrence.  

Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, Trooper Zenda Staab for her selfless act of courage during the course of a September 2021 pursuit and apprehension of a suspected car thief. *(See additional information under Medal of Valor recipient). 

 Alisa Blackerby, 50, of Saline County, was awarded the Arkansas State Police Civilian Employee of the Year.  Blackerby is a 20 year veteran of the department and serves as the state’s driver license testing coordinator under the command of the department’s Highway Patrol Division.

 Blackerby is credited with envisioning and implementing improvements to streamline the driver license testing procedures, among them, the pre-scheduling of tests and an online video to assist parents in the pre-requisites necessary for teenagers to prepare for the testing process.

The Driver License Testing Section employs 39 testing examiners across the state.  It’s Blackerby’s responsibility to coordinate the examiners duties and training.  Annually, the state police administers approximately 140,000 written tests and 54,000 skills tests annually *(combined commercial and non-commercial testing).

Twenty-six other Arkansas State Troopers and civilian staff members were also recognized during the ceremony and were presented the following awards.

Medal of Valor
The Medal of Valor is the highest award presented to a commissioned or civilian employee of the Arkansas State Police.  The Medal of Valor is earned for extraordinary acts of valor and gallantry that clearly set the individual apart from other employees.  

Trooper Brady Nuckels, Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, was recognized for his brave actions on January 19, 2021 in Perry County when he responded to a local residence where a barricaded suspect had fired a rifle at approaching law enforcement officers.  Upon his arrival, Trooper Nuckels began to assess the situation, directing other arriving law enforcement officers to secure a perimeter and moving his patrol vehicle into a position providing additional cover for sheriff’s deputies who had already been fired-on by the suspect.  Approximately one hour after his arrival, Trooper Nuckels witnessed the suspect exit the front of the residence holding a rifle and ordered him to drop the gun.  As the suspect complied with Trooper Nuckels order, deputies left their cover and began to approach the house.  The suspect then picked-up the rifle and shouldered the gun, pointing it toward the approaching law enforcement officers.  Trooper Nuckels fired his rifle at the suspect and rushed toward the gunman, continuing to fire, incapacitating him and preventing harm to the approaching sheriff’s deputies.  

Trooper Spencer Morris *(see previous narrative, Trooper of the Year).  

Trooper Zenda Staab, Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, was recognized for her selfless act of courage on September 21, 2021 in the apprehension of a fleeing suspect who had stolen a vehicle in Georgia earlier the same day.  While on patrol assignment along Interstate 49 in Benton County, Trooper Staab initiated a traffic stop involving a speeder who she would later learn was the driver of the stolen car.  Initially the speeder slowed and stopped, but while Trooper Staab approached the vehicle on-foot, the suspect driver re-engaged the car, fleeing the traffic stop.  With Trooper Staab in pursuit, the chase continued through the Bentonville area, then turned north into oncoming traffic along U.S. Highway 71 near Bella Vista.  As the pursuit continued, the recklessness of the fleeing driver heightened.  Trooper Staab’s concern for the safety of other motorists led to her decision to pass the suspect vehicle then initiate a U-turn, positioning her patrol car in a direct path of the fleeing suspect.  With little regard for her own safety, Trooper Staab, struck the front of the suspect vehicle forcing it off the highway.  Still undeterred and attempting to flee, the driver abandoned the vehicle with Trooper Staab in foot pursuit, capturing the suspect moments later.   

Troopers Cross
The Trooper’s Cross is awarded to a person employed as a law enforcement officer for the Division of Arkansas State Police who demonstrates courage at a level not justifying the Medal of Valor but that sets the individual apart from other employees.

Trooper Tyler Langley, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A was awarded the Trooper’s Cross for his courageous effort to stop the driver of a speeding stolen car along Interstate 40 in Faulkner County.  The suspect driver refused to stop after Trooper Langley activated his patrol car’s emergency lights and siren.  Exiting the interstate highway and headed into Conway, the driver steered the westbound vehicle into the eastbound lane of traffic, endangering the lives of other motorists.  As the pursuit drew closer to a university campus, the driver of the car began firing a rifle at Trooper Langley.  With relentless bravery under continued gunfire, Trooper Langley returned fire from his moving patrol car and continued to pursue the vehicle which attempted an abrupt turn onto another street, the driver losing control and crashing in a residential yard.  The driver abandoned the car and fled on foot, still firing the rifle at Trooper Langley who had left his patrol car following the suspect.  A short distance later, Trooper Langley engaged the suspect in a struggle, apprehending him, without either being injured.  

Gold Shield
The Gold Shield is an award designed to honor Commissioned Officers who, under honorable conditions, suffers permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment of health, or extremely serious physical injury in the line of duty.

Sergeant Nicholas Brown, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, while in foot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, sustained life threatening injuries in Little Rock on the evening of January 16, 2021.  The suspect had abandoned a vehicle and attempted to scale a wrought-iron fence and became entangled.  While Sergeant Brown was taking custody of the suspect, the trooper climbed to the top of the fence, but quickly lost his footing and was impaled by a sharp decorative spike.  The wound penetrated his groin, causing a rapid and significant loss of blood.  He was later freed with the assistance of other troopers and local law enforcement officers who transported him to a hospital where he underwent surgery.  Days later, Sergeant Brown was released from medical care and was eventually cleared by physicians to return to his duties as an Arkansas State Trooper.

Lifesaving
The Lifesaving Award is presented to department employees who, through direct personal intervention, including the application of CPR, the Heimlich maneuver or any other lifesaving measures performed on a victim, prevents immediate death.

Troopers Brandon Love, Dakota Davis, Jeb Little and Korbyn Freeman, all assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A were each presented the department’s Lifesaving Award for their efforts in rendering emergency medical aid to Sergeant Nicholas Brown who sustained a life threatening wound while attempting to apprehend a fleeing suspect *(see previous narrative, Gold Shield Award).  

Trooper Zenda Stabb was presented a state police Life Saving Award for her actions during the early morning hours of Christmas Day (2021) when she was directed to an unconscious man lying on the ground behind a Rogers restaurant.  Unable to detect a pulse or breathing by the victim, Trooper Staab began chest compressions on the Missouri man, simultaneously directing a by-stander to the trooper’s state police patrol car where an automated external defibrillator (AED) was stored.  While continuing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Trooper Staab asked other bystanders to call an ambulance and remove the victim’s young child from the scene.   Upon the return of a woman with the AED, Trooper Staab set the device ready to deliver a charge to the victim.  Once paramedics arrived Trooper Staab assisted them and followed-up at a nearby hospital to learn her life saving measures had succeeded in ensuring the victim would recover.  

Troopers (Lt.) Philip Hydron, (Sgt.) Levi Flemming, Garrett Byrd, Heath Gurley and Tyler Nelson, all assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, were each awarded a state police Life Saving Award for their combined effort during the pre-dawn hours of March 15, 2021 in preventing a Missouri fugitive from harming himself and others.  The incident began with a pursuit by state troopers as the suspect drove his truck into on-coming traffic along Interstate 40.  Troopers were able to force the vehicle off the highway at which time the driver placed a knife to his throat.  The troopers were able to establish cell phone communication with the suspect and began conversations that might de-escalate the threat and lead to the man’s surrender to state police.  After more than an hour of negotiations, troopers fired less than lethal rounds of gas and projectiles into the truck as the suspect began to stab himself with the knife.  Following a brief struggle with the suspect, troopers were able to subdue the suspect, eventually having him transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated for the stab wounds and later released to Missouri authorities.

Special Agent Justin Nowlin, Criminal Investigation Division, Company E, for his investigative work assisting the Baxter County Sheriff’s Department in identifying and locating suspects in the disappearance of a local man later found to be murdered.  

Corporal Jerry Oglesby, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A for his selfless act of courage in April 2021 by driving his patrol car into the path of a vehicle traveling the wrong way along Interstate 430 and preventing injury to other motorists.  

Corporal Mark Blackerby, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, for his response in February 2021 to the scene where a Lonoke police officer had been shot by a North Carolina gunman who had earlier abducted a 14 year-old girl.  Corporal Blackerby is credited with pursuing the gunman and safely recovering the teenager.  

Trooper Charles Ross Allen, Highway Patrol Division, Troop F, was recognized for his intervention in a pursuit on April 20, 2021 which ended with Trooper Allen successfully apprehending a Union County kidnapping and murder suspect who had fled from Ashley County authorities.  

Special Agent Jackie Stinnett, Criminal Investigation Division, Company E, was recognized for his three-month long undercover investigation that began in January 2021 and ended with the arrest of a Baxter County man who was propositioning teenage boys for sex through online conversations.  

Corporal Michael Reed, Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, was recognized for going above and beyond duties during the course of an October 2021 motor vehicle crash.  Corporal Reed’s extended investigation ultimately led to the identification and arrest of a suspect operating a multi-state theft and forgery operation.  Additionally, the investigation resulted in the recovery of equipment and vehicles valued at approximately $350,000.  

Trooper First Class Sor Lee, Highway Patrol Division, Troop L, was recognized for his role on October 17, 2021 in apprehending an armed suspect involved in multiple drive-by shootings in Bentonville and Rogers.  TFC Lee recognized a vehicle being driven by the suspect and pursued the vehicle after the driver refused to comply with a traffic stop.  Ultimately TFC Lee executed a precision intervention technique in getting the vehicle stopped, taking the suspect into custody, recovering two rifles used in the shootings and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition for the guns.  

Investigator Deleah Racancoj, Crimes Against Children Division, Area 8, for her prolonged work beginning in January 2020 attempting to locate two teenage females who were reported victims of sex trafficking.  Months later, Investigator Racancoj’s persistence in the investigation led her to a Pulaski County residence where state troopers and Little Rock police officers were able to assist her in extracting the teenagers and placing them in a safe environment.  

Debra Meachum, Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, administrative assistant was presented an Arkansas State Police Official Commendation and nominated for Civilian Employee of the Year for her role in assisting Troop D telecommunications operators and others as a suspect in a Southaven police officer shooting began traveling toward Arkansas.  It was Meachum who received a telephone report from a witness that led Arkansas State Troopers to begin a manhunt for the suspect in St. Francis County and the eventual apprehension of the gunman.  Meachum was credited by her supervisors as willing to step-out the comfort of her regular duties and assist others within Troop D headquarters at Forrest City.

Distinguished Service Awards
The Distinguished Service Award honors citizens or law enforcement officers from other agencies who assist the Arkansas State Police in the apprehension of a criminal or who lends assistance in a situation where a citizen or officer is clearly in jeopardy or physical harm.

Officers Joshua Myers, Terrance Ellington and Bailee Toro of the Little Rock Police Department were each presented the Arkansas State Police Distinguished Service Award for their role in rendering emergency medical aid to Sergeant Nicholas Brown who sustained a life threatening wound while attempting to apprehend a fleeing suspect and taking custody of the suspect *(see previous narrative, Gold Shield Award).  

Stewart Carlton, Arkansas State Parks Superintendent, was presented a Distinguished Service Award for alerting state troopers to a fiery vehicle collision along U.S. Highway 165 in Pulaski County.  Superintendent Carlton is credited with extricating the driver of the vehicle consumed in fire and providing medical attention to a second victim before state troopers arrived at the crash scene.  

 

ARKANSAS BLACK HALL OF FAME FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $50,000 IN GRANTS TO SUPPORT ARKANSAS COMMUNITIES
Little Rock, Ark. (May 25, 2022) – Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation (ABHOF) awarded $50,000 in grants to support projects focused on education, health and wellness, youth development, strengthening families and economic development for minority and under-served communities in Arkansas. The grants, administered by Arkansas Community Foundation, were presented online on May 24.  "We are pleased to support the efforts of grassroots and other nonprofit organizations in Arkansas through our grant program,” said Charles Stewart, Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Chairman.  “These organizations serve a myriad of causes and programs that support community development and strengthen families. We are proud of our partnership with these great Arkansas institutions.”

Over the past 18 years, ABHOF has made $667,288 in grants to Arkansas nonprofits. This year’s grant recipients:
Arkansas Broadcasting Foundation (Statewide) – will help fund a one-hour show that runs weekly called Black Consumer News.
Bohemia Cares (Pulaski County) – provides programs for those struggling with mental illness.
Brayboy Safety Against Domestic Violence Crisis Center (Lee, Phillips, St. Francis counties) – provides emergency housing assistance for women with children.
Carters Crew (Pulaski County) – will host monthly family nights as part of a program called UN-Repeating the Cycle.
Centers for Youth and Families Foundation (Pulaski County) – will engage youth in its Day Treatment and Outpatient Counseling programs in a unique gardening curriculum.
Community Service Youth Foundation (Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Perry, Pope, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, Yell counties) – will enhance a mentoring program for youth adjudicated for committing a crime.  
Creative Institute of Central Arkansas (Faulkner, Pulaski counties) – provides career coaching and job placement support to low-income students starting careers in the creative workforce.
Harmony Health (Pulaski County) – provides medical and dental care for those currently uninsured or underinsured.
Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church (Washington County) – the food pantry program serves those facing food insecurity in South Fayetteville.
Junior Achievement of Arkansas (Benton, Faulkner, Jefferson, Lonoke, Madison, Pulaski, Saline, Washington counties) – will launch the first 'Virtual Pitch Competition'" where African American middle and high school students will "virtually pitch" creative entrepreneurial new ideas on products, services or solutions.
Mr. Macs Learning and Arts Center (Pulaski County) – provides a safe environment for youth to perform music (Drum Academy) and choir vocalization (Singer Academy).  
Pulaski County Friends of CASA (Perry, Pulaski counties) – will recruit African American volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates for children of color in foster care.

Southeast Arkansas College (Arkansas, Jefferson counties) – offers a Kids Virtual Learning Summer Camp
St. Luke – Pine Bluff United Methodist Church (Ashley, Jefferson, Pulaski counties)
– funds will provide gear for children attending camp that will develop survival skills, wildlife appreciation and agricultural science knowledge.   
UCA Center for Community and Economic Development (Statewide) – will partially fund the Arkansas Racial Equity Summit.
Women & Children First (Faulkner, Jefferson Lonoke, Pulaski, Saline counties) –provides funds to support Camp HOPE for children of domestic violence.  

Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation aims to provide an environment in which future generations of African American achievers with Arkansas roots will thrive and succeed. Arkansas Black Hall of Fame honors the contributions of African Americans through its annual Black Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and awards grants to support charitable endeavors in underserved communities. Learn more at www.arblackhalloffame.org.

Arkansas Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization with over a half billion dollars in assets, fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Foundation supports existing charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create initiatives that address unmet needs. Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $314 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to Arkansas Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 29 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

May 24, 2022

FREE PPE FOR CAMDEN RESIDENTS
The City of Camden has obtained free PPE for the public. You can pick up your free PPE Boxat 625 S. Adams on Thursdays or Fridays, between the hours of 9am-Noon or 1pm -3pm While supplies last.  For more information call Public Works at 837-5570.

 

SAU TECH AWARDED 1.1 MILLION FROM ANCRC
EAST CAMDEN, AR (05/24/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) at its annual meeting on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The grant will be used for the continued restoration of one set of the 500-Man Barracks owned by SAU Tech. The project includes restoring over 300 original windows, external drainage improvements, new HVAC systems, new plumbing systems, and the renovation of all the bathrooms. Also included in the work are new electrical systems, flooring, and interior finishes. Phase I and Phase II awards, total $2,096,275.

SAU Tech's restoration project responds to the need for student housing. As the College has grown, the need for expanded student housing has become a primary concern. Lack of adequate housing options for students in the community is the driving force behind the project, stated Dr. Jason Morrison in his presentation to the ANCRC Council. When asked about the grant award, Morrison noted that "We are grateful for the award to keep the renovation of this historical building moving forward. Despite some stalls with securing contractors and materials, I am confident that we will finish on time, and it will showcase the great building that once housed so many people during the second world war. Our students will benefit from this project by having a secure and safe place to live while earning a college degree. We may need to return for another round to complete the renovation, and time will tell."

Currently referred to as C & D Dorms, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the original buildings that made up the Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot. The building was used to house personnel and civilians who worked on the base. ANCRC has funded the restoration and preservation of such iconic properties as the Arkansas State Capitol, Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County, and the Johnny Cash Home in Dyess.
 

The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) was established by Arkansas Act 729 of 1987. Its grants and trust fund are managed for the acquisition, management, and stewardship of state-owned lands or the preservation of state-owned historic sites, buildings, structures, or objects that the ANCRC determines to be of value for recreation or conservation purposes. The properties are to be used, preserved, and conserved for the benefit of present and future generations.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/SAU-Tech-Awarded-1-1-Million-from-ANCRC/27513
 

ARKANSAS BRIGHTER FUTURE PLAN CELEBRATES ‘529 DAY’
Encourages saving for education
May 23, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – The Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan, along with other 529 plans across the country, is celebrating 529 Day during May by encouraging families to open and contribute to a plan to begin saving for their loved one’s education.

“May 29th is a day dedicated to showcasing the importance of saving for a child’s education,” said Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan, whose office administers the Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan. “The Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan offers Arkansans up to $10,000 in state tax deductions for contributions they make to their loved one’s Arkansas 529 account.” 

A 529 account is an investment account that has the potential to grow over time. 529 funds can be used for tuition at college or trade school, as well as textbooks, computers and other supplies such as tools for a trade. Additionally, funds can be used for tuition at private K-12 schools, apprenticeship programs and student loan repayment. 

“The Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan is designed to help your loved one have a brighter future – whatever that may look like,” Milligan said. “The money can be used at schools nationwide. Plus, the plan is flexible in that the funds can be transferred to another family member if the initial beneficiary doesn’t use them.” 

As of December 2021, more than $480.3 billion had been invested for education around the country in 15.7 million 529 accounts, according to the College Savings Plan Network. 

“We’ve had a great history with the Arkansas 529 program,” Milligan said. “We’ve grown the plan’s assets under management by 120% since I came into office in 2015. We’ve promoted the plan heavily and have been diligent about keeping the plan up-to-date with federal law concerning the expenses that can be covered with a 529 plan.”

An account can be opened in as little as 10 minutes with a minimum of $25, he added. To open an Arkansas Brighter Future 529 account, visit BrighterFutureDirect529.com or call 501-682-1406.

“The gift of an education is an investment that can have generational impact,” Milligan said. “The earlier you start saving for a child’s education, even if it’s just a little at a time, the better. No amount is too small.”

 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN LEAVES LEGACY OF TRANSPARENCY
Following predecessor’s history of receiving kickbacks
May 24, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) –Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan was the first treasurer to have been elected following former Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s conviction of bribery and taking kickbacks from brokers.

“I looked at this as an opportunity to clean up her mess and restore public trust,” Milligan said. “Such a vital function of state government should be taken very seriously.”

The State Treasury receives about $70 million each day in deposits from local, state and federal agencies and is responsible for balancing the state’s ledger daily. It is also responsible for an investment portfolio of roughly $6 billion.

“Early on in my tenure, I was approached by a company offering me an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation and I turned them down. I said, ‘That’s not the way we’re going to conduct the state’s business,’” Milligan explained.

One of the first systems Milligan created was an online public auction for Treasury CDs, or certificates of deposit. Historically, Treasury investment staff would manually call banks to try and negotiate the highest possible rate of return for the Treasury. That consisted of several hours’ worth of time spent on the phone and had the potential for favoritism.

“Not only was it inefficient, but there was no possible way to be fair to smaller banks who would like to have competed for our CDs,” Milligan said.

To promote both fairness and efficiency, he developed the Arkansas Transparent Treasury Auction program (ATTA). The program is an online auction by which banks bid anonymously on Treasury CDs. The auctions can also be watched by the public.

“The intention of the program was to provide transparency and fairness to all Arkansas banks, but an added benefit to the taxpayers is that we were able to increase our rate of return significantly,” Milligan said.

Another effort toward total transparency was a complete overhaul of the Treasury’s website. Every financial report that is available may be found on the website at www.artreasury.gov.

Those reports include daily cash flows; brokers the Treasury does business with; securities purchased and their rate of return; the tax and aid amounts distributed to municipalities; and assets for programs the Treasury administers, such as the Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan and the Arkansas ABLE Plan for people with disabilities.

“I ran for this office to restore public trust and improve transparency within the State Treasury,” Milligan said. “I pledged to do what was best for the state of Arkansas and the Treasury.”

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES CALL FOR INCREASED OVERSIGHT OF CHINESE ECONOMIC AGGRESSION AFTER PROPOSED FORBES ACQUISITION
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns about the proposed acquisition of Forbes by an entity linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

In part, the senators wrote, “Forbes is a recognizable American brand with immense propaganda value to the CCP. Additionally, the CCP’s direction of Forbes’ editorial content and business operations, or its access to Forbes’ financial and personal research, could present a serious national security threat to the United States. As members of the Intelligence, Judiciary, Banking, and Finance Committees, we view proposed transactions like this one as a compelling reason for increased oversight of the CCP’s predatory economic behavior in American markets. We urge you to take the necessary steps to thoroughly review the circumstances and potential consequences of this deal.”

May 23, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY MEMORIAL DAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed Monday May 30, 2022 inobservance of Memorial Day. The Trash will be picked up on regular schedule.


8 SCHOOLS SELECTED FOR INCLUSIVE PRACTICES PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES PROJECT
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is pleased to announce the eight schools selected for the 2022-2023 Inclusive Practices Professional Learning Communities Project. This marks the third cohort of schools selected for the project, which uses the PLC process to strengthen special education services.

Schools Selected for 2022-2023:
Cutter Morning Star Elementary School (Cutter Morning Star School District)
East Pointe Elementary School (Greenwood School District)
Magnet Cove Elementary School (Magnet Cove School District)
Main Street Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School (Hot Springs School District)
Northside Elementary School (Rogers School District)
Ridge Road Elementary School (North Little Rock School District)
Warren Middle School (Warren School District)
West Side Elementary School (West Side School District)

“Congratulations to the next cohort selected for this PLC project,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “As part of this program, special education teachers will work alongside core academic teachers to ensure all students have access to high-quality instruction using grade-level academic standards. The schools also will focus on promoting a culture of inclusion, where special education students are included in general education classrooms, while receiving the needed services and supports to help them thrive. A school that has a strong culture that promotes learning for all students will result in all students achieving success in school and life.”

Selected schools, in partnership with an education service cooperative, will be matched with a certified PLC at Work associate from Solution Tree during the next school year. Schools will receive 12 days of onsite support as they deepen and sustain the PLC process with a focus on inclusive practices and culture. Each school will create action plans that focus on increasing student achievement through aligned curriculum, formative assessment practices, and proven instructional strategies. 

Schools were selected following a rigorous application and evaluation process, determined by a committee of educational professionals knowledgeable of the PLC process. Selected schools will serve as learning sites for other schools, with the goal of increasing the capacity of this process statewide. 

To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/3GcrMTJ.

 

ICYMI: BOOZMAN DELIVERS LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES TO IMPROVE VETERANS BENEFITS AND SERVICES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is a longtime champion of our nation’s veterans. His continued advocacy on behalf of the men and women who served in uniform has most recently resulted in a trio of legislative achievements heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services and expand the benefits brave individuals called to serve our nation have earned,” Boozman said. “By improving the standard of care they receive and supporting better accountability measures at the VA, we’re taking important steps to live up to the commitment our country made to them. I’m honored to serve as a voice for veterans and will continue to craft and advance measures in support of their needs.”

Last week, Congress advanced Boozman-led bills that are expected to be signed into law including:

The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act that will require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.

The 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.

The Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021, a measure to provide the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) 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.

These recent accomplishments come on the heels of Boozman’s fight to block veterans resources from being taken away to respond to the crisis at the southern border. Following pressure from the senator, the Biden administration backed off discussions of deploying VA personnel to the border to address the surge of immigrants should Title 42 be lifted.

 

COTTON STATEMENT ON BIDEN’S SHIFT IN TAIWAN POLICY
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) issued the following statement regarding President Biden’s recent comments about Taiwan:

“I’ve long said that we should change our Taiwan policy from ‘strategic ambiguity’ to ‘strategic clarity’: the United States will come to the defense of Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. As usual, strategic clarity and military strength is the best way to deter China. Given President Biden’s apparent policy shift in off-the-cuff remarks at a press conference in Japan, followed by anonymous White House aides trying to ‘walk back’ his statement, it’s now essential that President Biden restate our new policy of strategic clarity in clear, deliberate remarks from a prepared text. Otherwise, the continued ambiguity and uncertainty will likely provoke the Chinese communists without deterring them—the worst of both worlds.”

May 20, 2022

ADDITIONAL FUNDS AID EFFORTS TO REMOVE FERAL HOGS FROM ARKANSAS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce that additional funding has been made available to assist with feral hog eradication efforts in Arkansas. Senator John Boozman was instrumental in securing $650,000 in federal funding through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture to implement additional eradication efforts across the state. Additionally, the Buffalo River Conservation Committee (BRCC) allocated $74,960 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services (USDA Wildlife Services) to expand eradication efforts within the Buffalo River watershed.

“We appreciate the efforts of Senator Boozman and the BRCC to provide additional resources that will enable the Department and our partners on the Arkansas Feral Hog Eradication Task Force to expand efforts to remove more feral hogs from Arkansas’s croplands, pastures, forests, and wetlands,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture will use the federal funds to work with USDA Wildlife Services to implement a statewide feral hog management plan. These efforts will supplement ongoing removal activities, including eradication efforts in 12 Arkansas counties funded through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. 

USDA Wildlife Services will use the funding from the BRCC to purchase additional traps and other equipment to expand trapping efforts within the Buffalo River watershed.

Approximately 30,000 feral hogs have been removed from the state by members of the Feral Hog Eradication Task Force (Task Force) since January 2020. The Task Force was created by the Arkansas legislature in 2017 to create a plan for the eradication of feral hogs in Arkansas and is made up of 21 federal and state agencies and non-government organizations. More information on the Task Force can be found at bit.ly/FeralHogETF. 

Feral hogs are an invasive species that are especially destructive to agricultural crops, native wildlife, and young domestic livestock. In Arkansas, the latest survey by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that feral swine cause at least $41 million in agricultural damages every year, including $34 million in damages to soybeans, corn, cotton, wheat, hay, pecans, and rice, and $7.3 million in damages to livestock. Landowners experiencing feral hog damage are encouraged to call USDA Wildlife Services at (501) 835-2318 for 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 to learn more.

 

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY ARREST; ASP INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
MAY 20, 2022
Eric Renard, 40, of Sherwood has been arrested by Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Section.

Renard is charged with possession and distribution of child pornography and was placed in the Faulkner County Jail last night (May 19th).

Earlier yesterday, agents assigned to the case executed a search warrant at Renard’s home located at 128 Cato Road.  Multiple computer type devices and wireless telephones were seized and are being forensically examined.

The investigation related to this case and others assigned to the state police ICAC section are continuing.
 

DISTURBANCE CALL LEADS TO OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING IN POLK COUNTY; SUSPECT DEAD
MAY 20, 2022
Polk County authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police to investigate a shooting incident that occurred in Mena as sheriff’s deputies were about to enter a residence where a domestic disturbance had been reported just before 10 PM, Thursday (May 19th).

Rickey Looney, 40, of 108 Majesty Lane was shot by a law enforcement officer after Looney reportedly ordered authorities to leave, then pointed a gun at one of the three sheriff’s department personnel who was about to enter the home.  Looney was transported by ambulance to a local hospital where he later died.

Sherriff’s department personnel initially responded to Looney’s home after a woman reported she had accidentally shot Looney with a pistol as he attempted to stop her from leaving following an argument between the two.

Special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division are conducting an investigation into the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.  The investigative case file will be used by the Polk County prosecuting attorney in making a decision whether the use of deadly force was consistent with Arkansas law.

The identity of the law enforcement officer who shot Looney is not being released at this time.  The sheriff’s department and prosecuting attorney will decide when to move forward in making the identity public.

State police special agents are continuing their investigative work today and will obtain an autopsy report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death.


MOCK DISASTER EVENT PREPARES SOUTHERN FORESTRY PERSONNEL FOR COMMUNITY RECOVERY OPERATIONS
Jonesboro, AR – Urban and community forestry professionals from across the Southeast converged in Jonesboro this week for a unique mock-disaster training event. The training, hosted by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and the Southern Group of State Foresters, qualified participants to deploy in Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFSTs) following natural disasters nationwide.

UFSTs are comprised of International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists who respond to areas where community trees have been impacted by a natural disaster. Strike team crews provide tree damage and risk evaluations, as well as resources for obtaining federal assistance. During a real-world training exercise on Thursday, trainees assessed damaged and downed trees in Trumann, where residents continue to recover from tornadoes which devastated the area last winter.

 

“Community trees often sustain critical damage from straight line and tornadic winds, storm surge, and torrential flooding,” said Joe Fox, Arkansas State Forester. “Urban Forest Strike Teams are a vital resource, especially in areas prone to natural disaster, because they help safeguard residents against hazards while supporting the overall wellbeing and beauty of our communities.”

Following severe weather events, in coordination with a community, UFST crews assess trees on public property for structure and root damage, lost foliage, and broken branches. Once completed, the assessment will indicate how many trees on public property were damaged in the storm, how many of those will require care or need to be removed, and which trees are safe to remain with managed care.

To learn more about UFSTs and view photos from this year’s course, visit the Southern Group of State Foresters’ photo blog and visit the UFST webpage at southernforesters.org/urban/ufst.

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

About the Southern Group of State Foresters
The Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation representing state forestry agencies within the 13 southeastern United States, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. SGSF members collectively provide leadership, coordination, expertise and resources to sustain the economic, environmental, health and societal benefits of southern forests. This includes the delivery of regional support needed to address existing and emerging issues related to sustainable forest management, forest health, water resources, urban and community forestry, forest product markets, wildfire protection, conservation education and disaster response.


BIPARTISAN PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING BILL REINTRODUCED IN HOUSE
WASHINGTON - This week, Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee reintroduced the Price Relief, Innovation, and Competition for Essential Drugs (PRICED) Act to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible for Americans across the nation.

The bicameral PRICED Act, the first version of which was introduced in the Senate in 2016 by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and the late John McCain (R-AZ), addresses increasing drug prices by reducing drug manufactures’ exclusivity periods for biologics from twelve years to five years.

“Low cost and widely available medications and treatments are vital to the continued wellbeing of millions of Americans,” said Congressman Westerman. "The PRICED Act is critical in making prescription drugs more affordable by breaking up manufactures’ monopoly on certain drugs and allowing other companies to create generic versions at a lower cost to the patient. I'm grateful to join Rep. Schakowsky's work on this issue – we’re proof that health care solutions can and should be bipartisan.”

“Drug pricing isn’t a partisan issue and taking on the Big Pharma monopoly shouldn’t be either. I am proud to be joined by Congressman Westerman to reintroduce the PRICED Act, which will make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible for Americans across the nation,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “During the health care debate in 2010, we fought hard to reduce the number of years that manufacturers of the newer, more expensive biologic drugs can maintain patent exclusivity, which keeps competitors from putting lower cost drugs on the market. Unfortunately, it still granted twelve years of exclusivity that has allowed biologics manufacturers to enjoy billions of dollars in profits and no competition. That is unacceptable for American taxpayers who fund the majority of research that develops these drugs and who need these drugs to survive. I will fight to finally pass the PRICED Act in the 117th Congress.”

In 2017, all of the top 10 highest-expenditure drugs in Medicare Part B were biologic products, accounting for over $10 billion in costs. That same year, the Office of Management and Budget estimated that reducing the exclusivity from 12 to 7 years could save almost $7 billion over 10 years. 

Many recent peer-reviewed studies suggest that biologics are not as time-consuming to develop as initially believed. In 2019, authors from the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL), Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School published a study in Nature that concluded “although biologics are often thought to be more time-consuming to develop than small-molecule drugs, development times for biologics are similar to, or possibly somewhat shorter than, for small-molecule drugs.” Additional reports show that there is no difference in the median premarket development time between biologics and small molecule drugs that would justify the 12 years of data exclusivity that biologics currently retain.

The Representatives were joined by Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17), Lloyd Doggett (TX-25), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), and Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04).

May 19, 2022

FOURTH DISTRICT VETERAN RECEIVES CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) attended the Congressional Gold Medal award ceremony for Mr. Bobby Gene “Bob” Ross, a World War II United States Merchant Marine Veteran, in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Westerman issued the following statement:

"Mr. Ross is a shining example of the American Spirit," said Rep. Westerman. "His decision to serve our country in one of its greatest times of need, at the tender age of 14, is inspirational and extraordinary. Mr. Ross is a true patriot and I am proud to see him honored today for his courageous service."

Mr. Bob Ross joined the Merchant Marines in 1942, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He served in the South Pacific and Atlantic, where he earned the South Pacific Victory Medal, the Pacific War Zone Bar, and the Atlantic War Zone Bar. Mr. Ross will celebrate his 94th birthday in June.

Background

The U.S. Merchant Marines serve in times of peace and war to serve America's maritime transportation and defense needs. The Merchant Marines suffered the highest rate of casualties of any service branch in WWII, with one in twenty-six mariners dying in the line of duty. About 12,000 members were injured or taken prisoner.

Merchant Mariners did not receive Veteran status until 1988 and until today, never received national recognition through a Congressional Gold Medal.


EEOC REPORT ANALYZES SITUATION OF WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES IN THE FEDERAL WORKFORCE
WASHINGTON – In a newly issued report, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows that opportunities for persons with disabilities in the federal workforce are improving, but that further progress is needed on retention and representation in leadership positions.

The study examined federal workers with disabilities’ demographics, their hiring, advancement, and separation from employment at federal agencies, discrimination complaints based on disability, and ways that federal agencies are improving accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Representing 9.4% of federal employees, the participation by people with disabilities in the federal workforce is increasing.  In FY 2014, persons with disabilities represented 8.68% of federal workers. This increased by more than 8% to 9.42% in 2018. Accordingly, federal agencies are raising awareness of accessibility for persons with disabilities and are improving their technological resources to make their workplaces more accessible to people with disabilities.

The study also found that persons with disabilities are promoted at a rate similar to what would be expected based on their governmentwide participation rate.

 “The EEOC is delighted to see that our support of people with disabilities has borne fruit in so many ways,” said Carlton Hadden, director of the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations. “Clearly, though, more progress is needed. The EEOC will continue to work to advance the opportunities and well-being for this still too underutilized and underappreciated segment of our population.”

The report other findings include the fact that persons with disabilities are still underrepresented in federal sector leadership. Among persons with targeted disabilities, 10.7% are in leadership positions and 89.3% are in non-leadership positions. Among persons without disabilities, 16.4% are in leadership positions, and 85.6% are in non-leadership positions.

Targeted disabilities are the most severe ones, including blindness, deafness, partial and full paralysis, missing extremities, dwarfism, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. Individuals with these disabilities typically have the greatest difficulty finding employment. As a matter of policy, the federal government has a special emphasis on recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with targeted disabilities.

Further, the report illustrates that people with targeted disabilities involuntarily left federal employers at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities, and people with any disability were 53% more likely to involuntarily leave than persons without disabilities. Similarly, persons with disabilities and targeted disabilities were more likely to voluntarily leave federal employers than persons without disabilities. 

“There’s something wrong with this picture when so many more people with disabilities leave the government than those without,” Hadden said. “Our government needs to be the best workplace it can be for everyone. Federal managers and policymakers need to take a good look at this situation and figure out ways to improve this picture.”

The report also reveals that over a five-year period, federal sector physical disability-based complaints increased by 22% and mental disability-based complaints increased by 72%, outpacing the overall increase in federal sector EEO complaints. This may be due to increased discrimination against persons with disabilities or increased comfort with filing an EEO complaint among persons with disabilities, the report said.

By using 2018 data, this report provides a baseline to measure the impact of EEOC’s final rule, “Affirmative Action for Individuals with Disabilities in the Federal Government,” which clarified that federal employers must take proactive steps to improve opportunities for persons with disabilities.

For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.

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

 

BOOZMAN LEGISLATION HEADING TO PRESIDENT’S DESK TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW
Senator’s Bills Improve and Expand VA Mammography Services, Cancer Care
WASHINGTON - A pair of legislative initiatives championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) breast cancer screening policies and the delivery of lifesaving care for women veterans unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday and are headed to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“We are now one signature away from ensuring veterans have access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings. I urge the president to quickly approve these bills and make them law so we can expand VA tools and resources to deliver the preventative care and treatments these valiant, dedicated former servicemembers have earned,” said Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The Boozman-authored Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act will require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.

The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine veteran and public health professional who was unaware of her increased risk for breast cancer as a result of her deployment to Iraq. During a routine medical exam in 2018 she was advised to undergo a mammogram and was subsequently diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 38. Dr. Thomas fought for passage of this bill until she sadly passed away last month. 

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Boozman and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act, which Boozman led, 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.

Boozman worked with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce the legislation along with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

The senator delivered remarks applauding Senate passage of both proposals in March. 

These legislative accomplishments come on the heels of House passage of the Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021. The Boozman-led bill expanding oversight authority of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) was approved on Tuesday and is expected to be signed into law.

 

BOOZMAN CONTINUES LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING ARKANSAS PHYSICIAN SHORTAGE
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation to help address the nationwide physician shortage. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would update the Graduate Medical Education (GME) slot process following a hospital closure by directing federally-funded medical residency slots to areas where doctors are most needed. 

“In rural states like Arkansas, the shortage of primary care physicians and specialty doctors creates a health care delivery challenge. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act is part of the solution to bridge this gap and encourage more medical school graduates to practice in rural areas. I’m pleased to continue advancing proposals to ensure all Americans, no matter where they live, get the care they need,” Boozman said.

“Nevada currently ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to primary care physicians per capita, and this shortage has had a dire impact on Nevadans’ ability to seek health care,” Rosen said. “This bipartisan legislation will help add to the number of medical residency slots available for Nevada hospitals and encourage more doctors to come practice in our state, including in communities which previously have been underserved.”

“The physician shortage continues to be a significant problem across the nation but it’s especially alarming in rural states like Arkansas,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and CEO of UAMS Health. “More than two-thirds of the 75 counties in our state include federally designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. Primary care physician shortages are expected to increase substantially as our state’s population continues to age and require more medical care, and as more seek primary care services. We are extremely grateful to Sen. Boozman and Sen. Rosen for their introduction of the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act. Sen. Boozman has been a longtime champion of Graduate Medical Education, working closely with UAMS toward our common goal of ensuring that all Arkansans, no matter where they live, have access to health care. The addition of residency positions where they are needed most will improve the chances for physicians to stay in Arkansas after completing residency because data show that physicians are more likely to practice within 50 miles of their final residency training.”

The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would:
Revise the GME process to give medical residency programs in areas with physician shortages a greater chance of gaining available residency slots after hospital closures elsewhere in the country;
Prioritize keeping medical residency slots local and within the same state when hospitals close; and
Update the requirement for quickly filling GME slots.

This legislation continues Boozman’s commitment to addressing the growing shortage of primary and specialty care physicians in Arkansas. In February, Boozman and Rosen teamed up to introduce the Resident Education Deferred Interest Act to help ease the financial burden on medical and dental students. Last year, the senator introduced the Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 legislation to significantly increase Medicare-supported doctor training slots. That followed efforts during the 116th Congress to gradually lift the caps on Medicare-supported doctor training slots.

May 18, 2022

ENTERGY ARKANSAS NAMES CONSIDINE, THOMPSON TO VP POSITIONS
Internal hires will lead reliability, customer service
Little Rock, ARK. – Entergy Arkansas officials recently announced the promotion of Michael Considine and Ventrell Thompson to vice president positions.

Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux said, “Michael and Ventrell are proven leaders within Entergy Arkansas, and their newest positions will allow them to continue steering the company and their teams toward improved reliability and customer service, while fostering community relationships and environmental sustainability. I’m proud to call them colleagues and look forward to seeing their professional growth, development and commitment to our customers.”

Considine has been named vice president of reliability, a new role within the organization that combines both transmission and distribution operations, with responsibilities for safety, operations, engineering and regulatory within the service territory and oversight of 800 employees. He served as interim vice president of distribution operations since August 2021. He began his utility career with Entergy Services in 2001 at the system operations center in Pine Bluff as a transmission business analyst and held numerous positions within regulatory services prior to being the Finance Director from 2014-2017, Director of Customer Service – Central Region from 2017-2019, and Vice President of Customer Service 2019-2021.

Considine holds a bachelor's degree in professional accountancy from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., and has completed an executive program through the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Entergy Senior Leadership Program.

He and his wife, Abby, live in Little Rock with their two daughters. He volunteers with Arkansas Food Bank, Our House and serves on the board for the Museum of Discovery and the University of Arkansas Little Rock Advisory Board. He is a graduate of Leadership Arkansas, member of Rotary Club ’99 and was recognized by Arkansas Business’ 40 Under 40.

Thompson has been named vice president of Customer Service, a role he served as interim since August 2021. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of customer service in the Entergy Arkansas service territory, leading a team of customer service professionals who are responsible for meeting the needs of all residential, commercial, governmental, and industrial customers across the state. 

He began his utility career with Entergy Services in 2002 as an analyst. In 2012, Thompson joined the Regulatory Affairs team where he held various positions responsible for managing regulatory proceedings, such as rate cases and Formula Rate Plan filings with the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Beginning in 2019, he served as Region Customer Service Manager for the company’s largest commercial and industrial customers, as well as city and county public officials.  

Thompson holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Accounting from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a Master of Business Administration from John Brown University.

He and his wife, Joy, a longtime educator in the Little Rock School District, have two sons, Caleb, 22, and Chase, 8. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and serves on the boards of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship, American Association of Blacks in Energy, Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, and 100 Black Men of Greater Little Rock. He’s also an alumnus of Leadership Greater Little Rock and Leadership Arkansas.
 

SENATE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES COTTON RESOLUTION TO DESIGNATE MAY AS ALS AWARENESS MONTH
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) to designate May 2022 as ALS Awareness Month. Text of the resolution may be found here.

“Each year, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with ALS—a progressive and disabling disease for which there is no cure. I’m proud to work with my colleagues to raise awareness about ALS and help bring relief to Americans living with the disease,” said Cotton.

“It takes tremendous courage from patients, families, and friends to cope with an ALS diagnosis – a relentless and debilitating disease,” said Whitehouse.  “It’s my hope that by passing this ALS Awareness Month resolution, we will draw attention to those affected by ALS and the researchers working on new treatments on the path to a cure.”

“There is no ALS survivor community, so it’s a top priority for me to advocate in Congress for those that are diagnosed with this devastating disease. As a co-founder of the first Senate ALS Caucus with Senator Coons, I am proud to join my Senate colleagues in designating May as ALS Awareness Month,” said Braun.

“ALS is a cruel disease that takes the lives of thousands of Americans every year, and we must work together by sustaining research and expanding treatment and therapy options. That’s why I worked so hard to secure passage of my bipartisan ACT for ALS bill, which President Biden signed into law last year, and continue to work with my colleagues to secure full funding for that law today,” said Coons. “I hope that with more awareness around ALS, we will be able to better support patients and their loved ones, and move closer to a cure.”

Cotton has been a leading advocate for Americans living with ALS during his time in Congress. His ALS Disabiliy Insurance Act, which eliminates the five-month waiting period before ALS patients can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, was first introduced in 2016 and finally signed into law in 2020.

Background:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the ability of the brain to control muscle movements. Individuals with ALS progressively lose the ability to speak, walk, and breathe. The intended purpose of a five-month waiting period is to allow temporary conditions to reverse. However, there is currently no cure or treatment to halt or undo the effects of ALS, and some ALS patients lose their fight with the disease before ever receiving benefits. The ALS Disability Insurance Access Act would help alleviate some of the financial hardship that accompanies an ALS diagnosis, and support those living with ALS and their families.

 

BOOZMAN-BACKED LEGISLATION STRENGTHENING VA OVERSIGHT HEADS TO PRESIDENT’S DESK TO BE SIGNED INTO LAW
Bill Expands VA Watchdog Authority
WASHINGTON–– The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to strengthen oversight at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The legislation now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

The Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021 will provide the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) 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.

“Expanding the VA OIG’s authority to conduct more thorough investigations will help ensure accountability,” Boozman said. “Support by Congress for this proposal demonstrates the consensus of providing additional oversight tools to improve transparency. I urge the president to quickly sign this bill into law so we can deliver the high-quality care veterans deserve.”

The legislation passed the Senate last month. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Under current law, the VA OIG does not have testimonial subpoena authority to compel individuals relevant to investigations to answer questions in person and under oath. This can limit both the VA OIG and Congress’ ability to conduct complete and thorough reviews, including of VA health care and benefits programs, management actions and contracts. The legislation will expand the VA OIG’s authority to provide stronger oversight over the department.

Last year, the VA OIG issued damning reports tied to the failures at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia that resulted in the deaths of veterans in these facilities. The VA OIG has also identified additional investigations since 2017 where expanded subpoena authority would have assisted the independent watchdog in investigating patient safety, procurement and ethical conflicts of interest.

May 17, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN AIRPORT COMMISSION TO MEET
The City of Camden Airport Commission will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, May 20, 2022 at 11:30 a.m. at the Airport Terminal located at 255 Airport Road, Camden, Arkansas.

ADE ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF STATE'S MIDDLE SCHOOL CODING COMPETITION
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Office of Computer Science is pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Great Arkansas History Video Game Coding Competition. The competition was open to middle school students, with competitors creating a game around a theme: “My Favorite Arkansas Town.” 

The winners are listed below, with each member of the first-place team receiving $1,000, each, placed in an Arkansas Brighter Futures 529 Plan. 
First Place: Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers
Students: Corissa Arnold, Frankie Barber, and Grant Lovatt-Sutton
Sponsor: Mai Le

Second Place: Lonoke Middle School in Lonoke
Students: Graham Biles, Kylee Bell, Mason Hambrick, Estrella Lopez, Blake Rudder, and Eli Quintanilla
Sponsor: Cathy Flenor

Third Place: Holt Middle School in Fayetteville
Student: Josephine Doss
Sponsors: Luke Schafer and Tayla Terral

“The CSforAR team was highly impressed by the quantity and quality of the submissions,” John Hart, a statewide computer science specialist, said. “More students from around the state competed this year, with multiple schools holding local competitions to determine their entries for the state competition. We are excited to start the fourth year of the competition this fall.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order) are listed below.
Conway Junior High School in Conway 
Students: Brody Mercer, Bowen Cathcart, and Ethan Brock
Sponsor: Jennifer Abels

Holt Middle School in Fayetteville
Students: Cedar Bowling and Anders Mooney 
Sponsors: Luke Schafer and Tayla Terral

Lake Hamilton Junior High School in Pearcy
Students: Alayna Kincannon and Emily Goodman 
Sponsor: Ashley Kincannon

The Anthony School in Little Rock
Students: Haley Ragland, Keira Blanchet, Reese Henry, Campbell Beazley, Claire Steliga, and Edie Ward
Sponsor: Jeremy Teeter

Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers
Students: Wyatt Bowerman, Colton Watson, Waylon Frank, Maddox Kimball, and Trevyr Woods
Sponsor: Jeremy Teeter

Additional information about the contest can be found at http://bit.ly/ARCSHistComp. Submitted games will be linked on that webpage within the next few weeks.
 

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION RESUMES IN-PERSON SERVICES AT LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICES
By Tonya Cater
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Arkansas
We are pleased to announce that local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and have resumed in-person services for people without an appointment.

To avoid waiting in line, we strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment.  Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. We thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Before coming to an office, we encourage you to visit our emergency page at www.ssa.gov/emergency to check the office status. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.

Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures. These include masking regardless of local guidance, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms. We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.

Most of our services are available to the public online and with a personal my Social Security account, or by telephone. And most of our services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create their personal my Social Security account, a personalized online service, on our website at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Many of our services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

As we transition to a modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret these disruptions and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy. Less busy times include before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.

To learn more, please visit our How to Get Help from Social Security page at www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/gethelp and our Online Services page at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices.

 

BOOZMAN TOUTS SUCCESS OF DRUG AND VETERANS TREATMENT COURTS IN BENTON COUNTY
WASHINGTON––Amid National Drug Court Month and on the heels of news a record number of Americans died of drug overdoses last year, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is highlighting the efficacy of drug courts to successfully treat substance use disorders, leading participants into recovery and out of the justice system.

Boozman honored over 130 Benton County Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court graduates from over the last two years during a ceremony on Friday.

“An investment in drug courts is an investment in jobs, lives saved, and our financial future,” Boozman said. “It’s a privilege to get to partner with you on getting our family, friends and neighbors the support and care they need in a very deliberate and effective way.”

Drug and veterans treatment courts across Arkansas and throughout the country offer an alternative to jail through strenuous and thorough rehabilitation programs.

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, about 60 percent of drug court participants complete at least 12 months of treatment, compared to only 10 percent of probationers and parolees, proving drug courts are reducing crime and substance use, breaking the cycle of recidivism and keeping families together.

Boozman praised Benton County Circuit Judge Thomas Smith and his staff for their efforts in making the program an exemplary success that changes lives and generates significant cost-savings.

“The data shows you all have much higher success rates than the traditional justice system: a 90 percent graduation rate and only a 15 percent re-offense rate,” Boozman said of Benton County’s programs. “Not only is that a great story to tell in the lives of the over 1,100 individuals and 70 veterans who have been impacted here, but it’s also a good thing in the sense that it saves our state vast amounts of resources – tens of millions of dollars every year, in fact.”

May 16, 2022

CAMDEN POLICE REPORTS
PUBLIC INTOXICATlON
On May 13, 2022 at 1836 hours Officer Waldron Sheppard was dispatched to 865 S Adams Ave to the west parking lot of the metal building bearing, a "USED TIRES" sign.

Upon arrival Officer Sheppard observed two Ouachita County Sheriff vehicles and two Ouachita County Sheriff Deputies with Synicia Madison, Deputy Davis handed over a small bottle of liquor that Madison was carrying. Officer Sheppard approached Madison who was positioned between the vehicles and began asking her questions, but it became quickly obvious that Madison was intoxicated due to her slurred speech, inability to respond to simple questions, and incoherent speech patterns. :

Due to Madison's disposition and clear intoxication she was arrested and transported lo the station without incident.

Booking producers were completed und approved by Madison was later released with a citation 13224 court date.

SHOPLIFTING
On May 12, 2022 at 142 hours Officer Paul Caldwell, was dispatched to Walmart in reference to shoplifting.

Officer Caldwell arrived on scene and made contact with the Walmart Asset Protection employee in the Asset Protection Office and observed a female identified as Ajia Bocage.

The employee stated be observed Bocage on camera putting items in a bag and then shopping cart that were not scanned and paid for. He stated that he approached Bocage and questioned her about the items and then took Bocage in the Asset Protection Office and detained her until CPD arrived on scene.

Officer Caldwell observed video surveillance of Bocage unscanned items in a bag. He obtained Bocage's driver’s license and had dispatch check ACIC which returned no active criminal history.

The amount of unscanned items equaled $97.11.

A Shoplifting Affidavit was completed and Bocage was taken into custody and transported to the station where booking procedures were completed and later approved. Bocage was release with a Criminal Citation and a court date.

 

UNBUCKLED BE WARNED: TWO WEEKLONG CLICK IT OR TICKET ENFORCEMENT PLAN SCHEDULED
MAY 16, 2022
Now is the time to change an unsafe practice.  Beginning Monday (May 23rd) law enforcement will have patrols across Arkansas watching closely for motorists not using their seat belts.  The stepped-up enforcement operation will continue through June 5th as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Click It or Ticket defined enforcement action plan which spans the Memorial Day holiday period.

 The Arkansas Highway Safety Office reminds drivers and their passengers that the regular practice of using seat belts is a proven lifesaver.

 “The objective is to change the ways of so many drivers and passengers who never use their seat belts,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “We want the act of buckling up to become instinctive for everyone anytime they get in a car or truck to travel.”

 As a part of the Click It or Ticket plan for 2022, NHTSA has asked authorities in every state to participate in the kickoff event, Border to Border (B2B), a 4 hour national seat belt awareness event coordinated by participating state highway safety offices and their respective law enforcement liaisons scheduled for May 23rd.  The B2B program is intended to increase law enforcement participation by coordinating highly visible seat belt enforcement involving drivers at heavily traveled, highly visible, state border locations.

“During the Click It or Ticket campaign, we’ll be working with our fellow law enforcement officers across local and state lines to ensure the message is getting out to drivers and passengers,” Colonel Bryant said.  “Buckling up is the simplest thing you can do to limit injury or save your life in a crash, and it’s the law.”

According to NHTSA statistics from 2020, there were 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in the United States.  More than twice the number of males died in crashes as compared to females.  Additionally, the use of seat belts was lower among males.  More than half the males who died in motor vehicle crashes (55%) were not wearing a seat belt.  Among females who died in crashes during the same reporting period, 43% weren’t buckled up.

The 2020 statistical analysis indicates 58% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes at night (6 PM - 5:59 AM) were not wearing seat belts which has led to additional attention to be directed by troopers and other law enforcement officers to seat belt enforcement seat belt enforcement during the evening hours during the upcoming campaign.

Participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt law enforcement, writing citations day and night.

More information about the Click It or Ticket mobilization can be found at https://www.nhtsa.gov/campaign/click-it-or-ticket or by calling the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  News and facts about Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities can be found at https://www.tzdarkansas.org/

 

COMMON GROUND ARKANSAS DEVELOPS SITE TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR ARKANSANS TO FIND POLLING LOCATIONS
The nonpartisan organization Common Ground Arkansas has developed an online Early Voting Locator tool to help voters quickly find their nearest polling locations and hours of operation.

The tool is an interactive map based on the voter’s location or an address the user inputs. It provides locations, hours, and driving directions to polling locations within a selected radius.

Voting in the Democratic, Republican and Nonpartisan primaries is underway with early voting continuing through May 23. A voter can cast a ballot at any of the voting centers in their county. The organization has also developed a similar tool that displays election day (May 24) voting locations. Early voting locations can be different from election day locations, and the 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 voting hours on election day differ from hours at early voting locations.

Both tools are available on Common Ground Arkansas’ website.
Early Voting Locator:  https://commongroundar.org/votehere/
Election Day Locator: https://commongroundar.org/voteday/

Common Ground Arkansas is a nonpartisan organization working toward good governance and increased accountability to the people of Arkansas.

“Early voting is key to ensuring that all Arkansans have a chance to exercise their right to vote,” said Jim Hendren, founder of Common Ground Arkansas. “We are focused on empowering Arkansans, and that starts with providing them with tools so they can learn more about their leaders and have accessible ways to hold them accountable. We hope all Arkansans take the time to vote this May, and our voting locators are one way we can help them do that.”


BOOZMAN APPLAUDS CONGRESSIONAL YOUTH CABINET PARTICIPANTS
LITTLE ROCK – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) applauded his 2021-2022 Congressional Youth Cabinet on Friday as participants presented their legislative proposals regarding student loan debt, minimum wage requirements and laws governing alcohol and tobacco.

The 54 high school juniors shared their ideas with the senator during presentations at the Arkansas State Capitol. The students selected issues to address at their first meeting in the fall and collaborated throughout the year to create their recommendations. In addition to policy suggestions, the students had to describe how their proposal would be funded and implemented.

“I am proud of these young leaders for their hard work, dedication and interest in learning about and developing public policy solutions,” Boozman said. “These students balance a lot of priorities and I am pleased they put such great effort into their presentations. I am confident they will continue to be leaders who give back to their communities and hope their participation in the Congressional Youth Cabinet has given them a valuable window into public policy and public service. This is something they can point to in the future as having helped them become better students and more informed, engaged citizens.”

Sabian Murry, Bryant High School student who served as the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts group leader, said, “I am very fortunate to have been selected to become a member of the Congressional Youth Cabinet. It has truly widened my perspective on what it means to not only be a part of a team that has to make difficult decisions for complex issues, but also how to communicate with people who view issues differently from me. I've learned that it's effective to have a diverse selection of individuals when confronting issues, so that as many groups as possible receive representation in life-altering law changes.”

“Being on the Senator’s youth cabinet has made my childhood dream of being active in politics a reality (I wrote several stories about being president in the 6th grade),” The Academies at Jonesboro High School student and group leader for the 1st Congressional District Webb Storer said. “It has also given me the opportunity to present ideas in a meaningful and impactful way which is unique to such a forum. Meeting new people has allowed me to see multiple perspectives on the issues at hand much easier and make friends along the way.”

“I have learned so much from being on Senator Boozman’s Youth Congressional Cabinet these last few months, most notably, that all topics and issues are vastly more complicated than one would originally think. All the amazing people I have met and worked with have really shown me how to be part of a team, and how to tackle complicated issues that apply to the world. Although it has been hard, the values and knowledge I have learned through this will help me for the rest of my life,” said Tyler Wirthlin, Bentonville West High School student and 3rd Congressional District group leader.

The Congressional Youth Cabinet is designed to give students first-hand experience with the democratic process and an opportunity to learn how public policy impacts them, their families and their communities.

May 13, 2022

CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board Of Education will meet in regular session on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 6:30 P.M. at Garrison Auditorium

The Agenda is as follows
Call to order
Recognition of Softball team and members of CFHS Boys Track team
Student Hearing (Readmit)
Approval of minutes of previous meetings
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
None
NEW BUSINESS
     Presentation of building Teachers of the Year by Tara Armstrong.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding the purchase of a school bus.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding provider of milk for 2022-2023 school year.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding provider of bread for 2022-2023 school year.
     Presentation and recommendation regarding the 1240 waiver request for class size.
Facility Rentals
Superintendent’s report to the Board
Financial report
Personnel
     Hiring
     Resignation
     Retiring


COTTON INTRODUCES BILL DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FOR FORMULA SHORTAGE
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today introduced legislation requiring President Joe Biden to submit a report to Congress within 30 days detailing the steps the administration is taking to end the infant formula shortage. Bill text may be found here.

“Four months ago, the FDA closed a formula manufacturing site without taking steps to ensure infant formula supply levels would remain sufficient, leaving millions of babies without the food they need,” said Cotton. “This shortage is a direct result of the Biden administration’s actions, and the President needs to take start taking this seriously." 
 

May 12, 2022

CAMDEN CITY POLICE REPORTS 04-28-2022 TO 05-12-2022
On 5/11/2022 at 17:27 hours, Officer Carneal was dispatched to the corner of Hawthorne Street and Fairview Road in response to a report of a vehicle off the road that was reported by Arkansas State Police Trooper Harper. The driver was reported to be slumped over. Trooper Harper also notified dispatch to send EMS to the scene.

Upon arriving Officer Carneal made contact with Trooper Harper. He was standing beside a blue Hyundai bearing Louisiana tag 796 BQN. The driver's door was open. An examination of the vehicle through the door showed Hines, the victim, sitting in the passengers seat with his feet on the dash. Trooper Harper stated he had opened the door and checked the victim for a pulse and had found none. Harper stated the car was extremely hot when he opened the door.

Officer Carneal notified dispatch that the comer should be contacted and put on standby. He then contacted Lt. Bush and informed him of the situation. EMS arrived and determined the victim was deceased. At this point a Chad Dupree arrived and stated the victim was Chris Hine,s his best friend. Dupree was upset that EMS hadn't done more for Hines. The Officers informed him that Hines has been deceased to long. Dupree then went back to his residence at 805 Fairview Road. When Lt. Bush and Bailey arrived Bailey and Officer Carneal went to Dupree's residence to determine if he knew the victims next of kin. Dupree stated he was trying to call the victims daughter. He stated the daughters name was Stephany Hines. Dupree refused when the Officers offered to make the notification. When asked for his phone number for the report Dupree placed the phone down and stated he didn't have one and ordered us off the property.

Approximately 10 minutes later a female that identified herself as Stephany Balding the victims daughter, arrived on scene. Officer Carneal explained the situation as it stood and got her a seat in the back of Lt. Bush's vehicle with the door open. Balding stated she and the victim had been working on the vehicle before she left for work at approximately 3:30. Balding stated the victim was going to continue working on the car. When asked if her father had used drugs she stated "Benzos, Heroin and Meth". Ouachita County Comer Smith arrived along with Captain Sanders who then removed the body from the vehicle. The body was to be transported to Arkansas State Crime lab.

On May 11, 2022 at 1229 hours Officer Davis along with other officers went to 343 Harrison Street in reference to a warrant service on Nahumyusef Vinson.

Officer Davis made contact with Vinson in the back bedroom of the residence, at this time he was upset but compliant. He asked if he could use the restroom before he went to jail which he was allowed to do. After using the restroom, he stated "I aint going", and slammed the door shut.

Office Davis then kicked the restroom door, forcing entry. The door struck Vinson on the right side of his forehead causing him to fall to the ground. Officers attempted to place Vinson into handcuffs, however he refused to place his hands behind his back. Vinson was told several times to put his hands behind his back and would not comply. Officers had to wrestle Vinson on the ground and stunn him in the mid-section of his back to make him comply. He was taken into custody and transported to the station without further incident.

On 05-06-2022 Officer Jackson was dispatched to the 200 block Agee Street in reference to an intoxicated female walking in the road. Upon arrival to Agee and Clifton intersection Ofc. Jackson observed Synicia Madison walking down the road stumbling, talking loudly and punching the air.

Ofc. Jackson exited his vehicle to make contact with Madison when she began attempting to speed walk away from Ofc. Jackson. Ofc. Jackson caught up and made contact with Madison while she was stumbling down the road. Ofc. Jackson asked Madison who she was and she stated "I Don't know". Madison was stumbling while walking, her speech was slurred, and smelled of the odor of alcohol on her breath. Ofc. Jackson then asked Madison her name and she replied "I don't have a ***** name". Ofc. Jackson took Madison to Camden Police Department where she was identified by Sgt. Reynolds and at that time Madison responded to her name.

Due to all the present factors Ofc. Jackson placed Madison under arrest for public intoxication. Madison was transported to Camden Police Department where she was booked for Public Intoxication and Obstructing Govemmental Operations.

On April 28, 2022 at 0705 hours, Officer Davis was dispatched to 186 Walnut Street in reference to a subject by the name of Anthony Anderson refusing to leave. Upon my arrival, the Officer made contact with Anderson in the front entrance of the residence. He stated he was next door and noticed the door to 186 was opened. He said he went over and entered the residence. He said the homeowner told him to leave. He said he used to live there however doesn't anymore. The Officer advised Anderson that he should have left when the victim told him to leave,

The homeowner advised that Anderson entered her residence without permission. She said after asking him to leave multiple times, she told him that she was going to call the police, She said after that, he told her that he would slit her throat if she called the police.

Officer Davis placed Anderson into custody for Criminal Trespass.

On April 28, 2022 at 2013 hours Sergeant Elliott was on patrol with Officer Caldwell in the area of Country Club Road and Branyan-Hunnicutt Bypass (U.S. Highway 278).

While in the area, the Officers observed a silver Honda passenger car and a black passenger car blocking the roadway on Country Club Road facing east. Officer Caldwell advised dispatch he would be out with the vehicle for a motorist assist. After exiting the vehicle, Sgt. Elliott tended to the traffic approaching the intersection while Officer Caldwell assisted the drivers.

Due to the vehicle blocking the roadway and the constant flow of traffic, Sgt. Elliott advised Officer Caldwell to advise the driver the vehicle needed to be moved and to get the driver's information.

Officer Caldwell attempted to get the female driver's information, which she gave the name of Octavia Richards. Sgt. Elliott knew "Octavia Richards" to be Stephanie Watts, whom he has had several encounters with.

Watts began moving around and grabbing items from the vehicle prior to closing the door on the driver side. She began walking away. Officer Caldwell walked behind her. Officer Caldwell told Watts to stop, but she continued to walk away, eventually running westbound.

Due to the vehicles being unsecured and blocking the roadway, Sgt. Elliott stayed behind and advised additional units to come to our location.

Units responded and Officer Caldwell advised he lost sight of Watts behind Fox Creek apartments.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: DON’T LET SCAM ARTISTS INVADE YOUR DEVICES
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans of a prevalent tech support scam infecting common electronic devices, such as smart phones, laptops and tablets. This antivirus software scam usually begins with a phone call or pop-up message on the consumer’s electronic device. The communication is actually from a fake tech support representative claiming to be from a well-known technology company.

“I urge all Arkansans to be cautious when anyone asks for access to their devices or private information,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Scam artists scour the internet and phonebooks to find unsuspecting victims who are willing to share their sensitive information.”

How the scam works is that a representative or message will claim to the consumer that there is a virus infecting a device or that the consumer’s virus protection has expired. The consumer is instructed to install software immediately in order to protect the device and private information. Often times, the scammer claims to need sensitive information such as account numbers, date of birth or Social Security number in order to remedy the issue. Even more terrifying, the scammer will con a victim into giving access to the device. When the device is accessed in this way, the scammers install applications that allow remote access to the device any time without the victim’s knowledge or permission. The scam artists use this information for illegal activities, such as gaining access to consumer's bank accounts. Scammers will quickly drain the accounts and move on to another unsuspecting victim.

Remember these tips when safely navigating online:
No legitimate company will ever send you an unsolicited email asking for your personal information.
If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply.
Contact the business identified in the original message directly by using the customer service number provided to you on a reliable statement to verify the legitimacy of the message.
Do not give sensitive information in response to an unsolicited request.
Immediately delete all suspicious emails, and never open email attachments or click on links from unknown sources.

The Attorney General’s Office provides a tip card  for consumers on how to spot phishing scams, information for parents to spot cyberbullying and tips on internet safety.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s office by calling (800) 482-8982, emailing consumer@arkansasag.gov, or visiting ArkansasAG.gov.

 

UAMS RESEARCHERS FIND STUDENT BEHAVIOR IMPROVES WHEN SCHOOLS SERVE BREAKFAST AFTER CLASS BEGINS
LITTLE ROCK — A research team, which included Andres Cuadros-Menaca, Ph.D., and Michael Thomsen, Ph.D., from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, discovered that schools providing breakfast after the school day begins (Breakfast After the Bell) experienced a decrease in student behavior issues.                  

The study, published by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, revealed that because of Breakfast after the Bell, more than 1.3 million additional breakfasts were served to Arkansas students in grades 3-7 during the 2018-2019 school year. That was the final year of the study and the last school year before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools across the state.      

Currently, there are over 400 schools in Arkansas that provide Breakfast After the Bell, which helps students get breakfast once class begins. Traditionally, schools serve breakfast in the cafeteria or a designated area on campus before school starts for the day.    

“Breakfast After the Bell creates a better learning environment,” said Thomsen, director of the UAMS Center for the Study of Obesity in the College of Public Health. “If you haven’t eaten anything, it’s easier to become irritated at someone or just not care about school. Breakfast After the Bell ultimately leads to students having a better educational experience because they’re not hungry.”

The data used in the study dates back to the 2008-2009 school year and continued through 2018-2019. Breakfast After the Bell resulted in almost 18,000 fewer documented behavioral disturbances in Arkansas during the 2018-2019 school year.

Breakfast After the Bell, which was first used in Arkansas in 2013, also helps to address adolescent health. All meals provided by the schools must meet nutrition standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools where a high percentage of students reside in food deserts are most likely to provide Breakfast After the Bell.

Additionally, the impact of Breakfast After the Bell is even more pronounced among minority children and those eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

“Our findings are consistent with previous studies indicating that children from economically or socially disadvantaged families are more likely to be food insecure, which may contribute to psychosocial dysfunction,” said Cuadros-Menaca, a postdoctoral fellow in the obesity center.

The increased access to a healthy meal for all students, especially ones from low-income households, enhances the value of the program.

“If a student lives in an environment where breakfast isn’t offered at home, then eating breakfast at school gives them food, and it’s a healthy meal option, too,” Thomsen said.  “If children are at risk of a poor diet because their family does not have access to nutritious foods, the school can make a difference. Having Breakfast After the Bell means even more children will enjoy nutritious meals during the day.”

There are several initiatives, ministries, and nonprofits that address child hunger in Arkansas. One of those groups is the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Vivian Nicholson is the breakfast program director for the organization.

“Another benefit of Breakfast After the Bell is that teachers have less distractions from students saying they don’t feel well and want to go to the nurse’s office because their stomach hurts when they’re actually just hungry,” Nicholson said.

“Several principals have shared with us that when a child has a discipline issue in the morning, it’s often because they have not eaten breakfast,” Nicholson said. “Teachers have told us that they have fewer discipline issues in the morning when all their students eat breakfast.”       

Economic difficulties or the loss of sleep in order to get to school early enough for breakfast are a few of the common occurrences that result in a student not eating in the morning.

“Some children may miss breakfast because the school bus arrives late,” Cuadros-Menaca said. “Some kids choose not to get breakfast before the bell because of the negative stigma of school meals being only for students from low-income families.”

School administrations constantly seek ways to help their students. That’s a reason why more Arkansas schools are converting to Breakfast After the Bell and distributing breakfast in ways that will benefit their students.

“Some schools are doing breakfast in the classroom,” Nicholson said. “Some are doing a grab and go in the hallway. At the high school level, some places are doing a second chance breakfast after first period class is over.”

Researchers suggest that potential issues such as kids making a mess in the classrooms or staff finding efficient ways to distribute meals keeps some administrators from implementing the program.

“There are schools where the child nutrition department does not have the manpower to deliver breakfast to the classroom or in the hallways,” Nicholson said. “Some child nutrition staffs don’t have the equipment to offer Breakfast After the Bell.”   

Overall, Breakfast After the Bell helps to create a situation that’s ideal for Arkansas’ kids to get a good education. 

“With Breakfast After the Bell, the obvious main benefit is that teachers have fewer behavioral issues to address,” Thomsen said. “Fewer behavioral issues result in a better learning environment for all children.”      

 

U.S. ATTORNEY DAVID CLAY FOWLKES RECOGNIZES POLICE WEEK
FORT SMITH- In honor of National Police Week, U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes recognizes the service and sacrifice of federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement. This year, the week is observed Wednesday, May 11 through Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

“This week, we gather to pay tribute to the law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives in service to our country,” said Attorney General Garland. “We remember the courage with which they worked and lived. And we recommit ourselves to the mission to which they dedicated their lives. On behalf of a grateful Justice Department and a grateful nation, I extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the entire law enforcement community.”

“The profession of serving as a police officer has faced unprecedented challenges over the last year,” said U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes.  “These challenges include a rising tide of drug trafficking, directly accompanied by a dramatic increase in violent crime.  Our police officers have also faced numerous challenges associated with a global pandemic.  We are extremely fortunate in the Western District of Arkansas to have some of the most dedicated, trustworthy, and competent law enforcement officers in the United States.  The law enforcement officers in Western Arkansas have met each one of these unprecedented challenges with the dedication and sacrifice that we too often take for granted.  It is with great respect and deep admiration for their service that we take this opportunity to express our thanks and deepest gratitude for all that they do on our behalf.”

In 1962, President Kennedy issued the first proclamation for Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week to remember and honor law enforcement officers for their service and sacrifices.  Peace Officers Memorial Day, which every year falls on May 15, specifically honors law enforcement officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. Based on data submitted to and analyzed by the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), 472 law enforcement officers died nationwide in the line of duty in 2021.  Of that number, 319 succumbed to COVID-19.   

Additionally, according to 2021 statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program, 73 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were killed as a result of felonious acts, whereas 56 died in accidents.  Deaths resulting from felonious acts increased in 2021, rising more than 58 percent from the previous year.  In 2021, unprovoked attacks[i] were the cause of 24 deaths significantly outpacing all other line of duty deaths resulting from felony acts and reaching the highest annual total in over 30 years of reporting.  Additional LEOKA statistics can be found on FBI’s Crime Data Explorer website for the LEOKA program. 

The names of the 619 fallen officers added this year to the wall at the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial will be read on Friday, May 13, 2022, during a Candlelight Vigil in Washington, D.C., starting at 8:00 PM EDT. Those who wish to view the vigil live online, can watch on the NLEOMF YouTube channel found at https://www.youtube.com/TheNLEOMF. The schedule of National Police Week events is available on NLEOMF’s website.

Sample Ballot for Primary Election

May 11, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. Brother Richard Foster, Pastor of Grace Baptist Church located at 1505 California Avenue in Camden, gave the invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
City Clerk Donna Stewart called the roll. Aldermen William McCoy, Chris Aregood, Terry Smith, Cecil McDonald, James Bell and Joe Askew were all in attendance. L.E. Lindsey and Marvin Moore were absent.
The minutes from the Regular Meeting, dated April 12, 2022, and the Financial Report from April 2022 were presented in print. Both the minutes and financials were passed by unanimous vote. 
Ordinance No. 05-22, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 777 Bradley Ferry Rd.. Motion made and seconded. A discussion ensued. A woman bought the property and doesn't feel she should be responsible for Lien. Council usually drop lien amounts to 20%. The new property owner offered a far smaller amount. 20.% would be about $450.00. Motion made to amend ordinance from the $150 offered to $450.00 (approximately 20% of the lein). Motion to amend passed by unanimous vote. Motion made to suspend a put up for final reading. Motion to amend passed by unanimous vote. Motion to approve as amended passed by unanimous vote.

Ordinance No. 06-22, an ordinance setting forth certain regulations for the sale of alcohol for on¬ premises consumption; and for other purposes. Motion was made to to suspend the rules and put up for a final reading. The motion to suspend the rules assed by unanimous vote. Motion made to approve the Ordinance and seconded. The ordinance passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 28-22, a resolution authorizing the Port Authority to apply for a grant for crane removal and warehouse renovation from the Arkansas Port and Waterways Development Grant Program. Motion to approve made and seconded. Funds to submit for is $200,000. City will be responsible for 20%. Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 29-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to purchase a tractor and boom mower through an interlocal contract for cooperative purchasing; and for other purposes. Motion made and seconded. Resolution passed by unanimous vote.

James Bell the made a motion made to amend the agenda to discuss Camden Downtown Network funding. Motion to amend passed. This money has already been budgeted and Attorney Michael Frey had gotten the Resolution just prior to the meeting. The Resolution passed by unanimous vote. 
 

COTTON CALLS ON DOJ TO PROSECUTE PROTESTORS OUTSIDE JUSTICES’ HOMES
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding action from the Department of Justice in response to ongoing protests at the homes of Supreme Court Justices with the intent to sway the outcome of a pending case—a violation of federal law.
In part, Cotton wrote, “Please explain why you have refused to enforce the federal law against picketing and protesting at the homes of Supreme Court Justices. Left-wing mobs have recently targeted the homes of Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh, a blatant and obvious violation of 18 USC § 1507. These unlawful protestors widely publicized their plans, yet it appears that no federal law-enforcement officers were present to arrest the lawbreakers and no investigation is ongoing.”
“This is in stark contrast to when you sicced federal agents on parents who attended public meetings of school boards in public buildings. Without an adequate explanation, one can only assume that you have weaponized federal law-enforcement against your party’s political opponents,” Cotton continued.
Cotton concluded by warning Garland that a continued refusal to enforce federal law might prompt impeachment proceedings against him in the next Congress.

May 10 2022

MELINDA “MISSY” CHAMBERS SEEKS RE-ELECTION
Melinda “Missy” Chambers has announced her intentions to seek re-election for Ouachita County Treasurer.

“I am the Ouachita County Treasurer and would like to continue for another 4 years. It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Ouachita County for the past 7 1/2 years as Treasurer.  Prior to being the treasurer, I was the deputy treasurer for 6 years.  By the end of this term, I will have 15 years’ experience in the treasurer’s office, and I have 6 years of county government experience from the County Clerk’s office.”

The treasurer’s office receives and accounts for all county monies and distributes tax collections to the taxing units each month.  As the disbursement officer for the county, I will continue to work with the officials, cities, and schools.

I am a life-long resident of Ouachita County. I graduated from Camden High School in 1983. I’ve been married to Wayland Chambers for 39 years, we raised two children Jonathan and Breanne in Ouachita County.  We have a daughter-in-law Jennifer and three grandchildren, Carson, Jon Russell and Jorgia.  I am the daughter of Betty Vaughan and the late Russell Vaughan.

I attend Camden Cumberland Presbyterian Church; I am a 4-H leader for the Camden Clovers 4-H club and the Ouachita County Fairboard President. 

I come from a long line of public servants, and I would like to continue to serve the citizens of Ouachita County as your County Treasurer.  I would appreciate your support and vote on November 8, 2022.
 

STATE TREASURY MARKS MILESTONE WITH NEW DIGITAL RECEIVING PORTAL - NEW PROGRAM PART OF TREASURER’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY
May 10, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – The state treasury implemented a new digital receiving portal as part of Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s plans to digitalize the office’s operations, and the office recently processed its 100,000th receipt – a milestone for the treasury and a major transformation from the previous method of hand-delivery.

Historically, agency representatives had to hand-deliver their receipts – which notify the Treasury which account to deposit the funds into – to the treasurer’s office in Little Rock. That was until Milligan implemented the “TRIP” program, which stands for Treasury Receiving Interactive Program.

“We built this digital program internally and it has provided not only my staff but representatives with state agencies we serve a much more efficient way to direct their funds,” Milligan said. “More than 85% of receipts worth roughly $11 billion are now submitted via the new TRIP digital portal.”

The treasury receives about $70 million each day in funds from local, state and federal agencies and receives anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 checks daily.

“The TRIP portal provides agencies a secure procedure for delivering receipts to us in real time,” Milligan said, adding that it offered additional benefits to agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic. “It added an extra layer of security during that time when social distancing was strongly encouraged.”

Furthering ease and efficiency for agencies the treasury serves, it also provides an online record of transactions. The TRIP platform was implemented in the Treasury in July 2019.

 

SURVEY: SMALL BUSINESS EXPECTATIONS FOR BETTER CONDITIONS AT 48-YEAR LOW
LITTLE ROCK (May 10, 2022) – The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was unchanged in April, remaining at 93.2 and the fourth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased one point to a net negative 50%, the lowest level recorded in the 48-year-old survey. 

Inflation continues to be a problem for small businesses with 32% of small business owners reporting it’s their single most important problem in operating their business, the highest reading since the fourth quarter of 1980.

NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “The latest national survey tells us that Arkansas isn’t alone in dealing with things like inflation and higher fuel prices.”

Key findings in the national survey include:

Forty-seven percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, unchanged from March. 

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased two points to a net 70% (seasonally adjusted), two points below last month’s highest reading.

The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher increased six points from March to a net negative 12%.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, small businesses continue to struggle to find workers to fill open positions with 47% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 93% of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

Fifty-four percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, down two points from March. Of those owners making expenditures, 40% reported spending on new equipment, 24% acquired vehicles, and 14% improved or expanded facilities. Eight percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion and 11% spent money for new fixtures and furniture. Twenty-seven percent of owners plan capital outlays in the next few months, up one point from March.

Seasonally adjusted, 3% of all owners reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, down one point from March and a poor reading. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes increased by six points to a net negative 12%.

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases went up four points to a net 4%. Nineteen percent of owners reported increases in stocks while 15% reported reductions as solid sales reduced inventories at many firms. 

Thirty-six percent of owners reported that supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on their business. Another 34% report a moderate impact and 20% report a mild impact. Only 8% of owners reported no impact from recent supply chain disruptions.

Up three points from March, a net 6% of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in April. A net 1% of owners plan inventory investment in the coming months, down one point from March. 

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased two points from March’s record high reading to a net 70% (seasonally adjusted). Four percent reported lower average selling prices and 70% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in wholesale (85% higher, 0% lower), construction (81% higher, 3% lower), retail trades (76% higher, 4% lower), and manufacturing (70% higher, 3% lower). A net 46% of owners plan price hikes (seasonally adjusted). 

A net 46% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation, down three points from March. A net 27% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months. Eight percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 23% said labor quality was their top business problem. 

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends was a net negative 17%. Among the owners reporting lower profits, 34% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 22% blamed weaker sales, 14% cited the usual seasonal change, 11% cited labor costs, 9% cited lower prices, and 2% cited higher taxes or regulatory costs. For the owners reporting higher profits, 51% credited sales volumes, 13% cited usual seasonal change, and 19% cited higher prices. 

Two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-six percent of owners reported all credit needs met and 61% said they were not interested in a loan. 

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 April 2022. 

About NFIB
For nearly 80 years, NFIB 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.

 

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT PUBLIC SERVANTS AND THEIR FAMILIES FROM THREATS AT HOME
Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) today introduced the Public Servant Protection Act, legislation to protect all government employees and their families from having their home addresses listed publicly online.

“Judges and other government officials should not be subjected to angry protests and violent threats at home simply because they serve the public at work. Our bill will protect public servants and their families by allowing them to remove their home addresses from any public website,” said Cotton.

 

BOOZMAN URGES BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO PRIORITIZE U.S. TRADE AND AGRICULTURE AGENDA
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; joined Senators John Thune (R-SD), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; and Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, in leading a group of Republican members of the Finance and Agriculture Committees on a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging them to prioritize market access initiatives as part of America’s trade agenda.  

“Advancing U.S. economic interests – particularly in the Indo-Pacific region – requires meaningful and enforceable market access commitments,” the senators wrote. “We are concerned that the Biden administration is foregoing America’s trade and strategic leadership by failing to pursue such commitments, whether through its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) or through its decision not to pursue comprehensive free trade agreements, which was reflected in the President’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda. The lack of ambitious market-opening initiatives not only disadvantages U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses today, it jeopardizes America’s competitiveness, resilience, and security in the long-term.”

The letter was also signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Todd Young (R-IN).

Read the letter below:

The Honorable Katherine Tai                                                The Honorable Thomas Vilsack
United States Trade Representative                                    Secretary of Agriculture
600 17th Street NW                                                                1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20508                                                        Washington, D.C. 20250 

Dear Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack:

Advancing U.S. economic interests – particularly in the Indo-Pacific region – requires meaningful and enforceable market access commitments. We are concerned that the Biden administration is foregoing America’s trade and strategic leadership by failing to pursue such commitments, whether through its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) or through its decision not to pursue comprehensive free trade agreements, which was reflected in the President’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda. The lack of ambitious market-opening initiatives not only disadvantages U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses today, it jeopardizes America’s competitiveness, resilience, and security in the long-term.

Unlike traditional trade agreements, the IPEF is not expected to include critical market access commitments. The failure to include such commitments puts American exporters, including agricultural producers, at a competitive disadvantage in the global market. It also signals to the world that the United States is not committed to fully engaging commercially or strategically in the region. Thus, while some aspects of the IPEF may have potential, it is not a credible counterweight to the market-opening agreements that other countries, including China, are actively advancing.

America cannot afford to sit on the sidelines in trade. For generations, a large part of our nation’s economic success has been based on the United States advocating for more, not less, open markets. For example, U.S. farm and food product exports grew from $46.1 billion in 1994 to more than $177 billion in 2021, which was largely due to greater market access opportunities for American exporters. These U.S. exports lead to good-paying jobs at home and help spread the reach of American influence abroad. Free trade agreements are also far from relics of the past, as Ambassador Tai recently implied at a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. In fact, 13 of the 16 enacted U.S. free trade agreements were passed by Congress since the turn of this century. Opening new markets for customers, reducing barriers for business, and enforcing robust trade agreements are cornerstones of our national prosperity.

Regrettably, U.S. trade leadership has thus far taken a backseat to other priorities under this administration. But, as you know, global trade does not simply pause until the administration deems it worthy of pursuing. Opening new markets means more high-paying jobs for workers and lower-cost goods for consumers at home. The administration’s failure to engage on Trade Promotion Authority or find other avenues to open markets means our workers and producers will continue to lose ground to competitors. In contrast, China continues to advance its Belt and Road Initiative; it recently concluded the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest free trade agreement; and it now aspires to join the higher quality Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We respectfully urge you to include market access and enforceable commitments as part of the IPEF, and any other U.S. trade agreements, and we stand ready to work with you to strengthen American trade leadership.

Sincerely,


SENATE PASSES BOOZMAN, SCOTT RESOLUTION CELEBRATING NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOLS WEEK 
WASHINGTON––This week, the Senate passed a measure led by U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tim Scott (R-SC) celebrating National Charter Schools Week and commending charter schools on their contribution to education.

“Parents deserve the ability to make the best choice that fits their child’s educational needs,” Boozman said. “Giving them that opportunity has helped countless families, empowering them to pursue pathways to excellence in learning while promoting innovation and accountability. I’m proud to support charter schools in Arkansas and nationwide this week and all year long.”

“Giving children an opportunity to reach their God-given potential is a priority for all parents, regardless of race, income, or zip code,” said Scott. “That’s why millions of families — including thousands in South Carolina — choose charter schools for the high-quality education they provide. We must do everything within our power to protect and expand families’ options by continuing to support our nation’s charter schools.”

National Charter Schools Week continues through May 14.

May 09, 2022

MEMORIAL CEREMONY SLATED FOR ARKANSAS TROOPERS KILLED IN SERVICE
ASP MEMORIAL FOR 19 TROOPERS SCHEDULED TUESDAY
Survivor families and friends of 19 Arkansas State Troopers killed in the line of duty spanning the departments 87 year history will gather at state police administrative headquarters at 10 AM Tuesday morning (May 10th) for a memorial service honoring the personal sacrifice of each trooper.

The service is being held in advance of National Police Week, which begins Sunday, to allow the Arkansas survivor families to attend services in Washington D.C. next week.

Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, will lead the tribute as state troopers from across the state and other law enforcement officers gather around the families of the fallen troopers.  The service will take place in front of the Hall of Honor located off the main lobby of headquarters located at One State Police Plaza Drive, in southwest Little Rock.

The Hall of Honor will be opened to families of the troopers killed in service following the memorial service.

During the service Colonel Bryant will announce the recent placement of memorial plaques located in the exit vestibule of the Hall of Honor memorializing the service of two Arkansas State Police K9’s, Charlie and Hemi, who were killed assisting troopers in 2000 and 2018 respectively.

 

CARELINK TO CELEBRATE 2ND ANNUAL BIRTHDAY OF GIVING
43 years ago this June, CareLink  opened its doors for the first time and began serving Central Arkansas’s seniors and their families. Join us in celebrating 43 years by making a donation that will support our various programs like Meals on Wheels, Bone Appetit (pet assistance), Urgent needs, Transportation and more.  

As a nonprofit, we rely on your support to provide services that help older loved ones age gracefully and independently in their homes as long as safely possible. When you support CareLink with your giving, you support the aging community today and tomorrow.

So, mark your calendars for June 10, 2022, for the 2nd Annual BirthDay of Giving and CareLink’s 43rd Birthday, and help us reach our goal of $35,000! 

Last year on our Inaugural Day of Giving, you joined us in ringing in year 42 by raising $29,554.12 for Central Arkansas's seniors and their families!

Want to know how your gifts impact the community and help us further our mission of connecting older people and their families with the resources they need to meet the opportunities and challenges of aging? 

 

SUSPECT IN MONROE COUNTY MURDER SURRENDERS TO ARKANSAS STATE POLICE
MAY 9, 2022
Christian Franks, 20, of Clarendon surrendered to an Arkansas State Police special agent early this morning and has been charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Lilee Smith *(see news release dated May 8th copied below).

CLARENDON WOMAN MURDERED IN HOME; ASP/CID INVESTIGATING
MAY 8, 2022
Clarendon police were called to a local residence at 416 Guydon Street about 12:45 PM yesterday (Saturday, May 7th) where the body of Lilee Smith, 26, had been discovered by a family member.  Local officers contacted the Arkansas State Police requesting special agents to investigate the apparent homicide.

Agents assigned to the case believe Smith was shot sometime Friday night.

Smith’s body has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the state medical examiner will determine an approximate time of death and provide case agents with more information about the manner and cause of death.

The investigation and search for a suspect is continuing today.
 

BOOZMAN, TESTER SPEARHEAD LEGISLATION TO BOLSTER VA WORKFORCE
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee teamed up with Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce bipartisian legislation to bolster the recruitment and retention of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) workforce.

The VA Workforce Improvement, Support, and Expansion (WISE) Act of 2022 would provide increased pay and benefits for VA’s workforce, expand opportunities in rural VA facilities, support training for current and future VA clinicians, and provide additional oversight of VA Human Resource operations and their use of hiring authorities. This legislation will also better prepare VA to respond to current and future toxic exposure claims.

“The VA’s persistent staffing shortages and retention challenges have the potential to impact the care of our veterans,” Boozman said. “We must ensure there is always an adequate level of dedicated medical professionals capable of meeting the needs of our former servicemembers, no matter where they live. Our legislation creates a pipeline for the VA health workforce by incentivizing physicians and nurses to pursue and continue careers helping veterans. This is a reasonable solution to ensure we have the proper resources to fulfill the promise we made to the men and women who answered the call to serve in our nation’s uniform.” 

“VA employees are the backbone of the Department, so it’s critically important that we’re doing everything we can to get more qualified folks to fill these positions,” said Tester. “Ensuring competitive pay and benefits for these hard-working men and women should be a no-brainer, which is why we’re introducing this commonsense bill that’ll open more doors to employment in rural areas like Montana—doing right by those committed to serving those who’ve served us.” 

Among its many provisions, the VA WISE Act of 2022 will:
Allow increased pay for VA employees;
Extend the Department's hiring, recruitment and retention authorities, including extending temporary appointments and waiving pay limitations for employees performing mission critical work during the national health emergency;
Direct VA to develop and implement a national VA Rural Recruitment and Hiring Plan, including best practices for recruiting health care professionals to rural VA facilities; and
Create a Rural Health Quality and Access Fellowship program for graduate or post-graduate health care professionals to serve at a rural or highly rural VA facilities.

Veterans Service Organizations have applauded this legislative effort to increase support for VA’s workforce and fill critical VA positions nationwide.

“We applaud the provisions that will strengthen HR, increase pay, improve hiring authorities and offer flexibility which will provide VA with the tools to recruit and retain its valuable workforce,” said Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs’ (NOVA) President TJ Wilcox-Olson. “The pandemic has shown us all that a strong healthcare workforce must be a priority—as nurses who take care of veterans, we believe an investment in VA's workforce is critical to continue to meet its mission of offering timely access to world class care for all veterans.”

“Filling its available positions with the right people has been an ongoing challenge for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Associate Executive Director for Government Relations Heather Ansley. “The VA Workforce Improvement, Support, and Expansion (WISE) Act of 2022 gives VA the ability to ensure that it has the staff to meet veterans' health care needs.”

Last week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on ways VA can better recruit and retain key personnel amid a tightening labor market. Boozman questioned VA officials about the persistent staffing shortage and retention challenges.  He called on the department to prioritize veterans care and prevent its resources from being deployed to fix the southern border crisis.

May 06, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

The agenda is as follows:
A. CALL TO ORDER
B. INVOCATION - Rev. Richard Foster, Pastor - Grace Baptist Church, 1505 California Ave., Camden, Arkansas 71701
C. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D. ROLL CALL
E. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
     1. Minutes Regular Meeting April 12, 2022
F. ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
     1. Financial Report for April 2022
G. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
H. MAYOR'S REPORT
I. OLD BUSINESS
J. NEW BUSINESS
     1. Ordinance No. 05-22, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 777 Bradley Ferry Rd.
     2. Ordinance No. 06-22, an ordinance setting forth certain regulations for the sale of alcohol for on­premises consumption; and for other purposes.
     3. Resolution No. 28-22, a resolution authorizing the Port Authority to apply for a grant for crane removal and warehouse renovation from the Arkansas Port and Waterways Development Grant Program.
     4. Resolution No. 29-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to purchase a tractor and boom mower through an interlocal contract for cooperative purchasing; and for other purposes.
K. OTHER BUSINESS
L. ADJOURNMENT

 

SAU TECH ADULT EDUCATION DIVISION EARNS PERFORMANCE AWARD
EAST CAMDEN, AR (05/05/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) is pleased to announce that its Adult Education Division was recognized at Arkansas's Adult Education Administrators Meeting on April 27-29 in Little Rock for having the highest number (74) of credentials earned by students for 2020-2021. This is a new award category established by the state's adult education section to recognize programs helping students earn credentials to enter the workforce.

Barbara Hamilton directs SAU Tech's Adult Education program. Barbara has held the position since 2008 and has seen the program grow and become more focused on workforce skills. Barbara stated that "SAU Tech's Adult Education Center provides students with access to free training to help them earn credentials and increase their chances of entering employment. These credentials help our students to be more marketable and demonstrate to employers their skills and abilities to perform specific job duties. SAU Tech Adult Education Centers currently offers Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), OSHA 10 (Manufacturing and General Healthcare), ServSafe Food Handler, Workforce Preparation Certificate, and Level II WAGE Certificates. These programs and certificates are FREE to Arkansas residents in our service area. Our main goal is to help prepare residents in our community for the workforce."

SAU Tech's Adult Education serves Calhoun, Ouachita, Dallas, and Columbia Counties. For more information on SAU Tech's Adult Education services go to https://www.sautech.edu/adult-education.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/SAU-Tech-Adult-Education-Division-Earns-Performance-Award/27125



MONTHLY HUB MEETING
The monthly Hub meeting will be Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at noon in The Great Hall of First United Methodist Church, 121 Harrison Ave, Camden, AR. Mrs. Tara Armstrong, Fairview School Asst. Superintendent, is sending 2 school representatives to talk about  “The Science of Reading” and the reading volunteer program.

 

OLIVIA AND LIAM TOP SOCIAL SECURITY’S CHARTS AMERICA’S MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES FOR 2021
Olivia and Liam are America’s most popular baby names in 2021.  Liam has been the top choice for new parents for five years in a row, and Olivia has topped the list for three years. Once again, during this unprecedented time, parents chose to stick with familiar names.  Out of both Top 10 lists combined, only one name changed, with Theodore replacing Alexander in popularity.  The name Theodore joins the Top 10 list for the first time--welcome to the club “Teddy!”

Here are the top 10 boys and girls names for 2021:

                Boys:      1) Liam                                   Girls:       1) Olivia

                                2) Noah                                                  2) Emma

                                3) Oliver                                                3) Charlotte

                                4) Elijah                                                  4) Amelia

                                5) James                                                 5) Ava

                                6) William                                              6) Sophia

                                7) Benjamin                                           7) Isabella

                                8) Lucas                                                 8) Mia

                                9) Henry                                                9) Evelyn

                                10) Theodore                                       10) Harper

For all of the top baby names of 2021, and to see where your name ranks, go to Social Security’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov.

Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi encourages everyone to enjoy the baby names list and, while online, create a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  my Social Security, born ten years ago this month, is a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing while receiving Social Security benefits.

Over the decade, more than 69 million people have signed up and benefited from the many secure and convenient self-service options.  People who set up their my Social Security account have access to additional personalized services.  They can request a replacement Social Security card online if they meet certain requirements.  If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, request a replacement SSA-1099, and if they need proof of their benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.

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 estimator and links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.

Please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/babynames to view the entire list.

 

17,800 TREES GIVEN AWAY DURING ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE “FREE TREE FRIDAYS” CAMPAIGN
LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s second annual “Free Tree Fridays” campaign resulted in the distribution of 17,800 trees during 36 events held across the state each Friday from March 18 through April 29. The events were hosted by the Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division in honor of National Arbor Day, which is celebrated annually on the last Friday of April. 

The Arbor Day act of planting a tree gives hope that the tree will grow to provide clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities, and natural beauty. The idea for the annual Free Tree Fridays campaign started in 2021 when Grant County Ranger Troy Wood requested an Arbor Day celebration giveaway in his county.

“We’re always getting calls from the public asking for trees or information about where to buy trees, so I thought a giveaway would be a great way to get trees to them and help them learn more about the work of the Forestry Division,” Wood said. “This way we can talk to landowners about our programs, and what better time to give away trees than Arbor Day?”

More than 4,400 people attended the Free Tree Fridays events this year. The success of the events prompted 14 other tree giveaway events outside of the Department’s campaign where an additional 4,500 seedlings were distributed.  

“One of our goals in Urban and Community Forestry is to give all Arkansans the opportunity to benefit from trees. Several attendees mentioned how grateful they were for the opportunity to access trees they couldn’t otherwise afford,” said Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator.  

Photos from this year’s events can be found at flic.kr/s/aHBqjzNc7K.

For more information about community development opportunities regarding trees, visit agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry/ or contact Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator, at Kristine.kimbro@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/

HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF A MINOR
HOT SPRINGS – Bradley Fields, age 40, was sentenced today to a total of 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole on one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor via the Production of Child Pornography and one count of Distribution of Child Pornography. Fields was also ordered to be placed on Supervised Release for the remainder of his life upon his release from federal prison.  The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court records, in July of 2019 the Hot Springs Police Department received a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in reference to suspected child pornography being uploaded to the internet.  Further investigation revealed that the internet account associated with the suspected child porn was registered to Fields.  The subsequent investigation determined that not only had Fields been distributing child pornography, but Fields had also been involved in the filming of at least one (1) video that constituted child pornography.

Fields was indicted by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Arkansas in November of 2019 and entered a plea of guilty in June of 2020.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement. The Hot Springs Police Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case for the United States.

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


CONVICTED FELON SENTENCED TO OVER 7 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR FIREARMS POSSESSION
HOT SPRINGS – A Hot Springs man was sentenced yesterday to 92 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, on September 4, 2020, a Hot Springs Police Officer observed a sports bike traveling at a high rate of speed and weaving in and out of traffic in Hot Springs, Arkansas. When Officer’s attempted to stop the sports bike, the driver, who was later identified as, Derek Christopher Lowrey, age 35, fled via the sports bike and then on foot. Lowrey was eventually arrested and, in a search incident to his arrest, law enforcement officers located a .380 caliber pistol in his front right pants pocket.

At the time that Lowrey possessed the firearm, he was an absconder from parole and had several prior felony convictions and was prohibited from possessing any firearms.  

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement. The Hot Springs Police Department and the ATF investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Elser 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.


AID ENCOURAGES ARKANSANS TO CONSIDER FLOOD INSURANCE
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 6, 2022) – Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain today released the following statement urging Arkansans to use this week of rain in the Natural State as a reminder to consider purchasing flood insurance to protect themselves and their property:

“Arkansas is again seeing heavy rains in the forecast this week.  With several inches of rain falling across the state, spring weather serves as a reminder of why it is important to consider purchasing flood insurance. I strongly encourage Arkansans to take the time today to protect themselves for the next severe weather event.”

Although flooding is America’s number one natural disaster, many Americans don’t have or even know about flood insurance. Many property owners often have misconceptions about flood insurance, such as whether they can get it, when they can buy it, and how much it costs, etc.

McClain offers these reminders for Arkansans as they start looking to protect their property with flood insurance:
Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy.
There is typically a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your flood insurance policy goes into effect.
You can get flood insurance if you live in a floodplain or high-flood-risk area.
You can get flood insurance if you live outside a floodplain or a lower-risk area—and at a lower cost.
You can get flood insurance if your property has been flooded before.
You can get flood insurance from insurance agents in your area.
You can buy flood insurance even if your mortgage broker doesn’t require it.

Floods are the most common and costly natural disasters in the United States. The Arkansas Insurance Department encorages Arkansans to visit floodsmart.gov to learn more about their flood risk and about how a flood could cost them without the protection of flood insurance, as well as to speak with their insurance agents regarding their flood insurance options.
 

SAAC TO HOST MICHAELA GROSS FOR CORKS AND CANVAS NIGHT
Have you ever wanted to paint your pup or color your cat? Now you can with this month’s Corks and Canvas class at South Arkansas Arts Center!  We ARE referring to portraits, of course.  “Paint your Pet Portrait" Corks and Canvas class will be held on Thursday, May 19 at 6:00pm at SAAC.  This special workshop will be hosted by local artist Michaela Gross who specializes in pet portraiture. 

Corks and Canvas is a fun-filled night of painting with friends for people who have always wanted to try their hand at it while having some fun along the way.  Snacks are provided and participants should bring their beverage of choice. Class fee is $40.  Reservations can be made via our website at www.saac-arts.org.

In order to participate in this session, Michaela will need a picture of your pet at least a week in advance of the class. Michaela will prep the canvas, draw the pet, then guests will paint it in the workshop.  Participants will be contacted by email as to where to send their pet’s photo after they have registered for the class. 

“I’m Michaela Gross, a local artist in El Dorado, and I paint portraits of people’s beloved pets. I would love to see all of your sweet fur babies and paint a portrait of them with you! Paint your pet is always such a fun class and I can’t wait to see what you create!”

Michaela grew up in Louisiana but moved to El Dorado before starting junior high. Moving to south Arkansas helped her make connections that would one day lead her to her current career as an artist. In junior high, she began taking classes with Maria Villegas and soon blossomed into a prodigious young artist. As she grew into herself, her talent, creativity, and passion grew as well. After graduating high school at Parkers Chapel, she pursued a degree in Studio Art from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Now a mother 2 children and a resident artist of El Dorado, Michaela continues to be devoted to art and teaching and conveys her enthusiasm through her classes. She hopes to inspire children to let their creativity and talent shine just as her teachers at SAAC inspired her when she was a young artist.

For more information on this fun class, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website.
 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS POINT OF PURCHASE SOLUTIONS PROGRAM EARNS ENERGY STAR® PARTNER OF THE YEAR – SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE AWARD
Fourth consecutive year for the program to be honored by EPA
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Entergy Arkansas Entergy Solutions Point of Purchase Solutions (POPS) Program recently received the 2022 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. This is the fourth year in a row that the program has been awarded for its exemplary work and ongoing commitment to energy efficiency in Arkansas.

The Entergy Solutions portfolio of programs are energy-efficiency programs administered by Entergy Arkansas that help both residential and business customers save energy and money by reducing the upfront cost of a variety of power-saving upgrades. The programs work with participating partners, local trade allies and retailers to help customers find ways to save energy through the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

Cumulatively, the Entergy Solutions residential and commercial programs have achieved evaluated energy savings of 2,532,965,591 kilowatt hours through 2021. This is the equivalent of saving the carbon dioxide emissions from 349,275 homes' electricity use for one year, or saving the greenhouse gas emmissions of 386,782 gasoline-powered vehicles driven for one year.

“Entergy Arkansas is always working towards our commitment to offer our customers affordable, safe and reliable energy,” said President and CEO Laura Landreaux, “and Entergy Solutions is an integral part in helping us do that. These programs help us provide leading technologies to help customers manage their energy usage efficiently and save money on their bills, and we are pleased to be recognized by the EPA for that work.”

The Entergy Solutions Programs for residential customers include comprehensive home assessments, air conditioner tune-ups, smart thermostats, and discounts on lighting and appliances. Deeper energy efficiency measures, like insulation, air sealing and duct sealing, are also available through Entergy Solutions.  For businesses, Entergy Solutions provides solutions for businesses of all sizes to increase their efficiency. From customized programs that set a schedule for energy used to incentives for improving the facility’s energy efficiency, the Entergy Solutions Programs identify ways to save energy and increase the bottom line for small and large businesses, agricultural businesses, and public institutions.

The Point of Purchase Solutions Program provides ways for Entergy Arkansas customers to save money on energy-efficient products for their homes. Whether customers buy a product that is eligible for a rebate or purchase directly from the Entergy Arkansas Marketplace, they can save on products that use less energy and save money. From smart thermostats to dehumidifiers and pool pumps, there are discounts and rebates that allow Entergy customers to make their homes brighter and more comfortable, for less.

Cumulatively, the Entergy Solutions POPS Program has achieved evaluated energy savings of 400,802,217 kilowatt hours through 2021. These hours equate to saving the carbon dioxide emissions from 55,267 homes’ electricity use for one year, or from 31,961,461 gallons of gasoline used.

In 2021, the Entergy Solutions Point of Purchase Solutions program helped increase the sale of ENERGY STAR certified LED lighting at participating retailers, discounting 16% more LED lightbulbs than in the previous year. Entergy Arkansas launched their online marketplace in 2020 - https://entergysolutionsar-marketplace.com/entergyarkansas/ -  which sells discounted products such as LED bulbs, smart thermostats, advanced power strips, dehumidifiers and air purifiers. 1,160 customers made a purchase on the marketplace in 2021.

In total, over 92,000 Arkansans were served by the Point of Purchase Solutions program and offerings in 2021.The program also provided 13,697 free energy efficiency kits to customers through partnerships with schools, food banks and other nonprofits.

“ENERGY STAR provides valuable tools and resources that the Point of Purchase Solutions program needs to support customers and projects throughout our market,” said Denice Jeter, Energy Efficiency manager for Entergy Arkansas. “ENERGY STAR’s testing processes and warranties also give us the complete confidence that all of the products we support with incentives will serve our customers well.”

Each year, the ENERGY STAR program honors businesses and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy achievements. Winners are selected from a network of thousands of ENERGY STAR partners. For a complete list of 2022 winners and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit energystar.gov/awardwinners. For more information about Energy Star products and programs, visit https://www.energystar.gov/about. For more information about residential and customer Entergy Solutions programs, visit https://www.entergy-arkansas.com/energy_efficiency/main/.

 

WESTERMAN JOINS LETTER DEMANDING ANSWERS ON DHS ‘DISINFORMATION GOVERNANCE BOARD’
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04) and more than 170 Republican colleagues sent a letter led by Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-15) to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding answers from the Department of Homeland Security regarding the establishment of its Disinformation Governance Board.

In their letter, the signatories outlined three primary concerns with creation of the Board. First, they expressed ethical concerns about an organization charged with securing the homeland engaging in activities that could impact speech. Second, the members pointed out Department is overstepping its authority as a domestically focused organization by creating a board that would distract from its existing missions—especially during the ongoing border crisis. Third, the members highlighted their alarm with the appointment of Nina Jankowicz, a self-proclaimed “internationally-recognized expert on disinformation” to head up the board. [1] They expressed concern with Ms. Jankowicz’s questionable judgment on matters of disinformation and freedom of speech. [2] For these reasons, the signatories requested DHS to respond to the following questions thirty days from the date of receipt of this letter.

Under what legal authority is DHS creating this Disinformation Governance Board?

What is the Board’s specific directive and mission? What authorities will it have under the Department?

How does this Board help DHS protect the homeland from threats? Why is DHS putting valuable resources toward a mission that it appears to have no equity in when there is an ongoing crisis at our southern border?
 
Why was Ms. Jankowicz chosen to head this Board? Who were the other candidates considered for this position? What qualifications and vetting procedures did the Department utilize when determining who would head up the Disinformation Governance Board?

"Secretary Mayorkas should be ashamed of his blatant attempt to undermine our Constitution while ignoring his responsibility to keep Americans safe by securing our Southern Border," said Rep. Westerman. "Mayorkas' truth 'experts' have no right to police the speech of our citizens and Americans will not tolerate such an obvious infringement of their rights."

“The creation of this Disinformation Governance Board is an alarming attempt by the Biden administration to use the Department as a political tool,” said Rep. Franklin. “DHS has no business determining what is and is not disinformation. This ‘Ministry of Truth’ will undermine the public’s confidence in the Department’s mission to protect the homeland and will tarnish its reputation. This is especially concerning as Americans continue to suffer a drug epidemic and have safety concerns with DHS’s failure to properly secure our border.”

“The Biden administration should have no role in policing Americans’ free speech,” said Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “It is even more outlandish that the agency he has chosen to spearhead this ‘disinformation’ board has not only failed at their primary responsibility of securing the border, but they regularly mislead the public by alleging the border has been ‘effectively managed’ by the administration. Censorship runs counter to our country’s values, and I am proud to stand alongside my Republican colleagues in demanding accountability and answers on President Biden’s Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth.’ It is un-American and should be immediately disbanded.”

“The Biden Administration’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ is about expanding government control and censoring speech that challenges Democrats’ far-left agenda,” said House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. “This Soviet-style ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ would fall under the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who demonstrated a total disregard for the truth when he told Members of Congress that the Biden administration had ‘effectively managed’ the crisis at the southern border. Creating a misinformation board to police speech and silence opposing views is un-American. I am proud to partner with Congressman Scott Franklin and strike back against President Biden’s radical assault on the First Amendment and free speech.”

“DHS is more concerned with cracking down on free speech than securing our southern border,” said Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. “As the Biden administration takes one more step towards Communism by creating a Disinformation Governance Board, I am proud to stand up to Secretary Mayorkas’ attack on Americans’ constitutional right to free speech.”

“Our freedom of speech is the right which defends all others, and government distortion places that freedom in jeopardy,” said Rep. Tom Emmer. “We cannot allow the Biden administration to be the arbiter of the First Amendment.”

“Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas claimed the Biden administration has ‘effectively managed’ the crisis on our southern border, but nothing is further from the truth,” said Republican Conference Secretary Richard Hudson. “Rather than creating a Disinformation Governance Board and promoting a partisan bureaucrat as its director, DHS should be focused on securing our border and protecting our citizens.”

“The Biden administration identified concerned school parents as domestic terrorists,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks. “There’s no doubt that their new ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ is part of the White House’s ongoing effort to criminalize President Trump, his supporters and anyone who disagrees with the left. Joe Biden is the most anti-First Amendment president in American history. Rather than targeting American citizens for their political beliefs and censoring their speech, Secretary Mayorkas should focus on protecting our nation from the increasing flow of drugs and crime pouring across our southern border.”

May 05, 2022

SAU TECH CAREER ACADEMY RECEIVES FUNDS FROM OSD
EAST CAMDEN, AR (05/05/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) is pleased to announce that the Arkansas Office Skills Development has awarded the SAU Tech Career Academy $118,817 for its secondary welding program of study. The funds were awarded to top-tier secondary programs with strong workforce partnerships.

Rachel Gaston, Director of the Career Academy, stated that "We are excited about this opportunity to upgrade the equipment our students use to learn valuable skills that transition them into the Welding Academy of South Arkansas or the workforce."

The Academy's welding program instructor is Justin Freeland, an SAU Tech alumni who graduated from the Welding Academy of South Arkansas. To learn more about SAU Tech's Rocket High programs, go to https://www.sautech.edu/concurrent-enrollment.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/SAU-Tech-Career-Academy-Receives-Funds-from-OSD/26824

 

MAKE IT HOME TO MOM SAFELY: ASP REMINDS DRIVERS TO SLOW DOWN AND MOVE OVER
MAY 5, 2022
The Arkansas State Police is joining with four other state highway patrol agencies that comprise Region 7 of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make highway travel safer for the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend (May 6th – 8th).

State troopers in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Arkansas will intensify their patrols as part of a regional Slow Down, Move Over combined enforcement campaign.  The mission is intended to encourage drivers to obey the speed limits and remind them of the danger that occurs when driving too fast.  Additionally, the troopers will be strictly enforcing laws requiring drivers to move over for emergency vehicles.

Across the nation during 2020, 30% of all crash fatalities were related to speeding.  According to NHTSA, a crash on a road with a speed limit of 65 miles per hour or greater is more than twice as likely to be fatal than a crash on a road with a speed limit of 45 or 50 MPH and nearly five times as likely on a road with a speed limit of 40 MPH or below. 

“It’s the responsibility of law enforcement officers everywhere to keep motorists safe on the highways and one way of doing this is to encourage drivers to obey the speed limit and move over laws,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.  “There were 787 lives lost during 2020 in our five state region due to speeding.  We want to make sure everyone can celebrate together for Mother’s Day this year and many more to come.

 In 2020, more than 11,200 lives were lost across the United States in speeding-related traffic crashes – a 17% increase from 2019. Any time drivers speed, they put themselves, their passengers, and other drivers and pedestrians at risk.

Move Over laws help primary first responders and tow trucks by requiring all drivers to safely move to a parallel traffic lane when approaching a vehicle with activated emergency lighting equipment.

A recent study of highway traffic in the Kansas City metropolitan area found that sixty-six percent (66%) of motorist move over for emergency responders and tow providers.

“Making traffic stops, investigating crashes, and assisting motorists on the side of the road is dangerous.  In fact, since 2017, 149 law enforcement officers alone have been killed in traffic related incidents,” said Colonel Bryant.

This Mother’s Day, every driver on the highway is asked to remember, Slow Down, Move Over.  For more information on speeding prevention, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding.

 

BOOZMAN ENSURING ARKANSAS’S VITAL ROLE IN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTINUES
Gen. Milley Confirms F-35s for Allies an Asset to Deterring Russian Aggression
WASHINGTON—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley confirmed F-35 capabilities would help America’s allies deter Russian aggression during questioning by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) at a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

As a result of Boozman’s advocacy, the U.S. Air Force selected Fort Smith’s Ebbing Air National Guard Base as its preferred location for the Foreign Military Sales F-35 Squadron and its accompanying mission to train pilots of allied nations that purchase the fighter jet.

Germany, Poland and Finland recently agreed to purchase F-35s to strengthen their air power capabilities.

The F-35 is the only fifth-generation fighter jet in the world. The Air Force is in the process of completing its Environment Impact Study (EIS) at Ebbing Air Field in Fort Smith.

May 04, 2022

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE RELEASES A POCKET GUIDE TO ARKANSAS FOREST HEALTH
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce the release of the Pocket Guide to Arkansas Forest Health, a guide to insects, diseases, and other tree-injuring factors in the Natural State. The handbook is designed to serve as an identification tool and includes example images of injury, potential causes, and management strategies.  

The guidebook was co-written by Chandler Barton, Forest Health Specialist for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, with assistance from Southern Regional Extension Forestry and Clemson Cooperative Extension.

“The Pocket Guide to Arkansas Forest Health is an excellent source of information for landowners, forestry consultants, forest enthusiasts, and more,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “We appreciate the co-authors for their contributions to this helpful and practical resource.”

The guidebook describes many of the common causes for tree injury in Arkansas, what resulting damage may look like, and what management tools are available. Although some management recommendations are offered in the guide, Barton recommends contacting a specialist to determine how to mitigate an issue.

Barton also said, “This guide can be used to enjoy observing trees and the organisms that interact with them. I hope readers will cultivate an appreciation of living things and be good stewards for our environment.” 

The Pocket Guides are available free of charge at all Forestry Division District Offices, as well as the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Little Rock Headquarters. Find your local District Office at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/district-headquarters/.

More than 55 percent of Arkansas’s land mass, or 19 million acres, is forested with more than 12 billion trees. Arkansas produces timber valued at more than $400 million annually and ranks sixth in the nation in forestry products valued at over $6.4 billion. More information about Arkansas’s forests and how the Arkansas Department of Agriculture serves the forest industry can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/.

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 SECURES IMPROVEMENTS TO STRENGTHEN ARKANSAS WATER RESOURCES 
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, secured priorities to improve and strengthen Arkansas water resources in legislation unanimously passed by the committee.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes water and wastewater projects, invests in ports, inland waterways 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. I’m proud to create and advance policies to ensure water infrastructure meets the evolving needs of Arkansans,” 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.

 

BOOZMAN RAISES ALARM OVER VA STAFFING SHORTAGE IMPACT ON VETERANS’ CARE
Senator Calls Plan to Divert Department’s Resources to Southern Border ‘Very Concerning’
WASHINGTON––U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the lead Republican appropriator for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding, questioned VA officials about the effect the department’s persistent staffing shortage and retention challenges have on the care and services it provides to America’s veterans and raised his concerns about efforts by the Biden administration to send VA resources to the southern border.

At a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday focused on assessing the department’s workforce, Boozman told VA leaders he views the proposal to divert VA personnel and assets to the southern border to help manage the expected surge that would ensue following the Biden administration’s decision to rescind the Title 42 public health directive as problematic. He voiced his opposition to VA officials testifying before the committee.

“It’s clear we’re experiencing significant challenges regarding staffing. I was very concerned about the possibility of deploying personnel to the border and introduced legislation to prevent that from happening,” Boozman said. “I think, talking to my colleagues, there’s a number who would also be in that camp. So it’s imperative that we hire and retain the best and brightest talent that this country has because our veterans and their family deserve the highest levels of care and support for the sacrifices they have made in protecting our country.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas last week confirmed the Biden administration is considering diverting VA manpower or funding as part of the increased federal response that will be required if Title 42 is lifted. The policy, enacted during the Trump administration, allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to prohibit entry into our country to those who pose health risks such as COVID-19.

The senator has been leading efforts to block the plan and keep VA’s staff and resources focused on delivering timely, quality care to veterans.

Boozman introduced legislation to block the administration from such a move and previously led a group of his colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden laying out the current staffing shortfalls in the VA health system and demanding he commit to preventing VA personnel from being utilized to confront the expected surge at the southern border as a result of ending Title 42.

He has spoken out publicly calling on President Biden to rule out the move and wrote about its implications Ain a piece for the Washington Examiner.

May 03, 2022

COSL ANNOUNCES OUACHITA COUNTY TAX AUCTION RESULTS
May 2, 2022) LITTLE ROCK – The recent auction of tax-delinquent properties in Ouachita County raised over $450,000, the Commissioner of State Lands announced.

The auction drew 64 bidders, who purchased 84 of the 200 available parcels for a total of $450,692.80 for county and state government.

The Land Commissioner’s office holds one auction in each county each year to return tax-delinquent property to active status. Since Covid-19 forced the cancellation of 2020 auctions and delayed 2021 auctions, this year’s auctions offer two years’ worth of properties.

“Just a small portion of property certified to our office goes to auction,” Commissioner Tommy Land said. “The vast majority of owners redeem their property by paying the delinquent taxes. Of course, we always prefer that property be redeemed, but it is vital that the parcels return to the county’s active tax rolls.”

The COSL office forwards taxes and interest to the county, whether that money is collected through redemption or sale.

“Last year, this office sent more than $16 million to school districts and county governments,” Land said. “Of that, $233,369.96 went to Ouachita County, helping fund everything from roads to schools.”

Property owners have 10 business days to redeem parcels that were sold at auction. This can be done online at www.cosl.org, using a credit or debit card, or owners can call 501-324-9422 to request a Petition to Redeem.

If a parcel is not redeemed within 10 business days of being auctioned, the COSL will issue a Limited Warranty Deed to the buyer.

Property that did not sell at the public auction will be available after 30 days and can be purchased through an online auction by viewing the Post-Auction Sales List at www.cosl.org.

MAY IS FOSTER CARE AWARENESS MONTH
Sounding The CALL for National Foster Care Awareness Month
Little Rock, AR— May 1, 2022 — Each May, since 1988, National Foster Care Month has raised awareness for millions of Americans across the country. Today, National Foster Care Month continues to broaden awareness, uniting individuals and organizations through strong support and recruitment programs nationwide. This month, The CALL will focus on ways YOU can get involved, whether as a foster or adoptive parent or by utilizing your gifts and talents to benefit families and children.

For a child or youth in foster care, life is uncertain. While their parents work to address the needs of the home and restore the family unit, children and youth need a safe, loving place where they can heal from the trauma they have experienced. The CALL mobilizes local churches to raise up and support families to serve local children and families by providing children and youth in foster care what they need most – a family.

"Fostering can be isolating, but it's not meant to be done alone. The CALL helps to fill in all the gaps that make taking care of these kids what it's supposed to be!" The Fouraker Family

The need for more families to open their homes to fostering is great. Currently, there are approximately 4,628 children in foster care statewide and 1,690 foster families open to care for them. On average, 20 children across Arkansas are removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system every day. More than 7,000 children spend time in foster care in Arkansas each year. Arkansas needs 2,500 more foster homes to have more than enough families waiting to care for these children and youth during their time in foster care. When parents cannot keep their children due to crisis, neglect, or abuse, these children enter the foster care system needing safe homes with loving arms to take them in and care for them. In 2021, The CALL had over 774 foster homes serving through their ministry that cared for 3,275 children and youth.  

"We began fostering in 2009 before we had The CALL in our county. We have fostered with the support of The CALL and without. The difference is night and day. The CALL gives my family the extra support we need to continue fostering. Whether its clothes for the kids, essential baby and child gear, or a meal for our family, The CALL is there to meet our ever-changing needs and is such a blessing to our family." The Foster Family

This month, The CALL is launching a campaign to highlight “Why Foster Care?” focusing on the need for additional foster families and how everyone can get involved to serve these children and families. 

For more information on how you can become a hero to a child in foster care, contact The CALL.
Jill Bobo
501-580-1214
jbobo@thecallinarkansas.org

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

 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN DISCUSSES INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY
Bringing the State Treasury into the 21st century
May 3, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – When Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan took office in 2015, he made it quickly known to his staff that he would challenge them to look for new, innovative ways to improve the Treasury.

In addition to overseeing a nearly $5 billion investment portfolio, the Treasury also processes more than $70 million in deposits each day from local, state and federal sources. Moreover, it has the responsibility of returning more than $2.3 billion in sales and use taxes as well as county and municipal aid funds each year.

“When I came into office, we were still using paper letters to communicate with cities and counties. Agency representatives were still hand-delivering checks to the Treasury to be deposited into their accounts. In our investment division, we were still spending several hours a day on the phone with banks trying to secure the best rates we could for certificates of deposit,” Milligan said. “I found it baffling that we are living in the 21st century and yet still operating so inefficiently. So one of the first things I did was challenge my staff to come up with ways that we could work more efficiently and more transparently.”

One of the ideas Milligan had to promote technology was to ask the Legislature for approval to allow the Treasury to transfer funds to cities and counties through direct deposit.

After getting help from the Legislature with updating state statutes, Milligan hired a Chief Technology Officer to create and update a number of new web-based systems that have made it much simpler and safer for agencies, cities and counties to communicate with the Treasury.

One of those portals is a special software system for the Treasury’s Local Government Services division that electronically notifies cities and counties of the amounts of their monthly distributions. Previously, the Treasury would send out letters to the roughly 500 municipalities each month, which cost the state upwards of $20,000 annually in postage alone.

“By creating this portal, we’re communicating with cities and counties in real-time rather than on a monthly basis, streamlining our notification process while also trimming costs,” Milligan said. “And we’ve had great feedback from the municipalities that we serve.”

Milligan also implemented a web-based platform for his Receiving Department, which allows state agencies to deposit checks and electronic funds transfers to the Treasury digitally rather than in person, saving valuable time for agency representatives.

“Our Treasury Receiving Interactive Program actually places check scanners at the agencies and offers training on how to use them, so that when a state agency has a check they need deposited into their account, they can do that remotely from their office without having to physically carry the checks to the Treasury,” Milligan explained. “Once the checks are scanned in, they immediately come to our Receiving Department. Not only am I proud of this program for its efficiency, but it also provides an added layer of security now that agency representatives don’t have to leave their offices to deposit checks.

“This process will make it much easier for us to keep the state’s business going during times of inclement weather or, heaven forbid, another health crisis like the pandemic.”

 

2022 COUNTY FARM FAMILIES OF THE YEAR NAMED
May 3, 2022
LITTLE ROCK – The 75th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program has named the 2022 County Farm Families of the Year. The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight District Farm Families of the Year, which will be announced June 14. The state Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state. The objectives of the Farm Family of the Year program are:
To give recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community;
To recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and state; and
To disseminate information on improved farm practices and management.

Selection as Arkansas Farm Family of the Year include efficiency of production, conservation of energy and resources, leadership in agricultural and community affairs, home and farm improvement, and home and farm management.

The County Farm Families of the Year are
Arkansas, North – Jackie & Duffie Banks, Jackie & Duffie Banks Joint Venture
Arkansas, South – Daniel & Haley Smith, LOWDOH Farm Partnership
Ashley – Brian Young
Baxter – Terry & Cindy Johnson, Wing’s Creek Farm
Benton – Jim & Michele Pigeon
Boone – Josh & Amber Thomason
Bradley – Jason & Laura West
Calhoun – Caleb & Jessica Bell
Carroll – Kevin & Teresa Hostetler and Kenyon & Josie Hostetler, K&K Farms
Chicot – Mark Welty
Clark – Ted & Cindy Huneycutt and Steve & LeAnne Huneycutt
Clay – Larry K. Huckabay
Cleburne – Jared Welch, Two JJ Cattle Company
Cleveland – Brian Ashcraft, Ashcraft Farms/Cowford Farms
Conway – Barry, Robert & Bart Stobaugh, Stobaugh Bros. Farms
Craighead – Brian Kelly, Quality Gladiolus Gardens
Crawford – Eddie & Brenda Tweedy
Crittenden – Matt Rogers & family
Cross – Steve & Corbin Hess, Steve Hess Farm Partnership/Corbin Hess
Dallas – Edward & Mary Parham, Parham Family Tree Farm
Desha – Chris Dunnahoe
Drew – Alice, Rocky & Alicia Lindsey, Peyton Place Farms
Faulkner – Mike & Karen Reynolds, Pin Oak Club Lambs
Franklin – Aaron Mantooth, 4M Farm
Fulton – Justin & Lacey Lingenfelter, 4L Farm
Garland – Braziel family
Grant – Marks, Hanna & Cole Mitchell, Mitchell's Hot Hen Farms, Inc
Greene – Terry & Clay Smith families
Hempstead – Tim & Jana Robertson
Hot Spring – Riggin family, Grazin' R Farm
Howard – Brandon & Samantha Manasco family     
Independence – Ben & Mandy Hays, B & M Hays Farm
Izard – Cecil Morehead family
Jackson – Jeff Rowlett
Jefferson – Brett & Juli Stewart
Johnson – Sisk family, Rockin' S Farms
Lafayette – Justin Spence family
Lawrence – Joe Wallis/Wallis family, Bilbrey Century Farm
Lee – Barry Jones family, Borderline Farms
Little River – Terry & Parker Smith families, Boudreaux Farms
Lonoke – Bob & Carlotta Barnhill and family, Barnhill Orchards
Madison – Brent Hargis Family, Ozark Mountain Produce
Marion – Cody & Misty Burrow family
Mississippi – Cissell family
Monroe – Chase Swindle
Montgomery – Jacob Hill
Nevada – Chance Cummings
Newton – Shawn, Chrystal, Ashlyn & Ellison Willis, Shop Creek Farm Mules & More
Ouachita – Tyler Farms & Ranch
Perry – Farnam family
Phillips – Clay Young, Young and Company
Poinsett – Dustin Faulkner, 26 Ditch Farms
Polk – Monte & Kystal Hostetler, MK Ranch
Pope – Doug & Carla Spence family
Prairie – Tyler & Meagan Gore, T & M Cattle Company
Pulaski – Charlotte & Aaron Highfill
Randolph – Toney family
St. Francis – Lindsey Brothers
Searcy – Shane, Michelle, Rylee & Tate Kelly, 4K Farms
Sebastian – Caleb, Hannah, Thadd & Halle Crelia
Sevier – Josh Walker, Red Bud Farms
Sharp – Chance & Kate Battles, Battles Cattle Company
Stone – Owen Brickell family
Union – Buddy Henley family: Buddy, Pat & Ray Henley, Henley Feed Store
Van Buren – Steve & Pat Bone, Bone Land & Cattle
Washington – Tim/Tyler Whorton
White – Sandra & Rickey Wright and Frances Byrd, Byrd Ranch
Woodruff – Shawn & Kelly Peebles family, Shawn Peebles Organic Farms
Yell – Vernon "Cotton" & Elise Morrison

The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year, who then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Arkansas has had two Southeast Farm of the Year winners, Brian and Nan Kirksey of Clark County in 2008 and Wildy Family Farms of Mississippi County in 2016.

Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. Additionally, support for the program is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Press Association, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

COTTON, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO DEFUND HOMELAND SECURITY’S “DISINFORMATION BOARD”
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced legislation to bar federal funds from being used to establish a Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security.

“The Biden administration wants a government agency dedicated to cracking down on what its subjects can say, an idea popular with Orwellian governments everywhere. This board is unconstitutional and un-American—my bill puts a stop to it,” said Cotton.

Senators John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), Todd Young (R-Indiana), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), and Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) joined the bill as cosponsors.

WESTERMAN STATEMENT ON BIDEN'S TRUTH MINISTRY
WASHINGTON - In response to President Joe Biden's creation of the Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) within the Department of Homeland Security, Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) released the following statement:

"President Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board should gravely concern every free speech loving American," said Rep. Westerman. "Such a board has every possibility of corruption and exploitation, and I fear it’s only a matter of time before it’s weaponized against any Administration’s political opponents. Biden’s misinformation 'experts' are humans, fully capable of bias and dishonesty, as seen in the Board’s Executive Director Nina Jankowicz, who has already been exposed for extreme political bias. I expect further investigation would find similar problems with every member of such a board, not because they are inherently unethical, but because they are human. 

I call for the immediate disbandment of this “Truth Ministry.” Americans will not stand for the erosion of their Constitutional rights in the name of fighting misinformation. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas should focus more on securing our southern border than undermining our Constitution."
 

COTTON DEMANDS TRANSPARENCY ABOUT BIDEN PLAN TO TRANSFER STUDENT LOAN DEBT TO TAXPAYERS
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona demanding transparency regarding the Biden administration’s deliberations on transferring over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt to taxpayers.

In part, Cotton wrote, “I’m firmly opposed to student debt cancellation. It is an insult to the majority of Americans who chose not to attend college, a hand-out to the wealthy and well connected, and a get out of jail free card for universities that charge unjustifiably high tuition and fees.”

“Student debt cancellation would also exacerbate the rising inflation that is crushing working-class Americans—the very people who would be responsible for bailing out college-educated Americans under this policy,” Cotton continued.

Text of the letter may be found below.

The Honorable Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education
Department of Education Building
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary Cardona,

I write to demand transparency regarding the Biden administration’s deliberations on cancelling over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

Last April, the Department of Education’s Office of General Counsel wrote an analysis of the legality of canceling debt via executive action entitled “The Secretary's Legal Authority for Broad-Based Debt Cancellation.” Over a year later, the unredacted memorandum still has not been released to the public. I ask that you please send me a fully-unredacted copy of this legal memorandum by May 20, 2022.

I’m firmly opposed to student debt cancellation. It is an insult to the majority of Americans who chose not to attend college, a hand-out to the wealthy and well connected, and a get out of jail free card for universities that charge unjustifiably high tuition and fees. Student debt cancellation would also exacerbate the rising inflation that is crushing working-class Americans—the very people who would be responsible for bailing out college-educated Americans under this policy. With such basic questions of justice and more than $1 trillion dollars at stake, Americans are entitled, at a minimum, to understand the legal justification for such an action.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

May 02, 2022

ARKANSAS AWARDED $96 MILLION FOR 19 FLOOD CONTROL PROJECTS
Camden- The Arkansas Black Mayors Association, in partnership with NCRS, submitted  infrastructure projects to be funded. This includes a $95.9 million investment for 19 projects in Arkansas. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Terry Cosby announced on April 21, 2002at the Forrest City Civic Center. “These investments will help protect communities and their residents in Arkansas impacted by floods, natural disasters, and other watershed-scale resource concerns,” Cosby said.

Camden Mayor Julian Lott, the Arkansas Black Mayors Association president, said, “We are so grateful for the collaboration of this magnitude and local leaders responding in record time. This effort will impact our state’s health, safety, and economy. We look forward to what lies ahead.”

El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer stated, “It is often said, but we must realize that it truly requires teamwork to make things happen! I am both proud and grateful for the collaboration established to ensure the assistance of so many cities! The work that has been done is a fraction of what is to come! We are better together!”

Arkansas Black Mayor’s Association worked with each community providing technical assistance to the communities that will be funded. The following communities will receive funding: City of Altheimer, Blytheville, Camden, Cotton Plant, Dumas, El Dorado, Eudora, Forrest City, Haynes, Marianna, Fountain Hill, Fulton, Hughes, Jennette, Madison, Menifee, Pine Bluff, Stamps, Lewisville, Turrell, and Wilmot.

First, we are grateful for the strategic collaborative efforts of our federal, state, and local leaders. Wilmot Mayor Harris stated, “This award is an enormous win for the State of Arkansas and, more specifically, our rural communities.”  Cities and towns can now address critical infrastructure issues that have impacted the lives of families in our communities for decades. 

The Arkansas Black Mayors Association (ABMA), established in 1972, is a non-profit, charitable, and educational organization whose primary purpose is to 1) promote and develop programs to improve educational, economic, health, and social levels of citizens residing within the respective jurisdictions served by the members; 2) enhance the quality of life for the residents of the municipalities served by the membership; and 3) provide a mechanism for cooperation and the exchange of ideas among the members in areas of common concern and interest. Currently, there are 58 black Mayors’ serving over 460,000 citizens throughout the state of Arkansas.

 

MID-AMERICA SCIENCE MUSEUM PRESENTS AN EXHIBIT 75 MILLION YEARS IN THE MAKING!
Expedition Dinosaur: Rise of the Mammals to open May 28-August 20
Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs announced plans to present a new fully interactive exhibition called Expedition Dinosaur: Rise of the Mammals starting on May 28 and running through August 20 of this year.

“This new exhibit celebrates and explores the fascinating world of Dinosaurs at their prime and the catastrophic event that may have caused their extinction, while giving rise to our own species,” said Diane LaFollette, Museum executive director. “Think of it as a cross between the excitement of Jurassic Park and the adventure of Indiana Jones. We know that visitors of all ages are going to love it,” she added.

The exhibit features large scale animatronic dinosaurs and interactive cases and displays. The exhibit company, Stage Nine Exhibits, engaged renowned paleontologist, Thomas Williamson to consult and inform the exhibit.

Expedition Dinosaur:  Rise of the Mammals will feature several special exhibits:
Dinosaur fossil hunters’ Jeep truck and tools
Interactive Dinosaur draw and animation station
10  Animatronic Dinosaurs and Mammals
Full size T-Rex skull replica
Geology interactive with augmented reality sand play
Large Dinosaur mouth photo op
Day of the Event Comet Puzzle
Video fossil scanning station with interactive display.
A Dinosaur fossil dig.

The exhibit is included with the Museum general admission. Adults are $12, children ages 3-12:  $10, and seniors aged 65 and older, teachers and military: $11. The museum hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. 

For more information, visit www.midamericamuseum.org or call (501) 767-3461. The Museum follows the CDC guidelines for masks and social distancing. The museum is located at 500 Mid America Blvd. in Hot Springs.

 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON EXHIBIT FEATURES
FULL-MOTION ROBOTIC DINOSAURS WITH REALISTIC MOVEMENT AND SOUND EFFECTS
Albertasaurus
Young Amargasaurus
Carnotaurus
Dilophosaurus
Iguanodon
Pachycephalosaurus (2)
Velociraptor (x2)
Stegasaurus
Triceratops

PANGEA PUZZLE
Study of tectonic plate movement and the shape of continents before modern history.

5 FINGER ROBOT EGG INCUBATOR
Robotic arm used to rotate and turn simulated dinosaur eggs.

DINOSAUR EGG SCANNER
Insert a dinosaur egg into the scanner to learn about this fascinating piece of history.

INTERACTIVE FOSSIL VIEWING BOXES
Presentation of simulated dinosaur fossils and digging tools accompanied by interactive sound and visual demonstrations.

DINOSAUR TRACING AND RUBBING ART STATIONS
Use embossed steel plates to rub and trace your own very own dinosaur.

INTERACTIVE 3D TOPOGRAPHY SANDBOX
Simulated topographic lines are projection-mapped into an actual sandbox. Control the contours yourself.

DINO HEAD PHOTO OP
Find yourself in the jaws of an unfriendly dinosaur.

TOOLS FROM THE FIELD
Explore all the instruments needed to find and recover dinosaur fossils.

DINO OPERATION GAME
See if you can excavate the T-Rex fossil before you make him roar!

FIELD CAMPAIGN TENT
Explore the inside of what a true dino explorer’s field tent would have looked like. And hear from a present-day paleontologist.

MIX N MATCH DINOSAUR ART SPINNER
Create your own dinosaur by mixing and matching various pieces of other dinosaurs.

DINOSAUR DIG
Use your budding archeology skills to extract dinosaur bones from the earth. Be careful not to disturb the areas around the bones.

April 29, 2022

STATE POLICE ASKED TO INVESTIGATE USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN WEST MEMPHIS CASE
APRIL 28, 2022
State police special agents are continuing their investigation today following an overnight officer involved shooting incident that left Nickalous Reed Jones, 24, of Memphis wounded and hospitalized.  Initial reports to agents assigned to the case indicate the gunshot wound to Jones is not life-threatening.

At approximately 8:20 PM (April 27th), the West Memphis Police Department was notified of a theft at the Family Dollar Store, located at 2113 East Broadway.

While responding to the initial call, West Memphis police spotted a suspect believed to be involved in the store theft while walking near the intersection of 18th and Broadway.
The suspect, later identified as Jones, fled on-foot from the officers.  As the officers attempted to catch-up, Jones reportedly fired a handgun at the officers who were not injured, but at least one officer returned gunfire causing a leg wound to Jones.

Jones was apprehended and transported to a Memphis hospital.

West Memphis police authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division to conduct an investigation of the officer’s use of deadly force.

Upon completion of the investigation, the case fille will be turned-over to the Crittenden County prosecuting attorney who will decide whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Inquiries related to the identity of the West Memphis police officers or administrative status of the officers should be directed to the West Memphis Police Department.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL RUTLEDGE FILES SUIT AGAINST FAMILY DOLLAR FOLLOWING RODENT INFESTATION
Says, ‘Family Dollar has had knowledge of this dangerous and massive rodent infestation for over two years, yet they continued to sell and profit from potentially contaminated goods’
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar Stores, Inc. for selling potentially harmful or contaminated products following a massive rodent infestation at its West Memphis, Arkansas distribution center. The complaint alleges that Family Dollar, under the parent company Dollar Tree Inc., knew about the rodent infestation for years but allowed unsafe products to be sold at hundreds of stores in Arkansas and five other states throughout the region. Their total disregard for public safety endangered Arkansas consumers and forced hundreds of employees to work in unsafe conditions at the West Memphis Distribution Center. Attorney General Rutledge seeks punitive damages, restitution, and civil penalties through the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) to protect the health, safety and economic well-being of tens of thousands of Arkansas consumers who purchased or used the affected products sold by Family Dollar.

“In many rural communities in Arkansas, families rely on discount stores like Family Dollar for essential products such as food, medicine or pet food,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Family Dollar has had knowledge of this dangerous and massive rodent infestation for over two years, yet they continued to sell and profit from potentially contaminated goods. Consumers lost money and could have lost their lives.”

Reports from state and federal health inspectors show that Family Dollar had knowledge of its rodent infestation since at least January 2020. In March 2021, the Arkansas Department of Health inspected the West Memphis Distribution Center where inspectors reported seeing “significant rodent activity where human food and pet food were stored” and management stated that they were aware of the rodent issues. In April 2021, state health inspectors reported that effective measures were not being taken to stop the rodent infestation. Following notices from the Arkansas Department of Health and consumer complaints, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began an investigation in January 2022 of the West Memphis Distribution Center.

In March 2022 the FDA issued a safety alert regarding the Distribution center, which stated in part:

“Conditions observed during the inspection included live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination.  More than 1,100 dead rodents were recovered from the facility following a fumigation at the facility in January 2022. Additionally, a review of the company’s internal records also indicated the collection of more than 2,300 rodents between Mar. 29 [2021] and Sep. 17, 2021, demonstrating a history of infestation.”

These contaminated products included human foods, animal foods, cosmetics, medical devices, and over-the-counter medications for both adults and children. Following the FDA’s investigation announcement, Family Dollar issued a “voluntary recall” and was forced to temporarily close 404 stores, including 85 Arkansas stores, so that hazardous and contaminated products could be removed from its shelves. Family Dollar’s control intentionally allowed and resulted in the long-lasting and massive rodent infestation at the West Memphis Distribution Center, and the selling of tens of millions of dollars of hazardous and contaminated products to Arkansas citizens.

Rutledge filed the lawsuit in the Pulaski County Circuit Court.  Each ADTPA violation is subject to a fine of up to $10,000. To report online retailers in violation of ADTPA, visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

TREASURER OF STATE DENNIS MILLIGAN RELEASES THIRD QUARTER INVESTMENT REPORT
Earnings nearly double previous quarter despite economic instability
April 28, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – The state treasury earned $17.54 million during the third quarter of fiscal 2022, which ran from January through March, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan told the state Board of Finance today. The amount earned is nearly double the $9 million earned during the same quarter one year ago.

“That brings the total amount earned during my administration to $474.1 million,” Milligan said. The state has an investment portfolio of roughly $6 billion.

Most of the revenue earned came from the state’s long-term portfolio, which is made up mostly of mortgage-backed and government securities. That portfolio, boosted by higher yields and longer bond durations, earned $16.5 million for the quarter.

“One component of our strategy is to stagger the durations of the bonds we purchase in order to promote continual income within the portfolio,” Milligan told the Board.

The state’s short-term portfolio, which is made up mostly of commercial paper and demand and money market accounts, earned $942,824.

“This portion of our portfolio is heavily dependent upon federal interest rates, which have been near zero since March of 2020. We’re hopeful that as rates begin to rise our short-term portfolio will start to see increased receipts,” Milligan said.

Although the labor market remained strong during the quarter and the Fed began its plan to increase interest rates, the market remained volatile.

“There are several positive economic conditions that would encourage the market to stabilize, such as steady job growth and low unemployment rates. However, with soaring inflation and the war in Ukraine, investors are being cautious,” Milligan explained.

“Meanwhile, our strategy is to continue maintaining stability within the portfolio and build upon the solid foundation we’ve developed for the treasury.”
 

REMINDER: 2022 ARKANSAS CENTURY FARM APPLICATIONS DUE MAY 31
LITTLE ROCK, AR. – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Department) is now accepting applications for the 2022 Arkansas Century Farm program. This program recognizes Arkansas families who have owned and farmed the same land for at least 100 years.

“Arkansas Century Farm families have persevered for at least ten decades and have contributed greatly in making Arkansas agriculture the success story that it is today,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “As Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture contributes $19.4 billion to the state’s economy annually and provides one in six jobs.” 

To qualify, Arkansas farms must meet the following criteria:
The same family must have owned the farm for 100 years by Dec. 31, 2022. The line of ownership from the original settler or buyer may be through children, grandchildren, siblings, and nephews or nieces, including through marriage and adoption.
The farm must be at least ten acres of the original land acquisition and make a financial contribution to the overall farm income.

Online and printable applications are available at agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/. Applications must be received via email or postmarked on or before May 31, 2022 to be eligible for designation as a 2022 inductee. There is no cost to apply for the program.

Qualifying Arkansas farms will receive a personalized Arkansas Century Farm certificate and metal sign listing the farm name and year established. Contact Beth Moore at 501-539-4027 or beth.moore@agriculture.arkansas.gov with questions.

Arkansas is home to more than 42,200 farms, of which 96 percent are family owned and operated. Since the program began in 2012, 526 farms have been certified. Find a list of previously inducted Arkansas Century Farm families at agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-services/arkansas-century-farm-program/.

The Department 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. 

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, WENSTRUP, JOYCE ANNOUNCE REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE AGENDA
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressmen Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH), and John Joyce, M.D. (R-PA), leaders of the Republican Healthy Future Task Force Subcommittee on Treatments, announced the GOP's agenda to lower drug costs and supercharge the availability and development of life-saving cures and devices. Rep. Bruce Westerman released the following statement:

"I am greatly looking forward to working with my colleagues to create legislation that will directly address the issues that have long troubled the American health care system," said Rep. Westerman. "If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's that health care cannot be met with a 'one-size-fits-all' solution from the government. We must empower and work with the private sector to ensure patients are met with cures, not red tape."

The Treatments subcommittee will develop legislation to: Lower drug costs for Americans
Unleash new, innovative medicines, devices, and diagnostics for patients
Promote American made medicines

Background
The Healthy Future Task Force was created by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy to develop solutions to empower patients, lower costs, and expand choices and treatments for a healthier America. 

Today, the subcommittee was joined by the leaders of the Healthy Future Task Force, Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY), to participate in a roundtable discussion on the innovative treatment solutions with key stakeholders and patient advocates. 

Sue Peschin, President and CEO of Alliance for Aging Research, Former Rep. Erik Paulsen, Chair of Institute for Gene Therapies, and Khrystal K. Davis, JD, Founding President of Texas Rare Alliance joined the Congressmen in the roundtable.
 

BOOZMAN, COTTON OPPOSE BIDEN DOJ EXPANDING FIREARM DEFINITIONS AND CREATING NATIONAL GUN REGISTRY
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) joined 20 of their colleagues to introduce a Congressional Review Act Joint Resolution of Disapproval (CRA) to prohibit President Biden’s Department of Justice from implementing a new rule to expand firearm definitions.

The Biden administration is seeking to institute a final rule redefining a “firearm” under federal law to not only mean a complete product, but also its individual parts often included in a weapons parts kit. If implemented, this new rule would require gun kits and gun parts to be regulated as if they were fully functional firearms—meaning they wouldn’t be able to be sold without a serial number or without the buyer having to undergo a background check. The new rule would also require those with Federal Firearms Licenses to retain records permanently, in effect creating a national firearms registry. The current rule, which the Biden administration seeks to change, allows for the disposal of records after 20 years.

“While crime spikes across our nation and especially within our major cities, President Biden’s administration continues to push regulations requiring law-abiding citizens to jump through more hoops to exercise their Second Amendment rights instead of targeting violent criminals and those failing to hold them accountable,” the senators said. “We’re proud to defend responsible gun owners against this overreach and ensure the federal government does not create a backdoor national gun registry.”

The resolution, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), was also cosponsored by James Lankford (R-OK), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Lee (R-UT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Thune (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Crapo (R-ID), James Risch (R-ID), John Hoeven (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

According to the Government Accountability Office, “The CRA allows Congress to review ‘major’ rules issued by federal agencies before the rules take effect. Congress may also disapprove new rules, resulting in the rules having no force or effect.”

April 28, 2022

TROOPER MORRIS BESTOWED SECOND NATIONAL TITLE; RECOGNIZED FOR COURAGEOUS SERVICE
APRIL 27, 2022
A second nationally sanctioned title of National Trooper of the Year has been awarded to Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris.  The American Association of State Troopers (AAST) announced today that Morris was selected from a field of 27 state troopers from across the U.S. to receive the esteemed trooper of the year honor for his exhibited service with bravery and extreme selflessness while protecting the public.

Trooper Morris, 34, of Crittenden County, a 4 year veteran of the Arkansas State Police, is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City.

Last month Morris was named National Trooper of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Provincial Division.

AAST, which announced today’s award, is a fraternal organization comprised of more than 3,000 state troopers nationwide.

The presentation of both national trooper of the year awards was based on the brave actions of Trooper Morris that occurred on December 16, 2021 while he was on patrol along Interstate 55 in Crittenden County.

Morris answered a radio call from the United States Marshals Service requesting assistance in the apprehension of a South Carolina fugitive believed to be armed and considered dangerous.  The fugitive was known to be traveling along I-55 in the West Memphis area.  Trooper Morris was the closest law enforcement officer in the area who would have been able to intercept the vehicle carrying the man wanted by the marshals.

About 2:30 PM, Trooper Morris observed the suspect’s vehicle and began to position his patrol car for the traffic stop.  As he closed-in on the car which had entered the Memphis (Tennessee) city limits, multiple gun shots from the suspect vehicle were directed at Trooper Morris with one round striking him in the upper chest. Trooper Morris’ body armor slowed the round, causing a minor wound.

Despite the injury and the imminent deadly threat to himself and other motorists traveling through Memphis, Trooper Morris began to return gunfire directed at the fleeing suspect.

As the suspect driver approached the I-55 McLemore interchange, the vehicle slowed and came to a stop.  The wounded trooper radioed his location and requested assistance.  Trooper Morris then moved his patrol car to the roadside and at a safe distance exited his vehicle to take-up a defensive position.

Local police officers soon joined Trooper Morris, and with the assistance of paramedics, extracted Morris from the scene, moving him to a nearby hospital where doctors later determined the wound was non-life threatening.

With traffic diverted from the interstate, a SWAT team moved toward the suspect vehicle to find the wanted fugitive and another occupant still in the car, both deceased.

“Since Trooper Morris’ recovery, I’ve told many people around Arkansas and in other states, Spencer is just one of more than 500 Arkansas State Troopers who make the Arkansas State Police one of the best law enforcement agencies anywhere, certainly the best in Arkansas,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.  “Our troopers are always ready to answer the call, regardless of the threat.  Trooper Morris is just one example of the troopers who serve the citizens of Arkansas and his heroic actions last December have made the badge of the state police shine a little brighter.”
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: RX TAKE BACK DAY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 30
LITTLE ROCK –The bi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for April 30, 2022. This is an important opportunity for Arkansans to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, local law enforcement and public health officials in the fight against prescription drug abuse by ridding their medicine cabinets of old and unused prescription medication. Last year, Arkansans disposed of 24,680 pounds of medications, bringing the total weight of disposed drugs to 221 tons since 2010.

“Properly disposing of prescription medications is just one small action Arkansans can take to help bring an end to the opioid and prescription drug abuse epidemic in this state,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Join me in cleaning out your medicine cabinets of unused and expired prescriptions this Saturday.”

Rutledge released the following list of medications that will be accepted at these events across the State:

Opioids, such as OxyContin, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, etc.
Stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, etc.
Depressants, such as Ativan, Xanax, Valium, etc.
Other prescription medications
Over-the-counter medicines
Pet medicines
Medicated ointments and lotions
Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)
Medicine samples

Medications may be returned in the original bottle or in any other container for increased privacy.

Prescription Drug Take Back locations will be available 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 30th. Although National Prescription Drug Take Back Days are held twice a year, year-round drop-off locations and other helpful information is available by visiting ARTakeBack.org.

Properly destroying these medications at appropriate disposal locations protects the environment, as flushing or pouring them down the drain can pollute water, resulting in contaminated food and water supplies. Wastewater treatment plants or septic systems may not remove many medicine compounds. Turning over these medications at 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.
 

AR SHIIP DAYS TO PROVIDE MEDICARE INFORMATION TO ARKANSAS SENIORS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 28, 2022) – Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain today released the following statement announcing the locations and dates of informational Medicare events held in conjunction with the Arkansas Insurance Department’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (AR SHIIP):

“These events should be on every Arkansas senior's to-do list so that they can make the best possible decisions regarding their Medicare needs.  Our AR SHIIP staff will be all over the eastern portion of the state during the month of May to provide Arkansans with important information and assistance, and the staff looks forward to visiting with seniors and their families.”

AR SHIIP will be sailing for the month of May in honor of “Older Americans Month”, sponsoring events at various senior centers throughout eastern Arkansas. The first event will take place Friday, April 29 at the Bryant Senior Center in Bryant, Arkansas.

"AR SHIIP is a firm believer that Senior Centers are an asset to the local community," said AR SHIIP Director Carroll Astin. "As we start moving out of the pandemic, we hope that events like AR SHIIP Days will rejuvenate attendance at the Senior Centers. Many people have been isolated for two years, so we believe it’s time to get out and re-join the community."

AR SHIIP Days are designed to reach and engage individuals located in urban and rural areas and offer free, confidential, unbiased, and educational information regarding Medicare.

Dates and locations of AR SHIIP Days are listed below:

AR SHIIP provides one-on-one counseling and information for Arkansans eligible for Medicare. All services are free, unbiased, and confidential. For more information, call 1-800-224-6330 toll-free or visit https://www.shiipar.com/.
 

WESTERMAN INTRODUCES EXPANSION OF DYSLEXIA ACCOMMODATION
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, Congressmen Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Co-Chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus, introduced the bipartisan 21st Century Dyslexia Act to reclassify dyslexia within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The members released the following statement:

"By reclassifying dyslexia as its own, stand-alone category within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, this bill will ensure those who suffer from the learning disability will receive proper care and accommodation to ensure a fruitful education," said Rep. Westerman (AR-04). "As the husband of a teacher, I understand how integral reading is as a building block of a successful future. Our school system must provide proper tools to help our children overcome the challenges of this common learning disability, which starts by reclassifying the disability to ensure maximum accommodation.”

“Students with dyslexia deserve to receive the support and resources they need to thrive and succeed in school,” said Rep Brownley (D-CA), co-chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus. “By reclassifying dyslexia as its own category within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, this legislation raises the much needed awareness of the most common learning disability among American students and provides the proper accommodations and services for students with dyslexia. As the mother of a child who struggled with dyslexia when she was in school, I know all too well of the daily challenges that individuals with dyslexia face. That is why I am proud to continue working with Congressman Westerman and my colleagues of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus to ensure that all individuals living with dyslexia have the tools they need to live up to their fullest potential.”

“My family has dealt with dyslexia firsthand, but many children in America are not lucky enough to be diagnosed at an early age or often at all,” said Rep. Palazzo (R-MS). “The 21st Century Dyslexia Act will be a step towards ensuring Dyslexia is classified and defined more clearly, therefore leading to quicker diagnoses and a quicker response by our education system to ensure every child with Dyslexia is given the opportunity to be successful with their disability.”

“Across America, dyslexia affects 20 percent of our population,” said Dr. Bucshon (R-IN). “As one of the most common learning disabilities, it is critical that those impacted have the resources and support they need to cope with this disorder. I am proud to cosponsor 21st Century Dyslexia Act, which would create a stand-alone category within the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act to ensure those with this learning disability receive proper accommodations and better treatment so they can live up to their full potential.”

Background
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, affecting 1-in-5 Americans, according to research done at the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

Currently, dyslexia is included as one of many disabilities under “Specific Learning Disabilities” (SLD) in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). SLD is the most common disability for children covered under IDEA, representing more than 33% of all students covered under IDEA. However, despite dyslexia being the most prevalent disability within SLD, students are rarely diagnosed, which prevents access of services and accommodations necessary for a dyslexic reader. When children are not identified with dyslexia, evidence shows it is possible for lifelong harm, resulting in lower career wages, reduced graduation rates, and even increased rates of incarceration.
The 21st Century Dyslexia Act is co-sponsored by Reps. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).


 

WESTERMAN JOINS LETTER URGING ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS TO PRIORITIZE FUNDING FOR MKARNS DEEPENING
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) joined a letter led by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK.) to the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to prioritize and commit additional funding to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS).

Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Reps. Kevin Hern (OK-01), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Tom Cole (OK-04), Frank Lucas (OK-03), Stephanie Bice (OK-05), Rick Crawford (AR-01), French Hill (AR-02), and Steve Womack (AR-03) joined Westerman and Inhofe in sending the letter.

The lawmakers wrote: “The MKARNS, which opened as an official inland waterway system in 1971, originates at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and runs 445 miles through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. Inland waterways barge transportation is the safest, most economical, and fuel-efficient way to move our nation's goods for use domestically and for export."
 
They continued: “Continuing the deepening of the MKARNS would directly benefit the 56,000 jobs for surrounding farmers, manufacturers, and other producers who contribute over $8 billion in sales and nearly $300 million in state and local tax revenue as a result of the system's efficient operation.”

The full text of the letter can be found below.
Dear Director Young, Assistant Secretary Connor, and LTG Spellmon:

We urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to prioritize and commit additional funding to the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS), including deepening, and operations and maintenance of the MKARNS in the allocation of additional funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022.

The MKARNS, which opened as an official inland waterway system in 1971, originates at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa and runs 445 miles through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. Inland waterways barge transportation is the safest, most economical, and fuel-efficient way to move our nation's goods for use domestically and for export. On a single gallon of fuel, one barge can move freight more than four times farther than trucks. In a typical year, approximately 12 million tons of commerce traverses the MKARNS, valued at more than $3.5 billion. However, if the MKARNS was deepened from 9-feet to 12-feet, the capacity of each barge could increase by nearly 400 tons and increase the value of business sales by over $250 million.
 
Through enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, Congress provided the Corps with flexibility to continue carrying out construction of the deepening of the MKARNS. Continuing the deepening of the MKARNS would directly benefit the 56,000 jobs for surrounding farmers, manufacturers, and other producers who contribute over $8 billion in sales and nearly $300 million in state and local tax revenue as a result of the system's efficient operation. We thank you for allocating $92.6 million to begin construction of MKARNS deepening, and urge you to commit additional funding this year to ensure the timely completion of this important project.

The future economic viability of the MKARNS is at risk as there is currently more than a $300 million backlog in critical maintenance along the entire 50-year-old system. This includes locks, dams, and other important equipment that is deteriorating to dangerous conditions. The MKARNS is vital to the economies of Oklahoma and Arkansas, as well as Kansas, which sends or receives 49 percent of the tonnage coming through Oklahoma ports. A critical failure on the system could result in it being shut down for months and even a temporary shutdown could put future use of the system at risk, as businesses would no longer see the MKARNS as reliable and would likely find other means to transport their goods. Losing navigation on the entire MKARNS would cost over 6,000 jobs and cause national GDP to decline by $723 million.

As the Corps develops the Fiscal Year 2022 Work Plan, we respectfully request your support in providing additional funding for deepening, and operations and maintenance of the MKARNS. We look forward to working with you on improving our nation's vital inland waterways infrastructure.

April 27, 2022

VICIOUS DOGS IN CHEROKEE DIVISION ATTACK: DOGS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY
The residents of Cherokee Sub-Division have been terrorized by two pit bulls over the past 10 days. The first incident involved the dogs entering a residence through a pet door and killing a cat on April 15th. The second incident occurred yesterday with a lab being attacked and severely injured.

After the April 15th incident the dog owners were cited and told the requirements to keep a dog deemed a vicious breed, in the city limits. The owners of the pit bulls failed to comply and brought the animals back to the neighborhood which is when the second incident occurred. The following is the narrative from the Camden City Police reports regarding both incidents.

Followed by the reports is the City Ordinance regarding the housing of breeds deemed vicious in the City of Camden.

On Friday, April 15, 2022 CPD received a call from a resident of the Cherokee sub-division who stated that two dogs had entered her home and killed her cat.

The victim stated that she was not home, but was informed by her neighbor that there were two dogs in her yard. She asked that he open the gate and let them out and to check on her cat. When the neighbor entered her home he saw the cat was dead in the living room.  

The victim gave me the name and phone number of the owner of the dogs, Shicunda Flannigan. She stated that she had already spoken to Flannigan and told her what had happened.

The victim’s neighbor stated that he observed two dogs in his neighbor's yard. The dogs were in the backyard of the home of the victim.  He stated that he called the victim and asked if she was supposed to have dogs in her yard and was informed that she does not have dogs. She then asked him to open the gate to let them out and then to check on her house.

As he was walking to let them out a car approached and asked if he had seen their dogs. Fogle picked up the male dog and placed in his vehicle. According to the neighbor, the female dog ran down the street then came back, sniffed his hand and then jumped in his vehicle. Fogle then removed her and placed in his own vehicle. After they left he entered the home of the victim and found the cat in the living room dead with missing fur and puncture marks. Williamson said he then contacted Fogle and told him what happened.

The Officer asked if there were cameras showing the dogs entering the home and he said no. The Officer then asked if there were injuries or blood on the dogs and he stated that he didn't notice. He stated that the dog door cover had been knocked off and was no longer attached.

The Officer then made contact with Flannigan, who lives at  1081 Caddo Street. Flannigan stated that their dogs had gotten out a few days before and had gotten out again that morning. She stated the dogs are mostly inside dogs and when they realized they were gone they started looking for them. The Officer recognized the description of the dogs and was told they had been at the pound a few days prior.

It was explained to Flannigan that she would be receiving a citation for dogs at large and explained to her the ordinance for pit bull type dogs in the city. She was instructed to visit the City of Camden website where she could find the ordinance. She stated that she would get in compliance  and she was given one week to do so. Due to conflict with the Officer and Flannigan's schedules they Wednesday, April 20, 2022 and Flannigan was issued two citations for Failure to Confine Dog; (Sec. 2) and No Vaccinations (Sec. 17). The dogs were removed from the residence by the family until they are in code.

On 4/26/2022 at 1:10 PM,  Officer Carneal, heard a radio transmission from Chief Woody requesting that Anthony Jones, unit 430, meet him at a residence on Cherokee Street in reference to an animal attack.

Upon my arrival the Officer made contact with Chief Woody, the victim from the prior attack and the victim/complainant of the attack that was being reported. The victim, in this case, was upset because she had just returned from taking her dog to Camden Animal Hospital.

The victim stated she had heard the dogs barking in her backyard and when she got outside saw two pit bulls attacking her Labrador. She chased the pit bulls off and got her Labrador in her vehicle to the animal hospital. She said the Labrador had its left ear badly torn and its scrotum had been ripped open. The victim from the prior attack stated that this is the same two pit bulls that had entered her residence through the doggy door and damaged her furniture and killed her cat earlier this month. Both stated the dogs lived at the second or third house on the left on Caddo street and it was a tan residence.

Officer Carneal, Chief Woody and Animal Control Officer Jones went to 1081 Caddo street which we identified from the victims and other description. They made contact with Nicholas Fogle. Fogle stated he had brought the dogs back to Camden believing that he had met the requirements laid out by ACO Pinson. Fogle said he had taken the animals back to Elliot after finding them out of the pen this morning. ACO Jones stated the pen did not meet the requirements as the roof was not completely covered. Fogle voluntarily took Officers to a residence on state highway 376 in Elliott where ACO Jones took custody of the animals. They were then transported by ACO Jones. Officer Carneal went to the Camden Animal Hospital where Doctor Fields said the Labrador had lost his left ear. An emergency neuter had been performed and he suffered from various puncture wounds. Additionally, he had broken one of his K9 teeth and had to have it removed. According to the Labrador’s owner the vet bill was at about $500.00 dollars already.

As these animals seem to attack other animals every time they get out of their non-approved pen and the owners keep bringing them back to the city in violation of the city ordinances the only solution maybe a destruction order for the animals.

We will follow this story to its conclusion. As of now, the dogs are in the custody of the city.

CITY ORDINANCES REGARDING DANGEROUS AND VICIOUS DOGS
Sec. 5-50. - Dangerous and vicious dogs declared a hazard.
Dogs within the City of Camden who by their nature, treatment, training or personality are unusually, overly, decidedly or deliberately aggressive toward persons or other animals are hereby declared to be a hazard to the public safety as dangerous or vicious dogs. The owners thereof shall be subject to additional restrictions and requirements for the keeping of the animals within the corporate limits of the city and additional penalties if found in violation.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-51. - Dangerous dogs.
A dangerous dog shall be:
(a) Any dog which, according to the records of the Camden Police Department, has inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property; or

(b) Any dog which, according to the records of the Camden Police Department, has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's property; or

(c) Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purposes of dog fighting or any dog trained for dog fighting; or,

(d) Any dog not owned by governmental or law enforcement used primarily to guard public or private property; or

(e) Any dog not owned by governmental or law enforcement trained to attack a human being upon voice command or hand signal given by its owner or handler.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-52. - Dogs involved in unprovoked fatal or severe attacks on humans.
Deadly force may be utilized by the animal control officer or the Camden Police Department to effect the capture of any dog responsible for an unprovoked fatal or severe attack upon a human being or to prevent such an attack upon themselves or another when they believe an attack to be imminent or unavoidable in the course of their duties.

A dog responsible for an unprovoked fatal or severe attack on a human being shall, if captured alive and in the custody of the city, be humanely euthanized following an investigation to clarify the circumstances of the incident and a ruling from the district court to that effect.

(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-53. - Requirements for keeping a dangerous dog.
The owner of any dog ruled to be dangerous shall be required to meet the following conditions in order to keep the dog inside the corporate limits of the city:

(a) The owner shall, at his own expense, have the licensing number as assigned by the animal control officer, tattooed upon such dog by a licensed veterinarian or by a person trained and authorized by a locally licensed veterinarian. The animal control officer shall designate the particular anatomical location(s) of such tattoo.

(b) The animal will wear a bright orange collar or other easily recognizable device as designated by the Camden Police Department identifying it as a dangerous dog.

(c) The owner shall notify the Camden Police Department Animal Control Officer as soon as possible, but no more than twelve (12) hours afterwards, if a dangerous dog is loose, unconfined, or at large or has been sold or died or been given away. Notification shall be made immediately if the dog has attacked a human being or another animal. If the dog has been sold or given away, the owner shall provide to the animal control officer the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner, who must comply with the requirements of this article.

(d) While on the owner's property, a dangerous dog must be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. Such pen or structure must have minimum dimensions of five (5) feet by ten (10) feet and must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two (2) feet. The enclosure must also provide protection from the elements for the dog.

(e) The owner shall conspicuously display a sign(s) on his or her premises warning that there is a "Dangerous Dog" on the property. This sign(s) shall be visible and capable of being read from the public highway or thoroughfare.

(f) A dangerous dog may be off the owner's premises only if it is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length attached to a sturdy collar or halter and under the direct control of a responsible person. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but must prevent if from biting any person or animal.

(g) The owner of a dangerous dog shall present to the animal control officer proof that the owner has procured liability insurance in the amount of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), covering the twelve-month period during which licensing is sought. This policy shall contain a provision requiring that the City of Camden be named as an additional insured for the sole purpose that the city be notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the policy.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-54. - Declaring a dog as dangerous; procedure.
The classification of a dog as dangerous under the criteria set forth in the dangerous dog section of the article shall be the function of the district court. The court may rule a particular dog as dangerous following an examination of all facts, information, and evidence offered by the animal control officer, the dog's owner, and any witnesses at a hearing held for that purpose.

If the animal suspected to be dangerous has been involved in an attack upon a human being the animal control officer shall attempt to capture and impound the animal. If the animal is captured alive and impounded in the city animal shelter or a local veterinary hospital or clinic he shall notify the municipal judge of the incident and the condition of the victim. The municipal judge shall then set an appropriate date for a dangerous dog hearing and issue a summons to the owner to appear.

If the animal in question is killed during the capture or the complaint is based upon reasonable suspicion that it meets the criteria of subsection (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) of section 5-51 of this article, the animal control officer shall issue the owner a citation and assign a date consistent with the district court's regularly scheduled court calendar.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-55. - Time limits to comply with dangerous dog requirements.
The owner of any dog ruled as dangerous by the court shall, unless the dog is ordered confiscated and destroyed, have five (5) working days to license the dog with the city as dangerous and thirty (30) days to have the dog tattooed and obtain liability insurance. The requirement to confine the dog in a secure structure or pen shall be immediate.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-56. - Penalties concerning dangerous dogs.
(a) If the dog was involved in an unprovoked attack upon a human being the penalty shall be confiscation and destruction of the animal and a fine of no less than three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).

(b) If the dog is ruled dangerous for any other reason the fine shall be no less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) nor more than four hundred dollars ($400.00) and the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog shall be imposed.

It shall be a defense to this subsection if the owner can show that he or she did license the dog as dangerous and did meet the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog prior to issuance of a citation for violation of this article.

The fines imposed under subsection (b) of this section may be held in abeyance and suspended upon compliance with the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog within the stated time limitations.

(c) If a dog previously ruled to be dangerous is found to be at large or improperly leashed and muzzled in a public place the fine shall be no less than two hundred dollars ($200.00) nor more than four hundred dollars ($400.00) for the first offense. The fine shall be doubled for each succeeding offense with confiscation and destruction of the animal in addition to any fines upon a third offense violation.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-57. - Liability of parents when minor owns dangerous dog.
If the owner of a dangerous dog is a minor, the parents or guardian of that minor shall be responsible for compliance with the specifications for the care and housing of the animal and shall also be liable for all injuries and property damage sustained by any person or domestic animal caused by an unprovoked attack by the dog.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-58. - Optional action re dangerous dog.
If the owner of a dog that has been designated dangerous is unwilling or unable to comply with this division for keeping such animal in the city limits then he or she should have the animal humanely euthanized at his or her expense by a licensed veterinary hospital or clinic, or if the animal is in city custody, may request that the animal control officer perform the euthanasia procedure following the payment to the city clerk of a euthanasia fee of sixty dollars ($60.00).

It is recognized that one option always available to the owner of a dangerous dog is the removal of that animal to a place of residence beyond the jurisdictional limits of the city; however, in such an instance this division shall have full and immediate effect upon that owner and animal at any time the animal returns into the corporate limits of the city and such removal may be in violation of a ruling regarding the animal by the district court.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-59. - Dogs involved in provoked fatal or severe attacks.
A dog that has inflicted fatal or severe injuries under circumstances which indicate that the animal was provoked shall be required to be kept by the owner as outlined for dangerous dogs with the exception of the tattooing.

No dog may be declared dangerous if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog, or has, in the past, been observed or reported to have teased, tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

It may be a defense in this subsection of this section in first offense violations that the owner of the animal was otherwise in compliance with the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog and had reported the animal's escape from confinement to the animal control officer prior to that animal's capture and prior to its doing any damage or injury.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-60. - Prima facie evidence; dangerous dog license.
The purchase of a dangerous dog license shall be prima facie evidence that the dog meets one (1) or more of the criteria for a dangerous dog and that the owner is aware of the special requirements necessary.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-61. - Issuance of the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog.
A copy of the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog shall be issued to each person who obtains a dangerous dog license and to each person the municipal court rules owns a dangerous dog.

The animal control officer shall be responsible for supplying the city clerk and the district court clerk with a supply of these requirements for issuance to the appropriate owners.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-62. - Adoption of dangerous dog.
Any dog that has been designated as dangerous under this division may not be offered to the public for adoption within the corporate limits of Camden.

This shall include dogs which the animal control officer has in impound of an unclaimed nature and of unknown origin which through conduct or demeanor leads the animal control officer to believe that the animal is dangerous.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-63. - Vicious dogs.
A vicious dog shall be:
(a) Any dog with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked to cause injury, or to otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals.

(b) Pit bull dogs. For the purpose of this section "pit bull dogs" means any pit terrier of the Stratfordshire Bull Terrier, American Stratfordshire, or American Pit Bull breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog, which contains an element of its breeding the above named breeds so as to be identified as partially of the breed of Stratfordshire Bull Terrier, American Stratfordshire Terrier or American Pit Bull Terrier. Also any other breed commonly known as Pit Bull, Pit Bull Dogs, or Pit Bull Terrier or a combination of any other of these breeds.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 17-00, § 1, 9-12-2000)

Sec. 5-64. - Requirements for keeping a vicious dog.
The owner of any dog ruled to be vicious shall be required to meet the following conditions in order to keep the dog inside the corporate limits of the city:

(a) The dog shall at all times wear a substantial collar or halter and shall have attached to the collar or halter a metal disk or tag bearing the owner's name, address and telephone number.

(b) The owner shall notify the Camden Police Department Animal Control Officer as soon as possible, but no more than eight (8) hours afterward, if a vicious dog is loose, unconfined, or at large.

(c) While on the owner's property, a vicious dog must be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. Such pen must have minimum dimensions of five (5) feet by ten (10) feet and must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be imbedded into the ground no less than two (2) feet. The enclosure must also provide protection from the elements for the dog.

(d) The owner shall conspicuously display a sign(s) on his or her premises warning that there is a vicious dog on the property. This sign(s) shall be visible from the public highway and thoroughfare.

(e) A vicious dog may be off the owner's premises only if it is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding four (4) feet in length attached to the collar or halter and under the direct control of a responsible adult. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but must prevent it from biting any person or animal. Such dogs may not be leashed to inanimate objects such as trees, posts, buildings, etc.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 17-00, § 2, 9-12-2000)

Sec. 5-65. - Liability of parents when vicious dog owned by minor.
If the owner of a vicious dog is a minor, the parents or guardian of that minor shall be responsible for compliance with the specifications of the division for the care and housing of the animal and shall also be liable for all injuries and property damage sustained by any person or domestic animal caused by an unprovoked attack by the dog.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-66. - Dogs involved in provoked attacks.
No dog may be declared vicious if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or has, in the past, been observed or reported to have teased, tormented, abused or assaulted the dog or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-67. - Declaring a dog as vicious: procedure.
The classification of a dog as vicious under the criteria set forth in sections 5-63(a) of this article shall be the function of the district court. The court may rule a particular dog as vicious following an examination of the information and evidence offered by the animal control officer, the dog's owner and any witnesses or victims at a regularly scheduled date on the court's calendar.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 17-00, § 3, 9-12-2000; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-68. - Investigation of vicious dogs.
Investigation of problem dog complaints shall be carried out by the animal control officer and enforcement action taken according to the following criteria:

(a) Reserved.

(b) If any person complains, an investigation will be conducted by the animal control officer and if, based upon his observations and evidence, he determines that the complaint is valid, may issue a citation to the owner of the dog.

(c) If the victim or complainant is the animal control officer or police officer the animal may immediately be impounded and a citation issued to the owner of the dog.

(d) The victim or complainant may file an affidavit with the district court clerk to have the owner of said dog summoned to district court.

(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 17-00, § 4, 9-12-2000; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-69. - Preliminary confinement.
Upon reception of a citation from the animal control officer or a summons served by a police officer notifying them that a vicious dog complaint has been filed against them, the owner of the dog(s) in question shall confine such animal(s) within a house, structure, or suitable pen until such time as a ruling is made in the case by a district court. If the dog is taken off of the owner's premises it must be restrained by a suitable chain or leash attached to a sturdy collar or halter.

If a dog under accusation as being vicious is found running at large or in an unconfined state following the service of a citation or summons to the owner but prior to a ruling by the court, the animal control officer shall impound such animal until a determination is made by the court, and the owner shall be responsible for all pick up and kennel fees associated with the impoundment regardless of the final outcome of the case.

(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89; Ord. No. 29-04, § 2, 11-9-2004)

Sec. 5-70. - Time limits to comply with vicious dog requirements
The owner of any dog ruled as vicious by the court shall immediately comply with the requirements for keeping a vicious dog.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)
Sec. 5-71. - Issuance of the requirements for keeping a vicious dog.
A copy of the requirements for keeping a vicious dog shall be provided to each owner at the time they are issued a citation or summons to appear in court.

The animal control officer shall be responsible for providing these requirements.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-72. - Penalties concerning vicious dogs.
(a) If a dog previously ruled to be vicious is found to be at large or improperly leashed and muzzled in a public place the fine shall be no less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) nor more than three hundred dollars ($300.00) for the first offense. The fine shall be doubled for each succeeding offense with confiscation and destruction of the animal in addition to any fines upon a third offense.

It may be a defense of this subsection of this section in first offense violations where the owner of the animal was otherwise in compliance with the requirements and had reported the animal's escape from confinement to the animal control officer prior to that animal's capture.

(b) Failure to comply with the requirements for keeping a vicious dog shall carry a fine of no less than seventy-five dollars ($75.00) nor more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for the first offense. Fine to be doubled on each succeeding offense with confiscation and destruction of the animal upon a fourth offense.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-73. - Adoption of vicious dogs.
Any dog that has been designated as vicious under this division may not be offered to the public for adoption within the corporate limits of Camden.

This shall include dogs in the custody of the animal control officer of an unclaimed nature and of unknown origin which through conduct or demeanor leads the animal control officer to believe that the animal is vicious.
(Ord. No. 21-89, 10-3-89)

Sec. 5-74. - Waiver; procedure.
(a) Any person wishing to receive a waiver from any section pertaining to dangerous and vicious dogs as set forth in sections 5-63 (b) and 5-64 may petition the city council by filing a request for waiver with the City Clerk for the City of Camden, Arkansas.

(b) The request for waiver shall be heard by the city council at its next regularly scheduled meeting, or at a special meeting called for that purpose.

(c) The city clerk shall not accept a request for waiver, unless there is attached thereto a five dollar ($5.00) fee to cover the cost thereof, which shall not be refunded.

(d) The request for waiver shall state in complete detail the reasons for which the waiver is taken.

(e) A request for waiver shall not stay compliance under the provisions of sections 5-63(b) and 5-64, however, the police department shall not pursue any further proceedings pursuant to the provisions of sections sections 5-63(b) and 5-64 until a waiver is finally concluded, dismissed or heard by the city council and a decision rendered.

(f) The city council may grant or deny a request for waiver or make an exception to this division based upon such conditions as the city council may determine. No waiver will be granted by the city council without a report from the mayor's office.
(Ord. No. 17-00, § 5, 9-12-2000)

LEADS IN STONE COUNTY MURDERS POINT STATE POLICE AGENTS TO PERSON OF INTEREST
APRIL 26, 2022
New investigative leads in the murders of four Stone County residents last week are directing Arkansas State Police Special Agents toward a person of interest who has been placed in custody on unrelated charges at an undisclosed jail.

While area residents should continue to be vigilant at their homes and while traveling through the area, the state police has not found any evidence to indicate an imminent threat related to this particular investigation.

Last Thursday (April 21st) the bodies of Shirley Watters, 77, and her son, James Watters, 55, were found dead in their home.  Both had been shot inside the house at 646 Northcutt Road.  Several hours later, the bodies of William Clinton Trammell, 75, and his wife, Sharon, 72, were found murdered, both shot at their residence a short distance from the Watters residence south of Mountain View.

  Agents assigned to the case are continuing their investigative work and will keep the public updated with information related to the murder investigations

COTTON, COLLEAGUES DEMAND ANSWERS ABOUT DOJ DECISION TO INVESTIGATE THREE DEPUTY U.S. MARSHALS
Washington, D.C. – Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), and Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding to know why the Department of Justice to placed three deputy U.S. Marshals (DUSMs) on limited duty and opened an investigation into a use-of-force incident during the defense of the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon in July 2020.

In part, the senators wrote, “According to information that we’ve been given, these DUSMs have never been reprimanded for their actions in Portland; to the contrary, they received the Director’s Award, received outstanding or excellent evaluations in 2020, and had been subsequently deployed on numerous dangerous missions as part of the USMS Special Operations Group, including to other cities where there was anticipated civil unrest.  Accordingly, the timing of this decision is inherently suspect, appears politically-motivated, and smacks of retaliation.”

“In addition, before they were confirmed, Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta, and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, made concerning comments about the riots at the Portland courthouse that could create a conflict with their involvement in any decision relating to these DUSMs,” the senators continued.

Text of the letter may be found below.

The Honorable Merrick Garland
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Garland,

We are writing to demand answers regarding your recent decision to place three deputy United States Marshals (DUSMs) on limited duty and inform them they are under investigation for a use-of-force incident that occurred over 20 months ago while they defended the federal courthouse in Portland. We do not condone any unjustified violence against innocent parties, if that's what occurred; however, the Department had 20 months to make both these decisions but only made them after Senator Cotton refused to allow expedited consideration of Department of Justice (DOJ) nominees because DOJ had not provided these DUSMs payments for defense counsel when they were named defendants in a civil suit related to the Portland riots. According to information that we've been given, these DUSMs have never been reprimanded for their actions in Portland; to the contrary, they received the Director's Award, received outstanding or excellent evaluations in 2020, and had been subsequently deployed on numerous dangerous missions as part of the USMS Special Operations Group, including to other cities where there was anticipated civil unrest.  Accordingly, the timing of this decision is inherently suspect, appears politically-motivated, and smacks of retaliation.

In addition, before they were confirmed, Associate Attorney General, Vanita Gupta, and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, made concerning comments about the riots at the Portland courthouse that could create a conflict with their involvement in any decision relating to these DUSMs. For example, on July 21, 2020, Ms. Gupta tweeted that federal intervention in Portland was "tyranny" and on July 19, 2020, tweeted that federal use-of-force on a protestor was "authoritarianism." On July 23, 2020, Ms. Clarke re-tweeted then-Senator Kamala Harris, calling federal intervention in Portland a "disturbing violation of Americans' civil rights." Their public comments illustrate that they cannot objectively oversee any disciplinary matter relating to the Portland courthouse and that they should be recused from any matter that arises from it, if they have yet to recuse.

To better understand the Department's decision-making process with respect to placing these DUSMs on limited duty and placing them under investigation-20 months after-the-fact-please respond to the following no later than May 1, 2022:

Please provide all communications and any internal documents regarding the decision to place these DUSMs on limited duty and under investigation, including the following:

The date any investigation was opened; and

The date the decision was made to place the DUSMs on limited duty.

Please provide all communications and any internal documents regarding the decision of whether or not to pay for civil representation for all four DUSMs who had not been provided payment for counsel as of today - including all communications and any recommendation to the Civil Division from the USMS Office of General Counsel.

Have Ms. Gupta and Ms. Clarke been recused from matters relating to the Portland courthouse riots?  If so, when?  If not, why not?

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION BLOCKING BIDEN FROM DEPLOYING VETERANS RESOURCES TO SOUTHERN BORDER
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is leading Senate legislation to block the Biden administration from diverting veterans resources to manage the crisis at the southern border.

Boozman and Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Thune (R-SD), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) are introducing legislation today to prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from prioritizing the needs of illegal immigrants over our nation’s veterans as the administration expects a surge at the southern border after the Trump-era immigration policy Title 42 is lifted.

“Veterans should not bear the burden of President Biden’s disastrous immigration policy. Moving resources away from serving the needs of our veterans to supporting a foreseeable and avoidable crisis at our southern border is unacceptable. Our legislation ensures the care and services for the men and women who bravely fought for our country are prioritized over illegal immigrants,” said Boozman, lead Republican appropriator for VA funding and a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“The Biden administration’s disastrous decision to end Title 42 should have no impact on the accessibility, timeliness, or quality of care and benefits that veterans need and deserve, regardless of this administration’s continued mishandling of the southern border,” said Tillis. “I am proud to work with my colleagues to introduce this commonsense legislation to ensure our veterans are a priority.”

“It’s despicable that the Biden Administration would prioritize resources for illegal immigrants over the veterans who bravely served our country,” Rubio said. “This bill would ensure that VA resources are not diverted to deal with the administration’s growing border surge.”

“Our veterans deserve our utmost respect—not repercussions from Biden’s terrible immigration decisions,” Inhofe said. “I am glad to join Sen. Boozman in introducing legislation that would block the Biden administration from redirecting important resources from the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country in an attempt to put a band-aid on the crisis this administration has created at the southern border.”

“Montana veterans who selflessly served our nation rely on VA facilities for critical health care services— their care should not be compromised by the Biden administration’s inability to secure our southern border. President Biden created this crisis on his own, and instead of trying to redirect VA personnel and resources to fix it, he needs to accept his failure, reinstate Trump immigration policies like Title 42, build the wall and secure our southern border,” Daines said.

“The VA’s job is to focus on the men and women who bravely served our country, not to rescue an administration from a self-inflicted crisis at the southern border,” said Thune. “I’m proud to support this legislation that blocks President Biden from diverting much-needed resources from America’s veterans – in an already strained system – to address an avoidable situation at the border.”

“President Biden and his administration refuse to acknowledge that their actions are ruining any semblance of security on our southern border, and ending Title 42 will make the situation worse.  Tapping resources intended for our veterans and their dependents to spend on the administration’s border crisis amounts to one more irrational plan out of this White House,” Hyde-Smith said. “I’m pleased to join Senator Boozman in trying to stop this affront to our veterans.”

“Government funding intended for America’s veterans shouldn’t be diverted to bail out Biden’s self-inflicted crisis at the southern border. The abrupt decision to end the Title 42 program is only going to make this crisis worse. Our legislation would ensure that this bad policy decision by the administration doesn’t negatively impact the VA or our veterans,” Fischer said.

“The disaster at our southern border is a crisis of President Biden’s making, and the burden of combatting the crisis shouldn’t fall on veterans. Instead of depriving our nation’s heroes of resources, the Biden administration should reinstate immigration policies that are proven to work,” Cotton said.

“Frantically redirecting critical veterans resources to our southern border as a so-called solution to a preventable crisis is the latest example of the Biden Administration prioritizing illegal immigrants over the needs of American citizens—and in this case, the needs of citizens who have defended our country and freedoms,” said Hagerty. “This legislation will make certain the care of our nation’s heroes is not compromised because of an offensive knee-jerk decision by this Administration.”

Last week, Boozman led his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden demanding the administration commit to preventing VA personnel from supporting the expected southern border surge as a result of ending Title 42.

April 25, 2022

THE OUACHITA COUNTY COMMUNITY CONCERTS PRESENTS THE HOLY ROCKA ROLLAZ!
Take an authentic trip Back to the ‘50s with The Holy Rocka Rollaz! If you love the rock ‘n’ roll music of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley & The Comets (and many more!) ~ then you have found your DREAM band! There’s nothing but PURE EARLY AMERICAN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ABOUT THEM!

Learn more at  ExploreCamden.com

The Holy Rocka Rollaz are bringing their authentic style of Rock N' Roll to the Event Center at Fairview Park on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 7:00 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 2740 Mt Holly Rd Camden, AR. For Questions call Becky Lindsey @ 870-807-691

LITTLE ROCK VA REGIONAL OFFICE HOLDS NEXT VIRTUAL CLAIMS CLINIC FOR ARKANSAS VETERANS ON APRIL 28
Call 501-370-3829 to reserve a timeslot to speak one-on-one with a VA benefits representative.

 WHAT: Monthly Virtual VA Claims Clinic for Arkansas Veterans
WHO: During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, Veterans may speak one-on-one to staff of the Little Rock VA Regional Office who are ready to assist with specific questions regarding their claims for VA benefits.
WHEN: Thursday, April 28, 4 - 6 p.m.
HOW: To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, April 27.

 BACKGROUND:  
“We continue to adapt to the changes in Veterans’ lives by offering a wide variety of tools to better communicate with them,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “VA is ready and able to provide the benefits and services that Veterans have earned with their selfless service to our country. Our pledge extends to their widows/widowers, eligible dependents, and survivors.” 

The Little Rock VA Regional Office is open 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. 

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 loans guaranties. 

VA recently added three presumptive disability conditions  related to toxic exposure: asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis. Military service members may have been exposed to a variety of airborne hazards or contaminants resulting in one or more of these presumptive conditions and potentially other related medical conditions while on active duty in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War from September 19, 2001 to present, or the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990 to present. 

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 of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is 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 (VERAL), a new, easy-to-use, online tool, to schedule in-person or virtual appointments with VA benefits counselors. 

For more information about VA’s benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.
 

SAAC INVITES THE PUBLIC TO “MEET THE DIRECTORS”
“Mamma Mia!” is taking the stage at the South Arkansas Arts Center this summer, and SAAC is pleased to invite the community to meet the directors at a reception on Saturday, April 30 at 6:00 p.m. in the gallery. Sponsored by Murphy USA, “Mamma Mia!” is a jukebox romantic comedy featuring the beloved songs of ABBA, made famous on Broadway and in a hit movie starring Meryl Streep. Set on a Grecian isle and filled with laughs, love, and all the songs you remember, the production is the perfect way to celebrate summer.

Director Cherrie Sciro is the Coordinator of Theatre and a Professor at Louisiana Tech. Additionally, Sciro is known nationally for her Broadway credits, including Production Coordinator of the Tony Award-winning musicals “Cats,” “Les Misérables,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Miss Saigon.” She has also served as a stage manager and production manager for various other shows on Broadway, for the 2001 New Year’s Eve in Times Square in New York City, for the Hard Rock Rockfest in Atlanta, and Road Manager for Patti LuPone and Dixie Carter.

Music director for “Mamma Mia!” D.H. Clark says of Sciro, “She is an incredible director who has vast experience. Her insight into character development and staging is second to none. [Cast members] will find this to be not only fun and fulfilling, but also a huge learning experience.”

This is her second time directing the show, the first being at the Strauss Theater Center in Monroe, with Clark as music director. Sciro remarked, “It takes a dedicated person to turn a group of people into an exceptional ensemble,” and she is up for the challenge.  

For over fifty years, music director Clark followed a dual career path in medicine and music. He retired from the practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2018, but continues to work as a church musician and active community theatre participant.  

Clark’s earliest experience with live theatre was sitting in the nosebleed section in 1966 at the St. James Theater in New York while Ginger Rogers “took him to heaven” in “Hello Dolly.” He has been musical director or assistant for “A Chorus Line,” “Shenandoah,” “How to Succeed…,” and many Cottonland Christmas productions at Strauss Theater Center in Monroe.  

Choreographer Hannah Marsh is a native of Junction City and is the owner of Lucy's Ladies Dance Studio in El Dorado. Marsh studied under Cydni Hutson in Homer, LA, for 15 years and was also a soloist in the Twin City Ballet Company. After graduating high school, she spent a year at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, CA. She then signed a contract with Go2Talent agency and started working as a professional dancer. She is now back home in Arkansas, sharing her knowledge and love for dance with El Dorado, including as the choreographer for the South Arkansas Arts Center production of “Singin’ in the Rain” in 2018.

Assistant Director Hannah Davis is an El Dorado native, an 8th grade English teacher at Barton Junior High School, and SAAC drama instructor (among many other things). She most recently directed the youth theatre production of “The Enchanted Bookshop” and co-directed main stage production of “CLUE On Stage.” She has a bachelor's degree in theatre from Louisiana Tech University, where she studied under director Sciro.

All four of these talented individuals will be on hand for the “Meet the Directors” reception on Saturday, April 30 at 6 p.m., immediately following a quick rehearsal for the upcoming “Mamma Mia!” flash mob at 5:30. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about auditions, scheduled for May 13-15, and the production, scheduled from July 14-24.

For more information about “Mamma Mia!”, call 870-862-5474, or visit www.saac-arts.org.
 

BOOZMAN CRISS-CROSSES ARKANSAS DURING IN-STATE WORK PERIOD
WASHINGTON – During the Senate’s two-week in-state work period, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) has traveled the state talking with Arkansans about the issues impacting families, businesses and communities. The topics on the minds of most residents focus on the impact of skyrocketing inflation, rising gas prices, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions on their budgets and operations.

Supporting Small Businesses
Boozman continued his ongoing conversations with business leaders across Arkansas to discuss the challenges they face in this economic climate. Small business owners in Batesville shared how skyrocketing inflation is impacting them.

In Fort Smith, Boozman heard from home builders who are experiencing delays in receiving construction materials as a result of supply chain disruptions.

Home building, like many other industries, is experiencing a shortage of skilled labor. Boozman visited the Russellville training facility working to close that gap and provide hands-on instruction for future construction workers.

In El Dorado, the senator saw how South Arkansas Community College is helping meet the needs of local businesses and developing the next generation of skilled-workers with its Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.

Unleashing American Energy
Boozman has called on President Biden to rescind his policies blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and banning new energy development on federal land. The senator has urged the president to unleash American energy production using the abundance of our nation’s resources to help provide relief from skyrocketing fuel prices and increased home heating costs. He continues advocating for an all-of-the-above energy policy to diversify our existing energy resources including the use of solar energy.

Advocating for Veterans
As a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee, Boozman has delivered improvements to benefits and services for Arkansas veterans and helped expand access to community health care.

The senator visited Malvern’s Covenant Health Urgent Care that aimed to provide urgent care services to eligible veterans, but ran into bureaucratic barriers and delays Boozman’s office stepped in to help speed up the process and the clinic was successfully authorized to provide veterans care through the VA’s Community Care Network.

Boozman visited with veterans at Camp Jack in Harrison to hear about new initiatives to help support mental health needs of area veterans. The senator has been a leader in developing policies improving VA programs to support veteran-serving organizations and their outreach.

The senator applauded the dedicated medical professionals at the VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Mountain Home  who administer health service to veterans. CBOCs are an important tool within the VA system that allow veterans to receive care close to where they live.

April 22, 2022

FOUR HOMICIDES; ASP INVESTIGATING TWO STONE COUNTY CRIME SCENES
APRIL 22, 2022
Stone County authorities have requested the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division to investigate the deaths of four people who appear to have died as the result of gunshot wounds.  The homicides occurred at two homes located about one-quarter mile apart.  State police special agents are investigating the cases independently and have not, at this juncture, found conclusive evidence to confirm whether the cases might be related.

The Stone County Sheriff’s Office contacted state police late yesterday (*Thursday, April 21st) requesting CID special agents be sent to 646 Northcutt Road, located off Arkansas Highway 5.

About 2 PM, a woman and her son, both residents of the home located south of Mountain View, had been found dead by a family member.  The deceased have been identified as Shirley Watters, 77, and James Watters, 55.  Agents investigating the case have found evidence indicating both had been wounded by gunfire.

About 8 hours later while continuing their work at the first crime scene,  agents were called to a second crime scene located at 5474 Arkansas Highway 5, north of the Watters residence.

William Clinton Trammell, 75, and his wife, Sharon, 72, had been discovered dead inside their home.  Both, the apparent victims, of gunshot wounds.

The bodies in each case have been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the medical examiner will confirm the cause and manner of death and provide agents with an approximate time of death.

Special agents assigned to the independent cases are continuing their investigative work today and will keep the Stone County Sheriff’s Department and prosecuting attorney updated on their findings.
 

SAU TECH CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN NATIONAL INITIATIVE
EAST CAMDEN, AR (04/21/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) is pleased to announce the College's participation in the Institute for Evidence-Based Change's Caring Campus Faculty Initiative. The IEBC is implementing the initiative on a select number of two-year college campuses across the nation.

The initiative is based on research showing that students who feel "cared" about are more likely to succeed despite the barriers they encounter during their educational journey. Students state that they want faculty who "gets" them. The project is intended to look at effective behaviors and practices by faculty at SAU Tech and then work with the identified faculty to help them peer mentor other faculty to improve their "caring" behaviors and techniques with students.

This effort at SAU Tech comes when the College's leadership has aligned itself with the concept of "rigor," not "rigidness," in delivering instruction to students. Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech's Chancellor, stated that "This effort is a step in the right direction. Our students come to us as first-generation college students with limited resources and minimal skills to help them navigate college. They succeed only when we make a personal connection with them and strive to meet them where they are in their efforts to obtain a college education. We are looking forward to the results this initiative will bring to student success and retention rates."

SAU Tech's Vice Chancellor for Academics and Planning, Dr. Valerie Wilson, and her team are heading up this effort at SAU Tech and have started evaluating faculty practices and identifying those practices and behaviors that result in positive student feedback and success rates. The Caring Campus Faculty Initiative will formally begin with the fall 2022 semester.

The Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping education stakeholders - community colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, employers, and others - use coaching, collaboration, and data to make informed decisions and craft solutions that improve practice and dramatically increase student success. Learn more about IEBC at https://www.iebcnow.org/about-us.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/SAU-Tech-Chosen-to-Participate-in-National-Initiative/26698

CANFOR CORP. TO INVEST $130 MILLION IN UNION COUNTY SAWMILL FACILITY
by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net)
anfor Corp. said Thursday (April 21) it will invest approximately $130 million to “significantly upgrade and expand” its sawmill and planer facility located in Urbana in Union County.

The investment will capitalize on high-quality fiber to enhance the manufacturing of high-value products, increase annual production at the facility by 115 million board feet, and result in a meaningful reduction in the facility’s cost structure. The investment aligns with Canfor’s growth and diversification strategy to keep pace with growing customer demand, it said.

“We are excited to be investing in our Urbana facility with state-of-the-art technology to modernize the work environment for our valued employees and significantly increase our ability to produce sustainable wood products that will meet the growing needs of our customers,” said Canfor President and CEO Don Kayne.

The upgrades include major improvements to the planer, sawmill, and log yard. They are expected to commence in the third quarter of 2022 and will take approximately 18 months to complete. The facility will continue to operate while the modernization project is underway.

“With more than 19 million acres of forestland and a ready-made labor force, timber plays an important role in the Arkansas economy,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “It is only natural that Canfor chose to expand their operations in Urbana and invest in the workforce and the community.”

“I am pleased that Canfor has decided to invest in its Urbana mill,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said. “Arkansas has abundant natural resources and skilled labor in the timber industry that will help Canfor meet the growing demands of its customers.”
 

BOOZMAN SHARES MEMORIES OF BENTONVILLE VETERAN
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) recognized the service and sacrifice of Ernest Exner in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans. 

Exner grew up in Connecticut in a family of six children raised by a single mom. He aimed to follow his brother’s example and enlist in the National Guard.

“I told my mother I’d like to go, she said ‘no,’” but Exner wouldn’t take that for an answer so he changed his birth certificate to reflect he was one year older so he could enlist without his mom’s permission.

Exner was assigned to the infantry and trained to use weapons such as the flame thrower and the M1 rifle.

His National Guard unit activated during the Korean War and he trained at Fort Pickett, Virginia.

Exner was a well-respected soldier and was promoted to drill sergeant. He was only 130 pounds so he had to be mean. “I made a lot of enemies,” he said.

He was committed to his soldiers and wanted to continue serving with the men he trained, but the Army had other plans for him. They “shipped me to Germany. Terrible mistake, wow. Germany had the nicest looking women and the nicest beer,” Exner said.

He served as an assistant platoon sergeant in an infantry company conducting patrols along the Austrian border. 

Exner remembers the friends he hung around with at home had all been drafted. “Some went into the Seabees in the Navy and the Air Force but nobody got the Army,” he said. “I pulled rank on all of them.”

Exner was discharged from the military on April 26, 1952 and he used the GI Bill to attend a trade school in his hometown becoming an electrician’s helper in a local factory. That’s where he met his wife, Barbara.

The couple had three sons and were married for 30 years before Barbara passed away.

Exner eventually remarried and he and his wife Beverly moved to Florida. He bought a bass boat and Beverly urged him to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary so he could learn to navigate. He was initially reluctant, but soon the couple was volunteering and patrolling off the coast.

“There were a couple of planes that crashed and people drowned and the auxiliary went to pick up pieces. If someone ran out of gas or was sinking, the Coast Guard Auxiliary was there,” Exner said. “We stayed busy.”

Exner moved to Arkansas to be close to family. Today, he lives with his son, Eric, in Bentonville.

“I’m grateful for Ernest Exner’s service to our nation. His service and sacrifice is a great example for future generations of the brave Americans who helped defend our country and freedoms. I’m pleased to help capture and preserve his memories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Exner’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

April 21, 2022

NEW REPORT: LITTLE ROCK’S AIR QUALITY IMPROVES, RESIDENTS EXPOSED TO LESS UNHEALTHY AIR POLLUTION
American Lung Association “State of the Air” Report reveals that residents faced the same number of days of poor air quality
LITTLE ROCK – (April 21, 2022) –The 2022 “State of the Air” report, released today by the American Lung Association, finds that Little Rock’s rankings were improved for some of the most harmful and widespread types of air pollution: particle pollution and ozone.  
The “State of the Air” report is the Lung Association’s annual air quality “report card” that tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution (also known as smog), annual particle pollution (also known as soot), and short-term spikes in particle pollution, over a three-year period. This year’s report covers 2018-2020. See the full report at Lung.org/sota. 

“The levels of ozone and/or particle pollution seen in Little Rock can harm the health of all of our residents, but particularly at risk are children, older adults, pregnant people, and those living with chronic disease. Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer,” said Laura Turner, Senior Manager of Advocacy for the Lung Association. “Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in the levels of ozone/particle pollution.” 
Ground-level Ozone Pollution in Little Rock.

Compared to the 2021 report, Little Rock experienced unchanged unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report. “State of the Air” ranked Little Rock tied as the 100th most polluted city for ozone pollution, which is unchanged compared to their tied ranking of 101st in last year’s report. The area received a C grade for ozone pollution.
Particle Pollution in Little Rock.

The report also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, which can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. Little Rock’s short-term particle pollution got worse in this year’s report, which means there were more unhealthy days. The area is tied ranked 99th worst for short-term particle pollution. The 2022 “State of the Air” found that year-round particle pollution levels in Arkansas were significantly lower than in last year’s report. The area was tied ranked 56th most polluted for year-round particle pollution better than the tied ranking of 28th last year. 

The report found that nationwide, nearly 9 million more people were impacted by deadly particle pollution than reported last year. It also shows more days with “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality than ever before in the two-decade history of this report. Overall, more than 137 million Americans live in counties that had unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. Communities of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air. The report found that people of color were 61% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one pollutant, and 3.6 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three pollutants.
 The addition of 2020 data to the 2022 “State of the Air” report gives a first look at air quality trends during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of the shutdowns in early 2020, there was no obvious improvement. 

The American Lung Association is calling on the Biden administration to strengthen the national limits on both short-term and year-round particulate matter air pollution. Stronger standards will educate the public about air pollution levels that threaten their health and drive the cleanup of polluting sources in communities across the country. See the full report results and sign the petition at Lung.org/SOTA.
Media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, clean air, and threats to air quality can contact Jill Smith at Jill.Smith@Lung.org or 704-818-4138. 

 

BOOZMAN LEADS COLLEAGUES IN OPPOSING USE OF VA PERSONNEL TO SUPPORT EXPECTED SOUTHERN BORDER SURGE
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), the lead Republican appropriator for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding and a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is demanding the Biden administration commit to preventing VA health care professionals from being used to facilitate an expected surge of illegal immigration as a result of the reversal of a Trump-era immigration policy.

In a letter to President Biden, Boozman and 10 of his colleagues call on the president to prioritize veterans’ care and services over that of illegal immigrants and abandon any plans for VA personnel to carry out its Fourth Mission in support of an interagency response when the Title 42 authority, which allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to prohibit entry to those who pose health risks such as COVID-19, ends next month.
“[The] “Fourth Mission” is not a tool to clean up the mess from a foreseeable and avoidable crisis, especially while the VA is already experiencing record-high turnover rates and issues of workforce resiliency amongst its health care employees,” the senators wrote.

The VA is experiencing a 15-year high turnover rate with its nursing staff and increased vacancies for a wide variety of health care professionals. 
“The burden of addressing this Administration's abject failure to contain the crisis at the southern border should not come at the expense of our nation’s veterans. Prioritizing the care of illegal immigrants before the needs of veterans is inconceivable and wrong. We have an obligation to provide quality and timely care to the men and women who bravely served our country. We strongly disapprove of any decisions which hinder successfully fulfilling that mission,” the senators continued.
The letter was signed by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The full letter can be found below:

Dear President Biden: 
We write to express disapproval of any contingency plan which uses personnel from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to deal with the inevitable escalation of the border crisis once your Administration rescinds its Title 42 Order. The VA is currently experiencing major staffing shortages and high workforce turnover rates. The deployment of VA personnel in a "Fourth Mission" capacity will impact veterans' ability to receive timely care from the VA and should not be a consideration while developing your Administration's plan as a result of the failure to implement and maintain commonsense border security policies.
The VA's "Fourth Mission" is to "improve the nation's preparedness for response to war, terrorism, national emergencies, and natural disasters by developing plans and taking action to ensure continued service to Veterans, as well as to support national, state, and local emergency management, public health, safety, and homeland security efforts." Congress recognizes and remains grateful for the essential role of VA personnel in responding to fulfill the VA’s “Fourth Mission” during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the “Fourth Mission” is not a tool to clean up the mess from a foreseeable and avoidable crisis, especially while the VA is already experiencing record-high turnover rates and issues of workforce resiliency amongst its health care employees. 

The United States is currently experiencing a record-breaking number of border encounters. As you know, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported over 1.6 million border encounters in the Fiscal Year 2021, which is the highest annual total on record. The Title 42 Order has been used over one million times and has been essential for CBP to deny entry to illegal immigrants. Reports indicate that your Administration is aware of the inevitable surge of illegal immigrants once this authority ends. Officials in the Department of Homeland Security are requesting support from other agencies such as the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Health and Human Services. There is bipartisan support in the Senate requesting a detailed plan be made available before revoking this authority. These plans should not include using the VA's "Fourth Mission." 
The VA loses roughly 40,000 individuals in a typical year due to retirement, firings, or outside employment. Right now there are more than 10,000 additional vacancies within the VHA workforce of doctors, nurses, and other essential staff. Additionally, the VA is experiencing a 15-year high turnover rate amongst its nursing workforce. A strained and insufficient workforce directly impacts the Department's ability to provide timely access to veterans' care at the VA. Congress has recently taken action to address the VA’s record-high turnover by passing the RAISE Act, which empowers the VA to pay its employees a higher wage and increase competitiveness with private-sector employers. In February 2022, VA Secretary Denis McDonough also announced the VA's "10-point human infrastructure plan" to help the Department recruit and retain its workforce. The pandemic has highlighted the VA's need to create a more resilient workforce, which has been a priority for Congress and the VA. The White House must reject procedures diverting the attention of an already overextended workforce away from veteran’s care. 

If the Title 42 Order is rescinded, it is necessary that you provide a detailed plan to Congress and that it does not rely on the VA's "Fourth Mission." The VA plays an essential role in responding to a crisis when called; however, it must not be part of the response plan to a foreseeable problem when the circumstance is avoidable. The burden of addressing this Administration's abject failure to contain the crisis at the southern border should not come at the expense of our nation’s veterans. Prioritizing the care of illegal immigrants before the needs of veterans is inconceivable and wrong. We have an obligation to provide quality and timely care to the men and women who bravely served our country. We strongly disapprove of any decisions which hinder successfully fulfilling that mission. That is why we call on the Administration to commit not to use VA health care professionals in any capacity regarding the border crisis of your creation as contingency plans are being developed for the disastrous decision to rescind CBP’s authority to execute its Title 42 Order.

April 20, 2022

ACADEMY STUDENTS PLACE AT STATE SKILLSUSA COMPETITION
Southern Arkansas University Tech, SAU Tech, is pleased to announce the SAU Tech Career Academy SkillsUSA winners for this year. Competing in Hot Springs, Brooklyn Edmonson, a junior at Harmony Grove earned a silver medal in the medical terminology and Jackson Porter, earned a gold medal for winning first place in the pipe welding competition. Jackson attends Bearden High School and will receive $17, 500 in scholarships with his gold award.  Both students attend programs at SAU Tech through the SAU Tech Career Academy’s Medical Professions and Welding programs. The Career Academy operates as part of SAU Tech’s Rocket High which provides concurrent enrollment in both general education college courses and career technical areas to high school students. Rachal Gaston is the Academy’s director and is located on the campus of SAU Tech. Learn more about SAU Tech’s Rocket High at https://www.sautech.edu/concurrent-enrollment/.


THE OUCHITA COUNTY COMMUNITY CONCERTS PRESENTS THE HOLY ROCKA ROLLAZ!
Take an authentic trip Back to the ‘50s with The Holy Rocka Rollaz! If you love the rock ‘n’ roll music of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley & The Comets (and many more!) ~ then you have found your DREAM band! There’s nothing but PURE EARLY AMERICAN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ABOUT THEM!

Learn more at ExploreCamden.com

The Holy Rocka Rollaz are bringing their authentic style of Rock N' Roll to the Event Center at Fairview Park on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 7:00 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 2740 Mt Holly Rd Camden, AR. For Questions call Becky Lindsey @ 870-807-6915.

USDA OUACHITA COUNTY COMMODITIES DISTRIBUTION
USDA Commodities Distribution will take place in Ouachita County on Wednesday, May 18th and Thursday, May 19th.  Distribution will begin at 9 a.m. at Carnes Park located at 955 Adams, S.E. in Camden. Food Items May Include: UHT Milk, Grape Juice, Fruit Mix, Raisins, Diced Tomatoes, Cream of Mushroom Soup, Pinto Beans, Wal­nuts, Spaghetti, Rice, Farina (Cream of Wheat), Canned Pork and Beef Chili.

All Participants Must Show ID (Photo ID Preferred).

For more information contact Tamicka Taylor at (870) 836-3200.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agen­cies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program infor­mation may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call {866) 632-9992. Sub­mit your completed form or letter to USDA by: (1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; (3) email: program.intake@usda.gov. (2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SPRING CLEAN THE SCAMS AWAY
Says ‘Follow my tips so you don’t fall prey to their traps and lose your items and your money’
LITTLE ROCK – With the changing season, many Arkansans begin spring cleaning to offload a few personal items and maybe make a few dollars. Facebook Marketplace has become a popular alternative to easily list items for sale without the hassle of a traditional yard sale. 

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge cautions Arkansans to be watchful of scams when using Facebook Marketplace to sell items. Con artists will use every trick in the book to steal money from sellers including sending a fraudulent check for an amount significantly higher than the asking price to cover shipping charges. Then, the buyer’s check bounces, leaving the seller with no item and all the responsibility for paying back the bank.

“Con artists always find opportunities to steal from hard working Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Follow my tips so you don’t fall prey to their traps and lose your items and your money.”

Attorney General Rutledge provides the following tips to help keep consumers safe while selling items online:
Be wary of messages from buyers using fake profiles.
Do not accept overpayment for your items—especially in a counterfeit cashier’s check.
Determine if you will ship your item or prefer a local buyer.
Meet in a safe place. Take precautions when allowing buyers to pick up items from your home.
Contact your local law enforcement agency to see if it offers a safe exchange location.
Do not give verification codes from Google to any potential buyer.

Helpful tips on responsible selling on Facebook Marketplace is available by visiting the Facebook Help Center.  

For more information about consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

KNOW WHAT’S BELOW – CALL 811 BEFORE DIGGING, EXCAVATION
Stay safe by knowing where underground utility lines are located
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As part of National Safe Digging Month, Entergy Arkansas is reminding people to call 811 before digging into your list of spring projects. This easy process helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient utility outages to homeowners and other residents, officials said, by talking briefly with Arkansas One Call representatives.

“Spring is a good time to start home improvement and landscaping projects, so it’s also the right time to remind customers of the importance of safe digging practices,” said Ventrell Thompson, Entergy Arkansas acting vice president of customer service. “Everyone – homeowners, business owners and contractors – should call 811 to determine the location of existing lines in order to limit the chances of striking underground utility lines, including gas, water and electric. Not only is it the safe thing to do, but it’s also the law.”

The focus of National Safe Digging Month each April is on preventing serious consequences that could occur from digging without knowing what’s below the surface – not only now, but year-round. Arkansas One Call representatives provide direction on how to submit requests to learn what utilities may be buried beneath the ground, such as natural gas pipelines, electric power lines and other services, he said.

Regardless of what you plan to do, how deep you plan to dig or even if you’ve called before for a similar project, every job requires a call first, as experts say erosion, settling and other factors can change the depth and location of utilities over time.

After you make the call to 811, professional locators will mark the approximate locations of underground lines at the requested digging site with flags, paint or both. Markings show the location of underground lines and help prevent undesired consequences such as injury, service disruptions or costly fines and repair costs.

In accordance with 811 color codes, electric power lines and lighting cables are identified by the color red; gas, oil and steam lines are be identified by the color yellow; and telecommunication, alarm and signal lines are identified by the color orange.

The depth of underground utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in one common area, and the risk of striking underground utility lines exists even when digging only a few inches. If digging activity comes within 18 inches of a utility line or pipeline, people should exercise extreme caution.

If you suspect utility damage of any kind, leave the area immediately and call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) or call 911. For more information, visit Arkansas811.com, Entergy.com/safety/dig/ or call 800-482-8998.

BOOZMAN SECURES ACCESS TO URGENT CARE FOR MALVERN-AREA VETERANS
MALVERN, AR – Arkansas veterans have a champion in U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR). As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Boozman has delivered improvements to veterans benefits and services and continues to support the needs of Arkansas veterans by helping expand access to urgent care in Malvern.

Malvern’s Covenant Health Urgent Care aimed to provide urgent care services to veterans at its clinic.

When the senator and his staff learned of the challenges the clinic faced in becoming a VA-accepted urgent care provider, they stepped in to help secure the appropriate in-network authorization.

“Those who served in our nation’s uniform deserve access to the benefits and services they have earned no matter where they live. I’ve been proud to champion policies providing health care to veterans closer to their homes. Approval for Covenant Health Urgent Care to serve veterans in this critical capacity is important to fulfilling our promise. I’m pleased my staff and I were able to help solve this problem,” Boozman said.

“I would like to thank Senator Boozman and his staff on behalf of our clinic and the veterans of our community for assisting us in providing urgent care services for our local veterans,” said Shane Higginbotham MD, owner and medical director of Higginbotham Family Clinic/Covenant Health Urgent Care.

Boozman visited with the clinic’s staff on Wednesday and applauded their work to support the health needs of area veterans.


BOOZMAN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PRESERVE SMALL BUSINESS ACCESS TO CAPITAL
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is leading a Senate Republican effort fighting against the Biden administration’s attempt to pick small business winners and losers based on social factors.

The Small LENDER Act would block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from requiring community banks and lenders to collect and report social data on small businesses seeking loans. Instead of focusing on creditworthiness, the CFPB proposal would require lenders to solicit the race, gender, and ethnicity of small business borrowers and divulge it to federal bureaucrats in Washington. The move would prioritize these social factors, place additional red tape before lenders and make it harder for small businesses to access capital.

“Small businesses are experiencing historic inflation rates, skyrocketing energy costs and supply chain disruptions as a result of the Biden administration’s policies. They are the backbone of the economy, and the CFPB’s proposal would add yet another burden by driving up the cost of capital. The Small LENDER Act encourages investment and ensures access to financing by preventing the agency from imposing an unfunded mandate on many community banks and small lenders,” Boozman said.

The Small LENDER Act would:
Exempt the smallest lenders by establishing a 500-covered transaction threshold;
Provide small business relief by codifying a small business as one with $1 million or less in revenue; and
Give lenders and small businesses more time to comply by establishing a three-year implementation schedule plus a two-year grace period.

Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman French Hill (R-AR).

“Access to capital for small businesses is the lifeblood of our local communities, and smaller lenders across central Arkansas often lead the way in investing in the neighborhoods they serve. The proposed regulation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would make the cost of credit more expensive and impose significant compliance costs on smaller companies,” Hill said. “The Small LENDER Act will make necessary changes to exempt smaller banks and lenders from having to comply with the CFPB’s new, onerous small business data collection regulation. I thank fellow Arkansan, Senator Boozman, for leading this effort in the Senate and introducing companion legislation to my bill, H.R. 6732, the Small LENDER Act.” 

The Small LENDER Act is supported by the Arkansas Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions and the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association.

April 19, 2022

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN THURSTON INTERVIEW
Arkansans will be heading to the polls next month to decide a number of statewide party primary challenges.

One of the most consequential primary elections set for May will no doubt center on Arkansas' next secretary of state. The office isn't surrounded by extreme fanfare, but that doesn't detract from its significance. In fact, given the Secretary of State's roles in administering elections - from the local to the national levels - it is certainly one of the state's most vital offices.

Arkansas voters will decide between two GOP candidates seeking the office in 2022: Incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston and fellow GOP challenger Eddie Joe Williams.

Earlier this year, we had a chance to speak with Williams about his challenge to Thurston, who's held the office since winning the 2018 election. This week, we spoke with Incumbent John Thurston about why he's asking Arkansans to elect him to a second term.

Thurston said that, by voting for him, Arkansans will know what they're getting: an officeholder with experience to guide the state over the next four years.

That's an opinion Thurston reinforces with statistics from the 2020 election. Thurston stresses it was not only the largest election in the state's history, but also the most secure.

President Trump secured more votes in Arkansas in 2020 than he did when he was elected in 2016. In the past two decades, only a handful of voter fraud cases were discovered in Arkansas, and none during Thurston's first term. In terms of election integrity, Arkansas ranks fourth place across the entire nation according to the National Heritage Foundation. These are all symbols, Thurston stresses, of the healthy election environment he's helped to build within the state.

Thurston has launched a number of initiatives and partnerships during his first term to support voting initiatives across the state. One of the more recent efforts includes a partnership with We Are the 22, an Arkansas-based veterans advocacy group.

During his first four years as Arkansas Secretary of State Thurston also pioneered cybersecurity measures aimed specifically at countering possible foreign influence in American elections. Given the cybersecurity threats posed by an increasingly aggressive Russia, these measures are perhaps more critical than ever to safeguard state and national elections.

Thurston said he's asking for the support of every voter in Arkansas to ensure the continued integrity of state elections and to ensure his leadership remains in Little Rock to help guide the future of the state.

For more information on the office of Arkansas Secretary of State, visit sos.arkansas.gov. More information on Thurston and his reelection campaign can be found online at www.votejohnthurston.com.

 

STATE FINALISTS FOR 2022 PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE TEACHING ANNOUNCED
LITTLE ROCK — Four Arkansas teachers were recently selected as 2022 state finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The National Science Foundation, on behalf of The White House, oversees the program that recognizes outstanding teachers who have demonstrated a commitment to professional development, innovative teaching techniques, and technology use in their classrooms.

The following educators were selected as Arkansas finalists in either the math or science category. They are now eligible to be considered for recognition by the national committee.
Stephanie Long, Walter Turnbow Elementary School, Springdale School District, Science Finalist
Jamie Ramsey, Jim D. Rollins School of Innovation, Springdale School District, Math Finalist
Brook Sanchez, North Little Rock Middle School 6th Grade Campus, North Little Rock School District, Science Finalist
Courtney Selph, Izard County Consolidated Elementary School, Izard County Consolidated School District, Science Finalist

“Congratulations to the four finalists for this national recognition,” Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key said. “Each of you represents the best of teaching within your respective subjects. I want to thank you for your outstanding efforts to ensure your students receive an exceptional education and for serving as models of excellence in Arkansas.”

Each year a national committee of scientists, mathematicians, and educators recommends up to 108 teachers to receive PAEMST awards in mathematics, science, and computer science. Winners are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. territories, and schools operated in the United States and overseas by the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Teachers who are selected as national PAEMST awardees each receive a $10,000 award, a presidential citation, and a trip to Washington, DC, for a series of recognition events, professional development activities, and an awards ceremony.

The application cycle for 2023 will open in the fall. To learn more about the awards program, go to https://www.paemst.org.

 

PUBLIC INVITED TO SEE RENOWNED SCULPTOR AT WORK
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – The public is invited to visit with nationally-recognized sculptor Benjamin Victor as he works on the sculpture of Daisy Gatson Bates that will be placed in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol at the Windgate Center of Art + Design on the campus of UA Little Rock.  The hours are 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday, April 25th, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 26th through Thursday, April 28th, and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday April 29th at the Windgate Center, 2801 South University Avenue in Little Rock.  Groups can be scheduled for specific times by emailing Amber Crawford at amber.crawford@sos.arkansas.gov

Victor has been commissioned by the National Statuary Hall Steering Committee and the Arkansas Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission to create a 7-foot-6-inch bronze sculpture of Daisy Gatson Bates, a renowned civil rights activist. Victor is working on the clay model from which the bronze statue will be cast. He brought the model from his home and studio in Boise, Idaho.

Victor will join Arkansas artist Kevin Kresse on Wednesday, April 27th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Windgate Center for a reception hosted by the Political Animals Club of Little Rock where both will speak about the Statuary Hall project. Kresse has been commissioned to create the sculpture of Johnny Cash. For more information on this event email the club at politicalanimalsclub@gmail.com

Victor is recognized as being the youngest artist to have a sculpture in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol, placing his first statue there at age 26. He is also the only living artist to have three works in Statuary Hall. Victor is the sculptor of the Chief Standing Bear statue, the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug statue, and the Sarah Winnemucca statue located in the National Statuary Hall Collection. 


ARKANSAS GROWN SCHOOL GARDEN OF THE YEAR CONTEST ENTRIES ACCEPTED THROUGH JUNE 5
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Entries are being accepted for the ninth annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest, sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any school, early childhood education facility, or alternative learning environment that had a school garden during the 2021-2022 school year or is planning to start

a garden in the 2022-2023 school year.

“School gardens are valuable educational tools that help students develop healthy eating habits, learn about Arkansas agriculture, and participate in hands-on learning,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We are grateful for the generosity of Farm Credit and their continued support of this program.”

Entries for the contest will be accepted through June 5, 2022, and the application can be found at cognitoforms.com/ArkansasAgriculture1/ArkansasGrownSchoolGardenOfTheYearContest2022. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2022.

“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are excited to continue our support of teachers and projects that engage Arkansas students in food production and agricultural sustainability. Through these partnerships, we can ensure that the valuable role of Arkansas agriculture remains top-of-mind for the next generation,” said Farm Credit Midsouth President & CEO, James McJunkins, on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas.

Applicants are eligible to apply for the following categories:
Best Start-up School Garden Proposal - $500 Award
Best Education Based School Garden - $500 Award
Best Harvest Partnership School Garden - $500 Award
Best Community Collaboration School Garden - $500 Award
Best Overall School Garden - $1000 Award
Champion of School Garden Sustainability - $1000 Award

More information about the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/arkansas-department-of-agriculture-programs/farm-to-school/school-gardens/arkansas-grown-school-garden-of-the-year-contest/ or by contacting Erica Benoit, Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator, at erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov.

With more than $3.7 billion in assets, the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across Arkansas with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow. In Arkansas, the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are owned by the more than 11,000 customer-owners they serve. Through the cooperative structure, customer-owners have a voice and vote in the associations’ governance. Members also share in the cooperatives’ financial success through cooperative returns which total more than $243 million since 1997.

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

BOOZMAN TOURS NEW SKILLED LABOR INSTRUCTION FACILITY IN RUSSELLVILLE
Carpentry and Millwright Training Center will help fill in-demand jobs amid labor shortage
RUSSELLVILLE, AR — As a labor shortage grips the nation and impedes economic growth, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is highlighting how Natural State educational programs are working to close the gap. On Tuesday, Boozman visited the Arkansas/Oklahoma Carpenters Training Center and learned how its programs will help address the lack of skilled labor and enable local workers to fill in-demand jobs.

“Everywhere I go in Arkansas, job creators tell me their workforce needs reinforcements,” Boozman said. “Homebuilders especially require well-trained craftsmen to help construct homes and businesses in the pipeline, and this training resource will undoubtedly help solve that challenge. That’s good news for our state’s economy and the workers who will gain technical skills to help them build stable, successful careers.”

“Thank you to Arkansas U.S. Senator Boozman for visiting our new 35,000 square foot, 6.5-million-dollar training facility. This facility will train, over the next years, thousands of young men and women who choose the career path of a Union Carpenter or Millwright. It will also be used to enhance the skills of existing members,” said United Brotherhood of Carpenters Vice President Dennis Donahou.

Construction on the facility is nearly complete. It will immediately serve 141 millwright apprentices and 109 carpenter apprentices already in the program, and officials will also work to attract students and military veterans to pursue the hands-on education opportunities it provides.

April 18, 2022

LAFAYETTE COUNTY MAN DEAD IN WEEKEND SHOOTING INCIDENT; ASP INVESTIGATING
APRIL 18, 2022
Markeith Anderson, 29, of Stamps died at the scene of a shooting incident early Saturday morning (*April 16th).  A Stamps police officer discovered the victim outside a location identified as 159 Chestnut Street in Stamps.  Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene about 5:30 AM.

Local police arrested Tony L Cheatham, 41, of Stamps who is being held at the Lafayette County Jail on a charge of manslaughter.

At the request of local law enforcement authorities, the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the incident.

An investigative file will be prepared and submitted to the Lafayette County prosecuting attorney.


CAMDEN BUSINESSMEN RECEIVE STATE AWARD
Greg Phillip, Director of Main Street Arkansas came to Camden for a visit Thursday afternoon to present an award to two local businessmen. The Award was presented at Nell Jane Dawson park in Downtown Camden. There was a gathering of residents and business owners.

Mike Tidwell and Travis Daniel were awarded an Honorable Mention in the category of Outstanding Downtown Impact.

The 100 block of Adams Avenue is enjoying a revival. The impact is wonderful to see and the positive changes brought to downtown are enjoyed by business owners, citizens and visitors alike! Building renovations, by property owners Mike Tidwell and Travis Daniel, have  brought a tremendous sense of renewal to the downtown area.

Mike implemented a unique paint treatment to the upper half of his property and Daniel's property benefitted from consultations with technical assistance staff from Main Street Arkansas. The improvements have attracted new businesses, one of those being a new coffee shop which will open in a few weeks and will be a welcome addition to the downtown business mix. This business was the recent recipient of a grant for new flooring from the Camden Downtown Network.

Additionally, downtown living is alive and well on Adams Avenue with newly constructed apartments awaiting their final finishing touches. Thanks to the work of property owners like Mike and Travis, the Camden Downtown Network, and local entrepreneurs, exciting changes are taking place in downtown Camden.

Congratulations to Mike and Travis on your award, and to everyone who is working hard to make downtown Camden a great place to shop, work, and live!


CAMDEN FAIRVIEW BOARD OF EDUCATION TO MEET
The Camden Fairview Board Of Education will meet in regular session on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 At 6:30 P.M. at Garrison Auditorium. The agenda is as follows:

1. Call to order
2. Student Hearings (Readmit)
3. Approval of minutes of previous meetings
4. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
     a. None
5. NEW BUSINESS
     a. Presentation and recommendation from East Harding.
     b. Presentation and recommendation regarding additional pay and raise for licensed staff.
     c. Presentation and recommendation regarding additional pay and raise for classified staff.
     d. Presentation and recommendation to change the Licensed Dress Code Policy.
     e. Presentation and recommendation for the use of K-12 culinary.
     f. Presentation and recommendation of closing South Arkansas Reading Council Generation Bank account and transferring funds to a school account.
     g. Presentation and recommendation of CFSD Business & Financial Management Policies.
     h. Presentation and recommendation of a 1240 waiver request for early out day to provide imbedded training to staff
     i. Presentation and recommendation of Index for Extended Days/Additional Duties 2022-23 school year.
     j. Facility Rentals
6. Superintendent's report to the Board
7. Financial report
8. Personnel
a. Hiring
b. Resignation
c. Retiring


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS INTERVIEW – PART 2
Earlier this week we featured the first part of our interview with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one of the two GOP candidates seeking the office of Arkansas' next governor.

This is the second part of our interview focusing on the issues at hand in this year's election.

As she travels around the state, Sanders said one of the top concerns she's hearing from Arkansas voters regards education.

Sanders said a recent study suggesting an overall lack of literacy skills among Arkansas elementary students is of major concern to the state and its economic future. She stresses that future prosperity is heavily dependent on Arkansas students succeeding in the field of reading and writing at an early age.

Another challenge facing the state, Sanders said, is developing a strong culture of workforce development in Arkansas. She said the need for skilled workers is apparent in every corner of the state.

If elected, Sanders would be the first female governor in the state's history. While she takes pride in that possibility, Sanders stresses she is running because she feels her candidacy offers the best hope for a strong Arkansas.

Sanders said ultimately, she's seeking the state's top office in hopes of building a future for Arkansas that is good for her children and the future of every young person in the state.
 
Sanders is one of two GOP candidates seeking the party's official nomination during the May 24 preferential party primary. She is running against fellow GOP candidate Doc Washburn for that nomination. The elected GOP nominee will then run against the Democratic and Independent candidates in the November General Election.

For more information on Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her campaign for Arkansas governor, visit www.sarahforgovernor.com

 

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE COMING IN MAY
On the night of May 15/16, 2022, North America will witness a total lunar eclipse. This amazing celestial lineup of the Sun, earth and the moon will play out with eastern and central time zones seeing the entire event. Mountain and Pacific zones will witness the eclipse in progress as the moon rises.

This is a very safe event as the full Flower moon moves into the earth’s shadow for almost three and a half hours. Eclipse times are:

Central Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 9:27 p.m. Moon enters the earth’s shadow. 
Total lunar eclipse begins: 10:29 p.m. Moon turns dark orange or red. 
Greatest eclipse: 11:11 p.m. Mid-point of the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipse ends: 11:53 p.m. Moon begins to leave the shadow. 
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 12:55 a.m. Moon exits earth’s shadow. 

 

WARREN MAN SENTENCED TO 8 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
EL DORADO – A Warren man was sentenced on Monday, April 11th , to 96 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, on two counts of Use of a Communication Facility in Committing a Felony Drug Offense, Namely, Distribution of Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court documents, agents with the FBI, and the Arkansas State Police launched an investigation into 42-year-old Jyronurus Lee McClain, and others, for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  On two occasions in June 2017, McClain used a telephone to arrange the sale of methamphetamine. The methamphetamine purchased was sent to the Arkansas State Crime lab where it tested positive for a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. 

MISS HARMONY GROVE PAGEANT TO BE HELD
The Miss Harmony Grove Pageant will be held on Saturday, May 7th at the Harmony Grove Auditorium. Sign up Now. Divisions are as follows:

Baby Miss H.G. -  0 to 18 months
Toddler Miss H.G    - 19 to 35 months
Tiny Miss H.G.   -   3 to 5 years
Petite Miss H.G.   - K and 1st Grade
Little Miss H.G.   - 2nd and 3rd Grade
Young Miss H.G.  -   4th through 6th Grade
Jr. Miss H.G.   - 7th through 9th Grade
Miss H.G.  - 10th through 12th Grade Scholarships awarded!!

Pick up entry forms from the School Offices.
 

SAAC OFFERS FUN SUMMER CAMPS
Summer vacation is looming in the near distance and SAAC is ready to help plan some fun for your kiddos!  Get them off the couch and off their screens and into the South Arkansas Arts Center for the best experience of their summer.  Having a blast while learning something new is always a good time!

The summer schedule this year offers some new and old subjects to engage your kids…something for everyone.  From art, theater and dance to bug hotel building, there is definitely something to spark their interest!  The teachers are all enthusiastic about what they have planned and are ready to get going!

Sponsored by First Financial Bank, every student will receive a free Summer Camp t-shirt, so have your child's shirt size ready when you register them for camp.

Below is the list of what’s included in this year’s camp lineup.  You can find more information on each camp on SAAC’s website, www,saac-arts.org.

Art Meets Science - May 31-June 3 for grades 2-4 with instructor Mike Means.  
Building a Bug Hotel - May 31-June 3 for grades 5-9 with instructor Mike Means.  
Theatre Basics Camp - May 31-June 3 for grades 1-6 with instructors Hannah Elizabeth, Maddy Couture, Ms. Cassie, and Ms. Tracye.  
“Grease” Musical Theatre Dance - June 6-10 for grades 7 and up with instructors Lynn Gunter and Bekah Gunter.
“Wizard of Oz” Ballet - June 13-17 for grades 1-12 and up with instructors Stephanie Lowrey and Cami Lowrey.
Advanced Art Camp - June 20-24 for grades 3-9 with two years’ art experience with instructors Maria Villegas and Katie Harwell.  
Mini Art and Theatre Camp - June 27-30 for ages 4-6 with instructors Cassie Hickman and Michaela Gross.  
Art Camp - August 1-5 for grades 1-9 with instructors Mike Means and Michaela Gross.
Movie Camp - August 8-12 for grades 5-9 with instructor Mike Means.

For more information or questions regarding summer camps, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474.  Scholarships are also available for camps and an application can be requested at the SAAC office, as well.  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas. 

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

 

COTTON DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM DOJ ABOUT REVERSAL IN DEATH PENALTY CASE
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers about his decision to stop seeking the death penalty in a case of a serial domestic abuser who killed Army Sergeant Brittney Niecol Silvers at her home on base at Fort Campbell.

In part, Cotton wrote, “The Department of Justice initially announced on February 25, 2021, its intent to seek the death penalty against Victor Everette Silvers, who murdered Army Sergeant Brittney Niecol Silvers on Fort Campbell in Kentucky in 2018”

“Yesterday, federal prosecutors filed a motion to withdraw the notice of intent to seek the death penalty, writing that the withdrawal was ‘authorized and directed by’ you on April 7, 2022. Why did you ‘authorize and direct’ this action? Has anything changed since February 25, 2021? Sgt. Silvers deserves justice,” Cotton continued.

Text of the letter may be found below.

The Honorable Merrick Garland
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Garland,

It’s come to my attention that the Department of Justice has decided to stop seeking the death penalty in the case of a serial domestic abuser who shot and murdered Brittney Niecol Silvers, a United States soldier, in front of her apartment on a U.S. Army base in 2018.

The Department of Justice initially announced on February 25, 2021, its intent to seek the death penalty against Victor Everette Silvers, who murdered Army Sergeant Brittney Niecol Silvers on Fort Campbell in Kentucky in 2018.  Sgt. Silvers was assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. Her estranged husband, Victor, was charged with premeditated murder in the case. 

Yesterday, federal prosecutors filed a motion to withdraw the notice of intent to seek the death penalty, writing that the withdrawal was “authorized and directed by” you on April 7, 2022.

Why did you “authorize and direct” this action? Has anything changed since February 25, 2021? Sgt. Silvers deserves justice. Please reply no later than 5:00PM on Wednesday, April 20, detailing the reasons for your decision to stop seeking the death penalty against her murderer.

Sincerely,

April 14, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order promptly at 7:00 pm.

Bishop Jacovis Davis, Pastor of the The Word Family Church located at 277 North Street in Camden gave the Invocation followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. City Clerk Donna Stewart called the roll. Aldermen L.E. Lindsay, William McCoy, Marvin Moore, Chris Aregood, Cecil McDonald and Lawrence Askew were all present. Alderen Terry Smith, and James Bell were absent.

The Minutes from the Regular Meeting dated March 8, 2022 were approved by unanimous vote.


During the Audience Participation Lauren and Bobby Glaze presented a proposal to make swimming in the Ouachita River safer. This decision will have to come from the River Authority however the Mayor told them that he would certainly stand with them. The law would be named Cooper’s Law. The following is the proposal the Glaze’s put forth for the Citizens of Camden.

Proposal for Action
Presented April 12, 2022
Camden City Council

Dear Distinguished City Council Members,

Good evening. Considering you all chose to serve on our City's Council, it is evident you care a great deal for your communities and our city. We are grateful for your service and continue to trust your diligence and good judgment with things concerning your constituents. Because of our assured confidence in you, we appear before you today as a collective body of concerned citizens requesting you act regarding the safety of our city and its people.

As you are well aware, there have been numerous incidents of drowning throughout the history of our local river. Most recently, the life of a young man from our community was lost to such a fate, and only a month prior to that incident, another life was taken the same way. It is time we take back the safety of our citizens. With this in mind, we are here to propose the first step in establishing that safety.

We request that a law is implemented in Ouachita County for all access points, swimming areas, and boating excursions on the Ouachita River. This is to be called "Cooper's Law." This law will state that all persons must have an authorized floatation device appropriately attached to their person before entering the water and the person must remain attached to said device while in the water. Signage reflecting these restrictions should be prominently posted at all access points and should remind the public of the dangers of the relentless undertow and water current.

We also propose a rapid emergency report system be installed at The River Walk at the Camden Port. The majority of swimming and boating activities happen at this location. It should be in direct communication with rescue authorities and emergency personnel and should be accessed only in an emergency and with deliberate actions as with a fire alarm. Life rings, secured near the water and attached to  extension ropes, should also be a part of this emergency assistance area. The ring should be attached to the rope with a clip so it could be detached in case the assistance needed is past the initial rope's extension reach. This location should be monitored via video surveillance with appropriate notification of such monitoring to deter false alarms. Offenders should be immediately prosecuted and/or fined to set a standard of expected compliance. To ease the burden for you, we have researched available options and have devised plans for all of the above-mentioned installations to occur promptly.

There are already boating laws in place to substantiate the need for water safety. It is our responsibility as the Queen City of the Ouachita to set a precedence in the protection of our citizens, our children, and our legacy. We respectfully request the installation of Cooper's Law and will back all efforts to establish and carry out its progress.

With deepest regards,
Your citizens

Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development  James Lee Silliman presented a request for funds from the account left the Economic Development tax account. 

Charlotte Young presented a list of activities and accomplishments or Camden Downtown Network for the past year.


The only old business to be discussed was Ordinance No. 02-22, an ordinance modifying the boundaries for the election for aldermen, approving the re-districting of City Wards; and for other purposes.  This was the Third Reading of this Ordinance. Motion was made to approve and seconded. Discussion ensued. The Mayor had given the Council two options The Mayor preferred option 2 which was the option presented to the Council for approval. Both of the Mayor’s plans would have completely re-drawn the City Wards which could have caused confusion to citizens.  Alderman Lindsey brought forth another option to the table which he called Option 4 in case someone else was working on an option 3. Alderman Lindsey made motion to amend the Ordinance to use option 4 instead of option 2. Option 4 only moved about 65 voters from Ward 4 to Ward 3 making the total number in each Ward close to the same. The Board could have left the Wards as they currently are and still been in state compliance however, the biggest difference was in Ward 3 and 4 which is why Lindsey put forth his proposal. After some discussion a motion was made and seconded to amend the Ordinance to adopt Option 4 instead of Option 2. A motion was made and seconded to approve the Ordinance as amended. The Mayor reiterated his support of map option 2. The Ordinance passed with the amendment with a unanimous vote by the Council.


New business started with Resolution No. 20-22, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden. Motion made and seconded. Motion passed unanimously.


Next was Resolution No. 21-22, a resolution setting a drug free workplace policy for the City of Camden, Arkansas. While the city already has a drug free policy the Resolution was needed for a grant. The resolution passed unanimously.

The Council then heard Resolution No. 22-22, a resolution on the City of Camden complying with fair housing. While Camden already complies with fair housing, a resolution was needed to apply for a grans. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 23-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to designate the Southwest Planning and Development District, Inc. (SWAPPD) as the project administrator over the ACEDP Grant was up next. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Then came Resolution No. 24-22, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council of the City of Camden to utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Program Funds for StreetScape improvements. This Resolution also passed with a unanimous vote.  

Next up was Resolution No. 25-22, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council of the City of Camden to utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Program Funds for TRACE Extension. This Resolution also passed with a unanimous vote.  

The Council then heard Resolution No. 26-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational programs. This Resolution also passed with a unanimous vote.  

Finally, Resolution No. 27-22, a resolution amending the Annual Operating Budget for 2022; and for other purposes was the last item on the agenda. This was necessary due to a price increase on trash bags. This Resolution passed with a unanimous vote.  

The meeting was adjourned at 8:56pm. The next scheduled regular City Council meeting is May 10, 2022.


DESHA COUNTY WOMAN VICTIM OF HOMICIDE, ASP/CID INVESTIGATING
APRIL 14, 2022
A Desha County woman was shot and died at her home yesterday afternoon [April 13th].  The county sheriff’s department has asked the Arkansas State Police to conduct a criminal investigation of the incident.

Joan Lemonds, 68, of 1769 Arkansas Highway 277, west of Watson, was pronounced dead by the county coroner shortly before 1 PM and the Desha County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a man who is being held pending the filing of formal charges.

The shooting incident occurred inside the residence and was preceded by what a neighbor described as an argument between Lemonds and the suspect.

Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing their investigative work today while keeping the Desha County prosecuting attorney updated on the physical evidence recovered so far and the statements from witnesses.
 

BOOZMAN SOUNDS ALARM ON BIDEN’S BORDER POLICY REVERSAL
Demands Details from DHS for Predicted Surge
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is warning the Biden administration’s decision to end a critical Trump-era policy will lead to a surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border and demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detail its plans to secure the border.

President Biden last month announced he will eliminate Title 42, a policy implemented by President Trump allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to prohibit entry to those who pose health risks such as COVID-19.

“President Biden continues to request more money for pandemic funding and extending COVID-era programs while simultaneously ending a policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Blocking CBP from using Title 42 to deny entry into our country is greenlighting another surge of illegal border crossings. This will exacerbate the national security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border,” Boozman said.

According to reports, the administration is preparing for a surge of more than 170,000 illegal immigrants to enter the United States through the southern border when Title 42 ends in May.

In a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Boozman and other Republican Senators wrote how ending Title 42 continues the administration’s failure to secure the border.

“Last year, Title 42 was used more than 1 million times to quickly expel individuals who crossed the border illegally. Such a move will undoubtedly leave CBP and law enforcement along the border vulnerable to being overwhelmed in the face of sustained record levels of illegal crossings,” the senators wrote.

Boozman recently pressed the administration on its plan in a led by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and a dozen of his Republican colleagues.

April 13, 2022

CHARLOTTE YOUNG ANNOUNCES HER CANDIDACY FOR THE 2022 CAMDEN MAYORAL ELECTION
CAMDEN, AR, (April 8, 2022) – Charlotte Young proudly announces her candidacy for the 2022 election for Mayor of the Great City of Camden Arkansas.

Born and raised in Camden, Charlotte Young is an award-winning community activist, city promoter and has been the undisputed “Let’s Get It Done” leader in Camden when called upon to accomplish great tasks. Known for her enthusiasm and tenacity, Charlotte is the energy behind countless achievements in our City. Just look around at First Friday, The Women’s Crisis Center, Camden Downtown Network, and a multitude of other effective projects underway in Camden to see Young’s fingerprints as the driving force behind their success. After 14 years of elected service on the Ouachita County Quorum Court, Charlotte knows there are many more GREAT THINGS that need to be done in Camden, and now is our chance to move forward with a name we can trust. Charlotte Young is Ready, Experienced and Committed to Lead Camden into becoming a shining star in the State of Arkansas.

Charlotte’s work as an activist for Camden has won a host of awards for our community. Her civic involvement has also received accolades from top local, state and national organizations and officials recognizing her achievements.
To only name a few of Charlotte’s Community Activism awards would be:
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanities Award from The African American Historical Commission of Camden with many years of service to humanity in Southern Arkansas.
The Searcy Harrell Community Service Award from Camden Area Chamber of Commerce.
The John Stinson Woman of the Year Award for Volunteer Work in the Community.
Awarded the WinRock International scholarship to attend the Community Development Institute to be certified as Community Developer.
Received the “Lion of the Year” award for 3 years.  

Charlottes work and accomplishments to give back to our community include:
Wrote and implemented the “Reading In Action” Program to promote literacy among young students in Camden and the surrounding area.  Developed partnerships with the Reading in Fundamental Program, Arkansas PBS, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Dr. Adrianne Toney, Ph.D to further promote literacy across Camden & Ouachita County.
Wrote and obtained the 1st ever grant of its kind from Lions Club International to assist the victims of straight line windstorm which hit Camden in 2014.
Oversee the routing and distribution of the Community Thanksgiving Meals.  Yearly deliveries are approximately 300 meals each Thanksgiving Day.
Organizer of the 4th of July Star Spangled Spectacular Fireworks Show.
Wrote and implemented the Bikes-2-Kids Program which has distributed approximately 800 bikes to children in Camden and surrounding area for Christmas.
One of the original founding members of the First Friday: Monthly Market in Camden AR which has received state awards from both Arkansas Parks & Tourism and Arkansas Festivals and Events.
Organized the Great Camden Outside Fun Day to promote outdoor physical activity throughout Camden.
Researched, designed and lead the fund raising and implementation of new large-scale Christmas decorations for Camden.
Organizer of Christmas in Camden Events.

Through relationship with WinRock International, consulted other Arkansas cities for implementation into the Main Street Arkansas Program and development of local festivals for tourism and retail benefits.

Charlotte has selflessly served on many other boards, non-profits and other governing bodies to do her part in helping Camden move forward, including:
Camden Noon Lions Club Member for 15 years, serving as President for 2 terms, currently serving as Club Secretary.  The only person to serve as District 7-L Alert Chairperson to oversee disbursement of assistance in time of disaster within the district.
Women’s Crisis Center of South Arkansas board member for 8 years, serving as Board Chair for 7 of those years, from the time of re-opening until 2021.
The Hub board member – A non-profit agency to help needy citizens of Camden with a hand up. 
Served 14 years on Ouachita County Quorum Court – to conduct county business, review ordinances and resolutions.

Charlotte’s entire work career has been centered around projects and job descriptions that have trained her in the skill sets and experience she has needed to help our community become the great city she has always envisioned it could be, including:

Executive Director of Camden Downtown Network (Part of the State of Arkansas Main Street Program) – Helping with the revitalization of downtown through free consultation services, a grant program, workshops and promotional assistance.
22 years-experience with event planning, volunteer organization and aid distribution for Victory Ministries in Camden, El Dorado & Pine Bluff
Purchasing agent for the Ouachita County Medical Center overseeing purchases and contracts of supplies and large equipment investments. 
Marketing and relations representative for JC Productions, a national advertising and multimedia agency.

The Camden AR mayoral elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Early voting days will be announced in the weeks prior to the election.

Learn more about Charlotte & husband Larry Young, meet her family, see her work experience and list of accomplishments for our city by visiting: www.charlotteforcamden.com or on Facebook at charlotteforcamden/facebook.

 

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS INTERVIEW - PART ONE
The political season is heating up in Arkansas with voters set to determine a number of statewide races this election year.

That includes a race for Arkansas' next governor. A number of candidates have filed their candidacies for the state's top office. One name in particular has stood out and will be familiar to Arkansas voters: Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders is one of the two GOP candidates for Arkansas governor. The daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Sanders announced her candidacy for governor last year.

Sanders took a moment to speak with us here at (station call letters) to speak about her candidacy, her decision to run and her broad experience in both state and national politics.

Polls show Sanders with a significant lead in the gubernatorial race. Nonetheless, Sanders said she's not taking any chances and is making the effort to visit every corner of Arkansas to share her campaign message.
 
Sanders' life has been steeped in politics, both personally as the daughter of a former governor and professionally as a campaign manager for U.S. Sen. John Boozman and, most recently, as press secretary for President Donald Trump.

Sanders said her father, who served as Arkansas governor between 1996 and 2007, has been her biggest influence after beginning her own career in politics.
 
Sanders also highlights her term as President Trump's press secretary as a critical learning experience and model for her own political aspirations.
Sanders said her love for Arkansas and her concern over what she sees as a failure of leadership in Washington, D.C. are the primary factors that influenced her to seek the governor's office.
 
Make sure to check out part two of our interview with Sarah Huckabee Sanders later this week as we continue our discussion with her on the big campaign issues this year and what she hopes to bring to the governor's office if she's elected. 

 

LITTLE ROCK VA REGIONAL OFFICE HOLDS NEXT VIRTUAL CLAIMS CLINIC FOR ARKANSAS VETERANS ON APRIL 28
Call 501-370-3829 to reserve a timeslot to speak one-on-one with a VA benefits representative.

 WHAT: Monthly Virtual VA Claims Clinic for Arkansas Veterans

 WHO: During the upcoming Virtual Claims Clinic, Veterans may speak one-on-one to staff of the Little Rock VA Regional Office who are ready to assist with specific questions regarding their claims for VA benefits.

WHEN: Thursday, April 28, 4 - 6 p.m.

HOW: To reserve a timeslot, Veterans are asked to call 501-370-3829 by COB, April 27.

BACKGROUND: 
“We continue to adapt to the changes in Veterans’ lives by offering a wide variety of tools to better communicate with them,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “VA is ready and able to provide the benefits and services that Veterans have earned with their selfless service to our country. Our pledge extends to their widows/widowers, eligible dependents, and survivors.”

The Little Rock VA Regional Office is open 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

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 loans guaranties. 

VA recently added three presumptive disability conditions related to toxic exposure: asthma, rhinitis, and sinusitis. Military service members may have been exposed to a variety of airborne hazards or contaminants resulting in one or more of these presumptive conditions and potentially other related medical conditions while on active duty in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, and Uzbekistan during the Persian Gulf War from September 19, 2001 to present, or the Southwest Asia theater of operations from August 2, 1990 to present.

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 of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is 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’s benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.
 

FORT SMITH HOME BUILDERS SHARE INDUSTRY CHALLENGES WITH BOOZMAN AS INFLATION RATE CONTINUES TO CLIMB
FORT SMITH, AR — On the heels of new inflation numbers, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is continuing his series of conversations with Arkansas business leaders to learn how the current economic climate is impacting industries in The Natural State. On Tuesday, Boozman met with Fort Smith-area home builders about their struggles with skyrocketing inflation, supply chain disruptions and the shortage of skilled labor.

“Arkansans are paying higher prices across the board as a result of President Biden’s reckless tax-and-spending plan. Instead of doubling down on failed policies that have increased the burdens on hardworking families and American businesses, I urge the president to abandon his agenda and prioritize solutions that deliver relief from runaway inflation, fix supply chains and encourage workforce growth and development,” Boozman said.

“We appreciate Senator Boozman taking time to understand the impact of labor and supply shortages on our industry. These national issues aren’t just impacting builders, they are impacting millions of Americans who are delaying and dropping out of the housing market. Homeownership should not be a unique privilege, but the cost of materials, delays in supplies and rising cost of housing will continue to keep people out of homeownership if we don’t get control of them,” said Stephanie Stipins, Executive Director of Arkansas Home Builders Association and Greater Fort Smith Area Home Builders Association.

The National Association of Home Builders attributed higher construction costs as a leading factor in the continued decline in builder confidence. This is due, in part, to supply chain challenges. Stipins said in Fort Smith, builders are being told to expect delays up to 15 weeks for windows, even from local suppliers.

Boozman championed a Senate-passed solution to easing supply chain disruptions. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would modernize federal regulations for the global shipping industry to protect American exporters from unfair penalties and practices in the industry. The Senate unanimously passed this legislation in March.

Westerman Leads Legislation Banning Timber Imports From Russia
WASHINGTON - House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04) introduced the No Timber From Tyrants Act with the support of more than 80 members and 35 industry groups. This legislation would prohibit imports of forest products from Russia and Belarus while ramping up responsible harvesting of American timber to create new jobs, produce more sustainable wood products and make U.S. federal lands more resilient to catastrophic wildfires.

"America should be pushing back on Putin's war of aggression from every possible angle, and there's no better way to do that than by cutting Russia's economy off at the knees. We imported hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of wood products from Russia last year alone, giving Russia the power to channel those funds directly into Putin's war. No more. By immediately banning the import of all Russian timber, we can not only deal a harsh blow to tyranny, but we can also simultaneously boost American industries. Enough rhetoric - it's time to show Putin we mean business and stop economically propping up his senseless violence. I'm proud to see so many of my colleagues joining me in this effort, and hope to see this bill passed quickly." - House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"As long as Putin’s unhinged, evil genocide in Ukraine continues, we’ll use every tool at our disposal to isolate and weaken his regime and its financing. The No Timber From Tyrants Act is a just response to this dictatorial aggression and will simultaneously stimulate the American forestry industry and promote forest health." - House Committee on Agriculture Ranking Member GT Thompson (R-Pa.)

"The timber industry helped build the Pacific Northwest, and with more than 6.5 million acres of forestland, Eastern Washington is in a position to lead and deliver results. By proactively managing these forests and responsibly harvesting more timber, we can increase exports to support our allies, decrease the world’s dangerous dependence on Russia, and make our lands more resilient to catastrophic wildfires. The No Timber From Tyrants Act is a win-win for Eastern Washington and the United States. Just like the American Energy Independence from Russia Act, this legislation will help us expand our energy dominance on the world stage and fight back against Putin, and I’m proud to help introduce it today." - House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)

Background
In 2021, the U.S. imported more than half-a-billion dollars’ worth of wood products from Russia ($459 million) and Belarus ($52 million). Russia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wood, and wood exports are a $12 billion industry for President Vladimir Putin. Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, global forest certification systems have begun classifying wood products from Russia and Belarus as "conflict lumber." As U.S. leadership looks for ways to cut off resources funding Putin’s war, wood products are an obvious way to further economically isolate Russia while simultaneously supporting American businesses.

To replace this conflict timber, the No Timber From Tyrants Act will increase responsible harvesting on federal lands in the amount necessary to make up for lost imports. Securing American independence from wood supplied from Russia and Belarus will greatly enhance American forest management and create vitally important economic opportunities for rural communities to produce more American wood products. Harvesting more wood products in the U.S. under rigorous environmental standards will also help address our nation's current wildfire crisis by supporting more active management to improve forest health and reduce the risk and severity of catastrophic wildfires.

April 12, 2022

EISENHOWER SCHOOL MAKES TIME TO VISIT SAU TECH
EAST CAMDEN, AR (04/11/2022) Tuesday, April 5, 2022, students enrolled in the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy in Washinton, DC, made a two-day visit to the Highland Industrial Park as part of a Munitions Industry Seminar activity. On the second day of the visit, the group of students and their instructor visited with staff and faculty at SAU Tech and took a tour of programs related to defense work in the industrial park. The group included men and women who serve in the military and civilians who are government employees.

Dr. Morrison, SAU Tech's Chancellor, welcomed the group to the campus and noted that the College plays a pivotal role in preparing employees for the aerospace and defense industries in the industrial park who ultimately develop methods to defend our nation.

The group toured the College's aviation maintenance program, welding, nondestructive testing, engineering, and the College's workforce training center. They wrapped up their tour with a luncheon and the College's staff. The students thanked the staff for their time and gave them a challenge coin as a parting gift and a $200 donation to the SAU Tech Foundation.

Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy
Originally established in 1924 as the Army Industrial College, the school was the first of its kind with study focused completely on issues of industrial mobilization for military purposes. In 1946, the school began its tradition as a joint institution changing its name to The Industrial College of the Armed forces, with Army and Navy personnel participating in departmental duties. The school transformed again in 2013, formally to be known as The Dwight D Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.

Under the guidance of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), the Eisenhower School Commandant and faculty prepare senior military officers, government civilians, and selected representatives from the private sector and international officers for the national security challenges of the 21st century. The goal is to leverage technological advances, integrate new strategic and operational concepts, identify and adapt to evolving global developments, and channel the vitality and innovation of the Services, the interagency, and allies to achieve a more seamless, coherent effect when confronting new national security challenges and the battlefields of the future.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/Eisenhower-School-Makes-Time-to-Visit-SAU-Tech/26418.
 

CADC BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO MEET
The Board of Directors of Central Arkansas Development Council will have a board meeting Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held at the Benton Senior Activity Center, 1800 Citizens Drive, Benton, AR. The public is invited to join the meeting.

SAU TECH VICE CHANCELLOR SELECTED AS PEER REVIEWER
EAST CAMDEN, AR (04/12/2022) Southern Arkansas University Tech is proud to announce the selection of Dr. Valerie Wilson to the Higher Learning Commission's Peer Reviewer Team or Peer Corps. The Higher Learning Commission is the accrediting body for many colleges and universities, including SAU Tech. As vice chancellor for academics and planning, Dr. Wilson is responsible for the accreditation process at the College. She took over the role when Dr. Diane Betts retired several years ago. In 2021, the College had its on-campus accreditation visit from HLC, the first in many years and the first under Dr. Wilson. Dr. Jason Morrison is an HLC reviewer, and he suggested to Dr. Wilson that it was a good idea that she get involved as well.

Dr. Wilson stated that "When Dr. Morrison came to SAU Tech, one of the first things he asked me to do was become a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) peer reviewer. At that time, I had just become the Vice Chancellor for Academics and had only been SAU Tech's HLC accreditation liaison officer (ALO) for six months. I could not see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel so that I could take on that additional task, so I waited. My first reaffirmation of accreditation visit since becoming ALO went well. Now I believe I am in a place where I can use the role of peer reviewer to add value to SAU Tech's accreditation and assessment. I am honored that I have been chosen to serve in this capacity for the Higher Learning Commission and am looking forward to the learning opportunities that I will be able to use for SAU Tech, which I love so much! I extend my gratitude to Dr. Morrison for the encouragement and support."

Members of the Peer Corps serve as agents of HLC in its evaluation and decision-making processes. Peer reviewers may conduct multiple types of reviews, ranging from evaluations that involve teams of reviewers visiting the institution in-person to online panels evaluating institutional reports or other materials. In addition, peer reviewers may serve as members of HLC decision-making bodies. Further, they may be invited to serve as speakers, trainers, and mentors for HLC programs or as members of HLC task forces and advisory teams. (https://www.hlcommission.org/Peer-Review/responsibilities.html)

Dr. Wilson applied to be a peer reviewer and received notification of her acceptance in the spring of this year. She will attend a training in May 2022 in Illinois as part of her new role.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COLLECTS OVER 145,000 POUNDS OF UNWANTED PESTICIDES
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program collected 146,867 pounds of unwanted pesticides in seven counties during Spring 2022 collection events. Since 2005, the Agricultural Abandoned Pesticide Program has overseen the collection and disposal of 5,498,298 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,” says 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 (DeQueen): 581 pounds
Howard/Pike County (Nashville): 488 pounds
Polk/Montgomery County (Mena): 3,798 pounds
Arkansas County (Stuttgart): 142,000 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.  Fall 2022 collection dates will be announced at a later date.

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 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 which is responsible for selecting county sites for collection events.  The Advisory Board gives special consideration to priority watersheds when selecting counties/regions for site collections.

Find more information about the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and its programs and services at agriculture.arkansas.gov.

 

SAAC’S APRIL CORKS AND CANVAS UPCOMING 
"Uncork" your creativity at the South Arkansas Arts Center’s Corks and Canvas art classes! Once again, SAAC invites you to a fun and memorable night at Corks and Canvas, this month being led by veteran class teacher Amy Machen. This class will be held on Thursday, April 21 from 6-9pm. Corks and Canvas is a fun filled night of painting designed for people who have always wanted to try their hand at it and have a lot of fun while learning a new skill. Who knows? Painting may become your new favorite thing! 

These painting classes have something for everyone, from the newbie to the seasoned painter. Enjoy a time of relaxation with your friends re-creating the featured painting of the night. Paint, brushes, and all the supplies are provided, and an experienced, award-winning local artist leads you step-by-step through the process to complete a work of art in three hours. 

Amy has chosen a fun, springy theme for her class, ”Spring Tea Garden”. So, each participant will go home after the class with a beautifully painted floral still life. "Spring is here. I love to do work in my cottage style tea garden. What better way to bring the garden inside year round?", said Machen. 

No painting experience is needed. Just come and have a fun night with friends! SAAC will provide snacks for the evening, and participants are welcome to bring their own drink of choice. 

Get ready to have a fun night with friends! You can register for the hands-on workshop on SAAC’s website, www.saac-arts.org or call the office at 870-862-5474. Limit of 10 participants. The workshop fee is $40. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

BOOZMAN-BACKED WILDLIFE AND HABITAT PRESERVATION BILL APPROVED BY KEY SENATE COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON – Legislation backed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to invest in conservation work in Arkansas and support some of the best stewards of our natural resources – farmers and ranchers – advanced through a key Senate committee last week and is one step closer to Senate passage. 

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), legislation to safeguard the long-term health of fish and wildlife habitat in the Natural State and all across the country.

“Arkansas is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the country. Investing in the preservation of wildlife and habitat ensures future generations can participate in these popular pastimes through collaborative conservation efforts. I’m pleased to have bipartisan support for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and will work to secure Senate passage,” said Boozman, a senior member of the EPW Committee. 

Wildlife agencies across the country have identified more than 12,000 species in greatest need of conservation assistance. Arkansas is home to 377 of those endangered and threatened wildlife. This legislation would make Arkansas eligible for more than $15 million annually to fund habitat restoration and conservation.

At Boozman’s urging, the EPW Committee held a hearing on this legislation in December.  

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is supported by more than 1,500 organizations including the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Ducks Unlimited and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.

“RAWA is the biggest conservation opportunity in at least a generation. For a state known as "The Natural State" and with $9.7 billion in annual consumer spending in outdoor recreation, the benefits would be tremendous. RAWA would benefit not only at-risk threatened and endangered species, but also our hundreds of thousands of sportsmen for generations to come. We are proud and grateful for Senator Boozman's leadership in the Senate to ensure this bill bolsters the Arkansas outdoors as much as possible and eventually becomes law,” said Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Austin Booth.

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will have a significant impact on the recovery of threatened and endangered species everywhere,” said Dan Wrinn, Ducks Unlimited National Director of Government Affairs. “Senator Boozman’s efforts to help guide this important legislation through the Environment and Public Works committee have been instrumental in reaching this important step for wildlife conservation, and we look forward to seeing this historic legislation pass the House and Senate soon.”

“The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act represents a pragmatic, cost-effective effort to conserving nearly 12,000 fish, wildlife, and plant species before more burdensome measures are necessary. This legislation is a win-win for America’s sportsmen and women, businesses, private landowners, and other stakeholders,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President and CEO Jeff Crane. “CSF applauds Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Vice Chair Sen. Boozman for cosponsoring and helping champion this landmark legislation.”

April 11, 2022

COSL ANNOUNCES OUACHITA COUNTY TAX AUCTION
April 11, 2022) LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land announced that his office will auction tax-delinquent property in Ouachita County on Tuesday, April 26, at 11 a.m. The auction will be held at the Ouachita County Courthouse – courtroom A in Camden, with registration beginning at 10:30 a.m. 

This year, the COSL office will auction two years’ worth of properties to catch up with the year of auctions missed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This will catch us up so that we’re current on all sales,” Land said.

Prospective bidders can find an online Public Auction Catalog, including a buyer’s guide; statutes governing sales; auction date, time and location; and a complete listing of parcels offered. This resource is on the Commissioner’s website, www.cosl.org, and is regularly updated. 

The website also includes an instructional video demonstrating how to research information about each parcel available for sale.

“We open the bidding at the amount of taxes, penalties and interest due,” Land said. “Anyone who has delinquent property going up for auction should be aware they only have 10 business days after the auction to redeem property sold there.”

Bidders must register for the auction, but the registration is free. The first $100 of any parcel’s purchase price must be paid in cash, while the remainder may be paid by cash, check or credit card.

“Property taxes help fund schools, roads, libraries and public services including ambulances,” Land said. “Everyone benefits from paying those taxes — and the property owner benefits from paying on time, by avoiding interest and penalties on delinquent taxes.” 

Properties that do not sell at auction will appear on the COSL’s post-auction sales list 30 days after the auction date. From there, they can be purchased through an online auction system. Another instructional video on the COSL website demonstrates that process to bidders.

Owners of delinquent parcels may redeem those delinquent taxes online at www.cosl.org using a credit or debit card. Those who prefer to pay by check or money order can print a Petition to Redeem from the website or call the office at 501-324-9422 to request the petition, which must accompany their payment.

 

MAGNOLIA MAN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
HOT SPRINGS – A Magnolia man was sentenced yesterday to 120 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Methamphetamine. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, Detectives with the Hot Springs Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched an investigation into Brandon Dwight Jenkins, age 39, for drug trafficking in the Western District of Arkansas.  In September of 2019, detectives conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Jenkins. The methamphetamine purchased was sent to the DEA lab where it tested positive for more than 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine.  

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement. The Hot Springs Police Department and the DEA investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney’s David Harris and Bryan Achorn prosecuted the case.
 

WESTERMAN CONCLUDES WESTERN CAUCUS TOUR OF ARKANSAS’ FOURTH DISTRICT
WASHINGTON - On April 8 and 9, Vice Chair of the Western Caucus Bruce Westerman (AR-04) led a group of Western Caucus Members on a field tour of Arkansas’ Fourth District. The Western Caucus is a group of Congress members from Western and rural states invested in policy that affects their constituencies.

Congressman Bruce Westerman and Chairman of the Western Caucus Dan Newhouse released the following statements:

“I was honored to have the opportunity to show so many members of Congress firsthand how Arkansans use our natural resources to their fullest potential,” said Vice Chair Westerman. “Through uniquely cooperative relationships with the National Forest Service and the National Park Service, Arkansas empowers a healthy economy and a healthy environment to the benefit of the community. In Arkansas, we prioritize the welfare of the land and the people above bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. I am grateful to share Arkansas’ expertise with my colleagues to take back to their own districts.”

“Field tours like this are truly invaluable to our work in Congress,” said Chairman Newhouse. “As we saw firsthand, Arkansas’ world-class forestry practices are a model for the rest of the country – particularly those of us in the West who are plagued by decades of mismanagement. We also saw how recreation opportunities, from Lake Ouachita to Hot Springs National Park, benefit local economies. Arkansas’ 4th district truly is a unique and beautiful part of the world, and I am grateful Rep. Westerman invited us to experience his home state.”

The Western Caucus tour was attended by the following members: Representatives Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Jay Obernolte (CA-8), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Cliff Bentz (OR-2), Michael Burgess (TX-26), and Russ Fulcher (ID-1).

Members witnessed how Arkansan foresters work collaboratively with private landowners, industry, and the federal government to manage the nearly 19 million acres of forestland across the state. They toured a non-industrial private working forest, a U.S. Forest Service plot within the Ouachita National Forest, and Weyerhaeuser's state-of-the-art sawmill in Dierks. Additionally, the group visited Blakely Mountain Dam on the Ouachita River, which provides immense benefits to the region, including flood control, recreation opportunities, water supply, and hydropower generation.
 
Lastly, the Members visited Avant Mining to learn about Arkansas’ world-class quartz crystal mining and toured Hot Springs National Park, one of the smallest and most unique parks in the National Park System, which generates robust economic activity and brought over 2 million visitors to Arkansas in 2021.

Background:
Private industrial and non-industrial forests comprise 80% of the nearly 19 million acres of forestland across Arkansas. With 2.9 million acres of national forest in the state, federal forest management decisions impact everything from public land access to the local economy. The U.S. Forest Service implements a wide variety of management practices in the Ouachita National Forest, including prescribed burns, mechanical thinning, and timber sales.
 
Lake Ouachita, created by Blakely Mountain Dam, produces an excess of $28.5 million in direct economic benefits to the area while directly supporting over 740 jobs in the region. Hydropower production, outdoor recreation opportunities, and extensive flood damage reduction enhance the direct regional benefits derived from this project.

Hot Springs National Park was the first piece of land designated as a federal reservation in 1832 by President Andrew Jackson. While it is the second smallest park by square miles, in 2021 Hot Springs National Park ranked 38th out of 423 for most visited National Park Service sites.

 

BOOZMAN-LED LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN VA OVERSIGHT CLEARS SENATE
Bipartisan bill provides VA watchdog with essential oversight tool to detect fraud, waste and abuse
WASHINGTON – Legislation led by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to strengthen oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans and taxpayers unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Thursday.

The Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021 would provide the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) 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 bipartisan bill introduced by Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) now advances to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

“Expanding the VA OIG’s authority so it can conduct more thorough investigations will improve transparency and accountability, ensuring our veterans get the care and services they have earned,” Boozman said. “Passage of this bipartisan legislation delivers on our commitment to make sure we fulfill the promises made to veterans. I urge the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and deliver this much-needed reform to the president’s desk.”

“We’ve got to see to it that the VA Office of Inspector General has the tools to provide additional oversight over the Department on behalf of veterans and taxpayers,” said Chairman Tester. “The Senate’s unanimous passage of our bipartisan bill means we’re one step closer to providing this important watchdog with greater ability to detect fraud, abuse and waste at all levels, and I encourage my House colleagues to pass it without delay.”

“Our veterans have made great sacrifices to protect our nation. Now, it is our duty to take care of them and that starts with ensuring accountability at the VA. West Virginia veterans have experienced the horrific impacts of top-down VA leadership failures, resulting in the tragic deaths of seven Veterans at the Clarksburg VA Medical Center. The Office of the Inspector General currently does not have testimonial subpoena powers, which resulted in the OIG having limited authority during the Clarksburg VAMC investigation. Our bipartisan legislation addresses this oversight by granting the OIG the authority to conduct thorough investigations. I’m pleased our bill has unanimously passed the Senate and I look forward to President Biden signing this important legislation into law,” Manchin said. 

Under current law, VA OIG does not have testimonial subpoena authority to compel individuals relevant to investigations to answer questions in person and under oath. This can limit both VA OIG and Congress’ ability to conduct complete and thorough reviews, including of VA health care and benefits programs, management actions and contracts. The Strengthening Oversight for Veterans Act of 2021 would expand VA OIG’s authority to provide stronger oversight over the Department.

Last year, VA OIG issued damning reports tied to the failures at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Medical Center  in Clarksburg, West Virginia that resulted in the deaths of veterans in these facilities. VA OIG has also identified additional investigations since 2017 where expanded subpoena authority would have assisted the independent watchdog in investigating patient safety, procurement and ethical conflicts of interest.

This legislative action to improve oversight for veterans and taxpayers has strong backing from leading advocates including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Project on Government Oversight.

 

COTTON STATEMENT ON NEW BIDEN GUN REGULATIONS
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) issued the following statement after President Biden announced new restrictions on so-called “ghost guns” and privately made firearms:

“Expanding federal gun regulations only makes it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns. If President Biden wants to crack down on crime, he should begin by enforcing existing laws and prosecuting violent criminals.”

April 08, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
The agenda is as follows:
CALL TO ORDER
INVOCATION – Bishop Jacovis Davis, Pastor – The Word Family Church, 277 North Street, Camden,  Arkansas  71701
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
ROLL CALL
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
     1. Minutes Regular Meeting March 8, 2022
ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORT
     1. Financial Report for March 2022
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
MAYOR’S REPORT
     1. Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development
     2. Camden Downtown Network Yearly Report
OLD BUSINESS
     1. Ordinance No. 02-22, an ordinance modifying the boundaries for the election for aldermen, approving the         redistricting of City Wards; and for other purposes.  (Third Reading)
NEW BUSINESS
     1. Resolution No. 20-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into contract with the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development (OPED) to provide certain economic development services for the City of Camden;
     2. Resolution No. 21-22, a resolution setting a drug free workplace policy for the City of Camden, Arkansas.
     3. Resolution No. 22-22, a resolution on the City of Camden complying with fair housing.
     4. Resolution No. 23-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to designate the Southwest Planning and Development District, Inc. (SWAPPD) as the project administrator over the ACEDP Grant.
     5. Resolution No. 24-22, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council of the City of Camden to            utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Program Funds for StreetScape improvements.
     6. Resolution No. 25-22, a resolution expressing the willingness of the City Council of the City of Camden to           utilize Federal-Aid Transportation Program Funds for TRACE Extension.
     7. Resolution No. 26-22, a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational programs.
8. Resolution No. 27-22, a resolution amending the Annual Operating Budget for 2022; and for other purposes.
K. OTHER BUSINESS

 

HARMONY GROVE ANNOUNCES KINDERGARTEN ROUND-UP
Harmony Grove is having their Kindergarten Round-up for children who have reached their 5th birthday on or before August 1st.  Students must reside in the Harmony Grove School District.  Please contact Rachell Sorrells, HGES Counselor, 574-0338 or email sorrelr@hgsd1.com for a short 20-30 minute appointment on the following Fridays, April 22 or April 29.  

At that time your Kindergartener will complete a short screening tool in the counselor's office.   Registration packets may be picked up in the elementary principal's office and must be completed BEFORE the appointment.   Please see below for a list of needed documents for a Kindergartener's enrollment.

Birth certificate
Social Security Card
Immunization record
Insurance card
Health Physical/Health History
Proof of address in Harmony Grove District (2 bills with guardian's address)
Legal documentation (if there are custody issues)
Parent/Guardian ID
Registration packet completed

Please note that your child WILL NOT be fully registered or be put on a class list until we have received ALL of your documentation.

Please call Rachell Sorrells, HGES Counselor. at 574-0338 or email soaelc@hgsdt.com for an appointment on April 22 or April 29, for your 20-30 minute appointment. At that time your Kindergartener will complete a short screening tool.


CADC ANNOUNCES CLOSING OF 2022 WINTER LIHEAP UTILITY ASSISTANCE
Benton – Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) announced today the 2022 Winter LIHEAP Utility Assistance Program will end April 29, 2022.

For more information relating to CADC’s utility assistance program visit: https://www.cadc.com/utility-assistance

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.

 

ARDOT URGES DRIVERS TO SLOW DOWN DURING NATIONAL WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 11-15
LITTLE ROCK | April 8, 2022
National Work Zone Awareness Week (WZAW) is April 11-15 and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is pleading for drivers to slow down in work zones.

This national safety campaign is observed each spring, the traditional start of construction season, to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. This year’s national theme is: “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.”

“This year’s theme aligns well with our ongoing Slow Down, Phone Down work zone safety campaign, which was launched in February of this year,” said ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor. “We hope to educate the public on the vulnerabilities of both workers and drivers within a work zone. We want to keep everyone safe.”

When traveling through a work zone, plan ahead if you can, minimize distractions, look out for workers, check your speed, be careful around large vehicles, be prepared for sudden stops, read the signs, and do your part so everyone can make it home safely at the end of the day.

Thank you to Governor Asa Hutchinson, who signed a proclamation designating April 11-15 as WZAW in Arkansas (see attached). 

The Junction Bridge, Main Street Bridge, Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, Big Dam Bridge, Two Rivers Park Bridge, Union Plaza Building, and Simmons Bank Building in Little Rock and the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Saline County all will be lit orange in observance of WZAW.

Throughout the week, we will feature ARDOT construction workers on social media reminding drivers why it is so important that we all promote work zone safety.

National Work Zone Awareness Week was formed by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (ASHTO), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). seeking to educate the public on the vulnerabilities of both workers and drivers within a work zone.

 

MURDER INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY; MARIANNA WOMAN FOUND DEAD AT HOME
APRIL 7, 2022
Marianna police have asked the Arkansas State Police to lead a murder investigation after local officers found a local woman dead in her home late yesterday.

The body of Latisha McKenzie, 46, of 642 Meadowbrook Way was discovered by Marianna police officers while conducting a welfare check at the residence about 5:50 PM.

Special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division have found evidence leading them to believe McKenzie was murdered, then her body moved to a hallway bathroom.

Agents are continuing their investigation in Lee County today and are searching for a person interest who may prove to be a suspect in the homicide.

April 07, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY GOOD FRIDAY SCHEDULE
The Ouachita County Courthouse and the Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed for Good Friday. Trash pick-up will not run on Good Friday. If your trash is not picked up on Thursday, it will be picked up on Monday.

 

I-40 STAND-OFF WITH ARMED DRIVER BLOCKING TRAFFIC LEADS TO ARREST
APRIL 7, 2022
A Garland County man was arrested last night [April 6th] following a two hour stand-off along Interstate 40 in West Memphis with Arkansas State Troopers and local law enforcement officers.

Charles Ray Skinner, Jr., 47, of Lonsdale is charged with aggravated assault, carrying a weapon, resisting arrest, parking on a highway and obstructing governmental operations.  He was placed into custody by a Crittenden County law enforcement special response team and turned-over to state troopers who transported Skinner to the Crittenden County Jail.

The incident was initially reported to Arkansas State Police shortly before 6:40 PM, when motorists traveling through West Memphis on I-40 encountered a vehicle parked in a westbound lane of Interstate 40 causing traffic to be blocked near the 279 mile marker.  The driver was said to be armed with a pistol and had pointed the gun at drivers who had exited their vehicles following a minor traffic crash.

After state troopers and local law enforcement officers arrived at the scene, east and westbound traffic was blocked as a safety precaution.  Repeated orders from law enforcement officers directed to Skinner to exit the vehicle were ignored, leading state police to request a Crittenden County armored vehicle and special response team to be called to the scene.  The armored truck approached Skinner’s vehicle and officers directed irritant gas into the car, causing Skinner to exit and surrender.

The highway was re-opened to traffic at approximately 8:30 PM.

 

POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SIGNS NOT PERMITTED ON HIGHWAY RIGHT OF WAYS
LITTLE ROCK | April 7, 2022
ARDOT reminds candidates for political office and their supporters that it is unlawful to place campaign signs on highway right of ways in Arkansas.

“There are several Arkansas statutes addressing encroachment and the placing of signs or other objects on highway right of way,” stated ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor.

Laws permit only official directional, informational and regulatory highway signs on state-owned highway property; the local Area Maintenance Office removes all other signs.

ARDOT personnel will remove any “yard” signs placed on the right of way and will contact owners of large “billboard” signs. Owners can pick up the signs during normal business hours at the nearest ARDOT Area Maintenance Office.

“The Arkansas Department of Transportation encourages everyone to follow the right of way laws to keep the roadsides clear and ensure our highways are as safe as possible,” Director Tudor said.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: APRIL SHOWERS MAY BRING STORM RECOVERY SCAMS
LITTLE ROCK – Every spring, Arkansas and other southern states are hit by heavy rains and severe weather. While many Arkansans want to help their neighbors clean up after a storm, con artists will seize the opportunity to take advantage during a vulnerable moment. Arkansans must keep their home and family safe from a fraudster trying to make a quick buck.

“Spring storms and recovery efforts often bring an increase in door-to-door scam artists,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Make sure you follow steps to avoid falling prey to con artists who use recovery efforts to scam Arkansans.”

Attorney General Rutledge encourages you to follow these tips to find legitimate individuals to perform your home repairs:  

Beware of door-to-door  solicitors selling home-repair work. To find someone reputable, ask friends or family who have recently used a home-repair contractor or professional. Consider contacting the Arkansas Contractor’s Licensing Board   to verify that the contractor is licensed and has not had any complaints filed against it.

Avoid any home-repair solicitor who asks for an upfront payment or who will not provide you with a written contract.

Get at least three written estimates. A reputable contractor or professional will never try to pressure you to obtain your business.

Obtain and check at least three references from your contractor or professional.

Check with the Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau to find out if the company has a complaint history.

Obtain a written and detailed contract that includes the grade, quality, name brand and quantity of any materials to be used. The name and address of the contractor must be on the contract.

Avoid paying for the entire job up front. One-third paid in advance, one-third paid halfway through the job and one-third paid upon completion is a better plan, helping assure that your project will be completed. Never make the final payment until you have had an opportunity to inspect the work.

Remember that all contracts resulting from a home-solicitation sale generally must include a buyer’s right to cancel within three business days after the contract is signed.

Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing.

A contractor cannot promise that your insurance company will cover the work done.  Verify your insurance coverage and authorized contractors before you agree to pay for repairs.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

ARKANSAS LUNG CANCER SURVIVOR AND ADVOCATE MEET WITH CONGRESS TO ADVOCATE FOR LIFESAVING RESEARCH, PUBLIC HEALTH INFRASTRUCTURE AND ACCESS TO QUALITY HEALTHCARE
Shelley Myran and Anne Streeter join volunteers from across America to advocate for lung cancer patients everywhere
LITTLE ROCK — (April 7, 2022) — Springdale resident and lung cancer survivor Shelley Myran, and Anne Streeter, resident of Bella Vista and lung cancer advocate, spoke with their members of Congress during the American Lung Association LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day earlier this week. As a part of the nationwide event, Myran and Streeter joined more than 50 people across the country who have been impacted by lung cancer to advocate for $49 billion in research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $11B in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to protect expanded access to quality, affordable healthcare. 

Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 Advocacy Day was conducted virtually to allow this important message to be heard while also protecting the health and safety of patients and caregivers. During the virtual Advocacy Day, Myran and Streeter spoke with Senator John Boozman, Senator Tom Cotton and Congressman Steve Womack to share their personal experience with lung cancer and explain why investments in public health, research funding, and quality and affordable healthcare are important to them.

“When I went to the doctor with pain in my lower right side, I never expected to find out that I had lung cancer,” shares Myran.  Myran has never been a smoker, nor has a history of lung cancer in her family. “This health experience has taught me that there is a lack of education on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer. Whether we are a smoker or not, this disease will not discriminate. LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day is an opportunity for our state leaders to hear from ‘real’ people like me living with lung cancer about the impact significant dollars will have on early detection, diagnosis, and critical research to further advance treatments,” remarks Myran.

Streeter advocates in memory of Bill, her late husband of 35 years. “Bill was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer that had no treatment in August 2015 and was gone a few days after his 74th birthday on Oct. 28,” shares Streeter. “I miss my Bill every day and hope that by participating in LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day, I can bring attention to the need for increased funding for the Lung Association, CDC and the NIH as well as for better access for all to affordable healthcare, particularly in rural parts of the country like Arkansas,” remarks Streeter. 

It is estimated that in 2022 alone, there will be more than 2,820 people in Arkansas diagnosed with lung cancer, but there is hope. More people than ever are surviving lung cancer in part because patients and caregivers are urging their policymakers to take action. That’s why Myran and Streeter are sharing their stories with lawmakers and others — so that more can be done to help lung cancer patients and their caregivers throughout the United States and in Arkansas.  

Myran and Streeter encourage others in Arkansas to advocate for lung cancer research and healthcare protections by contacting their members of Congress, which they can do at Lungforce.org/AdvocacyDay. Learn more about

 

COTTON DEMANDS ANSWERS ABOUT EXCLUSION OF CHINESE-MADE PRODUCTS FROM SECTION 301 TARIFFS
Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai demanding answers about the USTR’s decision to exclude over 350 Chinese-made products from Section 301 tariffs.

In part, Cotton wrote, “This decision is yet another example of the disconnect between your tough talk and your agency’s weak actions. You have spoken compellingly on the need for firm action against China. Just last week, you testified before the House Ways and Means Committee that China violated its Phase I trade deal obligations and that the communists in Beijing ‘only comply with those trade obligations that fit its own interests.’ I agree. China lives by the simple motto of ‘lie, cheat, and steal’ and has wiped out millions of American manufacturing jobs and tens of thousands of factories as a result. I also agreed with your statement that ‘enforcement is a key component of our worker-centered trade policy.’”

“Unfortunately, USTR’s recent actions contradict your strong rhetoric. Days ago, your agency blew a massive hole in our enforcement regime by approving tariff exemptions for over 350 Chinese-made products. Earlier last month, USTR also punted on opening new 301 investigations into China’s economic abuses. These trade concessions are a gift to Chinese producers that continue your agency’s pattern of economic appeasement,” Cotton continued.

April 06, 2022

SAU TECH CAREER SERVICES AND WORKFORCE TRAINING DIVISION TO HOST APRIL JOB FAIR
EAST CAMDEN, AR (04/06/2022) SAU Tech's offices of Workforce Training and Career Placement Services are hosting a community and student job fair on April 26, 2022. Businesses and agencies are invited to attend and can register online at www.sautech.edu/sautech-events. SAU Tech is encouraging the attendance of high school students, college students, and community members who are seeking employment or who want to learn more about obtaining a degree or certification. The event will start at 9:00 AM in the SAU Tech Student Center on campus in East Camden.

View Online: http://sautech.meritpages.com/news/SAU-Tech-Career-Services-and-Workforce-Training-Division-to-Host-April-Job-Fair/26339

HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE FUND FOR ARKANSANS
A new resource is being made available to Arkansans who found themselves falling behind on their mortgage and utility payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) announced it is now making available $54 million to homeowners who were impacted by COVID-19.

Called the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund, or HAF, the federally-funded program seeks to help Arkansas residents who are behind on their mortgages, electricity, gas and/or internet payments.

Tim Wooldridge, a former state senator who now heads the new program, said it's vital Arkansans who qualify take advantage of this federally-funded help.

Wooldridge said there are income requirements associated with the program. However, they are relaxed enough to include the vast majority of homeowners in the state.

Homeowners must have a total annual household income of less than 150% of the area median income of their county. The maximum total annual household income for a family of four ranges from $81,150 to $112,350, depending upon the county in which they live. To determine eligibility for a specific county, go to arkansashaf.com/qualify

Wooldridge said funds for qualified recipients will be provided directly to mortgage companies, internet companies, and utility providers.

Eligible homeowners are encouraged to apply through the online portal at apply.arkansashaf.com or contact the call center at 888-698-0964. Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Applicants will need a valid ID, proof of homeownership, income documentation and documents showing mortgage delinquency.

 

ARKANSAS FINANCIAL EDUCATION COMMISSION PARTNERS WITH CALS
Series promotes learning about financial matters
April 6, 2022 (Little Rock, Ark.) – The Arkansas Financial Education Commission, created by Act 1025 of 2021 and chaired by Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan, kicks off its first partnership to promote financial awareness among Arkansans next week. The collaboration in partnership with the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) will host a series of financial education webinars geared toward educating the public on basic financial matters.

April is National Financial Literacy Month and Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proclaimed it Financial Education Awareness Month in Arkansas.

“We are so excited to partner with CALS to bring financial education and empowerment to Arkansans all across the state,” Milligan said. “This partnership will kick off what I hope to be one of many similar partnerships throughout the state for the Financial Education Commission. It’s our hope that through this collaboration we can empower Arkansans with the knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions.”

The six-part series will kick off in April with a webinar about the basics of personal finance provided by Dr. Kris Bertelsen with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis – Little Rock Branch. The library system will host two series of three webinars – one series in the spring and one in the fall. The schedule is as follows:

April 12: “Personal Finance: The Basics of Budgeting & Planning”
May 10: “Avoiding Debt Traps with Educational Expenses”
June 14: “Avoiding Debt Traps with Medical Expenses”
September 13: “Buying vs. Renting”
October 11: “Avoiding Identity Theft; Staying Cyber Secure”
November 8: “Planning for Retirement”

Sessions are free to attend, but registration is required. Each session will begin at 6:30 p.m. via a virtual link that will be provided after registration and will last approximately one hour.

Registration is available on the Treasury’s website at www.artreasury.gov or the CALS website, www.cals.org.
 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY FOR STUDENTS MAJORING IN AGRICULTURE
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is now accepting scholarship applications from students majoring in agriculture or an agriculture-related field at one of the following universities: Arkansas State University, Southern Arkansas University, the University of Arkansas System, and Arkansas Tech University.  Applications will be accepted through June 1, 2022 and can be found at bit.ly/DeptofAgScholarship

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to provide funding to help deserving students further their education and prepare for potential careers in agriculture, our state’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “It is an exciting time to be involved in the agricultural industry and we wish to support students as they consider the many career options available in agriculture.”

Scholarship recipients may receive up to $5,000 for the 2022-2023 academic year.  Funding for the scholarships comes from civil penalties collected by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

Recipients must have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Selections are based on academic achievements, character, leadership, career plans, and financial need.

Questions regarding the scholarship program can be directed to Amy Lyman at amy.lyman@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/.
 

STATEMENT OF KILOLO KIJAKAZI, ACTING COMMISSIONER: SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION TO RESUME IN-PERSON SERVICES AT LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICES
Online Services and Telephone Remain Most Convenient Ways to Contact Agency
“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022.

To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment.  Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office.  I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.

Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices.  Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.

Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms.  We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them. 

Thoughtful planning and preparation have shaped our process to restore in-person services.  Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, and we are ready to welcome the public back to our offices.  Our local managers understand and can address the needs of their communities.  We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public.  We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and national advocate organizations for your help.

Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone.  People who have access to the internet should first try our online services before calling us or visiting an office.

As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call.  We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week.  Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.

To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/gethelp/ and www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/.”

Additional Information
Most Social Security services are available to the public online at www.socialsecurity.gov and with a my Social Security account, or by telephone.  And most Social Security services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create their my Social Security account, a personalized online service, at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

People who set up their my Social Security account have access to additional personalized services.  They can request a replacement Social Security card online if they meet certain requirements.  If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, request a replacement SSA-1099, and if they need proof of their benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.

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, such as applications for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.

Many Social Security services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1‑800‑772‑1213.  People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call Social Security’s TTY number, 1‑800‑325‑0778.
 

BOOZMAN SECURES IMPROVEMENTS IN VETERANS’ ACCESS TO LIFESAVING CANCER SCREENINGS
Highlights Legislative Wins for Women Veterans on Senate Floor
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, highlighted passage of a pair of legislative initiatives he championed to modernize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) breast cancer screening policies and the delivery of lifesaving care for women veterans. The Senate unanimously advanced the Boozman-led measures in March.

“The VA is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Taking full advantage of the department’s unique capabilities, resources and outreach will help deliver the lifesaving care veterans deserve,” said Boozman on the Senate floor.

Under Boozman’s leadership, the Senate unanimously passed the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act. This legislation would require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.

The bill is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who was unaware of her increased risk for breast cancer as a result of her 2005 deployment to Fallujah, Iraq. She was subsequently diagnosed with stage four breast cancer at the age of 38.

“We know early detection is crucial to preventing and treating breast cancer, so making sure those who are more vulnerable receive screenings at a younger age is not only reasonable, but critical,” Boozman said.

The Senate also advanced the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act. Boozman is the lead Republican on this bill that would expand access to high-quality breast cancer screenings, improving imaging services in rural areas and clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute.

Senate passage of these bills builds on Boozman’s commitment to expanding lifesaving care for women veterans. Last Congress the senator led the bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act to eliminate barriers to care and service many women veterans face when accessing VA benefits. The legislation was signed into law in 2021.

April 05, 2022

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON’S WEEKLY UPDATE – APRIL 05, 2022
State officials are continuing to sound an optimistic note in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as new cases, deaths and hospitalizations decrease across the state and nation.

During his weekly update Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Arkansans should not, however, let their guard down in regards to COVID-19. He informed the public of the CDC's recent recommendation to get a third booster followup shot for those 50 and older or who are immunocompromised.

Hutchinson then announced State Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero will move to a new position with the Centers for Disease Control. Romero led the Arkansas Department of Health through the worst moments of the pandemic and has appeared frequently on our weekly coverage of the state's pandemic response.

Across Arkansas, the Department of Health reported an additional 1,020 new cases between March 22 and March 29 – the latest period for which data is available on the Department of Health’s website.
Total active cases fell to just under 1,300 while deaths increased by 84 over the same period for a total of 11,211 since the pandemic began. At this time 122 Arkansans are hospitalized due to the virus.

 

HOLY ROCKA ROLLAZ TO PERFORM IN CAMDEN, AR ON APRIL 26, 2022
Live On Stage, Inc. and the Ouachita County Community Concert Association announce ‘50s rock ‘n roll band as part of their 2021 - 2022 Concert Season
CAMDEN, Ark. – (April 5, 2022) – Nostalgic ‘50s rock ‘n roll band, Holy Rocka Rollaz, will be performing at the Event Center at Fairview Park on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.  Children 12th grade and under will be admitted free of charge when accompanied by a paid adult.  For more information, please call 870-807-6915 or 870-818-2131, or visit www.camdenaliveonstage.com.

“…a high-energy style of ‘50s rock…”
Rat Rod Magazine

Take an authentic trip back to the 1950s with the Holy Rocka Rollaz! This nostalgic band replicates the classic sounds and foot-tapping tunes of one of the greatest eras in musical history. Comprised of accomplished musicians and vocalists, the members of Holy Rocka Rollaz dedicated years to studying and practicing the vintage instruments they play and the complexities of early rock ‘n roll music. Their concerts often features familiar hits from the biggest names of the day, including, but not limited to, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley & The Comets and so many more!  Click Here To View A Video Of Holy Rocka Rollaz

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

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

 

ADE BUDGETS MORE THAN $5 MILLION FOR 5 UPCOMING TEACHER ACADEMIES AGENCY SETS ASIDE AN ADDITIONAL $12 MILLION FOR FUTURE ACADEMIES 
LITTLE ROCK — Promoting the teaching profession and increasing the teacher pipeline include not only diversifying and expanding the number of teachers in the workforce, but it also involves providing opportunities for current educators to grow professionally. To assist educators on their journey for high-quality professional development, the Arkansas Department of Education is pleased to announce that it has budgeted more than $5 million for five upcoming teacher academies and more than $12 million for future academies. All of the academies offer graduate credit hours and are available at no cost to participants.

Four of the academies are back: the Computer Science and Computing Educator Academy, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Institute, Online Teacher Academy, and Special Education Resource Teacher Academy. New this year is the Early Childhood Pre-K Teacher Academy, which provides an alternative route to licensure for non-licensed employees who work in specific Pre-K settings. 

For Fiscal Year 2022, ADE budgeted $3.2 million in ESSER II funds for four of the academies and has budgeted an additional $10 million from ARP funds for the next two years. Approximately $2.1 million in English Language Learner funds (state funds) is budgeted for the ESOL Institutes, with plans to continue the institutes in future years. 

“High-quality professional development for educators leads to better classroom instruction and improved student learning,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “The teacher academies were extremely successful last year, with waiting lists of educators who wanted to participate. We are pleased to use federal and state funds to offer these programs again this year to meet the demand of educators who want to grow professionally.”

Below is a brief summary of the academies. To learn more about each and how to apply, visit https://bit.ly/3wUy07U. The application process varies by program.

Computer Science and Computing Educator Academy: Provides basic computer science preparation, knowledge to pass the Computer Science Content Knowledge Praxis exam, 18 post-secondary graduate-level credits in computer science, and approval to teach high school computer science courses.

Early Childhood Pre-K Teacher Academy: Provides an alternative route for non-licensed employees who work in specific Pre-K settings to earn a first-time license in Early Childhood Pre-K. Alternative routes require applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree to apply. The academy provides nine hours of graduate coursework delivered both synchronously and asynchronously and can be completed in the fall of 2022.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Institute: Provides 12 hours of graduate credit, books/materials, and food and lodging for those traveling more than 50 miles for face-to-face classes. It also covers the ESL Praxis registration fee. Upon completing the institute and passing the Praxis, educators will be eligible to receive the Arkansas ESL Endorsement.

Online Teacher Academy: Provides licensed educators an in-depth understanding of digital instruction, knowledge and tools to be a teacher leader for online teaching, and knowledge to pass the Online Teaching Performance Assessment and earn an Online Teaching K-12 Endorsement. The academy provides 15 hours of graduate coursework delivered both synchronously and asynchronously and can be completed in one year

Special Education Resource Teacher Academy: Provides licensed K-6 Elementary Ed., 4-8 (English, Math, or Science), or 7-12 (English, Math, or Science) educators the opportunity to earn an additional Special Education Resource endorsement and participate in job-embedded professional development while receiving 12-to-15 hours of graduate coursework delivered both synchronously and asynchronously. The program can be completed in one year.


GAY BECHTELHEIMER TO PRESENT NEW ARTWORK AT SAAC
Award-winning artist’s work will be on display for the month of April
A lifelong artist, educator, and patron of the arts, El Dorado’s Gay Bechtelheimer will present an exhibition of new works at the South Arkansas Arts Center. On display in the Merkle Gallery April 8-29, the exhibition is entitled “Expansion Diffusion” and is sponsored by W. Paul Burns DDS. It will open to the public with a reception on the evening of Thursday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m.

“Expansion Diffusion” is comprised of work in a variety of media, including watercolor, pastel, painting with paper, and reclaimed palm shards. Bechtelheimer’s current work builds upon her previous exploration of the horizon line, in both representational and abstract forms.

“I have focused on the symbolic and subjective nature of the horizon line over several creative periods in my work,” says Bechtelheimer. “To me, the subjects of mystery, intrigue, wonder, and adventure are all manifested in my work through the realist and abstract portrayal of the horizon line.”

When Bechtelheimer began working on the pieces for this exhibit, during the COVID-19 pandemic period, she started experimenting with a new medium: paper. By tearing and layering strips of color from printed materials, she developed a technique she calls painting with paper.

“These pieces are really like sketches,” Bechtelheimer says. “And they began outlines for larger pieces in watercolor and pastel. But as I worked, I found that representation of the horizon line began reappearing again and again. The shape and idea expanded into the paper pieces, and diffused throughout the new media, as well.”

Bechtelheimer, who retired from a career in public arts education a few years ago, has spent her life bringing the arts to children and advocating for the arts on the local and national level. She has served on the Arkansas Arts Council, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and as president of the South Arkansas Arts Center. A lifelong learner and graduate of Louisiana Tech Univeristy, Bechtelheimer enjoys teaching adult classes at SAAC and continuing her own arts education around the world.

“Expansion Diffusion” will be on display in the Merkle Gallery at the South Arkansas Arts Center 9a.m.-5p.m., Monday through Friday. SAAC is located at 110 E. 5th Street in El Dorado, Arkansas. For more information, call 870-862-5474 or visit www.saac-arts.org.

April 04, 2022

TWO DEAD, OTHERS WOUNDED OVERNIGHT IN CROSS COUNTY
APRIL 4, 2022
A homicide in Parkin last night and the pursuit of a suspect that ended in a law enforcement stand-off with the suspect has left two people dead and two wounded.  Among the wounded is Cross County Sheriff David West.

Parkin police officers were called to 306 Smithdale Avenue shortly before 9 PM.  Inside the local residence, officers found Shoron Selvy, 47, and Patricia Pepper, 55, both wounded from gunshots.  Selvy later died and Pepper was transported to a Memphis hospital where she is listed in stable condition.

A witness identified Darius Kirkwood, 20, who was seen leaving the residence before police arrived.  A short-time later, a Wynne police officer spotted Kirkwood traveling toward Wynne along U.S. Highway 64.

A witness identified Darius Kirkwood, 20, who was seen leaving the residence before police arrived.  A short-time later, a Wynne police officer spotted Kirkwood traveling toward Wynne along U.S. Highway 64.

The police officer attempted to stop the vehicle Kirkwood was driving at a high rate of speed and forcing other motorists from the highway.

Cross County sheriff’s deputies joined in the pursuit as Kirkwood continued through Wynne fleeing from law enforcement officers along U.S. Highway 1 toward Forrest City, later turning onto a county road, then stopping at #2 County Road 7011.

Kirkwood ignored commands from deputies and police to exit the vehicle.  Officers then approached the vehicle in an attempt to forcibly remove Kirkwood, leading to an exchange of gunfire.

Kirkwood died at the scene and Sheriff West sustained a non-life threatening wound.  He was transported to a Memphis hospital and released earlier today.

Law enforcement officers from the Wynne Police Department and Cross County Sheriff’s Department are known to have fired their weapons at Kirkwood during the exchange of gunfire.

Questions relating to their administrative status should be directed to the respective departments.

The Arkansas State Police has been requested to investigate the homicide and shooting incidents.

Case files involving both incidents will be turned-over to the Cross County prosecuting attorney who will use the investigative report to determine whether the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.
 

ARKANSAS PORT, INTERMODAL, AND WATERWAY DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM APPLICATIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2022
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (April 4, 2022)– The Arkansas Waterways Commission (AWC) announced today that the Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program is accepting applications for the 2022 grant season. $1,952,102.55 in funding is available.

The Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program is open to Arkansas public port or intermodal authorities or facilities located along the Mississippi, Ouachita, Red, and White Rivers. The program provides public funds for projects such as construction, improvement, capital facility rehabilitation and expansion of public port and intermodal facilities, including maritime-related industrial park infrastructure developments. The program can fund up to 90% of the project cost. Dredging projects are also eligible with a 50% match.

“Commercially navigable waterways are an economic driver for Arkansas. Barge transportation is the most cost-effective, safe, and eco-friendly mode of shipping bulk and oversized freight,” says AWC Director Cassandra Caldwell. “Industries pay an ad valorem tax on the value of barges traversing Arkansas’ navigable rivers. This grant program boosts Arkansas’ competitive advantage by reinvesting those ad valorem taxes in our public port infrastructure.”

Applications are available on our website at www.waterways.arkansas.gov. All applications and supplemental documentation must be submitted no later than 11:59 pm on Sunday, May 15, 2022.

 

ARKANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN THURSTON LAUNCHES VETERAN VOTER INITIATIVE
(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – The office of the Arkansas Secretary of State, in partnership with the veteran service organization We Are The 22, announces the launch of a Veteran Voter Initiative. Throughout the month of April, representatives of both organizations will be on the road, reaching out to veterans across the state to ensure that they are both registered and ready to vote. The #ARVetsVote hashtag has been established to highlight the initiative.

Secretary Thurston is recruiting support for the initiative from all Arkansans by asking them to dedicate their vote to a veteran they wish to honor or encourage. To participate, Arkansans may visit the tribute page hosted on the Secretary of State's website and dedicate their vote to a veteran or an active service member by sending a message honoring their service to media@sos.arkansas.gov. Arkansas voters may also link their tribute to social media posts using www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/vote-for-a-veteran and the #Vote4ARVets hashtag.

During the month of April, Secretary of State mobile offices and members of the We Are The 22 organization will be visiting veteran’s facilities and service centers across the state. At these mobile offices, Arkansas veterans and those honoring them, may register to vote and learn how to dedicate their vote in honor of a veteran or active service member. Additional election resources may be found on the office's website at www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections

 We Are The 22 is a veteran service organization conducting direct suicide prevention and responding to veterans in crisis. Named for the average number of American veterans committing suicide each day (22). "When a veteran is in the darkest place in their life, there should be someone out there that cares enough to go find them, to sit down with them, and tell them there's hope," states founder Mikel Brooks. Members of the organization will be present at the mobile offices to assist voters in offering encouragement to struggling veterans through the Vote for a Vet campaign. Please visit www.wearethe22.org for more information on the organization. For immediate assistance to a veteran in crisis please call their 24-hour, vet-answered hotline at 1-855-WEARETHE22.

 The voter registration deadline for participation in the preferential primary is April 25. The primary election will be held May 24. The general election will be held November 8, with an October 11 voter registration deadline.

 

BOOZMAN TO OPPOSE CONFIRMATION OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEE
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) announced he will vote against the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. He released the following statement:

“I appreciate Judge Jackson’s willingness to serve our nation, but I am concerned by her judicial activism and record of legislating from the bench instead of interpreting the law as written. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with her and believe she was afforded 

April 01, 2022

DROWNING VICTIM RECOVERED FROM OUACHITA RIVER
The Camden Police Department have reported that the body of the young man that lost his life in the Ouachita River Sunday has been recovered.

Camden Police Department Public Information Officer Dana Wetherbee said that the Cajun Navy Team members with the assistance of other agencies recovered the body around 8:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Efforts have been made by a number of agencies since Sunday to recover the body. The Camden Police, Fire and Public Works Departments, Arkansas Game and Fish, the Ouachita County Sheriff's Department and the  Cajun Navy from Louisiana all played a part in the search.

In an interview with Dana Weatherby of the Camden Police department said that the search was going to continue until the victim was recovered so the recovery was a relief as the search has been ongoing since the incident occurred with the exception of a break on Wednesday when storms came through the area.

She also stated that the First Friday organizers had asked the Department if they needed to postpone the First Friday event and the family said that the event should go on as planned.

Wetherbee thanked the community for outpouring of support and said it was greatly appreciated.

The victim's identity has been withheld at the request of the family.


GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS TO AGRICULTURE BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – On March 30, Governor Hutchinson made appointments to several boards and commissions within the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. The appointments are as follows:

Boll Weevil Eradication Committee:
Scott Bray, Alexander. Term expires July 1, 2024.
Ramey Stiles, Marianna. Term expires July 1, 2024.
Travis Senter, Osceola. Term expires July 1, 2024.
Gregg Garner, Lake City. Term expires July 1, 2025.
Benton Felts, Joiner. Term expires on July 1, 2025.

Arkansas Forestry Commission:
David Cawein, Bella Vista. Term Expires January 14, 2027.
Miles Goggans, Star City. Term expires January 14, 2031.
Peter Prutzman, Arkadelphia. Term expires January 14, 2028.

Arkansas Natural Resources Commission:
Bill Poynter, Texarkana. Term expires January 14, 2029.

Arkansas State Board of Registration for Professional Soil Classifiers:
Dr. Steven Green, Jonesboro. Term expires November 1, 2026.

Veterinary Medical Examining Board:
Dr. Conley Byrd, Redfield. Term expires March 1, 2027.
Shawna Barber, Jonesboro. Term expires March 1, 2027.

Find the full list of appointments at governor.arkansas.gov/news-media/press-releases/governor-asa-hutchinson-announces-appointments-220330

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/.
 

SAAC ANNOUNCES CAST FOR “THE ENCHANTED BOOKSHOP”
The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the cast selection for the spring Youth Community Theatre production of “The Enchanted Bookshop” sponsored by Kiwanis Club of El Dorado. The play, written by Todd Wallinger, is scheduled to run April 8-9, 2022.

Directed by SAAC veteran Hannah Davis, grades 2-8 students participating in this fun production hail from more area schools than ever before which speaks to the popularity of SAAC’s student drama programs. Barton Junior High, Washington Middle School, Hugh Goodwin Elementary, Yocum Elementary, Northwest Elementary, West Side Christian, Parker’s Chapel, Junction City and homeschool programs are represented. Many of these kids are new to the stage.

“The Enchanted Bookshop” follows Margie, a scatterbrained bookshop owner, and the magical books in her shop. During the day, A Likely Story looks like any other bookshop, but at night, the characters inside the books come alive. Dorothy, Robin Hood, Heidi, Tom Sawyer, Pollyanna and Sherlock Holmes want to help save the struggling store, but they’re not allowed to be seen by human eyes. After a band of diamond smugglers use the bookshop as a drop-off point to hide a stolen necklace, the characters must team up to find a way to defeat the bad guys--even if it means risking their very existence.

Davis said about her cast, “I have never had a cast as prepared and ready to go! These kids love the stage!” Real world cast members include Jazmin Wong-Bennett as Margie the bookshop owner, Charlotte Sneed as Bombalurina, John David Williamson as Eddie, Parker Thomas as Fingers, Ava Williams as Lady in Red, Nivedha Krishnan as Mom, Cartson Field as Timmy, Makynli Walters as Officer Ketchum, and Zairia Billings as a book store customer.

Caroline Kennedy plays the Book Fairy that uses her magic to bring all of the beloved book characters to life. The protagonists (the heroes) of their books trying to help save the book shop include Audrey Speer as Dorothy, Elizabeth Legg as Sherlock Holmes, Luke Lain as Robin Hood, Tristan Jennings as Tom Sawyer, Henlea Stevens as Heidi, Lexi Louden as Pollyanna, Daley Bun as Dr. Dolittle, Era Ismajli as Toto, and Brynna Johnson as Hop Along Cassidy.

Unfortunately ,with the good guys coming off the pages, the antagonists (the "bad guys") also come alive! These characters include Trim Ismajli as Long John Silver, Luke Legg as Fagin, Kensley Spinks as Queen of Hearts, Emma Ware as Wicked Witch of the West, Kenley Taylor as Pirate, Karis Winn as Orphan, and Cartson Fields as Frankenstein.

Production staff for this play includes Director Hannah Davis, Assistant Director Cassie Hickman, Hannah Faith as Stage Manager, Elis Lyles and Tiffany Duke as Assistant Stage Managers, Mary Claire Parker as Production Assistant, and April Hoover with Set Design.

“The Enchanted Bookshop” is produced with permission from The Pioneer Drama Service. For tickets to this production, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.


BOOZMAN PRAISES NEW VA HEALTH FACILITY
Larger Fort Smith Community-Based Outpatient Clinic Will Better Serve Veterans
FORT SMITH – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) celebrated the expansion of Department of Veterans Affairs health care services in Fort Smith at the Friday ribbon cutting for the new Community-Based Outpatient Clinic.

“Community-Based Outpatient Clinics are an important tool within the VA system. Facilities like this offer veterans more options to get the care and support they deserve, no matter where they live, but it’s important to improve and update our clinics to meet patients’ needs and give providers the tools and resources necessary to deliver quality care. We must continue making investments in VA health care because so many veterans rely on it and deserve it. That’s what we’re achieving here,” Boozman said in remarks at the ceremony.

Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was instrumental in securing a larger space to better accommodate the health care needs of the region’s veterans. The new state-of-the-art primary care clinic provides an additional 18 exam rooms and expands its services to include eye care, audiology, women’s health and other high-demand specialty care.

March 31, 2022

SUSPECT IN ATTEMPTED BREAK-IN CALL DIES IN OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
MARCH 31, 2022
A suspect believed to be involved in an attempted residential break-in last night in Atkins has died after being shot by law enforcement officers as the suspect advanced toward them with a piece of metal pipe.

The name of the suspect has not yet been confirmed, as the investigation of the shooting and determination of the suspect's identity continues by special agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division.

Atkins police officers were called to the vicinity of the West Main Street area of about 9:40 PM where an attempted residential break-in had occurred.  Two Atkins police officers and two Pope County sheriff’s deputies later encountered the suspect outside a second residence at 3500 West Main Street.

According to initial reports, the suspect began approaching the law enforcement officer armed with a piece of metal pipe.  Commands were given to the suspect to drop the pipe, but ignored, according to preliminary statements provided to state police.  As the suspect continued to advance toward the four officers, each fired their weapons leading to the suspect dying at the scene.

The body of the suspect has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory where the cause and manner of death will be determined, and the identity confirmed.

The state police investigation will be submitted to the Pope County prosecuting attorney to use in a determination whether the use of deadly force by the deputies and police officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Inquiries related to the identity of the law enforcement officers and their administrative status should be directed to the Pope County Sheriff’s Department and Atkins Police Department.

 

THE CITY OF EAST CAMDEN WILL HOLD ITS ANNUAL CITY-WIDE GARAGE SALE
The City of East Camden will hold its annual City-Wide Garage Sale on Saturday, May 7th, beginning at 8:00 a.m. A listing of all sales can be picked up at the East Camden Fire Station next door to city hall at 7:45 a.m. that morning. Fried Fish and chicken plates, bake sale and cold drinks will be sold at the fire station with all proceeds benefiting the East Camden Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary. All East Camden residents having a sale are asked to call City Hall at 574-2900 to register their sale. Outdoor spaces are available for nonresidents and organizations who wish to have a sale. Space rental is $10.

Something New added this year: "Vendor Row"
Vendor Row is being added to the Garage Sale this year. If you are an "arts & craft" vendor and would like to set up a booth on Vendor Row, please contact City Hall to reserve a booth for $10. Vendor Row will be located on Highland Street between Womble and the tennis courts. There's always hundreds of shoppers who tum out for this event every year.

Mark your calendars and make plans to come shop our sales.

For more information please contact: Mayor Angie McAdoo (870) 833-2196
 

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENTS
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced a number of appoinitments this week. Those of local interest are:

Jay Bunyard, De Queen, to the Arkansas Economic Development Council. Term expires on January 14, 2026. Reappointment.

Donna Dial, Pine Bluff, to the Board of Trustees of Southeast Arkansas College. Term expires on July 1, 2028. Replaces Paul Bennett.

Dr. Renice Davis, Pine Bluff, to the Board of Trustees of Southeast Arkansas College. Term expires on July 1, 2027. Replaces Eddie Thomas.

Dewayne Tooke, Warren, to the Residential Contractors Committee. Term expires on October 1, 2024. Reappointment.

David Carter, Warren, to the Bradley County Quorum Court, Justice of the Peace District 9.  Term expires on December 31, 2022. Replaces Charlotte Denton.

Dr. Sederick Rice, Pine Bluff, to the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. Term expires on January 31, 2024. Reappointment.

Molly Shepherd, El Dorado, to the Crime Victims Reparations Board. Term expires on October 5, 2025. Reappointment.

Darrell Allen, Hope, to the Arkansas Geographic Information Systems Board. Term expires on August 1, 2023. Replaces Russell Gibson.

Dr. Kathryn Berry, Magnolia, to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism. Term expires on March 23, 2025. 

Alexandria Bennett, El Dorado, to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on National Service and Volunteerism. Term expires on August 31, 2024. Replaces Robert Coon.

Teresa Roark, Camden, to the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. Term expires on September 14, 2025. Reappointment.

Dr. William Viser, Arkadelphia, to the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. Term expires on September 14, 2025. Reappointment.

Andrea Roaf-Little, Pine Bluff, to the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. Term expires on September 14, 2025. Reappointment.

Rebecca Ives, Camden, to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board. Term expires on May 1, 2025. Reappointment.

Karen Breashears, Arkadelphia, to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee. Term expires on May 1, 2025. Reappointment.

Ed Carrington, Pine Bluff, to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee.  Term expires on December 1, 2025. New position per Act 647 of 2021.

Warner Smith, Smackover, to the State Board of Collection Agencies. Term expires on January 1, 2025. Reappointment.

Gary Sewell, El Dorado, to the Arkansas Economic Development Council. Term expires on January 14, 2025. Reappointment.

 

CORTEVA AGRISCIENCE’S ENLIST TECHNOLOGY HERBICIDE APPROVED FOR USE IN ALL ARKANSAS COUNTIES
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Following an announcement by EPA today, Enlist technology is now approved for use in all Arkansas counties.  Enlist One and Enlist Duo are two herbicides used to control weeds in conventional and genetically-modified corn, cotton, and soybean crops.

In January 2022, Corteva Agriscience received a seven-year registration from the EPA for its Enlist technologies. The registered labels for the Enlist herbicides included endangered species restrictions which prohibited the use of the products in 11 Arkansas counties: Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Little River, Logan, Montgomery, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Sevier, and Yell.  

The expansion into additional counties was the result of the review of additional information for a proposed label amendment. An official EPA announcement and additional information can be found at epa.gov/pesticides/epa-expands-use-enlist-products-134-additional-counties-2022-growing-season.

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.
 

BIDEN'S SPR DECISION, NEW FEES ARE SHORTSIGHTED, UNSUSTAINABLE
WASHINGTON - Today, President Joe Biden announced an unprecedented drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), intending to place 1 million barrels of oil on the market every day for the next six months and increase fees on federal oil and gas leaseholders. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"The president's decision could not be more shortsighted. Instead of looking at the root cause of the energy crisis, his own assaults on American production, he's chosen to jeopardize our long-term energy and national security by depleting our strategic reserves," said Westerman. "The SPR is supposed to be used for emergencies and national defense, not as a Band-Aid for crises of the administration’s own making.

This is now the third time President Biden has issued historic releases in the past several months. Instead of supporting domestic production, President Biden has proposed new fees on permits and federal acreage for leaseholders - costs that will ultimately manifest as higher energy prices for American consumers. This administration has failed to issue a single new lease and is sitting on thousands of permits, rights-of-way and other authorizations necessary to use currently-held leases. Their inaction is the root cause of rising energy prices, and new taxes and fees are not the solution. President Biden must issue all necessary permits and rights-of-way and approve proposed pipeline projects so we can sustainably produce our own domestic energy. Instead, this administration is too caught up in radical Twitter ideologies to see reason. It's completely untenable, and Americans will continue feeling pain at the gas pump as a result."

Background
In the past, U.S. presidents have only used the SPR during emergencies as a way to quickly correct the market and get it back to normal. Now, however, Biden has repeatedly used the SPR to compensate for the energy crisis he created by shutting down domestic oil and gas production.

In 2021, production on federal lands and waters represented 25 percent of the U.S. total crude oil produced and about 10 percent of the natural gas produced in the U.S.  Since demand does not decrease just because the Biden administration decides to stifle production, hampering energy development on federal land and waters has a notable impact on domestic energy prices and makes the U.S. more reliant on foreign oil and gas sources. The Biden administration has not issued any new onshore or offshore leases to date, despite statutory requirements to lease, and continues to delay issuing thousands of permits and rights-of-way. If the administration had issued new leases in 2021 and addressed its permit backlog, new production could be happening.

Gas and oil prices have risen steadily since Biden was elected. The Biden administration’s anti-energy policies have had a chilling effect on production. Halting the Keystone XL pipeline, oil and gas leasing on federal lands and the congressionally-authorized oil and gas program in the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife in Alaska, and threatening industry with regulation and taxes were all actions Biden took during his first days in office. While the recent increase in the price of gasoline is partly attributable to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that is far from the full story. Biden’s anti-energy policies that prevent American development have been driving up U.S. gasoline prices since day one.

 

BOOZMAN CAPS OFF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH THROUGH VETERANS HISTORY PROJECT
Features Two Arkansan Women Veterans’ Stories
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is commemorating Women’s History Month by recognizing the service and sacrifice of a pair of Arkansas women who served in uniform in a special two-part edition of his series ‘Salute to Veterans.’

This month, Boozman is highlighting Air Force veterans Jami Huisjen Scott of Mountain Home and Elesha Granniss of Flippin.

Jami Huisjen Scott had an interest in electronics and “after basic, I got one of the top two jobs that I asked for. I was assigned to avionic navigation systems.” After technical training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi she was assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base.

Initially, she was disappointed because she hoped to be stationed overseas so she could travel, but she learned there were opportunities for her to do that while at LRAFB. “They do a lot of temporary duty assignments, so as it turned out I did get to spend three months in England,” and elsewhere, she said.

Scott is active in the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Service Sisters and she continues her advocacy in support of women veterans.

Elesha Granniss has a family history of military service, but she was inspired to serve in uniform after the tragic death of a close friend who had enlisted in the Army and was days away from beginning his service.

She enlisted in the Air Force hoping it would open doors for travel, but her first assignment was somewhere familiar. “I wanted to see the world and I got stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama - three hours away from home,” Granniss laughed.

During more than 17 years in uniform, she was able to live in and experience a number of locations across the U.S. and the world during deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. She fondly recalls her time in the military where she was committed to looking out for the individuals she was in charge of. “I mentored, and I looked out for my people. I felt that was what my job was, to be an expert in my field,” Granniss said “and look out for them.”

Granniss continues her service as an Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs District Veterans Service Officer and Arkansas Women Veterans Coordinator.

Boozman will submit the interviews with Scott and Granniss to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

March 29, 2022

CLEBURNE COUNTY MAN JAILED ON ATTEMPTED CAPITAL MURDER CHARGE INVOLVING ARKANSAS STATE TROOPER
MARCH 29, 2022
 A Cleburne County man is being held at the Pope County Jail after firing a gun at an Arkansas State Trooper last night.  The incident occurred about 8:30 along Arkansas Highway 124, near the intersection with Highway 326, north of Russellville.

The state trooper, assigned to patrol duties in the area, had located a pick-up truck off the highway in a ditch.  As the trooper exited the patrol vehicle, Landon Loyd, 31, of Drasco began shooting at the trooper who then took cover and returned fire.

Lloyd fled on foot into a wooded area but was apprehended a short-time later by the trooper and a Pope County sheriff’s deputy.  Neither Lloyd, nor the trooper were wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

Consistent with Arkansas State Police Policies and Procedures, the trooper has been placed on paid administrative leave while the state police Criminal Investigation Division conducts a use of deadly force investigation which will be turned-over to the Pope County prosecuting attorney to use in determining whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was consistent with Arkansas laws.

The identity of the trooper is being withheld at this hour while he meets with his family and provides a statement to CID special agents.

Loyd is being held at the Pope County Jail on a charge of attempted capital murder.

 

STATE POLICE CALLED TO INVESTIGATE MONROE COUNTY HOMICIDE; ONE DEAD
MARCH 29, 2022
Monroe County sheriff’s deputies were called to an apartment at 505 4th Street in Holly Grove last night about 11:30 where they found Cedric Earl Hampton, 54, of Holly Grove dead.  Hampton had sustained an apparent stab wound and died at the scene.

An occupant of the apartment was taken into custody by local authorities and Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division were contacted by the sheriff’s department requesting the state police investigate the death.

Nelson Morrow, 65, who resided at the apartment, was charged earlier today with manslaughter in connection with the homicide and remains at the Monroe County Jail in Clarendon pending a bond hearing to be scheduled.
 

WYNNE EDC ACHIEVES ENTERGY ARKANSAS ‘SELECT SITE’ CERTIFICATION
37-acre site sits on state Highway 1 north of I-40
WYNNE, Ark. – Today officials with the Wynne Economic Development Corporation and Entergy Arkansas announced completion of the utility’s Select Site certification for the 37-acre Wynne Highway 1 industrial site, located 13 miles north of Interstate 40 on Arkansas Highway 1.

“The timeline for responding to prospects has shortened significantly,” said Cody Slater, CEO for the Wynne EDC, “and going through the certification process helps to ensure that we have the site information necessary to respond quickly to inquiries.

“This site is well-suited for a manufacturer who wants to move products across the country and needs to act quickly, and the additional marketing that comes with certification provides our site with an advantage that few communities in the state have,” Slater added.

Recently announced projects in the state that have begun operations or are under construction on former Select Sites include an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Little Rock and the Tractor Supply Co. distribution center in Maumelle.

Entergy Arkansas Senior Project Manager Joe Bailey participated in the Wynne EDC board meeting to recognize the group for completing the comprehensive review and documentation process and to present a grant check to help offset some of the costs associated with the certification. Joining Bailey was Amy Williams, Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) regional community development manager.        

Bailey said, “Wynne is to be commended for their hard work in accomplishing a Select Site certification. In today’s competitive economic development environment, this is a great asset.”

The business and economic development team at Entergy Arkansas works with communities to implement an assessment tool that allows communities to certify their sites and communicate the prepared status to the AEDC, site location consultants and company decision makers looking to expand or move their business to Arkansas.

The Select Site program helps communities better prepare their sites as winning candidates for high-tech, manufacturing and distribution projects with a thorough audit of the site’s readiness for new or expanding business. Through the Select Site program and the Arkansas Site Selection Center, Entergy is helping to meet those needs. Other Select Site properties are in Jefferson County, Magnolia, Newport, Osceola, Russellville and West Memphis. 

Visit www.ArkansasSiteSelection.com for details on each Entergy Arkansas Select Site, including the Wynne Highway 1 site.

CAMDEN POLICE DEPARTMENT RELEASE INFORMATION REGARDING WEEKEND DROWNING
On March 27, 2022, at approximately 5 p.m. the Camden Fire Department and  the Camden Police Department were dispatched to the Ouachita River around the area of the River Walk for a reported person in distress. Once on scene, it was observed one victim in obvious distress roughly 100 yards out in the flooded river. The Camden Fire Department launched rescue boats along with numerous civilians in personal boats initially started the search. The Office of Emergency Management of Miller County dive team with 12 divers and  sonar service joined in the search. Around 4 a.m. Monday morning the search was called off until daylight. The Camden Fire Department alon with Arkansas Game and Fish dive team are actively searching the river this morning. The Camden Police Department and City of Camden Public Works are working on logistics and assisting in the search.

At the request of the family, we are not releasing the victim's name at this time.

The City of Camden would like to thank Pastor Reese Broadnax, Pastor Johnny Hobbie, and Pastor Beth Waldrup for standing vigil with the family and supporting all on the scene through the night and morning .
 

STATE & LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT PLAN STEPPED-UP ENFORCEMENT OF DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS
MARCH 28, 2022
Distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes along nationwide roadways.  The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is working with state and local law enforcement agencies to encourage drivers to put down their phones while driving.

Stepped-up enforcement of the state’s distracted driving laws is being planned for April 4th – 11th that will involve Arkansas State Troopers, local sheriff’s departments and local police officers.  The operation will target drivers who are texting and driving as well as violating other distracted driving laws.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], between 2012 and 2019, more than 26,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.  While fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10 percent.  The statistical analysis from NHTSA also reported that the number of deaths linked to driver distraction was 3,142 nationwide, or almost 9% of all fatalities during 2019, a 10% increase over the previous year 2018, or 284 more fatalities. The distraction figure was the largest increase in causes of traffic deaths reported for 2019.

Millennials and Generation Z are the most distracted drivers, often using their cell phones to talk, text, and scroll through social media while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  According to NHTSA research from 2017, young drivers, 16 to 24 years of age, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.  During 2019, 9% of people killed in crashes involving teenagers (15 to 19 years of age) died when the teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash.

“Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on Arkansas roadways,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Drivers know it’s against the law, yet the distractions are significantly attributed to texting while driving.”

Many drivers are guilty of a “double standard” when it comes to distracted driving.  In its 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, the American Automobile Association reported that while nearly 96% of drivers believed it was very or extremely dangerous to read a text or email while driving, 4 out of 10 drivers admitted to doing so within the previous 30 days.

“These drivers give themselves a personal exemption to ignore the law while unfairly putting others at risk,” Colonel Bryant commented. “Beginning April 4th state troopers won’t be issuing warnings, they’ll be writing violator citations as part of the U Text and Drive, You Pay enforcement operation.”

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA urge drivers to put their phones away when behind the wheel.  If you need to text, pull over to a safe location.  Drivers are encouraged to follow these suggestions to ensure a safe driving experience:

•  If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location.  Only after you are off the roadway and stopped is it safe to text.

•  Ask your passenger to be a “designated texter.”  Allow the passenger access to your phone for responding to calls or messages.

•  Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.

•  Cell phone use while driving can easily become a habit.  Consider activating your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature while driving, or put the phone in the trunk, glove compartment, or back seat of the vehicle until arriving at your destination.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal.  Help break the dangerous habit of distracted driving.  Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

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


ARKANSAS TROOPER MORRIS NAMED NATIONAL TROOPER OF THE YEAR
MARCH 25, 2022
Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris has been selected National Trooper of the Year by the leadership of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Provincial Division. The prestigious award was presented last night during a ceremony at Seattle, Washington before an audience of law enforcement officers from across the nation.

Trooper Morris, 34, of Crittenden County, is a graduate of the 2018 Arkansas State Police Training Academy and was among a group of four regional state trooper finalists who collectively comprise the epitome of preeminence among law enforcement officers across the nation.  Trooper Morris is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City.

Trooper Morris was recognized for his heroic actions of December 16, 2021 during an attempted traffic stop that ended in Memphis, Tennessee.

While working his assigned interstate patrol duties, Morris answered the radio call from the United States Marshals Service requesting assistance in the apprehension of a wanted fugitive from South Carolina believed to be armed and considered dangerous who was traveling through West Memphis along Interstate 55 headed toward Memphis.  Trooper Morris was the closest law enforcement officer in the area who would have been able to intercept the vehicle.

About 2:30 PM, Trooper Morris observed the suspect’s vehicle and began to position his patrol car for the traffic stop.  As he closed in on the car, multiple gun shots from the suspect vehicle were directed at Trooper Morris with one round striking him in the upper chest.  Trooper Morris’ body armor slowed the round, causing a minor wound.

Despite the injury and the imminent deadly threat to himself and other motorists traveling into Memphis, Trooper Morris began to return gunfire directed at the fleeing suspect.

As the pursuit approached the I-55 McLemore interchange, the suspect vehicle slowed and came to a stop, the wounded trooper radioed his location and requested assistance.  Trooper Morris moved his patrol car to the roadside and at a safe distance exited his vehicle to take-up a defensive position.

Quickly local police officers joined Trooper Morris, along with paramedics, who extracted him from the scene, moving the wounded trooper to a nearby hospital where doctors determined the wound was non-life threatening.

With traffic diverted from the interstate, a SWAT team moved toward the suspect vehicle to find the wanted fugitive and another occupant still in the car, both deceased.

Later, the same day, Trooper Morris was released from the hospital, and taken to his home where family surrounded the trooper; all thankful to be reunited.

In his comments to the Seattle audience, Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police said, “Arkansas State Troopers patrol more than 16 thousand miles of state highways every day and along the way, they stop to serve the citizens, whether it’s to help change a flat tire, or just take a minute to listen to someone’s concerns or troubles.”

“These men and women we know as Arkansas State Troopers are part of the fabric that hold local communities together,” Colonel Bryant said.  “They are among the best trained law enforcement officers in the country, dedicated and always ready to serve.”

Colonel Bryant stated, “Trooper Spencer Morris is just one example of more than 500 other Arkansas state troopers, just like him, who set aside awesome risks to themselves each day to make their state a safer and better place to call home.”

Trooper Morris returned to active duty and continues patrolling the Arkansas highways, in and around, Crittenden County.

It was 25 years ago [1997] when an Arkansas State Trooper was last selected by IACP as National Trooper of the Year.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: RUTLEDGE JOINS ARKANSAS BANKS IN WARNING OF LATEST SCAM
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined First Community Bank and banks around the nation warning Arkansans about the latest scam sweeping the State. The newest scam involves con artists spoofing a phone number to cause the bank’s fraud department name and number to display on the phone’s caller I.D. The scammer will use official-sounding conversation to gain the trust and then ask for the consumer to provide a verification code via text message. The code will give the scammer access to the consumer’s account, and even change the online banking password. The scammer will then transfer the funds in the account via a third party app, such as Zelle.  

“Con artists will use any means necessary to trick hardworking individuals out of their money,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is vital that consumers are aware of these types of scams and are cautious before giving out personal or financial information.  I will continue to sound the alarm to prevent consumers from losing their lifesavings and to hold these crooks accountable.”

“This type of fraud is a growing problem in our state and we want everyone to know that First Community Bank or any bank in Arkansas will never call a customer asking for their account number or a password,” said Dale Cole, First Community Bank Chairman and CEO. “The criminals are calling, sending texts, emails and sometimes mailing letters. Please be careful and never give any personal information to the criminals when they contact you!”

You should follow these steps to ensure that your personal information and banking information remains secure:
Never provide information such as date of birth, social security number or account information over the phone to an unknown caller
When in doubt, hang up the phone and call the number on the back of your debit card or visit your local bank branch for assistance
Don’t click on suspicious links sent via text message asking for verification
Always shred important documents that may contain personal or account information

For more information related to scams, call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

 

REGISTRATION OPEN FOR 2022 ARKANSAS RURAL DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 28, 2022) – Registration is now open for the 2022 Arkansas Rural Development Summit, the state’s annual event for anyone interested in improving the quality of life in Arkansas’ rural communities. This year’s summit will be held May 12 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

The Rural Development Summit is a partnership between the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Rural Services and the Arkansas Rural Development Commission. Each year, the event draws hundreds of attendees including mayors, county judges, legislators, state and federal officials, and community leaders who wish to interact and learn about best practices for the state’s smallest communities.

“We are excited to host the Rural Development Summit this year,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This annual event is a great way for community leaders and other interested citizens to come together to learn, network, and share best practices so that we can strengthen our communities, improve quality of life, and increase economic opportunities throughout the state.”

During the summit, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the programs and services available through AEDC that assist rural communities and their leaders with development, planning, and revitalization efforts. Events will include two breakout sessions, a hosted legislative committee meeting, and the annual Governor’s Award Luncheon where grants will be awarded to communities throughout Arkansas. In addition, a joint reception will be held the evening before the summit at 5:30 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center. The reception will also include attendees from the state’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Matchmaking event, which will be May 11.

“Our rural communities are the backbone of Arkansas, providing the economic engine that keeps the state running and creating a quality of life that makes each area unique,” said Rebecca Caldwell, director of AEDC’s Rural Services Division. “I encourage our state’s local leaders, as well as interested citizens, to attend this year’s event. It is a great way to network and learn how you can do your part to make your community the best it can be.”  

Attendees who register before April 28th can take advantage of the early-bird rate of $75 per attendee. For those who register after April 28th, summit fees are $100 per attendee. Exhibit space is $200 and provides two complimentary registrations (any additional person pays regular registration). Registration fees cover all summit materials as well as entertainment activities and lunch. Cancellations will be subject to a 50 percent charge.

For more information and to register online, visit https://info.arkansasedc.com/2022ARDSummit.

MARCH 24, 2022

BOOZMAN DELIVERS LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES FOR WOMEN VETERANS

WASHINGTON  The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a pair of legislative initiatives championed by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee senior member U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to modernize breast cancer screening policies and the delivery of lifesaving care for women veterans.

The Senate passed the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act on Thursday afternoon. This legislation would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.

Also approved this week was the Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act which would require the VA develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where VA does not offer in-house mammography, and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute.

“Early detection and treatment are key in the fight against breast cancer. Given the additional risk factors associated with toxic exposure, which we know has occurred in recent combat settings, the VA must update its policies so vulnerable veterans can receive mammograms. Taking full advantage of the VA’s unique capabilities and resources will help ensure they get the best care available. I’m pleased the Senate has taken this important step and I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to follow our example and quickly approve these bills so they can be signed into law,” Boozman said.

 

Boozman authored the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act. The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine veteran and public health professional who was unaware of her increased risk for breast cancer as a result of her deployment to Iraq. During a routine medical exam in 2018 she was advised to undergo a mammogram and was then diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 38.

“I could have used that information much earlier than I acquired it. We should be telling military women these things and arranging the standard of care for preventive medicine around these increased odds ratios. Put simply, I needed that mammogram sooner,” Dr. Thomas shared with the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in written testimony last summer in support of the legislation.

Passage of these bipartisan bills continues Boozman’s commitment to improving VA care and services for women. Last Congress, the senator led the successful passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, a bipartisan initiative to eliminate barriers to care and services many women face when accessing VA benefits. The landmark bill was signed into law by President Trump in January 2021.

The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act and MAMMO for Veterans Act now move to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

The Honorable Lafayette Woods, Jr., Sheriff of Jefferson County has filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County on March 21, 2022 against the Quorum Court of Jefferson County and County Judge of Jefferson County.

 

The lawsuit is a Petition for Declaratory Judgment, Writ of Mandamus, and Request for injunctive relief.    

 

The Petition states that the Jefferson County Quorum Court members have failed to appropriate sufficient funds for various departments that fall under the scope of responsibilities for the Sheriff’s office and his detention centers.  Exhibits to the complaint reflect basic services such as electric bills and medical expenses for the Juvenile Justice Center have been denied for lack of appropriation. 

 

The lawsuit further dictates that the Ordinance setting forth the appropriations is unconstitutional and that the Quorum court failed to set forth the necessary funding for county functions mandated by law.  The petition state that the Sheriff has the responsibility for managing the detention centers, but that the legislative branch has failed to provide necessary funding relating to the services that are compelled to be funding appropriately. 

 

Kimberly Dale of Branch Thompson Warmath Dale & Butler represent the Petitioner in the action filed on March 21, 2022 in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.  

 
 
 
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HOSTS "FREE TREE FRIDAYS" IN RECOGNITION OF  ARBOR DAY
LITTLE ROCK – In recognition of National Arbor Day, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is hosting giveaways of bare root seedlings at various locations across the state each Friday from March 18 through April 29.
 
“Adding trees to your yard or to a community forest is beneficial to all Arkansans, and Spring is an excellent time to plant trees,” said Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator for the Forestry Division. “With these giveaways celebrating Arbor Day, we hope to provide all Arkansans with access to the many benefits trees provide.”
 
Following is a listing of giveaway locations and times currently scheduled:
 
Friday, March 25
  • Dardanelle – Wal-Mart, 1172 AR-7: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Clarksville – The Peach Pit, 101 McConnell Drive: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Marshall – Between Los Aztecas/Marshall Milling True Value, 234 Highway 65: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
 
Friday, April 1
  • Trumann – City Administration Office, 825 Highway 463 North: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Wynne – Wynne Fire Department, 1111 Falls Boulevard: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Midway – Forestry Division Office, 5312 Highway 126 North, Gassville, AR: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Morrilton – Wal-Mart, 1621 North Business 9: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Pocahontas – American Made General Store, 1100 Pace Road: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
 
Friday, April 8
  • Monette – City Hall Parking Lot, 119 North Edmonds: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Texarkana – Four States Fairgrounds, 3700 East 50th Street: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Pine Bluff – Home & Garden Show, 420 North Blake Street: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
 
Friday, April 15
  • Berryville – Berryville Square, Fountain Park: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Monticello – University of Arkansas at Monticello Forestry Building Parking Lot, 110 University Court: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Nashville – City Park, 1301 West Johnson Street: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Yellville – Crooked Creek Conservation District, 302 E 4th Street: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Little Rock – Arkansas Department of Agriculture, 1 Natural Resources Drive: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
 
Friday, April 22
  • Fayetteville – Wilson Park, 675 Park Avenue: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Searcy – Lowe’s, 3701 East Race Avenue: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Sheridan – Mad Butcher, 815 Rock Street: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Hot Springs – Garland County Library, 1427 Malvern Avenue: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Osceola – Natural Resources Conservation Service Office, 3137 West Keiser Avenue: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Magnolia – Southern Arkansas University Story Arena, 1015 Highway 82 Bypass West: 10 a.m. – 1p.m.
  • Redfield – Baseball Park, 618 Huck Finn Boulevard: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
 
Friday, April 29
  • Warren – Warren City Park, 404 West Church Street: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Pine Bluff – Pine Bluff High School, 711 West 11th Avenue: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Casa – City Hall, 3587 AR-10: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • DeQueen – Bailey Discount Lumber, 880 East Collin Raye Drive: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Siloam Springs – Liberty Parking Lot, 205 East Jefferson Street: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Stuttgart – Stuttgart Chamber Pavilion, 507 S. Main Street: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Jonesboro – Earle Bell Community Center, 1212 S. Church Street: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
 
Species will vary by location, but all are native Arkansas trees.
 
Additional locations may be added. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry/free-tree-friday/ for giveaway locations and times or contact Kristine Kimbro at Kristine.kimbro@agriculture.arkansas.gov.
 
 
TWO NEW EXHIBITS TO OPEN FOR SAAC IN APRIL
The South Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to announce two upcoming art exhibits beginning April 1 and hanging through April 30. Showing in the Price Gallery will be works by the students of Gay Bechtelheimer. Also, showing in the Lobby Gallery will be Fayetteville artist Jennifer Baugh's exhibit entitled “Found Unbounded”. An artists' reception is scheduled for April 2, from 6:00-7:30pm.
 
Local artist and art teacher Gay Bechtelheimer hosts an informal painting group at SAAC in an open studio environment, where she also demonstrates new techniques for the artists, as well as does critiques of their work. Some of the artists in this group have painted together at SAAC for a number of years, and they have also welcomed some newbies. This new exhibit consists of paintings that they have worked on during these studio hours. Members of the class who have works on display are Nancy Rae Kinard, Sylvia Henley, Bobbi Shepherd, Kathy Bowles Adcock, Rhonda Hicks, Allyson Menefee, Lee Scroggins, Ann Palculict, and John Ginger.
 
“Found Unbounded” is an exhibit by Jennifer Baugh. Using alcohol markers, colored pencils, paint pens, and a rotary tool for texturing, she creates pieces with bright, bouncy colors and shiny, leather-like textures. She designs her pieces using found objects, from car parts to lamp pieces to game tokens, naming each work according to the object chosen.
 
“My artwork is sensory based, encouraging viewers to see the world from different perspectives. When my children were small, we needed to participate in many sensory integration activities. Those activities have greatly influenced my artistic process,” Baugh said.
 
"As an adult, I began my artistic pursuits once more when I was forced to rest to recover from persistent asthma," said Baugh. "My husband, Justin, bought me coloring books and Prismacolor markers....Anything to keep me sitting still. After filling multiple coloring books, he encouraged me to create my own drawings. There I found the freedom of expression. I have a degree in health sciences with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion from the University of Arkansas. In addition to drawing, I love time with family and friends, travelling, kayaking, and skating (I'm a former roller derby player)."
 

For more information on those exhibits, 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.

March 23, 2022

ARREST IN DUMAS SHOOTING
MARCH 23, 2022
The Arkansas State Police has arrested Brandon Deandra Knight, 22, of Jacksonville in connection with the shooting incident at a Dumas car show on Saturday, March 19th.

Knight was taken into custody as he was being released from a Dumas hospital at 9:40 AM today.  He is charged with battery, first degree and aggravated assault.  Knight is being held at the Dumas City Jail and will be scheduled for a first appearance court hearing tomorrow.

The state police investigation remains in an active status and no further information regarding the arrest is available at this hour.
 

CAMDEN’S FIRST FRIDAY MONTHLY MARKET RETURNS FOR 2022 SEASON
Camden, AR - First Friday Monthly Market in Camden, AR is back for the 2022 season on April 1st. The organizers will kick off this year with “Swing into Spring” in downtown Camden.

Lots of fun and activities are planned, just as you came to expect from our past seasons. Be sure to get your shopping in with a vast array of vendors set up along Washington St and Adams Ave selling everything from wood workings to jewelry.

Special nonprofit groups and local organizations will be throughout the market to provide all kinds of entertainment for the young and old alike. At this first market you can find special Easter Egg hunts, find out about an upcoming fishing tournament, the Camden Fire Department will be giving some fire safety tips and so much more.

With 2 great food trucks this month, be sure you come hungry. Camden’s newest food truck “Crawfish Haven” will be set up with wonderful Cajun cooked crawfish, shrimp, and crab legs. If you want more American cuisine, be sure to look for One Stop Eatery with wonderful hamburgers, hot dogs, funnel cakes and more. Other treats from Navajo tacos on Indian fry bread, street tacos, flavored popcorn, baked goods, and of course Four Points Coffee Cart with macarons will all be on hand.

Live music will be back in the little park at the corner of Washington & Adams. This month’s performer will be Connor McMurray. A Camden native and SAU Tech Honor Student, Connor can be found playing throughout the Golden Triangle.

If you are looking for something a little more competitive, check out the Cornhole Tournament on Adams Ave in front of What’s Cookin’ or Axe Throwing on Madison Ave at Native Dog Brewing.

Downtown merchants will be open late for all your shopping convenience offering great First Friday specials. First Friday Monthly Market in Downtown Camden, AR, April 1st, 6PM – 9PM.

Come stroll, shop, nibble, browse and chat… See you there!

 

GOVERNOR HUTCHINSON DECLARES MARCH 20-26 AS ARKANSAS AGRICULTURE WEEK AND MARCH AS ARKANSAS PEANUT MONTH
LITTLE ROCK, AR – During a ceremony today at the State Capitol, Governor Hutchinson joined agriculture leaders and industry partners in declaring March 20 – 26 as Arkansas Agriculture Week and March as Peanut Month in Arkansas. The proclamations highlight the agriculture industry as a whole, the state’s peanut industry, and the value both contribute to Arkansas’s economy. The full proclamations can be found at https://bit.ly/ARagweek and https://bit.ly/ARpeanut.

“Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, providing one in six jobs in the state and contributing more than $19.4 billion annually to our economy,” said Governor Hutchinson. “Additionally, the peanut industry is one of Arkansas’s many great success stories. Our ranking as the seventh-largest producer of peanuts in the nation is a testimony to the hard work of our farmers.”

“Arkansas is a national leader in agriculture, ranking in the top 25 nationally for the production of 16 different agricultural commodities,” said Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward. “Arkansas led the nation in yield-per acre for peanuts in 2021 at 5,000 pounds per acre. With 35,000 acres harvested last year, the value of Arkansas’s peanut crop is more than $42 million.” 

Representatives from Hormel Foods World Headquarters, which owns Skippy and Planters brands, attended the event with their mascots, Skippy and Mr. Peanut. Also in attendance were representatives of Delta Peanut, Birdsong, Arkansas Peanut Growers Association, U.S. Department of Agriculture, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Riceland Foods, and other agriculture industry stakeholders.

“As owners of both the Skippy brand and the Planters brand with locations right here in Arkansas, we are thrilled to be here with the Governor to help celebrate the proclamation for Arkansas Peanut Month,” said Rick Williamson, corporate communications, Hormel Foods. 

Photographs from this event can be found at flic.kr/s/aHBqjzGK1F.

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/.

 

2022 EASTERN ARKANSAS RURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
Theme: “Innovative Approaches To Obtain Economic Growth For Sustainable Rural Communities”
Providing small and emerging business owners with the innovative skills, tools, and contacts needed to create and grow their enterprises and better engage in job creation activities are the goals of an upcoming business conference to be held via Zoom with a limited in-person audience in Forrest City, Arkansas.  The current COVID -19 climate has highlighted the need for innovative and creative approaches to improve and sustain the economic base within rural communities in Arkansas and will be thoroughly discussed at an upcoming regional conference to be held Friday, April 1, 2022 in Forrest City, Arkansas.  Funded by the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS), Eastern Arkansas Enterprise Community (EAEC), USDA Rural Development, and Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC), the 2022 Eastern Arkansas Rural Business Development Conference, with a theme of “Innovative Approaches To Obtain Economic Growth For Sustainable Rural Communities” will bring together approximately twenty (20) private, quasi-state, state, federal, non-profit, and national organizations to provide conference participants with needed resources to grow their existing business or develop new business endeavors.     

Hosted by the ADWS, AHDC, ASBTDC, EAEC, Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center (ASBTC),

Arkansas Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (APTAC), U.S. Small Business Administration, St. Francis County Chamber of Commerce and USDA Rural Development, the conference will be held Friday, April 1, 2022 from 8:30am – 2:00pm via Zoom.  In-person participation will be limited to forty (40) including presenters at conference site located at the Forrest City Civic Center, 1335 North Washington Street, Forrest City, AR  72335.  COVID-19 measures will be required which include, social distancing, temperature checks, masks, and release forms.  Topics will include but are not limited to, building effective partnerships, securing capital, personal finance, developing business plans, selling goods and services to the government, and how to acquire the many services offered by the ASBTDC to start and grow your business.

Please join us at 8:30 am for a “Breakfast with the Lenders Roundtable,” where conference participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders. Lenders confirmed to participate include Arkansas Capital Group, Communities Unlimited, First Financial Bank, First National Bank of Eastern Arkansas, FORGE, Regions Bank, Southern Bancorp, RMI, Inc. and USDA, RD.  Herb Lawrence, Lender Relations Specialist, Arkansas District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration, will facilitate the Lenders Roundtable.  Mr. Anthony Young, President, Southern Bancorp Community Partners, will be the luncheon speaker.

Don’t miss the opportunity to help your community create needed small businesses and JOBS by acquiring the resources to help your small business GROW and INNOVATE! 

An investment of time is the cost to attend but registration is encouraged.

You may register by calling Arkansas Human Development Corporation at (800) 482-7641 or online at https://bit.ly/3njgrcd.

 

BOOZMAN LEADS LEGISLATION TO BOOST HIRING OF MILITARY SPOUSES
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is leading legislation to amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses.

The Military Spouse Hiring Act would address underemployment for military spouses by expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program—which incentivizes employers to hire individuals who experience unique employment barriers—to include military spouses. Frequent moves often stall military spouses’ upward career progression and force them to find new jobs.

“Military spouses make countless sacrifices as they support their husbands and wives, and our nation’s defense. We can help reduce the burdens they face in the process of finding gainful employment by expanding this tax credit so businesses have an extra incentive to hire these unsung heroes,” Boozman said.

The legislation was introduced by Boozman and Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

The Military Spouse Hiring Act is supported by the nation’s leading VSOs including the National Military Family Association and Military Officer Association of America.

“The military spouse unemployment rate has remained too high for too long. When military spouses can’t find work, it’s a problem for their family’s financial stability and wellbeing,” said Besa Pinchotti, Executive Director and CEO of the National Military Family Association. “The Military Spouse Hiring Act will encourage more employers to hire military spouses, investing in our military spouses, our military families, and our military as a whole."

“Military spouses make tremendous sacrifices for our country yet continue to face significant burdens when it comes to employment opportunities. The continued high rate of unemployment and under employment among military spouses not only impacts the financial stability of military families, but also hurts military retention. More than a third of military families cite spouse employment challenges as a reason for leaving active duty,” said MOAA president and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret). “We appreciate Sens. Kaine, Boozman, Hassan, and Rounds’ efforts to incentivize the hiring of military spouses which will benefit this great community, the local economy, and employers alike.”

Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

March 22, 2022

ARREST OF TEXAS ESCAPEES ENDS IN SHOOTING INCIDENT; ONE INMATE DEAD
MARCH 21, 2022
A Bowie County, Texas escapee was shot Monday while being taken into custody.  The escapee was pronounced dead at the scene.  The identity of the inmate is being withheld, pending family notification procedures.

The incident involved two Texarkana (Arkansas) police officers.  Officials of the local police department have requested the Arkansas State Police to investigate the use of deadly force by one of the officers.

About 1 PM Monday, one of the Texarkana police officers located the escapees outside 210 East Street.  Subsequently, both officers approached the pair in an attempt to apprehend the escapees.  While one officer was taking an escapee into custody, the second officer was met with resistance by the other inmate who began to fight with the officer and attempted to gain control of the second officer’s gun.

During the struggle the gun was fired, causing the first officer to shoot the inmate fighting with the second officer.

The body of the deceased inmate will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to confirm the cause and manner of death.

Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division are continuing to collect statements from witnesses and evidence associated with the shooting.

The investigative case file prepared by the state police will be submitted to the Miller County prosecuting attorney who will determine whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer in the incident was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Inquiries regarding the identity of the local police officers and their administrative status should be directed to the Texarkana Police Department.

UPDATE: DECEASED ESCAPEE IDENTIFIED, NEXT OF KIN NOTIFIED
MARCH 22, 2022
The Bowie County, Texas escapee who was shot by a Texarkana, Arkansas police officer yesterday [Monday, March 21st] and died at the scene during a struggle for the officer's gun has been identified as Michael D. Olson, 30, of Texarkana, Texas.

Notification to next of kin was completed at 9:50 AM today.


UPDATE: DUMAS CAR SHOW SHOOTING WOUNDED COUNT; TELEPHONE LINE OPEN TO WITNESSES/VICTIMS
MARCH 21, 2022
State police special agents assigned to the investigation of a shooting incident at a Dumas car show late Saturday afternoon [March 19th] have confirmed 27 individuals who were wounded by the gunfire.  The list of wounded victims includes the name of Cameron Shaffer, 23, of Jacksonville who died at the Dumas hospital.

During a news conference yesterday the number of wounded was reported to be 28.  The discrepancy appears to be attributed to one patient admitted locally and later transferred to another hospital.

Among the wounded are five children ranging in age from 19-months – 11 years old.

Additionally, the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division is reserving a telephone number for witnesses to the shooting and victims who may not have reported their injuries to contact agents assigned to the case.

Anyone who may have information related to the incident who can help agents investigating the case identify a suspect or suspects or provide information about the events leading up to the shooting are asked to call this telephone number:

ARKANSAS STATE POLICE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISION - (501) 618-8850

Should an incoming call go to voicemail, please leave a message with the name of the caller and telephone number where they can be contacted at any time.

CONGRESSMAN BRUCE WESTERMAN MOBILE OFFICE TO VISIT AREA
Visit Congressman Bruce Westerman’s mobile office to receive assistance with Federal Agencies on a variety of issues including passports, IRS Tax Refunds, the VA and many others.

Schedule is as follows:
April 5
Clark County Courthouse
401 Clay Street
Arkadelphia, AR 71923
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Nevada County Courthouse
215 East 2nd Street South
Prescott, AR 71857
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Miller County – Landmark Building
210 N. State Line Ave.
Texarkana, AR 71854
12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Lafayette County Courthouse
1 Courthouse Square
Lewisville, AR 71845
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Columbia County Courthouse
1 Court Square
Magnolia, AR 71753
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

April 6
Ouachita County Courthouse
145 Jefferson Street Southwest
Camden, AR 71701
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Calhoun County Courthouse
309 West Main Street
Hampton, AR 71744
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Bradley County Courthouse
101 East Cedar Street
Warren, AR 71671
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Ashley County Courthouse
205 East Jefferson Street
Hamburg, AR 71646
1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Drew County Courthouse
210 South Main Street
Monticello, AR 71655
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

April 7
Madison County Courthouse
201 West Main Street
Huntsville, AR 72740
9:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m.

Newton County Courthouse
100 East Court Street
Jasper, AR 72641
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Johnson County Courthouse
215 West Main Street
Clarksville, AR 72830
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Mountainburg City Hall
101 Highway 71 NW
Mountainburg, AR 72946
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Logan County Courthouse
25 West Walnut Street
Paris, AR 72855
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

April 12
Hot Spring County Courthouse
305 Locust Street
Malvern, AR 72104
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Dallas County Courthouse
206 West 3rd Street
Fordyce, AR 71742
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Cleveland County Courthouse
20 Magnolia Street
Rison, AR 71665
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Grant County Courthouse
101 West Center Street
Sheridan, AR 72150
10:30 p.m. – 11:30 a.m.

April 13
Yell County Courthouse
101 East 5th Street
Danville, AR 72833
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Mansfield City Hall
200 North Sebascott Avenue
Mansfield, AR 72944
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Scott County Courthouse
190 West 1st Street
Waldron, AR 72958
12:45 p.m. -1:45 p.m.

Polk County Courthouse
507 Church Avenue
Mena, AR 71953
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Montgomery County Courthouse
105 Highway 270 East
Mount Ida, AR 71957
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

April 14
Pike County Courthouse
1 Courthouse Square
Murfreesboro, AR 71958
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Howard County Courthouse
421 North Main Street
Nashville, AR 71852
9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Sevier County Courthouse
115 North 3rd Street
De Queen, AR 71832
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Little River County Courthouse
351 North 2nd Street
Ashdown, AR 71822
12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

Hempstead County – Hope City Hall
206 W Ave. A
Hope, AR 71801
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. 

 

ARKANSAS WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Arkansas Women in Agriculture (AWIA) has named Shae Parsons and DeAnna Walker as 2022 scholarship recipients. Each received $500 for educational tuition expenses.

Shae Parsons credits her career goals to her involvement with FFA. Originally from Branch, AR, Parsons held numerous leadership roles within the organization and was named a Borlaug Scholar through her involvement with the World Food Prize Arkansas Youth Institute. Her passion for agriculture led her to Arkansas Tech University (ATU) to study agricultural education. Parsons plans to teach agriculture and later obtain a master’s in educational leadership while teaching. She is a member of ATU Agri Club, ATU Agriculture Ambassadors, ATU FFA Alumni & Supporters Chapter, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

DeAnna Walker, from Pocahontas, AR, is a student at Arkansas State University studying animal science with an emphasis in pre-veterinary medicine. Walker said her interest in agriculture sparked from being involved in FFA where she judged livestock and showed cattle through the organization. She is a partner in her family’s cow-calf operation in Randolph County and plans to apply for veterinary school after completing her undergraduate studies to become a large animal veterinarian. Walker is involved in the Arkansas Cattlewomen’s Association and Randolph County Cattlemen’s Association.  

“We’re proud to recognize Shae and DeAnna for their accomplishments and future career plans,” said AWIA President Evette Browning. “Our organization is committed to helping grow and develop women involved in all aspects of agriculture. Our scholarship program is just one way we demonstrate our commitment to young women pursuing careers in ag.”

Arkansas Women in Agriculture, Inc. is a private non-profit whose main goals are to provide educational programming and a network of support for women involved in agriculture. For more information about AWIA, visit arwomeninag.org.

 

BOOZMAN: INFLATION, SOARING GAS PRICES, OTHER CHALLENGES THREATEN RURAL AMERICA’S VIABILITY
Cites Higher Fuel Prices’ Effect on Future of Monette and Other Agriculture-Dependent Communities in Arkansas
WASHINGTON – On National Agriculture Day, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) urged the Biden administration and his colleagues in Congress to recognize the impact inflation, rising fuel costs, supply chain disruptions, high input costs, tariffs and uncertainty surrounding global commodity markets are having on farmers and rural communities.

At a Senate Ag Committee hearing examining the so-called “Care Economy” in rural America, Boozman underscored the administration’s misplaced priorities and the need to instead prioritize the challenges facing the agriculture industry and the communities it underpins, including higher fuel costs. Gasoline prices are up nearly 50 percent since President Biden took office and the average price of unleaded gasoline nationally is now at $4.25 per gallon.

“Last week, the mayor of Monette, Arkansas, Bob Blankenship, spoke about how diesel prices are approaching $5 per gallon, and his concerns about what fuel expenses may do to Monette’s budget and, ultimately, operations of essential services if city officials are forced to make difficult budget choices,” Boozman said.

“Whether it’s regulatory decisions like cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, placing a moratorium on conventional energy development on federal land, or failing to follow through on campaign promises to implement strong biofuels measures to reduce prices at the pump and support our nation’s farmers, the actions of this administration have certainly not been good for rural quality of life,” the senator continued. “A common theme I hear from farmers and other rural Arkansans when I am back home every weekend is frustration with misplaced priorities and misguided policies.”

Boozman has consistently called on President Biden to abandon his partisan tax-and-spend agenda and instead focus on getting inflation, which is at a 40-year high of 7.9 percent, under control and provide more support to U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters, including:

Urging the administration to immediately take all necessary steps to curtail the impact higher fertilizer prices will have on American farmers and consumers;
Describing inflation as”a national emergency”  and portraying its detrimental impact on food producers as well as American consumers;
Calling on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to delay the Conservation Reserve Program sign-up deadline and provide flexibility for farmers to purchase crop insurance to help counter the unprecedented disruption in global crop markets brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine;
Highlighting the lack of focus on rural Amercia t in the president’s State of the Union address.

March 21, 2022

HARMONY GROVE ENROLLING FOR KINDERGARTEN
Kindergarten Registration for the 2022-2023 school year is HERE at Harmony Grove!
Paper packets are available in the Counselor's Office. 
Appointments for Kindergarten screenings will be made after packets are completed and turned into counselor.  
Call 574-0338 or email sorrelr@hgsd1.com with any questions.
Please schedule a time for your student to be screened on April 22 or April 29 (Fridays).
A student must have reached his or her 5th birthday on or before August 1 to register.

 

DUMAS SHOOTING INCIDENT REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATON
MARCH 20, 2022
The Arkansas State Police is continuing to assist the Dumas Police Department in an ongoing investigation of gunfire that swept across a crowd attending a local car show, leaving one person dead, and at least 24 others wounded.

One suspect is in custody and a search is continuing today for others who may have been firing into the crowd of people shortly after 7 PM yesterday [*Saturday, March 19th].

Special Agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division have worked through the night interviewing victims and witnesses.  State troopers assigned to the Highway Patrol Division have been assisting Dumas police officers restore calm to the community and securing the crime scene along U.S. Highway 65 which runs through the center of the southeast Arkansas town.

As additional information can be provided, it will be posted at the Arkansas State Police news release web site https://www.dps.arkansas.gov/news-feed/


GARLAND COUNTY SUSPECT PURSUIT & GUNFIRE PROMPTS ASP INVESTIGATION
MARCH 18, 2022
Two Garland County men are in custody following a law enforcement pursuit in Hot Springs today.  The incident began about 8:45 AM as a sheriff’s deputy spotted the pair leaving a Lakeland Drive residence in a vehicle displaying a stolen license plate.

As a Garland County sheriff’s deputy pursued the suspect vehicle and approached the area near Trivista Street and Central Avenue, a second sheriff’s deputy moved his vehicle into the path of the fleeing car.

Steven L. Tucker, 32, of Hot Springs, the driver attempting to elude law enforcement, rammed the deputy’s vehicle blocking Central Avenue.

As Tucker’s vehicle continued to move toward the second vehicle, an Arkansas State Trooper used his vehicle to block the suspect’s escape.  The impact caused Tucker to lose control of the vehicle, then striking a third sheriff’s deputy who fired his gun at Tucker who sustained a non-life threatening wound.

A passenger in the suspect vehicle, identified as Keldrick C. Evans, 31, of Hot Springs, exited the vehicle and was taken into custody without incident.

Tucker exited the vehicle and began to physically resist officers who attempted to take him into custody.  He was subsequently restrained and arrested.

Evans was arrested on an outstanding warrant for parole violation.  Tucker was charged with felony fleeing and aggravated assault.  Both have been placed into the custody of the Garland County Sheriff’s Department.

The Arkansas State Police has been requested to investigate the incident.  The investigative file being prepared by special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division will be submitted to the Garland County prosecuting attorney who will use the record as a basis to determine whether the use of deadly force by the law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.

Inquiries related to the administrative status of law enforcement officers involved in the incident should be directed to their respective department public affairs officers.


AG ALERT: DON’T FALL PREY TO A FALSE FAMILY EMERGENCY
LITTLE ROCK – As spring break approaches, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning of the all too popular “family emergency” scam. The scam starts with an Arkansan receiving a panicked phone call from an unknown number claiming to be a family member, like a favorite grandchild, or a friend desperately needing money to get out of trouble. The Arkansan’s initial reaction is to immediately lend a hand to the loved one in need by offering to send money via wire transfer or purchase a gift card, where the money cannot be retrieved or traced. The reality is that the friend or relative on the phone is actually a con artist looking to profit from rushed emotional decisions.

“Con artists are ruthless and will quickly take advantage of the innocent with a simple phone call,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “If an Arkansan gets a call like this, he or she should hang up immediately and directly contact the person the caller claimed to be, and then report the scam to my office.”

Attorney General Rutledge recommends the following strategies to avoid falling victim to the “family emergency” scheme:
Resist pressure to act quickly.
Ask the caller for his or her name, and if it’s not provided, hang up immediately.
Never give or wire money based on any unsolicited phone call.
Verify the friend or family member’s location by calling the family member directly, or confirm with another family member or friend.
Do not send money to an unknown account or entity.
Have a plan in place when a family member is traveling to easily identify whether or not a need is genuine.

For more information related to scams, call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov.
 

MORE THAN 4500 ARKANSAS CHILDREN WAITING FOR HOMES - THREE NON-PROFITS LINK ARMS TO RAISE FUNDS
4,600 kids are waiting in foster care, 329 of those are waiting to be adopted and nearly 200 will “age out” of foster care without a forever family before Christmas. You can make a difference by lacing up your shoes.

What: 10th Walk for the Waiting: Every Heart Needs a Home - Family Fun Walk
www.walkforthewaiting.org
Presented by: David’s Burgers
When: Sunday, May 1st, 2022
Where: War Memorial Stadium

Benefitting: 
The CALL (www.thecallinarkansas.org)
Immerse Arkansas (www.immersearkansas.org)
Project Zero (www.theprojectzero.org)

Event Itinerary:
3:30: Registration opens
4:15: Family fun walk starts
4:40: Worship party & awards

Here's how you can be a part of Walk for the Waiting:
1. Register to walk at www.walkforthewaiting.org/Account/Register
2. Purchase Walk for the Waiting t-shirt
3. Join the movement! We may not all be able to foster or adopt, but we can come together as a community and walk for our children. 

"Walk for Waiting celebrates foster and adoptive children and showcases the organizations that are committed to improving their lives. This is a family friendly, fun walk with the goal of raising money to support the work of The CALL, Immerse Arkansas and Project Zero as well as awareness about the needs of children and youth in foster care in our state. Foster care and adoption has helped form our family over the past 10 years and we are proud to be presenting sponsors again for this event.” - Jessica & Alan Bubbus, owners of David's Burgers

 

ENTERGY ARKANSAS ETECH OFFERS CASH REBATES FOR MACHINERY, CHARGERS
Customers in good standing can be paid for investing in green alternatives

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Entergy Arkansas will provide cash rebates through its new eTech initiative to customers who purchase one or more electric technologies, ranging from forklifts and cranes to golf carts and electric vehicle chargers.

We’re taking our commitment to providing safe, reliable service at affordable rates to all Entergy Arkansas customers to a higher level with the greatest efficiencies, while managing greenhouse gas emissions and providing options that customers desire with our new eTech program,” said Laura Landreaux, Entergy Arkansas president and CEO. “It will help manage greenhouse gas emissions while supporting the technology-forward options our customers desire.”

Known as a beneficial electrification program in the industry, eTech will be available to any eligible Entergy Arkansas customer, from residential to commercial. More than 40 utilities across North America provide similar programs, including other Entergy operating companies.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission last week approved the program, in which Entergy Arkansas will provide cash rebates for 14 qualified technologies, including forklifts; truck refrigeration units; school and transit buses; drayage trucks; electrical vehicle chargers; digital billboards; scissor, boom and man lifts; scrubbers and sweepers; golf cars and people movers; cranes; and airport ground support pushbacks, tug and tow tractors, belt loaders and power units.

“Cash incentives are a great benefit, but customers will also save net costs over the lifetime of their machinery in fuel, operations, and maintenance which would be less with the electric option than they would have been with the fossil-fuel alternative,” said Landreaux.

For example, an electric single class-one forklift can be expected to reduce the total amount of resources used by that forklift by approximately $8,046 using electric power as compared to other resources, such as gasoline, diesel, propane, etc. in addition to a $250-$500 cash rebate for purchasing an electric machine.

The program would also benefit customers who choose an electric vehicle for transportation. Such

For example, charging an EV with a 200-mile range (assuming a fully depleted 66 kWh battery) at a residence will cost about $7 to reach a full charge, based on the Entergy Arkansas rate of 11 cents per kWh.

Additionally, an electric vehicle is estimated to save $2,566 over the lifetime of the vehicle in net costs.

Entergy Arkansas customers can access technical and application support and apply now for the rebates at www.entergyetech.com within 90 days of purchase.
 

BOOZMAN CONTINUES HIS ADVOCACY FOR VETERANS, JOINS GROUNDBREAKING FOR VETERANS WALL OF HONOR EXPANSION
WASHINGTON – As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is a relentless advocate for improved benefits and services for Arkansas veterans. He continued his commitment by joining members of the Veterans Council of Northwest Arkansas for the Veterans Wall of Honor Wall expansion groundbreaking in Bella Vista on Saturday.

“The Wall of Honor demonstrates our appreciation and gratitude for those who fought to defend our country and freedom. I’m proud of the incredible support shown by the community in recognizing our local veterans who served and sacrificed in our nation’s uniform and I applaud the efforts of the Veterans Council of Northwest Arkansas to create this tribute commemorating their heroism and bravery,” Boozman said.

“Senator Boozman is a champion for Arkansas veterans. He has always been willing to support our needs and ensure all veterans have the resources they deserve. We are grateful for his leadership and proud to have him join us as we celebrate the expansion of the Veterans Wall of Honor,” said Veterans Council of Northwest Arkansas Chaplain Jim Parsons, Lt. Col. (retired).


BOOZMAN, KENNEDY MAKE BIPARTISAN PUSH FOR BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO PROTECT AMERICANS AGAINST RUSSIAN CYBERATTACKS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) and a bipartisan group of their colleagues in urging Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide resources for private and public institutions to defend against cyberattacks by Russia or its proxies.

“The realm of cyber escalation remains largely unexplored. Presently, Russia is justly cornered by extreme sanctions measures and there are concerns it will lash out against the United States through non-kinetic attacks,” the Senators wrote.

“Even beyond the current Russian-induced conflict, cyber threats are growing faster than our private, state, and local institutions can adapt to them. From banks, hospitals, liquified natural gas terminals, bridges and roads, our institutions need to be informed and supported by the federal government in order to be prepared to absorb and rebuff offensive cyber operations by foreign adversaries,” they continued.  

The senators asked for answers regarding, among other things, what measures the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security have taken to reduce Americans’ cyber vulnerabilities and the state of American institutions’ preparedness for a major Russian cyber offensive.

The senators also urged Austin and Mayorkas to provide a written assessment of all recent significant malicious cumulative cyber activities against the U.S. or reported activities against U.S.-based private institutions by Russia or a suspected proxy. 

“We must act now, with increased haste, before we find ourselves under a major retaliatory cyber offensive that causes extreme disruption in the lives of everyday Americans,” they concluded.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) also signed the letter.

March 18, 2022

EDDIE JO WILLIAMS, CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY OF STATE, DISCUSSES ELECTIONS
The political season is heating up across Arkansas as the May party primaries near.

Arkansans are set to decide a number of statewide races this year, from governor to state treasurer. One of those races is for Arkansas Secretary of State. Voters will be deciding this May which candidate will run under the Republican ticket in the November General Election. The Republican primary, set for May 24, will see a contest between incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston and challenger Eddie Joe Williams.

Williams recently joined us here at Radio Works to discuss his campaign and his challenge to Thurston's reelection.

Williams, a former state senator from Cabot, announced his candidacy last year. His background includes working as Gov. Asa Hutchinson's top Senate liaison and as a member of President Donald Trump's Southern States Energy Board for three and a half years. Williams is also a veteran and worked in the railroad sector for four decades.
 
Williams said he is challenging Thurston over what he perceives as the incumbent Secretary of State's failure to thoroughly investigate allegations of voter fraud in Arkansas in 2020. Williams said those allegations should be taken seriously and that anyone convicted of voter fraud be punished accordingly.

According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, there were three incidents of voter fraud in Arkansas over the past 20 years - in 2002, 2012 and 2016. Thurston said the 2020 election was not just a record one in terms of voter turnout, but also the safest and most secure.

Williams stressed that his management experience puts him in a better position than other candidates to run the Secretary of State office. He said the office is one of the state's most critical positions, given the office's role in administering elections, and that it's a position he would take with the utmost seriousness and gravitas.
Williams added that running ethical elections includes giving additional support to county clerks who administer elections on the local level. Williams said the public can find out more about his candidacy and goals on his website, www.goeddiejoe.com. [go-eddie-joe-dot-com]

Voters in Arkansas will decide the GOP nomination for Secretary of State during the May 24 primary election. Thurston and Williams are the sole two candidates in that primary challenge. The Democratic primary is between Anna Beth Gorman and Joshua Price. The two nominees will then go on to face each other in the November General Election. 

 

FIVE ARKANSAS COUNTIES RECEIVE WATER AND WASTEWATER PROJECT FUNDING
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Commission approved $46,083,987.77 for water and wastewater projects serving more than 20,648 people in five Arkansas counties on March 16, 2022. The projects are as follows:

Central Arkansas Water (CAW) received a $425,000 loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund and a $75,000 grant from the Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste Fund for water and sewer upgrades to the Perla water and wastewater systems in Hot Spring County. This project will replace all water meters and install sample and flushing stations for the water system. This project also includes replacing additional grinder pump stations and lift stations for the wastewater system. The current customer base for this project is 786.

The El Dorado Water Utilities, in Union County, received a $44,720,977 loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to replace outdated equipment at the North and South wastewater treatment plants. The current customer base for this project is 17,397.

The City of Marshall, in Searcy County, received a $77,250 loan and a $75,000 grant from the Water Development Fund to replace the existing water main with large diameter polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping to improve the system. Their current customer base for this project is 1,318.

The Wilburn Water Association (WWA), in Cleburne County, received a $618,060.77 loan from the Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste Fund to connect to Heber Springs’ water system to improve water quality and reduce maintenance and replacement costs. The current customer base for this project is 326.

Dardanelle – Cardon Bottoms Levee District, in Johnson County, received $92,700 in additional loan funding from the Water Development Fund to improve soil stability for installation of a new pipeline. The current customer base for the project is 821.

More information about the Natural Resource Division’s water and wastewater programs can be found at agriculture.arkansas.gov/natural-resources/divisions/water-development/or by contacting Debby Dickson at debra.dickson@arkansas.gov or 501-682-0548 or Nicole Blanks at Nicole.Blanks@arkansas.gov or 501 682-0547. Learn more about the Arkansas Department of Agriculture at agriculture.arkansas.gov/.
 

LESLEY ROBERTS JOINS ARKANSAS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION AS REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
LITTLE ROCK, ARK.  (March 5, 2022) Lesley Roberts of Little Rock, Ark., has been named regional development director for Arkansas Community Foundation.

“Lesley brings 20 years of development experience to our Foundation,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation president and CEO. “She has strong knowledge and expertise in development. Lesley has managed and directed grant writing, prospect research, donor stewardship, endowments and major gift programs for a diverse group of Arkansas nonprofit organizations.”

A native of El Dorado, Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arkansas. Her development experience includes work with the Girls Scouts, the Methodist Family Health Foundation, CareLink and Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation.  

For more information about the Foundation and their work to provide smart giving decisions for Arkansans, visit www.arcf.org/smartgiving or call 501-372-1116.

Arkansas Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization with over a half billion dollars in assets, fosters smart giving to improve communities. The Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their charitable dollars as they learn more about community needs. By making grants and sharing knowledge, the Foundation supports existing charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create initiatives that address unmet needs. Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $314 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to Arkansas Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 29 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

March 17

MAGNOLIA MAN SENTENCED TO 6 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
EL DORADO – A Magnolia man was sentenced today to 72 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 United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court documents, on or about September 4, 2020, investigators with the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Rasheed Rahid Muhammad, age 50. The methamphetamine field tested positive and was sent to the crime lab for further testing.      

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement. The 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Kim Harris 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.

Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website at www.pacer.gov.


CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 14 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FIREARMS POSSESSION
El Dorado – A California man was sentenced today to 170 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Possession with the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Offense. The Honorable Chief Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

On August 2, 2019, a deputy with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office began following a vehicle after it committed a traffic violation, which resulted in continued pursuit after the driver refused to pull over. The deputy continued pursuit of the vehicle as multiple other deputies and officers were called to assist.  A male passenger jumped out of the vehicle while the driver continued fleeing. The vehicle rammed a Magnolia Police unit as it continued driving recklessly. The vehicle was eventually stopped after the two rear tires were shot out by law enforcement. The driver then bailed out of the vehicle and fled into the woods.

A search of the vehicle resulted in law enforcement locating and seizing five firearms, a jar of marijuana, baggies, and a bag of suspected methamphetamine. The suspected methamphetamine was sent to the Arkansas Crime Laboratory where it was determined to be 255.4 grams of methamphetamine.

During the investigation it was determined that the driver was Damien Andrew Wolfson, 28, and that he had an active warrant out of California. Later in the investigation law enforcement received information that Wolfson was on his way to Texarkana in an SUV. The SUV was located, and a traffic stop resulted in law enforcement finding and arresting Wolfson while hiding in the rear cargo area of the SUV.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes made the announcement. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, the Magnolia Police Department and the ATF investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Butler 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.

Related court documents may be found on the Public Access to Electronic Records website at www.pacer.gov.


FORESTERS FOR THE FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION PERIOD OPEN THROUGH JUNE 15, 2022
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) are pleased to announce that applications for the Foresters for the Future scholarship are now being accepted. The scholarship will provide $4,000 per semester, for four years, to an incoming freshman pursuing a forestry degree at UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.   

Applications will be accepted through June 15. Students interested in the scholarship can find more information on the UAM website at uamont.edu/academics/CFANR/index.html.

“Arkansas has nearly 19 million acres of forests with over 12 billion trees,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “This scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for a future forester to obtain a quality education and move into a dynamic and rewarding career field.”

The scholarship program was established by Act 399 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The underlying legislation, House Bill 1389, was sponsored by Representative Ken Bragg and Senator Ben Gilmore and was signed into law by Governor Hutchinson on March 17, 2021.

“The forest industry in Arkansas is a vital contributor to the state’s economy. It is imperative that we maintain a healthy forest and right now there is actually a shortage of professional forestry graduates,” said Representative Bragg. “It is the intention of the Foresters for the Future Scholarship to increase interest and opportunities for students to pursue a degree in forestry and natural resource management.”
 

UAM AND THE FORESTRY DIVISION HOPE THE SCHOLARSHIP WILL ENTICE STUDENTS TO PURSUE FORESTRY AS A CAREER.
“The forestry industry is a pillar of Arkansas’s economy that impacts every area of our state,” said Dr. Peggy Doss, UAM Chancellor. “The Foresters for the Future Scholarship will support our efforts to attract and to retain a diverse group of future foresters and to prepare them for a career path that offers extensive job opportunities in the wood products industry.”

"This scholarship is a tremendous opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Michael Blazier, Dean of the UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources and Director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center. “Not only does it provide substantial financial aid to help them study for a career in forestry, they get a wide range of internship options for on-the-job learning with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division."

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.

The College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a University of Arkansas System Center of Excellence, brings together interdisciplinary expertise through a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The College and Center are headquartered at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus, but their programs range statewide with the mission of developing and delivering teaching, research, and extension programs that enhance and ensure the sustainability and productivity of forest-based natural resources and agricultural systems. Academic programs are delivered by the College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources through the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, research is administered by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and extension and outreach activities are coordinated by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello offers all of their programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and are Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employers.


FIVE TEACHERS NAMED 2022 ARKANSAS COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS 
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Office of Computer Science is pleased to announce the five educators selected as finalists for the fourth annual Arkansas Computer Science Educator of the Year award. 

“This year the ADE Office of Computer Science, with its team of statewide computer science specialists, reviewed the applications of many of the best teachers in Arkansas," said Anthony Owen, the state director of Computer Science Education. "While there were several outstanding applicants, the committee unanimously agreed that these five educators best demonstrate a long-term and ongoing commitment to, passion for, and impact on computer science education in Arkansas and the nation. Congratulations to this year’s finalists!”

The five finalists are listed below. 
Brenda Qualls, Bryant High School
Carl Frank, Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in Hot Springs
Kimberly Raup, Conway High School
Nicholas Seward, Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in Hot Springs
Phillip Blake, eStem Public Charter Schools in Little Rock

 

GOV. HUTCHINSON, ADE ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF SIXTH ANNUAL ALL-REGION CODING COMPETITION
LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Education today announced the 17 teams advancing to the Sixth Annual All-State Coding Competition on April 30, 2022.

“Congratulations to the 17 teams that qualified for the Sixth Annual All-State Coding Competition,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “Though this will be the last year that I am governor for this competition, I am proud that our state has established this as a valuable tradition for students, sponsors, and schools that has grown each year in participation and that I hope will continue into the next administration. I am extremely impressed with the talent level of the student participants, and I look forward to meeting the 17 All-State teams in person on April 30.”

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

The following teams have been selected to advance to the All-State Coding Competition:
Arkansas High School in Texarkana - Brodie Gholson, Matthew Hughes, and Joshua Sharpe sponsored by Therron Telford
Arkansas School for the Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts - David Clark, Joshua Stallings, and Robert Boerwinkle sponsored by Nicholas Seward
Bentonville High School - Caleb Jones, Sarah Palmer, and Kate Pearce sponsored by Maud King
Bentonville West High School - Karina Batra and Ryder Johnson sponsored by Nate Vogel
Cabot High School - Christopher Sayers and Tyler Baugus sponsored by Michael Calvert
Conway High School - Ellie Feng, Arnav Karekar, and Evan Tan sponsored by Kimberly Raup
Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale - Lucas Kellar, Dylan Crawford, and Eli Wetzel sponsored by Jessica Mabie
Fayetteville High School - Keming Meng and Taksh Patel sponsored by Emery Faulkner
Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville - June Simmons, Grace Harding, and Britton Adair sponsored by Margaret Cotton
Haas Hall Academy in Rogers - Austin Parker, Ivan Freeman, and Winston Bounsavy sponsored by Amy Schwartz
Har-Ber High School in Springdale - Matthew Crecelius, Nicholas Byrd, and William Cherry sponsored by Tiffany Abner
Hot Springs World Class High School - Josiah Rubio, Jin Gamada, and Jude Phillips sponsored by Vince Mathews
Lisa Academy West High School in Little Rock - Harlem Taylor, Harith Hayyawi, and Hayati Sahin sponsored by Clarissa Harpool
Little Rock Central High School - Ethan Dunn, Aiden Jones, and Brent Orlina sponsored by Stephany Alhajjaj and Kimberly Mayberry
Mountain Home High School - Darren Blount, Emmanuel Westra, and Dallin Stephens sponsored by J. R. Bergenstock
Rogers High School - Adrian Salazar, Nicholas Robinson, and Matthew Wilkinson sponsored by Jeff Anderson
Star City High School - Reid Dutton, Tony Chen, and James West sponsored by Amy Dreher

The All-Region Coding Competition was a digital event that took place on Feb. 25, 2022. More than 150 teams participated in the regional event and were scored by the ADE Office of Computer Science team using a common rubric and process. That process determined the top 16 teams to be invited to participate in the state level event. The school that produced the first-place team at the state-competition in 2021, the Don Tyson School of Innovation in Springdale, which also was the winner in 2020, received an automatic invitation to send a team to the state competition.

March 16, 2022

OVER $8 MILLION AWARDED IN WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GRANTS
Jonesboro, Ark. (March 15, 2022) - Today Gov. Asa Hutchinson awarded $8 million in grants to economic and workforce development partnerships to create training opportunities for in-demand skills and certifications. Robotics, cyber security, rural forestry, and truck driver training are just some of the workforce initiatives around the state receiving grant funding from the Office of Skills Development (OSD), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce.

Grant recipients submitted projects to the OSD in January, and those chosen presented their initiatives to the Career Education and Workforce Development Board (CEWD) in February, “shark tank” style. The CEWD Board selected projects in varying amounts based on their specific training program, industry sector of focus, and regional needs.

“It is critical for the state to invest in workforce development to help private industry and public education prepare for the future,” said Commerce Secretary Mike Preston.  “Instead of short-term intervention to relieve an immediate crisis or need, the strategy of the Arkansas Department of Commerce is to be proactive, helping to fund innovative programs that anticipate future workforce needs. The over $8 million in grants awarded today support programs that focus on providing training for in-demand skills that will benefit Arkansas for generations to come.”

The following grant recipients have projects that are the culmination of partnerships between private industry, education, and economic development organizations and the leveraging of existing resources:

University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR)– $1.956 million for the development of a regional Cyber Learning-to-Employment (L2E) ecosystem which will provide cyber security training. The L2E will include UA Pine Bluff, Forge Institute, UA Pulaski Technical College, UA Hope-Texarkana, UACC Batesville, UACC Morrilton, UA Cossatot, the Academies of Arkansas, and the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS). This ecosystem includes a UA System instructional consortium, the CyberLearning Network (CyberLearN), will use stackable certificates and prior learning credit to articulate credit from Forge Institute cybersecurity boot camps and registered apprenticeships through ACDS.

Forge Institute - $1.68 million for training up to 240 individuals in IT and cybersecurity over a three-year period, preparing graduates to enter the workforce of companies like Acxiom, Edafio, GSK, and others.

Black River Technical College - $1.339 million for the development of CDL truck driver training offered at no cost to individuals. This program has the potential of training up to 500 drivers within the next three years. Graduates will be able to go to work immediately, making a living wage in the trucking and transportation industry, helping to alleviate the transportation crisis in Arkansas and around the nation. 

ASU Mountain Home - $1.239 million for the development of a composites program that serves marine manufacturing. The program, designed in collaboration with local boat manufacturers, prepares graduates to work locally at companies like Ranger, Vexus, Basscat, and Shawnee Boats.

ASU Beebe – Searcy Campus - $686,661 for the development of a robotics curriculum designed to prepare students who wish to become Robotics Technicians. With curricular support from ASU-Beebe’s Industrial Technology, CNC, and Welding Technology programs, participants will be trained to engineer and operate automated manufacturing, specifically at local companies such as St. Jean Industries, Lomanco, and others.  

Clark County Workforce Training Group (CCWTG) - $421,315 for regional Millwright and Industrial Maintenance Training. This newly formed consortium, composed of Clark County businesses and industries, the Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce, ASU Three Rivers, Henderson State University, and the West Central Arkansas Planning & Development District, will invest in industrial maintenance and millwright training equipment to augment current training programs.

South Arkansas Community College - $259,211 for the development of a rural forestry workforce training program, which will include non-credit training, as well as certificate programs, technical certificates, and Associate degrees. This training meets the growing need of the forestry industry in Ashley County and the surrounding south Arkansas region.

The Innovation Hub at Winrock International - $246,295 for Skills to Launch Training that provides new opportunities for participants committed to a career within the construction and manufacturing sectors including Industrial Maintenance, Energy Efficiency, HVAC, Construction, Roofing, and other fields. 

North Arkansas College - $226,000 for expansion of their CDL Truck Driving and Manufacturing programs. Graduates will qualify to enter the workforce of local companies such as Wabash, Pace, and others, as well as the trucking and transportation industries.

OSD will distribute and monitor grant funding and program outcomes over the course of the grants. OSD strategically invests in all levels of the Arkansas workforce, from students to incumbent workers, by raising education and skill levels, meeting the needs of companies operating in Arkansas, balancing workforce and employer interests, leading to greater economic achievement for workers and companies.


WINROCK WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBER MICHAELA EDWARDS
March 15, 2022 – Winrock International, the U.S.-based national and international economic development organization, today announces the appointment of Michela Edwards to its board of directors.

 “Winrock works to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources,” said Michaela Edwards. “I am thrilled to join the board of Winrock International to support that mission.”

Edwards is a partner at Capricorn Investment Group, one of the largest mission-aligned investment firms in the world. Capricorn is part of the Jeff Skoll Group, which manages the investment portfolio of Jeff Skoll, the Skoll Foundation and other institutional clients.

“Michaela is an excellent addition to the board and to the Winrock team,” said Winrock President and CEO Rodney Ferguson. “She is passionate about using capital markets to address global challenges including climate change and economic inequities, and has supported the launch of a dozen new impact investment strategies.”

 Prior to joining Capricorn in 2019, Michaela spent nine years as a senior portfolio manager with Norges Bank Investment Management, the sovereign wealth fund of Norway, where she managed a multi-billion-dollar portfolio. She has over a decade of experience investing for impact, including incubating the Norges Bank environmental strategy. Before joining Norges, Michaela worked as a research analyst for Russell Investments in London and New York. She started her career on the trading desk of DNB in Oslo.

Michaela is a member of the board of directors of both Lafayette Square and Osmosis Investment Management, and sits on the advisory board of Ecofin Investments. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder, and a graduate of Oslo University College and the Cass Business School in London.

 ABOUT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake, Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock's mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe. 


BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY’S ADDRESS TO CONGRESS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement in response to the address to Congress delivered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

“President Zelenskyy is leading his country with courage, conviction and moral clarity that has inspired the world to rally around Ukraine. His address to Congress was moving and another display of his steady, resolute leadership. I appreciated President Zelenskyy’s passionate, sincere plea for international support in pursuit of peace and justice. The United States must continue to provide Ukraine with the military and humanitarian assistance – including further sanctions on the Russian regime and approval of the transfer of Polish fighter jets – needed to defend its sovereignty, human rights and the cause of freedom.”
 

COTTON DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION FOR ITS DELAYED INVESTIGATION OF ILLEGAL CHINESE TRADE PRACTICES
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai demanding answers about the USTR’s reported delay in deciding to launch Section 301 investigations into China’s criminal economic practices.

In part, Cotton wrote, “The CCP has shown nothing but malice towards this nation and should be shown no leniency in our response to its economic aggression. For this reason, I am deeply disappointed to learn that USTR is not pursuing an expansive set of Section 301 investigations into China’s anti-competitive and illegal trade practices.”

“Such investigations would likely result in barriers to subsidized Chinese goods and would blunt Beijing’s attempt to dominate critical sectors through economic aggression. It’s past time that we act to defend American industry, prevent China from dominating the industries of the future, and decouple key strategic sectors from China,” Cotton continued.

Text of the letter ay be found below.

The Honorable Katherine Tai
U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Tai,

I write to express my concern regarding USTR’s reported delay in deciding to launch Section 301 investigations into China’s economic practices.

As you know, the Chinese Communist Party’s prolific trade abuses threaten American prosperity. In the two decades since China’s entry into the WTO, the CCP has effectively shuttered tens of thousands of American factories, destroyed millions of American manufacturing jobs, and stolen hundreds of billions of dollars of American intellectual property. China’s broad industrial destruction has fed the heartbreaking opioid crisis that still grips our nation, and is in no small part fueled by Chinese fentanyl. 

Far from showing contrition, China’s rulers have added insult to injury at every opportunity. You have rightfully criticized China for violating the terms of the Phase I trade deal. Instead of increasing imports from the United States by $200 billion over the baseline, China reduced purchases by nearly $14 billion. For months, your agency has negotiated in good faith to bring China into compliance with Phase I, but the Communist Party has steadfastly refused to keep their promises. Our goods trade deficit with China last year reached the highest level since 2018, and our total trade deficit surpassed $1 trillion, for the first time ever.

The CCP has shown nothing but malice towards this nation and should be shown no leniency in our response to its economic aggression. For this reason, I am deeply disappointed to learn that USTR is not pursuing an expansive set of Section 301 investigations into China’s anti-competitive and illegal trade practices.

Such investigations would likely result in barriers to subsidized Chinese goods and would blunt Beijing’s attempt to dominate critical sectors through economic aggression. It’s past time that we act to defend American industry, prevent China from dominating the industries of the future, and decouple key strategic sectors from China. I hope you share these objectives.

Please answer the following questions so that the American people can better understand the Biden administration’s position on China’s economic aggression:

Has USTR delayed its decision on launching Section 301 investigations into China’s economic practices? Yes or no?

If yes, why have you delayed these essential investigations? Did China’s threat of retaliation contribute to this delay?

Do you believe that China is currently doing at least tens of billions of dollars in damages to the United States economy every year as a result of its anti-competitive and illegal behavior?

Do you believe it is important to penalize China for violating its Phase I obligations?

Do you believe it is important to reduce our dependence on China in strategic industries?

Do you believe it is important to decouple our strategic industries from China?

Very respectfully,

March 15, 2022

GOVERNOR VISITS EMPLOYEES OF AEROSPACE, DEFENSE FIRMS THAT BUILD WEAPONS COMPONENTS USED IN UKRAINE
EAST CAMDEN – More than 150 employees of aerospace and defense companies gathered at Southern Arkansas Tech University today where Governor Asa Hutchinson thanked them for their part in manufacturing critical components for weapon systems that Ukrainians have deployed to defend their homeland against the Russian invasion.

Their work arms the world to defend freedom in Ukraine and many other countries, Governor Hutchinson told them.

“Your daily commitment to producing state-of-the-art and highly technical components and propulsion systems has made the difference for Ukraine,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Because of your work, Ukraine has surprised its invaders by a strong defense against the onslaught of a cruel invasion. Camden is in a critical front-line position to support the Ukrainians who are stopping the Russian army from overrunning their nation.

More than 2,700 workers in the Highland Industrial Park produce explosive munitions that are used in a variety of weapons, including tank killers, antiair (cq) defenses, and other missiles.

Representatives from various segments of the workforce attended the event. Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston noted the aerospace and defense sector is the Number One export from Arkansas. The Camden area workforce has been producing weapons since 1944.

“Over the decades, Camden-area workers and their companies have supported the front lines wherein the defense of freedom, first in Europe and the Pacific, and now in Ukraine and NATO countries,” Preston said.

Professor Kateryna Pitchford, a native of Ukraine who is an assistant professor at Central Baptist College in Conway, spoke to the employees. “No one expected this barbaric invasion in the 21st century in my home country of Ukraine. While Putin’s war is killing children and women, and destroying the peaceful way of life, your work here empowers the Ukrainian army by supplying defense weapons. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do to save Ukrainian lives. The Ukrainian army and the people will win this war. Glory to Ukraine!”

Dr. Pitchford was born in Dnipro, Ukraine. Many of her relatives and friends remain in Ukraine.
 

CAMDEN WATER UTILITIES TO FLUSH LINES
Camden Water Utilities will be conducting their annual water main system flush beginning March 28, 2022 and ending APRIL 1, 2022. Caution should be used before washing any clothes during this time frame. For questions, please call our office at 870-836-7331. 


TEACH ARKANSAS INITIATIVE
A statewide nonprofit organization is hoping to address the shortage of teachers in Arkansas through a range of educational options and financial incentives.

The Teach Arkansas Initiative seeks to guide those interested in becoming a teacher through the pathways to becoming one and the assistance available along the way. The program is one of the Arkansas Department of Education's partnerships that aims to reverse the yearslong decline in Arkansas educators.

That shortage was already apparent before COVID-19, with a 2018 study by the Learning Policy Institute having estimated a nationwide shortage back then of 112,000 teachers. Education officials in Arkansas and across the nation say the lack of qualified educators has only grown since.

Ben Kutylo [pronounced Kah-til-oh] is the executive director of Arkansas Forward, a statewide education non-profit. Although not an educator himself, Kutylo has been engaged in education policy for over a decade. He says nearly every school district in Arkansas is facing the shortage.

Kutylo said the Teach Arkansas Initiative hopes to do that by connecting interested Arkansans with available resources for becoming a teacher. Those include financial assistance, student loan forgiveness for college students, and opportunities for both new and longtime teachers. The resources are tailored to meet the individual needs of those looking to enter a career in education.

Those pathways range from high school seniors to Arkansans seeking a change in their profession.

The program is open to anyone with a passion or interest in education. Kutillo said the easiest way to find out more about the program is to visit the Teach Arkansas Initiative website.

As Kutylo explained, the teacher shortage has been felt for years and by nearly every school district in Arkansas. To find out more about the Teach Arkansas Initiative, and ways to enter a career in education in Arkansas, visit www.teacharkansas.org.

 

HARVEST OF THE SEASON PROMOTIONAL PROGRAM ANNOUNCED
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce the Harvest of the Season promotional program, a free educational campaign that includes materials for schools to feature locally grown products in their cafeterias.

The goal of the Harvest of the Season program is to teach children about Arkansas grown foods. The program makes available local and seasonal food posters, materials featuring Arkansas farmers and distributors, and social media resources highlighting local Arkansas fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy products. Program materials are offered at no cost to public and private K-12 schools, early childhood education facilities, and alternative learning environments.

Harvest of the Season was developed using funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 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, and nursery crops.

“The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is proud to partner with USDA on this program to provide children in Arkansas free resources on local agriculture and nutrition,” said Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward. “The lessons learned from this program can have a lasting impact on children, their families, and entire communities.”

The Harvest of the Season promotional program materials can be found at: arfarmtoschool.org/cafeteria/harvest-of-the-season/

For more information on Harvest of the Season, contact Shannon Newerth-Henson, State Local Procurement Manager, at shannon.henson@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.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HOSTS “FREE TREE FRIDAYS” IN RECOGNITION OF ARBOR DAY
LITTLE ROCK – In recognition of National Arbor Day, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division will be hosting giveaways of bare root seedlings at various locations across the state each Friday from March 18 through April 29.

“Adding trees to your yard or to a community forest is beneficial to all Arkansans, and Spring is an excellent time to plant trees,” said Kristine Kimbro, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator for the Forestry Division. “With these giveaways celebrating Arbor Day, we hope to provide all Arkansans with access to the many benefits trees provide.”

The Forestry Division will be hosting giveaways at various locations across the state. Following is a listing of locations and times currently scheduled:

Friday, March 18
Conway – Faulkner County Museum Log Cabin, 801 Locust Street: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Hot Springs – Garland County Library, 1427 Malvern Avenue: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Arkadelphia – Clark County Conservation District Office, 640 South 6th Street C: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Marshall – Between Los Aztecas/Marshall Milling True Value, 234 Highway 65: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Friday, March 25
Dardanelle – Wal-Mart, 1172 AR-7: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Clarksville – The Peach Pit, 101 McConnell Drive: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Marshall – Between Los Aztecas/Marshall Milling True Value, 234 Highway 65: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Friday, April 1
Trumann – City Administration Office, 825 Highway 463 North: Time to be determined
Wynne – Wynne Fire Department, 1111 Falls Boulevard: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Friday, April 8
Monette – Location and time to be determined
Texarkana – Four States Fairgrounds, 3700 East 50th Street: Time to be determined

Friday, April 15
Berryville – Berryville Square, Fountain Park: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monticello – University of Arkansas at Monticello Forestry Building Parking Lot, 110 University Court: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Friday, April 22
Fayetteville – Unitarian Church of Fayetteville, 901 Cleveland Street: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Searcy – Lowe’s, 3701 East Race Avenue: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sheridan – Mad Butcher, 815 Rock Street: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Hot Springs – Garland County Library, 1427 Malvern Avenue: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Osceola – Natural Resources Conservation Service Office, 3137 West Keiser Avenue: Time to be determined

Friday, April 29
Pine Bluff – Pine Bluff High School, 711 West 11th Avenue: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Casa – City Hall, 3587 AR-10: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
DeQueen – Bailey Discount Lumber, 880 East Collin Raye Drive: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Additional locations will be added throughout the month. Visit agriculture.arkansas.gov/forestry/urban-community-forestry/free-tree-friday/ for giveaway locations and times or contact Kristine Kimbro at Kristine.kimbro@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.

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

 

AACF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO STEP DOWN DECEMBER 31, 2022
The Board of Directors announces Rich Huddleston’s departure as Executive Director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), a Little Rock- and Springdale-based nonprofit child advocacy organization, today announced the resignation of Executive Director Rich Huddleston. His last day will be December 31. AACF will begin its transition plan presently.

"For the past 27 years, Rich has been instrumental in the organization’s efforts to improve the lives of children and families across the state of Arkansas," said Ryan Davis, President of AACF's Board of Directors. "We cannot thank Rich enough for the dedication, passion and vision he has given AACF. He will be missed by the staff, board and partners alike."

Huddleston began at AACF as the director of research and policy before becoming executive director in 2004.

During his tenure, AACF helped bring about many significant policy wins for children and families, including:
The expansion of quality pre-k
Three increases in the state minimum wage
Making the tax system fairer for low-income families
The expansion of health care coverage for adults with low incomes
Access to children’s health care coverage for Marshallese and other immigrant children
Juvenile justice reform
School discipline reform

Davis continued, "We are thankful to Rich for giving the organization ample runway and lead time to make this transition. This allows us to ensure the work of the organization moves forward while the transition is underway so we can continue to be strong advocates for children and families during this time. We look forward to following his next undertaking and are hopeful and excited for the next phase of AACF as we continue to work for sound policies to support Arkansas’s children and families."

AACF was founded in 1977 by a group of prominent Arkansans who believed that children needed an independent force to provide information and education to parents and citizens about our state’s policies toward children and families. The organization provides leadership, research and advocacy to promote wide-ranging reforms to improve the lives of Arkansas's children.

Under Huddleston's leadership, AACF opened a regional office in Northwest Arkansas over a decade ago, expanding the organization's work and reach throughout the state. AACF has recently made racial equity for Arkansas's children and families an even greater focus of its work. 

"AACF turns 45 years old this year," said Rich Huddleston. "I have been with AACF for 27 of those years, and as executive director since 2004. That time has been the highlight of my professional career. My work at AACF has allowed me to fulfill my passion for advocacy and my passion for improving public policy to ensure all children and families have what they need to thrive and succeed. More importantly, during that time I have been blessed to work with many brilliant and committed staff, supportive board members, great partners, and funders and donors who have supported AACF."

The organization will soon begin a national search process and expects to have a new executive director firmly in place before the Arkansas General Assembly convenes in January 2023.

A full statement from Davis and Huddleston can be found on the AACF website.

March 14, 2022

IF YOU’RE GOING TO DRINK TO ST. PADDY; PLAN A SAFE RIDE HOME
MARCH 14, 2022
The boisterous celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day are expected to return this year.  Regardless to what extent the celebrations may trend toward in local communities, drivers who may participate are encouraged to make plans for a safe return home.

The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is offering advice to the celebratory crowd, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

A sober driver is one who hasn’t consumed any alcohol, and to help keep local communities safe, Arkansas law enforcement officers are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving.  Even one drink can be one too many.

According to NHTSA officials, 10,142 people were killed in drunk driving related crashes during 2019, accounting for nearly one-third of traffic crash fatalities.  On average, more than 10,000 people died annually between 2015 through 2019 in motor vehicle crashes involving a driver who was drunk.  That’s one person killed in drunk driving crashes every 52 minutes.

 “Everyone has their own particular reason to celebrate at one time or another, but when they do, we want Arkansans to realize the importance of safe driving,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “If you’ve been drinking, make the right choice to find a sober driver to get you and your friends home safely.  Before you put your keys in the ignition, remind yourself: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

During the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period (March 16th, 6 PM to March 18th, 5:59 AM), almost half (46%) of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver.   Additionally, from 2015 to 2019, a total of 280 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day period.  Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink.  Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention to their surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

If you’re the designated driver, make sure you don’t drink so you can keep that promise of safety to yourself and your passengers.  It can be a long night, but people are counting on you, not to mention the other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians on the streets.  Take the role of designated driver seriously — people are relying on you.

Before heading out for a celebration, it’s vital to plan before anyone drives.  Be honest with yourself; acknowledge whether you’ll be drinking or not.  Don’t depend on the luck of the Irish, follow these ideas to ensure you and your fellow partygoers live another day.

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 see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.

Do you have a friend who has been drinking and is about to drive?  Take away their keys, then make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Buckle up, always.  Your seat belt is your best defense against the 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, and go to www.TZDArkansas.org to learn about Arkansas’ Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities.

 

LOW-LEVEL FLIGHTS TO IMAGE 3D GEOLOGY IN WESTERN ARKANSAS
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Arkansas Geological Survey(AGS) are partnering to image geology using airborne technology as part of the USGS Earth Mapping Resource Initiative  (Earth MRI) project and the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). 

The USGS is contracting with EON Geosciences to conduct the survey, which will fly over all or parts of six counties in western Arkansas including Yell, Poe, Johnson, Logan, Scott and Perry counties. The planes and crew will be based out of the Branson Airport in Hollister, Mo. Weather permitting, the survey will begin in mid-March and conclude in June.

A Piper Cheyenne airplane will be mounted with passive sensors that measure variations in the Earth’s natural magnetic field. These variations are created by different rock types up to several miles beneath the surface. The magnetic sensor will be mounted on a tail stinger off the back of the aircraft. Each plane will also include sensors inside the aircraft that measure soil and rock chemistry at the surface. None of the instruments carried on the aircraft pose a health risk to people or animals. The aircraft will be flown by experienced pilots that are specially trained and approved for low-level flying. All flights are coordinated with the FAA to ensure flights are in accordance with U.S. law.

The western Arkansas survey will be flown at elevations approximately 80 to 300 meters, or about 260 to 1,000 feet, above ground in a grid pattern along north-south flight lines spaced approximately 300 meters, or 984 feet, apart. East-west flight lines will be spaced 3,000 meters, or 9,800 feet, apart. All survey flights will occur during daylight hours. 

Data collected for this survey is part of a national-scale effort to acquire modern, high-resolution airborne magnetic and radiometric data. The survey will replace existing lower-quality geophysical data, collected mostly in the 1980s, that is of limited use for geologic mapping. The new geophysical survey will use the latest technological developments that will allow the USGS to create high-resolution 3D representations of geology to depths several miles below the surface. The 3D models and maps produced from the survey will help understand the distribution of groundwater, mineral and energy resources as well as the potential for natural hazards. Data collected as part of the Arkansas survey will be made public and used by USGS and AGS scientists to guide more detailed geologic mapping at local scales. 

Earth MRI is a cooperative effort between the USGS, the Associates of American State Geologists and other federal, state and private sector organizations to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the U.S. The NCGMP provides accurate geologic maps to help sustain and improve the quality of life and economic vitality of the nation.

HARRELL, ARKANSAS MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 11 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
EL DORADO – A Harrell man was sentenced today to 140 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 United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court documents, on or about August 12, 2020, investigators with the 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from Antonio Bush, age 40. The methamphetamine field tested positive and was sent to the crime lab for further testing.      

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

The 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force and the FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Kim Harris and Graham Jones prosecuted the case.
 

PAM VERNON TO HOST CORKS AND CANVAS AT SAAC MARCH 17
Uncork your creativity at SAAC's Corks and Canvas art classes! This month's workshop, "Botanical Stroll" led by local artist Pam Vernon, will be held on March 17, 2022, from 6:00-9:00pm.

Come to this class ready to create a beautiful spring day painting. "We will paint a Monet inspired bridge over a pond of waterlilies using a colorful spring palette," said Pam. "By using simple brush strokes and layering colors, we will learn how depth and perspective bring a painting to life." Her design will be painted on an 11x14 canvas using acrylic paints.

Enjoy a time of relaxation with your friends re-creating the featured painting of the night. Paint, canvas, and brushes are provided, and an experienced, award-winning local artist leads you step-by-step through the process of unleashing your inner Van Gogh, or Monet, to complete a work of art in three hours.

Corks and Canvas painting classes have something for everyone, from the newbie to the seasoned painter. Because it is really geared toward artists of all skill levels-even those who have never held a paintbrush before-Corks & Canvas truly is an accessible way to have some fun and learn a new skill at the same time. Making art together is a great icebreaker for friends new and old.

The $40.00 fee covers all supplies and snacks. Those taking the class should bring their favorite libation and get ready to have a good time.

To register for the "Botanical Stroll" Corks and Canvas hosted by Pam Vernon, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at saac-arts.org. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

 

COTTON STATEMENT ON DEATH OF LITTLE ROCK NATIVE IN UKRAINE
Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after Brent Renaud, a filmmaker from Little Rock, was killed in Ukraine:

“Arkansans are saddened today at the death of Brent Renaud in Ukraine. I join them in expressing deepest condolences to the Renaud family. And I reiterate to Vladimir Putin and his military leaders that the intentional targeting of innocent civilians, including reporters, is a war crime.”

March 10, 2022

FORMER SHERIFF OF FRANKLIN COUNTY, ARKANSAS SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR ASSAULTING TWO PEOPLE IN CUSTODY
FAYETTEVILLE – Former Franklin County, Arkansas, Sheriff Anthony Boen, 51, was sentenced today to 48 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for assaulting two individuals in his custody. After a six-day trial in August 2021, a jury in the Western District of Arkansas convicted Boen of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Evidence presented at trial established that Boen used unreasonable force to punish pretrial detainees on two separate occasions.  On Dec. 3, 2018, Boen struck a detainee multiple times in the head with a closed fist while the detainee was sitting on the floor and shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail.  Several minutes later, Boen returned to the detainee’s cell and struck him in the head again, then spit on him.  On Nov. 21, 2018, Boen slammed a detainee onto the floor and ripped his hair during an interrogation.  Both detainees suffered bodily injury as a result of Boen’s actions.  During the subsequent investigation of these offenses, Boen contacted officers who witnessed his assaults and pressured them not to provide truthful information to investigators. 

“Anthony Boen swore an oath to support the United States Constitution and the State of Arkansas Constitution,” said U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas.  “His actions clearly violated not only the civil rights of these individuals but also the trust of the people of Franklin County. Cases like this are very important to our office because they involve the most personal and basic of civil rights: the rights to be protected and unharmed while in the custody of law enforcement officers. Today’s sentencing shows that justice will prevail in cases where a person’s civil rights are violated. We will continue to vigorously pursue cases involving the violation of basic civil rights that should be afforded to everyone.”

“No one is above the law, especially high-ranking law enforcement officers who have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect individuals in their custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendant abused his power as sheriff by assaulting the people he was sworn to protect and pressuring his subordinates to cover

up his crimes. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officials who violate people’s civil rights.”

"When former Sheriff Boen brutally assaulted individuals in his custody and violated their civil rights, it impacted all Arkansans and their trust in authorities," said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson. "The FBI is committed to maintaining the public's trust in law enforcement. With today's sentencing of Mr. Boen, our community knows we will aggressively investigate and bring to justice any law enforcement officer who would violate the rights of their fellow Americans."

The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon T. Carter and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.
 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY WRAPS UP FISCAL SESSION
The General Assembly wrapped up the Fiscal Session Tuesday with passage of the state’s $6.02 billion budget.  The Revenue Stabilization act (RSA), outlines funding priorities for the state’s budget in the next fiscal year and keeps the state from deficit spending. The RSA saw a 2.9% ($175.1 million)increase over last year’s budget. Most of the increase in funding will go toward K-12 schools and Department of Human Services (DHS) programs. Another area of increase is in the state’s reimbursements to counties for housing state inmates. That amount will go from $6.4 million to $25.7 million.  (Counties will see the daily reimbursement rate go from $32 per day to $40 per day.)

The state is expected to see a $193.9 million surplus at the end of the fiscal year – up to $50 million of which will be designated for the Arkansas Department of Transportation for highway maintenance and improvements.  

Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday elected Senator Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) to serve as president pro-tempore – elect. He was elected without opposition.  (The Senate’s Republican caucus nominated Hester over current Senate President Jimmy Hickey (R-Texarkana), and Senator Kim Hammer (R-Benton).)

The House is expected to consider nominations for Speaker of the House-designate when members reconvene for final, or “sine die” adjournment. Legislators have said they will adjourn sine die next Tuesday.

Other high-profile items from the 23-day fiscal session include:
Prison Expansion
Legislators approved a measure to amend the Department of Corrections budget to allow spending of up to $75 million for construction of a 498-bed expansion at the North Central Unit at Calico Rock. The Governor and legislative supporters have said the expansion is needed to provide relief to county jails, who accommodate overflow.  Members also approved a $2 million appropriation to expand funding to hire 45 new public defenders and prosecutors, with the goal of reducing the backlog in criminal cases across the state.

Officer Pay
Legislators approved  legislation to require an increase in salaries for Arkansas State Police officers if it is determined general revenue funds are available (with a more than $11,000 in starting pay for troopers). Other certified law enforcement would be eligible for salary increases, as well. In addition, qualifying certified law enforcement officers in the state will be eligible for a one-time cost-of-living stipend, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Governor Hutchinson signed the measures into law earlier this week. 

Medicaid
The House gave final passage this week to  the Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services budget, which includes Medicaid programs. (In the past, lawmakers have taken multiple attempts to reach the required ¾ threshold for passage, amid debate about the state’s Medicaid waivers/expansion.)  The measure requires the first $37.6 million in funding to be used for grant programs for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities as part of the Community and Employment Medicaid Supports Waiver program.

Property Tax/Vehicles
The General Assembly this week passed special language to the state’s Department of Finance and Administration budget that will limit increases in property tax assessments due to the rising values of used vehicles. The measure states the value in 2022  “shall not be higher than” the assessed value in 2020.  

Ukraine
Both the House and Senate last week passed resolutions expressing the state’s support of the People of Ukraine, and condemning the Russian invasion of the country.  After the initial filing of competing resolutions in the Senate, lawmakers rallied behind an agreed-upon bi-partisan version. 

Employee Benefits
One of the only non-budget matters being taken up by the General Assembly during this fiscal session was a package of bills to reform the state and school employee benefit systems. The measures enact a handful of recommendations from a consulting firm the state hired last year to review the state’s health insurance plans, which cover more than 100,000 current employees and retirees. Reforms include requiring the Employee Benefits Division to keep an optimal reserve balance of 14% of expenses to help ensure solvency of both the school and state employees’ plans.  The 10-member State Board of Finance will be retained as the governing body for the insurance plans, with the establishment of two advisory commissions for more “hands-on” oversight, appointed by the Governor.  Other measures include requiring future state and school employees to be enrolled in their health plans at least five years to qualify for benefits and retirement, and establishing a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC) to oversee state employee benefits decisions.

LEGISLATIVE CHANGES BENEFIT ALL ARKANSANS UNDER MILLIGAN ADMINISTRATION
Updates in Efficiency, Transparency, Education, Inclusion and Financial Awareness
Little Rock, Ark. LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 10, 2022)– Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Alan McClain today announced that Arkansas businesses could see another rate decrease in workers’ compensation insurance in 2022.

The Arkansas Insurance Department (AID) approved an average overall average workers compensation voluntary market loss cost level decrease of 10.8% and a drop of 11% for the assigned risk market.

The new rates—for policies renewing on or after July 1, 2022—represent a significant change from last year, which saw a 1.1% decline in the voluntary market and a 1.6% cut in the assigned risk market.

Employers purchase workers’ compensation through one of two markets, the voluntary market and the assigned risk market. In the voluntary market — the open competitive market — loss costs will decrease by an average of 10.8%, which is the primary component of workers’ compensation rates. Approximately 91% of Arkansas employers receive voluntary market coverage. In the assigned risk market — the market for employers unable to obtain coverage in the voluntary market — rates could decrease by an average of 11%. The continued rate relief in the assigned risk market is particularly good news for new businesses which are often required to obtain coverage through this market due to their lack of a claims history.

The department accepted recommendations from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), which analyzes and recommends rate adjustments in more than forty states.

NCCI based their recommendations on premium and loss experience for policy years 2017 through 2019.

The table below shows a history of recent rate activity in Arkansas for the voluntary and assigned risk markets:

That has been Dennis Milligan’s motto since he began his small business nearly 40 years ago, and he has taken that with him in every position he’s held since, most recently when he was elected as Treasurer of State.

“Results matter. And when I took office in 2015, I told my staff to leave no stone unturned when it came to coming up with ways to make the office run more efficiently and transparently,” Milligan said. “Coming in on the heels of a Treasurer who had been convicted of bribery, my main goal was to transform the office back to one that worked for the people.”

Milligan and his team got to work, studying policies and statutes and working with state legislators to update outdated and inefficient procedures within the Treasury. One of those was Act 133 of 2019, which allowed the office to distribute its municipal aid funds via direct deposit. Part of what the Treasury does is take in monies from cities and counties around the state and redistribute them based upon the area’s sales tax rate.

Regarding transparency, Act 882 of 2019 updated current law concerning what the state is allowed to invest in, and revised regulatory requirements that the Treasury seek optimal price and not show favoritism to any one broker. Milligan worked with the legislature and the State Board of Finance – which governs the Treasury’s investments – to implement this change.

The Treasurer’s office also administers the AR Finance AR Future program which promotes financial well-being among all Arkansans, as well as two programs that promote educational savings for school-age children and people with disabilities – The Arkansas Brighter Future 529 Plan and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Plan.

Regarding the former, Milligan was able to influence several changes to the Arkansas 529 plan, including:

Creating a state tax deduction for businesses that wish to match their employees’ contributions to an Arkansas 529 plan;

Introducing a $7,500 tax incentive for people with out-of-state plans when they roll them over into the Arkansas plan;

Allowing an individual who is able to put in more than the $5,000 yearly maximum to carry forward the tax deduction over the upcoming four years;

Expanding the plan to include K-12 private school tuition and widening the list of qualifying expenses for which the money can be used, including for apprenticeship programs and to pay down student debt.

The Arkansas ABLE Plan offers individuals with disabilities and their families an affordable way to save for daily disability-related expenses on a tax-deferred basis, without affecting their eligibility for income-based benefits. It was created by the legislature in 2015 and set under the purview of the state treasury in 2017.

Milligan’s continual work with the legislature helped to pass two acts in 2019 that benefit ABLE account holders and their families. Act 59 of 2019 provided protection for beneficiaries of ABLE account holders prohibiting entities from seeking payment from an ABLE account upon the account owner’s death.

“This legislation was brought to us by those in the disability community upon concern that outside entities would attempt to gain funds from their loved one’s ABLE account should a death occur,” Milligan explained. “This helps protect the hard-earned money that account owners and beneficiaries have put into these accounts.”

Act 825 of 2019 allows for state tax deductions of up to $10,000 on contributions to an Arkansas ABLE account – another reassurance for people these accounts serve. Similarly, Act 882 of 2021 allowed people who are able to contribute more than the yearly maximum in one year to carry that contribution on their forthcoming years’ taxes.

“My intention when I was elected as Treasurer was to try and have the most positive impact on all Arkansans,” Milligan said.

Regarding financial education, one of Milligan’s proudest accomplishments is working with the Legislature in 2021 to create the Arkansas Financial Education Commission (AFEC).

The Commission’s purpose is to promote financial education and awareness to Arkansans in all geographic areas and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I’m so excited to have had a hand in helping create a unified body that will focus on promoting the importance of financial well-being to all Arkansans, regardless of what stage they are in life,” Milligan said.

“I still believe that government should be helping people, and that’s what we’ve done and will continue to do as long as I’m in office. We’ve not only cleaned up the Treasury and made it run more efficiently and transparently, but we’ve created programs for people from all walks of life to help benefit them financially.”
 

BOOZMAN: INFLATION IS A “NATIONAL EMERGENCY”
WASHINGTON – With inflation reaching new record-setting heights in February, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, is calling it a “national emergency” and urging the Biden administration to prioritize driving down costs.

Boozman joined his Senate Republican colleagues at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol to highlight the dramatic rise in consumer prices over the past year as shown by the Department of Labor's (DOL) latest consumer price index (CPI).

“When costs go up for farmers and ranchers, it’s a bad day for rural America. It’s bad day for everyone who works so hard to purchase the food that they need. And in essence, everybody loses,” Boozman said during the press conference. “This is a national emergency. What I would like to do is to get the administration to focus on this. It affects everyone in America.”

The CPI report, a key gauge of inflation, shows consumer prices spiked another 0.8 percent in February bringing the total rise to 7.9 percent over the past year. The latest DOL figures released Thursday identified rising prices for gasoline, housing and food drove the inflation spike.

March 09, 2022

SHERRI HUNTER ANNOUNCES RUN FOR OUACHITA COUNTY CLERK
Release from Sherri Hunter.
“To the Citizens of Ouachita County, my name is Sherri Hunter. I am running as an independent for Ouachita County Clerk. I have over 14 years of experience (six years a chief deputy) at the County Clerk’s Office and with over 24 years of combined years with the State of Arkansas. I am a lifelong resident of Ouachita County,  growing up in Troy, Arkansas and a 1984 Stephens High Alumni. I have bee married to Paul Hunter for thirty years. Together, we have two children, Haley and Jacob Hunter of Camden.

With the opportunity of taking office, I will continue to uphold the respect and organization of the County Clerk’s Office. I am a fair and honest Chief Deputy and I plan to continue my education by attending County Clerk’s meetings, conferences and continued education classes that benefit the County.

I believe in strong community and family values that will affect my work environment in office.

My family and I would appreciate your vote on November 8th. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Ouachita County by advancing my career as the next Ouachita County Clerk.”

 

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen met in regular session on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building. Mayor Julian Lott called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

Reverend James Manley, Associate Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church located at 247 Buchanan Street in Camden gave the Invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

City Clerk Donna Stewart called the Roll. Aldermen Chris Aregood, Cecil McDonald, James Bell, Jo Askew and Terry Smith were all in attendance. Marvin Moore was absent.

The Minutes from the Regular Meeting dated February 8, 2022 and the Minutes from the Special Called Meeting dated February 23, 2022 were approved by unanimous vote.

The Financial Reports for the Month of February were approved by unanimous vote.

David Richardson with Camden Water Utilities gave the biannual report. The Mayor reported that the Camden water lines will be flushed March 28 through April 01, 2022

The only item listed under Old Business was Ordinance No. 02-22, An Ordinance modifying the boundaries for the election of Aldermen; approving the redistricting of City Wards; and for other purposes. This was the second reading of the Ordinance. Motion was made to suspend the rules but there was no second so the Ordinance will go to a third reading next month. The Aldermen discussed the maps out lining the new Ward lines. The Aldermen will study the proposed changes and possibly come up with a third option. The wards could remain as they are now if the Aldermen vote the proposed changes down.  The Ordinance will be up for the third reading in April at which time they will vote on the proposed changes.

New business started with Ordinance No. 03-22, An Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 27-18 which assessed a lien on certain property located at 450 Locust Street. The Ordinance was put up for a third and final reading and was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 07-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 363 Harrison Avenue a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 08-22, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of two (2) police SUV vehicles for the Camden Police Department was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 09-22, A Resolution stating the primary intended uses of a portion of the first tranche of the City's allotment of local fiscal recovery funds through the American Rescue Plan Act was approved by unanimous vote. There was a great deal of discussion regarding computer programs the Mayor wants the City to purchase. The programs cost $10,000 each per year. For the two programs the City will have to continue to pay $10,000 a year. Alderman Cecil McDonald pushed for information regarding the programs. The Resolution was amended to take the computer programs out and was passed. Further research will be done regarding computer programs


Resolution No. 10-22, A Resolution to declare the dilapidated structure located at 308 Progress St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

 Resolution No. 11-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 606 Welcome Avenue a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 12-22, A resolution to declare the dilapidated structure located at 235 Karn St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 13-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 407 Agee Avenue NW a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 14-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 908 Garland St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 15-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 763 Ashton St. SW a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 16-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 517 Grinstead St. SE a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 17-22, A Resolution confirming the appointments of members to the Airport Commission was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution No. 18-22, A Resolution amending the annual operating budget for 2022 was approved by unanimous vote.

Resolution 19-22, a Resolution of the city council of the City of Camden, Arkansas, amending the annual operating budget for 2022 and for other purposes approved by unanimous vote.

 

TERRY “TACO” MEMORIAL TRAIL AND ATV RIDE 2022 ANNOUNCED
Sponsored by Holly Springs Baptist and Methodist Churches
The Terry “Taco” Memorial Trail and ATV Ride is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 2022 from 9:00 am To 2:00 pm

Horses Leave at 9 :00 am ATV's Leave at 10:00 Am
Show & Shine Car Display From 10:00 Am To 1:00 Pm Saturday
Negative Coggins Required!
No Alcohol Or Drugs Allowed.
All Kicking Stock Must Have Something Red On Their Tail.
Please Stay In Tight Groups For Easy Flagging.
Line Up Order: Wagons, Buggies, Carts & Horses.
Absolutely No Horses between Wagons, Buggies Or Carts.
Friday Night, April 1st - Soup Or Chili Meal From 6:00-8:00 Pm For Donations In The Family Life Center.
The FLC Entrance Is Located Back Between The Sanctuary And Playground.
Dine In Or Carry Out BBQ Meal - Pulled Pork Or Chicken With All The Trimmings Beginning At 11:00 Am In The Holly Springs Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Adults-$15.00 Children 12 & Under $5.00
Live Auction Will Begin After All Riders Have Eaten.
Proceeds Will Go To Arkansas Baptist Children's Home Monticello & Holly Springs Volunteer Fire Department.

Find the event on Facebook-Terry "Taco" Howard Memorial Trail & ATV Ride

For questions or more information call or text Hank Mahanat 870-687-1962 Peggy Mahan at 870-687-1138

The Holly Springs Baptist Church is located at 168 Hwy 9 in Sparkman, AR.
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCAM ARTISTS ARE PHISHING FOR INFORMATION
Says, ‘Don’t fall prey to the trap’
LITTLE ROCK - Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is warning Arkansans of a prevalent scam taking place across the State. The method is called “phishing,” (pronounced the same as, ‘fishing’) and it is when scam artists email messages to consumers that appear to pitch products or services, when in actuality, these emails are specifically set up to gain information. Often times, the message will alert the individual to a potential problem with their account and request the consumer provide private information like an account number, date of birth or Social Security number in order to remedy the issue. Phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the internet without your knowledge. They are not only illegal, but they are dangerous to unsuspecting consumers.

“I urge all Arkansans to be cautious if you receive an email asking for your information, it could be scam artists trying to phish for your information,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Even with online protection software, scammers and con artists will continue to try to take your information; don’t fall prey to the trap.”

Remember these tips when safely navigating online:

No legitimate company will ever send you an unsolicited email asking for your personal information.

If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply.

Contact the business identified in the original email directly. Using the customer service number provided to you on a reliable statement to verify that the issue in the original email is legitimate.

Do not give sensitive information in response to an unsolicited request.

Immediately delete all suspicious emails, and never open email attachments or click on links from unknown sources.

Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.

The Attorney General’s Office provides a tip card for consumers, how to spot phishing scams, information for parents to spot cyberbulling and tips on internet safety.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s office by calling (800) 482-8982, emailing consumer@arkansasag.gov, or visiting ArkansasAG.gov.
 

ABLE ASSETS SEE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH UNDER MILLIGAN ADMINISTRATION
Savings plan for people with disabilities reaches another milestone
Little Rock, Ark. – Assets for the Arkansas ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Plan grew by 76% during the past year, according to figures released Tuesday during a committee meeting for the Plan. Assets grew to more than $3 million from February 2021 through February 2022, said Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan, whose office administers the program.

“This plan is still new to Arkansas, so the fact that we’ve reached over $3 million in assets in just three-and-a-half years really speaks to the need for this type of savings plan for people with disabilities here in Arkansas,” Milligan said. “It’s really fulfilling to know that this program we launched back in the fall of 2018 is helping so many people.”

The Arkansas ABLE Plan provides a way for people who are disabled to save money for their daily living expenses and does not affect their ability to receive funding from other sources like Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicaid. Funds from an Arkansas ABLE Plan can be used for any expense related to a person’s disability, such as housing, transportation, education, or assistive technologies.

“With this program, we are helping people with disabilities save money without the fear of losing their other federal benefits,” Milligan said.

There are more than 800 Arkansas ABLE accounts with the average account size being over $4,600, he added.

“Knowing that I have had a hand in helping Arkansans with disabilities keep their money in their own pockets has truly been an honor for me,” Milligan said. “I’m thankful to our legislature and especially Rep. Julie Mayberry for allowing me the privilege of developing this program for Arkansans.”

The Arkansas ABLE Act, led by Rep. Mayberry, was passed in 2015 and implemented in 2018.

For more information about the Arkansas ABLE Plan, visit https://savewithable.com/ar/home.html or call (501) 682-1406.
 

COTTON, GRAHAM REBUKE BIDEN’S REJECTION OF POLISH ASSISTANCE FOR UKRAINE
Washington, D.C. – Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) issued the following statement after the Biden administration rejected Poland’s offer to transfer MiG-29s to Ukraine:

“President Biden should have welcomed Poland’s offer to aid Ukraine with MiG-29s—as he should welcome conventional arms transfers of any kind from our NATO partners to defeat Putin’s advance. Instead, he’s dithering and hiding behind lawyers, signaling hesitation and weakness to Putin and a lack of resolve to our allies.”

 

BOOZMAN ADVOCATES FOR POLICIES SUPPORTED BY ARKANSAS VSO MEMBERS
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, continues his leadership and advocacy for Arkansas veterans as they pursue updates to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services.

Arkansas members of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Wounded Warrior Project, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and other veteran service organizations (VSOs) have met with Boozman in recent weeks to share their 2022 legislative priorities.

“The advocacy of these Arkansans is crucial to crafting responsive legislation that addresses their needs. With their input, we’ve made great progress in improving, expanding and modernizing benefits for all veterans. We know there is more to do, and getting their insight is key to upholding our promise to take care of the men and women who served in our nation’s uniform,” Boozman said.

Legislation backed by Arkansas VSO members include several initiatives authored and championed by Boozman:

The Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act, legislation to help meet the needs of veterans suffering from conditions caused by toxic exposure. Approximately 3.5 million Post-9/11 combat veterans may have experienced some level of exposure to burn pits during their service—many of whom are living with undiagnosed illnesses linked to military toxic exposures—and nearly one-third of those veterans are currently unable to access VA care. This was unanimously approved by the Senate last month.

The Supporting Expanded Review for Beterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act, legislation requiring the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms, or family history.

The Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act, legislation to expand access to mammography services. It would 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.

The Major Richard Star Act, legislation to allow 42,000 combat-injured veterans to receive both their retirement pay and their disability compensation.

The Vet Center Support Act, legislation directing the VA to assess its ability to furnish the full spectrum of mental health and counseling services, to identify barriers to building new Vet Centers in underserved areas and analyze staffing shortages. Additionally, it directs the VA to identify gaps in outreach resources by examining states with a ratio of only one Vet Center per 100,000 veterans such as in Arkansas where two Vet Centers are responsible for serving a population of more than 200,000.

The Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees have recently held joint hearings with the nation’s leading VSOs. On Tuesday, the senator asked the American Legion Commander about the importance of allowing veterans living with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges the ability to choose treatments that work best for them.

Last week, the senator asked the VFW Commander about wait times for VA appointments and the backlog of veterans claims that has grown as the result of delays in getting service records from the National Personnel Records Center.

March 08, 2022

RUTLEDGE RUNS FOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is traveling rural Arkansas to speak with voters as part of her bid to become the state’s next lieutenant governor.

Rutledge initially announced her candidacy last year for Arkansas governor. However, Rutledge ended her gubernatorial bid to clear the way for Sarah Huckabee Sanders under the GOP banner, and will instead run for lieutenant governor.

General Rutledge, the state's top law enforcement officer, spoke with us here at Radio Works to share her background, her reason for running and her plans if elected as Arkansas’ new lieutenant governor.

Rutledge is entering a packed GOP race for the Republican primary on May 24. Other GOP candidates include Greg Bledsoe, Jason Rapert, Doyle Webb, Chris Bequette and Joseph Wood. Kelly Krout is the sole candidate filing under the Democratic ticket while Frank Gilbert will take the Libertarian nomination. The winner of the Republican Party Primary this spring will face Krout and Gilbert in the November General Election.

Arkansas’ current lieutenant governor, Tim Griffin, is term-limited and cannot seek reelection. He is seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general.
 

SURVEY: SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS SAY INFLATION IS NO. 1  PROBLEM, HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE '81  
LITTLE ROCK (March 8, 2022) – In February, the NFIB Optimism Index decreased by 1.4 points to 95.7, the second consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. Twenty-six percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, a four-point increase since December and the highest reading since the third quarter of 1981. 

“Inflation continues to be a problem on Main Street, leading more owners to raise selling prices again in February,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Supply chain disruptions and labor shortages also remain problems, leading to lower earnings and sales for many.”

State-specific figures are unavailable, but NFIB State Director Sylvester Smith said, “It’s been nearly two years since employers sent people home for a couple of weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, small businesses have faced disruptions in the supply chain, a lack of job applicants, and soaring prices. Arkansas’ small businesses are doing a lot better than they were in 2020, but these challenges continue to undermine the state’s full economic recovery.” 

Key findings of the national survey include: 
The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased seven points to a net 68% (seasonally adjusted), a 48-year record high reading.  

Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased two points to a net negative 35%. 

Forty-eight percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, an increase of one point from January. 

Inventory accumulation plans fell one percentage point, following a five-point decline in January, following the massive inventory build in Q4.  

Price raising activity over the past 12 months has continued to escalate, reaching levels not seen since the early 1980s when prices were rising at double-digit rates. Unadjusted, 4% of owners reported lower average selling prices and 68% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in retail (79% higher, 4% lower), wholesale (77% higher, 4% lower), construction (73% higher, 3% lower), and manufacturing (72% higher, 6% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 46% of owners plan price hikes. 

As reported last week in NIFB’s monthly jobs report, 48% of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. Ninety-three percent of owners hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.  

Fifty-seven percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, down one point from January. Of those owners making expenditures, 41% reported spending on new equipment, 21% acquired vehicles, and 14% improved or expanded facilities. Seven percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion and 11% spent money for new fixtures and furniture. Twenty-seven percent of owners plan capital outlays in the next few months, down two points from January. 

Seasonally adjusted, a net 0% of all owners reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, down two points from January. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes decreased three points to a net negative 6%.  

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases fell four points to a net 5%, a historically strong figure. Eighteen percent of owners reported increases in stocks while 18% reported reductions.  

Thirty-seven percent of owners report that supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on their business. Another 33% report a moderate impact and 21% report a mild impact. Only 8% of owners report no impact from the recent supply chain disruptions.  

A net 7% of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in February, unchanged from last month. A net 2% of owners plan inventory investment in the coming months.  

Seasonally adjusted, a net 45% of owners reported raising compensation, down five points from January’s 48-year record high reading. A net 26% of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months. Eleven 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 17%. Among owners reporting lower profits, 28% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 28% blamed weaker sales, 8% cited labor costs, 15% cited the usual seasonal change, 7% cited lower prices, and 1% cited higher taxes or regulatory costs. For owners reporting higher profits, 50% credited sales volumes, 18% cited usual seasonal change, and 17% cited higher prices explicitly.  

Two percent of owners reported that all of their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-five percent reported all credit needs met and 60% said they were not interested in a loan. A net 2% reported their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts. Zero percent reported that financing was their top business problem. A net 6% of owners reported paying a higher rate on their most recent loan, up two points from January.  

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 February 2022. 

 

SPRING SAFELY INTO THE NEW SEASON WITH THESE TIPS
Enjoy warmer, longer days with these safety tips for home and outdoors
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Daylight saving time is approaching, meaning the days are getting warmer and longer. Whether you want to start your spring cleaning or simply enjoy nice weather in the great outdoors, staying safe is important. 

As you set the clocks forward and soak in the sun, here are some ways to protect yourself and your home this spring:

Keep an eye on your surroundings

Look up and out for overhead power lines. Staying away from power lines is one of the most important ways you can stay safe when you are outdoors. Overhead power lines carry thousands of volts of electricity and are not insulated, making them deadly to touch. If you encounter a power line through your body - or an object you are holding, like a tree limb, ladder or even a kite – you will become a path for the electricity to find the ground.

Always assume power lines are electrified, even if they are down or underground and do not spark or hum. If you see a downed line or a tree branch that is close to a power line, the safest thing to do is call 1-800-ENTERGY.

Remember, water and electricity do not mix. Keep electrical appliances and power cords away from wet areas. And never touch electrical cords or appliances if you’re wet or standing in water.

Work with nature, not against it

Plant the right trees in the right place. When adding new trees to your landscaping, consider placement and tree height at maturity, and avoid planting trees that will grow tall under power lines or in an area where they could damage your home in a storm.

Believe it or not, many power outages are caused by wildlife. Squirrels like to travel along power lines and tree limbs, which can give them access to make your attic their home sweet home and potentially short out transformers in the process. Do not invite them over; keep tree limbs trimmed away from power lines and buildings.

Remember what you cannot see can hurt you

Call before you dig. It is important to know what is underground before you begin any project that requires digging. Hitting an electric line can shock or kill you and cause power outages. When you call 811, the local one-call utility locator service, they will mark the location of underground utilities so you can carry on with digging safely.

Let the light shine. Make sure your outdoor lighting adequately illuminates walkways to prevent tripping hazards after dark and that your bulbs are intended for outdoor use. If you need to replace them, opt for energy efficient bulbs to help light the way to lower bills.

In addition to outdoor safety, the National Safety Council suggests addressing indoor safety is just as important during a time change. Consider replacing batteries in smoke detectors and covering your home emergency plans with family. Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five years, but batteries for both should be replaced every year.

Visit our website for more safety tips for residential or outdoor projects, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook - @EntergyArk.

About Entergy Arkansas
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 722,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR)., an integrated energy company engaged in electric power production, transmission and retail distribution operations. Entergy delivers electricity to 3 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy owns and operates one of the cleanest large-scale U.S. power generating fleets with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 7,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy has annual revenues of $10 billion and approximately 12,500 employees.

 

USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT ANNOUNCES NEW ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE BRANCH CHIEF, REGULATORY DIVISION 
VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District announces the selection of Jerry Bourne as chief of the Enforcement and Compliance Branch, Regulatory Division.

In this position, Bourne is responsible for the supervisory and technical accomplishment of the branch.  He manages the processing of enforcement actions and jurisdictional determinations and oversees the Regulatory Division’s compliance program.

Bourne joined the Vicksburg District in 2015 after accepting a position with the Regulatory Permit

Section.  During his tenure, he was responsible for evaluating and verifying permit applications, issuing and reissuing General Permits, and leading compliance efforts. He also represented the Regulatory Division in numerous outreach events.  

Throughout his career at the Vicksburg District, Bourne has temporarily served as an environmental specialist in the River Operations Branch and as a district level signature authority for Hazardous Waste Manifests. For the past two years, he has worked in the Enforcement and Compliance Branch as a senior project manager and in the Regulatory Division as a compliance officer.  In 2021, he was selected as the acting chief of the Enforcement and Compliance Branch.

Along with his primary Regulatory responsibilities, Bourne has been actively involved with the Vicksburg District’s 408 Program, which reviews applications from other parties to potentially alter a pre-existing Civil Works project. He not only evaluated 408 applications for permitting requirements but was also instrumental in the development and finalization of the 404-10/408 Synchronization Standard Operating Procedure in support of the national 404-10/408 synchronization effort.  

A native of Sumrall, Mississippi, Bourne holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from William Carey University and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida.  He is a 2020 graduate of the Vicksburg District’s Leadership Development Program.

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 district is engaged in hundreds of projects and employs approximately 1,100 personnel.

 

ARKANSAS SENATORS PAY TRIBUTE TO FALLEN FIRST RESPONDERS SGT. JOSHUA CAUDELL AND FIREFIGHTER JASON LANG
WASHINGTON – Arkansas U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of Arkansas Department of Corrections Officer Sergeant Joshua Caudell and West Memphis Firefighter Jason Lang ho gave their lives in the line of duty.

In his speech, Boozman highlighted Caudell’s lifetime of public service. “In high school he participated in the school’s ROTC program. He then went on to serve in the Army National Guard and as a 10-year veteran of the Arkansas Department of Corrections with a variety of units. He also served his family with deep care and devotion.”

“Officer Caudell sacrificed his life while protecting his community and defending the rule of law,” said Cotton. “The despicable villain who allegedly killed him is now in custody. He will face justice—stern, swift, and, fair. We should send the unmistakable message that if you kill a cop, you’ll spend the rest of your life behind bars—and you may pay the ultimate price.”

“We were fortunate that Lang’s path brought him to Arkansas, where he was eager to begin serving the West Memphis community,” Boozman said. “He was an enthusiastic and promising young man who, on day one, wanted to be an integral part of the important work that first responders do to help support those in need.”

“When Jason Lang saw an Arkansan in distress, he ran toward the danger. Every young person should aspire to serve their community with the same sense of bravery. Jason Lang and Joshua Caudell were indeed heroes and we honor their legacy,” said Cotton.
 

WESTERMAN STATEMENT ON BIDEN'S RUSSIAN ENERGY IMPORT BAN 
WASHINGTON - Today, President Joe Biden announced a national ban on Russian energy imports. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04) issued the following statement in response: 

"Banning Russian oil and gas imports is the right thing to do," said Rep. Westerman. "However, President Biden’s solution, turning to Venezuela and Iran for energy resources and trading one dictator for another to meet America’s energy needs is wrong. Instead, we should harness the full potential of America’s abundant natural resources to increase our energy security and support our allies abroad. We have seen the consequences when nations rely on their adversaries for energy, and we cannot afford to follow the same path. We must unleash American domestic resources and increase production of American energy now."

 

ICYMI: BOOZMAN EXAMINES NEW WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TOOLS TO GROW ARKANSAS SKILLED LABOR, ATTRACT MEDICAL EQUIPMENT COMPANIES TO NWA
WASHINGTON–An initiative by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce aims to create a role for Arkansans in producing American-made medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) applauded community leaders’ work to strengthen the supply of front-line medical equipment while simultaneously promoting a skilled regional workforce during a visit with chamber officials on Friday.

“The demand for medical supplies and equipment during the pandemic exposed a gap in our nation’s preparedness for health emergencies. Encouraging investment in Northwest Arkansas to tackle this issue will allow us to produce American made medical supplies right here, creating jobs and spurring innovation,” Boozman said. “Partnering to enhance workforce development prepares Arkansans for highly-skilled jobs while signaling to employers that our region has the capability to meet their advanced and evolving needs.”

Boozman learned about the Heartland Advanced Medical Manufacturing Regional Cluster (HAMMRC) project assisting communities along the Highway 62 corridor with economic development related to medical manufacturing, in addition to the Northwest Arkansas Regional Robotics Training Lab that is creating new and innovative opportunities to train workers in modern manufacturing proficiencies as companies transition to new equipment and more technically advanced jobs.

“My deepest thanks to Senator Boozman for his visit today and for continuing to be the leader he was when we first elected him. He is a leader who listens, gets things done and looks to the future,” said Steve Clark, President and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

Last year Boozman visited AmericaN95, a Mountain Home-based company launched to provide quality, American-made PPE. He has continuously championed and promoted Arkansas programs like Be Pro, Be Proud that prepare candidates for highly-skilled, well-paying jobs.


BOOZMAN CALLS ON USDA TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY TO COUNTER MARKET DISRUPTIONS IN GLOBAL CROP MARKETS CAUSED BY RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, called on U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to delay the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up deadline and provide flexibility for farmers to purchase crop insurance to help counter the unprecedented disruption in global crop markets brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a letter to Vilsack, Boozman stressed prioritizing flexibility so “millions of acres of cropland and pasture that would have otherwise remained idle” can be farmed to “address both inflation and food security concerns.”

Allowing farmers and ranchers additional time to weigh the complex challenges they already face, now made more difficult by added global food security concerns caused by Russia’s ruthless invasion of the sovereign Ukraine, ensures productive agricultural land isn’t prematurely committed to long-term idling, making it unusable for food production at a time when our world is facing the highest food prices ever recorded.

“As I am sure you understand, U.S. farmers are the most efficient in sustainably raising crops and caring for livestock, and they do so in order to feed, clothe and fuel the world. With economic pressures being felt by all of us, and unprecedented aggression causing shock waves across the globe, now is the time for the U.S. to rise to the occasion and ensure food security at home and around the world by facilitating the full utility of productive cropland and pasture across the U.S.,” Boozman wrote.

 

March 07, 2022

MARGARET PACE ANNOUNCES RUN FOR OUACHITA COUNTY ASSESSOR
Ouachita County friends, my name is Margaret Pace and I am asking for your vote on November 8.  I am running as an Independent for Ouachita County Assessor.  I am running as an Independent because I believe the Assessor’s position should not be political.  The Assessor must follow the rules and guidelines of the State of Arkansas.  We do not make policy in this office; we follow the laws of the State of Arkansas and we are bound by the ethics of Appraisal Practices, which I have spent my career learning and practicing.  Assessment is my profession and my passion.  I am a Level 4 Certified Appraiser with the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) and a Certified Senior Appraiser with the State of Arkansas.  I am currently in the Professional Candidacy program with the IAAO for the designation of Assessment Administration Specialist.  I have worked in Ouachita County since 1995 doing land title research, appraising, mapping, or working in the Assessor’s Office.   I have completed courses in Cadastral Mapping, GIS, Leadership in Assessment, and Tax Policy.   I have the education, knowledge, and experience to be your next Assessor.  I am qualified in all areas of Assessment and I have the depth of knowledge of Ouachita County parcels necessary to serve the public.  I truly enjoy my work and I am dedicated to the work I do for the county.

Along with my professional experience, over the years, I have also volunteered in our community with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Vacation Bible Schools, the Daffodil Festival, and Veterans’ breakfasts and dinners.  I am an alumna of Camden Leadership Class of 2018.  I am a member of the International Society of Female Professionals, the International Association of Assessing Officers, Arkansas Chapter of IAAO, and Arkansas Association of Counties.

 I would appreciate your vote so I may continue to serve Ouachita County along with the great team we have in our office.  We are a cohesive team with the experience, knowledge, and customer service to serve or assist you.  We have a lot of great ideas to move us forward in Ouachita County.  We are excited to introduce new and improved ways to help you with your assessment needs. I would appreciate the opportunity and pleasure to continue serving you.

I have been married to Tim Pace, a lifelong resident of Ouachita County, for 21 years.  We have raised 7 children here and we share 7 beautiful grandchildren.  We have a large, loving family that Ouachita County has helped us raise.  We have been members of First Baptist Church of Camden and First Methodist Church of Camden, Boys and Girls Club of Ouachita County, and Boy Scouts of America.  Ouachita County is our home and we have enjoyed raising our children here.  We love spending time on the river as much as possible and spending time with each other when we can.

 My name is Margaret Pace and I am asking for your vote in November to be your next Assessor in Ouachita County.
 

THREE DEAD IN HAZEN, STATE POLICE CID LEADING MURDER INVESTIGATION
MARCH 5, 2022
A Hazen couple and their daughter died last night [Friday, March 4th] following a shooting incident outside a residence at 604 U.S. Highway 63.  A Carlisle man has been taken into custody and charged with murder.

The Arkansas State Police was requested by Hazen authorities to lead the criminal investigation.

The victims have been identified as Amanda Turner, 62, her husband, James Turner, 64, both of Hazen and the couple’s daughter, Mirranda Munnerlyn, 46, of Carlisle.

Hazen police officers were dispatched to the residence at 9:39 PM.  While responding to the call, officers were alerted to a suspect reported to be traveling in a pick-up truck along U.S. Highway 63.  Local officers spotted the vehicle and arrested the driver Michael Munnerlyn, 50, of Carlisle, Mirranda Munnerlyn’s husband.

Overnight, special agents of the state police Criminal Investigation Division continued to collect evidence from the crime scene and interview individuals familiar with the family and circumstances leading up to the shooting.  The bodies of the three victims will be examined at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory to confirm the manner and cause of death.  A criminal case file prepared by the state police will be turned over to the Prairie County prosecuting attorney.
 

JUVENILE CHARGED IN LINCOLN COUNTY MURDER INVESTIGATION
MARCH 7, 2022
A 17 year old Lincoln County juvenile is being held in connection with a homicide that occurred yesterday [Sunday, March 6th].  Lincoln County sheriff’s department authorities have requested the Criminal Investigation Division of the state police to handle the case.

Timothy Foster, 50, of the Garrett Bridge community, southeast of Star City, was shot and killed yesterday about 10 AM when the teenage suspect entered the home with a rifle and began shooting.

Foster was transported to a Dumas hospital where he later died.

The suspect fled from the residence before sheriff’s deputies arrived at the crime scene.  He was taken into custody about 8:15 last night and is being held at the Lincoln County jail.

Earlier today, Dylan Scott, 17, of the Garrett Bridge community was charged as an adult with one count of capital murder.

Special agents of the Arkansas State Police are continuing their investigation today and will submit an investigative file to the Lincoln County prosecuting attorney.

54TH  ANNUAL JONQUIL FESTIVAL
WHAT: 54th  Annual Jonquil Festival
WHERE: Historic Washington State Park –Washington, AR
WHEN: March 18 & 19, 2022
ADMISSION: Festival is Free, $5 Parking Fee, Tours as regular prices.

Create memories and celebrate the arrival of spring at Historic Washington State Park on March 18 & 19, 2022. Thousands of jonquils welcome craftspeople, entertainers, and visitors to the town of Historic Washington. Unique crafts and delicious foods are just part of the attractions. Tours of the park, historic homes, and museums are available at regular price.

In addition to our crafters and food concessions, festivities will include the Four States Iron Munchers, 5K run, and car show. 

The Hope Lions Club will be cooking fish at the Washington Volunteer Fire Department Friday, March 18 from 3pm to 6:30pm to raise money for the department.  Tickets are $15 for 3 fish fillets, French fries, coleslaw, pinto beans, and hushpuppies. 

Once you pick up your food at the fish fry, stroll across the road to the large green and yellow tent for a free concert featuring Dillan Cate, a country/rock artist from Northeast Arkansas, beginning at 6pm.  

Williams Tavern Restaurant will be open serving a buffet both days from 11am – 3pm.  
 

ARKANSAS WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE TO BE HELD MARCH 15 & 16 IN LITTLE ROCK
LITTLE ROCK, AR – On March 15 & 16, landowners, farmers, ranchers, and those who serve agriculture throughout the state will gather for the 16th Arkansas Women in Agriculture Conference at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Little Rock. Online registration for attendees and vendors is available at arwomeninag.org.

The conference will highlight two keynote speakers, Lesley Kelly and Courtenay DeHoff.

Kelly is the Co-founder of Do More Ag, a non-profit that spans across Canada and is championing the mental health of Canadian farmers. Do More Ag works towards inspiring and encouraging those who need to seek help and bringing resources to the agriculture community. Kelly will kick off the conference with a discussion about farm stress and mental health.

DeHoff is a cowgirl turned television personality, keynote speaker and podcast host. Through storytelling and fashion, her brand Fancy Lady Cowgirl is working to bridge the gap between urban and rural cultures. DeHoff will share more of her personal story and encourage attendees to pursue their agricultural passions.

Sessions during the two-day event include: Meat Inspection, Community Forestry, Succession Planning, Beekeeping 101 and Cooking with Arkansas Ag.

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

“After canceling our 2020 and 2021 conferences due to the pandemic, we’re excited to meet in-person again this year,” said Donette Spann, Arkansas Women in Agriculture President. “We’re proud to offer educational content and exciting speakers, but one of the most valuable aspects of this conference is connecting with women who share a passion for agriculture.”

For more information and a full agenda, visit arwomeninag.org/conference
 

BOOZMAN APPLAUDS COMMUNITY SUPPORT OF ARKANSAS BUSINESSES
Celebrates 75th Anniversary of Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce Awards
WASHINGTON – Arkansas businesses have demonstrated resilience in the face of a pandemic, skyrocketing inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. As a former small business owner, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) understands the challenging circumstances job creators navigate and the importance of community support for their success. He celebrated the strength and resolve of Natural State businesses at the 75th Annual Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce Awards ceremony on Saturday.

“I’m proud to celebrate the resilience of Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce members and recognize this milestone. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. These independently-owned establishments employ hardworking Arkansans and help communities grow and thrive. Recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of these local entrepreneurs is a great way to show our appreciation for the investments and opportunities they provide,” Boozman said.

“Senator Boozman has always been, and continues to be, an advocate and a voice for Ozark! He is a part of our success story, and a friend to our community. On behalf of the Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and members, it is an honor and a privilege for the senator to join us for our 75th Annual Ozark Area Chamber Awards as we celebrate Ozark and the businesses, individuals and organizations that make this community an amazing place to work and live,” said Ozark Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sarah Mitchell Rodriguez.

Boozman has been a steadfast champion of policies that support small businesses. He has repeatedly earned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award and the National Federation of Independent Business’s ‘Guardian of Small Business’ award.

March 04, 2022

CITY OF CAMDEN BOARD OF ALDERMEN TO MEET
The City of Camden Board of Aldermen will have their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Marchy 8, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
The agenda is as follows:
A. CALL TO ORDER
B. INVOCATION - Reverend James Manley, Associate Pastor - Shiloh Baptist Church, 247 Buchanan Street, Camden.
C. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D. ROLL CALL
E. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
                1. Minutes - Regular Meeting, February 8, 2022
                2. Minutes - Special Called Meeting, February 23, 2022
F. ACCEPTANCE OF FINANCIAL REPORTS
G. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
H. MAYOR'S REPORT
                1. David Richardson - Camden Water Utilities
I. OLD BUSINESS
                1. Ordinance No. 02-22, An Ordinance modifying the boundaries for the election of Aldermen; approving the redistricting of City Wards; and for other purposes. (Second Reading)
J. NEW BUSINESS
                1. Ordinance No. 03-22, An Ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 27-18 which assessed a lien on certain property located at 450 Locust Street.
                2. Resolution No. 07-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 363 Harrison Avenue a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                3. Resolution No. 08-22, a resolution awarding the bid for the purchase of two (2) police SUV vehicles for the Camden Police Department.
                4. Resolution No. 09-22, A Resolution stating the primary intended uses of a portion of the first tranche of the City's allotment of local fiscal recovery funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.
                5. Resolution No. 10-22, A Resolution to declare the dilapidated structure located at 308 Progress St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                6. Resolution No. 11-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 606 Welcome Avenue a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                7. Resolution No. 12-22, A resolution to declare the dilapidated structure located at 235 Karn St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                8. Resolution No. 13-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 407 Agee Avenue NW a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                9. Resolution No. 14-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 908 Garland St. a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                10. Resolution No. 15-22, A resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 763 Ashton St. SW a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                11. Resolution No. 16-22, A Resolution declaring the dilapidated structure located at 517 Grinstead St. SE a public nuisance and to order the removal of same pursuant to the procedure outlined in Ordinance No. 14-84.
                12. Resolution No. 17-22, A Resolution confirming the appointments of members to the Airport Commission.
                13. Resolution No. 18-22, A Resolution amending the annual operating budget for 2022.
K. OTHER BUSINESS
L. ADJOURNMENT

COLORECTAL CANCER AWARENESS
Since 2000, March has been officially dedicated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. Colorectal cancer is among the leading causes of cancer death but is also highly treatable if detected early. In an effort to assess the prevalence of colorectal cancer screening in Arkansas and identify gaps in access to screening, ACHI partnered with Fight Colorectal Cancer to develop a statewide report. Accompanying the report is an infographic providing context around the findings, as well as an analytical blueprint for other states to execute similar analyses. For more, visit our Colorectal Cancer in Arkansas page.

2021 SCHOOL, DISTRICT, AND STATE REPORT CARDS RELEASED
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education released today the 2021 Report Cards for schools, districts, and the state. The reports, which are available at the Report Card tab on My School Info, reflect school performance for the 2020-2021 school year.

The report cards provide comprehensive data for each school, district, and the state. Information in the report cards comes from the certified cycle and graduation data submitted to DESE. Colored indicators in the report cards reflect the current data status for each module. All modules are now complete.

The school report cards provide a communication framework 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 the 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 DESE with feedback and suggestions for improvement: School Report Card Survey (English or Spanish). 

Due to the impact of COVID-19, Act 89 of 2021 suspended school ratings (letter grades) for the 2020-2021 school year. Additional information about the report cards can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3MkAp0Z.

 

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE NAMES JIM HUDSON CHIEF OF STAFF
Little Rock, Ark. (March 4, 2022) – The Arkansas Department of Commerce has named Jim Hudson as its chief of staff. Hudson replaces Betty Anderson, who served as the department’s first chief of staff since being named in July of 2019 and recently retired.

Hudson came to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), a division of the Department of Commerce, as general counsel in January of 2019. In July of 2019, he was promoted to executive vice president of operations and general counsel, and in November of 2020 he joined the executive team as director of strategy and operations, while retaining his AEDC duties.

As chief of staff, Hudson will work to align the activities of the nine divisions within the Department of Commerce’s divisions in support of the priorities set by Governor Asa Hutchinson and Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston.

“Jim is the ideal choice to be the Department of Commerce’s chief of staff,” Preston said. “He has a strong track record of operational excellence, risk management, and developing strategies that drive results. He’s been a constant and thoughtful advisor to AEDC and all of Commerce since he came on board in 2019 and is dedicated to carrying out the department’s mission and serving the people of Arkansas.”

The commerce department was established in July 2019 as part of the governor’s efforts to transform state government and reduce 42 cabinets to 15.  It is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers and includes nine divisions that were once stand-alone government agencies.

“I want to thank Secretary Preston for the opportunity to be the next chief of staff for the Department of Commerce,” Hudson said. “It has been a privilege to serve the people of Arkansas as a member of the Economic Development Commission and these new responsibilities will allow me to continue that service. The best part of my new role is the opportunity to work alongside the tremendous staff of the Department of Commerce as we seek to improve the quality of life for all Arkansans.”

Prior to joining AEDC in early 2019, Hudson spent more than 25 years in executive leadership positions with Arkansas-based for-profit and non-profit organizations.  His executive leadership includes serving as pastor of adult ministries at Fellowship Bible Church; vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Technisource Inc.; and general counsel at Staffmark Inc. He also worked in private practice and served in various human resources and legal positions, and he has held an Arkansas law license since 1996.  

Hudson has a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College in Conway, a juris doctor from the Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, a master’s degree in leadership from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, and a Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary in Louisville. He is a lifelong Arkansan and currently resides in Saline County with his wife, Leigh.

 

BOOZMAN: STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS ILLUSTRATED BIDEN’S “MAJOR DISCONNECT” FROM RURAL AMERICA’S STRUGGLES
Top ag committee Republican says Arkansas’s family farms under threat from soaring production costs
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, criticized President Joe Biden for failing to focus on rural America’s concerns during his State of the Union address and for pursuing policies that exacerbate the economic struggle these communities face. 

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Boozman said the president’s State of the Union speech highlighted a “major disconnect between the struggles Americans experience every day and the image the president and his team are desperately trying to project.” 

“This is most apparent in rural America. The president and his team often boast about record high farm income, but never acknowledge the fact that financial gains family farmers, ranchers and foresters see will soon be reduced by record high production costs,” Boozman said in his remarks. “For many, the increased costs of farming are deterring them from continuing in the industry. The family farm operations that once populated my home state of Arkansas in large numbers will be eroded away if we don’t make rural America and farming more economically sustainable. This is bad news for rural America. In most of our rural communities, agriculture is all that is left.”

Boozman urged the president to abandon his misplaced priorities and focus on an agenda that helps every American regardless of where they live. 

“President Biden only mentioned the word ‘rural’ once in his entire State of the Union address. He continued to push his Build Back Better agenda—which favors big city liberals at the expense of rural America—and pledged to resurrect this doomed package. My advice to President Biden: It’s time to stop pushing that boulder up the hill. Instead, make good on your pledge to unite the fractured country. That starts by abandoning these misplaced priorities and focusing on the needs of all Americans,” Boozman said in closing.

GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON UPDATE – MARCH 03, 2022
Arkansas will do all it can to honor the sanctions imposed by the international community against Russia, Governor Asa Hutchinson said during his weekly press conference this week.

The governor said he is working with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to ensure that distributers are no longer acquiring Russian liquor.

The Governor noted that he has proclaimed March 1-3 as days of prayer for Ukraine.

As part of the efforts from the state to follow the sanctions, a review of state records showed that there are no Russia-owned assets in Arkansas and no direct investment of Arkansas funds. The Governor has asked that state employees to be vigilant for signs of a cyberattack on state systems.

Hutchinson also announced a new reading initiative in partnership with the Department of Human Services and Department of Education, called “10 Minutes Matter.”

The partnership emphasizes the importance of reading to children from birth to five years old for 10 minutes a day. Studies show that reading one short book a day to young children can increase their vocabulary by 300,000 words by the time they start school, the Governor said.

The state will provide reading kits for childcare centers, schools, and pediatrician offices.

Governor Hutchinson said that the COVID-19 numbers continue to decline.

Up-to-date numbers are available on the Arkansas Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. As of March 1, the Department of Health reported a 4,500-case increase of COVID-19 over the previous seven-day period. Over that same period active cases fell by 4,000 to leave just under 4,900 active cases detected in Arkansas. Deaths rose by 274 during those seven days to 10,579 since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations declined by 216 to leave 449 Arkansans hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of March 1.

 

AG ALERT: T-MOBILE USERS SHOULD PROTECT INFORMATION FROM IDENTITY THEFT
Says, ‘It is important that T-Mobile customers follow these steps to ensure that their private information remains secure’
LITTLE ROCK– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge urges all Arkansas residents who believe they were impacted by the massive data breach announced by T-Mobile in August 2021 to take appropriate steps to protect their information from identity theft.

On August 17th, 2021, T-Mobile reported a massive data breach compromising the sensitive personal information of millions of current, former, and prospective T-Mobile customers. The breach impacted more than 53 million individuals, including 210,585 Arkansas residents. Some T-Mobile customers had their names, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, and driver’s license information compromised and listed for sale on the dark web—a hidden portion of the Internet where cybercriminals buy, sell, and track personal information and other illicit content. Individuals impacted by this breach are at heightened risk for identity theft.

“T-Mobile customers should utilize extra caution in the coming months when monitoring their credit and other personal information,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “It is important that T-Mobile customers follow these steps to ensure that their private information remains secure.”

Monitor your credit. Credit monitoring services track your credit report and alert you whenever a change is made, such as a new account or a large purchase. Most services will notify you within 24 hours of any change to your credit report.  

Consider placing a free credit freeze on your credit report. Identity thieves will not be able to open a new credit account in your name while the freeze is in place. You can place a credit freeze by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus:

Equifax | (888) 766-0008
Experian | (888) 397-3742
TransUnion | (800) 680-7289

Place a fraud alert on your credit report. A fraud alert tells lenders and creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before issuing credit. You can place a fraud alert by contacting any one of the three major credit bureaus.

Additional Resources. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit identitytheft.gov for assistance reporting and recovering from identity theft. You may also find more information by visiting the Attorney General’s office identity theft protection page here.

For tips to avoid scams or assistance with other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov

 

ARKANSAS SMALL BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CENTER OFFERS SEMINAR:  THE IMPORTANCE OF MARKET RESEARCH
WHAT:   The Importance of Market Research
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center presents "The Importance of Market Research”. Florence Nunn, Business Consultant at the ASBTDC at SAU, will discuss Market Research and how it can help small businesses.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 15, 2022
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

WHERE:  OPED Building
570 Ben Lane
Camden, AR 71701             

SPEAKER: Florence Nunn
                 Business Consultant at ASBTDC at SAU

CO-SPONSOR: Team Camden
Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development

COST: FREE!
For more information or to register, contact Florence Nunn.
Phone: (870) 235-5034
Email: florencenunn@saumag.edu

 

UAMS MOBILE MAMMOVAN TO PROVIDE ON-SITE MAMMOGRAMS AT HOG SKIN HOLIDAYS
Arkansas Women – 40 and Over! Have you had your mammogram this year???
The UAMS Mobile MammoVan will provide on-site mammograms at the Hog Skin Holidays in Hampton. This service is provided by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Who: Women age 40 and over that are due for a mammogram.
Date:  April 8, 2022
Time: 10am          
Location: Calhoun County Town Square
                 109 South 2nd Street 
                 Hampton, AR  71744
Contact:   UAMS Mobile Mammography at 1-800-259-8794
Mammograms are by appointment only.  Please call our office to schedule.
With or Without Insurance
Pre-registration is required.
Must be 40 and older.

 

BOOZMAN BACKS LEGISLATION TO EASE EXPORT SHIPPING BACKLOGS, BOOST U.S. EXPORTS
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is championing legislation to reform ocean freight shipping in order to level the playing field for American exporters by making it harder for ocean carriers to unreasonably refuse goods ready to export at ports. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would update federal regulations for the global shipping industry and give the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) greater rulemaking authority to regulate harmful practices by carriers.   

“Arkansas exporters must have dependable and reliable transportation to move their goods to markets all across the world. Regular export capability is particularly vital to agriculture, Arkansas’s largest industry, as 40 percent of Natural State ag products are exported. It’s clear we need to modernize federal regulations so we can protect American exporters from the unfair penalties and practices among some in the shipping industry. This legislation is a step in the right direction to reducing supply chain disruptions,” Boozman said.

“Arkansas agriculture is our state’s largest industry, and we export a large amount of our crops and products. The supply chain challenges we all feel are impacting our business. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act has the support of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau and a broad set of businesses that need steady and fair access to the global shipping industry,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Rich Hillman. “We applaud the members of the Arkansas congressional delegation who are supporting this proposal.” 

“Shipping companies, retailers and consumers have all grown increasingly frustrated with delays in the supply chain, especially over the past two years as the pandemic has driven demand. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act aims to improve efficiencies and improve the flow of freight at commercial ports and will ensure fairer treatment of trucks and shippers. We thank Sen. Boozman for his support of this bill, which will allow the trucking industry to retrieve freight from ports and deliver it to where it’s needed most, all while promoting economic growth across the country,” said Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton.

“Arkansas exporters have experienced significant delays that negatively impact farmers and processors,” said Kevin McGilton, Vice President of Government Affairs for Riceland Foods. “There have been major delays at ports along the gulf coast similar to the delays on the west coast and we believe the bill gives the Federal Maritime Commission more tools in their tool box to hold ocean carriers accountable for the delays and exorbitant fees.”

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would:
Require ocean carriers to certify that late fees —known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges—comply with federal regulations or face penalties;

Shift burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier;

Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining shipping opportunities for U.S. exports, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking;

Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and 20-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the United States;

Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate; and

Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges.

The legislation was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Similar legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

The bill is supported by a number of organizations including the American Association of Port Authorities, the National Industrial Transportation League, the National Retail Federation, the Agriculture Transportation Coalition and the American Trucking Associations.

In November 2021, Boozman and his Senate colleagues sent a letter to the FMC expressing concerns about how increased shipping costs are being passed on to American consumers.

March 02, 2022

THE CAMDEN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL “LITE” 2022 WITH US IN CAMDEN, AR ON MARCH 11TH AND 12TH
This year, the Camden Daffodil Festival will be scaled back, but not cancelled, as we are entering final stages of the Covid 19 pandemic.  Although the Daffodil Festival board and volunteers are chomping at the bits to have the award-winning festival in all of its splendor, we are still being urged to practice caution in how we approach the event again this year.  

So, we welcome the public to enjoy the Camden Daffodil Festival “lite” 2022 with us in Camden, AR on March 11th and 12th, activities are from 10am until 4pm each day.

In the same spirit of hospitality and excitement that we have welcomed guest in events past, we would be honored for you to join us this year for the following abridged list of activities:

Daffodil Stroll at Grace Hill
Bring your blanket to have lunch & stroll through acres of flowers
Food truck on site
“Frank’s Famous N’awlins Bread Pudding” served on the back lawn.
Saturday Children’s activities, face painting, etc. *Saturday only
Daffodil bouquets for sale
*Outdoors and Covid safe
*Weather permitting
*$5 for adults, $3 for students

Tour the Daffodils at the Historic Oakland cemetery walk, featuring appearances by old favorites and new friends
*$5 for adults, $3 for students

Costumed re-inactors at the Historic McCollum Chidester House Tours of the Museum and grounds
Old Billy famous Stagecoach Driver and storyteller
Photo Op with Stagecoach and Billy
Food and a limited number of Vendors
*$5 for adults, $3 for students

Daffodil themed events on “The Trace”.

The Ouachita County historical Society mini-festival events will be going on all weekend in Camden to coincide with the Daffodil Festival activities.

And Much More! Follow “Camden Daffodil Festival” on Facebook and at camdendaffodilfestival.com for more details as they develop!

Thank you for making plans to join us in bringing in the Spring at the Camden Daffodil Festival “Lite” 2022, March 11 & 12, and we look forward to returning to the full version of the event as soon as this soon ending pandemic comes to a close.
 

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE HISTORY PROJECT NOW AVAILABLE AS PODCAST 
LYONS, NEBRASKA – Interviews focused on the history of sustainable agriculture have been turned into a limited podcast series, “Sustainable Agriculture Policy with Ron Kroese.”

The interviews are a part of an oral history archive documenting the development and evolution of public policies to advance sustainable and organic agriculture going back to the 1970s. More than 40 women and men featured are among the key leaders and advocates who played significant roles in devising and promoting the laws and government programs that continue to undergird efforts to achieve a sustainable farming and food system in the U.S.

Ron Kroese, host of the podcast, developed the “National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive” alongside the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. The Center for Rural Affairs brought the interviews to the podcast platform.

“In the nearly 50-year history of the Center, the emergence of federal policy supporting soil and water conservation, local and regional food systems, beginning farmers, and value-added agriculture is one of the most significant areas of policy wins,” said Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “This is why when I heard about Ron’s sustainable agriculture oral history project, I knew it should be available as a podcast.”

The first episode was released today, Wednesday, March 2, with each episode out on Wednesdays. Listen on all major podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and others.

Major topics covered in the interviews include:

A review of the federal policy reforms achieved through the seven farm bills beginning in the early 1980s, along with recollections of the grassroots campaigns through which farmers and other activists advocated for the sustainable agriculture and conservation policies that were gained through those farm bills;

The social and political context surrounding the formation in the early 1980s of what became the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC);

The evolution of NSAC from its early days as an informal network of grassroots organizations—most of which were located in the Midwest—to the more formal structure of regional Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups (SAWGs) around the country in the 1990s, to the NSAC of today with its 120 organizations from throughout the U.S.;

A discussion of where the efforts of sustainable and organic farming advocates came up short, as well as an exploration of further policy changes needed to advance sustainable agriculture and a healthier food system going forward.

“The history told in these interviews is rich, detailed by the individuals who lived the work, most of them engaged in the effort for decades,” Depew said. “This is a large project with most significant credit to Ron, as well as the individuals who sat for interviews. I am happy the Center could support a small part of making this history more widely available through a podcast.”

Kroese co-founded the Land Stewardship Project in 1982, and later he worked in philanthropy, supporting many organizations engaged in the development of sustainable agriculture policy. When he retired from the McKnight Foundation in 2015, he began an effort that eventually grew to 40 videotaped interviews.

Among those interviewed are Chuck Hassebrook, former Center executive director; Wes Jackson, president emeritus of The Land Institute; Mark Ritchie, former president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; and Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists.

The interviews are also available as video recordings and transcripts. Visit cfra.org/SustainableAgPodcast for show notes and links.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

 

SAAC WELCOMES NEW ART EXHIBIT FOR MARCH
The South Arkansas Arts Center welcomes a new exhibit to the Price and Merkle Galleries for the month of March. “Watercolor Reflections,” an exhibit by longtime friends Bobbi Shepherd of El Dorado and Camden resident Kathy Adcock will open on March 2 and hang through March 29. An artists’ reception is scheduled for March 3 from 5:30-7:00pm.

“My love of art began in early childhood as I enjoyed drawing and painting,” said Bobbi. “When I was in the third grade, I won an art contest for a drawing of a flower shop. This began my love of art. I took art classes at Camden High School and received a BSE in Art from Ouachita Baptist University. Over the years I have had the opportunity to use many mediums, from oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, pen and ink, ink blocks, carving, pottery, charcoal, and others. I have enjoyed all of these, but watercolor is my favorite medium.

“I have included a variety of paintings in this show, landscapes, homes and other local buildings, and still life. Included in this show are some older pieces as well as more recent. Some I painted for my own enjoyment and others were created for family members and friends. I hope others will enjoy these paintings. It has given me great joy and fulfillment creating each of these. I want to thank the South Arkansas Art Center for all the services they provide to the art lovers of South Arkansas. I have taken advantage of a number of these services over the years.”

One of the class offerings at SAAC that both Bobbi and Kathy have enjoyed weekly for 15 and 8 years respectively is a watercolor studio led by Gay Bechtelheimer. Gay’s class has allowed them to further develop their watercolor talent, while also offering inspiration and knowledge of technique mixed with a smile and touch of humor. Both also appreciate the encouragement they have received from other artists in the group.

Kathy Adcock graduated from Southern State College with a BSE in Art Education and a minor in Library. While there, she enjoyed working with different mediums but especially enjoyed watercolor.

“Bobbi has been a life-long friend and it is good to plan with her,” said Kathy. “Included in my exhibit are a few examples of other mediums. They represent different phases of my life. I love the challenge of working with watercolor. ‘Watercolor Reflections,’ the title of our exhibit, parallels with a journey through life. A watercolor painting consists of bright areas, shadows and is affected by gravity, humidity and circumstances around it. In other mediums you have an element of control but in watercolor there is a constant dialogue where one responds to the work and it responds to them.

“I have much gratitude for the South Arkansas Arts Center, the staff, SAAC Board of Directors, instructors and presenters. SAAC provides enrichment, encouragement and opportunities for people of all ages. It has been rewarding to look forward to this upcoming art exhibit with new goals to work for, increased energy to tap into, and an awareness of details.”

For more information on this exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at www.saac-arts.org. Gallery viewing hours are Monday- Friday 9:00-5:00pm. SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.
 

BOOZMAN STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF THE UNION
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement in response to the State of the Union address:

“Hardworking Arkansans are worried about paying bills, putting food on the table and the price of gasoline. The main thing the people of Arkansas needed to hear was a plan to bring down inflation, end the supply chain bottlenecks and restore our workforce to full strength. It’s time for the president to focus on bipartisan solutions to give them relief and quit doubling down on radical measures that pour gas on the fire. I urge him to set his partisan agenda aside and respond to the concerns of countless Americans by working to contain rising costs, secure the southern border and demonstrate a strong foreign policy. There is unlimited potential for what our nation can accomplish when we have the tools, policies and leadership to realize our dreams.”
 

WESTERMAN STATEMENT ON 2022 STATE OF THE UNION
WASHINGTON - In response to President Joe Biden's first State of the Union Address, Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04) released the following statement:

"Tonight, in his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden attempted to rewrite the history of his first year in office by painting a rosy picture of his few accomplishments," said Rep. Westerman. "In reality, our nation is challenged in this hour of darkness in Ukraine, rising inflation, chaos at the southern border, terrorists in control of Afghanistan, crime in major cities, and a humanitarian crisis in China. The United States must stand firm for our values of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

I was hoping to hear President Biden take responsibility for his part in these many failures and commit to doing better by the American people by tackling these issues through bipartisanship, but instead, he gave us empty words and grandiose promises using the same failed polices from the past year. It’s clear Biden’s only paycheck has only ever come from the government, because he knows nothing of economics or running a business. America deserves so much better. We must recommit ourselves to being the shining city on the hill, as President Reagan so eloquently stated. Our nation has always been, and still remains, exceptional, and our leadership must allow Americans to thrive by getting out of the way of private enterprise, enforcing our laws, and standing strong against our adversaries. If we pull together and embrace what the American people demand of Congress – effective, efficient government that puts Americans and our allies first – then I’m confident our best days are still ahead."
 

BOOZMAN, COLLEAGUES: CONGRESS MUST RECEIVE FULL ACCOUNTING OF COVID RELIEF SPENDING
Senators question Biden administration’s request for more funds, want assurance existing aid being spent effectively
WASHINGTON – After President Biden reiterated in the State of the Union address his plans to ask Congress for additional COVID-19 funding, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and 34 of their Republican colleagues in sending a letter to the president requesting an accounting of how the federal government has allocated trillions in taxpayer funds to combat the pandemic. Specific answers to these questions are vital before Congress considers additional COVID-19 funding requests from the White House.

“Recent news reports indicate the administration is poised to request an additional $30 billion from Congress for its response to COVID-19,” the senators wrote. “While we have supported historic, bipartisan measures in the United States Senate to provide unprecedented investments in vaccines, therapeutics, and testing, it is not yet clear why additional funding is needed.”

“…Since passage of the American Rescue Plan in February, questions are mounting about where exactly the additional money has gone,” the senators continued. “A recent investigative report from the Washington Post headlined, ‘‘Immense fraud’ creates immense task for Washington as it tries to tighten scrutiny of $6 trillion in emergency coronavirus spending,’ details the federal government’s shocking failure to provide the American public with a faithful accounting of how it has spent its money.”

“Before we would consider supporting an additional $30 billion for COVID-19 relief, Congress must receive a full accounting of how the government has already spent the first $6 trillion,” the senators concluded.

Joining Boozman and Romney in penning the letter were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Todd Young (R-IN).

March 01. 2022

RUTLEDGE ANNOUNCES OUACHITA COUNTY OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Trooper Justin Starnes honored as County Officer of the Year
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the 19th annual Officer of the Year awards and recognition luncheon at the Benton Event Center, where she announced Arkansas State Police Trooper Justin Starnes as the Ouachita County Officer of the year.

“The dedication of Trooper Justin Starnes to protect and serve keeps Arkansans safe,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is lucky to have men and women in blue who put their lives on the line to protect, often sacrificing so much for our communities.”

Every year, Attorney General Rutledge honors Officers of the Year from all 75 Arkansas counties, in addition to statewide and regional winners. She also recognizes law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty with Valor Tributes. To read more about the statewide officers of the year, click here.

A photo of the winning recipients with Attorney General Rutledge will be available from the press office after March 8, 2022, and can be obtained by contacting Amanda Priest at Amanda.Priest@arkansasag.gov.

U.S. FLAG AND AR STATE FLAG HALF-STAFF NOTIFICATION: FIREFIGHTER JASON LANG AND SGT. JOSHUA CAUDELL
Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to be lowered to half-staff for West Memphis Firefighter Jason Lang and Sergeant Joshua Caudell with the Department of Corrections.

On the morning of Saturday, February 26, Firefighter Lang was traveling to Pine Bluff to attend an EMT clinical training class. He stopped to provide assistance during a traffic incident on the side of the interstate. As he was responding to the accident, he was fatally struck by a passing 18-wheeler truck.

Sgt. Caudell was a member of the Department of Corrections K-9 tracking team. On Monday morning, February 28, he was fatally wounded while assisting the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office with a manhunt.

In tribute to their memory and as an expression of public sorrow, flags will be lowered to half-staff from today, February 28, 2022, to Wednesday, March 2, 2022, for Firefighter Lang and to Saturday, March 5, 2022, for Sgt. Caudell.

$25.3 MILLION IN PATRONAGE TO ARKANSAS FARM CREDIT MEMBERS
$25.3 million went back into the hands of Farm Credit members across Arkansas in late February.  As a financial cooperative, members share in the profits when their Farm Credit association has a profitable year.   

2021 was another strong year for Arkansas Farm Credit associations.  For the twenty-fifth consecutive year, Arkansas Farm Credit associations are distributing patronage checks to members.  Patronage is a unique cooperative benefit.      

More than $25 million back in members’ pockets demonstrates Farm Credit’s financial strength and commitment to the cooperative principle of providing value to members.  More than $293 million in patronage has gone to Arkansas members since 1997.

Farm Credit finances all-size farms, homes, land, livestock, equipment, agribusinesses and more. 

The Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas (AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Midsouth, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Delta Agricultural Credit Association) support agriculture and rural communities across the state. 

More information available at ARFarmCredit.com. 
 

USACE VICKSBURG DISTRICT KENT PARRISH RECOGNIZED FOR 38 YEARS OF SERVICE
Authors: Anne Elizabeth Buys and Sabrina Dalton
Passion is a characteristic that drives improvement, ingenuity, inspiration, and influence.  At the end of 2021, a very passionate U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District employee retired with over 38 years of federal service.

Programs and Project Management Division’s (PPMD) Senior Project Manager Kent Parrish’s retirement brought closure to a long, successful, and memorable career.  Kent served many roles throughout his time with USACE. He was known as a subject matter expert, teacher, mentor, and most importantly, a friend to countless people throughout the Vicksburg District region. 

In 1983, he began his career with the Vicksburg District as a study manager/planner on projects such as the Slidell/Pearlington Flood Control Study, Upper Steele Bayou, Upper Yazoo Projects, and Yazoo Backwater Reformulation studies.  He was also integral in preparing Supplement 1 to the 1976 Mississippi River Levees Environmental Impact Statement for not only the Vicksburg District, but the New Orleans and Memphis districts as well.

As a key leader throughout the district, his leadership style was not like most people’s. Dave Johnson, supervisory environmental engineer, shed light on what made Kent’s approach so effective and meaningful.

“His leadership style was unique,” Johnson said.  “I would compare it to a doctor making rounds.  Each day that he was in the building, he would go visit everyone working on his projects.  In that way, he was always informed of progress or problems.  He might have stayed a minute or two or he might have stayed an hour.  This personal touch he displayed, was the most memorable aspect of working with him on projects.  No other project manager displayed this talent.”

Kent was also open to using new approaches in order to accomplish the task at hand. In the late 1980s, both Dave and Kent developed two computer programs for evaluating fish habitats (Enviro-Fish) and waterfowl habitats (Enviro-Duck) that are still used today. More recently, Kent worked with the U.S. Geological Services to use airborne resistivity remote sensing to identify aquifers under the levees.  He was also the first project manager to encourage using GIS for hydrologic and environmental analysis of project impacts for the Upper Yazoo Project and Steele Bayou Re-evaluation Studies.

For over 20 years, Kent served as the MRL senior project manager overseeing 460+ miles of mainline levees with a $20M annual construction program budget. He was responsible for levees being upgraded, repaired, relocated, setback, and built, and his efforts helped to protect the well-being of thousands of individuals living behind those levees.

Kent’s ability to build and maintain relationships was apparent in his work with the Mississippi River Levees (MRL). He acted as the conduit between the district, three levee boards, landowners, contractors, and other state and federal Agencies which was immensely valuable during the 2011 Mississippi River Flood.  Through numerous town halls, media interviews, public meetings and engagements with congressional members, partners, and stakeholders, Kent significantly contributed to USACE’s successful response to the historic event.

When it came to successfully managing complex programs and coordinating with other government agencies, Kent was considered a subject matter expert.  Real Estate Division Chief Chrystal Spokane said, “Kent Parrish was always a true gentleman and professional. His historical knowledge, technical abilities, and people skills paved the way for numerous projects.”

Kent successfully led many teams of engineers, scientists, hired labor crews, environmental specialists, economists, and other project managers. “Kent was such an integral part of every aspect of the Vicksburg District,” said PPMD Deputy Jacob Brister. “Each and every day, Kent came to work with such passion to simply ‘get the job done’. He served as a mentor and friend to me for his entire career.”

Over the years, Kent received numerous awards, including the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, the Superior Civilian Service Award, Vicksburg District Engineer of the Year, Commander’s Award for Public Service, and USACE FY13 Program Manager of the Year.

Kent’s love for his job, the district, and the mission has encouraged that same passion in others.  His devotion, expertise, and genuine kindness to everyone will surely be missed.

WESTERMAN, RODGERS INTRODUCE THE AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE FROM RUSSIA ACT
WASHINGTON - House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) released the following statement after introducing the American Energy Independence from Russia Act. 
 
"America’s energy dominance is our strongest weapon against Putin. Today, we are introducing the American Energy Independence from Russia Act that would require President Biden to make an energy security plan within 30 days and take action to unleash America’s oil and natural gas production to offset Russian imports.

"The American Energy Independence from Russia Act will immediately approve the Keystone XL pipeline, unleash U.S. LNG exports to boost natural gas production, restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters, and protect energy and mineral development from attacks by the Biden administration.

"Putin and Russia’s economy are dependent upon dominating energy production and exporting to other nations. He gains power by doing so, and it’s what funds his military and aggressive behavior. To counter Putin, our bill flips the switch to promote American energy jobs, production, and exports. America must shut down Putin’s war chest and stop bloodshed in Ukraine, and this legislation is a vital step in achieving those goals."

February 28, 2022

OUACHITA COUNTY QUORUM COURT TO MEET
The Ouachita County Quorum Court will meet in regular session on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 6:30 P.M. in the District Courtroom located at 109 Goodgame St. in Camden.

The agenda is as follows:
Roll Call
Invocation
Pledge Of Allegiance Approval Of Minutes
Approval Of Treasurer's Report
Audience Participation
Unfinished Business
     An emergency ordinance to address leave policies in times of the Covid-19 epidemic.
New Business
     An appropriation ordinance to appropriate funds in the new animal rescue fund, new animal rescue budget .
Adjournment


49 ARKANSAS ENTITIES ACHIEVED ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION RECOGNITION 
Little Rock, AR – The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is pleased to announce that 49 Arkansas entities achieved recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of their commitments to effective urban forest management in 2021.

Forty-six Arkansas communities were recognized through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA® program. Two Arkansas colleges achieved recognition through the Tree Campus Higher Education® program, and an Arkansas utility company was recognized through the Tree Line USA® program.

The Tree City USA® program allows communities to achieve recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: establishment of a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. The following 46 communities in Arkansas met these standards by the end of 2021 and were awarded the title of Tree City USA®.

A map of Tree City USA® Communities can be found online at